This Week in Arts

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Our lead critics recommend the latest and greatest in culture:


While choice in media is generally widely varied in the Bay Area, art openings next weekend seem to favor photography. Photo-related exhibits have been popping up all over, especially related to manipulating images through technology. On Thursday, the geniuses who brought us Adobe Photoshop will be hosting two artists, Hilary Pecis and David Bayus, at their offices in San Francisco. Pecis’s works are digital collages using images from the Internet, and Bayus applies paint on photographic composites of different art objects. Both use the Adobe products to create their art.

The power of new technology, like the Adobe creative software, to produce provocative image-based art is powerfully illustrated in the Counterpoint exhibit at Rhythmix Cultural Works in Alameda. The show is meant to be a creative dialogue in which two artists, Peter Tonningsen and Lisa Levine, exchange images and layer them into complex landscape compositions that break the visual conventions of photography.

— Anna Carey 


Well, hello there theater fans. Featers? Theans? Stagies? Screw it. There’s no good portmanteau for you. I’m just going to have to settle with calling all y’all “the best people on Earth” or BPOE for short. It’s not too shabby a week for you BPOE.

First up, the San Francisco Fringe Festival is going on until September 16. Held at the EXIT Theatre in downtown San Francisco, the Fringe Festival is hosting more than 35 acts of unhinged, independent theater — ranging from solo shows about the politics of circumcision to operatic light shows. Though slightly less eccentric, the American Conservatory Theater’s premiere of the Tony Award-winning drama, “The Normal Heart” appears to be no less captivating. Set amid the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s, the play follows a group of friends who defy the aggressively negligent government, lack of proper medical knowledge and rampant homophobia in an era of ultimate tumult. So, whether the show is comic, tragic or altogether strange, these plays will, at the very least, prove enlightening.

— Jessica Pena



Diesel Bookstore is no more. Since Friday, the Oakland bookstore has transformed into a fictional record store, “Brokeland Records.” The change is only for a week, in celebration of the release of Michael Chabon’s new novel “Telegraph Avenue”  Tuesday. The book follows two friends and their struggling record store on the border of Berkeley and Oakland in 2004.

It’s a familiar story of an outdated but culturally valuable store facing new times when generosity is no longer enough to keep afloat. Picture any non-chain store on Telegraph Ave., and imagine their fight for survival in the midst of franchised logos. With hope to highlight this issue, the “new” Brokeland Records will have a party on Wednesday at the store with an appearance by the Pulitzer-Prize-winner himself. The event already sold out on Friday, but standby tickets are an option and signed copies are still available.

More than a gimmick, the Diesel-to-Brokeland conversion is a celebration of the spunk of Berkeley and Oakland, but also a reminder of the people that call it home.

— A. J. Kiyoizumi



Rian Johnson fans, your prayers have been answered. The upstart master of the neo-noir is heading our way for a special screening (followed by a Q&A) of his latest film, “Looper” at Shattuck Cinemas. Billed as a stylish noir-thriller, it stars Johnson collaborator and all-round hottie Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a hit man in the future who sends targets back in time so that they can be killed without detection — whoa. Early reviews from Toronto are positive, so expect this event to be widely attended. It’s for Cal students only so check out ASUC SUPERB’s facebook group for details on how to RSVP.  Ten points to the person who asks Johnson what Laura whispers in JGL’s ear at the end of “Brick.

A little tip for those people who are still getting to know our little city, the United Artists Berkeley 7 cinema on Shattuck Avenue screens classics every Thursday at 9 p.m. This week it’s “The Breakfast Club,” one of John Hughes’s best efforts in the teen movie genre he helped define. It stars a pre-“Mighty Ducks” Emilio Estevez. Go on, you know you want to.

— Thomas Coughlan



Local band Blaqk Audio will be playing Great American Music Hall in San Francisco this Tuesday. Composed of Davey Havok and Jade Puget of the famed local band AFI, the duo take a break from their aggressive rock behavior in favor of a more electronic flow. Blaqk Audio’s sophomore album Bright Black Heaven will also be released that day, so come out if you want to hear the new tracks live.

If pure electronic isn’t quite your thing — maybe you want some guitars too — Silversun Pickups will be playing at The Fox Theatre this Tuesday as well. If you haven’t seen them play any of their songs from their latest album Neck of the Woods, make sure to catch them playing “Dots and Dashes (Enough Already)” and “Mean Spirits.”

If all that is still too far away for you, and you want to stay even more local, My Morning Jacket will be playing at The Greek Theatre in Berkeley this Saturday. Opening for the psychedelic band are the equally psychedelic hip-hop group Shabazz Palaces. Can you handle the trippiness?

— Ian Birnam