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Viviana Paredes at the Triton Museum

'Alimentos' interprets Mexican culture through glass Read More

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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