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Review: 'Calendar Girls'

Brassieres fly and guts bust in City Lights Theater Company's hilarious new production of Calendar Girls. Based on the 2003 hit movie by Tim Firth-the play (also written by Firth) has, since its 2008 premier, run continuously on London's West End, spawning clones around the world. Now for its holiday schedule, City Lights has taken up Calendar Girls to hilarious effect. In case you are one of the four people who haven't seen the movie, here's a quick plot synopsis: The play opens in the village of Knapely, Yorkshire, at a Women's Institute meeting in a church hall. A group of ladies are practicing tai chi to another's church hymn accompaniment. The sight is both strange and silly, setting the tone for the rest of the play. » Read More

Good Dogs, Great Art

It's often the smallest acts of kindness that have the greatest impact. Take for example, the Frida & Friends Blanket Drive and Art Auction, hosted by Jai Tanju and his wife, Blanche Gonzalez, of Seeing Things Gallery. What started as a small-basically private-fundraiser for blanket donations to the San Jose Animal Care Center, has grown into a multifaceted art auction and benefit over the last nine years. This year's event will bring together artists and animal lovers from all over the world for a single purpose: to help animals in need. » Read More

Dark Impressions By Dutch Printmakers

At the beginning of the year, the river that runs through the town freezes over. People skate across the ice or push their friends in toboggans. The January sky is dotted with black birds in flight. Barren limbed trees bend in the wind. One woman with a high starched collar warms her hands in a muff. She alone stares directly into the eyes of the artist Jan van de Velde II, the most arresting character in his series of prints The Twelve Months 1616. You'll find her In a small dimly lit upstairs gallery at the Cantor Arts Center. The exhibition The Wonder of Everyday LIfe: Dutch Golden Age Prints is an intimate celebration of 17th century Dutch artistry. Rembrandt van Rijn is the star player here. » Read More

No News Is Good News

The artist Dashiell Manley paints the front page of yesterday's newspaper as a blurry, baffling mess. In other words, he reveals a collection of faded headlines for what they are. In the exhibit New to the Cantor: Dashiell Manley, this "front page" series of watercolor pencils on canvas convey, at once, a literal and a figurative sense of a newspaper's psychic and physical decay. This institutional rot was made manifestly clear during this year's rancorous political season. On 8-foot-tall canvases, Manley, who has an MFA from UCLA and a BFA from the California Institute of the Arts, incorporates a day of those headlines into this series of paintings. The New York Times, Thursday October 2 2014, national edition Southern California (front » Read More

Hammer Theatre returns with 'Nutz: Re-Mixed'

Two million dollars isn't a lot of money in Silicon Valley terms, so the restoration and reopening of the 20-year-old Hammer Theatre in downtown San Jose came at a bargain price. The 5,400-square-foot building was closed after San Jose Rep folded about two years ago. Now, after a renovation and a re-do of the sound and lighting system, it's both a public and a private space. The downtown theater is ready for black box performances, for students, for corporate presentations. The Hammer has a rooftop terrace, facilities for receptions and sit-down dinners. SJSU put in $1.5 million and the city added another half-million. SJSU's Humanities Dean Lisa Vollendorf describes the Hammer as a place where the city and the university can meet, much » Read More

Review: 'The Barber of Seville'

Opera San Jose's latest production is not only one of the best-known operas ever written, it is also a bucket of laughs. Debuted in 1817 at the Teatro Argentina in Rome, The Barber of Seville has enjoyed one of the most successful runs in opera history. It is currently ranked No. 9 among the most-performed operas worldwide. However, while it's popularity makes it a go-to production for opera companies the world over, its familiarity (and it's famed Bugs Bunny spoof) means that Barber is no guaranteed hit. Thankfully, instead of employing novelties or flashy effects to keep the story fresh, Opera San Jose plunges into the The Barber of Seville without any frills-the intimate cast eager to bring the equally explosive and silly story to life. » Read More

Finding the Art In Our Stars

For some of us, looking up and out into the depths of space is as unsettling as, say, swimming alongside a blue whale. There's something about the infinity that can make a body feel small. But that's not the case for artist Russell Crotty. Marking the end of his two-year residency at the Institute of the Arts and Sciences at UC Santa Cruz, the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art is presenting a solo exhibition of Crotty's work. With Look Back in Time-a collaboration between the IAS, the ICA and the Lick Observatory-Crotty, a self-made astronomer, presents us with a beautiful interpretation of the stars. » Read More

'Cement Prairie' explores birth of Pan-Indianism

The best point to start exploring Cement Prairie, a new exhibit at NUMU Los Gatos, is by watching the video testimonials in Voices of American Indian Urban Relocation in San Jose, CA. Recorded during the summer of 2016, these first person interviews, though plainly shot, provide moving oral histories by the men and women who experienced urban relocation in the 1950s. Their stories ground the exhibit's subtitle, The History and Legacy of the 1952 American Indian Relocation Program, making it less of a school lesson and more connected to locals in the community. » Read More

