Wednesday, October 19, 2005
The city, the people, the authorities, the food -- nothing in Oz is sweet, and that goes double for a boy called Liir, the titular hero of Gregory Maguire's novel Son of a Witch, which continues the author's best-selling, decade-old Wicked story post-Dorothy. Of course, niceties aren't expected from people born of witches, but Maguire writes Liir as a sympathetic character, questing over hill and dale in search of something momentous to do, which he never finds. A few kind gestures, such as killing a murderous flock of dragons, and a lot of bad attitude get him through the story. Although Witch lacks the tension of its predecessor, the descriptions of alternate-universe Oz make the book immensely satisfying. Maguire speaks at 7:30 p.m. at Books Inc., 2275 Market (at 16th Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 864-6777 or visit www.booksinc.net.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
In the mid-1950s, Pablo Picasso had settled comfortably into his role as celebrated artist and media darling. But he was far from finished artistically, still confident enough to paint 20 pieces while being filmed by Henri-Georges Clouzot, who released The Mystery of Picasso in 1956. While most artist documentaries celebrate the person more than the work, Clouzot took the opposite approach -- and camera angle. He put his lens behindthe translucent paper Picasso used for the film, capturing the pigment as it appeared with each brushstroke. The paintings come to life on the screen, seeming to spring out of nowhere, and are intercut with dialogue from the master himself, such as "I'm calling this done" and "This is going very, very badly" (which it may have been, as Picasso ultimately destroyed all the work). The movie screens at 7 p.m. (along with Fela Kuti: Music Is the Weapon at 9) at the Red Poppy Art House, 2698 Folsom (at 23rd Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 826-2402 or visit www.redpoppyarthouse.org.
Friday, October 21, 2005
The residency program at the city dump, where artists get three months to forage through trash and use what they find in their work, typically results in art centered around conservation. In July, for example, we got a huge Styrofoam Hummer. But Mission District muralist and cartoon stylist Sirron Norris transcends the obvious with "Branding," an installation featuring little toy bears and figurines outfitted in the latest discarded fashions (T-shirts reading "Thrown Out" and "Found"), standing on graffiti-filled, cartoonish city blocks. Also on view is a film series called "Other People's Things" by Nomi Talisman, who collected old videos, pictures, and bits of text to create collage-style movies that comment literally on throwaway pop culture. The opening reception for both starts at 5 p.m. (and the exhibits continue through tomorrow) at S.F. Recycling & Disposal, 503 Tunnel (at Recycle), S.F. Admission is free; call 330-1415 or visit www.norcalwaste.com.
Saturday, October 22, 2005
It's been more than 100 years since the opera Carmensolidified the stereotype of the passionate, violent, manipulative Gypsy -- and that falsehood persists. French jerks will tell you to this day that Gitanes eat children, for example. So this weekend several Bay Area DJs and musicians present "World Remix 4.0: Romani Breaks" to benefit the Voice of Roma, an international organization that works to counteract the myth, and show off some of the cultural contributions made by this community all over the world. One of these is the love of mixing things together, which pleases those who use turntables and vinyl to express themselves. Tonight DJs Sep, Oud, Happyfeet, and Amar spin; live music comes from the Balkan-inspired Brass Menagerie Band; and Sani Rifati, a Rom from Kosovo, gives dance lessons. The party starts at 8 at CELLspace, 2050 Bryant (at 18th Street), S.F. Admission is $12-25; call 648-7562 or visit www.cellspace.org.
Sunday, October 23, 2005
By today, six visual artists will be delirious, as they near the end of an especially sadistic opportunity to exhibit their work. All are women, all are local, and all are Asian-American, but how much of that identity can survive in the tortured brains and bodies of the sleep-deprived? "The 24 Hour Show" is an experiment in speed, tossing the artists into two hotel rooms and denying them rest, only to throw them a reception for whatever work they have produced at the end of the ordeal. And what kind of art will the sextet present? It's hard to say, since their backgrounds are in everything from spoken word to photography. But it'll certainly be curious. The reception starts at 8 p.m. at the Central Travelodge, 1707 Market (at Valencia), S.F. Admission is free; visit www.24hourshow.com.
Monday, October 24, 2005
During the 19th century's feverish drive to catalog the world, scientists often doubled as artists, scribbling out myriad images of flora and fauna. Ernst Haeckel was a particularly choice specimen. He dipped his head into the sea, emerged with an organism called the radiolarian, and proceeded to paint 4,000 pictures of it. Clearly, the man saw more than a one-celled creature: Buoyed by the Romantic Movement, he perceived in this critter the possibilities of all organic forms. Proteus, a film by David Lebrun bursting with 150-year-old graphic art, is a love letter to Haeckel's work and to that of other oceangoing scientists. It even manages to incorporate the trans-Atlantic cable. Proteus screens tonight at 6:30, 8, and 9:30 (and continues through Oct. 27) at the Roxie Cinema, 3117 16th St. (at Valencia), S.F. Admission is $4-8; call 863-1087 or visit www.roxie.com.