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Fall Arts Preview: 100 Binge-Worthy Shows, Books, Films, Concerts, Plays, and Cultural Happenings

Giant moss-people statues, a graffiti party in Marin, and Robert Redford busting out of San Quentin: A season’s worth of must-see arts events.

SLIDESHOW

Chen Zhen’s Precipitous Parturition, coming to SFMOMA in November.

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An installation by artist Sofie Ramos headed to Fort Mason in October.

Photo: Sofie Ramos

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Marcus Gardley in Black Odyssey, which is reprising its run at Cal Shakes this fall.

Photo: Kevin Berne

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Charles and Ray Eames in their 1959 film Glimpses of the USA.

Photo: Courtesy of HarperCollins

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Work by street artist Zio Ziegler, whose first solo museum show opens at the Marin Museum of Contemporary Art in September.

Courtesy of Marin Moca

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A piece by Isamu Noguchi in the show Dimensionism, opening at the Berkeley Art Museum in November.

Photo: Dwight Primiano/© Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum

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Melissa McCarthy in Marielle Heller’s Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Photo: Mary Cybulski

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A dance performance choreographed by Adam Linder.

Photo: Courtesy of Wattis Institute

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A make-believe memorial from Sandow Birk's Imaginary Monuments, opening at Catharine Clark Gallery in October.

Photo: Courtesy of Catharine Clark Gallery

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Peter H. Chang's documentary Cuba.

Photo: Courtesy of Peter H. Chang

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51. FALL’S MOST AWKWARD PLAY
The fourth wall gets smashed to bits in Jackie Sibblies Drury’s squirm-inducing Fairview, at Berkeley Rep. Race relations and prejudices are cranked to 11 in a massive second-act bait-and-switch. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. Oct. 4–Nov. 4

52. EINSTEIN’S FAVORITE ARTISTS
What do microbiology, quantum physics, and cosmology have to do with painting? According to Dimensionism—featuring, among others, Joan Miró, Marcel Duchamp, and Alexander Calder—everything! The Berkeley Art Museum presents a retrospective on the group, as well as those they influenced (like Isamu Noguchi, whose work is seen in the slideshow above). Nov. 7–Mar. 3, 2019

53. AN ICONIC LAMP’S MAKEOVER
It could rightfully be said that the true star of The Phantom of the Opera is the swaying, braying, pyrotechnic-spewing chandelier. And for SHN’s production of the classic at the Orpheum Theatre, the big lamp is getting a revamp: The 1,500-pound behemoth includes 50 flame-shooting, fog-spewing elements and a motor that—spoiler alert!—drops it down into the audience. Sept. 5–30

54. AMBIENCE AS ART
Avant-garde composer Laurie Anderson’s fall residence at SFJazz includes an intriguing production at Grace Cathedral, in which her late husband Lou Reed’s guitars and amplifiers create a sustained hypnotic drone. Nov. 30

55. HALF OF A BAY AREA ART DUO’S RETURN
Eric Siemens, one-half of the longtime San Francisco art pair Kate Eric (with wife Kate Tedman), is back after a five-year absence with a new site-specific pop-up solo show at Historic Pier 70, Raveling Relic. Sept. 8–Oct. 6, gallerywendinorris.com

56. A DIRECTING STAR BEING BORN
Catch Alameda-born filmmaker Marielle Heller’s latest, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Oct. 19), starring Melissa McCarthy as author turned forger Lee Israel. Heller is also helming the upcoming film You Are My Friend, starring Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers.

57. A HAIRCUT AS DANCE
Acclaimed L.A. choreographer Adam Linder celebrates the Wattis Institute’s 20th anniversary with his Choreographic Services. In one, a dancer is hired to clean the gallery; in Some Strands of Support, two dancers “perform hair care on a suitably upright object, sculpture, or statue.” Sept. 8–29

58. GENDER-BENDING EXPLORERS
A team of 10 manly men set off to chart the great unknown in Jaclyn Backhaus’s Men on Boats, at A.C.T.’s Strand Theater. The play is based on the journal of real-life explorer John Wesley Powell; the cast is composed entirely of female and gender-fluid actors. Oct. 17–Dec. 16


59–62. SHAKESPEARE, WITH A TWIST:
 Three slightly oblique takes on the Bard.