Life of Python: John Cleese and Eric Idle

After a decades-long, massively successful comedy career, John Cleese needs money. That's not cynical speculation. It's fact. Just ask him. "There's two reasons to work," Cleese says. "One reason is because you love it. And the other is because you need money. You can arrange any particular piece of work on a spectrum between those two poles. And this is plumb in the middle." Known to American audiences for his work with Monty Python and his uproarious turns in A Fish Called Wanda and Fierce Creatures, the British icon got "cleaned out" by a $20 million divorce settlement last year. Luckily, Cleese can make a sufficient wad by chatting onstage with his friend and longtime collaborator, Eric Idle, on their Together Again At Last...For the » Read More

Time Travelling Chants

Though the ruminative chanting of Byzantine monks might seem entirely unrelated to the complex mathematics at the heart of modern virtual reality software, the two will come together in a beautiful synthesis this Friday at Bing Concert Hall. On Nov. 4, a Portland choral group specializing in Eastern Orthodox sacramental music partners with Stanford sound engineers to recreate the uniquely reverberant recitations that once regularly echoed throughout Istanbul's famed Hagia Sophia. The Oregon-based Cappella Romana ensemble is working with Bissera Pentcheva-head of Stanford's Department of Art & Art History-create a multi-sensory experience. Part of the university's "Icons of Sound" project, the aim of the concert is to transport viewers to » Read More

Alien Con: The Truth is Out There

Among the many guests scheduled to appear at the convention is Kevin Burns, the creator and executive producer of the show. Burns says the idea behind Ancient Aliens was to update Chariots of the Gods?, a 1968 book by Erich von Daniken, which proposed that the religions and technologies of ancient civilizations could have been given to them by extraterrestrial beings. "Why do archaeologists dig, why does humanity dig?" Burns asks. "The answer, to me, is we are looking for God, we're looking for evidence of where we come from. We are a species with collective amnesia. We do not know our origins. We have science and technology and archeology that attempts to tell us where we come from. And we have religion that attempts to tell us where we » Read More

Jose Vargas: 'Whiteness is a Construction'

During the production of his first film, Jose Antonio Vargas came to the conclusion that a large segment of the population had no idea who they were. An undocumented immigrant of Filipino descent, Vargas is hyperaware of his own heritage-as is much of the United States. The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist made waves in 2011 after penning an essay for The New York Times Magazine, in which he publicly declared his undocumented status. That same year he founded Define American, a nonprofit organization that works to raise awareness of immigration issues in the U.S. » Read More

Kyle Pellet's 'Attitude' Adjustment

Dream-like states have long been a theme in Pellet's work. Strange, half-formed and brightly colored characters traverse anonymous mallscapes, parking lots and waiting rooms-roaming like zombies in a suburban, consumerist fugue-always moving but rarely interacting. Many of his paintings recall the work of Keith Haring, if Haring had been from San Jose instead of New York, and had whiled away his days at Oakridge Mall instead of the subway. "I think that's just my past, how I navigate the past maybe," Pellet says contemplating the preponderance of malls in his work. "Somehow I just latched onto that language, or those feelings. Most of what I want to communicate can be communicated through these strange spaces and textures. Suburban San » Read More

A Dangerous Art Show

The Arsenal's newest exhibition, "If Looks Could Kill" is both an innovative take on contemporary portraiture and an homage to an art show out of the 15th century. The first solo show by San Jose-based artist Adam Porwol features a series of seductive female portraits painted with dangerous pigments. Displayed without name or designation-save warnings on the dangerous chemicals used, including arsenic, lead and mercury-the collection of beautiful, scantily clad women has elements of both hyperrealism and expressionism. Textured in an almost pointillist style-except with thin, string-like brush strokes comprising the figures-Porwol creates spellbinding visual effects out of an otherwise forgettable subject matter. » Read More

The Nature of 'Beauty'

Every three years the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum devotes a triennial exhibition to one theme. In 2010, the exhibition "Why Design Now?" sought to justify its very existence. Could design contend with social and ecological problems? The answer was a resounding yes. This year the self-doubt has apparently disappeared in favor of Design's renewed self-confidence in what it does best. 2016's theme is "Beauty." A traveling version of the exhibition arrives this week for an exclusive four-month stay at the San Jose Museum of Art. Because Cooper Hewitt is the preeminent design museum in the country, an exhibition devoted to beauty is anything but narrow, self-reflexive and preening. The show is divided between two floors and across » Read More

Sculptor Bruce Beasley Turns to 3D Printers

Schapp says she couldn't pass up the opportunity to show the Oakland-based artist's new work. The 12 ivory-colored pieces in the Coriolis series were fabricated from resinous material known as acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, or ABS. Using computer models, these lovely, sensuous sculptures were created using a large-format 3-D printer. According to Schapp, it took four days to print each of the four sections in each sculpture. A close look at the twisting, curving noodle-like shapes reveals the seams where the individual parts of each sculpture were joined. » Read More

'Lost San Jose' Photog Explores Local Landmarks

Given its identity as the "Capital of Silicon Valley," it's little wonder that San Jose is betting big on the future. The city's general plan for 2011-2020 proudly touts the tagline, "Focus on the Future." But what does this mean for San Jose's past? If city officials and planners are all focused on the next big thing coming around the bend, is there still room for history? These are the kinds of questions that loom large in the photography of Josh Marcotte. Many may already be familiar with his work through his Instagram account, "Lost San Jose," but a new photo show opening at KALEID Gallery on Oct. 7 offers a chance to see his work in a more structured and narrative form. » Read More

