february 14
Spatial Arrangements They're not officially billed as Black History Month shows, but two new exhibits at SFMOMA -- "Seydou Keita" and "Kara Walker: Upon My Many Masters -- An Outline" -- provide points of reflection on that theme. Nearly 40 black-and-white photographs shot by Keita, a studio portraitist, reflect changes of his native Mali between the mid-'40s and the late '70s, including the rise of the gold trade and his country's move from French colonialism to independence in 1960. Walker uses 18th-century-style black cutout silhouettes to create gritty mock scenes from the antebellum South, skewering in the process all its attendant stereotypes: Civil War scenes, romance novels, master and slave tableaux. The exhibits, which go up during the same week the sculpture exhibit "Robert Arneson: Self-Reflections"is installed, open at 11 a.m.; "Seydou Keita" is up through June 3, and "Kara Walker" is up through May 13, at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 151 Third St., S.F. Admission is free-$7; call 357-4000.

To the Core Their peers are trying hard to run performance group CORE out of town, but it's a friendly kind of coup, a benefit to send CORE to New York's PS122, with the expectation that they'll return after fine-tuning their craft before hypercritical Manhattanites. A three-day fund-raiser reflects CORE's blend of contact improv, dance, and experimental theater: Tonight's dance concert includes performances by Margaret Jenkins and Pearl Ubungen, tomorrow night's music event presents the Dodge Brothers, and Sunday night, "Queer Performance for CORE," features group members Keith Hennessy and Stanya Kahn alongside Remy Charlip and Nao Bustamente. Show times are 8:30 p.m. each night, all held at 848 Community Space, 848 Divisadero, S.F. Admission is $10-50; call 922-2385.

february 15
The Golden Age Time finds an eerie suspension in "Amber: Window to the Past," a natural science exhibit with the aesthetic impact of fine art. The body of an ancient tree frog and crane flies frozen in the act of mating are among the exhibit's 145 fossil specimens, some of which are millions of years old. Because of its relative durability and clarity, amber offers scientists a kind of window on evolution by preserving anything from plant life to strands of DNA. The exhibit also demonstrates the decorative uses of the resin with centuries' worth of amber carvings in rich shades of red and gold. The exhibit opens at 10 a.m. (and runs through April 15) at the California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park, S.F. Admission is free-$7; call 750-7145.

From Tannhauser to Your House A word of advice to 21st-century Cinderellas: The Opera Guild's "Opera Attic Rummage Sale" will be unloading ball gowns, jewelry, and other formal attire at greatly reduced rates. The Guild's education programs benefit from the sale of these and other fairly well-preserved items ranging from art and furniture to electronics and CDs. The sale begins at 9 a.m. (also Sunday at 10 a.m.) at the Baker Hamilton Building, 601 Townsend, S.F. Admission is free (with a $10 "early bird" 8:30 a.m. admission and a half-price sale the second day); call 565-6432.

Reduce, Reuse, Remodel Clothes dryer lint can serve a useful purpose, if you know what to do with it. So can used Wonder bread wrappers and wine corks, melted-down guns, and old computer circuit boards, which are all given new life in the exhibit "Hello Again: A New Wave of Recycled Art and Design." Local and international artists and designers have created over 600 items ranging from a sequined beer-can tunic by Isaac Mizrahi to Boris Bally's bowls made from traffic signs, all testaments to the values of eco-consciousness and ingenuity. The story of a work's evolution is often as intriguing as the final product, as in the case of the bracelet made from a B-52 bomber shot down over North Vietnam. The exhibit opens at 10 a.m. (and continues through July 27) at the Oakland Museum, 1000 Oak, Oakland. Admission is free-$5; call (510) 238-2200.

february 16
Shape Notes If Beer-Drinking Sonata doesn't sound like a familiar title from the classical repertoire, consider that it was created for the Art Orchestra, a Sculptors' Ensemble, whose instruments range from cans, wheels, bowls, and shells to the more traditional strings and pipes. The 14-member ensemble is comprised of local conceptual artists who prefer inventing their instruments to buying them; they'll play the lush's opus and Unity Without Uniformity, both of which were written by orchestra founder/composer Tom Marioni, who helped create San Francisco's now-defunct Museum of Conceptual Art. The concert begins at 3 p.m. in the Florence Gould Theater at the Legion of Honor, 34th Avenue & Clement, S.F. Admission is free with museum admission; call 495-3193.

february 17
Tiger Tales Depending on who's doing the describing, Peter Matthiessen is a natural historian, an author, an anthropologist, a Zen Buddhist, or the founder of The Paris Review. He's best known as a writer, though his books The Snow Leopard and At Play in the Fields of the Lord derive from his interests in indigenous peoples and conservation. At Play, which made its way to film, contained shades of Chinua Achebe's novel Things Fall Apart in its portrayal of the Amazon's vast beauty, and the damaging effects of missionaries and other outsiders on its culture. Matthiessen delivers the lecture "On the Fate of Tigers," a benefit for the California Academy of Sciences, at 8 p.m. in the Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness, S.F. Admission is $16; call 392-4400.

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