The immersive-theater troupe We Players performs Caesar Maximus—for its first time with a woman playing Caesar. Through Sept. 30, 

The Houses of Lancaster and York duke it out in Cal Shakes’s The War of the Roses—an amalgam of Henry VI and Richard III. Through Sept. 9

Ubuntu Theater Project leans into the systemic inequity rotting Denmark in Hamlet. Oct. 12–Nov. 4

Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley) trades in Pied Piper for a Pan flute as his touring Improvised Shakespeare Company goes script-free with all-Elizabethan dialogue. Nov. 2


63. A PROPOSAL FOR AN IMAGINARY MONUMENT

Forget the paternalistic Early Days at Civic Center. How about a tribute to useless platitudes? It’s among the etched gravures in Sandow Birk’s Imaginary Monuments, a series of depictions of make-believe memorials to both real and imagined texts, at Catharine Clark Gallery. Oct. 20–Dec. 22

64. AN MTT OLDIE
The San Francisco Symphony gives its first-ever performance of Michael Tilson Thomas’s 1990 composition From the Diary of Anne Frank, first performed with narration by Audrey Hepburn at a UNICEF benefit. This time, the event coincides with the 70th anniversary of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Nov. 15–18


65–68. FOUR LOCAL ART LEGENDS: It’s like getting an MFA in an afternoon.

Never-before-shown sketches by Wayne Thiebaud will be on display at SFMOMA along with 35 works Thiebaud pulled from the museum’s vault, among them pieces by Richard Diebenkorn. Sept. 29–Apr. 28, 2019

Legendary Bay Area painter and collage artist Jess has works spanning six decades on view at Hackett Mill ­gallery—including his final painting, made just before his death in 2004. Nov. 8–Jan. 31, 2019

Robert Hudson, the North Bay sculptor who was referred to by Rene di Rosa as the “world’s greatest living artist,” is bringing out several newly restored pieces to be shown at Brian Gross Fine Art, offering a window onto the early work of a Bay Area pioneer. Sept. 8–Oct. 27


69–71. SOME FAMILIAR SOURCE MATERIAL: Old message, new medium.

Bay Area composer Jake Heggie (Moby-Dick, Dead Man Walking) has his operatic rendition of Christmas favorite It’s a Wonderful Life staged by S.F. Opera. Nov. 17–Dec. 9

The world’s most supercalifragilisticexpialidocious babysitter floats to S.F. Playhouse for a revival of Mary Poppins, written by Downton Abbey’s Julian Fellowes. Nov. 14–Jan. 12, 2019

Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything Is Illuminated has been a semiautobiographical novel, a little-seen film, and a regional-theater hit play, which is now landing at Berkeley’s Aurora Theatre. Nov. 9–Dec. 9


72. THE BOMB AS ART

Iranian American artist Shiva Ahmadi’s works bridge Western and Middle Eastern forms and comment on the sociopolitical moment: Among the explosive pieces on display at Haines Gallery are a series of engraved pressure cookers. Sept. 6–Oct. 28

73. THE SOUND OF WHITE GUILT
Oakland art-pop duo Tune-Yards hit the Fillmore, touring behind I Can Feel You Creep into My Private Life, with bru­tally introspective songs like “Col­onizer.” Oct. 20

74–75. THE TOO-REAL HR MANIFESTO
San Francisco comedian Sarah Cooper offers insights into dealing with the fragile male ego in How to Be Successful Without Hurting Men’s Feelings (Oct. 30, Andrews McMeel). But first, she sat down for an interview with Van Jones in August.

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