Spring has officially sprung, and with the warmer days and brighter evenings comes a fresh new season of stimulating arts events.
From an emerging contemporary dance company based in Mountain View to a visit from an innovative folk-punk band from Ukraine to a rare chance to peek inside working artists' studios across the Silicon Valley, we've sorted through hundreds of events to bring you some of spring's hottest arts happenings. Read on for our top picks in each genre, plus a shortlist of other screenings, exhibitions, readings and performances worth catching. And it doesn't stop here: Our online calendar features many more arts events each week.
We wish you a springtime bursting with art, entertainment and creative inspiration.==
Silicon Valley Open Studios
It's one thing to enjoy a work of art displayed in a gallery or museum, quite another to step inside the artist's studio to see how the work is made. Between Saturday, May 2, and Sunday, May 17, Silicon Valley Open Studios (SVOS) will mark its 29th year with three consecutive weekends of studio tours. From Menlo Park to Mountain View, Palo Alto to Portola Valley and beyond, more than 380 artists will be showing work in genres ranging from landscape painting, sculpture, photography and jewelry to Japanese woodcut, textiles, video and performance. The event is free and open to the public; no tickets are required.
Among the featured artists for 2015 is Linda Gass, whose arresting mixed-media works examine issues of land and water use by taking aerial views of Earth. Also participating in this year's SVOS is Florence de Bretagne, whose vibrantly colorful, exuberant acrylic paintings capture the generative energy of spring. Artists will be available to discuss their creative process, share their materials and demonstrate their techniques. Works will also be on sale; for many collectors, the annual event is an affordable and meaningful way to build a personal art collection. The tour includes both well-established Bay Area artists and first-time participants, making it a great way for curators, gallerists and art appreciators to discover new talent.
The first weekend focuses on northern Silicon Valley, with the second weekend dedicated to the central communities and the third weekend centered on the region's southern and coastal towns. A complete list of locations and artists is available online, including examples of work; hard copies of the SVOS directory will also be distributed at libraries and businesses throughout the Bay Area.
Where: Various Silicon Valley locations
When: Saturday, May 2-Sunday, May 17, weekend days 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Info: Go to svos.org
Other art events:
▪ "Spring Family Day," Palo Alto Art Center, March 29: cityofpaloalto.org
▪ "Reigning Art," Gallery House, March 31-April 25: galleryhouse2.com
▪ "Along Highway 1," Viewpoints Gallery, March 31-April 25: viewpointsgallery.com
▪ "Promised Land: Jacob Lawrence," Cantor Arts Center, April 1-Aug. 3: museum.stanford.edu
▪ "LandEscapes," Portola Art Gallery, April 1-30: portolaartgallery.com
'The Internet Is Not the Answer'
Here in the heart of the Silicon Valley, innovation, technology and connectivity are more than buzzwords; they're a way of life. But what do our linked-in lives and constant streams of status updates contribute to our lives -- and what do they take away?
Author, polemicist and public speaker Andrew Keen asks readers to grapple with these questions in his new book, "The Internet Is Not the Answer." After 20 years working in the tech industry, Keen has established himself as one of today's most outspoken critics of the Internet, with previous titles like "The Cult of the Amateur: How Today's Internet Is Killing Our Culture" illuminating the downsides of the online age. Yet at the same time that he lambasts the Internet, he recognizes it as the catalyst for the greatest social shift since the Industrial Revolution.
In his latest provocative, sharp and witty manifesto, Keen argues that the Internet has compounded social and economic inequities and detracted from the larger culture, and that we must carefully consider the ethical implications of life and business in the digital age. For a flavor of Keen's stance and speaking style, check out his book trailer at ajkeen.com.
Where: Kepler's Books, 1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park
When: Wednesday, May 20, 7:30 p.m.