Oddball Comedy Yucks It Up

It's easy forget that stand-up comedy is, first and foremost, an American art form. Decades before The Daily Show put Trevor Noah and John Oliver on the map, comedians like Jack Benny and Bob Hope stepped down from the vaudeville stage and ventured out on their own. These early comics paved the way for the likes of Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Steve Martin, Robin Williams and Jerry Seinfeld. Eventually comedy diversified, as more women and comedians of color picked up the mic-from Joan Rivers and Margaret Cho to Aziz Ansari and Kumail Nanjiani. It's also easy to forget that stand-up superstars are a relatively recent phenomenon. Andrew Dice Clay was the first comedian to sell out Madison Square Garden, which he did two nights » Read More

Family Secrets Revealed in 'Other Desert Cities'

City Lights Theatre kicks off its 2016-17 season with the story of a dysfunctional family trying desperately to keep its skeletons in the closet. Other Desert Cities, opens in the living room of a Palm Springs mansion. The decor is modern-1950s international pavilion style-bright orange and muted green furniture set against a glass window backdrop, with a dark desert light wavering behind a large mountain range. Enter the Wyeth family, returning home from a tennis match. One quickly sees they are a Hollywood family. Polly and her sister, Silda, made a name for themselves writing a TV show in the '60s. Polly's husband, Lymon, was the town's go-to character actor whenever a director was in need of a gumshoe; he is best remembered for his » Read More

Broadway San Jose's Fantastic 'Phantom'

Cue the synths, smoke machines and the magic chandelier. Broadway San Jose opens its 2016-17 season with the newest touring production of The Phantom of the Opera. Scaled for the Center for Performing Arts, it still incorporates all the beloved features of the hugely popular Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. As this Phantom opens, the stage is covered by a giant smoky scrim, behind which an auction of old theater props is taking place. The auctioneer is selling off various items ... when he comes to Lot 666, an old, rusted chandelier. As he explains its connection to the strange events surrounding the phantom of the opera, the chandelier flickers to life, illuminated by the "new" electricity. The hulking candelabra quakes and sparks fly, as the » Read More

Comedian Craig Robinson Gets Serious

The stars! They're just like us. And just as Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally satiate our need to see a fully functional-if mundanely so-Hollywood relationship, Craig Robinson is a lot like most of us in another way: Dude watches a lot of streaming media. "I've been watching a lot of Narcos and House of Cards," says Robinson, who first broke out big on NBC's The Office, and has also starred in films such as Hot Tub Time Machine. "It's hard to believe that's it's not actually happening-that they are just acting," Robinson says of actors Kevin Spacey and Wagner Moura. "That's the level I want to get to." » Read More

Review: Cavalia's 'Odysseo'

For milennia, humans and horses have shared a special bond. A new production from the Quebec-based Cavalia aims to tell story of mankind's long and complex relationship to these majestic creatures. Odysseo, the touring program from the Canadian equestrian and acrobatic performance troupe, premiered in 2011 and this week made its debut in San Jose. The $30 million production is bigger than its previous entertainment, with over 100 tour buses, 65 horses and 48 performers, including riders, acrobats and musicians. Artistic director and creator Normand Latourelle says Odysseo is a show unlike any other. "I think it's the best show that people can witness, ever," Latourelle says. » Read More

Los Altos Stage's 'Assassins' Kills It

In the real world, killing the president is high treason. But in Los Altos Stage Company's latest production, Assassins, the murder-or attempted murder-of the Commander in Chief serves as a springboard into an an unlikely romp. The Stephen Sondheim musical opens at a turn-of-the-century-political-rally. Soft jazz and ragtime drift out of the wings, which are constructed as plank-like walls adorned with stars, as the cast sings the musical's best-known song, "Everybody's Got the Right." This first song treats political assassination as something in which anyone can participate-indeed, as an egalitarian and oddly patriotic activity. Regardless of content, all of the songs in Assassins are upbeat; Sondheim shrewdly creates cognitive » Read More

Jeff Chang: 'We Gon' Be Alright'

Last year, at the end of a Black Lives Matter protest in Cleveland, police arrested a 14-year-old African American, then pepper-sprayed the crowd that refused to let the officers leave. In response, the crowd erupted in chants of "We Gon' Be Alright," the hook to an activist anthem by Compton-bred emcee Kendrick Lamar. UC-Davis grad and hip-hop historian Jeff Chang used that chant to title a series of essays which examine America's history of racial prejudice in a meaningful and productive way. "I hope the book will help people turn down the volume a little bit and to try to have these conversations based on fact," he says. "As opposed to 'I feel this way, you feel this way, my feeling is just as good as your feeling.' » Read More

Andrew Lippa's Wonderous Revue

When staging a revue that pays homage to a star in the musical theatre firmament, why not have that very personage actually in the show? Such is the case with Life of the Party. Currently showing at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, it's a lively montage of the works of Andrew Lippa, starring Lippa himself. It's a bold move, but it pays off in spades, as Lippa sings, dances and plays piano and ukulele to showcase his successful, and still unfolding, career. In fact, the show wouldn't work without Lippa-who could possibly play him? One presumes the production will live only as long as Lippa wants to do it. As such, Life of the Party presents a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with one of Broadway's brightest stars. Tickets to this » Read More

