Since the pandemic began, Jeremy Geffen, director of Cal Performances, has been sending a weekly email to patrons, a playlist of half a dozen or so performing arts videos, entitled “Now, More Than Ever.” The title resonates. At a time of great crisis, like the one we are experiencing, we need the arts, to bring us moments of beauty, of profound reflection on the human condition, of heightened emotion captured in the symmetries of form.
Strolling down the magnificently-tiled corridor of the Berkeley City Club you may spot a sign posted in front of a pair of heavy, wooden doors admonishing you to not disturb the theater rehearsal on the other side. Perhaps you’ll spot an actor on their way in, or hear their muffled lines as you pass.
Posted on March 12, 2020 - 4:13pm
Blue is an elusive color. Crush the feathers of a blue jay or the wings of a Morpho butterfly and you’ll see gray dust; our perception of their electric blue hue depends on microscopic structural features that bend the light just so. The blue sky is merely a mirage of refracting light, as are blue eyes. Truly blue pigments are exceedingly rare in the natural world, which is perhaps part of their allure—blue is our favorite color, according to an international, cross-cultural survey.
Jenny Odell first started doing nothing in 2016. Despondent over the presidential election results, she took refuge in the Morcom Rose Garden near downtown Oakland.
For 45 minutes, on July 28, if you happened to be at the border between Sunland Park, New Mexico and Ciudad Juarez, you’d come across something surprising: a hot pink seesaw.
Posted on September 9, 2019 - 10:57am
After the nonprofit workers cleaned out all the garbage from behind his building, Win Nit, a native of Yangon, Myanmar, was amazed at how much space was back there.
Posted on July 23, 2019 - 11:09am
Darrin Bell was about 5 years old when he discovered political cartoons. He was living in Southern California, and he came across the work of Paul Conrad while leafing through issues of the Los Angeles Times.
“I was just a little kid, but I learned about the Iran hostage crisis through Conrad,” Bell recalls. “I loved his images, and I asked my parents what they meant. They explained them to me, and I followed them avidly. I knew I wanted to do that kind of work someday.”
Hans Hofmann, the great abstract expressionist painter and teacher, might never have made his indelible imprint on 20th-century American art, first on the West Coast and ultimately across the U.S., had it not been for two summers teaching at UC Berkeley. The invitation came from Worth Ryder, an art department faculty member and former Hofmann student, and without it, it’s possible there wouldn’t even be much of a Berkeley Art Museum.
Bright, sherbet colors form the palate of Wesaam Al-Badry’s newest exhibit, a series of portraits that features Muslim women in traditional garb—with a twist. Instead of the usual neutral-toned veil, the women don designer scarves, made by brands like Gucci and Chanel, that have been repurposed as high-fashion niqabs.
Posted on January 18, 2019 - 3:41pm
What can historical garments tell us about today’s political climate? Berkeley Art Practice professor Stephanie Syjuco has some ideas.
This November, Syjuco will present a selection of her projects at the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C. Her works have typically dealt with global issues, but lately she has turned her attention to the political and social drama unfolding across the U.S. stage.
Posted on August 7, 2018 - 3:34pm
Art critic and professor Julia Bryan-Wilson likes process. So when she and Andrea Andersson co-curated About to Happen, a solo show by artist and poet Cecilia Vicuña, she photographed Vicuña gathering materials along the Louisiana coast for a site-specific sculpture at the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans. Bryan-Wilson thought those photos would enhance the exhibition.
Posted on July 26, 2018 - 2:03pm
On a tour of the Contemporary Jewish Museum’s exhibit Jewish Folktales Retold: The Artist as Maggid, running through January 28, participants passed around a silicone squash representing Michael Arcega’s sculpture The Enchanted Island. The piece is inspired by a story about a shipwrecked rabbi going into a mansion and finding two objects on a table: a cornucopia and a ram’s horn to summon people to prayer. What does he choose? He’s hungry, so it’s the food.
Posted on January 24, 2018 - 2:54pm
How to describe artist Ian Cheng’s current exhibit at MoMA PS 1, a Brooklyn-based branch of the world-famous Museum of Modern Art in New York City? Imagine a projection on the wall, as wide as a tractor trailer, depicting chaos … with a story.
Posted on September 18, 2017 - 1:03pm
This summer, the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) will be presenting the first US museum retrospective of artist Charles Howard’s work since 1946, charting the trajectory of his career from the early 1920s to the 1960s. Howard was a prominent figure in the surrealist and abstract art movements, and brought together the European and American movements of his time.
Posted on June 15, 2017 - 3:29pm