Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Five Things You Should Do This Weekend

You probably shouldn’t see “The Boy Next Door.” So …

1. Elvis tributes
Elvis has been dead for close to four decades and still gets a pair of kick-ass birthday parties. You have to respect that.

2. Fulton 55 four year anniversary weekend
Four years? Seems like the downtown club has been around longer than that.

3. Urban Hop
Come get schooled on downtown Fresno. Seriously, there is free stuff and you’ll be in a big group.

4. Roy Orbison
Because it’s suddenly on my mind: Have you heard Celine Dion’s version of “I Drove All Night?”

5.1915-2015: Tradition, Legacy, Culture
The first of many events planned to help raise awareness about the Armenian Genocide of 1915. One-point-five million Armenians were killed by the Ottoman Turkish government.

Five Things You Should Do This Weekend


Now that the New Year’s Eve celebrations are over …

1. The Art of the Forty, Part 2
“I ain’t drank a forty since I became old enough to drink.”

2. The Pretty Flowers
The new indie-rock project from drummer (and Fresno expat) Eli Reyes.

3. Bethel Jazz Mass
For those who find listening to jazz a spiritual experience.

4. Fresno Hip-Hop Showcase
Will 2015 be a big year for hip-hop in Fresno? Show up and see.

5. “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Good Company Players takes on this Tony-award winning Broadway play. It’s a comedy.

Five Things You Should Do This Weekend


Gas is cheap again. So you could always skip town. Or …

1. Downtown Fresno Ice Rink
You’re skating on thin ice mister.

2. Central California Auto Show
Auto nerds need conventions too.

3. “Levitated Mass
This film ask the question, “Can a giant boulder be art?”

4. “Birdman
Restore your faith in American film making.

5. Fundraiser Benefit Concert for Perry Hodge
Perry Hodge has been a vital part of Fresno’s music scene since the 1980s. Here’s a small chance to repay the man.

And a bonus five for music fans.

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Win tickets to: Fresno Filmworks screening of “Levitated Mass”


Levitate Mass” (which Fresno Filmworks screens next Friday at the Tower Theatre) is a film about the enduring question of what makes art, art? The documentary, from filmmaker Doug Pray (“Art & Copy,” “Surfwise”), follows the literal journey of a 340-ton granite boulder as it becomes a conceptual “land sculpture.”

Based on the trailer, the film will surely be a conversation starter. There will be discussion circle after the 5:30 p.m. showing with visiting filmmaker Katie McNeill, who was a co-producer on the film.

We have a tickets to give away to a couple Beehive readers. To enter to win, leave a common on this post. Give us your definition of art. You have until noon Wednesday, Nov. 12. Winners will be chosen at random, notified via email (so check yours if you enter) and must be able to pick the tickets up at The Fresno Bee office (1626 E. St.) during normal business hours.

Watch the trailer (and get the complete contest rules) on the jump.

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Bansky gets arrested (not at all, really)


In ultimate proof that you should never (ever) take anything you on the Internet at face value, word comes today that Bansky was arrested.

He wasn’t actually arrested, but someone concocted the story, which was instantly picked up (add shared around via social media as these things are wont to do). It popped up several times on my Facebook feed today.

Bansky (check him out here) is an illusive street-art icon who is wanted by law enforcement. If he ever were arrested, there’s no doubt it would be news. Add to that, this cultural obsession we have with consuming mass amounts of information and regurgitating it as quickly as possibly (it’s actually a lucrative busy model) and you can see why people taking a quick read might pass it along as real news.

And this is the world in which we live. Every scrap of news has to be vetted for authenticity, because even the obvious fake news gets mistaken as fact.

On the same note, U2 singer Bono has ebola.

Weekend pick: Collecting Rollin Pickford

There’s an intriguing underpinning to the new exhibition of works by famed Fresno watercolorist Rollin Pickford at Fresno State’s Madden Library. From my 7 cover story:

Collectors are an integral part of the artistic process. When they buy, the artist eats. Through the decades, the prolific Pickford always appreciated the people who supported him (and his family) by buying his art. The artist’s son Joel, who curated the show, tracked down 21 watercolors from 21 different collectors for the exhibition, held in the library’s Leon S. Peters Ellipse Gallery.

I’m making this my weekend pick, but there’s plenty of time to see the show: It runs through Jan. 16.

Above: one of my favorites from the show, a 1948 watercolor of the unfinished Friant-Kern Canal. 

