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Review: 'La Boheme'

Opera San Jose stages updated Puccini classic Read More

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Review: 'La Boheme'

Oh, to be in love! Opera San Jose's newest production of La Boheme, Giacomo Puccini's classic opera, is a rambling trip through the lives and loves of French bohemians in Paris at the turn of the century. Premiering originally in 1896 at Teatro Regio in Turin, Italy, La Boheme has since its inception induced polarizing opinions in its viewers. While it's always been a crowd favorite, critics have historically been less favorable, often complaining about the simplicity of the libretto's musical accompaniment. Fortunately for Opera San Jose, neither is an obstacle, with its powerful rendition only transmitting the quality of the original. And whereas the original takes place during the 1840s in France, the timeline for Opera San Jose's » Read More

Love the Race, Ditch the Rats

As a female tech industry veteran, Kim Scott has encountered plenty of sexism-and bad bosses-in Silicon Valley. Still, she believes more women should pursue careers at Apple, Google and the like. Scott, a "CEO coach," plots an outline for being a "kick-ass boss" while remaining human in her new book, Radical Candor, excerpted below: Twenty years ago, management skills were neither taught nor rewarded in Silicon Valley, but today its companies are obsessed with it. ... The reason Silicon Valley turned out to be a good place to study the relationships between bosses and the people who report to them is that the war for "talent" here is intense. » Read More

Staying in Touch with the Earth

Maurilio Maravilla's face is melting in an upstairs gallery at the San Jose Museum of Art. To be more precise, twelve molds of his face, all made from sugar, are in the process of decomposition. The faces, hanging in a row, are dyed a rich, earthen brown. As they react to the light, air and heat, dark purple splotches are breaking out like rashes. They are oozing out a sticky liquid that catches on and stains the white stand beneath their chins. There's a Grand Guignol quality to a roomful of severed, "bleeding" heads adorning a long white wall. But Beta Space: Victor Cartagena isn't a Gothic expression of some artist's solipsism. » Read More

Hope Gangloff Paints What She Knows

The Cantor Arts Center is about to usher in a season of curation devoted to Hope Gangloff. In late May, the New York-based artist will be painting onsite. According to the Cantor, the public will have a chance to watch her "paint several large-scale, site-responsive portraits to hang along the light-filled Atrium Balcony." Additionally, Gangloff also plumbed the museum's permanent collection to populate Hope Gangloff Curates Portraiture. As the title suggests, in this recently opened exhibit, Gangloff carefully arranges, and sometimes juxtaposes, several of her own portraits with a diverse range of works from the 16th to the 20th centuries. A casual observer can clearly make out the direct influence of the artists Egon Schiele and Gustav » Read More

Art or iPad Ad?

Like the "shot on iPhone" ad campaign that resurfaces every few months on roadside billboards, the iPad drawings of David Hockney's The Yosemite Suite make a similar argument. They advertise the singularity of the Apple product in lieu of the works themselves. Instead of leaving the means of production vague, i.e., a mobile device, the iPad is credited as an equal partner in Hockney's creative process. This isn't necessarily suspect but it does raise the question: is The Yosemite Suite a not-very-well-disguised commercial for an Apple product? This is the British-born, L.A.-based artist's second collection of iPad prints to make their way to the Bay Area. » Read More

Fox and Friends

Don't be alarmed by the cat-sized squirrel thrusting a flower out from the wall near the entrance to the Marshall Street parking garage in downtown Redwood City. As lifelike as it appears-with light glinting at the corner of its left eye and casting a shadow against the beige concrete column behind it, this oversized rodent is only a painting. It's part of a series of "interactive murals," which the Redwood City Improvement Association has commissioned. Titled "Flora from Fauna," the squirrel-along with other chrysanthemum-clutching critters, like deer, eagles, a fox and a great blue heron-were created by San Francisco-based fine artist and scientific illustrator Jane Kim, and are meant to engage pedestrians and get people to think about » Read More

