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Litter-ature Project Calls for Submissions

Program will take poems from talented teens and spread them across San Jose Read More

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'Interview with a Mexican'

Last year, in September, MACLA hosted the first staged reading of Ask a Mexican by the Denver-based playwright Anthony J. Garcia. He based it on Gustavo Arellano's trenchant OC Weekly column of the same name. From 2004 until his resignation from the weekly last year as editor-in-chief, Arellano would answer letters from the public about Latinx culture. The cartoon bandido character who appeared at the top of every column set the tone. Arellano was going to confront caricatures and stereotypes by dismantling blatantly racist letters that were ignorant of and/or openly hostile toward immigrants and their experience of America. Arellano replied to them with an unapologetic, cynical glee. » Read More

Litter-ature Project Calls for Submissions

Long before I was honored with the title of Santa Clara County Poet Laureate, I've considered it my duty to spread the power of poetry to as many people as possible. Through the various open mic events and slams I host, I've worked to draw the poetry out of others and help them to find a voice all their own. Along the way, I've joined forces with local businesses, libraries, non-profit organizations and schools to help South Bae denizens learn to appreciate literature. It has been a wonderful adventure, perhaps the greatest of my life--second only to my initial discovery of poetry and my lasagna. Those two are tied for first. » Read More

Lighting Up Montalvo Arts Center

Right before sundown, Bruce Munro addressed a small crowd assembled to see "Stories in Light," his installation collection at the Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga. To exhibit a mix of newly commissioned and older work, Munro used the Montalvo grounds the way other artists populate a canvas with color. As he talked about the inspiration behind many of the light sculptures, the Great Lawn behind him slowly lit up. His Silver Sea consists of white spheres on poles, "lilies" that undulate with white waves of light that turn blue and then back to white. Munro had previously stayed at Montalvo in 2016 to discuss the idea of an installation. One night he crossed the grounds stumbling toward his destination in the dark. Silver Sea is an antidote » Read More

Mexico Movement

Though the nation we now call Mexico was formally founded a little more than 200 years ago, the country has a vast and storied history. Recognized by archaeologists as one of a handful of "cradles of civilization," the region was home to some of the very first urban settlements anywhere on the planet. Among the many accomplishments of the pre-Columbian Mesoamerican people: the creation of a complex hieroglyphic system, the development of mathematics and the domestication of cacao. The arrival of Spanish conquistadors was devastating for the indigenous population. » Read More

Andy Warhol at Stanford

With its latest exhibit, "Contact Warhol: Photography Without End," the Cantor Arts Center has come up with an alternative to binge watching. Instead of spending hours with Queen Elizabeth and her corgis on Netflix's The Crown, you can pore over a newly acquired digital archive of Andy Warhol's photographs online. And just like an evening lost to streaming movies and endless TV series, you never have to leave your house or change out of pajamas to enjoy the approximately 130,000 photographic exposures collected in sets of contact sheets and negatives. » Read More

Dia de los Muertos in San Jose

El Dia de Los Muertos, the traditional Mexican holiday celebrating life by remembering and honoring the dearly departed, will be observed in a variety of ways in San Jose this year. Enjoy tasty Mexican food, cold drinks, live music and cultural activities--like decorating a sugar skull, contributing to community altars and dancing. » Read More

Review: 'Fun Home'

The spotlight shines on a woman standing alone at her desk. Alison (Moira Stone) introduces herself to us from the middle of an empty stage. She's a cartoonist in search of the perfect caption to describe her childhood. One of her panels appears on a projection screen behind her. In it, her father holds her younger self aloft on his knees. She extends her arms out wide to mimic the wings of an airplane. This and other rare moments of father-daughter connection punctuate Fun Home, the musical adaptation of Alison Bechdel's graphic novel. » Read More

Review: 'The Lieutenant of Inishmore'

