Rowing by Byzantium opened at Gearbox on Sept. 1.
The season promises lively choices for art, books, dance, film, music, and theater events.
ROWING BY BYZANTIUM: JANET NORRIS AND TAVEE MCALLISTER LEE
William Butler Yeats’ 1928 poem Sailing to Byzantium employs the metaphor of a voyage to the former capital of the Eastern Roman Empire as the aging poet’s or artist’s search for immortality through creation, becoming an immortal golden bird singing of past, present, and future, ensconced in “the artifice of eternity.” Rowing by Byzantium, the title of one of Janet Norris’ paintings, reflects the poetic and political dimensions of her paintings and TaVee McAllister Lee’s collage installations, and the cultural moment, defined by premonitions of decline on the one hand and hope for spiritual transformation and sanity on the other. Are we steering a wrong course? Open late (6-9 p.m.), Sept. 2; Sept. 1-Oct. 16. GearBox Gallery, 770 W. Grand Ave., Oakland, www.GearBoxGallery.com.
MAKING OUR MARK
One of the oldest art venues in the Bay Area, the Richmond Art Center, celebrates its 80th birthday with the first of two major group shows emphasizing the continuity of Bay Area art. RAC artist “alumni,” including Christopher Brown, Squeak Carnwath, Enrique Chagoya, Lia Cook, Allan deSouza, Mildred Howard, Hung Liu, Bruce McGaw, James Melchert, Richard Misrach, Deborah Oropallo, Johanna Poethig, Richard Shaw, Mary Hull Webster, William T. Wiley, and Wanxin Zhan, will be joined by younger artists whom they have invited, including Dru Anderson, Megan Atherton, Ethan Caflisch, Sofia Córdova, Yvette Deas, Nathan Dollarhite, Michael Hall, Scott Hewitt, Nicholas Makanna, Kate Nartker, Shari Paladino, Richard Shaw, and Ehren Tool. An illustrated catalogue with text by RAC’s director of exhibitions, Jan Wurm, will be available. The opening reception, sure to be a tribal gathering, will be Sept. 10, 5-7 p.m. Sept. 13-Nov. 12. Richmond Art Center, 2540 Barrett Ave., Richmond, www.RichmondArtCenter.org.
RETOOLED: HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE HECHINGER COLLECTION
John Hechinger Sr., the former CEO of a Maryland-based hardware store chain, began amassing a collection of art in the 1980s reflecting his love of common tools like hammers and saws, and ranging in tone from pop homage to expressionistic self-projection. The traveling show comprises some 40 works in a variety of media by 28 artists, including Berenice Abbott, Arman, Anthony Caro, Jim Dine, Richard Estes, William Eggleston, Howard Finster, Red Grooms, Jacob Lawrence, Fernand Léger, Claes Oldenbourg, James Rosenquist, and H.C. Westermann. Reception: Sept. 18, 3-5 p.m.? Sept. 18-Nov. 27. Bedford Gallery, 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek, www.BedfordGallery.org.
THE TRIUMPH OF IRREVERSIBLE TIME: ANTHONY RIGGS
In the 1920s, the Surrealists used to visit one movie theater after another, seeing only fragments of each work, driven to destroy simple-minded narratives and sentimental clichés. Anthony Riggs’ bold figurative paintings reflect our contemporary condition of simultaneity, aka overstimulation. Riggs: “My paintings are a visual exploration of opposing belief systems. By integrating visual elements from different historical periods and ideological viewpoints, I investigate how aesthetics have been used as propaganda … I borrow from pop culture, kitsch, propaganda, ancient mythology, religious iconography, and science fiction.” This is your brain, on mediated reality. Reception: Oct. 7, 6-9 p.m. Oct. 7-Nov. 19. Transmission Gallery, 770 W. Grand Ave., Oakland, www.TheTransmissionGallery.com.
