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Dog Town 

Artists buck tradition

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SAT 4/9

It's a question every pet-owning artist must grapple with: Can I paint my cat and get away with it? History says no; aside from a few hounds in Renaissance tapestries, pets don't carry much weight in the art world. "Pet Noir," however, begs to differ -- it's a gallery show of Bay Area artists who tweak the genre with a surefire modernist directive: "Make it twisted." Check out the results at tonight's art and music event, which also celebrates the book release of Pet Noir: An Anthology of Strange But True Bay Area Pet Crimes, a graphic novella written by Shannon O'Leary with drawings by a gaggle of illustrators featured in the show, including MariNaomi, Attaboy, and Bitter Pie.

While enjoying the demented work in the gallery -- including Joe Spear's 5-foot-tall paper-and-steel origami horse, Scott Werner's supersize portrait of his frog, and Martha Sue Harris' conjoined animals made of wax -- patrons can rock out to the pet sounds of animal-themed bands E-Zee Tiger, So So Many White White Tigers, and FuckWolf. The art event starts at 7 and the music at 8 at Balazo/Mission Badlands Gallery, 2811 Mission (at 24th Street), S.F. Admission is $2-10; call 550-1108 or visit www.balazogallery.com.
-- Michael Leaverton

A Good Thing
Martha Stewart gets a little love

SAT 4/9

Like many, I stayed up late watching TV the night Martha Stewart was released from Camp Cupcake. Clearly, the curators at Varnish Fine Art are equally fascinated, as their latest show, "Yoohoo and Donuts," is dedicated to the gifted ex-con. Participating artist Jonathan Wayshak explains the connection: "It is her inspiration that keeps us excited. She is stunningly beautiful, yet ruthlessly cruel." While Wayshak's Francis Bacon-esque pen-and-ink drawings don't exactly remind me of the domestic diva, the exhibit is definitely, as Martha would say, "a good thing." Alex Pardee's twisted watercolors also stand out, especially his series The Secrets of Hollywood, a collaboration with blind third-graders that depicts such little-known truths as "Crispin Glover forces his loved ones to call him Emperor Palpatine." The opening reception is tonight from 7 to 11 (and the exhibit continues through April 30) at Varnish Fine Art, 77 Natoma (at Second Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 222-6131 or visit www.varnishfineart.com.
-- Jane Tunks

Phantoms of the Opera
The Gay Men's Chorus does Symphony Hall

MON 4/11

The droll wits of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus are embracing the cliché of gay men and show tunes with their latest event, "Divas' Revenge: Opera and Broadway Our Way." Though some may chuckle at the bittersweet irony of 160 gay men belting out Mozart's "Priests' Chorus," the talented troupe is one of the few in the nation that can faithfully perform such numbers, which are written for many more voices than most opera companies have singers. The studly vocalists also promise crowd-pleasers from Hairspray, West Side Story, and The Sound of Music. Sing along at 8 p.m. at Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness (at Grove), S.F. Admission is $20-75; call 865-3650 or visit www.sfgmc.org.
-- Jane Tunks

Beer in the Headlights

SAT 4/9

The annual International Beer Festival returns to remind us that a Bud Light and frozen pizza do not -- or at least, should not -- a meal make. The fair offers unlimited tastings of more than 200 exotic microbrews, plus gourmet cuisine, live music, and raffle prizes (including a trip to beer-loving Denmark). The sampling begins at 7 p.m. at the Fort Mason Festival Pavilion, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is $45-55; call (866) 747-5882 or visit www.sfbeerfest.com.
-- Josh Rotter

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