Free Shrugs: Burning Man Then and Now

The Burning Man festival, in the remote Black Rock Desert in northeastern Nevada, is viewed as shorthand slur for everything that's obnoxious about New Agers. It's also seen as a unicorn ranch, a social-sexual paradise where even the lowliest bro can find love. "It can be an erotically-charged environment" warns the Burning Man Survival Guide. A corrective definition, from the side of the brewers' encampment RV, where volunteers poured very good ale for free: "Burning Man: It's Just Fucking Camping." Take caution when quoting a bar motto describing a town. Drinkers are like the cat in the Kipling story: all places are the same to them. Black Rock City is a gorgeous chimera, a hallucination woven from ball bungies, duct tape, and propane. » Read More

Man vs. Nature: 'Indestructible Wonder'

At first blush, the thematic connection between two new exhibits at the San Jose Museum of Art seems tenuous at best. But after spending time in both galleries, two sets of entirely different means and media unexpectedly complement each other. In one, we peer into the lives of an often unrepresented and invisible group of Americans: the working class. In the other, the scope expands, often abstractly, as several artists explore humanity's relationship with nature. Walking up the stairs, approaching the entrance to "Indestructible Wonder," animal sounds spill out in all directions from one of the two galleries-the kinds of noises one hears in films about the jungle: the guttural howls of distant, unseen beasts. The distorted calls and muted » Read More

Italian Family Festa Focuses on Heritage

Food has always been a great way to experience a different culture. Behind every native dish there is a story being passed down from generation to generation. Some cultural festivals lose the thread of these stories in a maze of food trucks and activities, but not the Italian Family Festa, which for two full days this weekend celebrates the richness of Italian-American heritage. "You can go to many festivals and order the food, but what I think is missing is the history" says Ken Borelli, chair of the Italian American Heritage Foundation, the organization which runs the annual gathering. » Read More

Review: 'Waiting For Lefty'

Clifford Odets wrote this American classic in 1935, mid-Depression, for the New York-based Group Theatre-an avant-garde troupe known for its timely and relevant productions. In recent years it has seen a revival of interest, first in London in 2013 and now at the Stanford Repertory Theatre. Set loosely against the backdrop of a taxi drivers' strike, the play addresses the woes of workers fighting to navigate a cruel and indifferent capitalist system. It fits well within the theme for SRT's current season: "Theater Takes a Stand." Depression-era audiences are said to have raved over the play, cheering it on and revelling in its message of revolt and activism. But the crowd at a recent showing didn't seem spurred to action. » Read More

Silicon Valley Housing Market Eats Empire Seven

Araujo's studio and gallery space has been on the corner of Empire and 7th Street since 2007. In that time, Araujo and his partner, Jennifer Ahn, have worked with local businesses to beautify the area, painting numerous murals around Japantown and greater San Jose. The canine mural on the side of historic Nichi Bei Bussan was the work of Empire Seven, as were the murals on AEF Grocery on Second Street, Santo Market on Taylor, and the massive work along the railroad tracks just behind the studio near Seventh and Empire streets. Araujo has also worked with local nonprofits to teach art classes at juvenile hall. » Read More

Rabia Chaudry: Advocating for Adnan

Rabia Chaudry was at home when the news broke. On June 30, more than 15 years after he was convicted for murdering his high school girlfriend, Judge Martin Welch vacated Adnan Syed's conviction and granted a new trial. "It was really tremendous," Chaudry says, recalling that day in an interview with Metro. "I had a bit of an emotional meltdown." That's because Chaudry has spent the last decade and a half working to exonerate Syed, a family friend, whom she says was wrongly accused in the death of Hae Min Lee. Chaudry opens her new book, Adnan's Story: The Search for Truth and Justice After Serial, with a letter to the reader recalling that fateful day and her unwavering commitment to proving Syed's innocence. In 2000 Syed was found guilty » Read More

Painting With Light

Just as the typewriter replaced the hand-written word, and the word processor sent its mechanical predecessor the way of the dodo, new technology is changing the way visual artists create. This year marks the fourth annual Mobile Digital Art & Creativity Summit (mDAC). Held at the Palo Alto Art Center, the event, which begins Friday night with an opening party and exhibition, showcases the emergent field of artwork created entirely on tablets and touchscreen handsets. The Mobile Digital Painting Exhibition showcases the work of over 70 artists selected from more than 800 submissions, which were judged by a panel consisting of the digital artist Jaime Sanjuan and the self-described "creative being," Ivy Newport. » Read More

New Works Festival Brings Audience Into Writer's Room

In the theater world, audiences are mostly limited to showing approval through cheering and bursts of applause. Theatergoers are rarely asked to participate in the artistic process themselves-especially not before a performance goes to production. But the New Works Festival was never meant to be an average theatergoing experience. When the Palo Alto-based TheatreWorks launched the New Works Festival in 2002, the company's artistic director, Robert Kelley, didn't just want to bring unique performances to the Peninsula, he wanted to build an entirely new community of highly invested theater fans. The idea was to give audiences a first look at a handful of innovative plays and musicals, allowing them to rate scripts and give feedback to » Read More