Joshua Marx directs Martin McDonagh's play The Lieutenant of Inishmore with verve and efficiency. In this black comedy about a rogue INLA (Irish National Liberation Army) agent set on a path of revenge and destruction, the production emphasizes comedy even when the comic asides land in Grand Guignol territory. The pacing is light on its feet. Marx wrangles passable Irish accents from almost every member of the cast. And the actors commit to the psychic and physical geography of rural Ireland. As an ensemble, they're all on the same page. The production answers every question McDonagh poses on the page except the most important one: "Why?" » Read More

Agnes Martin's Native Inspiration

As the title of the current Pace Gallery exhibit suggests, "Agnes Martin/Navajo Blankets" pairs Navajo blankets with Martin's spare canvases. The blankets date back to the 19th century and are still intact and vibrant. One example identifies No. 6 as a "First Phase Chief's Blanket" (c. 1800-1830). No. 6 is lined with brown and white (now aged to the color of cream) stripes alternating with occasional thin indigo lines. This first phase of Navajo weaving didn't incorporate patterns. At a glance, it looks like an uncomplicated design. But you could come to the same conclusion about Martin's acrylic and graphite canvas Blessings (2000). Pale blue stripes alternate with white ones until they meet in the middle, where one slim line of reddish » Read More

Dinh Q. Le's Beautiful Diaspora

After receiving his art degrees in the US, the Vietnamese artist Dinh Q. Lê returned home to Vietnam for good in 1997, only to stumble across a powerful metaphor. He saw groups of clam diggers walking into the sea at low tide, baskets in hand and hats on their heads, in search of goods. The scene triggered memories of own traumatic experiences of leaving the country by walking toward a boat at sea. In the West, we might call this a "full circle moment," but for Le the image resulted in his first video work, The Imaginary Country (2006), now on display at the San Jose Museum of Art. » Read More

All That Glitters...

The Gilded Age far outshines nature in the Cantor Arts Center's new show, "Painting Nature in the American Gilded Age." Grandiloquent portraits from the turn of the 20th century line the walls. Opulently attired men and women stare back at their makers and, unknowingly, at us in the future. The curators have drawn a tenuous link between this beau monde and the natural world. It's not an implausible relationship, but you may have to strain your eyes to see it. In his Portrait of Mrs. Chase (c. 1910), William Merritt Chase (1849-1916) adorns his wife's pale décolletage with jewels. He drapes a sumptuous green skirt over her right knee. It shimmers like the wings of an iridescent butterfly. That brilliant splash of color, however, is the » Read More

Review: 'The Abduction from the Seraglio'

The show is vibrant from the jump, with the set pieces rendered like an ornate Turkish palace, complete with tall domes and turrets towering above the stage and drawing the eye in. This is extended in the second act when the set is transformed into a magnificent topiary garden with leaves covering every square inch. The setting and ambiance is further reinforced by dynamic mood lighting, casting the stage in soft, early-evening oranges and purples or high-noon desert white light depending on the scene. This attention to detail extends to the costumes, which are an assorted blast of bright colors, textures, and arabesque patterns that transport the audience to the show's Ottoman time period. » Read More

Viviana Paredes at the Triton Museum

The sounds of a Oaxacan marketplace emanate from one corner of a gallery in the Triton Museum of Art. The sounds are coming from a small speaker covered by a fruit crate that faces Viviana Paredes' steel and glass sculpture Ser y Comer, a street cart displaying ears of corn in a handwoven basket. The basket itself is nestled inside a mound of dried, pale yellow kernels that threaten to spill over the cart's edges. Paredes has etched the word "ESQUITES" in capital letters onto one of the glass, side panels. The cart itself stands on top of a platform made from a dozen wooden fruit crates. In "Alimentos: Glass Work by Viviana Paredes," the artist says she wanted to remind people of Mexico's rich cultural heritage as it pertains to "a » Read More

Review: 'Native Gardens'

In Robert Frost's 1914 poem "Mending Wall," the narrator doesn't say, "Good fences make good neighbors." His neighbor does. He wants to mend the stone wall that divides their properties. Instead, it's the narrator, the poet's alter ego, who, after their encounter, asks himself, "If I could put a notion in his head:'Why do they make good neighbors?'" Frost continues with this line of inquiry a few lines later wondering, "Before I built a wall I'd ask to know/What I was walling in or walling out." Fences, as we've discovered in recent years, have come to symbolize political ideologies that favor division over unity. » Read More

