Culture Klatch



Dispelling the gloom of June, July is a-sizzle with artistic events which will set even the most slothful-summer soul soaring.


Rockin’ On at Backstage Pass

First up? The Old Mint opens its doors (again) tonight (July 16) for a special, limited re-engagement of the exhibition, Backstage Pass: A Sweeping History of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Co-presented by the SF Museum and Historical Society and Wolfgang’s Vault, the show stars historic, reproduction rock posters from the archive of the late music impresario Bill Graham. Also included are banners, photographs and videos of the rock gods (Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Carlos Santana, Booker T., Grateful Dead and onwards) who once roamed the lands between the Fillmore and Haight Ashbury, all set within the historic halls and former gold vaults of this National Historic Landmark fondly dubbed, The Granite Lady.

Jimmy Page by photographer Michael Zagaris is included the Backstage Pass exhibition at The Mint

Backstage Pass. Tonight, 5 p.m.-9 p.m.; July 17-19, noon-5 p.m. The Old Mint, 88 Fifth St., SF. $10 per person (all proceeds benefit the SFMHS education programs and facilities).


Cellular Convergence

A new exhibition by artist Sherry Wong opens Saturday (July 18th) at CELLSpace Gallery. This is the quirky SoMa gallery which hosts mud-wrestling fundraisers and just ended its long run of Point Break Live, an audience-participation spoof on that film by director Kathryn Bigelow (assumedly no relation; yet she occupies a sort of doppelganger spot in my imagination).

Anyhoo, Wong is the inaugural artist of the gallery’s Project 2048 International Artists Residency Program. The works showcased in her exhibition feature group portraits depicting card-carrying members of the city’s creative community.

The opening night party is a ‘60s-styled Happening replete with live DJ music and performances by such local luminaries as Beth Waldman, author Barnaby Conrad III, artist-framer Gary Janis and Pilar Woodman; as well as a contemporary dance, athletics, fashion, drag and interactive dance party.

Conrad, his wife, gallerist Martha Sutherland and Janis are the subject of one such portrait (see below) which Conrad jokes could be titled, Artsy Republicans with Guns.

An auction of an original Sherry Wong drawing benefits the Give Thanks Garden.

Sherry Wong portrait featuring Martha Sutherland, Barnaby Conrad and Gary Janis at CELLSpace Gallery

Play All opens Saturday, July 18 at 7 p.m. CELLSpace, 2050 Bryant St., SF.  $7 per person; 21-and-over.


The Play’s the Thing

Summer’s almost half-way over. And if you reside full-time in San Francisco, then your chances of enjoying anything atmospherically resembling a real summer are slim.

However, through mid-October, you can still find summer sizzle outdoors (and under the stars) at the Bruns Amphitheater in Orinda where the Cal Shakes season is un-spooling to critical acclaim and kudos.

Noel Coward’s Private Lives (directed by Mark Rucker) runs through August 2. Next up? Cal Shakes Artistic Director Jonathan Moscone directs stage-and-screen star Marsha Mason in a production of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days (Aug.12-Sept. 6).

Summer? Get thee to the theater!

Marsha Mason stars at CalShakes in August

California Shakespeare Theater, Bruns Amphitheater, Orinda.


What’s the Story?

Possibly one of the finest ways to wile away an evening is at Porchlight, the almost year-round, monthly storytelling series. Souls are bared onstage as local scensters tell true, 10-minute tales (sans notes or memorization) based upon themes, such as Pants on Fire: A Show About Lies.

Founded by author-artist Beth Lisick and editor-realtor Arline Klatte, this sassy series celebrates it’s seventh anniversary next Friday (July 24) at a show titled, Lucky Number 7: Tales of Fortune, Adventure and Serendipity (Or Lack Thereof).

These spoken word stories always sparkle if only for the sheer act of bravery in their telling. So far, the anniversary show features Kasper Hauser Comedy Troupe member Rob Baedeker, animator Scott Kravitz; former KKK pen-pal and filmmaker Christy Chan, skateboarding R.N. Linda Pasek and myth-buster Adam Savage. Loretta Lynch is the musical guest; Joshua Raoul Brody serves as guest time-keeper.

We’ll leave the light on.

Porchlight co-founders Beth Lisick (left) and Arline Klatte, pictured with musician Chris von Sneidern, celebrate their reading series 7th anniversary on July 24th

Porchlight 7 Year Anniversary Party. Fri., July 24. 8 p.m. Verdi Club, 2424 Mariposa St., San Francisco. $12 per person; 21-and-over.


Poetry in Motion

As the once-great state of California quickly goes to economic hell in a un-stylish handbag, there is a city-wide event next week in San Francisco that should cheer the hearts, minds ... and pocketbooks ... of citizens, everywhere.

The second SF International Poetry Festival. Which -- in addition to the presence of international troubadours in our midst -- is free. Yup. You read it right. The whole shebang ... all four-days (July 23-26) for this bacchanalia of verse, readings, workshops, film, art, and music is ... free of charge.

Zip. Gratis. Nada. Compris.

Hosted by Mayor Gavin Newsom, Friends of the Public Library and honorary Festival co-chairs, Nicola Miner and her husband, author-filmmaker Robert Mailer Anderson -- the event itself was dreamed up by Jack Hirschman, that raffish North Beach raconteur and beloved Poet of the People.

Other featured poets include North Beach Bard Lawrence Ferlinghetti (who, like his pal Hirschman, also served as Poet Laureate of SF), new SF Poet Laureate Diane di Prima,  CA State Poet Laureate Carol Muske-Dukes and her predecessor, poet Al Young; as well as a raft of internationalists such as Maram al-Massri (Syria), Menna Elfyn (Wales), Tarek Eltayeb (Sudan/Austria), Zhai Yongming (China), Frances Combes (France) and Ziba Karbassi (Iran).

Phew. Oh, and Matt Gonzales is somewhere in the mix, too.

“The whole festival is truly an ‘Only in EssEff’ thing: Where else can you fill to capacity major venues like the Palace of Fine Arts with people listening to poets reading not in English but in over twenty different languages?” asked Anne Wintroub of the SFPL Friends.  “What other city shuts down streets for poetry?  And has poet groupies?”

Evening programs will be held at the Palace of Fine Arts Theater. During the day, a variety of receptions, readings, youth events and signings will happen at branches throughout the SF Library system.

However you can be certain that other, unofficial hotspots along this festival’s path of Ars Poetica will be hopping, too: City Lights Bookstore and the nearby Beat Bar trifecta that is Tosca, Vesuvio and Specs.

A poetry-party-for-the-people kicks-off the festival next Thursday (July 23) with outdoor readings and music on, appropriately enough, Jack Kerouac Alley.

Poetical pals Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Jack Hirschman co-host the SF International Poetry Festival that opens July 23

Now, we turn this over to Gary Snyder and his poem, How Poetry Comes to Me, to bring it all home.

It comes blundering over the

Boulders at night, it stays

Frightened outside the

Range of my campfire

I go to meet it at the

Edge of the light


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