Through October 25 - Lucy Puls: [just you] at Verge Center for the Arts. I was exceedingly glad I made the drive to Sacramento this weekend to see this show, especially because I miscalculated and thought it was open for another week. With sharp curation by Dena Beard, the exhibition captures the breadth and vitality of Puls's object-based work that she has been creating over the past three decades. Her pieces delightfully blur the line between fact and fiction, and they cause us to question our assumptions about manufacturing, consumer culture, and the creative process itself.
Alex Ito and Greg Ito
Though October 31 - Alex Ito and Greg Ito: The Order of Shadowboxing at Et al. The yin and the yang become literal in this playful bandying of ideas between the two brothers who live on opposite sides of the country but come together, in the gallery at least, for this show. Where Alex obscures the identity of the subject in his portraits through block-like interventions, Greg segments fairy tale romance into disparate parts pushed to the edges of his canvases. And as an older sibling myself it was not hard for me to project a relationship of rivalry on the work.
Marga Gomez (photo credit: Ian Douglas)
Through November 15 - Pound at Brava Theater Center. The always-hilarious Maria Gomez is a one-woman powerhouse in her new solo piece, detailing her fascination with lesbians in film that began when she was a Catholic schoolgirl (of course). The title of the show is a take-off on Bound, and Corky and Violet do make an appearance alongside a veritable chorus of other Sapphic characters both famous and obscure. I laughed and hollered so much I was hoarse after.
The Hypocrites' Pirates of Penzance
Through December 20 - The Hypocrites' Pirates of Penzance at Berkeley Rep. Imported from Chicago along with its multi-talented cast, this irreverent take on the Gilbert and Sullivan classic will enchant even those highly skeptical of immersive theater (that would be me). "Promenade" seating is very much encouraged, and if a Pirate proffers a parasol, be prepared to pflourish it. 24 hours later and I'm still humming "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General."
If you have a hankering for Soviet cinema it doesn't get much better than Nine Days of One Year by Mikhail Romm, a director who influenced the likes of Tarkovsky. And as a film that follows a trio of nuclear physicists as they run experiments and fall in love at a lab in remote Siberia, captured with all of the creative camera angles and gorgeous cinematography one could possibly desire, it sits firmly in the direct center of my wheelhouse. Though it runs nearly two hours the film moves briskly along, revealing the story in a series of single-day segments as Ilya, Lyolya, and Dmitri must figure out the triangle that has developed among them. Radiation itself threatens their well-being as well. It's all beautifully done, with just the right amount of subversion and dark humor. No surprise that even though it did very well at the Soviet Union box office in 1962 the government didn't like it much.
Pound at Brava Alex Ito and Greg Ito at Et al. Luna, Quilt at the Fillmore Lucy Puls at Verge Center for the Arts Joyce Manor, Girlpool, Dogbreth at Slim's Fall Open House at Headlands Center for the Arts
Through October 24 - Makeover at Southern Exposure. Curated by Jennie Ottinger, herself a formidable artist, this group show offers a kaleidoscopic view into the concept of the aspirational re-do. Ottinger has included an impressive roster of smart and sassy work, though I think my favorite project was the collection of paintings by prominent local artists to which children were allowed to add their own special touches. The results are as anarchic as one could hope.
Lance Gardner, Michelle Beck, Ashley Bryant
Through November 1 - Proof at TheatreWorks. A mesmerizing cast anchors this production of David Auburn's play about the relationship between a math genius and his daughter, and it's well worth the drive down the Peninsula. I remember seeing it with my brother almost 15 years ago at the Curran, and the script not only holds up very well but has new resonance given the issues women are currently facing in Silicon Valley and beyond.
Through November 6 - Cate White: Both on Earth at the Luggage Store. This culminating exhibition for Cate White's Tournesol residency at Headlands last year is an absolute stunner. Few can paint disturbing subjects with such sensitivity, and White never abandons her sense of humor either even as she grapples with issues of race and class in her work. Highly recommend hearing her own perspectives at her artist talk next Wednesday, October 26.
Through January 27 - Curran: Under Construction. While our beautiful Curran theater is undergoing a renovation a series of very-short-run plays are being held with the audience seated right on stage with the actors, a magical experience indeed. I won't give away all the Curran's secrets, but I've been to the first two events (including Geoff Sobelle's transcendent one-man piece The Object Lesson, pictured above) and plan to hit as many of the rest as I can.