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Anno Domini's Quartet for the End of Time

Anno Domini's dual exhibition proves art conquers all-even Nazism. Read More

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Anno Domini's Quartet for the End of Time

Composer Olivier Messiaen wrote and premiered his Quartet for the End of Time as a war prisoner inside Stalag VIII-A, near Gorlitz, Germany, in what's now Poland. Rather than attempting escape, Messiaen devoted all his spare energy to the piece-playing piano and enlisting other POWs to play clarinet, violin and cello. The work debuted in January 1941. Many experts situate the quartet near the top of 20th-century chamber music, not only for the catastrophic circumstances surrounding its inception, but also for Messiaen's reverent Catholic faith, his use of medieval modes and Hindu rhythmic cycles, and his disregard for all sense of linear time. While other musicians in the camp plotted to escape, Messiaen chose to stay and write music in » Read More

'Tigers Be Still' Balances Darkness and Light

"Comedy" and "depression" may not always go hand in hand, but in the case of Tigers Be Still, the new production by City Lights Theater Company, the two blend together in humorous, touching ways. Anyone who's graduated from college only to struggle with grown-up life can identify with protagonist Sherry (Melissa Weinstein), who earned her master's degree in art therapy but fell into a funk after failing to find a job. The other women in her family aren't doing any better. Her elder sister, Grace (Akemi Okamura), caught her fiancĂ© cheating, suffered a breakdown and moved back home. She spends her days commiserating with Sherry and their mother, watching Top Gun while crying into a bottle of whiskey, and stealing things from her ex's condo » Read More

'Marc D'Estout: Open Investigation'

TWO SCULPTURES by Marc D'Estout, Muse and Abused Muse, appear to complement each other. Both are made from fabricated steel and both are mockeries of Mickey Mouse hats. Together they constitute an unabashed ridicule of every way in which Disney has infected the youth of America. The shiny silver-colored Muse is nickel plated and appears to be upside-down. If one bashed on Muse as a musical instrument, the sculpture might sound like some crazed Tibetan singing bowl turned industrial. In fact, the piece already looks like someone playfully bent Mickey's ears in the wrong direction. Abused Muse, on the other hand, is not shiny. It doesn't have the nickel plating. The ears hang down, as if someone yanked on them. » Read More

Arrow: Engineering Thrills

There they were: a handful of black and white photos documenting the first test run of the modern looping roller coaster. I look at the other crewmates, giddy and smiling from ear to ear, says Kris Rowberry. This is the only proof it ever happened, and I'm holding these photos, a real piece of Americana. Rowberry has spent the last year digging up gems like these for his forthcoming documentary, The Legacy of Arrow Development, which chronicles a surprisingly neglected facet of amusement park-and American-history. » Read More

California's Promise and Failings

Sitting at the edge of the American frontier, California has long been viewed as a land of milk and honey. The Spanish sought mythical cities in the region, but settled for the "saved" souls and forced labor of Native Americans. The 49ers risked life and limb, crossing the Great Plains and braving the journey around Cape Horn in pursuit of gold. Most recently, techno-utopians have flocked to Silicon Valley and packed themselves into rented garages, hoping to write some code worthy of a repartee-laden biopic. But California's promise has always been undercut by a far less glamorous reality. For each Golden State success story, there are dozens of tales of failure and aborted attempts at reinvention. » Read More

Screaming Hand Exhibit Honors The Iconic Skateboarding Illustration

With its toothy, agape mouth; wildly undulating, mid-scream tongue; and desperate, clawing fingers, everything about Jim Phillips Sr.'s Screaming Hand demands attention. The cool electric blue of its skin, contrasting with the red drops of blood, jagged bone and flailing sinew, are easily recognizable as one of Santa Cruz Skateboards' longtime logos. Created by Phillips in 1985, it is arguably one of the most iconic pieces of graphic art of the last 30 years-and certainly makes the short list for the most famous pieces of skateboarding art, ever. Now, after three decades of inspiring skaters and artists alike, the Screaming Hand and its legacy are on a 30th anniversary world tour, and will be making a two-week stop at San Jose's Empire » Read More

New Cantor Arts Center Exhibit Features Sketches Taken At The Battle of Little Bighorn

Consider the life of General George Armstrong Custer. On the one hand, we have a new biography, Custer's Trials: A Life On The Frontier Of A New America, by National Book Award winner T.J. Stiles. Stiles, during a recent appearance on NPR, thoughtfully attempts to rehabilitate Custer's reputation, "Don't make him bear the weight of American history.' He also humanizes him by quoting from a letter to Custer's cousin Augusta Ward: 'So far as the country is concerned, I, of course, must wish for peace and will be glad when the war has ended.' If you weren't a Native American, the argument probably holds weight. » Read More

'Pippin' Comes To San Jose Center for the Performing Arts

On a recent visit to downtown San Jose, the actress Adrienne Barbeau, a South Bay native and alumna of Del Mar High School, reminisced about the start of her musical comedy career at the Montgomery Theater. Although she still has family in Los Gatos, Barbeau was brought to town this month to play the part of Berthe in the touring production of Pippin. In 2013, the musical was entirely reconceived from its original 1970s, Bob Fosse-choreographed incarnation. This high-flying, updated version of the Broadway show went on to win four Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Musical. » Read More

The 10 Best Stage Productions In 2015

Silicon Valley has no shortage of theater companies-from larger groups, like the Palo Alto-based TheatreWorks and Broadway San Jose, to the more nimble outfits, such as City Lights and The Pear. All do excellent work, and it would be impossible to choose a definitive list of the 10 best stage productions in 2015. That said, here are 10 great shows we saw this year. » Read More

