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Monday, July 25, 2016

Tales from the 2016 J-POP SUMMIT Festival: Space Toilets, Zombie Kitties, and the New Vocaloid in Town

Posted By on Mon, Jul 25, 2016 at 5:09 PM

sc_02_j-pop_01_header.jpg

The J-POP SUMMIT Festival is a celebration of all things related to Japanese pop culture – music, food, art, film, and many points between – and it's always my favorite weekend of the year. Held on July 23-24, this year's event was the second to be held at Fort Mason, largely because 2014 was crazy-busy, a teeming crowd of humanity congregated in a few square blocks thanks to the line of food Ramen Street. As I expressed in my writeup of last year's event, I was a little bummed about the relocation because I hate it when things change, but what hasn't changed is that J-POP was once again a fun and gratifying experience.

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Friday, July 22, 2016

The Struggles of Homeless Women Vets, in Low Hanging Fruit

Posted By on Fri, Jul 22, 2016 at 2:00 PM

Homeless vets Cory (Heather Gordon), Yolanda (Cat Brooks) and Maya (Livia Demarchi) are living out the worst years of their lives in Low Hanging Fruit. - COURTESY OF 3 GIRLS THEATRE
  • Courtesy of 3 Girls Theatre
  • Homeless vets Cory (Heather Gordon), Yolanda (Cat Brooks) and Maya (Livia Demarchi) are living out the worst years of their lives in Low Hanging Fruit.

A chopper hovers over Cory's encampment, in one of Low Hanging Fruit's most moving moments. The army vet who was awarded a Purple Heart following two tours of Iraq, a sliced throat and a suicide bombing that killed 19 of her fellow soldiers points her middle finger up at the sky and yells "Motherfuckers!' before ducking to the ground in utter terror. She rocks back and forth till the noise above subsides.

Cory is no longer on enemy soil and her foe is no longer an opposing army. Today she is living with three other traumatized vets of the War on Terror — aspiring poet Maya (Livia Demarchi), embittered knitter and alcoholic Alice (Cheri Lynne VandenHeuvel) and crack-addicted prostitute Yolanda (expertly played by standout actress Cat Brooks) — in a little tent city on Los Angeles' notorious Skid Row. Her opponents are poverty, pimps, drug addiction and PTSD. In other words, sometimes a helicopter is just a helicopter.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Grand Concourse is Paved with Good Intentions

Posted By on Wed, Jul 20, 2016 at 8:30 AM

Cathleen Riddley as Shelley, Caleb Cabrera as Oscar - PAK HAN
  • Pak Han
  • Cathleen Riddley as Shelley, Caleb Cabrera as Oscar
How do you solve a problem like Emma? She’s self-centered, callow, and dishonest. When she volunteers at a church soup kitchen that Shelley runs, we feel, perhaps, there’s hope for her yet. Two hours later, Grand Concourse has taken great pains to prove us wrong. Whatever youthful folly mars her common sense at the beginning of the play repeatedly reaffirms its place in her consciousness until the bitter end. In fact, every character on stage expresses the desire to do good and then proceeds to behave badly.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Norman Lear Brings 'All Lives Matter' message to SF Jewish Film Festival

Posted By on Tue, Jul 19, 2016 at 10:00 AM

TV legend Norman Lear will be honored at the SF Jewish Film Fest's screening of Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You at the Castro Theatre on July 24th. - MUSIC BOX FILMS
  • Music Box Films
  • TV legend Norman Lear will be honored at the SF Jewish Film Fest's screening of Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You at the Castro Theatre on July 24th.

When Norman Lear wrote contentious episodes of All in the Family, Maude, Sanford and Son, Good Times and The Jeffersons that dealt with war, procreative liberty, poverty, racism and feminism, he expected flack from the networks. What Lear never anticipated, he told SF Weekly, was the pushback he received from the Good Times cast and even the Black Panther Party — the very people he was trying to give voice to.

While Lear isn't black, he was still confident that he could do justice to issues of economic hardship, religious identity and teen sex faced by African Americans, because these were matters faced by all Americans. To the producer, we're all versions of each other.