Five Things You Should Do This Weekend

Aside from revisiting the Civil War

1. Zappcon
Geeks (and nerds) of the world united and take over.

2. Zumba Under the Stars
Everyone is getting fit without you.

3. Breakfast Ride to Kearney Park
Don’t worry, you’ll get to the park before the first Civil War shots are fired.

4. Lunafest
The documentary “Viva,” seems particularly interesting. It tells the story of 82-year-old punker Viva Hamnell.

5. Glorious Junk Days
One man’s trash and all that.

An added bonus for those seeking music-oriented events:

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QnA with Cristobal Carrillo, organizer of Orosi’s Spanspek Festival


The Spanspek Music and Arts Festival is a teach-by-doing kind of endeavor.

Founded in 2006, the annual event brings locally created visual and performing arts to the community of Cutler-Orosi with the hope that it will inspire the youth in the area on their own artistic paths.

Dozens of local visual and performing artist will put their work on display 6 p.m. tomorrow at the Orosi Memorial Hall. All festival proceeds go toward funding Orosi High School scholarships, commissioning new works from local artists and ensuring the continuation of the event in the future.

Over the years, organizers Cristobal Carrillo and Israel Flores have developed a knack for spotting new local talent — such as Visalia psyche blues band Slow Season and the Dinuba hip hop collective, Roach Collection. Both play this year, along with local heavy hitters Patrick Contreras and the rock duo Strange Vine.

I emailed with Carrillo to find out more about growing up as an artist in a small, rural town and why this year’s lineup of musicians seems so great.

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B.J. McCoon, 1932-2014

Fresno lost a major figure in its art history last week when painter B.J. McCoon died at age 82 after a long illness. From the Bee obituary I prepared for Thursday’s print edition:

For decades she was an integral part of the local art scene, and her paintings made their way into many local collections — and some around the world. Her friends were a who’s who of Fresno artistic talent, including Rollin Pickford, Darwin Musselman, Stan Bitters, Pat Hopper, Jean Ray Laury and Clement Renzi.

Mrs. McCoon was prolific, and her interests were so varied that she never stuck to just one medium.

Cathy Craycroft-Glenn, a longtime family friend, remembers visiting Mrs. McCoon as a young girl and seeing works in various states of completion scattered about her house: drawings in one room, a huge portrait in oil in another, a just finished watercolor drying on the back porch with the paints still left out on the table.

Services are Saturday.

Art and ghosts at the Hatchery

The scene: Quinn Gomez-Heitzeberg and Astri Swendsrud, curators of the performance-art exhibition “God Will Not Have His Work Made Manifest by Cowards,” stand surrounded by a circle of several dozen art enthusiasts. Dressed in somber black attire, the pair holds between them a small framed chalkboard upon which is written the words “Extinguish the Candle, Unbuild the Fire, Clean the Slate.” A simple wooden holder shaped like a pyramid adorned with thin lighted candles sits at their feet. They ask the audience to recite the chalkboard mantra — it sounds like a ritual response in a church worship service — and they put out the candles. Then they “break” the triangle of the pyramid by separating the pieces of wood.

The setting: We’re in the big, sprawling, dilapidated interior of the Hatchery, former home to the Church of Synanon, the 1970s era drug-rehabilitation program that morphed into a cult. Located about 80 miles or so east of Fresno in the mountain town of Badger, near the entrance to Sequoia National Park, the compound is a weird and restless feeling space. Most of the windows are broken, ceiling insulation dangles precariously over our heads, walls and joints ominously sag, and about a third of the vast, airplane-hanger-sized space is structurally unsound and off-limits. (You have to sign a liability waiver before entering.) With the sun streaming in on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, the feeling isn’t so much ominous as unsettling. But I wouldn’t want to be there after dark. Knowing that this was the command center of a famous cult — and reading about some of the activities that took place here – you can’t help but sense the history.

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Weekend pick: performance pieces at the Hatchery

Utopian ideas often sound so good … and so easy. But actually implementing them in the real world can be trickier than it seems.

In a collection of performance pieces titled “God Will Not Have His Work Made Manifest by Cowards,” a group of artists — mostly from Los Angeles — on Sunday will gather at a Valley location well known for its history with utopian movements: the Hatchery, located in Badger near the entrance to Sequoia National Park. The program starts at 2 p.m., with arrival suggested by 1:45 p.m. The Hatchery’s address is 50616 Highway 245 in Badger. Check out the details online so you know what you’ll be getting into: No open-toed shoes allowed, watch out for rattlesnakes, watch out for broken glass, and you have to sign a liability waiver before entering the property.  

