The Bay Area is a hub of artistic expression, attracting artists, writers and musicians from around the globe to live, work and create. We highlight some of the offerings here.
Freebie of the week: Fiber art is the medium of choice for East Bay artist Robin Bernstein, whose process involves pressing thousands of strands of string in a mixture of resin, wax and Vaseline and arranging them in a pattern that from a distance resembles a painting or a mosaic, but which, on closer look, takes on a greater texture. With this painstaking assemblage, Bernstein addresses one of the most horrifying chapters in history. “Beauty and Terror,” Berstein’s exhibit on display in Livermore Thursday through Jan. 29, consists of 18 works reflecting on the Holocaust. Each one focuses on a different aspect of the Nazis’ systematic murder of Jews, disabled people, gay men and women, Romanis, activists, artists and others who ran afoul of the Germans’ quest for a perfect race. One work, titled “T4,” references the Nazis’ 1939-45 practice of “involuntary euthanasia” of young prisoners (from infants to those aged 17) selected by German physicians as being too feeble to keep alive. The work shows a circle of colorful flowers ringed by lifeless, brittle branches. The works are not subtle and, as organizers put it, “Viewers of Bernstein’s pieces can expect to be provoked, awakened, moved and propelled.” “Beauty and Horror” is on display at the UNCLE Credit Union Art Gallery, part of the Livermore Valley Arts complex that includes the Bankhead Theater. Gallery hours are 1-5 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays. A talk and demonstration by Bernstein are slated for 1 p.m. Saturday. The exhibit and talk are free. More information is at livermorearts.org. (Look under the “visual arts” tag for the gallery show.)
A “Never Too Late Show”: A new production by Bay Area comedian, writer and actor Don Reed is always a welcome addition to the Bay Area entertainment scene. Reed has in the past delighted viewers with his outlandish-but-true tales of his Oakland upbringing. In his new offering, “The Never Too Late Show,” which opens this weekend in Berkeley, Reed recounts his days in Los Angeles trying to break out as a national entertainer. The multimedia show, written, performed and directed by Reed, includes tales (enhanced by video clips) of appearances on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson,” HBO specials, and other TV and film programs. Reed’s Hollywood resume is full of exhilarating successes and agonizing rejections, and he ventures into both ends of the spectrum with his trademark energy, humor, pathos and world-class storytelling talent. Reed has performed snippets of the show in the past and workshopped it last fall, but it’s the final (for now) version that he will perform at The Marsh Berkeley on Saturday through Feb. 19. Performances are 8:30 p.m. Saturdays and 7 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $25-$100; go to themarsh.org.
All that jazz: The SFJAZZ Center, a true jewel, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this week with a series of special concerts. Each show reflects a career chapter from some of the most prestigious jazz musicians in history, all of whom have deep connections to the Center and to SFJAZZ, the presenting company that originated 40 years ago as Jazz in the City and gained international recognition as the San Francisco Jazz Festival. The series kicks off Thursday with saxophone great Joe Lovano headlining a concert tribute to the late great pianist McCoy Tyner. On Friday, legendary bassist Stanley Clarke revisits his years with the jazz-fusion pioneering band Return to Forever (with the late keyboard colossus Chick Corea) with a brand-new band. On Saturday and Sunday, two star-studded concerts feature musicians who have served as resident artistic directors for SFJAZZ. And what a rad collection of talent they are, from guitar great Bill Frisell to local bassist and composer Marcus Shelby to the amazing drummer Terri Lyne Carrington to vocalist-performance artist Laurie Anderson and stunningly talented and wildly creative pianist Jason Moran. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 7 and 9:30 p.m. Friday, 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday. Tickets run from $25-$105. More information and tickets can be found at www.sfjazz.org.
A modern ‘monodrama’: The superb soprano Dawn Upshaw, a classical artist with five Grammys on her bookshelf, has collaborated with the Brentano String Quartet on a project conceived by them with her in mind, one that revolves around a legendary queen of ancient Carthage. “Dido Reimagined,” hosted by San Francisco Performances, takes place at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Herbst Theatre, with the first half of the program devoted to early English vocal repertoire culminating with Henry Purcell’s captivating “Dido’s Lament” from his 17th-century opera “Dido and Aeneas.” But the second half of the program, composed by Pulitzer Prize-winner Melinda Wagner with a libretto by Stephanie Fleischmann, is the “reimagined” part — Upshaw rendering a recounting of the tale of the lovestruck queen, renowned for her strength of character, that gives a less tragic outcome to her story. Find tickets, $45-$65, at sfperformances.org or by calling 415-392-2545.
In the final stretch: The redoubtable Pamela Freund-Striplen, violist extraordinaire and founder, in 1987, of the Gold Coast Chamber Players (based in Lafayette for the last 23 years), is finally hanging up her hat as the artistic director of the award-winning ensemble. Their Saturday night concert, “Connections in Time: Tracing a Musical Path,” is the first of the group’s final three performances. It features Freund-Striplen with the New York-based Horszowski Trio — violinist Jesse Mills, pianist Rieko Aizawa and cellist Ole Akahoshi — in a program comprising Louise Farrenc’s Piano Trio No. 1 in E-flat major, Dmitri Shostakovich’s Trio No. 1 (composed when he was just 16) and Gabriel Fauré’s Piano Quartet No. 1 in C minor. A pre-concert talk takes place a half hour before the 7:30 p.m. performance in the Don Tatzin Community Hall of the Lafayette Library. Find tickets, $15-$45, at gccpmusic.com, where you also will find information about an online viewing beginning Jan. 21. Gold Coast’s final performances are on March 11 and April 15.