The life of a music blogger (at least here in Fresno) can get a bit lonely. So, when another local takes up the helm, it tends to put a blip my radar. Suffice it to say, I’m excited by what Spanspek Music and Arts Festival co-founders Cristobal Carillo and Israel Flores are doing over at the festival’s website. I wanted to know more, so I fired off a quick email. Here’s what I got back from Carillo.
It’s the end of Gemma Wilcox‘ “Magical Mystery Detour” and she’s standing at the top of a lighthouse at Land’s End. It’s actually a piano bench she’s standing on, but at this point Wilcox has pulled you in and it doesn’t matter. She is at the lighthouse and it is sunrise and and she is having realization.
She is both alone and not at all alone in this world.
And this whole trip she’s just taken, set in motion by her dead mother and without a boyfriend to help guide the way, it has put her exactly where she belongs. “I am right here,” she says.
And the lights dim and it’s totally zen.
Fresno’s art scene has lost a prominent name. Howard Statham, one of the founding members of Fig Tree Gallery, died Nov. 13. Known for his humor and sense of the absurd, Statham’s deadpan wit was often front and center in his works, which included paintings on wood, glass and later a large number of computer-generated pieces.
In a June column about his last show, a retrospective at 1821 Calaveras Gallery and Studios, I wrote:
His works are often gently acerbic, sometimes overtly political, occasionally downright corny, maybe even a little naughty. They often elicit a chuckle. When you make a parody of Munch’s famed “The Scream” starring Miss Piggy — and retitle it “The Squeal” — it’s clear there’s a strong sense of humor at work.
But beyond Staham’s wry sense of humor, I was drawn to some darker textures in terms of subject matter in the artist’s work.
UPDATE 10/16: Here’s the news obituary I wrote about David from Tuesday’s paper. Also, after the jump, I added a couple of vintage Fresno State yearbook pages featuring David passed along by Peter Robertson.
ORIGINAL POST: Word comes over the weekend that longtime Bee arts writer David Hale, who worked at the newspaper 42 years before retiring nearly 10 years ago, has died at age 82.
One of his nieces, Wendy Hunter, says that David passed away Friday evening after a second bout of pneumonia. The family will have a private service.
David preceded me in the arts writing position at The Bee, and he was a big part of my life for many years. He was so well known in the arts community that when he’d call sources he’d often merely exclaim “Hale here!” into the phone before launching into his questions. Or, if he wanted to butter up a source — and it was amazing how quickly he could shift from harried and slightly cantankerous barker to the sweetest, most smooth-talking confidant you could ever run into — he’d initiate the conversation by purring, “This is your friendly Fresno newspaper here.”
He was astonishingly hard-working, pumping out so much copy that it seemed like it took a squadron of copy editors to keep up, and I still marvel when I go back to read through the archives how graceful and economical he could be in his descriptions of the visual arts, classical music, theater and dance. I didn’t fully understand how “up to his eyeballs” he could be in his beat until I took over for him. (Just to illustrate how hard he worked: When he retired, The Bee replaced him with two people. Alas, we weren’t able to maintain that staffing in recent years.)
When he retired in 2003, I wrote a piece for The Bee in salute, which I’ll post after the jump.
In the meantime, if you have any memories of David you’d like to share, include them in a comment on this post. I might be able to work them into a future column.
The Rogue Festival is marking 10 years this year, so we realize many of you already know the drill for navigating the performance scene. But in an effort to help newbies get the hang of the Rogue scene, we’ve updated our annual Rogue FAQ.
Also, to help people get started this weekend, Donald and Mike have each picked shows they think people ought to check out. Feel free to make a case for other shows in the comments. Donald also wrote a great story on Rogue for The Bee’s front page today that gives a wonderful overview of why this festival has become such an important part of the Fresno arts scene.
And remember to check out the Beehive all weekend. Donald, Rick and Heather will be posting reviews (I’m heading out on vacation and Mike is on vacation for another week — so you won’t be hearing from us this week).
What the heck is a fringe festival?
It’s a festival on the fringe of the mainstream. In the case of the Rogue, it’s made up of an assortment of alternative arts — theater, music, dance, film, etc. — none of which are of the highly commercial variety. The festival is nonjuried, which means there’s nobody saying which shows get admitted and which don’t. That gives you a chance to “Choose Your Own Adventure.”
Last week I had a cultural arts/tourism conference to speak at in Oakhurst, and on the way back I did one of my favorite things while in the area: stop at Timberline Gallery. This cooperative gallery is conveniently located on Highway 41 and boasts a strong lineup of mountain artists, including many of the big names that you’ll find on the popular annual Sierra Art Trails open-house tour.
I bumped into local watercolorist Ronna Adler doing her gallery-sitting chores for Timberline, and she told me about the cooperative’s newest idea: themed shows. The current show’s theme is “Being Green,” and a small room at the back of the gallery has been dedicated to whatever the member artists wanted to come up with.
I really liked this show, which runs through May 31. It feels fresh, spontaneous and fun. Some of the artists took the theme literally in terms of color. Others opted for views of nature. Though most of the individual pieces aren’t purposely light-hearted, there’s certainly a sense of whimsy at work here. I think it’s a great idea to have a loose theme for a group show. The concept sparks creativity on the part of the artists and cohesion for the viewer. Upcoming theme shows are “Faces” (June/July) and “Birds of a Feather” (August/September).
I know as much about art as I do about fashion [read: nothing at all], but I do know this: it’s completely subjective. Two people can view one piece and one will see pure genius while the other sees pure crap.
The following pieces from Mari Kasurinen, which are My Little Ponies painted up to look like famous movie characters, falls into one of these categories, I’m just not sure which.
Decide for yourself:
News from the arts scene:
The Fresno Metropolitan Museum is finally ready to move past its ho-hum grand-opening show, “Boeing 747 Dinosaurs,” or “It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s an Extinct Creature!,” or whatever it was called — it’s no secret I didn’t like it much — and is opening an exhibition titled “Anna Richards Brewster: American Impressionist.” Opening day is Saturday, and you can look forward to a story in The Bee’s Life section tomorrow by Felicia Matlosz. (Update: Here’s the link.) The Met describes the exhibition:
This innovative and comprehensive exhibition encompasses Anna Richards Brewster’s (1870 – 1952) works in oil, watercolor, gouache, and pen designs for book-illustration. It brings together paintings and prints from private and public collections to resurrect the reputation of an artist who was one of the best-known American woman artists at the turn of the century, and who at the age of 20, won the prestigious Dodge Prize at the National Academy of Design for the best picture by a woman artist in 1890.
This sounds like an interesting show. These are tough times for the Met, and I’m excited and anxious to see how the newly renovated facility makes the transition from its opening “blockbuster” exhibit to this fine-arts offering.
On the jump: Visit Italy with the Fresno Community Concert Band, and mark your calendars for two notable visiting college classical-music ensembles.