Miguel Machuca: 'Drawing Light From Darkness'

There are 54 card drawings in the Mexican game of Lotería. You'll recognize the images of La Mano (the hand), El Corazon (the heart) and La Calavera (the skull). The hand waves unattached to an arm, the heart is an ugly organ pierced by an arrow, the skull is the smiling face of death staring at you with empty, black sockets for eyes. In his own way, artist Miguel Machuca has created a similarly illustrated universe. Drawing Light from Darkness, the title of his solo show at the Triton Museum, is replete with recurring symbols that fill out his deeply personal mythology. » Read More

Worldcon 76 Lands the Ship in San Jose

When Maria Arena woke in a vat of fluids, she couldn't remember how she died. That is, how she died this time. For a clone like Maria, death is just a part of life. It is, at least, in Mur Lafferty's sci-fi mystery Six Wakes. Released in January 2017, Six Wakes is one of six books nominated in the Best Novel category for this year's Hugo Awards. For science fiction writers, there are few prizes more prestigious. A list of previous winners reads like a who's who of the genre: Alfred Bester, Philip K. Dick, Ursula K. Le Guin, Isaac Asimov. To be named a Hugo winner is to enter the pantheon of seers and dreamers whose works have shaped the imagination of readers all over the world. » Read More

The Cypher Dance Company is Born

Fortunately for Cervantes, she has another method of communication to turn to, even when she doesn't speak up. As dancer and choreographer, she uses her body to tell the world how she feels. That's exactly what Cervantes aims to do with "Things I Can't Say Out Loud," the first original showcase by her fledgling Cypher Dance Company. The production aims to call out social inequities through movement. Cervantes says the show will be an immersive experience, featuring a series of dances along with pre-recorded narration, which will help the audience follow along with the emotions the dancers are working to express. Attendees will be encouraged to reflect on their own experience and actions while taking in the performance. » Read More

Curvy Cabaret is All About That Bass

When singer and actress Karyn Rondeau planned to audition for Monty Python's Spamalot, something held her back. "I wasn't going to audition for Spamalot because I was too fat," says Rondeau, who occasionally becomes misty eyed during our conversation. However, with the support of friends, she went out for the role and ended up landing the part of the musical's leading lady. "It was this amazing experience for me, and I got to wear these really awesome sexy costumes," she says, remembering what a confidence boost she gained from the experience. "I just felt great, and I closed that show just loving myself and loving my body." It is that feeling that Rondeau aims to coax out of others with her new show, Curvy Cabaret. A talented cast of » Read More

Tim Hawkinson is Wonderfully Weird at PACE

A recent visitor to the Pace Gallery described Tim Hawkinson's exhibit All that glitters, Must come Down as "super fun." She went on to call out the Baldachin series in particular, noting that the artist was "playing with the classical figure" but wishing that the inkjet scrolls were on a nicer material. They're hanging vertically and mounted on gold emergency blankets that look like appropriate drapery for the inhabitants of a future space colony. The artist has digitally altered human nudes, twisting every limb and appendage around and around. Each body is in a virtual knot. It's a vision of an inelegant ice skater's triple axel that ends in a disastrous pose. After finishing her tour of the work, the patron thanked the gallery assistant » Read More

San Jose ICA Celebrates the Bicycle

The Bike Boogie will dominate the day on Saturday, Aug. 4 at the ICA's gallery space in downtown San Jose. The institute is partnering with the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition for a day of activities in which bicycles are put in fun new contexts. For instance, there's a "bike rodeo," where bikes substitute for buckin' broncos as riders navigate an obstacle course. "There's also a bike runway," says Marielle Mervau, the ICA's curatorial associate and visitor engagement manager. "That's where you can either dress up like your bike, or decorate your bike, and walk the runway, narrated by an emcee." There will also be free bike tune-ups, workshops in bike repair, presentations on safety in urban settings for bicyclists, and a talk about San » Read More

