Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Five Things You Should Do This Weekend

Aside from staring at the sky waiting for rain

1. Janessa Ramirez Memorial Car and Bike Show
Cars, motorcycles, food and live music. Supports the family of a 9-year-old killed in gang crossfire. Simple enough.

2. Highway 99 Derby
Soccer is the new football. At least until the next NFL preseason.

3. Gumbo Throwdown
Not Louisiana fast, but super delicious.

4. WordFest
My favorite. Books.

5. Fresno High Flea
Support your local crafters/up cyclers/artists and vintage lovers.

And a bonus five concerts picks.

1. ’90s Slaughter
2. Cloudship
3. Wailin’ Jennys
4. S
5. Sleepover Disaster

For more music-specific choices, check out the weekly BANDGEEK roundup.

Five Things You Should Do This Weekend

Other than mulling over what the closing of Wet Seal will mean for you …

1. Queen Nation
They will, they will rock you.

2. Cristela Alonzo
Cristela Alonzo is funny. Or so says Variety, L.A. Weekly, Cosmo and

3. Fresno Monsters “Star Wars” Night
Darth Vader on ice.

4. Chick Fest!
Your introduction to the women in Fresno’s indie-music scene.

5. “‘night Mother”
Theatre Ventoux returns from a seven-year hiatus to stage Marsha Norman’s Pulitzer-price winning play.

For music specific items, be sure to check out our weekly BANDGEEEEK! roundup.

Arts roundup: Arts Council may assume Water Tower lease, Matt Black in the New Yorker

WATER TOWER: Bee reporter George Hostetter has an interesting Fresno City Council preview story in Thursday’s paper about the likelihood of the Fresno Arts Council assuming the lease and management of the iconic downtown Fresno Water Tower. From the story:

The deal is a no-brainer, of course. The nonprofit Arts Council would pay no rent at the city-owned tower, but would foot the bill for things like electricity and the janitor. The lease is for three years, with two one-year options.

The Water Tower already is a magnet for visitors in search of tips on stuff to see and places to visit. The tower’s interior is chock full of work from the area’s finest artists, all sensibly priced.

The Arts Council will retain both missions. City Hall is the big winner — it won’t suffer the shame of having what is perhaps the city’s best-known landmark shuttered by municipal stinginess.

If you haven’t stopped by the Water Tower recently, by the way, put it on your list of downtown things to do. It’s a cheery environment inside, and don’t forget to look up and see the beautiful ceiling.

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Five Things You Should Do This Weekend


UPDATE: This story has been updated to remove the Mike Tyson show, which is not this weekend at all. Calendars are confusing.

Slather on some DEET and …

1. Metalachi at Arte Americas Nights in the Plaza
Who doesn’t want to hear a mariachi version of “Run to the Hills?

2. “Preacherman at Burning Man
Fresno is the Detroit of California, might explain this show’s inclusion as the best of West Coast fringe.

3. Taste of River Park
Remember when River Park put a curfew on kids? This is like that, but with Let’s Go Bowling.

4. Keyboard Concert Series
Garrick Ohlsson opens the 43rd season of the Philip Lorenz Memorial Keyboard Concerts series. This should be on your list of “Things every Fresnan should do once.”

5. Madera Fair
It is officially fair season in the Valley. Enjoy!

For music-specific events, check out this week’s BANDGEEK roundup.

Five Things You Should Do This Weekend

nightsWhile you’re figuring out which of the neighbors to snitch on first …

1. Zappa Plays Zappa
For fans of off-the-wall quirky, but thoughtfully composed, rock-and-roll-as art.

2. Wayans Brothers Live
Put the four Wayans brothers together and you have a comedy empire. Here, they do stand-up comedy together for the first time.

3. Audie’s Olympic Tavern
Great rock shows scheduled for tonight AND tomorrow. Take your pick, or go to both.
4. “Life Itself
Thank Fresno Filmworks for bringing this to town.

5. Fig Fest
Fresno owes everything to its figs, which we honor by eating.

For a full list of weekend music options, check out this week’s BANDGEEEEEK!

Five Things You Should Do This Weekend


You could copycat Neel Kashkari and act homeless for the weekend. Instead, how about …

1. Guardians of the Galaxy
People who I trust tell me this movie lives up to the hype.

2. TNMT night at the Grizzlies
Nostalgia is a power thing.


3. Mrs. Park’s Regency Rout
For fans of Jane Austen. Party like it’s 1799 — or 1809, or whenever the England’s Regency era was.

4. Restaurant Week
Buy local (food).

5. Rudy Parris at Old Town Saloon
Rudy Parris is one of three local artists poised to become a bonafide star. See him now, at a bar, for free. You’ll thank yourself later.

For music-specific events, don’t forget our weekly BANDGEEK! concert roundup.

