Ours is not a town hurting for galleries. Scores of spaces around the city display everything from the kitschiest folk art to the highest-rent masterworks, and are patronized by socialites and plebeians alike. But this week, S.F. explodes in a veritable deluge of exhibitions, as the San Francisco International Art Exposition pulls into Fort Mason and turns our hamlet into a major art-world center. Close to 100 galleries from around the Bay Area, the country, and abroad show photographs, paintings, sculptures, lithographs, ceramics, and mixed-media works by more than 2,000 artists both new and established.
Curious looky-loos and buyers throng the event each time it comes through, seeking irresistible bargains and guidance on what's fresh and hot. This year, for example, culture vultures await a peek at the collection of Robert Motherwell paintings from the Jerald Melberg Gallery of Charlotte, N.C.; Asian-inspired textiles and Japanese bamboo art from Santa Fe's Tai Gallery; and paintings by hometown artist Darren Waterston, whose work is showcased by four different dealers at the expo. Dive in starting at 11 a.m. Friday at Fort Mason's Herbst & Festival Pavilions, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is free-$12; call 441-3400 or visit www.sfiae.com.
-- Joyce Slaton
A Doll's Words
Not lost in translation
Kudos to anyone who's fluent in both Norwegian and English, but playwright Paul Walsh has gone above and beyond the call of bilingual duty. Working from Henrik Ibsen's original text, Walsh has translated a new version of A Doll's House for the American Conservatory Theater. Since most English adaptations use a Victorian-era translation as their source material, Ibsen's work often comes across as stuffy. But Walsh says he's uncovered a different angle: "Ibsen's language is direct, fresh and surprisingly conversational," he writes on ACT's Web site. "The characters, a young woman and her family, apparently shopped at Ikea, as it were, not Gump's."
The plot follows Nora Helmer as she discovers an unpleasant side of her apparently picture-perfect life, and must decide whether to Stepford Wives it or Thelma & Louise it. Walsh discusses his process at "Behind the Scenes With ACT's A Doll's House" at 6:30 p.m. at the Main Library's Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin (at Grove), S.F. Admission is free; call 557-4277 or visit www.sfpl.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
Arp! Arp! Arp! Arp!
Celebrate 14 years of sea lion yelps
With the bark of a tortured canine, cuddly tabby whiskers, and sleek seallike fur that bears a distinct marine aroma, the California sea lion is a creature like none other. Though they have foes as well as friends, these slippery pinnipeds have conquered K Dock and they ain't going nowhere. This year marks the 14th anniversary of the sea lions' first winter on this pier, which offers convenient access to the bay's ample herring, salt water, and rapturous admirers. The Marine Mammal Center salutes the beasts with free informational talks today and each forthcoming Saturday (through 2004) starting at 11 a.m. at Pier 39, Beach & Embarcadero, S.F. Admission is free; call 705-5500 or visit www.pier39.com.
-- Sunny Andersen
Shell-trading Ohlone Indians, convert-hungry Spanish missionaries, imperialist European explorers, American colonists: For better and worse, San Francisco owes a debt to each of these groups. Adam Collings, author of the 2003 history California: West of the West, sheds light on the birth of our city and signs copies of his book when he appears at 2 p.m. at Mission Dolores, 3321 16th St. (at Dolores), S.F. Admission is free; call 621-8203.
-- Joyce Slaton