Going Underground Nancy Sirkis is taking photography to a lower level. From Hamburg to Haifa, the globe-trotting photographer has found artistic inspiration not in the world's museums, but in the graphic imagery of its subways, where she says she finds "things in motion and ghosts of objects that have passed through." Sirkis has spent 10 years producing color prints of underground railways on four continents. An exhibit of her work opened July 23 and is on display through Aug. 30 at the Downstairs Gallery of the UC Extension Center, 55 Laguna, S.F. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday 8 a.m.-10 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission is free; call 252-5221.
Hello, Dalai! In its long history, Tibet has been subject to a parade of invaders, from the Chinese to Hollywood. Now comes the technology revolution, which the monks of Tibet's 500-year-old Sera Je Monastery have turned to their advantage in their multimedia touring program, Wildlife, Tamed Mind: The Spirit of Tibet. Though the show has a distinctively modern edge, including digital imagery of Tibetan landscapes and a videotaped presentation on spirituality by the Dalai Lama, the monks also perform traditional masked dances that reflect Buddhist teachings, accompanied by chanting, drums, cymbals, and 12-foot mountain horns. The program concludes with "The Six Acts of Longevity," in which the monks bestow a blessing of health and happiness on the audience. Wildlife, Tamed Mind: The Spirit of Tibet is performed at 8 p.m. at King Junior High Auditorium, 1720 Rose, Berkeley. Admission is by donation; call 339-8002.
Dead Men Waiting With nearly 400 inmates and an execution rate of 10 or more prisoners per year, the Ellis I Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice ranks as one of America's biggest and busiest death rows. Social documentary photographer Ken Light, whose previous subjects have included poverty and civil rights along the Mississippi Delta and illegal immigrant farm workers in California, delves into the socio-political issues surrounding the death penalty, and provides an unflinching look into the grim lives of the soon-to-be-dead. Light presents a slide lecture and discussion of the photos, which will be published in book form as Texas Death Row, at 7:30 p.m. at Project Artaud, 2800 Mariposa, S.F. Admission is by donation; call 648-3800.
Hepped-Up Kid To celebrate its 16th anniversary as a film collective, the Red Vic has collaborated with JC Hopkins and his Heptet on a swingin' sweet-16 party. The six-piece ensemble provides jazzy live punctuation to the Harold Lloyd silent film The Kid Brother, a comedy in which a sheriff's weakling son saves the day, asserts his manliness, and maybe (or maybe not) gets the girl in the process. This is the second original film score to be penned and performed by Hopkins, a former folk singer and frontman for the power-pop trio Flophouse. Pass the wheat germ, man. Screenings are held at 7:15 and 9:30 p.m. at the Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight, S.F. Admission is $7; call 668-8999.
Drama Verbatim Maintaining individuality in a society hostile to difference is the unifying theme at Word for Word's third-anniversary festival. This company's theatrical productions based on short works of classic and contemporary fiction remain faithful to the authors' visions by incorporating every word of the original text into the action and dialogue; it may be hard on the actors, but it can touch off a thrill of recognition among readers in the crowd. This year's event comprises two works: Langston Hughes' The Blues I'm Playing, the story of a young Harlem Renaissance-era pianist whose white sponsor disapproves of his preference for jazz over classical music; and Animal Dreams author Barbara Kingsolver's Rose-Johnny, in which a small-town girl becomes attached to an androgynous woman scorned and feared by the rest of the community. The festival opens at 8:30 p.m. (continuing through Aug. 4) at the Magic Theater, Fort Mason Center, S.F. Admission is "pay-what-you-can" on Thursdays, $15 all other days; call 543-9505.
Harmonic Convergence The soundtrack to dreams being realized, deals struck, cocktails swilled, and hopes dashed is provided by scores of local bands this weekend at the Gavin music convention SFO3. Industry types will gather at the Press Club for schmooze-ins and panel discussions addressing such topics as tour survival and niche markets; afterward, attendees will go tromping out into the night to catch band showcases in 35 clubs citywide. Hearing tests and demo-listening sessions are included in the package. SFO3 begins at noon at the San Francisco Press Club, 555 Post, S.F. Registration is $190; call 495-3200. See program this issue for a complete schedule of events.
Swing Thing Hey, what year is this? Britain's "Tartan Noise Boys" the Big Six recorded their debut CD, Ready to ... Rock! with vintage technology, which may partially explain the Gene Vincent echoes on their rockabilly-band mix. Then again, some of the members of the sextet played in the Big Town Playboys, who backed up Jeff Beck on his Vincent tribute album. Either way, the band produces a big, swinging sound with the classic works: stand-up bass, horns, and periodic whoops and hollers. If this doesn't make you shake your tail feather, maybe you should talk to a doctor. Big Six headlines an SFO3 rockabilly showcase with opening acts the Barnshakers and the Dave & Deke Combo at 10 p.m. at the DNA Lounge, 375 11th St., S.F. Admission is $10; call 626-1409. Big Six also plays Friday at Max & Sam's Hi-Ball Lounge (9:45 p.m., $7); Saturday at the Deluxe (9:30 p.m., $6); and Sunday at Cafe Du Nord with Sloe Gin Joes and DJ Rev. Slimm Buick (9 p.m., $5).