This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Wednesday, March 31, 2004
Many artists take their creative inspiration from verdant landscapes, starry skies, or hot-looking naked people. But local painter Mary Snowden's stimuli are decidedly more prosaic: '50s advertisements, household objects, comic-book characters, and moldy old cookbooks. One of the many critics who've commented on Snowden's work called it "a wry look at postwar domesticity through a modern -- and distinctly feminist -- lens." But we love Snowden's art less for her laudable politics than for the playfulness of her charming panoramas, in which refrigerators dance with plates of Jell-O, beatific apron-clad housewives dangle from American flags over Levittown, and Little Orphan Annie trudges by with piles of dirty dishes. See "Mary Snowden -- Paintings and Drawings" through April 17 at the Braunstein/Quay Gallery, 430 Clementina (at Fifth Street), S.F. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and admission is free; call 278-9850 or visit www.bquayartgallery.com.

Thursday, April 1, 2004
Have you ever passed a person on the sidewalk and wanted to know his story? Where did he come from? Who is he? Where is he going, and what will he do when he gets there? Arts collective Wowhaus speaks to this voyeuristic conjecture with an innovative one-day audible exhibition, "Life on Market Street: An Audio Archive."The group collected dozens of interviews with passers-by and employees of Market Street businesses, asking them to share their feelings about and experiences on S.F.'s main thoroughfare. The resulting accounts were edited into a two-hour presentation, to be broadcast via radio today from Wowhaus' mirror-paneled mobile studio. The low-frequency signal is weak and can be heard only by those near its origin, so tune your radio to 850 AM and listen from 9 to 11 a.m. at United Nations Plaza (Seventh Street & Market), noon to 2 p.m. at Hallidie Plaza (Powell & Market), and 3 to 5 p.m. at Justin Herman Plaza (Embarcadero & Market). The broadcast is free; call 554-6080 or visit www.sfgov.org/sfac.

Friday, April 2, 2004
They fly through the air with the greatest of ease, those daring young gals on the flying trapeze. Well, OK, the old song lyrics were originally about a man, but the general explosion in the circus arts over the past few years has also encompassed a lot of ladies. It may even have led to the need for "Skydancers ... Women Who Fly Through the Air!," a festival just for swingin' chicks. This weekend and next, the gathering hosts a dozen groups and artists, all of whom go right over your head. Seriously, the dancers point out that because the aerial work requires such specialized equipment, its practitioners are often isolated from one another. This fest allows them to reach out and touch each other, grasp new ideas, and raise their creativity to new heights. (All right, we'll stop with the puns now.) See them perform tonight and tomorrow at 8 and Sunday at 6 (same times next weekend) at Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St. (at Mission), S.F. Admission is $18-20; call 273-4633.

Saturday, April 3, 2004
Sweatshops have nothing on stop-motion animation studios. Every second of a stop-motion film contains 24 individual shots, each of which must be painstakingly staged and lit. Consider the infinite patience it takes to produce, say, just one freaking Gumby episode, and it's easy to understand why master Claymation technician Bruce Bickford is such an eccentric. In his desolate Seattle-area home, his only friends his Alzheimer's-patient dad and those clay "little guys," Bickford has been making underground flicks in his basement for nearly 50 years. Even his best-known creation, the 1979 Frank Zappa vehicle Baby Snakes, is utterly obscure, and Bickford himself is practically a nonentity. But as Monster Road -- a funny, moving cinematic biography of him -- proves, he lives an inner life so rich and bizarre that he hardly needs adulation. See it tonight at 8 at the Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight (at Cole), S.F. Admission is $8; call 558-7721 or visit www.hilofilmfestival.com.

Sunday, April 4, 2004
The Bay Area abounds with opportunities to see works in progress. If you simply can't wait until art pieces make their way into museums and galleries, you can gorge on fledgling offerings each weekend in October at ArtSpan's San Francisco Open Studios spree, as well as at hordes of smaller fetes. But since just about any artist can throw open her doors and invite the public inside, there's no guarantee that what you'll see won't be, well, crappy. Unless, of course, you're headed for the California College of the Arts MFA Open Studios event, which features only craftspeople talented enough to win a coveted spot in the master's program at one of the West Coast's most prestigious universities. Get a sneak peek at potential Next Big Things starting at noon at 1111 Eighth St. (at Wisconsin), S.F. Admission is free; call 703-9500 or visit www.cca.edu.

Monday, April 5, 2004
Take a good, long look around the chambers of local, state, and federal legislatures and you'll see what appears to be a gang of Matrix-style clones: paunchy, self-satisfied, navy-suited white guys. Despite the enormous advances women and people of color have made over the last four decades, officeholders are still predominantly male and pale. But there are exceptions, and the new political book How to Get Stupid White Men Out of Office contains 20 inspirational success stories from previously marginalized upstarts who helped replace conservative honky incumbents with atypical progressive successors. Editor William Upski Wimsatt (also known for his book Bomb the Suburbs) and writer Annie Koh get you fired up to attempt similar upheavals at the "Mobilization Rally," a combination comedy show/political revival, tonight at 7 at City Lights Bookstore, 261 Columbus (at Broadway), S.F. Admission is free; call 362-8193 or visit www.citylights.com.

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