Palo Alto Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - January 15, 2010

Worth a look

Music

'A Chinese Home'

Around the turn of the millennium, Yin Yu Tang, a 300-year-old house in a Chinese village, was taken apart piece by piece and then rebuilt at the Peabody Essex Museum in Massachusetts. Now the house's story — with all its themes of migration and rebirth — has inspired various composers to craft a musical and dramatic work, "A Chinese Home."

The Kronos Quartet and Chinese pipa player Wu Man will perform the work, which mixes Shanghai jazz with traditional songs, at 8 p.m. this Saturday, Jan. 16, at Stanford University's Memorial Auditorium. Stage and film director Chen Shi-Zheng also contributes video and live staging elements.

Co-commissioned by Stanford Lively Arts, the piece premiered last fall at Carnegie Hall. Saturday's program also includes the 1994 piece "Ghost Opera" by Tan Dun, the composer of the film score for "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."

Tickets are $34/$40 general admission, with premium seats priced at $60. Stanford students pay $10. Other discounts are available for groups, other students, and those ages 18 and under. Go to livelyarts.stanford.edu or call 650-725-ARTS.

Joan Baez

This Sunday in Palo Alto, famed folk singer Joan Baez lends her voice to a free local celebration for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

At the event, titled "Reflecting on the Dream," keynote speaker Baez will share reflections of her work with King, and perhaps a few songs. She's sure to have plenty of memories to share — the longtime human-rights and civil-rights activist marched with King in the '60s.

The event is planned from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at First United Methodist Church at 625 Hamilton Ave. The volunteer Community Interfaith Choir will also perform, along with the school choir from Eastside College Preparatory in East Palo Alto. Alex Freeman, a youth speaker from Palo Alto High School, will give an address.

LaDoris Cordell, a former judge and Palo Alto City Council member, will serve as master of ceremonies. Refreshments will be served after the program.

For more information, go to www.firstpaloalto.com or call 650-688-0850.

Art

Pancho Jimenez

Can a face be expressive if it isn't really a face? Ceramic sculptor Francisco "Pancho" Jimenez creates gleaming, smooth-visaged busts that have no nose or mouth, no eyes or ears. Instead, their feature-less faces explore the notion of collective identity.

The busts often take their inspiration from pre-Columbian Olmec heads. Jimenez says in an artist's statement: "I attempt to capture that

mystery, that 'eternal presence' of ancient art forms, which elicit particular emotions in me that may be universal and timeless. My intention is to create art forms that bring the eternal presence of the past to the present, to inspire reflection on contemporary time and place."

Viewers can embark on some reflection of their own in the Mohr Gallery at the Community School of Music and Arts, where Jimenez is exhibiting sculptures through Jan. 24. Some pieces are busts, while others are more abstract, ripe with lush color.

Jimenez is a lecturer in the Art and Art History Department at Santa Clara University, and also teaches ceramics at West Valley College in Saratoga. Mohr Gallery is at 230 San Antonio Circle in Mountain View, open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 to 3. Go to www.arts4all.org or call 650-917-6800, extension 306.

Theater

'An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein'

Apparently, there was something interesting going on after the sidewalk ended.

When, as a youngster, you read Shel Silverstein's classic kids' poetry and books, such as "The Giving Tree," you probably had no idea he wrote things for big people, too. Oh, he wrote the music and lyrics for the song "A Boy Named Sue," among many other compositions, but there's also "An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein," a theatrical collection of his short on-stage sketches. Absolutely not for kids.

Sometimes raunchy, sometimes ghoulish, the sketches delve into human relationships, laundry, prostitution and other topics. They're on stage locally at the Dragon Theatre from Jan. 22 through Feb. 14, presented by Dragon Productions.

The theater is at 535 Alma St. in downtown Palo Alto; shows are Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2. Tickets are $20 general admission and $16 for seniors and students (the opening-night gala is $25/$20). Go to www.dragonproductions.net or call 650-493-2006.

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