Last week, we talked about Fog Design + Art, the art fair opening today (Jan. 12) at Fort Mason, but we neglected another gathering of galleries: Untitled, San Francisco at Pier 70 in the Dogpatch, a new outpost for an art fair out of Miami Beach. Perhaps the competition will make them both better, and the art more affordable (not likely). Now here’s the show:
Jan. 13: Brahms’ German Requiem is a gorgeous expression of the joy that can come after great sorrow. The student musicians from the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts have every right to those emotions, after the death of junior and chorus member Draven McGill and alum Johnny Igaz in the Ghost Ship fire in December. The performance at the Calvary Presyterian Church in San Francisco is dedicated to the two young men. Details here.
Jan. 19–Feb. 19: Berkeley playwright Aaron Loeb (Abraham Lincoln’s Big Gay Dance Party) wrote Ideation a few years ago while working with consultants in his day job as a video game executive, and while his wife led a civil suit against the former defense minister of Somalia. Ideation melds those elements into a show that will seem very familiar at first to anyone who works in a modern office — with tightly wound corporate types outlining strategies on a white board — except they’re plotting something very creepy, reminiscent of a police state. It’s good to see this show get a fresh production in Silicon Valley, where companies sometimes help foreign governments do not-so-nice things like spy on dissidents. Details for Ideation’s run at City Lights Theater Company in San Jose are here.
Jan. 19: Glasgow-based Mogwai makes trance-like prog rock, and the band’s new album, Atomic, serves a double mission: it’s also the soundtrack to the British documentary Atomic: Living in Dread and Promise, about the prospect of nuclear warfare. Band member Stuart Braithwaite says Mogwai has been wanting to make music about the threat of nuclear annihilation ever since visiting Hiroshima some years ago. Mogwai is showing the film and doing the live soundtrack on its current tour; perhaps our President-elect should see the film before tweeting about the need for a new arms race. Details for Mogwai’s show at the UC Theatre in Berkeley are here.
Jan. 13–14: Dance Brigade founder Krissy Keefer says the company’s idea has always been to make dance infused with the same passion and politics as one finds in the songs of Woody Guthrie or Holly Near. The company is now celebrating 40 years of that kinetic mix of feminist activism and modern dance with a timely anniversary show, Gracias a la Vida — Love in a Bitter Time, featuring dances on NSA Spying and the election of Donald Trump. “We don’t mince our words,” Keefer told me at her Mission District studio. “We make proclamations, declarations, and accusations and observations and we articulate them with humor and poetry and great resolve. People’s heart channels are opened because the dancing is so beautiful.” And it’s a cheap thrill — tickets for their Yerba Buena Center for the Arts shows start at just $10, with a matinee for just $5. Details here or here.
Jan. 13: Joe Bagale sounds a bit like the love child of Stevie Wonder and Parliament Funkadelic. He calls his new band Otis McDonald (Adam Theis, Nino Moschella, Daniel Casares, Max Cowan and Max Miller); “Otis” coming from bluesman Shuggie Otis and “McDonald” from the Doobie Brothers’ Michael McDonald. But all you need to know is that the new songs are a funky success. Details for his show at Slim’s are right here.
Jan. 15 & 18: Many writers around the country and the Bay Area are troubled by President-elect Donald Trump’s comments on limits to press freedom. On Sunday, Jan. 15, Oakland’s Starline Social Club will host Writers Resist, featuring Jane Hirshfield, D.A. Powell, Solmaz Sharif, Beth Nguyen, Ishmael Reed and others. Details here.
And on Wednesday, Jan. 18, Litquake sponsors Writers Respond to Trump, where they ask the question, “Do we publish a manifesto, or curl up in the fetal position?” The program at the main branch of the SF Public Library will feature Mills Professor and poet Elmaz Abinader, comedian Zahra Noorbaksh, novelist Robert Mailer Anderson, poet devorah major, and chief pot-stirrer Ishmael Reed. That’s free, and a cheap thrill. Details here.