1. CHECK OUT CHRISTIAN VARGAS’ WORK AT IRON BIRD CAFE
A strong component of Vargas’ work at the Iron Bird is a series of moody, musing family portraits layered with memory and meaning. He doesn’t just paint people — one of the most striking pieces is a big, munching ox with a target painted on its side. It’s as if the hazy, layered technique momentarily slips the viewer into some weird, deeper level of bovine consciousness.
Another strength of the show is the way curator Steve Ruppel uses the sleek Iron Bird space to showcase the art. While Vargas’ portraits tend to be dark — the artist has said that he’s been “pushing the boundaries of how dark I can get the backgrounds without using any actual black” — many of his mixed-media objects feature bright, cheery hues. Of particular interest: the artist’s use of found objects, such as the vividly colored citrus harvesting field bags used by farmworkers, which sets up an interesting contrast with the more somber portraits.
The show continues through Aug. 26.
2. ENJOY FREE OPERA.
For a scrappy company such as the California Opera, mounting a full-scale opera with all the attendant hoopla — principal singers, chorus, costumes, sets, conductor — is quite a challenge. Try two in one weekend.
Two major works are being performed for the last weekend of Cal Opera’s annual festival: “La Traviata” 7 p.m. Friday; and “Madama Butterfly” 1 p.m. Sunday, both at the Mercedes Edwards Theatre in Clovis.
For a rundown, check out my Arts story in Friday’s issue of 7.
3. LISTEN TO A TALENTED YOUNG PIANIST.
Again, another free cultural event. Pianist Michael Delfin, a student of The Peabody Conservatory and Johns Hopkins University, will give a concert 8 p.m. Friday that includes the works of Haydn, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, and Liebermann.
His performance at Fresno State’s Concert Hall is co-sponsored by the Phillip Lorenz Memorial Keyboard Concerts and the Fresno State music department.
4. WATCH A SCARY PLAY.