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Wednesday, Jan 15 1997
january 15
Neapolitan Flavor Naples Mayor Antonio Bassolino wants to lure tourists back to the Italian city by the bay, where the history, views, museums, and proximity to Pompeii have long been overshadowed by bad postwar publicity about the city's pollution and crime stats. But Naples is enjoying a revival; it began in 1994, when Bassolino convened a summit of world leaders in the city, and continues with "1925-1995 Naples Napoli Photographs," a collection of prints taken by three native photographers. Renato Carbone has taken news and human interest photos in Naples since 1925, while Luciano Ferrara, a documentarian of political struggles in Europe and the Far East, has captured panoramic views and lesser-known pockets of the city. Naples Academy of Fine Arts photography teacher Fabio Donato has represented Naples through exhibits in foreign museums. Bassolino and a number of Italian and Italian-American organizations had a hand in bringing the exhibit here. "Naples Napoli Photographs" opens with a reception at 5:30 p.m. (and is up through March 16) at the Museo ItaloAmericano, Building C, Fort Mason, S.F. Admission is free-$3; call 673-2200.

That's the Spirit A 16-foot bronze monument titled Mother of the Spirit-Fire, Cheemah will soon be erected downtown. Sculptor Osprey Orielle Lake describes her work, which mainly features the figures of an eagle and a woman peacefully coexisting, as dedicated to harmony between world cultures and a healing of the abuse humans have heaped on Mother Earth. In the spirit of global unity, Lake is producing eight Cheemahs, to be placed in locations worldwide. City dwellers get their chance to be moved by the spirit at a public reception: The unveiling begins at 6 p.m., and Lake will speak about the ancient and modern symbolism that informs her creation at 7 p.m. in the Rincon Center, 101 Spear, S.F. Admission is free; call 995-2652.

To Be Real Pop culture and technology are key components to "Real World," an exhibit of sculpture, installation, and video by nine young local and national artists. Varying degrees of abstraction shape these real and imagined landscapes, which toy with viewers' perceptions of physical space. From the kitsch of Erika Olsen Hannes to the nearly photographic look at a riverside parking lot by Michael Ashkin, this world is several shades closer to real than MTV's vision. "Real World" opens at noon (a reception is held Thursday at 6 p.m. for the show, which is up through March 1) at New Langton Arts, 1246 Folsom, S.F. Admission is free. Two programs will be held in conjunction with the exhibit: "Scale and Structure," a panel discussion about microtechnology, space, and architecture with artists and engineers (Tuesday, Feb. 4, at 7:30 p.m.) and "Shadow Land," a film and video screening of shorts (Thursday, Feb. 13, at 8 p.m.). Call 626-5416 for more information.

january 16
Chek Up The Cherry Orchard and Uncle Vanya stand as prime examples of Russian dramatist Anton Chekhov's finest work, which ended abruptly when Chekhov died from tuberculosis at age 44. Desolation threads through his soap opera-ish Ivanov!, which local theater company Hype! has loosely adapted. In this melodrama, a middle-aged man finds temporary solace in the company of a young, blond neighbor; in the background there's a languishing wife, her passionate doctor, and an impending burst of violence. The show opens with a preview at 8 p.m. (and runs through Feb. 9) at the Grasshopper Palace, 333 Valencia, Fourth Floor, S.F. Admission is $6-15; call 267-6905.

Family Feud True to Joe Orton form, the family in Entertaining Mr. Sloane has, uh, problems: Here, a brother and sister engaged in an intense battle for a young man's affections are unaware that their father is concealing secrets about the man's past. Orton, the British playwright who also penned Loot and What the Butler Saw, specialized in cynical social farce, played out in wickedly funny exchanges between screwed-up characters. His brilliant career was cut short in suitably dramatic fashion in 1967 at the hands of a homicidal lover who was jealous of Orton's success. Entertaining Mr. Sloane opens at 8 p.m. (and continues through Feb. 23) at the Phoenix Theater, 301 Eighth St., S.F. Admission is $14-16; call 621-4423.

Eastern Lights Egypt, once known as "Hollywood on the Nile," contributes 11 films to the 40-film series "Arab Cinema," including Cairo Station, Youssef Chahine's portrait of poor folk living in a train depot. Films from Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria will also screen. A young Omar Sharif appears in The Beginning and the End, an adaptation of a novel about declining middle-class families (Jan. 24); The Citadel, a tale of doomed romance, addresses patriarchal polygamy (Feb. 14); and a love affair between a Shiite and a Christian dissolves in urban warfare in Beirut, the Encounter (Jan. 30). The series also presents music documentaries like A Little for My Heart, A Little for My God: A Muslim Women's Orchestra (Feb. 22). "Arab Cinema" begins tonight with Determination at 7 p.m. (and continues through Feb. 28) at the George Gund Theater in the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, 2621 Durant, Berkeley. Admission is $3.50-7; call (510) 642-1412 for program information, (510) 642-5249 for tickets.

january 17
Bob Has Left the Building Pundits and political cartoonists had a field day when over a dozen women came forward and accused former Oregon Sen. Bob Packwood of "unwanted advances" -- aggressive tongue assaults, hair pulling -- made over his long tenure. Packwood subsequently blundered his way through public denials, alterations to his subpoenaed diary, and admissions that he had a penchant for white wine by the bottleful and that he "just didn't get it." John Warren's comic drama Groping for Justice: The Bob Packwood Story, which makes smart use of real testimony from both sides, enjoyed a sold-out run and a "Best of the San Francisco Fringe Festival" award when it played here last fall. That the ensemble still finds fodder here a few years after the fact reminds us that real life can be scarier (Packwood is now a lobbyist) and more engaging than fiction: When the Washington Post beat Packwood's home-state paper to the story, a bumper sticker emerged in Portland revising the Oregonian's slogan to read: "If it matters to Oregonians, it's in the Washington Post." The show opens at 8 p.m. (and runs through Feb. 8) at Exit Stage Left, 156 Eddy, S.F. Admission is $10; call 285-9776.

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Heather Wisner


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