'The Swings' Transform Playground Equipment Into Musical Instrument

A new piece of public art coming to downtown San Jose aims to bring the community together with a ubiquitous piece of playground equipment. Starting Aug. 4, a giant swingset will play music in the Plaza de Cesar Chavez. The nationally touring art installation features 21 rainbow-colored seats that produce notes made by gentle instruments like pianos, harps and xylophones. As participants coordinate their swings, the set produces a fuller, more satisfying melody-a breezy song to fill San Jose's central-most park. "We see the Plaza de Cesar Chavez as the heart of downtown," says city spokeswoman Elisabeth Handler. "San Jose has been focused very intently on activating the plaza to make downtown congenial, attractive and engaging for the » Read More

'The Art of Water' Examines California's Precious Resource

In the July heat, much of the Stanford University campus is bleached beige or brown. On every horizon, parched hillsides present a similar picture, completely devoid of any lingering spring greens. Across the street from the Cantor Arts Center's entrance, Andy Goldsworthy's Stone River snakes its mud-colored spine up from dusty crumbs of earth. Absent human intervention, this is a dry, waterless place. Inside the Cantor Arts Center, a new exhibit acts as a temporary, air-conditioned corrective. The gallery walls in "California: The Art of Water" borrow a paint scheme from one of David Hockney's stimulating pool blues. The three open rooms of the show are loosely divided into themes: "Water and the wilderness"; "The role of water in » Read More

Ephemeral Sculpture at Montalvo's 'Garden' Party

As captivating as the works may be, those attending this Friday's "pop-up arts festival" at Montalvo Art Center would do well to resist becoming too attached to any of the pieces. After all, at the end of the night, they will all be torn down-faster than they were even created. The theme of this year's "Rock the Garden" festival, "5 Hour Sculpture," is pretty self-explanatory. The Montalvo Arts Center has invited artists from around the world to come to Villa Montalvo, where they will create temporary installments on the 175-acre grounds of the historic Saratoga estate. They will have just five hours to complete and show their works. The idea, according to Montalvo's curator, Donna Conwell, is to highlight how monumental even a short span » Read More

Brian Regan Takes His Comedy Seriously

While many comics pepper their stand-up act with profane and vulgar language-assaulting their audiences with social taboos in the pursuit of laughs-Brian Regan goes out of his way to keep things clean. The strategy has paid off. Over the course of his 25-year career, he has earned the recognition of comedy legends, like Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock, and racked up 28 appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman-more than any other comic. He is adept at finding the funny in topics other comics wouldn't bother exploring. "I look at it like it's a big mine," Regan says, launching into a metaphor about his process. » Read More

David Ligare's Psychedelic Classicism

The Triton Museum's current exhibit, featuring the contemporary realist paintings and drawings of David Ligare, is a definite must-see. Ligare's work, classicist and idealized, occupies the latter decades of the 20th century, but reflects influences from Ancient Greece and Rome and the Renaissance. It also extends into the 21st century with a relevance that is surprising and yet somehow familiar. His emphasis on light and perspective as well as "divine proportions" references Humanism of past eras, but updates those ideals with a stunning clarity of vision and purpose. The Triton's main galleries are devoted to the exhibit, "David Ligare: California Classicist." Walking into these is a revelation-the sheer size and majesty of Ligare's » Read More

Review: 'August: Osage County' at the Pear

Some pieces of art-whether theatrical, musical or cinematic-are best experienced at a particular time of day, or during a specific season, in order to help the audience suspend their disbelief. The color films of Nicholas Ray are meant for red sundowns, Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game" for midnight road trips, and Tracy Letts' August: Osage County is for the pearled sweat of summer. How appropriate, then, for the Pear Theatre to be staging August: Osage County when temperatures are exceeding 90 degrees in the South Bay. » Read More

Mary Roach Talks 'Grunt' at Kepler's

For someone who has devoted the last two decades to investigating ghosts, cadavers and life on Mars, science writer Mary Roach is a surprisingly down-to-earth woman. What's not surprising is that she is as witty in real life as she is in her books. The Oakland-based author and humorist is known for a string of quirky, scientific investigations into the human body. Her best-known and best-selling works include Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife; and Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex. In her newest book, Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, Roach investigates a collection of U.S. military experiments-all of them designed to better understand the science of "keeping people alive and putting them back together." » Read More

Good Karma Gets Cosmic Facelift

San Jose's latest piece of public art has made a much-loved downtown cafe one of the most visually striking buildings on S. First Street. Artist and musician Ben Henderson's new poster-art inspired mural should serve to draw more customers to the already popular Good Karma. A combination vegan cafe and craft brewery, Good Karma has become something of a local institution since it first opened-known for its prime people-watching patio, tasty vegan fare and artisanal brews. "We've been talking about it for a couple years, but only in the last few months did the wheels start moving," Henderson says of his new 30-foot by 18-foot mural. Melding the aesthetics of art nouveau and rock & roll poster art, the piece is a multilayered exploration of » Read More