Cost: $20 general seating, $40 premiere seating with a book
Info: Go to keplers.com or call 650-324-4321
Other books events:
▪ Dr. Scott Sampson: "How to Raise a Wild Child," Books Inc., Palo Alto, March 31: booksinc.net
▪ Barney Frank: "A Life in Politics from the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage," Fox Theatre, April 1: keplers.com
▪ Erik Larson: "Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania," Kepler's Books, April 13: keplers.com
▪ A reading by Thomas McGuane, Stanford's Bechtel Conference Center, April 27: events.stanford.edu
▪ "Selected Shorts," Stanford's Bing Concert Hall, May 15: live.stanford.edu
Think of Hawaiian dance, and you're likely to picture swaying hips and grass skirts. Think again. On April 17, Maui native and Stanford University graduate Ali McKeon will unveil her newest artistic endeavor: a dance inspired by her home state of Hawaii. "Rooted" is based on McKeon's ethnographic research on Hawaiian culture and its influence on contemporary dance practitioners. Following the completion of her master's degree in dance at U.C. Irvine, McKeon has returned to Palo Alto to launch a new dance company and continue to explore the intersections between dance and culture (and she's also a current member of Menlowe Ballet in Menlo Park).
"Rooted" is a work for four dancers that explores beauty and community as well as tension and resentment -- all themes McKeon uncovered in the course of her research. With an original score by composer and percussionist Martim Galvão, "Rooted" is an aesthetic offering designed to appeal to all the senses.
The performance marks the official launch of the Ali McKeon Dance Project and will be followed by a reception with the artists, including wine, beer and Hawaiian appetizers, or "pupus." To learn more about McKeon's work, visit her website at alimckeon.com.
Where: Zohar Dance Company, 4000 Middlefield Road, L4, Palo Alto
When: Friday, April 17-Saturday, April 18, 8 p.m.
Info: Go to alimckeon.eventbrite.com
Other dance events:
▪ Menlowe Ballet's "Rapture," Menlo-Atherton Performing Arts Center, March 27-29: menloweballet.org
▪ Firebird Dance Theatre's Annual Benefit Performance, Schultz Cultural Arts Hall, OFJCC, March 29: paloaltojcc.org
▪ Compagnie Käfig, Stanford's Memorial Auditorium, April 21: live.stanford.edu
▪ Western Ballet's "Snow White," Menlo-Atherton Performing Arts Center, April 24-25: westernballet.org
▪ Smuin Ballet's "Unlaced," Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, May 21-24: smuinballet.org
'The Hunting Ground'
It's the most talked-about exposé of the moment: the film that scrutinizes the epidemic of sexual violence on American university campuses. Now, "The Hunting Ground" is coming to Palo Alto. The film will screen at Stanford on April 28 and will be followed by a panel discussion with the film's producer, Amy Ziering, and Stanford's Title IX coordinator, Catherine Criswell Spear.
The statistics are shocking: One in five female college students are sexually assaulted, yet few of these crimes are reported, and even fewer lead to punishment for the perpetrators.
Through startling footage including interviews with experts and first-person testimonies of survivors, "The Hunting Ground" uncovers a widespread system of denial, rationalizations and worse. From Ivy League campuses to public institutions and small colleges, the culture of cover-ups has devastating consequences for students, their families and society at large and threatens the future of higher education. The film also follows the stories of rape survivors who are determined to change the culture by speaking out against sexual violence.
Emmy-nominated Ziering is also the producer of 2012's "The Invisible War" about sexual assault in the U.S. military, while Spear is an attorney who oversees all student-related issues at Stanford University involving sexual harassment and assault. The screening and discussion are free and open to the general public, though advance reservations are recommended.
Where: CEMEX Auditorium, 655 Knight Way, Stanford
When: Tuesday, April 28, 7 p.m. A panel discussion follows the screening.
Info: Go to events.stanford.edu
Other film events:
▪ "The Mask You Live In," Stanford's Cubberley Auditorium, March 31: gender.stanford.edu
▪ "God Loves Uganda," Stanford's History Corner, Bldg. 200, Room 002, April 3: events.stanford.edu
▪ "Man Bites Dog," Stanford's Pigott Hall, April 8: events.stanford.edu
▪ "Ararat," Stanford's Encina Hall, April 14: events.stanford.edu
▪ "Capturing Grace," Stanford's CEMEX Auditorium, April 18: events.stanford.edu
Slavic folk meets post-punk in DakhaBrakha, the distinctive and highly theatrical Ukrainian quartet with an international sound. Based in Kiev, the band comes to Stanford April 15 to share its unique blend of Eastern and Western musical influences.
