The new show "Excavating the Underground" at the Thomas Welton Stanford Art Gallery is a multi-sensory affair. By the entrance, Jennifer Little's video of traffic scenes in Austin, Texas, spreads the sounds of cars, sirens, wind and voices through the gallery.
Then the photos, by Little and Stanford graduate Mike Osborne, take visitors beneath the surface. The exhibition highlights two contrasting views of the world underground.
Osborne's photos from the subways of Stuttgart, Germany, are often bleak, commuters sharply outlined against the blaring colors of the underground. The Metro walls' faux-cheery crayon hues make the young punk seem that much more hard-edged, the stewardness lonelier. In the midst of an urban hub, Osborne's photos capture a strange, silent melancholy.
Little, on the other hand, finds an almost fairytale greenery in the drainage ditches and underground creeks of Austin. Her photos are vivid and sharp, blue sky reflected in the water where the creek emerges into the light. There are no people in her images, but graffiti adds personality to the concrete.
Little, an assistant professor in the department of visual arts at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, recently completed a residency at the Kala Art Institute in Berkeley. Osborne is based in Texas and recently did an artist's residency at the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart.
The free show runs through Aug. 8 at the gallery, 419 Lasuen Mall, Stanford. It's open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 5. Call 650-723-2842 or go to art.stanford.edu.
Latin America is known for its fiery, passionate dance forms, from tango to salsa. Now, the Mountain View-based Western Ballet Company combines ballet and Latin dance in its premiere performance of "Danzon!" The production will feature choreography by Venezuelan Vicente Nebrada and music by composers from Venezuela, Argentina and Mexico, in a fusion of classical ballet and modern Latin American dance.
The program incorporates Nebrada's piece "Fiebre" and three other works performed by students of the Western Ballet Company and by guest artists from Diablo Ballet, Company C and Ballet San Jose. Western Ballet Company artistic director Alexi Zubiria said "Fiebre" incorporates the emotion of Latin dancing into classical ballet.
"With 'Danzon!' we are reshaping classical ballet into a neoclassical form with Latin American undertones, in order to convey the love, desire and intimacy of our lives," Zubiria said. The company hopes the performance will help make Western Ballet a center for Latin American choreographers and composers.
The program will be performed on July 23 at 8 p.m. at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St. Tickets are $35 for adults, $25 for seniors, $20 for students and $15 for children 12 and under. Call 650-903-6000 or go to mvcpa.com.
Bestselling nonfiction author Bruce Henderson knows something about modern heroes: As a U.S. Navy Seventh Fleet weatherman, he served in the Vietnam War aboard the aircraft carrier Ranger from 1965 to 1967. In his latest book, "Hero Found: The Greatest POW Escape of the Vietnam War," Henderson tells the true story of one of his fellow veterans, U.S. Navy pilot Dieter Dengler.
Henderson will give a free lecture about Dengler and "Hero Found" at Kepler's Books at 1010 El Camino Real in Menlo Park on Wednesday, July 21, at 7:30 p.m. His book recounts the story of how, after Dengler was shot down over Laos in 1966 and taken prisoner, he carried out an organized escape from the POW camp where he was held deep in the Laotian jungle.
Henderson has written or cowritten more than 20 books. He also teaches nonfiction writing at Stanford University and lives in Menlo Park. For more information about his author talk, go to www.keplers.com or call 650-324-4321.
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