Artistic and intellectual development were arrested during China's 10-year Cultural Revolution, which isolated the nation from foreign influence and some of its own brightest thinkers, but Chinese cultural life has been shifting rapidly ever since, with a mass migration from the countryside to the cities and Hong Kong's transition from British to Chinese rule. "Inside Out: New Chinese Art," a sweeping survey show presented at SFMOMA and the Asian Art Museum, offers post-Revolutionary paintings, videos, photography, and more. This co-presentation groups work by region, with mainland China's political pop, a reaction to Mao's propagandist art; Taiwanese aesthetic materialism; futuristic work from Hong Kong; and avant-garde creations from Chinese artists working abroad. The exhibit opens at 9:30 a.m. Friday at the Asian Art Museum, Golden Gate Park, S.F., and at 11 a.m. Friday at SFMOMA, 151 Third St. (at Mission). Admission is free-$8; call 379-8801 (Asian) or 357-4000 (MOMA). The panel discussion "The Future of Chinese Art: Traditionalism vs. Modernism" helps put the show in perspective at 6 p.m. Friday at the Asian. Admission is $4-8; call 379-8898.
The celebration of Chinese culture and the lunar new year continues in Chinatown as well, where a Spring Festival honors the Year of the Hare with Chinese lion dances, savory dumplings and pastries to eat, art demonstrations, and acrobatic performances in the auditorium. It begins at 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Chinese Culture Center, 750 Kearny, S.F. Admission is free; call 986-1822.
Between this and the regular New Year festivities, Chinatown will become a surreal tangle of humanity, which is part of what makes the annual Chinese New Year's Treasure Hunt so popular. As firecrackers explode and cymbals crash, teams of amateur detectives scurry through back alleys of Chinatown, the Financial District, and North Beach, solving a series of puzzles created by Jayson Wechter, a private eye. Clues rely on local history and lore, and are arranged in three levels of difficulty; a potluck follows the hunt. Registration begins at 4:45 p.m. at the Ferry Plaza, behind the Ferry Building at Market & Embarcadero, S.F. Admission is $5-20; call 564-9400. Finally, the Chinese New Year Parade begins at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Market and Second streets, traveling from Stockton to Post to Kearny to Columbus. Admission is free ($20 bleacher seats); call 391-9680. Chinatown New Year festivities begin at 10 a.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. Sunday on Grant between Clay and Broadway, and Pacific between Stockton and Kearny.