ARThound

Geneva Anderson digs into art

Cinnabar Theater’s “Of Mice and Men,” through April 13, 2014

 

Cinnabar Theater in Petaluma presents John Steinbeck’s masterpiece “Of Mice and Men,” starring Samson Hood (left) as Lennie and Keith Baker (right) as George.  The unlikely friends drift from job to job across the farms and fields of California, holding fast to their dream of one day having an acre of land they can call their own.  Photo by Eric Chazankin)

Cinnabar Theater in Petaluma presents John Steinbeck’s masterpiece “Of Mice and Men,” starring Samson Hood (left) as Lennie and Keith Baker (right) as George. The unlikely friends drift from job to job across the farms and fields of California, holding fast to their dream of one day having an acre of land they can call their own. Photo by Eric Chazankin)

The 1937 New York Times review of the Broadway stage production of John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” reads “If the story were callously told, the conclusion might be unbearable. But Mr. Steinbeck has told it with both compassion and dexterity…In the bunkhouse of a ranch in CA, the story ensnares rootless lives and expands into dreams of a glorious deliverance. (Brooks Atkinson , original review Nov 24, 1937, NYT, p. 20.) It’s now seventy-seven years later and the play, performed at Petaluma’s Cinnabar Theater under the tight direction of Sherri Lee Miller, delivers all the potency and magic that it had back in the Great Depression when audiences could personally relate to the bleak life of migrant workers. Most of us read the novella in high school and were under strict pressure to knock out an essay on some aspect of Lennie and George’s relationship. Revisiting the story and its archetypal characters as adults is another experience all together. Miller has pulled together a team of impeccable actors who bring these tragic characters to life and revitalize their struggles. The audience on opening evening was squirming with anticipation and revulsion at the injustice of Lennie’s plight, the imploding of dreams and the ugly, unquestioned racism of the times. ­­

Set in the 1930’s, the play is carefully staged by Joe Elwick to reflect the grit and sparseness of ranch-hand life in Salinas Valley at the time. From the opening scenes at the riverbank, marked by a simple line of rocks along the stage line, to the sturdy simplicity of the handcrafted log cabin bunk house, which serves as a humble home for the workers, to Crook’s isolated room in the hay barn; the set works both as a backdrop and catalyst. And in Cinnabar’s intimate space, it all makes for a near perfect experience. I’d be willing to bet that the Broadway revival opening in April at the Longacre Theatre with James Franco as Lennie has nothing over Cinnabar’s.

Cinnabar Theater in Petaluma presents Steinbeck’s masterpiece “Of Mice and Men,” featuring (L to R) Kevin Thomas Singer, Samson Hood, Tim Kniffin, and James Gagarin.  After the boss’s son Curley attacks Lennie for no good reason, Lennie squeezes Curley’s hand too hard and crushes it.  Slim tends to Curley while lumbering Lennie is shocked at what he has done.  Photo by Eric Chazankin

Cinnabar Theater in Petaluma presents Steinbeck’s masterpiece “Of Mice and Men,” featuring (L to R) Kevin Thomas Singer, Samson Hood, Tim Kniffin, and James Gagarin. After the boss’s son Curley attacks Lennie for no good reason, Lennie squeezes Curley’s hand too hard and crushes it. Slim tends to Curley while lumbering Lennie is shocked at what he has done. Photo by Eric Chazankin

The great pleasure in the production comes from watching Samson Hood embody Lennie, who is mentally challenged. It’s not much of a stretch for him physically—he’s a giant of a man with huge hands and a lumbering gate that already speak volumes. But the magic is in his thoroughly convincing facial expressions and the absolute sincerity of his child-like delivery, whether he’s hunched over and trying to hide that he has stroked his little mouse to death, or is excitedly dreaming of raising rabbits and living off the fat of the land or is spilling secrets that he’s been asked to keep quiet about. Kind-hearted and simple Lennie doesn’t understand the power of his own strength or the complexity of the world or the ugliness of human nature and he is completely dependent on George to navigate his course.

 As George, Keith Baker, is an intriguing combo of protective caregiver and a go-getter with big dreams. He is gruff and impatient with Lennie one moment and then, after lashing out, he whips back to tender and sentimental. The friendship is exacts a heavy toll on George who must constantly protect and cover up for George as they drift from job to job holding on to their dream.

James Gagarin plays Curley, the ranch-owner’s son with such spite and fury towards everyone that we shudder with revulsion and feel no empathy him when his hand is crushed accidentally by Lennie.