Cheech Marin to Discuss New Memoir at Kepler's Event

Richard "Cheech" Marin and Tommy Chong came up with the "Dave's not here" gag by accident. While Chong fiddled with a new tape recorder, Marin went outside to start an improv bit. When Marin knocked, Chong wasn't sure the recorder was working, so he stalled, prompting the genuine frustration from Marin. Turns out, they'd been rolling the whole time. But that half-minute of spontaneous brilliance had been the result of years of practice. "You get hit by dumb luck standing in the middle of the intersection waving your arms," Cheech says over the phone. "But prepare, prepare, prepare. It's like being a pinch hitter. At some point, [someone tells you], 'Go in and hit a home run.'" » Read More

Review: 'Frankenstein'

In City Lights Theater's newest production, Frankenstein, an original dramatic adaptation of Mary Shelley's classic, the nature of mankind and its arrogance is investigated to a horrifying degree. The story, of course, is familiar—even to those who only know the very different plot of the famous movie interpretation. But this production, written and directed by Kit Wilder, is intriguingly different in its overall approach and is far more cerebral. As the show opens, the characters emerge on a stage dotted by large, stalagmite-like columns. » Read More

The Freedom of Abstract Art

There's an immediate sense of liberation, from logic and rationality, from meaning itself in a room full of abstract art. You can project nothing, something or everything at the busy, complicated canvases lining the walls. The subject matter of Oliver Lee Jackson's paintings-colorful colliding lines and shapes-appears to be floating and drifting toward the canvas edges as if earth's gravity was about to escape. The exhibit Oliver Lee Jackson: Composed, Works from 1984 to 2016 also contains three sculptures, but their heaviness doesn't hold the same ocular allure as the painted works. As you enter the gallery, Painting (12.19.84), 1984, an oil pastel, dominates the space. » Read More

Little Ms. Firecracker

When Wicked previewed in San Francisco a decade or so ago, Kristin Chenoweth had just created the role of Galinda. Later to become the goody-two-shoes known as Glinda the Good, Galinda was the unconsciously mean sorority-sister type at a lady's school in the turbulent land of Oz. Her showstopper was a reminder about the importance of being popular: "When someone needs a makeover / I simply have to take over." The petite (4-foot 11-inch) Oklahoman counterbalanced Idina Menzel's own theater-filling voice. Generally men prefer the Wicked Witch type to the Glinda type. Chenoweth changed their minds. Last fall, I was at a laundromat waiting forever for a sleeping bag to dry, and thus sort of forced to watch a daytime talk show. The hostess was » Read More

Review: 'A View from the Bridge'

On the opening weekend of A View from the Bridge, the Pear Theatre suffered from major climate control issues. When an employee was asked why the temperature was as humid as a Louisiana swamp, she replied, "I don't know." The lack of oxygen and the rising mercury inspired a claustrophobic response in some theatergoers and led to an exodus at intermission. (Full disclosure: I was one of the half-time departures). The lack of twenty- or even thirty-somethings there on a Saturday night raised the question that hung in the heavy air: how to make A View from the Bridge relevant to younger audiences? The story of the blue-collar worker Eddie, a precursor to the intolerant bigot Archie Bunker from Norman Lear's sitcom All in the Family, is » Read More

Dancing His Way to the Stars

The way Nick Lazzarini tells it, his long journey to the the top of So You Think You Can Dance began when he was just 5 years old. On that fateful day, back in 1989, the young Lazzarini was leaving soccer practice at the local rec center in his hometown of Mountain View when his mother noticed him staring in awe at a dance class. When she asked him what he was so interested in, he turned to her and told her: "I want to do that, mom." That was the end of Lazzarini's soccer career. "It just wasn't my thing," Lazzarini says, referring to his short-lived time in organized sports. "I was the kid that was doing cartwheels on the soccer field and practicing tumbling during baseball." » Read More

Deep Thoughts

Turn your gadgets off and all you'll be left with is art. Art and the sound of your monkey brain screaming for attention. If you're an employee of Salesforce or SAP, you probably have a head start over the rest of us. Several companies in Silicon Valley have already incorporated everyday mindfulness into the workday. A mindful employee is a productive employee! And, for this experiment, members of the American Leadership Forum-Silicon Valley participated in a "prototype" or first iteration. It's their initial feedback that's incorporated into the title graphics at the entrance of the show. » Read More

