Now that we’re well past the “Happy New Year!” greeting stage, it’s time to officially settle into 2021 and seek out the virtual events, exhibitions and talks that will help sustain us through even the toughest times. This week promises plenty of entertainment, thought-provoking conversation, and an array of artsy endeavors.
Celebrate being “All Too Gloriously Human” with two epic storytellers
Booker Prize–winner George Saunders has been called “the only writer who predicted 2020,” so who wouldn’t want to pick the brain of the renowned writer? In conversation with his friend and mentor, Tobias Wolff, Saunders invites audiences to virtually celebrate his first book in four years, “A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life.” Presented by the Bay Area Book Festival, “Writing, Reading, and Being All Too Gloriously Human: George Saunders with Tobias Wolff on the Storytelling Greats” includes a discussion of Saunders’ newest work in the context of our current times and how each author imbues their characters and stories with profoundly human touches.
Friday, Jan. 15, 7 p.m.
Kick off SOMArts’ 11th Curatorial Residency Season with Bay Area Deaf Arts
Starting Jan. 14, SOMArts Cultural Center officially launches its 2020–2021 Curatorial Residency program with the multidisciplinary exhibition, Bay Area Deaf Arts. Accessible through the SOMArts website, the exhibit features a virtual gallery experience and a series of online programs celebrating the art and cultural expression historically rooted in the Deaf community. The program also aims to raise Deaf awareness in non-Deaf populations and inspire collaboration between hearing and Deaf artists. Curated by the performer and activist Antoine Hunter, the exhibition will host virtual panels, workshops, performances and DJ sets with participating artists.
Thursday, Jan. 14, through Saturday, Feb. 21
Reflect on the influential art of David Park
Join SFMOMA for 49+ minutes of art, insights and memories celebrating the late David Park. Over the course of the virtual program, seven distinguished guests will speak for seven minutes each on the work of Park, often called the originator of Bay Area Figurative Art. Moderated by SFMOMA’s chief curator Janet Bishop, David Park: 7×7 also features artist Wayne Thiebaud, and Park’s daughter, Helen Park Bigelow. The event is part of SFMOMA’s David Park: A Retrospective, the first major museum exhibition of the artist’s work in three decades.
Thursday, Jan. 14, 5 p.m.
Tune in to a live music concert by folk music’s “rustic Renaissance man”
Catch an online concert by prolific American folk musician John McCutcheon, who just released his downloadable album, Cabin Fever: Songs from the Quarantine. McCutcheon will perform as part of his Virtual Left Coast Tour, with a portion of tickets benefiting the Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga. Tickets range from $5 to $30.
Saturday, Jan. 16, 4 p.m.
Learn the history of how Jewish refugees helped build our modern city
On Jan. 14, the Jewish Contemporary Museum presents American Jerusalem: Jews and the Making of San Francisco, a film that chronicles the escape of Jews facing persecution in Europe and how their arrival in the new metropolis of San Francisco helped shape the City. The virtual screening will feature an introduction by producer Jackie Krentzman and a set of guided questions focused on social justice.
Thursday, Jan. 14, 5 p.m.
Say Shabbat Shalom to a new and inclusive experience
Value Culture, Kosha Dillz and the USF Institute for Nonviolence and Social Justice are joining forces to host Soul Vey: We Have a Dream, a virtual evening representing Black, Jewish, and Black-Jewish solidarity with allies. The inclusive Shabbat experience and conversation features Dr. Martin Luther King’s personal attorney, Dr. Clarence B. Jones, and attorney Ari Melber of MSNBC, as well as Sandra Lawson, Mikey Pauker, Pastor Dr. Michael A. Stevens, Kulanu, and other guest appearances throughout the night. The evening is open to all interested attendees.
Friday, Jan. 15, 5 p.m.
Admire the work of one of the world’s greatest quiltmakers
Starting Jan. 15, Anthony Meier Fine Arts presents a solo exhibition of never-before-seen works by Rosie Lee Tompkins, the pseudonym of Effie Mae Howard, considered one of the greatest quiltmakers of all time. The seven pieces included in the exhibition date from 1974 to 2006, the year of Tompkins’ death, and the showing coincides with a retrospective of her work at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. Tompkins’ quilts are characterized by the variation in the asymmetrical scale of her patterns’ shapes. As critic Roberta Smith noted: “In the still-unfolding field of African American quilt-making, she has no equal.”
Friday, Jan. 15 through Friday, Feb. 19
Get schooled on old and new photography techniques
The Jewish Contemporary Museum’s Circle of Friends is offering photography fans the unique opportunity to learn from two of the industry’s greats: Julian Cox, deputy director and chief curator at the Art Gallery of Ontario, and artist Stephen Berkman. In conversation, the two will consider why 21st-century photographers employ 19th-century photographic techniques and discuss Berkman’s own practice in colloidal plate photography. Presented in partnership with SF Camerawork, the free online event accompanies Berkman’s current virtual exhibition at the CMJ: Predicting the Past: Zohar Studios, The Lost Years.
Friday, Jan. 15, 12 p.m.
Get swept up in the opera stylings of star-crossed lovers
All month long, SF Opera is offering full-length free opera streams previously simulcast from the War Memorial Opera House to Oracle Park, the stadium of the San Francisco Giants. This weekend, relish the definitive romantic tragedy, Charles Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet, based on the Shakespeare classic. The 2019 presentation featured the debuts of Samoan-born New Zealand tenor Pene Pati as Romeo and American soprano Nadine Sierra as Juliet. Critics loved French-Canadian conductor Yves Abel’s command of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, and spoke highly of Juliet’s challenging, rarely performed Act IV Potion Aria, Amour, ranime mon courage.” The production, which lasts 2 hours and 25 minutes, is performed in French with English subtitles and is free for all audiences.
From Saturday, Jan. 16, through Sunday, Jan. 17, free streams are viewable on-demand with registration at sfopera.com, from 10 a.m. Saturday through 11:59 p.m. Sunday.-Info: sfopera.com/opera-is-on/streaming/
See the stars right from your own home
There’s no need to leave your cozy couch to go stargazing if you know about Nellie, Chabot Space & Science Center’s 36-inch reflector telescope. Housed in a rolling roof observatory that allows access to 180 degrees of sky, Nellie captures top-quality views every Saturday night via Facebook Live. Hear from Chabot’s astronomers as they provide a guided tour of Nellie’s stunning views.
Saturday, Jan. 16, 9-10:30 p.m.