The Pinball Wizards Come to Santa Clara

Maples, who has been in the field for 15 years, recently accepted a position as curator of African Art at the North Carolina Museum of Art. She has often encountered art historians who contend that African art is derivative of Western art. Maples observes that "any time an African picks up a paintbrush or something that is a Western medium, it's not inventive and creative from an African or a visionary standpoint." She believes that's wrong-headed and a problem in the field. Maples notes that, "African art only started getting recognized, particularly contemporary African art, in the last decade, if that." » Read More

Asami Akinaga at the CSMA

Growing up bicultural in the eclectic narrative of Bay Area culture, local artist and art teacher Asami Akinaga explores her Japanese heritage in her first solo exhibit "Strength: Drawings & Paintings." Born in Japan's vibrant capital, Akinaga moved from Tokyo to the Bay Area at age 2. But as she spent most of her summers back in her home country, the move did nothing to dampen her ties to her native land. "I consider myself growing up with both cultures," says Akinaga who refuses to tie her identity to a single building block. "They hear me speak and they assume I'm American now, and I think that's strange because I'm just as fluent in Japanese." » Read More

Frederic Bruly Bouabre at Cantor

Maples, who has been in the field for 15 years, recently accepted a position as curator of African Art at the North Carolina Museum of Art. She has often encountered art historians who contend that African art is derivative of Western art. Maples observes that "any time an African picks up a paintbrush or something that is a Western medium, it's not inventive and creative from an African or a visionary standpoint." She believes that's wrong-headed and a problem in the field. Maples notes that, "African art only started getting recognized, particularly contemporary African art, in the last decade, if that." » Read More

Review: 'In The Heights'

The cast of In the Heights, now playing at City Lights Theater Company, would do well to check their headsets before curtain. Last weekend's opening night performance was marred by numbers in which it seemed some singers' mics were turned up to 11 while others were on mute. This was especially unfortunate because Lin-Manuel Miranda's lyrics drive the plot as much as Quiara Alegria Hudes' dialogue does. A lot of songs are structured as conversations between characters, and a lot of those conversations came across as one-sided. The sound issues were even more vexing since City Lights' cast features some stellar voices. Cristina Hernandez is formidable as Nina, who has managed to break out of the barrio in Manhattan's Washington Heights to » Read More

Won Ju Lim's 'California Dreamin''

What separates the American Dream from the one in California? The color of the sunset. Won Ju Lim's California Dreamin' at the San Jose Museum of Art is alive with it. She projects photographs of an ordinary Los Angeles street scene onto and across the gallery walls. Lim collected that raw footage herself, editing it at the same time that she worked on the sculptural elements filling up the rest of the room.The images feature palm trees standing in formation against a blue sky washed in reds, oranges and yellows. Buildings line the horizon and merge together. Shadows swallow them up. But as your eyes get accustomed to the darkness, they also focus on the sculpture, a model city. » Read More

'Hold These Truths' Remembers Japanese Internment

Jeanne Sakata's father never talked about his internment. He didn't want her to hold any resentment toward her country. He hoped his family could move forward and not look back. Her father was in high school when President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized Executive Order 9066 to relocate more than 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry, including U.S. citizens, to internment camps following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. My father would always give me short answers, and then he would change the subject when I would ask about it," Sakata, a Watsonville native, remembers. "After they got out of those camps, many of the nisei--second-generation Japanese Americans--felt that the best way to deal with the trauma was to not talk about it." » Read More

The Surreal History of Anthony Riggs

A mud-colored python wraps its body around a resting angel with magenta hair. She is unconcerned by its proximity and rests both of her hands against its curving belly. At the center of a target, a 1940s pin-up model holds the head of a gray garden snake between her thumb and index finger, its silvery length coils around her right forearm. Faded pink cherry blossoms surround them both as satellites race across the sky. In two separate poses, the right arm of a naked saint is held aloft by the tail end of a black and white snake. Even chubby putti ride, cavort and wrestle with snakes in the paintings made by Anthony Riggs in his new exhibit at the Triton Museum of Art. » Read More

Author of 'The Billionaire Raj' at Books Inc.