A New MACLA Exhibit Explores the Shaping of the Latino Identity

The immigrant experience is one of perpetual reinvention, as well as enduring remembrance. It is a constant struggle between the desire to assimilate into a new culture and retain a sense of what came before. In an effort to strike a balance betwixt the traditions of the motherland and the customs of their new home, immigrant communities invariably create hybrid languages, new genres of music and unique styles of art. » Read More

TheatreWorks' 'Jane Austen's Emma' Returns to Lucie Stern Theatre

TheatreWorks' musical adaptation of Jane Austen's romantic comedy of manners, Emma, has returned to the Lucie Stern Theatre, the site of its 2007 world premiere. Jane Austen's Emma boasts quite the pedigree: with music, lyrics and book by the Tony Award-nominated Paul Gordon, it is the most successful production in TheatreWorks' 46-year history. It's easy to understand why. Jane Austen's Emma is a sterling adaptation of the novel, featuring excellent acting, top-notch singing and immersive stagecraft. » Read More

Former Silicon Valley Ballet Dancer Takes a Crack at 'The Nutcracker'

Karen Gabay was eight years old when she first saw The Nutcracker. Correction: Gabay was eight years old when she first appeared in a production of The Nutcracker. It was that formative experience-of being in a production rather than simply watching a performance-that inspired her current role in Silicon Valley Ballet's newest iteration of Tchaikovsky's holiday ballet: she's the choreographer. Until 2013, Gabay had been a beloved principal dancer with SVB (formerly Ballet San Jose) for decades. » Read More

The Tabard Theatre Brings a Live Radio Play Version of 'Miracle on 34th Street'

For Christmas, the Tabard Theatre is doing a play about a radio broadcast of a film. In a Miracle on 34th Street, the ensemble portrays actors reading scripts through old-timey microphones to a studio audience. Meanwhile, a stage manager and sound effects man (Patrick DeRosa) bangs on a typewriter, raps on a small door or prompts blings and clunks from a rotary phone to match the action, manually creating the sonic illusion we outsourced to computers long ago. » Read More

The 'Earth Stories' Exhibit Quilts Address Environmental Issues

In the minds of many, the word "quilt" likely conjures images of pastel patchworks arranged in geometric patterns. They are purely utilitarian objects, sewn by grandma-meant to keep you warm in the winter and to lay folded at the foot of the bed the rest of the year. This is not the case with the quilts on display at "Earth Stories," a juried exhibition of 24 art quilts currently on display at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles. The environmentally themed show is offered in conjunction with Studio Art Quilts Associates, an organization dedicated to promoting the art quilt through education and exhibitions. It will run through February. » Read More

'Figaro' Is Delightfully Bawdy, Yet Still Refined

When endeavoring to describe opera, some begin combing through a thesaurus in search of highfalutin adjectives and impassioned verbs. But in Opera San Jose's production of Mozart's classic-and bawdy-The Marriage of Figaro, many of the usual operatic tropes are delightfully subverted, satirized and outright mocked. Set in a Spanish castle, the story occurs in a single, emotionally explosive day. » Read More

Jim Campbell Goes Lo-Fi At The San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art

The dark gallery is full of people. Some are sitting on the long wooden bench at the back of the room. Others mill about, shifting back and forth on the balls of their feet, comfortable position after another. Everyone is staring straight ahead at the black box centered in the middle of a white wall. They murmur to each other: What is behind the box? Why is it emitting a kaleidoscope of colors? A few move forward to peer behind the box, unable to let the mystery be. » Read More

'Missing Persons': A New Exhibit at the Cantor

Missing Persons is the name of their thought-provoking new exhibit at the Cantor, and visitors can feel its impact almost immediately upon examining several silhouettes from the 19th century on display. These black shadows were once connected to individuals. In this context, however, surrounded by dozens of other thematically similar photographs and paintings, the silhouettes quickly turn into symbols of someone's absence. » Read More

The Blues Brothers Coming to Campbell's Heritage Theatre

There have been many Saturday Night Live spin-offs over the course of the sketch comedy show's 40 years on the air. Plenty are forgettable-like A Night at the Roxbury and The Ladies Man. Some are tolerable in their quirky context. Coneheads comes to mind. Wayne's World, of course, is truly a gem. » Read More

Silicon Valley Honors Its Ancestors at Multiple Dia de Los Muertos Celebrations

Much like the religious traditions that predate Halloween, the traditional Mexican holiday of Dia de los Muertos-Spanish for "Day of the Dead"-is tied to honoring family, friends and loved ones who have passed on. Also, like Halloween-which scholars believe to be the result of pagan European harvest festivals being taken into the fold of the Christian church-Dia de los Muertos blends Spanish and Catholic tradition with a centuries-old indigenous celebration honoring the Aztec goddess of the afterlife. » Read More

Seegers Open Liberal Arts School

Back when they were first dating, Dana and Yori Seeger would dream, over beers, about exactly what they would do if they won the lottery. The answer: Open an art school, of course. But not like the schools they'd attended-where they'd experienced complacent faculty, parochial politics and an education lacking connection to the outside world. How can artists create a business for themselves? Who are they in the context of their community, and really, in society? » Read More

Stephen Beal's 'Warp and Weft' Features Geometric Abstractions

At a time when so much of contemporary art is about combining disparate found objects in order to create weird and puzzling assemblage, it is refreshing to find an artist who revels in creating art that celebrates the formal elements and requires-actually invites-close scrutiny. Berkeley artist Stephen Beal has found his niche working within the grid, using it as a formal structure from which to explore geometric abstraction. » Read More