Art Through March 25 - Steuart Pittman: The Twist at Traywick Contemporary. Pittman's gorgeous abstracted forms are inspired by the architecture of Oakland, and in his color choices you can imagine the faded paint of the warehouses on Mandela Parkway. Don't miss the titles of his artworks either; one in particular made me laugh out loud in the gallery.
Theater Through March 19 - Eclipsed at the Curran. Written by Danai Gurira, who when she's not being a badass on The Walking Dead is also a seriously amazing playwright, Eclipsed takes you deep inside the lives of five women during the recent Liberian civil war. Unforgettable performances from an all-woman cast, extraordinary production design, and history that needs to be better-known outside of Africa -- I cannot recommend this play highly enough.
Film Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima's classic manga comes to splatterrific life in the six Lone Wolf and Cub films, recently released by Criterion and watched in quick succession by me. Tomisaburo Wakayama is perfectly stoic as samurai-for-hire Itto Ogami, while Akihiro Tomikawa as his young son Daigoro glares down any and all opponents -- or stabs them in the stomach with a random weapon from his perambulator. Originally released between 1972 and 1974, the movies have some aspects (ahem gender roles) that have not aged so well, but their over-the-top attitude is hard to deny.
Book My favorite resistance tool Daily Action just started a book club, and I was beyond psyched they chose David France's How to Survive a Plague as their inaugural selection. Living in the Bay Area the AIDS crisis still feels very close, and this is a true survivor's tale, rich with historical insight, from someone who was on the front lines. Read the book, watch this interview with France. And next up for the Daily Action book club: Matthew Desmond's Evicted!
Music Last week I was shocked to find out my dead friend Glenn had passed away suddenly, and my entire community has been rocked by the news. I can still barely type it out; it doesn't seem real. Besides being the kindest soul, a sharp wit, and a bon vivant, Glenn was a talented and passionate musician, always popping by my Facebook page to banter with me about music or to make some obscure Blur reference that made me laugh. Many many years ago he organized a group of two dozen geeks into making a 24-hour playlist, and the results are posted for posterity here. He's pogo, I'm nightfall.
Art Through February 25 - Coming Clean San Francisco at Fouladi Projects. A collaboration with awesome local nonprofit Lava Mae, this group show offers an empathetic look at homelessness and features art by Amy Wilson Faville (pictured above), Elizabeth Lo, Danielle Nelson Mourning, Ramekon O'Arwisters, Joel Daniel Phillips, Yon Sim, Kathryn Spence, and SOUND MADE PUBLIC. The exhibition also offers a robust schedule of associated public programming, including an evening with Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, learning about their 'Empathy At Scale' project tomorrow night.
Theater Through February 12 - Love Sick at the Osher Studio. I was utterly enraptured by Ofra Daniels in her adaptation of the Song of Songs, set in both modern Tel Aviv and ancient Jerusalem and rich with live music and dance. This ain't your typical love story.
Barbara Kopple's 2015 documentary Miss Sharon Jones! about the extraordinary singer (and KALX favorite) is a wonderful tribute to one woman's strength. It was finished before Miss Jones's cancer returned one final time, and if you're like me you will weep your way through.
Book It's an especially timely moment to read Louise Erdrich's latest LaRose, a gorgeous, heartfelt book set among the North Dakota Ojibwe at the turn of the millennium but delving back into history as well. It also pairs nicely with this recent article about the young Sioux who launched the Standing Rock movement.
Entrance opened for Bill Callahan (who was reliably divine) at the Starline last Saturday, and he knocked me to the ground with this song. Buy your own copy because all proceeds go to Planned Parenthood. #resist
Through February 25 - Francesca Pastine: Curiosity at Eleanor Harwood Gallery. "Curiosity, not control" is an eternal mantra of mine, and it is highly satisfying to see Francesca Pastine explore the concept through her art in this excellent solo show. She found her own curiosity piqued by the name of Mars rover and the idea of the uncharted territory it is designed to navigate, as she pushed herself to wrangle with the medium of watercolor and its "inspired accidents." As you can see in the work pictured above, said accidents can be divine. The exhibition also features a number of her sculptures, and they are decidedly more deconstructed than her past work (though occasionally an Artforum scrap still peeks out). Creative and unexpected things happen when we relinquish control.
Kirsten Johnson's Cameraperson was the last film I watched in 2016, on New Year's Eve, and it was also one of the best. Comprised of footage she has shot both for herself and for countless other documentary filmmakers and then brilliantly edited by Nels Bangerter, Johnson's film shows us the scenes that don't always make it into the final cut of a movie and elucidates the work she does behind the camera. There are so many beautiful and heart-wrenching sequences I can't even begin to list them all here, but I was impressed over and over again with Johnson's courage to go where many people wouldn't dare, and to tell the stories of the marginalized and invisible, especially women. The film is an autobiography as well, not only because she includes home movies of her family but also clips where you hear her disembodied voice talking to herself or engaging with her subjects. In these powerful moments Johnson reveals that she is not only an incredible cameraperson from a technical standpoint, but due to her compassion as well.