Art Top 5: Exhibitions & Events December 2011

Beat by the Bay, San Francisco Visual Artists of the Fifties and Their Galleries, Ever Gold, December 8, 2011 – January 6, 2012

Everybody’s heard of the literary works produced by the great writers of the Beat generation, like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. But that legendary countercultural movement also included visual artists, who without a doubt deserve the same recognition. Recall, for example, the staggering paintings of Jay DeFeo, such as “The Rose” (now in the collection of the Whitney Museum).  By organizing “Beat by the Bay” the Ever Gold gallery aims to reconnect the Bay Area with its own cultural heritage. It will show experimental pieces by artists who lived and worked here in the 1950s, as well as tell the stories of the alternative gallery spaces where those artists presented their output.

Jay Defeo, Courtesy Jerry Burchard Estate, c. 1957

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Climb the Totem of Life with Cirque du Soleil [Review]

Cirque du Soleil: Totem | October 28 – December 18, 2011 | AT&T Park– Parking Lot A | San Francisco

I had been looking forward to last Wednesday night for a few weeks. I had heard all the ‘hoopla’ and now it was my turn to be counted among the millions of wowed viewers. As I walked down 2nd Street to the Grand Chapiteau just south of AT&T Park in San Francisco and readied myself for a night of Totem, I realized that I was hopelessly excited to check out the company’s 31st show. I mean, Cirque du Soleil is a household name with an extraordinary track record of amazing its audiences. In fact, the Montreal-based spectacular celebrated its 27th year of enchantment this past June. And this was my first Cirque ever.

Unicycles & Bowls. Photo by Daniel Desmarais

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Batwoman Celebration at Isotope with J.H. Williams III & W. Hayden Blackman [Preview]

Batwoman and the New 52 | Saturday, December 3, 2011 | Isotope Comics Lounge | San Francisco

San Francisco is very rich and diverse when it comes to culture and art. Most comic book aficionados residing in this city already know about the Isotope Comic Lounge, and visiting comic lovers likely make it a point to stop at the store. James Sime, the store’s proprietor, has done a heck of a job over the years bringing comic creators into his shop for in-store events–current DC Comics co-publisher Jim Lee, Darwyn Cooke, Warren Ellis to just name a few. Sime and company even took The Walking Dead’s co-creator Robert Kirkman, as well as a gaggle of fans, along the streets of San Francisco for a zombie pub-crawl back in April as part of this year’s Wonder-Con festivities.

This Saturday, December 3rd, Sime welcomes J.H. Williams III to the store. Williams, one of the comic book industry’s best illustrators, has been a guest of honor at Isotope before. This time, he returns with W. Haden Blackman, one of his creative partners on their monthly comic book title, Batwoman, published by DC Comics.

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New England’s Top 12 Christmas Activities & Traditions

All of New England is giddy for the arrival of the holiday season, especially this year since the nor’easter that hit the day before Halloween coated much of the region in an early snow. Many of New England’s Christmas activities are family-friendly happenings with visits from Santa, an abundance of decorations, regional favorites like chowder and tastefully lit buildings. So if you happen to be in the area during the months of November and December, be sure to check out these impressive festivities.

Don’t forget: “Vermont should be beautiful this time of year with all that snow.” You said it, Bob Wallace.

1. Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas – Stockbridge, MA

December 3-4, 2011

Stockbridge, a quaint town located in the heart of the Berkshires, was once home to iconic American artist Norman Rockwell. One of his best-known works is an idyllic portrait of the town’s main street (which can be seen at the nearby Norman Rockwell Museum) which is painstakingly re-created with vintage cars and decor each December. The Christmas Weekend includes other family-friendly events such as a holiday house tour, caroling walk and children’s storytime.

2. Christmas Prelude – Kennebunkport, ME

December 1 – 4; December 9 – 11, 2011

Not one, but three tree lighting ceremonies are the highlight of this annual holiday kick-start in Kennebunkport, Kennebunk and Cape Porpoise. Held over two weekends, this Christmas event includes an arts and crafts fair, trolley rides, house tours, nativity scenes, live music, workshops, carols, wine tastings and breakfast with the big man himself. This family-friendly event has something for everyone!

Photo courtesy of Christmas Prelude.

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Boys Noize at Mezzanine [Preview]

Boys Noize | Saturday, November 26th, 2011 | Mezzanine | San Francisco

DJ Mag ranked Boys Noize right at number 100 on their “Top 100 DJs of 2011.” As a big fan of Boys Noize, I find this unfathomable. I’ve maintained for some time now that dance music has taken over pop music in America these last few years. But sometimes, I forget that most listeners wouldn’t know that David Guetta has produced some of the Black Eyed Peas’ biggest hits, or that Afrojack produced Pitbull and Ne-Yo’s monster-crossover hit, “Give Me Everything.” When you stop to consider the mainstream visibility of most of the DJs in the top ten with David Guetta (1), Tiësto (3), Deadmau5 (4), Avicii (6), Afrojack (7), and Swedish House Mafia (10), then Boys Noize’s ranking at 100 is a little bit more believable. Even still, that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Boys Noize at EDC 2010. Photo by Caesar Sebastian. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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Weekend at the SF Symphony: Brahms’ Violin Concerto with Gil Shaham [Preview]

BY NATHAN CRANFORD

This weekend at the  San Francisco SymphonyMichael Tilson Thomas, along with famed violinist Gil Shaham, will be leading the orchestra in another performance of the works of 19th Century German composer Johannes Brahms. However, whereas last week’s program was a comparative study of progression in German musical conservatism, this week’s program showcases the contentious battle between conservative and progressive elements in the music of German Romanticism.

Richard Wagner

The evening begins with a work by the great German operatic composer Richard Wagner, the “Prelude” to Act III of his famed opera Lohengrin. Familiarity with the opera’s plot is not necessary for an appreciation of the work, which is often performed alone in concert due to its highly exciting and virtuoistic writing for orchestra.

Less than 5 minutes in length, many listeners will find the melodies showcased by the “Prelude” (which are repeated throughout the opera) to be immediately recognizable. Although it’s not being performed by the Symphony this weekend, the end of the “Prelude” flows seamlessly into the even more famous “Bridal Chorus”–a piece of music that has become associated with the bride walking down the aisle at weddings throughout the world.

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eventseekr Shuffle: Slow and Low

Whether it be baritone, bass or something in between (I’m awful at classifying vocal ranges), I’m a sucker for a nice deep voice in rock and pop music. Here’s a brief playlist of some of my favorite molasses-mouthed singers lending their patented pipes to a series of pretty, haunting, romantic and sardonic tracks.

First up is “My Baby Cried All Night Long” by Lee Hazlewood, whose unmistakable voice sets the high water mark for low-voiced crooners, in my humble opinion. For further listening, check out his excellent late-1960s collaborations with Nancy Sinatra.

For the next track, you’ll find “A Chicken With Its Head Cut Off,” the first of three Magnetic Fields songs on the list. As far as clever lyric writers with the ability to craft hilarious and beautiful turns of phrase go, Stephin Merritt is tops in my book.  His opus, 69 Love Songs (from which all three songs here are pulled), can be frustratingly overambitious at times, but is really worth sifting through.

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