Bay Area artist Ala Ebtekar is having a moment. His work is currently on view in two regional shows: part one (What Time Is It There?) of the three-part "Proximities" series at the Asian Art Museum and "Migrating Identities" at YBCA, a group show in which he's the only local artist. He's been garnering attention on both the national and international art scenes, and his work has most recently been added to the collections of an SFMOMA board member and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Talk about street cred.
In a recent interview, a filmmaker whose work I respect a great deal floated the unpopular idea that the European "art film" is so shopworn as to have finally become a cliché.
As a child and early adult, I suffered from an undue attachment to Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, beginning with the rather drab Disney version, and rapidly expanding to include the original book and its sequel Through the Looking Glass, a series of somewhat creepy porcelain and fabric figurines.
SFMOMA and YBCA Do 'Four Saints in Three Acts' (Gertrude Stein and Virgin Thomson's Experimental Opera)
SFMOMA has joined forces with YBCA to recreate Four Saints in Three Acts, Gertrude Stein and Virgil Thomson’s 1934 experimental opera. The original work’s nonlinear narrative follows Teresa of Avila, Ignatius of Loyola, and other saints as they muse in heaven about their mortal lives. The multimedia adaptation maintains the essence of its predecessor but gives it a modern spin with a varied cast of collaborators that include Bay Area contemporary chamber opera group Ensemble Parallèle, composer Luciano Chessa, and New York’s hyped video-performance artist Kalup Linzy.
Peace, love, freedom—these are the hallmarks of the San Francisco lifestyle. But let's not forget about the sex. Not surprisingly, SF became the first city to legalize pornography in 1969, and our pretty little progressive town became the epicenter of porn production in the early '70s.
In a nod to our notorious past, filmmaker Michael Stabile has documented the history of the sex industry in SF in a forthcoming documentary called Smut Capital of America. On Thursday, YBCA will screen the flick, which includes interviews with the legendary John Waters (of course) and other sex revolutionists. The documentary will be followed by a discussion with Stabile himself. I imagine it's going to be one interesting Q&A.
If you’re not already familiar with Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Google his work now. The Oakland activist-artist recently won the Alpert Award for Theatre, a prestigious national award that grants a handful of artists a big chunk of cash. He’ll be premiering his latest work red, black, and GREEN: a blues during YBCA’s Bay Area Now series. Featuring visual art, performance, and film from the brightest local talent, this festival guarantees a first look at new names on the verge of greatness, including screen printer Ben Venom as well as more established talents like video installation artist Tony Labat, musician-composer Carla Kihlstedt, and saxophonist Hafez Modirzadeh.
Love it or hate it, Valentine's Day is here. Plan accordingly.
California Academy of Sciences "Sex and Science" Wine & Dine Tour
The day before Valentine's Day, see how love and sex manifests itself in the animal kingdom, from penguins to lobsters to sea slugs (!) and more, then toast your date over wine and a four-course meal at the museum's decorated Moss Room restaurant. Make it a double whammy with a quick trip to the de Young beforehand. $159 per person. Starts at 6 pm. 415-379-8000. Tickets here.
After only one performance by Jess Curtis/Gravity, you'll understand that he's a rare breed. Last year's Symmetry Project stripped its performers of cover and pretension, literally, as two naked bodies moved around each other and the room for hours as the audience contemplated the meaning of it all. On a whole other level above exhibitionism, the performance raised important questions about the body in its most vulnerable form, and it was entrancing.