'Wild,' Roaring Good Time at SJ Stage

The San Jose Stage Company's newest production, The Wild Party, is a musical quite unlike anything you've ever seen, unless you're a regular at old-timey burlesque parlors. As the curtain goes up, soft, breezy jazz trickles in through the house speakers-setting the mood for the rest of this historically controversial story. The stage is nearly circular, a round opening of black and white marble floors in front of a bed, a bar and a bathtub. This musical adaptation by composer Andrew Lippa is based on Joseph Moncure March's famously transgressive 1928 poem of the same name. Originally banned upon its publication, March's poem gives The Wild Party's musical adaptation its gritty, gin-soaked roots. It is said that the piece inspired William » Read More

NUMU's New Show Ponders Paradise

Underneath a blue sky, three shepherds and a shepherdess gambol across the countryside. They sport richly hued Grecian robes of scarlet, ocean and sunflower. En route to nowhere in particular, they encounter a sarcophagus with an inscription carved into its stone edifice: Et in Arcadia Ego. They look to each other to puzzle through its meaning, "Even in Arcadia, there am I." Arcadia, an idyllic place, formed in the imagination, is never real or reachable, except in art. The phrase gives voice to the dead, reminding these carefree souls that even in their particular eden, death is inescapable. But it's also a message from the painter himself, Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665): "Even in this painting, here am I, my brushwork, my palette, my » Read More

The Citadel, Home to Many SJ Artists, Unites with Group Show

Over the last eight years, Jennifer Ahn and Juan Carlos Araujo have witnessed the full spectrum of the art world's absurdity. The co-founders of Empire Seven Studios have accomplished a great deal-and overcome some trying obstacles-since first opening their gallery near the corner of Empire and N. 7th streets in the Japantown neighborhood of San Jose. In remembrance of this near-decade-long adventure in the art world, from humble beginnings to hosting high-profile, touring exhibitions-and even a near-catastrophic fire-Empire Seven's new show, Shokunin: Celebrating 8 Years in Japantown will be a retrospective group show. The title is a nod to the Japanese idea of a shokunin: the humble, dedicated, undeviating artisan. It also reflects the » Read More

New Zine Project Seeks to Prove SJ is Literary Power

The history of zine culture is a history of resistance. For about as long as the novel has been around, political dissidents, cultural outcasts and the institutionally overlooked have all used self-published small run magazines (or, zines) to reach and sway a wider audience. Reagan-era punks, Russian anti-Soviets and golden age sci-fi authors have all used the format to great success. Even Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass arguably started as a zine. This summer, three of San Jose's most proactive cultural institutions-DIY punk collective Think & Die Thinking, literary journal Cheers From the Wasteland, and alt-entrepreneurial group Silicon Valley De-Bug-bring us Summer of Discontent, a three-month long zine initiative that aims to unite all » Read More

The Citadel, Home to Many SJ Artists, Unites with Group Show

TA mile off Highway 280, just north of downtown, hidden in a small sea of industrial facilities and drab warehouses, is arguably San Jose's greatest artistic hive: The Citadel. A collection of more than seventy active studios, with at least 500 more studios to spare (literally), The Citadel and-by extension-Citadel Art Studios, has been active for more than two decades and is the largest artistic community in the South Bay. Now the Citadel's tenants are coming together for their first ever group-building show, entitled "FUSE: Distributive Cognition." Originally a cannery, the building's layout provides for an incredible amount of usable space. Especially for Silicon Valley. » Read More

Local High Schooler's Mural Contemplates Time

When one of her teachers came around asking if any students wanted to work on a public art project, Jamie Friedman says she was immediately interested. "I was excited about it," the senior at Notre Dame High School says of her involvement in the mural-an initiative of the San Jose Downtown Association and the Property-Based Improvement District. In fact, as she recalls, her excitement was initially unmatched by any of her peers. "I was the only one who took it seriously." The mural, which was completed earlier this month, is elevated by stilts and now overlooks South Second and San Carlos streets. Painted on two large, wooden boards-one facing the Tech Shop, the other facing the U.S. District Court building-the work is meant to symbolize » Read More

Opposites Attract in 'I and You'

City Lights Theater's latest production, I and You, explores death, mortality, poetry and the unlikeliest of adolescent pairings. The story opens abruptly on teenaged Caroline (played by Ivette Deltoro), sitting in a messy room filled with dirty clothes, teddy bears and prescription bottles. As she browses her computer, a strange boy unexpectedly opens the door, sending her into a manic state. After he can explain himself-his name is Anthony and he's there in hopes of getting help on a class project-Caroline relents slightly and lets him in. Anthony explains further that he needs to finish his project on Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass for a class that Caroline once attended. » Read More

Pear Theatre's 'Slices' Festival Back For 13th Year

Mountain View's Pear Theatre is continuing its long-running festival of one-acts written by local playwrights. This year, the 'Pear Slices' festival has doubled in size, requiring the company to split the showcase into two separate programs of seven plays each- 'Anjou Pears' and 'Bosc Slices'-to play on alternating nights. One begins to suspect that seven is an auspicious number for this theater company, when learning that a total of seven actors fill all of the roles in the 14 plays directed by Robyn Ginsburg Braverman and Troy Johnson. The Pear's mission statement promises 'wonders on a shoestring.' However, the set-which changes from play to play, with chairs and tables brought in and out to suit the purposes of the narrative-is » Read More

