Monday, October 31, 2016

“A Promise Not to Forget: Dia de los Muertos 2016,” at SOMArts, S.F., through November 5

San Francisco performance artist Guillermo Gómez Peña, poet Maya Chinchilla and Dr. Loco and the Rockin’ Jalapeño Band will take to the stage at the closing reception of “A Promise Not to Forget: Dia de los Muertos 2016.”

Photo courtesy of Rio Yañez

The 17th annual Day of the Dead exhibition at SOMArts Cultural Center joins traditional Mexican altars with contemporary art installations. It features approximately 25 altars created by more than 50 artists. Curated by René & Rio Yañez, who are father and son, they chose the theme “A Promise Not to Forget” to honor ancestors and those who have lost their lives to senseless violence.

This year’s exhibition is dedicated to three individuals: Silvia Parra, an activist, poet and musician from San Francisco, Cynthia Wallis, a Bay Area theater director, photographer and the late partner of René Yañez and Martha Rodriguez, a San Francisco visual artist who participated in several of SOMArt’s Dia de los Muertos exhibitions throughout the years. 

Some of the altars and installations on display also honor those killed at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando and serve as a tribute to the queer and Latin victims from that tragedy.

Through November 5. Closing reception, 6-9 p.m., Saturday, November 5. Tickets to closing reception: $7-$10 sliding scale admission.

SOMArts, 934 Brannan St., S.F. Noon-7 p.m., Tuesday-Friday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday and 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Sunday. (415) 863-1414,

“Hairspray” at Montgomery Theater, San Jose, December 2-11

Mix up your holiday lineup with Marquee Productions' presentation of “Hairspray,” directed by Kevin R. Hauge. This energetic, beloved musical promises an evening of mirth and merriment. Travel back to Baltimore in the 1960s to see how spunky teenager Tracy Turnblad overcomes obstacles and pursues her dreams. Directed and choreographed by Kevin R. Hauge with musical direction by Amie Jan and vocal direction by Andrew Ford.

December 2-11. $35-$30. Montgomery Theater, 271 Market St., San Jose. 408-288-5437.

Image courtesy of the CMT San Jose.

The historic Cary House Hotel, Placerville-Haunted or not?

Upon entering the lobby of the Cary House Hotel, I asked the desk clerk about its haunted reputation. Since working at the four-story red brick building, which dates to 1857, she said she hadn't seen any otherworldly apparitions. But she'd heard plenty of ghostly accounts.

Purportedly, most occur in specific rooms on the second floor of this hotel, located on Main Street in Placerville in El Dorado County. I can't confirm or deny this—these rooms were booked during our stay, and we didn't encounter anything ethereal. But a chill did come over me while walking through the halls of the second floor on the way to the balcony.

Several notable guests have stayed here including William “Buffalo Bill” Cody, Mark Twain, Levi Strauss, Ulysses S. Grant, Bette Davis and Elvis Presley.

The Cary House Hotel. Photo by Stephanie Wright Hession

A series of stained glass panels depicting mining, rural and wildlife scenes, antique furnishings, rich wood walls and a grand staircase give the lobby its Victorian elegance. 

The lobby. Photo by Stephanie Wright Hession 

We pulled back the metal gate of the tiny, vintage elevator and arrived at our king-size room on the fourth floor. Yellow walls, an ivory chenille bedspread and twin windows covered with white curtains and lace sheers gave it an airy feel. An ornate wooden dresser and mirror, a floral painted lamp and other antique pieces added to its charm. An alcove made an inviting reading space with its pair of wing back chairs.

Upstairs staircase in the Cary House Hotel. Photo by Stephanie Wright Hession 

A door near the breakfast room leads outside to a courtyard, where hotel guests and customers of neighboring shops relaxed at tables and chairs, shaded by green market umbrellas and back dropped by an ivy-covered wall and the sound of a tiered fountain. Back at the hotel, guests can spy downtown Placerville from the second-floor balcony.

The adjacent courtyard. Photo by Stephanie Wright Hession 

Step out of the lobby and you're on Main Street, with an assortment of cafes, restaurants, wine tasting rooms, galleries and shops.