Lear is now the subject of a new documentary, Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You
which premieres at the Castro Theatre as part of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, on Saturday. The producer, who will be in attendance, will be honored with the Freedom of Expression award.

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Christine Elfman Investigates Photography With Amaranth Juice and Roman Mythology

Posted By on Tue, Jul 19, 2016 at 8:30 AM

Christine Elfman, Ash, 2016.
  • Christine Elfman, Ash, 2016.

In the Roman myth of Diana and Actaeon, the goddess of the hunt grows furious when Actaeon, a young hunter, is found gazing at her while she bathes nude in a sacred grove. Diana transforms Actaeon into a stag and his own hounds prey upon and kill him for his transgression. The myth has been a popular subject in visual art for millennia, but in Even Amaranth, her solo exhibition at Gallery Wendi Norris, Christine Elfman transforms Actaeon’s tragic demise into a parable for the plight of photographers.

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Monday, July 18, 2016

Ezra Croft Wants You to Come Get Your Bill Murray On

Posted By on Mon, Jul 18, 2016 at 8:00 AM

Luis Tinoco's contribution to The Murray Invitational - COURTESY OF EZRA CROFT
  • Courtesy of Ezra Croft
  • Luis Tinoco's contribution to The Murray Invitational

A 39-year-old Bed, Bath & Beyond employee is asking strangers to make paintings of Bill Murray. It may sound like a headline from the reject pile of The Onion, but Ezra Croft means business. He would also like you to know that now that he now has awesome sheets and a sweet frying pan.

As for The Murray Invitational, the official title of Croft’s Murray art show and “golf party,” July 23’s celebration at San Francisco’s Public Works will mark the third large-scale celebrity-themed exhibit he has mounted in as many years. First was a 2014 show dedicated to actor Nicolas Cage, which took place at Balancoire (formerly 12 Galaxies).

“That was my first go at it,” Croft says of the Cage show, who previously had no experience in mounting gallery exhibits. “I had a feeling that a lot of interesting and good art was going to come out of it because people really started to go off the deep end with it.”

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Friday, July 15, 2016

Silicon Valley's Matt Ross finds balance in Captain Fantastic, Hollywood and Life

Posted By on Fri, Jul 15, 2016 at 2:15 PM

Captain Fantastic, starring Viggo Mortensen, opens in San Francisco on July 15. - CATHY KANAVY
  • Cathy Kanavy
  • Captain Fantastic, starring Viggo Mortensen, opens in San Francisco on July 15.

In Captain Fantastic, Ben Cash (Viggo Mortensen) has a crisis of confidence about his parenting style.  The offbeat patriarch, once so gung-ho about raising his brood off the grid, far from the consumerism and technology that he was force-fed, begins to rethink his extreme child rearing. 

The film's writer-director Matt Ross (28 Hotel Rooms), also known for playing Gavin Belson on HBO's Silicon Valley, experienced something similar when, after being reared by a single mom on several NorCal communes, chose to raise his two kids in a more comfortable two-parent household, in Berkeley. The real trick for the Berkeleyite was in finding a balance or maintaining his core values within his new lifestyle. 

SF Weekly spoke to Matt Ross about getting the balance right as a Hollywood actor-director, parent and iPhone addict.

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The Mission Gets Lit With Glow Con, a No-Glowsticks Party for the LED-Obsessed

Posted By on Fri, Jul 15, 2016 at 10:00 AM

COURTESY OF PERMISSION GRANTED
  • Courtesy of Permission Granted

If a normally dark corner of the Mission turns a mysterious shade of bright purple this weekend, don’t panic. There are, probably, no aliens nearby. It’s just a glow convention.

Glow Con, a one-part tech conference and two-part underground dance throw down — or perhaps, glowdown — runs for 12 hours Saturday at The NWBLK, a design gallery in the northeast Mission. The event features talks about the latest in LED technology and workshops in flow arts — think poi, hula hoop and staff spinning — by day, and art cars, DJs, a “glow saber” battle and generally psychedelic Burning Man vibe at night. Glow Con is the first convention/party from Permission Granted, which Ben Greenberg said he was inspired to start after a string of successful house parties at the hacker house 20 Mission.

