Arts + Letters

This Berkeley Painter Is the Best Surrealist You’ve Never Heard Of

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. Read more about This Berkeley Painter Is the Best Surrealist You've Never Heard Of »

WATCH: Flashback to When the New US Poet Laureate Read at Cal

In describing  poet Tracy K. Smith’s work, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden says: “Her work travels the world and takes on its voices; brings history and memory to life; calls on the power of literature as well as science, religion and pop culture. With directness and deftness, she contends with the heavens or plumbs our inner depths—all to better understand what makes us most human.” Hayden named Smith  the 22nd U.S. poet laureate this Wednesday.  Read more about WATCH: Flashback to When the New US Poet Laureate Read at Cal »

Vijay Iyer Jazzes Up the Ojai at Berkeley Music Festival

A couples counselor could have warned Vijay Iyer that the relationship was doomed, but he needed to figure it out for himself. When he arrived at UC Berkeley in the summer of 1992 to start a graduate program in physics, Iyer was also nursing a simmering passion for jazz. The pianist quickly started connecting with some of the Bay Area’s leading improvisers, and after two years, he found himself in something of a crisis—uninspired by his academic courses while increasingly drawn to intensive jazz sessions. Read more about Vijay Iyer Jazzes Up the Ojai at Berkeley Music Festival »

Q&A: Rebecca Skloot on Seeing “Henrietta Lacks” Come To Life Onscreen

When Rebecca Skloot was 16 years old, her biology teacher wrote a name on the blackboard: “Henrietta Lacks.” He explained that Lacks was a black woman whose surgeon had extracted cells from her tumor in 1951. They turned out to be the first human cells to survive indefinitely in a laboratory. Billions of so-called HeLa cells lived in labs around the world and had helped produce treatments for leukemia, influenza, Parkinson’s disease, and many other ailments. Read more about Q&A: Rebecca Skloot on Seeing "Henrietta Lacks" Come To Life Onscreen »

Anti Lab: A Resource Center for “Creative Resistance”

Resist and assist: A tidy couplet that captures the spirit of Anti Lab, a self-described “resource center for creative resistance” whose uses, like its political stances, are multiple. Anti Lab, which opened in Oakland in April, is an exhibition space for local artists, a meeting place for organizations that don’t have their own, and a hub for visitors to make use of free art supplies or grab a cup of coffee. Read more about Anti Lab: A Resource Center for "Creative Resistance" »

Journalist Sonia Nazario on Coming Out as an Activist

When Sonia Nazario was 14 years old, she and her mother came across a pool of blood on the sidewalk. It had been about a year since they’d moved from Kansas to her mother’s native Argentina, right at the onset of the country’s “Dirty War.” She asked her mother about the blood. “The military killed two journalists today, for telling the truth about what’s going on here,” Nazario recalls her saying. Read more about Journalist Sonia Nazario on Coming Out as an Activist »

Hear Her Roar: Ecofeminist Author Susan Griffin Isn’t Going Away

Feminism has come roaring back, from the recent popular vote to pussy hats and other forms of protest. And so have its opponents. Whether happenstance or part of the Zeitgeist, Counterpoint Press last fall reissued a feminist classic, Woman and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her. Written by Susan Griffin and originally published in 1978, the book traces the fallout from Western culture’s artificial division between spirit and matter. Read more about Hear Her Roar: Ecofeminist Author Susan Griffin Isn't Going Away »

Shane Bauer Puts the Teeth Back Into Undercover Reporting

Seven hours before Shane Bauer was to start his 6 a.m. shift at the Winn Correctional Center in Winnfield, Louisiana, his wife shook him awake. “Something’s wrong,” she said. His colleague from the magazine Mother Jones, James West, hadn’t returned from shooting nighttime footage of the private prison where Bauer worked. Had officials there discovered that Bauer wasn’t just a regular guard, but an investigative reporter from San Francisco? Read more about Shane Bauer Puts the Teeth Back Into Undercover Reporting »

From the Spring 2017 Virtue and Vice issue of California.

Finding His Tribe: The Art of Charles Gatewood

I couldn’t decide what made me feel dirtier—looking at hundreds of pictures of naked girls, or rifling through the personal belongings of a man I’d never met. But I was doing both one evening in the Bancroft Library reading room, traversing the late photographer Charles Gatewood’s massive archive chronicling the kink, tattoo, and body modification subcultures of America and especially the West Coast. Read more about Finding His Tribe: The Art of Charles Gatewood »

From the Spring 2017 Virtue and Vice issue of California.

Pages

Subscribe to Arts + Letters