TRUTH +IRONY: LUCKY RAPP, DIANE ROSENBLUM, AND OTHERS
The pervasive, easy irony that seemed to have reached toxic levels a few years ago has been mitigated by the return of seriousness and commitment, at least in some quarters of the art world, so irony and humor with content and craftsmanship are worthy of serious notice again in a world seemingly turned upside down; it hurts more when we don’t laugh. Lucky Rapp creates paintings that simulate embossed text, only larger, and in various fonts and sizes, and coated with glossy resin, suggesting luxury consumable goods, contradicted by her choice of words, e.g., CHOCOLATE. Diane Rosenblum employs text superimposed on pictorial imagery, à la Ed Ruscha (among others). Her Clouds for Comment series pairs dramatic color photos of skies and sunsets with anonymous comments from the social-media cloudscape, e.g., THIS IS SO PRETTY I WANT TO LICK IT. Reception: tentatively Nov. 17. Nov. 17-Dec. 23. SLATE Contemporary, 473 25th St., Oakland, www.SlateArt.net.
LYLA AND MAJNUN, MARK MORRIS DANCE GROUP
Based on a Persian poem and Azerbaijani music, Lyla and Majnun is Mark Morris’ full-evening paean to eternal love. This global premiere opens doors into a world most of us know little about. Fabulous for him—and us. This gifted choreographer has never lost his passion for treading into unknown territory, and we usually follow him gratefully. 8 p.m. Sept. 30, 8 p.m. Oct. 1, 3 p.m. Oct., 2. Cal Performances, Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley, tickets starting at $36, www.CalPerformances.org.
PROJECT PANTHER, DIMENSIONS DANCE THEATER
Given the horrific times that we live through and the Black Panther Party’s 50th anniversary, artistic director/choreographer Deborah Vaughn is revisiting her 1996 Project Panther. She and her dozen Dimensions Dance Theater women want to throw another spotlight on the Panthers’ cultural and social inheritance and the work that has yet to be done. Oct. 15, 8 p.m. Dimensions Dance Theater, Malonga Casequelourd Center for the Arts, 1428 Alice St., Oakland, $30 in advance, $35 at the door; students and seniors $25 in advance, $30 at the door, www.DimensionsDance.org.
8X8X8, PAUFEVE DANCE
8x8x8 is all about catching dance in an informal setting: a drink in hand, friends at your side. The East Bay lacks affordable performance space, so these not-to-be-stopped eight companies—Push Up Something Hidden, Nava Dance Theatre, Bandelion, Deborah Slater Dance Theater, Kiandanda Dance Theater, Fog Beast, Sculpted Motion, and Jiten Daiko—congregate at their newest venue of choice, The Uptown. You can expect small-scale but big-impact works by folks as different as those you encounter on your way to work. Nov. 17, 8 p.m. The Uptown, 1928 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, $8 cover, www.PaufveDance.org.
ARA RITUAL II: TIME WEAVES, DOHEE LEE
In ARA Ritual II: Time Weaves, the 2016 Herb Alpert Award winner Dohee Lee continues exploring her native Korean shamanistic practices with what she calls “participatory ritual performances.” In ARA Ritual I: Waterways (Sept. 8-11), she begins setting them into the context of contemporary dance, music (acoustic and electronic), and visual installations, continuing with ARA Ritual II: Tine Weaves (Jan. 20-21) and Spring ARA Ritual III: Waterways Time Weaves (November 2017, fall 2018). Always meticulous, yet deeply probing, the cast for Time Weaves will include 100 multigenerational women from Asia. ARA Ritual II: Waterways, Jan. 20-21, East Side Cultural Center, 227 International Blvd., Oakland, www.DoheeLee.com.
SCOTTISH BALLET: A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE
Belgian-Colombian choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa is known in Europe for musically savvy and expressive contemporary ballet. For her first full-length work, she reached really high: Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire. Pairing up with film director Nancy Meckler, the collaboration, commissioned by the Scottish Ballet, has been enthusiastically acclaimed in the United Kingdom. In their first appearance at Berkeley, the Caledonians will present the work’s West Coast premiere. May 10-12, 8 p.m. Cal Performances, Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley, tickets start at $36, www.Calperformances.org.