Five Things You Should Do This Weekend

3-28-14-3Between figuring out your taxes and health insurance

1. Antiques and Collectibles Fair
Because you’ve seen every episode of “Antiques Roadshow.” Or, more likely “American Pickers,” I guess.

2. Patrick Contreras w/Merlinda Espinosa
Patrick’s catch phrase is “violin on fire.” Here, he will literally set his violin on fire while playing. Wait. I made that up. I’m pretty sure he’s being figurative.

3. Tulare Sci-Fi Con.
A local science fiction fan festival? Yes, please. This is the event’s inaugural year.
4. Dirty Limbs demo release
Lo-fi garage rock with hints of proto- punk. Dirty in all the best ways.

5. “Cesar Chavez
It’s like, our history.

Linda Cano stepping down as art museum director

Linda Cano Photo

Linda Cano is stepping down after four years as executive director of the Fresno Art Museum.

Cano will leave the museum at the end of March to run her own arts consulting firm, AXIS Art Consulting. Among her first clients is the city of Fresno. She will be a consultant on the public art component of the Fulton Mall Reconstruction Project. The mall, which will be reopened to traffic, contains a trove of public art, and Cano will act as liaison between the city and artists as works are deinstalled, moved and reinstalled.

“It’s an interesting project because it’s a little bit of detective work finding some of the artists and their heirs,” she says. She also will be involved in community outreach.

A transitional management team will step in at the museum when Cano departs. The team will include members of the museum’s Board of Trustees and museum staff.

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A Sunday chat on ‘The Art of ‘No’


At 9:30 a.m. tomorrow (Sunday), a supremely civilized hour, I’ll be featured in a half-hour interview with KFSR radio host Kate McKnight on her program “The Art of ‘No” (90.7FM and online at

I prerecorded the show a couple of weeks ago, so don’t be listening for me to have a breakdown on live radio or suddenly blurt out offensive/profane declarations to disturb the peace of your Sunday morning. (At least I don’t recall any faux pas.) Instead, I’ll be discussing my new e-book, “The Company We Keep,” about Fresno’s beloved Good Company Players. I also talk with McKnight about the Fresno arts scene in general. It’s a pleasant, collegial conversation — and I have to say I think McKnight has a great radio voice, just like those soothing NPR anchors.

In a bit of synergy, or perhaps you’d call it shameless cross-promotion, I decided to use the occasion of my own interview on “The Art of ‘No” to interview McKnight about the program for my Sunday Spotlight column.

A friendly reminder: If you’re looking for the easiest way to download “The Company We Keep,” you can buy it for $2.99 on Kindle, Apple’s iBookstore, and at (Vook offers a desktop version if you don’t have a mobile reading device, along with ePub versions that can be transferred to devices.) And don’t forget the Fresno Bee videos and photo galleries (including shots from all 436 Good Company productions) online.

To Do Saturday: ARTS ALIVE

arts alive logo

Are you into the arts AND willing to get up early on a Saturday morning to run? If so, you’re going to doubly appreciate the Fresno Arts Council’s first ever arts festival, called ARTS ALIVE, in downtown Fresno. The early risers can partake in a 5K run, which begins 7 a.m. Saturday at Courthouse Park. Several different races will be held. Registration fees: $25 for the adult 5k fun run, $20 for the youth 5k fun run and $15 for the kids and family mile walk. Fees include an Arts Alive T-shirt and a post-race breakfast.

The festival is 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at the park. From the organizers:

A stage will feature entertainments from local performing arts organizations, children’s troupes, and various musicians.  For children, there will be hands-on activities such as making clay art, finger puppets, collages, face painting, games, tie-dying, play areas and other ways to experience art and creativity in a hands-on way.  For  adult arts enthusiasts, local artists will display their work, arts organization will offer information and a second stage with live music and a wine garden will make for a relaxing mid-day break along Mariposa Mall.  The entertainment line-up includes Box Car Figaro, AS Angelo, Pedal Junkies, Acoustic Hi way, the Flamenco Society, Gropo Folklorico Baja California Sur, Caris Dance, Teatro de la Tierra and other local groups.

Registration for the fun run can be found online at

Upload: Flowing with Famous, Episode 15

Uploaded and ready to put in your iPod (or iPhone or whatever other device you use to listen to podcasts), it’s another episode of Flowing with Famous, where I sit down with Mike Seay to talk Fresno arts, entertainment, politics and more.

It might help if you picture us sitting at a dive bar somewhere.
In this episode we discuss:

As always, slightly NSFW. With audio editing by Reid May.

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QnA with the music bloggers from Spanspek

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.

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ROGUE REVIEW: ‘Magical Mystery Detour’

photo (6)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.

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Howard Statham, 1923-2012

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.

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David Hale, 1930-2012

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.

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ROGUE: The Beehive guide

Rogue 2011 poster v2-2.jpg

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.”

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It’s easy being green in Oakhurst


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).

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Arts watch: Fresno Met gets a new exhibition

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.

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