The Billionaire Raj: A Journey Through India's New Gilded Age begins with a car crash. Someone related to India's richest person, Mukesh Ambani, smashes up a $700,000 Aston Martin; no one's held accountable. At the time, author James Crabtree was Mumbai bureau chief for The Financial Times, a job that led him to write his new book, which explores the shadowy billionaires and crooked power brokers who have driven India's growth over the last few decades. Since The Billionaire Raj is essentially a business book, we get doses of statistics, analytics, Forbes lists and all the things that seem to fascinate business writers. » Read More

Animating Artificial Intelligence at The Tech Musuem

While parents might see a budding Michelangelo in the Lego creations of their kids, others likely find it difficult to discern any form in the meandering block structures that spring from the minds of children. So, it would be understandable to also doubt a machine's ability to recognize the intention behind the artistic representations of tots. However, that day may soon be at hand. The Tech Museum of Innovation's newest artificial intelligence-powered attraction demonstrates just how, by pulling visitors into an immersive experience that bridges the realms of technology and art. Titled "Animaker," the new exhibit showcases the capabilities of AI-equipped robots to recognize physical creations and bring them to life through » Read More

'Ink Worlds: Contemporary Chinese Painting'

The relationship between art and the Chinese art of calligraphy is a recurring theme that emerges after a tour through "Ink Worlds: Contemporary Chinese Painting" at the Cantor Arts Center. For those who can't read Chinese, the drawings live in a beautiful, if elliptical realm. Standard meanings, though, even if you can read the language, will be deconstructed. The works are intellectually imposing in conception, execution and size--many take up all or at least half of a gallery wall. In Qin Feng's watery ink-on-paper drawing Desire Scenery No. 1 (2007), two contorted shapes composed in willowy black ink sink down inside a pale blue background. They suffer from spasms and bend angrily in the midst of their dissipation. This could be a » Read More

Review: 'Finks'

In Finks, playwright Joe Gilford imagines the lives of his showbiz parents, Madeline and Jack Gilford, at a crucial point in the beginning of their 40-year marriage. Their fictional counterparts are Mickey (Jim Stanek), a stand-up comedian, and Natalie (Donna Vivino), an actress and activist. They meet in a nightclub where Mickey's performing. Natalie sees him and decides for the both of them that they're meant for each other. And despite the fact that they're both attached to other people when they first meet, the drama of their romantic coupling is only the framing device for writer Gilford's agenda. Finks is set during the 1950s, when the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings dominated the headlines. » Read More

Advertising Run Amok

Other than a brief fascination with Mad Men in the Obama years, Americans have never shown much of an interest in the internal dramas of the advertising industry. It has always been the Rodney Dangerfield of the mass media, always looking for respect and not finding it. But in his new book, journalist Ken Auletta reminds us of the one inescapable truth behind advertising that commands respect. However much you may be annoyed by ads and commercial encroachment in public space, advertising pays the bills for all that great content you and I enjoy every day. From his perch at The New Yorker, Auletta has become one of the country's most prominent observers of the ad game. On Thursday, June 14, he comes to Kepler's in Menlo Park to discuss » Read More

Photographer Hai Bo Documents China's South

Hai Bo strips the human figure of its individuality in his solo exhibit "The Southern Series" (now at Pace Gallery) without destroying the narratives in these black and white photographs. Faces are turned away from or oblivious to the camera, darkened by shadows or otherwise obstructed from view. Bo assigns each work in the series a number rather than a name, a system that encourages an unregulated response from the viewer. "No. 55" features three pillared shrines receding at a perpendicular angle to the grayed-out horizon line. In front of them, a woman stands in the foreground, just off center. She casts an Orphic gaze into the distance, finding nobody behind her in that dusky world. » Read More