Arts & Culture

Arts & Culture

J-pop sucker punch

With brand names and bright colors, "MURAKAMI" gets you in the gut
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Visceral reactions are the last thing one might expect from the perversely brilliant "© Murakami," Takashi Murakami's well-publicized survey exhibition at Los Angeles' Museum of Contemporary Art. The telling copyright symbol that precedes the artist's name in the exhibition title fits the cool, post-Warholian corporate-style control he exerts over his art and his identity. Read more »

Thou shalt have icons

Jazz giants come alive, with artful intimacy
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DVD "I put John Coltrane up in my headphones." So said innovative producer Madlib's sped-up alter ego, Quasimoto, on 2000's breakthrough hip-hop album The Unseen (Stones Throw). Read more »

Twelve for the road

A look back at dance in 2007
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The past year's many exhilarations are here condensed into a month-by-month format. Let a veil of silence fall over the frustrations, and remember the yin and yang in everything, dance included.

January: Hungarian State Folk Ensemble, Marin Civic Center Auditorium, San Rafael. Read more »

Acting pleasant

Notable theater performances of 2007
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George Bernard Shaw once titled a bound collection of his dramas Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant, thus inadvertently summing up any year in any theater scene anywhere. But this is a happy time, so we can concentrate on the former.

The pool of local acting talent, in particular, spoils us in the Bay Area. While it's not hard to find a strong performance from last year, finding room to list them all is another story, and a much longer one. Read more »

Staying power

In 2007, Bay Area arts were in constant flux
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Looking back at the Bay Area art scene in 2007 affirms our perennial difficulty in holding on to ambitious players. It's an oft-repeated story. Given San Francisco's commitment to nonprofit and alternative models over commercial ones and the high cost of living, artists find it easier to start off than to build their careers here. Read more »

Chair and chair alike

Adam Bock plumbs the depths of commitment in The Shaker Chair
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What we owe one another, whether family, friends, fellow human beings, or just fellow creatures — and how we define we in the first place — is a perennial question of both politics and art. Read more »

What a bash!

Patton Oswalt ain't no annoying hipster douchebag
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GEEK CHIC Seems like hipster bashing has replaced trailer-trash cracks as the new way to get laughs. By now we've all watched the Hipster Olympics, "brought to you by Pabst Blue Ribbon," on YouTube and chuckled vindictively as a clique of Williamsburg, NY, brats in tight pants posed for MySpace photos as part of the competition.

It was bound to happen sooner or later. Read more »

Magic garden

Yaelisa and Caminos Flamencos
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A most welcome gift arrived Dec. 12: pure dance, pure music, and pure poetry. It was "Jardín de Mis Sueños," Caminos Flamencos' new show (repeating in Mountain View on Dec. 21) and the last one at ODC Theater, which starts extensive renovations in January. Read more »

Durang harangue

Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge serves a heaping helping of humbug
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The annual relentless prosecution of Christmas is a happy time for some. For others, not so much. For her part, Gladys Cratchit (Joan Mankin), the long-suffering wife of Bob (Keith Burkland) — that misty-eyed mistletoe of a man harried six days a week by his grasping gargoyle of an employer, Ebenezer Scrooge (Victor Talmadge) — is ready to throw herself off London Bridge. One sees her point. Read more »

Labor of Glover

Crispin is fine! Everything is fine.
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WHAT IS IT? Beowulf may be raking in box office bucks worldwide, but its monster has been making his own rounds. Crispin Hellion Glover and I holed up in Chicago's House of Blues to wait out a snowstorm and talk about the second installment of his It trilogy, It Is Fine! Everything Is Fine.

Twenty years ago Fine codirector David Brothers handed Glover a script penned by a man with severe cerebral palsy. This wasn't a touchy-feely autobiographical affair nor a trite story about overcoming diversity to make the world a better place. Read more »