A Thousand Words of 'Peace'

Negative misconceptions about Muslims abound, especially in America. Ron Herman, a photography professor at Foothill College, challenges these stereotypes in his recent exhibit, Messengers of Peace, at the Krause Center of Innovation Gallery. "Some people may feel threatened by diversity, or even hostile to it, resulting in the mistreatment of others," Herman says in a news release for the show. Herman spent four weeks in the West African country of Senegal, researching religious diversity between the nation's Muslim majority and Christian minority as part of the Fulbright scholarship he received in 2016. » Read More

Burlesque Revue to Trump: Hands Off!

Viewed through the reductive prism of the male gaze, burlesque might appear to be little more than a highly theatrical form of striptease, designed to titillate and arouse an audience. Certainly, this risque offshoot of cabaret is about sex. But, according to the organizers of the forthcoming Legislate This! South Bay, burlesque is about so much more. For starters, it's about feeling sexy as much as it is about arousing desire. Whether a performer is a straight white female, a trans woman of color, or has a body that isn't mirrored in the mainstream media's traditional depictions of beauty, they are all welcome on the Curtains Cabaret stage. Burlesque has the ability to empower and champion marginalized groups, according to DeeDee Queen, a » Read More

Kicking it With Billy Crystal

There's a reason Billy Crystal has hosted the Oscars nine times-more than any other performer besides Bob Hope. He nails the opening monologue, neither kissing ass nor going for the jugular, then gets properly solemn during the memorials and helps make movie stars look funny or insightful when they're onstage. He does his best work when he's given a microphone and allowed to speak freely. A rare talent that can seamlessly swing between the absurd and serious, Crystal comes to the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts on March 2 to perform his loosely structured one-man show-which despite his films and stand-up comedy-is the medium where he is the strongest. » Read More

From Street Art to Street Wear

When he was just 12 years old, Samuel Rodriguez would routinely lace up his leather Puma Clyde basketball shoes at the stroke of midnight and leave his home on the East Side of San Jose to venture out plastering freeway bridges, buses and walls with his self-taught graffiti skills. "I was in a bubble," Rodriguez says. "Taking the bus, all I saw was tagging and everything revolved around that." Today, you can find 36-year-old Rodriguez working professionally on his craft in his friend's back-house-turned-studio in San Jose. The minimalistic cement wall rooms are decked with his Aztec-inspired prints and portraits of ethnic faces veiled with graffiti. » Read More

Tara Donovan: Playing Her Cards Right

Stepping inside Tara Donovan's exhibit at Pace Gallery in downtown Palo Alto, is like entering a minimalist's idea of heaven. Whiteness makes its presence felt. Or inversely, if you prefer, color is entirely absent. The artwork, separated into three categories, maintains an orderly sense of Nordic design. Large framed pieces reflecting faint patterns and gradients against clean hardwood floors. The eye, used to overstimulation, will need a minute to settle into this display of starkness. But once it does, the process of engagement is like glimpsing the underbelly of an osprey against a winter sky. What Donovan leaves out of her work is not accidental. » Read More

'Chafismo' Show Explores Nature of Art

Crudely simplified, the Chicano Art Movement advanced the aesthetic of rasquachismo, a defiant and inventive use of whatever lowbrow components one has on hand. It isn't just cheap stuff for the sake of cheap stuff. There is a method of communication-something along the lines of: "This is all we got, so we're going to use it." Translation: If one doesn't have $1,000 for a deluxe convertible easel, one can plant cacti on the border between Tijuana and San Ysidro and carve them into Easter Island-style head profiles before transporting them to art-gallery pedestals, just to ridicule the highbrow colonization of the desert. That said, at WORKS/San Jose, two cacti plants emerge from wooden pedestals colored with rainbow graffiti. It's all part » Read More