This ain't your babushka's folk music: DakhaBrakha (the name means "give take" in the old Ukrainian language) blends traditional Ukrainian melodies with Indian, Arabic, African, Russian and Australian instrumentation, resulting in a sound that's truly not like anything else. In tracks like "Baby" and "Vesna" ("Spring"), chanting and soaring harmonies give way to powerful percussion and driving beats.
Whether they're playing accordion or cello, hand drums or didgeridoo, the band retains the spirit of their avant-garde theater roots and shares a creative vision that transcends national and political borders. To that end, DakhaBrakha performs all over the world; their Stanford visit is just one stop on a tour that includes the East Coast, France, Switzerland and Portugal. For sheer novelty, DakhaBrakha is a not-to-be-missed evening of music theater; where else are you going to see hats like these?
Where: Bing Concert Hall, 327 Lasuen St., Stanford
When: Wednesday, April 15, 7:30 p.m.
Info: Go to live.stanford.edu or call 650-724-2464
Other music events:
▪ New Music for Treble Voices Festival, All Saints Episcopal Church, Palo Alto, March 28: pwchorus.org
▪ California Pops Orchestra's "Swing Time!," Smithwick Theatre, Foothill College, March 29: calpops.org
▪ SFJAZZ Collective, Stanford's Bing Concert Hall, April 22: live.stanford.edu
▪ "In My Life: A Musical Theatre Tribute to the Beatles," Fox Theatre, May 15: foxrwc.com
▪ Lana Del Rey and Courtney Love, Shoreline Amphitheatre, May 20: theshorelineamphitheatre.com
'The Addams Family'
For a ghoulishly satirical evening of entertainment, look no further than Palo Alto Players' production of the 2010 Broadway musical, "The Addams Family," which runs April 25 through May 10. With music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa ("Big Fish") and book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice ("Jersey Boys"), "The Addams Family" is based on Charles Addams' original cartoons depicting a recurring cast of comically macabre characters.
This unconventional romance inspired by 19th-century Gothic horror finds humor in overturning our assumptions about love. All the familiar family members are here: doting (if eccentric) parents Morticia and Gomez, sunken-eyed Uncle Fester and rival siblings Pugsley and Wednesday. In a perfect inversion of the ideal American family, the Addamses wonder why their teenage daughter suddenly refuses to wear black and fret about her boyfriend because he's "too normal," while young Pugsley can't go to sleep until he's assured there really is a monster under the bed.
"The Addams Family" is recommended for audience members age 10 and up. Catch the production on opening night, Saturday, April 25, and stay afterward for a free reception with the cast. On Thursdays, April 30 and May 7, a talk-back with the cast and directors follows the show.
Where: Lucie Stern Theatre, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto
When: Saturday, April 25-Sunday, May 10. Performances Thursdays at 7 p.m., Fridays-Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
Info: Go to paplayers.org or call 650-329-0891.
Other theater events:
▪ TheatreWorks' "Fire on the Mountain," Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, April 1-26: theatreworks.org
▪ Los Altos Stage Company's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?," Bus Barn Theater, April 9-May 3: losaltosstage.org
▪ Dragon Productions Theater Company's "The Star Without a Name," Dragon Theatre, April 17-May 3: dragonproductions.net
▪ The Pear's "Birds of a Feather," The Pear Avenue Theatre, May 1-24: thepear.org
▪ Jewish Women's Theatre's "Uncuffed," Schultz Cultural Arts Hall, OFJCC, March 31: paloaltojcc.org
==B Keep up to date with local A&E news -- events, movies, restaurant reviews and more -- on the Almanac's A&E page online.