GARBAGE INTO GOLD AT ARTE AMERICAS
My favorite of the three new shows at Arte Americas — all under the umbrella theme of environmental sustainability — is the wonderful “Nothing Wasted,” a group show from local artists who recycled used materials into artistic gems. Francisco Vargas’ “Red Baby Grand,” which he repurposed from a piano burned in a house fire, is worth the trip alone. A statewide touring show titled “Ignite” offers a serious look at the environmental problems facing California. Read my cover story in Friday’s 7 about the Arte exhibitions. Plus: Here’s a video I made featuring artist Ann Savageau, a UC Davis professor who made a piece for “Ignite” about the Central Valley. A reception for “Nothing Wasted” will be held Sunday. [Details]
1. WATCH OUT FOR FLYING COWS
On Thursday on the Beehive I told you about opening night of “Spamalot.” Well, I attended the show last night — and while my review will come early next week, let’s just say I laughed so hard during the French Taunter scene that I almost choked on my Good Company water. (And there was even a gag directed at me, which I’m not going to share so as to ruin the moment, but let’s just say I’ve never been quite so personally surprised during a performance.) Check out my cover story in Friday’s 7. Also, Bee photographer Gary Kazanjian took a bunch of great photos, which he posted in an online gallery. “Spamalot” continues at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater through March 17. [Details]
1. FRESNO GRAND OPERA’S ‘LA RONDINE’ Tonight’s opening night performance is a big deal. It marks the first time Fresno Grand Opera will attempt a fully staged performance (with lights, set and costumes) at the Shaghoian Hall. With only about 750 seats, this venue is about a third smaller than the Saroyan Theatre, where the company has staged operas for more than a decade. Fresno Grand Opera picked an intimate opera for this more intimate venue, and I’m curious to see the results. I wrote about the venue change — and checked in with lead singers Rebecca Davis and Chad A. Johnson — in my Sunday Spotlight column. And I focus on the Italian conductor Valerio Galli, pictured below, who is making his American debut, in Friday’s 7 section. [Details]
1. HAVE AN UPTOWN SATURDAY NIGHT
NYC hip-hop duo Camp Lo — famous for their stellar 1997 album, “Uptown Saturday Night” — are at Fulton 55 on Saturday as part of the anniversary tour for the album. It’s a cool gig, particularly if you’ve never seen “Luchini” pour from the sky. [More]
You might have to dig a little harder for cultural events this pre-Christmas weekend — but you can still find some great possibilities.
1. ENJOY A ‘MIRACLE’
The Good Company Players production of “Dad’s Christmas Miracle” at the 2nd Space Theatre has just four performances left: 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday. This nostalgic comedy is about a boy who has to convince his family and teacher he’s worthy of a visit from Santa. Another theater option for the weekend is the first-rate “Beehive,” which continues at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater. [Details]
1. LISTEN TO CHAD HOOPES SHOOT AND SCORE ON VIOLIN
The Fresno Philharmonic welcomes young violin virtuoso Chad Hoopes back to Fresno. Don’t miss my interview with Hoopes in today’s 7 section. [Details]
I’ve been to a lot of “Dia de Los Muertos” exhibitions over the years at Arte Américas, but the current one feels especially vibrant. It’s a mix of work from accomplished veteran artists and several terrific new artists, with some of the bunch producing traditional “Day of the Dead” altars and installations and others going in broader directions with the theme.
I highlight one of my favorite pieces in the exhibition — Diana Rodriquez and Madlyn Esquer’s installation “In Tribute to Roy Reuben Balli Gonzalez” — in Sunday’s Spotlight section. It’s a thrilling and moving piece. And I love the effect of mixing the flatness of vintage photography with the carefully staged three-dimensional forms. (The Bee photo, above, is by Craig Kohlruss.)
The show continues through Nov. 4. I’ll be letting you know more about Nov.2′s big annual procession and celebration.
On the jump, check out a few of the works by up-and-coming artists in exhibition.
1. EXPERIENCE WORLD-CLASS BALLET
I can’t push this dance concert enough: It’s an incredibly big deal to line up eight dancers from the world-renowned San Francisco Ballet to perform. I write about “Ballet Stars of San Francisco,” which will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Saroyan Theatre, in the cover story in Friday’s 7 section. [Details]
1. SLEEPWALK WITH CALIFORNIA OPERA
The major weekend event of California Opera’s festival is a fully staged production of “La Sonnambula,” with orchestra, about a heroine who sleepwalks. The role of Amina, to be sung in this production by San Francisco soprano Jamie Bonetto, is renowned for its difficulty. Other cast members include Matthew Acuff as Count Rodolfo, Donald Squillace as Elvino, Merina Amos as Lisa and Alexandra Jerinic as Teresa. Leanna Sterios-Primiani conducts. It will be performed 2 p.m. Sunday at the Mercedes Edwards Theatre in Clovis. Here’s a rundown on all three weekend events from Friday’s 7 section. Pictured below: Matthew Acuff, Jamie Bonetto and Donald Squillace. (Bee photo by Craig Kohlruss) [Details]
Amidst the current roiling national debate about American identity, veteran California Latina artist Linda Vallejo creates a realm in which US popular culture is overlain with a Mexican-American sensibility. Gleefully raiding the world of classic commercial images of middle class WASP life, Vallejo gives common American icons a new sabor, or flavor. The result is the satirical series Make ‘Em All Mexican (or MEAM) featuring 30 mixed media works, including re-purposed/altered commercial figurines, and 2-dimensional mixed media pieces.