For dinner, the selection includes Z Pie's gourmet pot pies and the Heyday Cafe's pizza, panini and entrees such as chicken Milanese and filet mignon.

Cary House Hotel, 300 Main St., Placerville. (530) 622-4271. 40 rooms and suites, all non-smoking, 2 wheelchair accessible. Rates: $102-$199. Children welcome. Dogs welcome in specific rooms.

“What Stood Before: An artist’s view of the Bay Area’s demolished past” at the FLOAT Gallery, Oakland, through November 13

Between the 1980s and the early 2000s, four San Francisco Bay Area artists—Jan Watten, Janeyce Ouellette, Craig Riedel and Allison F. Walton—unintentionally chronicled the region’s demolished past. 

From views of the old San Francisco skyline to abandoned Muni buses to industrial areas and freeways long since gone, the black and white images offer a glimpse back.

"Bay Two," Jan Watten

A work by Craig Riedel

A work by Allison F. Walton

Through November 13. FLOAT Flotation Center and Gallery, 1091 Calcot Place, Unit #116, (storefront located in the Cotton Mill studios), Oakland. 10 a.m.-10 p.m., daily. (510) 535-1702,

All images courtesy of the FLOAT Gallery.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Abhinaya Dance Company of San Jose premieres “Vaanara Leela—Monkeys in the Ramayana,” November 12 and 13

The Abhinaya Dance Company of San Jose premieres ““Vaanara Leela—Monkeys in the Ramayana,” on Saturday, November 12 and Sunday, November 13.

The Ramayana, one of two major Sanskrit epics from Hindu mythology, follows the journey of Prince Rama, who finds himself in the forest with a group of monkeys. To help find his kidnapped wife, Sita, the prince turns to the Hanuman, the monkey warrior, and Sugreeva, the king of the monkey army. This production is performed from the perspective of the monkeys and follows their expedition to find Sita. 

With an original score by Asha Ramesh, direction by Mythili Kumar and Rasika Kumar and choreography by Mythili Kumar, Rasika Kumar,  Malavika Kumar and Anjana Da, it features 
Rasika Kumar as Hanumān. Fellow dancers include Malavika Kumar, Sindhu Natarajan, Anjana Dasu, Pooja Sohoni, Supriya Kalamandalam and more.

7 p.m., Saturday, November 12 and 4 p.m., Sunday, November 13. 
Tickets: $50 VIP seating; $30 preferred seating; $65 family of four; $20 general admission and $15 students and seniors. Free for Friends of Abhinaya.

Mexican Heritage Plaza Theater, 1700 Alum Rock Ave., San Jose. (408) 871-5959,

Friday, October 28, 2016

“Alex Katz: New and Recent works,” through November 15 at the Meyerovich Gallery, S.F.

“Alex Katz: New and Recent works,” celebrates the 30th anniversary of his first exhibition, “Paintings, Drawings, Graphics,” which took place at the Meyerovich Gallery.

"Red hat  Ada," (2015), Alex Katz

The current exhibition features black and white portraits, vividly-hued flowers and multi-color still life created with a variety of complex mediums. 

"Ariel, Black and White," (2016), Alex Katz
Internationally known for his figurative portraits and landscapes, Katz is associated with the Pop Art movement, which began in the early 1960s and included artists Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Ed Ruscha and Robert Rauschenberg.

"White Impatiens," (2016), Alex Katz

Through November 15. Meyerovich Gallery, 251 Post St., Ste. 400, S.F. 10:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m., Monday through Friday; 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Saturday and after hours by appointment. (415) 421-7171,

All images courtesy of the Meyerovich Gallery

Palo Alto Players’ production of “The Diary of Anne Frank,” opens November 4

The Palo Alto players present a new adaptation by Wendy Kesselman of “The Diary of Anne Frank,” the powerful, beloved play by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, based upon the book, “The Diary of Anne Frank (Diary of a Young Girl). Directed by Dennis Lickteig. Appropriate for ages 11 years and older.

Roneet Aliza Rahamim as Anne Frank. Photo by Joyce Goldschmid

“The Diary of Anne Frank,” Through November 20. $25-$52. Discounts for seniors, educators, members of the military and those younger than 30 years old. Palo Alto Players, Lucie Stern Theater, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto. Box office hours: 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Tuesday-Thursday and one hour prior to showtime, Thursday-Sunday. (650) 329-0891,

“Lee Friedlander: Western Landscapes,” at the Fraenkel Gallery, S.F. through December 23

Lee Friedlander continues his longtime fascination with the American West landscape as he has throughout his career. 

