A Painter Goes Pop Back in the early '60s, Yoong Bae was an established printmaker and well-known graphic-art modernist in his native Seoul. But after his 1963 visit to the United States, Bae's work, inspired in part by Confucianism and traditional Korean calligraphy, began to take on an American pop edge. Bae wound up moving to California in 1974 and settling in the Oakland Hills, where he lived and created art until his death in 1992. His widow has donated to the Asian Art Museum 18 paintings and three silk-screen prints done between 1980 and 1992, including the artist's succession of paintings titled Meditation. The exhibit is on view Wednesday through Sunday 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (through April 20, 1997) at the Asian Art Museum, Golden Gate Park, S.F. Admission is free-$6; call 379-8801.
Why the Chicken Crossed the Road The critics loved her in New York, where her solo show about her show-biz dad, A Line Around the Block, enjoyed an extended run at the Joseph Papp Public Theater this spring. Now, comedian Marga Gomez returns home to the warm embrace of the Bay Area, where she'll unveil a raunchy new stand-up show she tested at New York's Performance Space 122 this fall: Joking the Chicken. Although she's already logged plenty of screen time with stand-up spots on cable and roles in the independent film Miss Clairol and HBO's Tracy Takes On, locals are advised to catch Gomez live while they can, before she makes good on her threat to move to L.A. and get breast implants. Joking the Chicken opens at 8 p.m. (and runs through Jan. 5, 1997) at Josie's Cabaret & Juice Joint, 3583 16th St., S.F. Admission is $12 ($20 on New Year's Eve); call 861-7933.
Jazzed Having witnessed Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, and Lionel Hampton perform live is one thing, but having performed along with all of them is quite another, and the ranks of jazz artists who can make that claim are sadly diminished. Jazz vocalist Betty Carter is still with us, though, and her career, launched after she joined Hampton's band at the age of 18, is rich in lore. When she plays the East Bay, Carter will be accompanied by one of her proteges, the young pianist Jacky Terrason, as well as Bobby Hutcherson, a vibraphonist taking up where Hampton left off. Find out why Carter has been named female jazz singer of the year four times running in Down Beat's annual critics poll. The Betty Carter-Bobby Hutcherson All-Stars play at 8 and 10 p.m. (through Tuesday; one show only at 9 p.m. on New Year's Eve) at Yoshi's Nitespot, 6030 Claremont, Oakland. Admission is $18-22 ($60 on New Year's); call (510) 652-9200.
Forever All Over Again It may take two to tango, but it took a crowd-pleasing blend of rhythmic Latin music and sultry, sharply executed tango technique to get Forever Tango consistently extended over the last two years. Luis Bravo's production has just returned from international touring to give local fans another look. The product of African cultural influence and Latin male machismo in a booming 1920s Argentina, tango is typically a favorite among ballroom dance audiences for its sexual overtones, dominant-submissive dynamics, and dramatic delivery. The show reopens at 3 and 8 p.m. (and continues through Jan. 4, 1997) at the Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness, S.F. Admission is $19-45; call 392-4400.
Perry Tears His Hair Out Prior to running away and starting the Enit Festival, Lollapalooza founder and Porno for Pyros frontman Perry Farrell did some public grumbling about how his traveling rock 'n' roll circus no longer lived up to the original vision of "something, or somebody, very striking or exceptional," as the original official T-shirt slogan read. If Farrell was worried that Lollapalooza had gone mainstream, his concern has been realized in the "Lollapalaser Experience," a laser animation and graphics show set to the music of Nirvana, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nine Inch Nails, the Smashing Pumpkins, and Soundgarden. Once a diversion for the well-baked teen-age fans of dinosaur arena bands like Led Zep and Pink Floyd, laser light shows, run by live laser artists, have moved into the '90s by providing cheesy visuals for alternative arena rock bands, too. Shows run at 10:30 p.m. (also Saturdays) at the California Academy of Sciences Morrison Planetarium, Golden Gate Park, S.F. Admission is $7; call 750-7138.
Gravity and Levity Art joins forces with science during a week of holiday programming for kids and their parents. Juggler Larry K! explores motion, gravity, friction, air resistance, and inertia in his juggling routine, "What Comes Up Must Come Down: Juggling and Motion" (Friday, Dec. 27, noon and 1:30 p.m.), while the singers and dancers of Clair the Loon offer a musical salute to aquatic environments in Ocean Commotion! (Saturday, Dec. 28, noon and 1 p.m.). Also, Dick Bagwell gives a recorder and flute concert, and talks about the evolution of birds and their place in the ecosystem, in "The Singing Post: The Piper's Salute to Songbirds" (Sunday, Dec. 29, noon and 1:30 p.m.). Events are held at the Lawrence Hall of Science, Centennial & Grizzly Peak, UC Berkeley campus. Admission is $2-6; call (510) 642-5132.