If you’ve never been able to experience the Hatchery, it’s a really interesting place. I was last there in 2011 for a big and wonderful art exhibition titled “The Hatchery: East of Fresno.” 40 artists from around the world displayed their work in a vast building that used to be an aircraft hanger from the days of the Church of Synanon, the 1970s era drug-rehabilitation program that morphed into a cult. Most of the site-specific works riffed off the Synanon theme.

Later the compound was converted into an Islamic community known as Baladullah.

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ArtHop pick: Mac Mechem at Fig Tree

In Thursday’s Life section I put the spotlight on Mac Mechem, whose new show at Fig Tree Gallery is a highlight of October ArtHop. (5-8p.m Thursday at most venues.) From my story:

Mechem taught art at McLane High School for 36 years. After playing football for Fresno State, Mechem says he felt “dazed and confused” about his future after coming to the end of his player eligibility.

He sold his car, took the few hundred dollars he had saved loading trucks at night for Pepsi and bought a round-trip ticket to Europe.

After visiting the great museums there, he returned to Fresno determined to be an artist and teacher. While he was at McLane, he taught a painting class at Fresno City College for 28 years, and after retirement he has for 10 years been teaching a drawing class at Reedley College.

Mechem calls himself a figurative painter who comments on the social, political, cultural and religious aspects of human nature. “Satire and humor are important components of my expression as I attempt to lampoon and ridicule the vices, follies and shortcomings of contemporary society,” he says.

More ArtHop picks are attached to the end of the story. For a complete list of venues, go to the Fresno Arts Council’s ArtHop update.

Sierra Art trails spotlight: Kathy Marks

If you’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing Sierra Art Trails, perhaps this is the year for you. The annual open house of studios and galleries in the mountain communities of eastern Madera and Mariposa counties is a wonderfully relaxed and friendly way to meet some very nice artists — and perhaps pick up an original piece of art.

In advance of this year’s 12th installment of the event, which runs 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday through Sunday, I feature an interview in Thursday’s Life section with Kathy Marks, who will be showing her assemblage works in Ahwahnee. Here’s an extended version of the interview:

Question: Set the scene for us in terms of your participation in Sierra Art Trails. What can people expect at your Ahwahnee venue? What is the ambiance like? Do you find that lots of people engage you in conversation?

Answer: Kris Kessey’s studio is warm and welcoming! Since I showed at Kris’s studio last year, it’s easy to ‘set the scene’. First of all, there is plenty of parking, with easy-to-read signs. There will be five of us this year including Kris, Norma Rogers, Edward Gillum & Adam Longatti. All of us are displaying our work inside. Adam will only be showing Sat. & Sun. The rest of us will be there all 3 days. There are all types of people that visit us. Some are more outgoing & curious, so they will be more engaging. I like to greet our guests with a friendly ‘hello’, inviting them to come in. I introduce myself, and the others who are nearby. When people show an interest in my work, I then let them know my process and any other details they are curious about.

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Five Things You Should Do This Weekend


Go find someone you love and hug them. It’s been a long week. Then …

1. Big Brother presents Strangelove
All I ever needed is here in my arms.

2. Logger’s Jamboree
Chopping, sawing and general wood play. You’ve got to love the smell of fresh wood chips in the morning.

3. NOCO Summer Soiree
Aerial dance + classical music inside a museum. It’s a triple shot of culture.

4. Rock N’ Shop
Music and collectibles. Special appearance by a jaw-less zombie pet (or the dude who played one on TV anyway).

5. Ani-Jam
One word: Cosplay.

Eye-catching street art in the Tower District


I swung by the Viral Boutique in the Tower District while working on my retail column this week, and couldn’t help but notice what is painted on the wall outside. This is on the building that used to be Tom’s Trains at 1476 N. Van Ness Ave. that faces a dirt lot. The mural is much bigger than what’s shown here, so keep scrolling to see more.

Shop owner Omar Yanez tells me he didn’t like the original look of the wall, which was a patchwork of paint colors due to efforts to cover up graffiti. He put out a call on Craigslist for artists to come paint it and three or four people responded. Normally, we would always give credit to artists at the Bee, but when I asked Omar for their names, he called back to say they didn’t want their names published. “They call themselves collectively the ‘Remainders,’” he says. Since I’ve been sitting here wondering what to call this art (Graffiti art? Street art? Hip hop art as Omar says?), the fact that the artists don’t want their names might be a clue. What do you think about the murals?