"Stinson Beach, California," (2003), Lee Friedlander

The approximately 50 photographs in this exhibition came to fruition after he took several road trips during the 1990s and the 2000s. Most have not been viewed or published before.

"Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona," (1997), Lee Friedlander

Featuring Death Valley, Yosemite, the grand Tetons and more, the black and white, square-format works came from the use of large negatives and a wide-angle lens. 

"Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming," (1993), Lee Friedlander

The show coincides with the publication of “Lee Friedlander: Western Landscapes,” a large-format book published by the Yale University Art Gallery.

Through December 23. 10:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Tuesday-Friday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday. Fraenkel Gallery, 49 Geary St., S.F. (415) 981-2661,

Images courtesy of the Fraenkel Gallery.

Friday, October 21, 2016

“She Loves Me” opens November 23 at the San Francisco Playhouse

The Broadway musical “She Loves Me” tells the story of Amalia and Georg, two perfume shop clerks who don’t quite get along. At the same time, they both reply to the same lonely-hearts ad in the newspaper and become beguiled with their mysterious pen pals. See what transpires when they reveal their identities in this romantic comedy. 

Jeffrey Brian Adams (Georg) and Monique Hafen (Amalia) in “She Loves Me” at the San Francisco Playhouse. Photo by Ken Levin
Directed by Susi Damilano with musical direction by David Aaron Brown. Music by Jerry Bock, Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and book by Joe Masteroff.

Through January 14, 2017. San Francisco Playhouse, Hotel Kensington, 450 Post St., S.F. Box office: (415) 677-9596,

Thursday, October 20, 2016

“Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition,” at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, S.F. through October 30

A celebration of the longtime career of iconic film director Stanley Kubrick, whose films include “The Shining,” “A Clockwork Orange,” “Full Metal Jacket” “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Lolita” and “Spartacus.”

Beginning with photographs that Kubrick shot for LOOK magazine between 1945 and 1950, the exhibition shifts focus and takes viewers on a cinematic journey.

It features annotated scripts, cameras, set models, costumes, props and photographs from his films as well as the technological advances developed by Kubrick and his production team. It also looks at “Napoleon” and “Aryan Papers,” two projects that he did not complete.

Through October 30. Free to $15. 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Friday-Tuesday; 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Thursdays; Closed Wednesdays. Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission St. (Between Third and Fourth streets), S.F. (415) 655-7800,

All images courtesy of the Contemporary Jewish Museum.

Kubrick on the set of “Spartacus”

Sue Lyon as Dolores "Lolita" Haze in "Lolita"

Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrancein "The Shining"

Kubrick and Nicholson on the set of "The Shining"

Malcolm McDowell as Alex DeLarge in "A Clockwork Orange"

A well-known scene from “2001: A Space Odyssey”

Kubrick directing “2001: A Space Odyssey”

Matthew Modine as Private Joker in "Full Metal Jacket"

Thursday, October 13, 2016

“Danny Lyon: Message to the Future,” opens November 5 at the de Young museum, S.F.

The de Young museum presents, “Danny Lyon: Message to the Future,” the first comprehensive retrospective presented in 25 years by a photographer and filmmaker known for his street photography movement in the United States in the 1960s.

Danny Lyon, “Occupy Demonstration on Broadway, Los Angeles,” (2011). Digital inkjet print. Collection of the artist. Copyright Danny Lyon, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

The exhibition features an estimated 175 photographs and films, which document the welfare and social/political issues of people living on the margins of society.

Danny Lyon, "Maricopa County, Arizona," (1977). Vintage gelatin silver print. Collection of the artist. Copyright Danny Lyon, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

Danny Lyon, "Shakedown at Ellis Unit, Texas," (1968). Vintage gelatin silver print. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 183.1969. Copyright Danny Lyon, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

Danny Lyon, "Powwow (New Mexico, South Dakota, and Arizona)," 1997. SX-70 Polaroids. Collection of the artist. Copyright Danny Lyon, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

Danny Lyon, "Tesca, Cartagena, Colombia," 1966. Cibachrome, printed 2008. Collection of the artist. Copyright Danny Lyon, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

Through April 30, 2017. Galleries 11-14, de Young museum, Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, S.F. (415) 750-3600, 9:30 a.m.-5:15 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday. Closed most Mondays and select holidays. 