As one-armed Candy, Steinbeck’s for foil the aged and abandoned, Clark Miller manages to convincingly convey the pain of isolation and physical frailty. The scene involving the shooting of his ancient and beloved dog will tug at your conscious. It’s made all the more dramatic by the using a real dog who is old but not so decrepit as to be near death. The idea of shooting it to put it out of its misery seems wrong and is one of the play’s more dramatic moments, beautifully navigated by Clark Miller and by Anthony Abaté who plays callous Carlson with bone-chilling precision.

After the loss of his dog, Candy has nothing to live for but after he overhears George and Lennie discussing the farm, he offers them his life savings (some $250) to go in on the farm and he has something to fix his dreams on. Steinbeck’s play is full of dreaming and, in contrast, the harsh reality of the life of itinerant workers. The men poor their blood and sweat into keeping up the owner’s ranch for a minimal wage and three daily meals—work may keep a man honest but the capitalist system is stacked against the worker who toils his entire life and never advances.

As Crooks, the black stable hand who is forced to live in the barn, Dorian Lockett is cagey, defensive and so disempowered that he is wary of everyone. The repeated use of the word “nigger” predictably drew cringes from the Cinnabar audience who had empathy for Crooks’ plight and recognized his insightfulness and warmth once he let his guard down and began to dream of a place, a piece of land, where he too could be free.

Cinnabar Theater in Petaluma presents Steinbeck’s masterpiece “Of Mice and Men,” featuring Dorian Lockett as Crooks.  Photo by Eric Chazankin

Cinnabar Theater in Petaluma presents Steinbeck’s masterpiece “Of Mice and Men,” featuring Dorian Lockett as Crooks. Photo by Eric Chazankin

Ilana Niernberger, Curly’s vulgar wife does a marvelous job of guiding the audience through a love-hate relationship with her. At first, she appears to be a tart who flirts shamelessly with the workers and is interested in stepping out on her new husband Curly. In the barn, alone with the men, we see her vulnerability and that she is lonely and craves emotional attachment and conversation. Her flirtatious nature ushers in the play’s tragic climax. When she coaxes Lennie to stroke her hair, she finally and fatally understands that he is not able to gauge the power in his touch. Her screams for help only worsen things. As Lennie covers her mouth and tells her to be quiet, he breaks her neck.

The play’s emotional trajectory goes from hope in the American Dream to the shattering of that hope. Cinnabar has taken this great classic and elegantly brought it to life.

Run-time: Two hours and 20 min, including one intermission

Creative Team: Of Mice and Men stars Keith Baker and Samson Hood as the famous friends, George and Lennie. The ensemble of talented actors also features Anthony Abaté (Carlson), James Gagarin (Curley), Tim Kniffin (Slim), Dorian Lockett (Crooks), Clark Miller (Candy), Ilana Niernberger (Curley’s wife), Kevin Singer (Whit), and Barton Smith (The Boss). Directed by Sheri Lee Miller.

Design Team: Joe Elwick (scenery), Pat Fitzgerald (costumes), Wayne Hovey (lights), Jim Peterson (sound). This production is generously underwritten by Sandra O’Brien and Elly Lichenstein.

Details: Of Mice and Men  has been extended an additional week through April 13, 2014, at Cinnabar Theater, 3333 Petaluma Blvd. North, Petaluma, CA 94952. Performances: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets: $15 for ages 21 and under; $25 for adults. Purchase tickets online here or call Cinnabar’s Box Office at 707 763-8920 between 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM on weekdays. Tickets may also be available at the door 15 minutes prior to each performance, but pre-purchase is recommended as Cinnabar shows tend to sell out!   For more information about Cinnabar Theater — www.cinnabartheater.org .

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March 26, 2014 Posted by | Theatre | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The line-up has been announced for the 17th Sonoma International Film Festival, April 2-6, 2014…pounce on individual tickets

Catalonian actors Claudia Bassols (L) and Jan Cornet (R) are the central couple in Roger Gual’s “Tasting Menu,” screening at the 17th Sonoma International Film Festival, April 2-6, 2014.  The foodies made a reservation one year in advance at a world famous three-star Michelin restaurant outside of Barcelona, on the famous Costa Brava.  When the day finally arrives, they’re separated and learn that this will be their last chance to ever eat there as it’s the restaurant’s closing night.  For the sake of haute cuisine, they agree to dine together.  Joining them are the widowed countess who put the place on the map, potential Japanese investors and their dotty interpreter, American food critics and editors, and a mystery guest who has everyone guessing.  With close-ups of hands chopping and sculpting entrees like works of fine art, breathtaking scenery and high drama, “Tasting Menu,” in Catalan, promises to delight. Claudia Bassols will attend.   Image: Magnolia Films