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Picks for tonight’s scorching ArtHop

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I’ve already told you about Marcos Dorado’s farewell exhibit at Peeve’s and editorial cartoonist SW Parra’s fun show at The Fresno Bee. Here are some more picks for ArtHop:

Los Angeles artist Oscar Magallanes will be in town for an exhibition of his work, which Arte Americas executive director Frank Delgado describes as “seriously powerful and large scale.” From Magallanes’ bio:

Magallanes was raised in the Azusa barrio. His artwork is influenced by the cultural and social elements of his upbringing. After a troubled youth at the age of fifteen, he was expelled from high school but was accepted into the Ryman Arts program which he credits with encouraging him to become a professional artist. Magallanes’ work which is primarily of wood panels is used as a vehicle to allow the viewer to gain insight of societal injustices and further understanding of diverse cultures and struggles on even the subtle level and in this way pay homage to the journey he has traveled.

Also at Arte: Jeannette Herrera, an acrylic/oil painter, has had work featured at the  San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, the New Mexico Museum of Art and Chimmaya Gallery in Los Angeles. She writes:

After an attack in 2004 I recovered from a skull fracture and sending attacker to prison for 7 years. I started to paint again and have found it to be the only therapy that works for me.

Both shows continue through Aug. 17. Pictured above: a work by Oscar Magallanes.

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Marcos Dorado: the (farewell) Beehive Interview

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Marcos Dorado, known for his classical realist drawings, has been a fixture on the Fresno-area art scene for years. It’s hard to imagine he’s leaving for good. But that’s his plan, and he’s marking his departure with an exhibition titled “Leave Art in Fresno (My Farewell Exhibit)” at Peeve’s Public House on the Fulton Mall. It opens at ArtHop and runs through July 28.

I highlight Dorado’s show in Thursday’s Life section as the anchor of this month’s ArtHop coverage. Here’s the extended version of my interview with him.

When did you first realize you could draw?

In fourth grade. A family friend (David) was visiting my parents. As they talked, out of nowhere, I had the instinct that I could draw David’s portrait. When I finished scribbling, everyone was impressed. From then on, I drew all the time until I was in high school. Then, I became interested in other subjects, such as literature and languages. As a result, I put drawing aside until 15 years later, when I was thirty. I was recently divorced then, and I was rediscovering my old self.

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Support the “We All Follow the Arsenal” book project

arsenalJordan Wiebe and his wife Channelle follow the Arsenal.

Like, religiously.

Like, to the point of organizing an Arsenal fan club so every Gooner (that’s the official term) has a a proper pub to go to for those 4 a.m. matches. There’s no better way to watch a match than with a beer in one hand and a coffee in the other.

They’re also packing up the car for a 6,000-mile road trip to New York City to watch the club take on the New York Red Bulls this summer. Arsenal fans being what they are, the Wiebes will make a point to stop in at pubs along the way and meet (and stay) with as many Gooners as possible. They’re documenting the whole ordeal for a 30-page Arsenal-inspired design, photography and printmaking book.

If any of this seems cool to you, the book (along with other Arsenal-inspired art) will be available through Kickstarter. The proceeds will fund the trip (and the project).

The campaign has actually been fully funded already, but there are still some backer spots available (and 14-days left to pledge). Get Jordon Wiebe’s pitch for the project on the jump:

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Arts education in prisons is back

Two Fresno arts organizations are part of a program that will bring the arts to prisoners after a 10-year absence. The Arts-in-Corrections pilot program is in partnership with the California Arts Council. The state will spend $2.5 million over the next two years to bring the arts to 14 state prisons.

The last time the California Arts Council provided official funding for arts in prisons programs was 2003, the Orange County Register reports. The actual money is coming from the corrections department’s budget.

The Arts-in-Corrections programs will offer a variety of performing, literary and visual arts disciplines, such as theater, music, dance, creative writing, poetry, storytelling, painting, drawing, and sculpture.

In Fresno, the Alliance for California Traditional Arts will receive $90,621 to provide programs to Kern Valley State Prison and the California State Prison at Corcoran. Master artists will focus on Chicano theater and music; Mexican Jarcho music, dance, and verse; drawing; and storytelling.

The Fresno Arts Council will help provide instruction in music, visual arts, theater and storytelling as part of a 468,764 grant covering six regions of the state. Locally those prisons include Valley State Prison in Chowchilla, Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga and the California State Prison at Corcoran.

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Tonight: ArtHop

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There’s a new venue for ArtHop. And I work there.

The Fresno Bee will open its doors 5-8 p.m. tonight as a stop on the ArtHop circuit. On display will be “100 Strangers,” a photography exhibition featuring work by students in Fresno State’s mass communication and journalism department.

We’ll have food, drink, music and the chance to meet some of the artists. I plan to be there from 5-6 p.m., so drop by and say hi. The Bee is at 1626 E Street. We plan to host additional ArtHop shows on a periodic basis, so keep us in mind as a stop.