Tickets available beginning Monday, October 17: $22 adults; $17 seniors 65 and older; $13 students with current ID; $7 youth ages 6-17 and free to museum members and children 5 and younger.

Oakland Symphony presents “Lost Romantic Symphonies” and “Dream of a Summer Night,” November 18

Oakland Symphony conductor and music director, Michael Morgan, will be joined by guest violinist Kelly Hall-Tompkins and members of the Oakland Symphony Youth Orchestra for “Lost Romantic Symphonies,” 8 p.m., Friday, November 18 at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland.

Hall-Tompkins will also perform the U.S. premiere of “Dream of a Summer Night,” a new violin concerto by Siegfried Matthus and John Williams’ themes from the films “Fiddler on the Roof,” and “Schindler’s List.”

The program also includes “Symphony No. 3,” by Joachim Raff and the youth orchestra’s performance of “Cuban Overture,” by George Gershwin.

A pre-concert talk will be given by John Kendall-Bailey, the music director and conductor of the Mesopotamia Symphony Orchestra; music director, principal conductor and chorus master of Trinity Lyric Opera; and associate conductor of San Francisco Composers Chamber Orchestra

Tickets: $25-$80. (510) 444-0802,

Aquatic Park Historic Landmark District, S.F.

Inside the Aquatic Park Historic Landmark District, swimmers brave the chilly waters of the Aquatic Park's lagoon, while those perched on its beach admire a seascape that includes the Golden Gate Bridge. Others seek respite at Victoria Park and nearby, nautical enthusiasts explore 19th and 20th century maritime vessels on Hyde Street Pier. The two locales are part of the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, which offers a bounty of adventure.

Story and photographs by Stephanie Wright Hession

Entrance to the Hyde Street Pier

Victoria Park

Beach Street (at Hyde Street): Grab lunch to go and sit for a spell on this grass-covered slope, with its handful of benches, winding path and seascape. Here, weary tourists take a breather, admire views of the fog-draped Golden Gate Bridge and people-watch, while others romp and fly kites on the large lawn area.

Aquatic Park lagoon

Between Hyde Street and Van Ness Avenue: A swimming area for years, this lagoon also represents a victory for the San Franciscans who spent decades fighting against industrial development and for the area to become a recreational area for residents. Thanks to WPA funds, their dream came to fruition with Aquatic Park's opening in 1939.

Eureka ferry

Hyde Street Pier: Wandering the decks of this steam ferry, built in 1890, it's easy to imagine the rows of ebony seats, the site of the former restaurant and the magazine stand teeming with suited passengers and families on outings. Don't miss the vintage and antique collection of sedans and local delivery trucks on the car deck.


Hyde Street Pier: A three-masted, square-rigged ship built in 1886 in Glasgow, Scotland, the Balclutha operated as a cargo ship, rounded treacherous Cape Horn several times and sailed to ports including Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Later as the Pacific Queen it starred in the 1935 film, "Mutiny on the Bounty," starring Charles Laughton and Clark Gable. 

The San Francisco Bay ark or Lewis ark

Hyde Street Pier: Festive lanterns once illuminated the waters of Belvedere Lagoon, from the vividly painted cluster of houseboats, including the Lewis ark. Constructed around the turn of the 20th century as a summer getaway for the McGinnis family, the ark was brought ashore in the 1920s and was eventually donated to the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park in 1969.

The Lewis ark and the Hyde Street Pier are free. To tour the Eureka ferry, the Balclutha, the C.A. Thayer schooner and the Hercules tugboat, buy a $10 boarding pass, valid for seven days, at the ticket booth on Hyde Street Pier. Free admission for supervised children younger than 16.Learn more about San Francisco's rich nautical history at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park Visitor Center, 499 Jefferson St. Free. 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. (415) 447-5000.
Hercules Tugboat