Bay Area arts; 10 great shows to see this weekend and beyond

Gregory Rick’s painting “Trap” is on display at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. (SMOMA) 

SFMOMA hosts rising Bay Area artists

Among the things the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art does to help support Bay Area artists is staging the annual SECA Awards, which not only helps emerging artists but also arts fans who want to get acquainted with them. The award is named for an auxiliary of the museum, the Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art, founded in 1961. Interestingly, some reports note that in its initial makeup, the group was for men only (this changed in a few years). In any event, its role was to create a better connection between the museum and Bay Area artists, and the annual SECA Awards are part of that.

The awards have been granted each year since 1967 to an artist or group of artists who display appreciable talent and artistic development but have not yet garnered much recognition. Each winner is granted an exhibition at SFMOMA and accompanying catalog as well as a cash prize. The best part, as far as arts fans are concerned, is that we can view each artist’s exhibit. For free. This year’s winners are Binta Ayofemi, Maria A. Guzmán Capron, Cathy Lu, Marcel Pardo Ariza, and Gregory Rick. Each artist gets a second floor SFMOMA gallery with which to display site-specific works. Ayofemi’s installation deals with such concepts as Black abstract art and Black joy; Capron’s sculptures merge human figures with more abstract forms; Lu’s clay creations, as SFMOMA puts it, “combines long-nailed hands and corner-store fruits”; Ariza displays portraits of Bay Area transgender leaders that mimic Catholic altarpieces; and Rick’s complex abstract paintings tackle race issues.

Details: Works on display through May 29; free; more information is at

Game on for gambling play

Gambling casinos are a pervasive and widely publicized form of revenue for Native American reservations, but the dark side of the arrangements – the incidences or crippling gambling addiction on these reservations – doesn’t get a lot of attention. But “Cashed Out,” a new play getting its world premiere at S.F. Playhouse, focuses on three generations of women at the Gila River Indian Community Reservation in Arizona who have been touched by gambling addiction and have struggled to maintain American Indian traditions in the face of enormous financial interference.

From new (or returning) stage hits to compelling concerts, there is a lot to see and hear in the Bay Area this weekend and beyond. Here’s a partial rundown.

‘Evan Hansen’ returns to Bay Area

“Dear Evan Hansen” opened on Broadway in late 2016 and immediately gained a large following with its tender tale of a high school senior who capitalizes on a tragic situation to help him finally fit in with others.

The musical, which had its world premiere at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., in July 2015 and a follow-up Off-Broadway production at Second Stage Theatre in early 2016, went on to vast critical and commercial success. It garnered nine Tony Award nominations and won six, including for best musical, best book, best score, best actor (Ben Platt) and best featured actress (Rachel Bay Jones).

Unfortunately, the 2021 film version would not do fare so well. The movie — which again featured Platt in the title role that he originated — earned negative reviews and ended up being a box office flop. (Of course, the fact that it came out during a time when many people were staying away from movie theaters due to COVID-19 concerns surely didn’t help matters.) Among the criticisms was that Platt was by the point of filming too old to play the character he originated. Others felt the stage-to-screen adaptation presented viewers with an overly sanitized view of mental illness.

Meanwhile, the Broadway touring production of “Dear Evan Hansen” is out on the road and thrilling theater fans once again. The show has just kicked off a lengthy run at the Orpheum Theater in San Francisco.

Details: Through Feb. 19; 1192 Market St.; San Francisco; $66.50-$256.50 (subject to change);

— Jim Harrington, Staff

Wondering where Bruce Cockburn is?

Serving up an enjoyable blend of first-rate musicianship, progressive politics and good old-fashion humor, Canadian Bruce Cockburn has been a folk music gem for more than 50 years. Most Americans know him best for one of his earliest hits (and his biggest-charting song in America) 1979’s “Wondering Where the Lions Are,” a sort of laugh-at-the-coming-apocalypse protest song with a poppy tune and reggae beat that hit No. 21 on the Billboard charts and earned Cockburn an appearance on “Saturday Night Live.”

But his discography goes considerably deeper than that – he’s penned some 350 songs touching on ecology, religion (he was raised an agnostic but converted to Christianity), politics, human rights and pop culture and has released more than 35 albums over his career. He’s also known for such tunes as “If I Had a Rocket Launcher” and “Lovers in a Dangerous Time” and has been covered by acts as varied as Barenaked Ladies and U2. Cockburn is also a vastly under-appreciated guitarist, perhaps due to his own self-deprecating humor. He’s referred to his guitar style as “a combination of country blues fingerpicking and poorly absorbed jazz training,” but his song “End of All Rivers” is one of the most gorgeous acoustic instrumental tracks you’ll ever hear. Cockburn is touring North …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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