“This is us leveling up in a big-big way,” Greenberg says.

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SATURDAY: The Tenderloin Museum Turns One and Commemorates LGBT Rights

Posted By on Fri, Jul 15, 2016 at 9:08 AM

TENDERLOIN MUSEUM
  • Tenderloin Museum
It's a big month in the T.L. This Saturday, July 16, the plucky Tenderloin Museum will celebrate its first birthday with 11 hours of party time and programming dedicated to the most fascinating, most frequently misunderstood neighborhood in the city. Meanwhile, another major milestone hovers just on the next calendar page: the 50th anniversary of the Compton's Cafeteria Riot, the equivalent of the Boston Tea Party for the LGBT rights movement that occurred three years before the better-known Stonewall riot in Manhattan.

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Monday, July 11, 2016

Pithy Remarks: "Not a Lemon," a Citrus-Themed Art Show at Alite Outpost

Posted By on Mon, Jul 11, 2016 at 7:30 PM

PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane
A bag of lemons is almost like currency in the Bay Area, Alicia Dornadic says. "My grandparents had a lemon tree. We would pick them and squeeze them, and coworkers bring them to work. So many people have lemon stories."

It's this idea of a happy, if somewhat banal fruit — the flavor of ordinary cough drops, the scent of household cleaning supplies — that inspired her to mount Not a Lemon, an art show at the Scott Ellsworth Gallery inside the outdoor goods retailer Alite Outpost's Mission location. The gallery space is tiny, but Dornadic managed to include 50 works, mostly by local artists. (Local in this case encompasses the East Bay and South Bay, which Dornadic, as a San Mateo resident wanted to include, and which are definitely regions more hospitable to happy citrus groves.
PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane

PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane
While many of the works are quite straightforward exercises in sunny shades of yellow, others go farther. T. Garrett Eaton's forlorn painting of a lemon on a shelf takes the subject matter of a still life and imbues it with an Edward Hopper pathos. An image of two beefy, pierced African-American men sipping the same pitcher of icy lemonade through straws has undeniable erotic undertones but could plausibly be read as ordinary male bonding. Perhaps the cleverest image is Sara Myrup Diamond's photograph of a Buddha's hand with manicured tips appended to its citron fingers and the title Eightfold Pith (a reference to Buddhism's Eightfold Path).

Initially, Dornadic had planned on showing 25 or so pieces, it inevitably expanded when people told her that such-and-such wrote a book on lemons, or had done work that was impossible to exclude, curatorially speaking. (There is also work by an artist named Jenny Lemons.)

Dornadic has done shows based around a simple premise before. The most thematically similar effort was Strike Away, a show she put together with Courtney Cerruti at Paxton Gate Curiosity for Kids last spring that consisted solely of art made out of matchboxes and matchsticks. It was much larger than Not a Lemon, with 500 pieces by 250 artists mounted on foamcore. (Dornadic called it "insanity," but in a happy sense.)
PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane
PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane
"I like themed exhibits, because I think when you give artists a couple rules, and they really know how to push them and break them, they do this amazing work that they would never do," she says. "So many people come up to me and say 'Thank you for giving me a homework assignment.'"

Apart from the lemon theme — the name "Not a Lemon" pays homage to Magritte's Surrealist image of a pipe, The Treachery of Images, with its playfully profound caption "Ceci n'est pas un pipe," or "This is not a pipe" — the only stipulation was size. (But even then, Dornadic was relaxed about policing anyone's artistic license.)

One drawing, of a chubby gerbil, takes the Surrealist nod to its logical endpoint. "This is not a lemon," the caption beneath the rodent reads. "He just looks sour."

Not a Lemon, through Aug. 14, at the Scott Ellsworth Gallery, in Alite Outpost, 3376 18th St., 415-626-1526.



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