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

The San Jose Stage Company has truly outdone itself with its latest production, Disgraced. This 2014 Pulitzer Prize-winner is a must see. Prepare to be shaken. Penned by Pakistani-American playwright Ayad Akhtar, Disgraced opens on a expansive, luxurious upper East Side apartment. An Arabic coffee pot sits on the coffee table and a statue of Shiva sits next to the door-offering a slight foreshadowing of things to come. Emily, played by Allison F. Rich, is trying to sketch a portrait of her husband, Amir, played by Damien Seperi. She is white and he is of Pakistani descent, but as their conversation about painting gives way to talk about a racist encounter a few days before, it is hard to tell who is on what side. Emily is genuine and » Read More

Art vs. Injustice at De Anza

When San Jose artist Judy Shintani helped to dismantle an aging barrack where her father and many more Japanese-American citizens were housed during World War II, she knew the pieces of wood she collected were special. There was a weighty significance to the reclaimed lumber and so Shintani kept the scraps-biding her time as she searched for the appropriate project. She recently put the old timber to use, arranging it in the form of an American flag, surrounded by a fence of barbed wire. It's title, Pledge Allegiance, references the patriotic mantra her father and his imprisoned neighbors were required to recite every day during their internment. » Read More

The Female, in All Its Forms

We have Bridget Gilman and the members of her Santa Clara University art history class, "Photography and the American West," to thank for a new exhibit at the de Saisset Museum. The curation of "Virgin Landscape: Representations of Women and the American West" highlights women both in front of and behind the camera lens. The exhibit's title-"Virgin Landscape"-is accounted for in one of the cerebral thesis statements that tenuously link the idea of "virgin lands with the rise of women in the American West." That particular connection between pure and unspoiled land and the photographs themselves remains somewhat elusive (you can almost make it out if you wrinkle your brow and squint a little), but it doesn't detract from the overall impact » Read More

Andy Warhol's Candid Camera

Andy Warhol took photographs that made the paparazzi turn emerald green with envy. He had something they would never possess-access. A photographer could snap a shot of an actress leaving a nightclub, but he'd never capture the sultry, unashamed expression of Debbie Harry, nude but thoughtfully cropped, the way that Warhol does in one of his many polaroid portraits. In "Warhol Unframed," a small exhibit at the Cantor Arts Center, some of the artist's lesser known photographs, contact sheets and silkscreen prints are currently on display. The recurring story that emerges from the exhibit is that he lived, worked and played with and amongst celebrities. Warhol embraced these cultural luminaries, oftentimes his friends, and transformed them » Read More

Cartoonist Behind 'Yellow Submarine' at KALEID

Kaleid Gallery's newest show will be a unique and inimitable trip down an animated memory lane. With work by legendary animator and artist Ron Campbell, the "Cartoon Pop Art Show" will feature more than fifty original pieces of art inspired by the countless cartoons Campbell had a hand in animating-most notably The Beatles' classic film Yellow Submarine. Born in 1937 in Seymour, Australia, Campbell's love of animation began at an early age. After going to the Saturday afternoon movies as a kid and being awestruck by the children's animated reel between features, Campbell assumed the process was some kind of magic-until he asked his grandmother. » Read More

Review: 'Annie'

One of the most popular musicals in Broadway history, Annie continues to endear itself to new generations as it makes its way around the globe in a touring production from Troika Entertainment, brought to us locally by Broadway San Jose. Originally debuted in 1977, with book by Thomas Meehan, music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin, the nostalgic show won seven Tony awards and ran for nearly six years. It has been translated into 28 languages and performed in as many countries, from Argentina to Zimbabwe. » Read More

An Orderly Decay

The sinewy, twisting shapes of the natural world collide with the exact geometry of the man-made in Jake Fouts' photography exhibit, "Archetypes," currently showing at The Studio Rock Climbing gym in San Jose's SoFA District. The seemingly random forms of twigs, branches, and bone-hard angles strike a harmonious chord with the hard angles of metal brackets, the perfectly round circles of hydraulic gauges and the glinting glass casing of incandescent bulbs. Rust, decay and their shared status as found objects is what connects this assortment of aesthetically arranged detritus, which Fouts-a longtime San Jose denizen and bartender with a passion for photography-meticulously collects, refines and then stages for his earthy still life » Read More