Wingrove's Dance Company Celebrates 35 Years

Margaret Wingrove is hitting two significant milestones this year. First, the longtime choreographer and head of the Margaret Wingrove Dance Company is celebrating her troupe's 35th year of presenting quality dance programming in San Jose. Second, Wingrove celebrated her 80th birthday earlier this year. This Thursday and Friday, May 19 and 20, Wingrove debuts her latest show, Heart on Fire-a selection of three premiers, including 'Moments,' 'We Have Flowers,' and 'Janis,' a depiction of the iconic rock & roll singer Janis Joplin. The pieces will feature Wingrove's signature blend of classical and modern choreography. A variety of guest artists will be joining the company for Heart on Fire. There will be musicians from the San Jose Chamber » Read More

High Concept Street Art: 'Graffuturism'

A new group show at Anno Domini presents some of the world's most famous graffiti artists working outside of their comfort zones-with both marvelous and jarring results. When artist and curator Poesia started Graffuturism as an art blog more than six years ago, he never imagined it would evolve into the 75-member art collective it is today. Rather than seeking to codify a discrete aesthetic, Graffuturism intends to rally its members and audience around a shared ethos. The graffuturism is a community consists of dedicated and forward-thinking street artists and graffiti artists, explains Poesia, who is known only by his nom du plume. 'We all come from a graffiti background, but we all work in different styles,' he says. While there is no » Read More

Celebrating Cinco: Chicano Art, Culture, Music

With its large Chicano population and many Latino-oriented community organizations, Silicon Valley always has Cinco de Mayo covered. The holiday commemorates Mexico's victory over French forces on May 5, 1862, at the Battle of Puebla, but the day more often focuses on cruising the city streets, blasting loud music and celebrating in style. Here are a few events. U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera (see page 42) has frequently written about the immigrant experience. He appears as part of the Legacy of Poetry Day. » Read More

Stanford's Beautiful Map Collection

The thought of printed maps may bring you back to the tedium of a 5th grade history class, but the new David Rumsey Map Center at Stanford University is like no geography lesson you ever had. The collection of more than 150,000 rare maps, globes, atlases and other cartographic paraphernalia was donated in 2009 by longtime map collector David Rumsey a San Francisco real estate developer and chairman of Luna Imaging. With artifacts dating back to the 15th century, the Rumsey Collection is a veritable compendium of cartography. Physically, the Center seems both expansive-almost spare-yet filled to the brim with visual information. While the space is rich with with visual history, context and synthesis comes alive through the Center's two » Read More

Silicon Valley Open Studios Shares Art With Local Community

For 30 years, Silicon Valley Open Studios has connected South Bay and Peninsula artists with members of the communities where they create. Next month's three-weekend event features more than 350 artists working in just about every medium imaginable: watercolor and oil paint; mixed-media, jewelry and assemblage; mosaic and glass; sculpture and woodworking; and photography. StartedLaunched in 1986, the event coordinates with artists who voluntarily open their studios to art patrons, collectors and anyone who is interested. It gives art lovers the chance to meet with artists working in their own backyards and gain an understanding of the artistic process. Many of the exhibitors show their work in the very studios where they create, and » Read More

Meet SJ Museum of Art's New Curator

The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. is one of the largest museums in North America. With an impressive collection and the vast resources of the federal government behind it, working at the prestigious institution is likely on many an art professional's short list of dream jobs. However, according to Lauren Dickens, it's not for her. 'The National Gallery is an internationally renowned institution with almost unmatched scholarship,' says Dickens, who recently left her position as curatorial consultant at the National Gallery to take over as head curator of the San Jose Museum of Art. 'But it's such a large institution, I very much felt like a cog in the wheel there.' She says that the real draw of working at a smaller » Read More

Opera San Jose Takes on 'A Streetcar Named Desire'

Opera San Jose's newest production is a clever reimagining of the classic Tennessee Williams play, A Streetcar Named Desire. The show opens with a bare set, sparsely populated by smoking, greasy men. Enter Blanche DuBois, who, after losing her family home, has come to New Orleans to stay with her sister Stella Kowalski in a two room flophouse. Little does she know that Stella has become a slave to her crude and vicious husband, Stanley. As she settles into her new life she meets Mitch, one of Stanley's kinder, gentler friends. But the environment is toxic, the men manipulative and Blanche is quickly swept up into the mess. By the end of it all, Stanley's vicious and violent actions leave Blanche in a fugue state, teetering on mental » Read More

'Catch-22' is Difficult for Los Altos Stage to Define

Although originally adapted for the stage in 1971 by the author himself, it took more than 46 years for Joseph Heller's Catch-22 to finally see the lights of Broadway. Now, a decade later, this 20th century classic is seeing the stage again, this time in a light-hearted, dreamy reimagining presented by the Los Altos Stage Company. The play opens with Yossarian, a WWII Army Air Corps pilot stuck on a military base off the coast of Italy, grappling with the concept of a 'Catch-22'-a fictional army rule, which keeps him and his fellow airmen flying suicidal bombing missions. The circular logic of the Catch-22 dictates that only soldiers proven insane may be sent home; however, the rule also states that claiming to be insane is proof of one's » Read More