Curator Gordon Fuglie says that in addition to being thought provoking, the exhibition is also very funny, “perhaps the art world’s equivalent of the routines of stand-up comedian George Lopez.”
Vallejo will be at Arte tonight for an ArtHop artist reception. The show continues through Aug. 19.
1. SWING BY AUDIE’S
Let’s all give a round of applause for local band Old Tire Swingers, who recently completed a five-month tour that circled the country and put 15,000 miles on its tour van. Now, the group plays its homecoming show at Audie’s Olympic on Saturday with equally-cool local band Poor Man’s Poison, plus Copper & Glass and direct-from-North Carolina, Deep Chatham. Old Tire Swingers play old-time string music and bluegrass, but its members have a history in rock bands, so they’re trying to get people to recognize it’s not just overall and straw hat music. Read my interview with Old Tire Swingers for more. [Tickets]
1. GO TO A PARTY FIT FOR ROYALTY The Soulflower Group hosts its popular annual Prince tribute at Audie’s Olympic on Saturday. It features a handful of DJs dipping into their stashes to play Prince gems. A movie will shown and, if I know The Soulflower Group, there’s some more cool stuff planned too. [More]
1. GET ‘DIRTY’ ONE LAST TIME
The Good Company Players happy production of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” is in its final weekend. Peter Allwine (pictured below), Gordon Moore and Danielle Jorn give high-caliber comedic performances in this adaptation of the 1988 film. [Details]
1. SWING WITH THE PHILHARMONIC
From Benny Goodman’s “Bugle Call Rag” to Louis Prima’s “Sing, Sing, Sing,” this collaboration between the five-member singing group Five By Design and the Fresno Philharmonic traces the history of jazz and swing starting in the late 1930s and running up to the early 1950s. I have an interview with Five By Design member Terrence Niska in Friday’s 7 section. The show is 8 p.m. Saturday at the Saroyan Theatre. [Details]
An important reminder: The current strike against the Fresno Grand Opera doesn’t affect this performance in any way. The Fresno Philharmonic is covered by a different contract with the local professional musicians union. The Philharmonic office has been receiving calls from patrons asking to clarify this since the strike began.
1. EXPERIENCE ‘SCHEHEREZADE’
The Lively Arts Foundation is bringing in Alonzo King LINES Ballet, the acclaimed San Francisco contemporary ballet company. Here’s my story from Thursday’s Life section about the company’s 7:30 p.m. Friday performance at the Saroyan Theatre, where the reimagined Arabian-Nights tale “Scheherezade” will be staged.
1. SANDRA CISNEROS
The acclaimed Latina author has two events planned at Fresno State: a 2 p.m. “Conversation” with English professor Alex Espinoza and a 7 p.m. public reading. My story in Friday’s 7 section is here.
As you look at the schedule and plot out your course, here are five more things to consider. (More info, like ticket details and hashtaggery, over at The Fresnan).
VENUE CLUSTERS: It’s seems like this year, more than any before it, the festival organizers have done a good job of getting all the venues really close to each other — perfecting the venue-hopping idea that gives a festival like FUSE so much appeal. Tonight’s cluster of venues is near Chukchansi Park while Saturday’s is in the Mural District. Here’s hoping this gives the festival an even cooler vibe.
1. LIGHT YOUR LOCAL MUSIC FUSE While that football game is the biggest event of the year for Fresno State football fans, this weekend’s Fresno Urban Sound Experience –which starts tonight — is one of the biggest events of the year for our local music community. Two days, close to 50 acts, eight venues, 10 stages, all-downtown and all-local performers. Sounds good, right? Even better: One ticket gets you into everything. It’s $15 for one day, $20 for both. More info, schedule, tickets and all that stuff over at fusefest.com. Read my Fresno Bee preview, if you haven’t already.
The boys of Strange Vine — one of my favorite local bands, for sure — are headlining Fulton 55 tonight for some post-ArtHop tunes. Adding to the cool factor, as if Strange Vine wasn’t enough, is Long Beach band The Fling, which is another on-the-rise band that Strange Vine has buddied up with and brought to town.
Tonight is the second date of a West Coast tour that Strange Vine is pretty excited about (they played with The Fling in Santa Cruz last night as well). They’re playing this weekend at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco with Dredg, and have dates after that scheduled in Seattle, Portland, etc.
If you’re unfamiliar with Strange Vine, I’ll just boil it down to this: If you like bands such as The Black Keys, you’ll dig Strange Vine. If that’s you, go check ‘em out. They’re really good. If that’s not enough for ya, here’s a sample in video form, thanks to Dead in 60 Years.
This young-and-hip Israeli percussion duo PercaDu teams up with the Fresno Philharmonic 8 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. I interview Adi Morag, one-half of the duo, in today’s issue of 7. Also on the Philharmonic program: Barber’s “School for Scandal Overture” and the Rachmaninoff Symphony No. 1.
1. PHANTOM TIMES THREE
The “Three Phantoms in Concert” performance Saturday night at the Philharmonic features Craig Schulman, Mark Jacoby and Gary Mauer, all of whom have played the title role in “The Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway and around the world. Here’s my advance story in Friday’s 7 section. I’ve heard this concert is virtually sold out, so if you want to go, you’d better start scraping for a ticket right now.