In Wednesday’s Life section I offered my ArtHop picks. They are:

Columnar Reflections, Sixty Lakes Basin, Kings Canyon NP

SPECTRUM ART GALLERY: Renowned Yosemite photographer Charles Cramer, whose work is included in the 2005 book “Landscape: The World’s Top Photographers,” is the annual guest artist at Spectrum Art Gallery and will offer an exhibition of his original photographs.

Cramer, recognized as a master printmaker in both darkroom-based dye transfer printing and now in digital processes, was selected in 1987 and 2009 to be artist-in-residence at Yosemite.

He will be honored at an artist’s reception 6-8 p.m. Saturday.

Details: Spectrum Art Gallery, 608 E. Olive Ave., (559) 266-0691.

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Read all about it: Fresno State’s ‘Between the Pages’ a strong and fun exhibition

In my Sunday column I put the spotlight on a fine new exhibition at Fresno State’s Madden Library titled “Between the Pages: Intersections of Books and Technology.” From my column:

One of the delights of this clever and good-hearted exhibition, co-presented by the library’s Arne Nixon Center for the Study of Children’s Literature and the Special Collections Research Center, and curated by Jennifer Crow and Tammy Lau, is the way it nudges the viewer toward a greater appreciation of the staying power of books, no matter the format or technology that made them possible.

Books come in many forms: printed, audio, pop-up versions, digital. You can trace their progression in “Turning Pages” — from the hieroglyphics on a facsimile of the Rosetta Stone to an iPad version of “Horrible Hauntings,” billed as an “augmented reality collection” in which readers are able to see and interact with 3-D ghosts.

I summarize my thoughts about the exhibition in the above video review version of my column.

Light and sky at Fresno’s Spectrum Art Gallery

In Friday’s 7 section, I feature two exhibitions at Spectrum Art Gallery: Sally Stallings’ “Everyday, the Light” and Virginia Wilson’s “Against the Sky.” From my review:

Sunlight is the great equalizer. You can live in a mansion or a shack, but a shaft of sunlight streaming through a window is the same the world over: clean, bracing, bright, even hypnotic.

The exhibition runs through April 27.

Tonight: ‘Zits’ and ‘Baby Blues’ cartoonist branches out with ArtHop


You wouldn’t blame Jerry Scott — whose comics “Zits” and “Baby Blues” reach a potential 100 million readers daily — for resting on his laurels. The 58-year-old San Luis Obispo resident is at the top of his game.

But seven years ago, Scott decided that as a comic-strip writer he was feeling a little unfulfilled as an artist. He enthusiastically took up painting. And for his subject matter, he turned to one of his great loves: Western themes and the rodeo.


You’ll get to see the results at ArtHop tonight. Scott opens the second exhibition of his career, “Roughstock,” a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Clovis Rodeo, at 1821 Gallery & Studios. He’ll be there to greet fans. I got the chance to talk with the amiable Scott for a story in today’s Life section:

Scott’s oil paintings are filled with images of cows, bulls and rodeo riders rendered in a mostly realistic style that often veers toward the impressionistic in terms of color and form. The fine-art approach is certainly a departure from the world of comics.

“I’ve spent the last 25 years being the guy behind the scenes,” Scott muses about how his comics career evolved. “That wasn’t my first choice, because I’m a visual person. So all this was sort of in response to being the writer and not the artist on my comic strips.”

I admire Scott’s drive when it comes to branching out creatively. He loves comics and is no way apologetic about what he does for a living. If anything, he’s cheerfully willing to use his celebrity in service of fine art.

After the jump: view photos by The Bee’s Eric Paul Zamora of the exhibition.

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McLane High’s Arts Venture Academy competes for challenge grant

McLane High School’s impressive Arts Venture Academy is known for its impressive collaborative projects among student writers and artists, including a show on homelessness at the Fresno Art Museum and a show about undocumented students and their families at Arte Americas. In December, McLane debuted “Stories of Home,” based on 300 interviews with Southeast Asians about the Hmong experience, at the Hmong International New Year Festival.

Because of the exhibition, the Arts Venture Academy is up for a Follett Challenge grant with a top prize of $30,000 worth of Follett materials. The Follett Corporation, which specializes in educational materials and technology, runs the contest to highlight and reward innovative schools. More than 100 schools are competing in this year’s contest. (Computech Middle School in Fresno is also in the running.)

This is one of those competitions in which people vote online for a winner — but, thankfully, the online voting component is just one factor in determining the overall winner.

Here’s the link to vote for McLane. And here’s the link to vote for Computech Middle School. Deadline to vote is April 4.