'Permanently Improvised' is Dadaist Propaganda

Anno Domini has a knack for finding innovative and thought-provoking artists from all over the world. But more importantly, the gallery also manages to get those artists to display their works here in San Jose. Gallery AD's latest show is 'Permanently Improvised' by Various & Gould, a Berlin-based street artist duo. A selection from an ongoing series by these two artists entitled 'Rabotniki'-Russian for 'workers'-the show is a vivid collage-like exploration of the beauty of everyday life, with an emphasis on the working man's experience. Although it seems almost digital, all the work in 'Permanently Improvised' is handmade, and in many cases, to an incredibly detailed degree. Using mixtures of acrylics, spray paint, and elaborately » Read More

New Quilt Museum Exhibit Makes a 'Statement'

The adage 'everything old is new again' certainly applies when viewing the current exhibition at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles. 'Blanket Statements' is a color-saturated display of both historical quilts from the 18th and 19th centuries and the recent work of contemporary fabric designer Kaffe Fassett. On view until July 3, the 20 new quilts and 15 vintage quilts present a wide range of technique and subject matter-a sort of visual history of this old and venerable medium. The exhibition was created by the York Quilt Museum and Gallery in England and has been presented at two other venues in the United States. » Read More

Symphony SV Performs 'Godfather' Score

Continuing their tradition of performing classic movie scores live beneath the big screen, Symphony Silicon Valley is tackling The Godfather—playing Nino Rota's revered compositions while Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Diane Keaton and the rest of that star-studded cast bring Francis Ford Coppola's adaptation of Mario Puzo's gangster epic to life. Matching revered films with the dynamics of a live orchestra might seem a throwback to the silent film era. But, according to SSV's general director Andrew Bales, the marriage of live music and talkies is a new-but increasingly popular-art form. The demand for such productions is growing around the world, Bales says, pointing to the recent success Symphony Silicon Valley had live-scoring The Lord of » Read More

Mr. Harada's Darkly Comic Drawings

It's a telling that Jeremiah Harada prefers his artistic nom de plume, "mr. harada," spelled sans proper capitalization. The subjects of his simplistic line drawings tend to be sad sacks, wallowing in the midst of existential crises. And why bother with grammar when the world is a series of cruel jokes at your expense? His new show at Seeing Things Gallery, "I'm a Joke," may just coax a crooked grin out of those with a certain, twisted sense of humor, his. It will surely prompt some knowing grimaces, as his darkly comic, cartoonish drawings explore feelings of despair, angst and embarrassment. Like Seeing Things director Jai Tanju, Harada is a member of the TiltMode Army-a group of San Jose skaters who, since the mid '90s, have developed a » Read More

San Jose Museum of Art Celebrates Valley's Art Pioneers

Borrowing Blockbuster exhibitions in order to increase visibility and bring patrons through the door has been standard operating procedure for art museums for many years. Recently, however, curators at the San Jose Museum of Art discovered that hidden gems, locked away in storage for decades, can draw a crowd, especially when the story they tell is compelling. Specifically, the exhibition celebrates the artists who lived and worked in San Jose in the 1960s and who expressed their own personal reactions to the prevailing art movements: pop, abstract expressionism and minimalism. » Read More

New Online Journal Amplifies Voices from the 'Wasteland'

Is San Jose sometimes dubiously called "The Capital of Silicon Valley," indeed a Valley of the Heart's Delight? Or might it be more accurately described as a Valley of Ashes? It all depends on who you ask. These are the questions at the heart of the new place-based online literary journal, Cheers From the Wasteland. The journal, founded by fourth-generation San Jose native Li Patron, recently released its first issue online, collecting works from ten different artists and authors, all of whom have lived, or currently live, in San Jose. » Read More

Exhibit: 'Digital Spaces and Future Parks'

Legendary New York- and London-based Pace Gallery has made its way to Menlo Park, and it hasn't arrived quietly. Located in a former TESLA dealership, the exhibit, titled "Living Digital Space and Future Parks" is a pop-up gallery-an appropriate term in this case, considering the impressive computer-visual art installation was installed and outfitted in just eight weeks. "It was crazy," says Elizabeth Sullivan, the project's director. The set-up began over the holidays and was further complicated by the city's permitting process-all "fun stuff" for the 20-year art gallery veteran. » Read More

SV Ballet's Curtain Call

After 30 years of operation, the majority of which was spent in San Jose, the Silicon Valley Ballet has announced it will be shuttering its operation for good. "It's so sad for us," says Millicent Powers, executive director of the ballet, who last week, along with the organization's board of directors, made the "very, very difficult decision" to hang up their proverbial dancing slippers and tutus. Powers says that the ballet has been struggling for some time. "It's no secret that the company has had problems over the years." » Read More

'Border Cantos' highlights life in the transitory space between the U.S. and Mexico

The call and response of photographer to composer and back again informs the collaboration of Border Cantos. The photographer is Richard Misrach; the composer Guillermo Galindo. The subject is the border between the United States and Mexico. With his snapshots, Misrach captures the vast desert expanses, along with the fences and walls that divide the two countries. Galindo composes sonic landscapes using one-of-a-kind, hand-made musical instruments, which he has fashioned from various materials and personal objects found strewn about the scrubby, wind-swept terrain that straddles the border. The exhibit explores the geographical, political and psychological ramifications of life on the border. Through photography and music, both artists » Read More

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