Thar She Blows! Feel the spray on your face during Oceanic Society Expeditions whale-watching boat trips, which begin this weekend and run through April. The expeditions coincide with the gray whale migration, which passes by the Northern California coast on the way from feeding grounds in the Arctic to the whale-calving lagoons of Baja. Approximately 17,000 whales complete the annual 12,000-mile round-trip distance, according to OSE naturalists, who offer educational on-board talks on the whales and the conservation efforts that helped prevent their near-extinction. These natural history tours are conducted on Coast Guard-certified boats that include indoor cabins as well as outdoor observation decks. For the comfort of other passengers, whale spotters are asked to refrain from exclaiming, "Oh, that was so spiritual!" Daylong trips leave on the Superfish at 9:30 a.m. (also Sundays and certain Mondays and Fridays, through April 27, 1997) from Building A, Fort Mason, S.F. Admission is $50; call 474-3385 for reservations. In a related note, John Dillon leads the educational children's program "Whales of San Francisco," on whale types and destinations and what it might be like to actually be a whale, Saturday, Jan. 4, at 1 p.m. at the Randall Museum, 199 Museum Way, S.F. Admission is $4-10; call 554-9600.
Singles Going Steady Radioheads can relive the year in music with any number of year-end countdowns, but the KUSF show Britpop will be offering a more vibrant (and less crassly commercial) version than most. Host Andrew Goodwin, a USF communications prof, puts a specialized spin on the picks of '96 with a program on the best 25 British singles of the year, from the Chemical Brothers and Noel Gallagher to Dubstar, using his own favorites and listener feedback from phone requests and conversations as a guide ("It's not very scientific," he admits). He'll present this year's hits, and memorable songs that should have been hits, beginning at 3 p.m. on KUSF-FM 90.3. Looking ahead, Goodwin will do "Best Albums of 1996" the following Saturday: same time, same channel. Expect to hear Everything But the Girl and Future Sound of London, among others. Call 422-6786 for more information.
The Big Picture Gruff-voiced singer/pianist and cult hero Tom Waits has a slew of films and film scores to his credit these days (Ironweed, Night on Earth, Down by Law), but he made his concert film debut in Chris Blum's 1987 Big Time. Shot here in S.F. at the Warfield and at L.A.'s Wiltern Theater, it features live footage of Waits performing the gamut of rollicking and melancholy trademark songs, from "Hang on St. Christopher" to "Innocent When You Dream," which he sings in a bathtub. Waits also adopts onstage personas like Bible-thumping preacher and smarmy Vegas lounge lizard, and offstage parts like a ticket-taker dreaming of stardom, which gives the film a more theatrical edge than mere concert footage would. Big Time screens at 2, 4, 7:15 and 9:15 p.m. (also Monday at 7:15 and 9:15 p.m.) at the Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight, S.F. Admission is $4.50-6; call 668-3994.
Oye Como Va Whether you love him for his ability to create fluid lines from Pan-Latin sources, his spiritual meditations, or his pot-friendly fretwork, there's no denying Carlos Santana is one of rock's masters. But unlike so many classic guitarists who continue to live in the past, Santana's creative muse hasn't yet flown the coop. This month Billboard bestowed upon him the magazine's highest accolade, the Century Award for creative achievement, which honors "the uncommon excellence of one artist's still unfolding body of work." Live, Santana continues to wow S.F. audiences with two shows at the Warfield, 982 Market, S.F. Tonight he plays at 7 p.m. ($29.50); tomorrow Mingus Amungus opens at 8 p.m. ($45-60). Call 775-7722.
Estrusvescent Champagne will be flowing freely at the Estrus Records New Year's Eve Blowout, where the amped and enthusiastic clamor of the Pacific Northwest will reign supreme. Headliners the Mono Men, who have been referred to by Seattle music magazine The Rocket as "the best grunge band in the Northwest," and whose grinning mugs are the first to appear in the new Seattle rock documentary Hype!, actually hail from the Estrus Records hometown of Bellingham, and churn out the kind of sweaty, ripping, refreshingly unpretentious three-chord garage rock that could save even this most overhyped of party nights. The Drags crank it up after Galaxy Trio does that moody, instrumental surf thing. The Statics open at 9 p.m. at the Kilowatt, 3160 16th St., S.F. Admission is $12; call 861-2595.
The Woody Path Even before that well-publicized little disaster with his adopted daughter and his ex-wife, before Mira Sorvino won on Oscar for playing a hooker to his married, nebbishy sportswriter, before he was writing and producing musicals, for god's sake, Woody Allen was still a publicly confirmed neurotic. His funniest work has been written from that perspective, including 1980's Stardust Memories, in which he is consumed by fame and bedeviled by love (most hauntingly by a luminous and troubled Charlotte Rampling), and 1979's Manhattan, his rumination on love and betrayal that gave us a young Mariel Hemingway and a Gershwin serenade to the Big Apple. Stardust Memories screens at 7:10 p.m., Manhattan at 9 p.m. at the Castro Theater, 429 Castro, S.F. Admission is $4-6.50; call 621-6120.