Catalonian actors Claudia Bassols (L) and Jan Cornet (R) are the central couple in Roger Gual’s “Tasting Menu,” screening at the 17th Sonoma International Film Festival, April 2-6, 2014. The foodies made a reservation one year in advance at a world famous three-star Michelin restaurant outside of Barcelona, on the famous Costa Brava. When the day finally arrives, they’re separated and learn that this will be their last chance to ever eat there as it’s the restaurant’s closing night. For the sake of haute cuisine, they agree to dine together. Joining them are the widowed countess who put the place on the map, potential Japanese investors and their dotty interpreter, American food critics and editors, and a mystery guest who has everyone guessing. With close-ups of hands chopping and sculpting entrees like works of fine art, breathtaking scenery and high drama, “Tasting Menu,” in Catalan, promises to delight. Claudia Bassols will attend. Image: Magnolia Films

The 17th Sonoma International Film Festival (SIFF) is just around the corner—April 2-6, 2014—pairing 5 nights and 4 days of nearly non-stop screenings with great food and wine in gorgeous Sonoma. The program and schedule have just been released and, this year, SIFF is presenting 106 new films from 22 countries—25 documentaries, 19 world cinema, 10 American indies, 10 Spanish-language films in “Vamos Al Cine,” 4 shorts programs, 1 children’s program, 1 student program and 1 “Out of The Earth” UFO program. The screenings all take place at eight intimate venues within walking of Sonoma’s historic town plaza. Many of these will offer wonderful samplings of local food, wine and beer along with the film.

SIFF has a lot to offer both locals and destination visitors.  Festival passes are the way to go if you’re interested in easy access to films, the marvelous parties, and the famous Backlot tent, SIFF’s unofficial hub, which keeps pass-holders satisfied with the finest wines, gourmet offerings and music. Click here to read about all the pass options and price points.   If you haven’t bought a festival pass and still want to see some films, individual single tickets are $15 when purchased in advance.  SIFF caters to pass holders and offers just a limited number of these individual tickets, which are available for most screenings, so NOW is the time to lock in those tickets before they are snapped up.

If you’re a gambler with a lot of time on your hands, you can show up at the festival and hang out in front of the screening venue and wait to buy a ticket for $10 cash after the pass holders and ticket pre-purchasers have been seated. The $10 tickets are not a sure thing they can be an awesome score.

Stay-tuned to ARThound for a full review of the line-up.  For now, the Big Nights—

Opening Night—Wednesday, April 2: The festival kicks off on Wednesday evening with a choice of two films and a first ever after hours party with live music from Sonoma’s own Vanguard Jazz Ensemble at Sonoma’s newest nightspot, Burgers & Vine.  Richard Shepard’s Dom Hemignway (2014) screens at the historic Sebastiani Theatre at 7:45 PM. After spending 12 years in prison for keeping his mouth shut, notorious safe-cracker Dom Hemingway (Jude Law) is back on the streets of London looking to collect what he’s owed. Travelling with his best friend Dickie, Dom visits his crime boss (Demián Bichir) in the south of France to claim his reward and then reconnect with his long-lost daughter Evelyn (Emilia Clark). Screens with Peter McEvilley’s six minute French short, Le Sauvetage (2013) which features Peter Olate’s amazing performing rescue dogs. The dogs will give a brief live performance after the short.

 Jude Law (L) and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (R) in a scene from Richard Shepard’s “Dom Hemingway” (2014), one of two opening night feature films at the 17th Sonoma International Film Festival.  Just released from prison after taking the fall for his boss, Dom comes after the money he’s owed for keeping silent and protecting his boss Fontaine (Damian Bechir).  Brash, volatile, profane and angry, this is Jude Law at his complicated best.  Image: Foxlight


Jude Law (L) and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (R) in a scene from Richard Shepard’s “Dom Hemingway” (2014), one of two opening night feature films at the 17th Sonoma International Film Festival. Just released from prison after taking the fall for his boss, Dom (Law) comes after the money he’s owed for keeping silent and protecting his boss Fontaine (Damian Bechir). Brash, volatile, profane and angry, this is Jude Law at his complicated best. Image: Foxlight

Actor and writer Chris Lowell’s directorial debut, Beside Still Waters (2013) screens at 8:15 at Andrews Hall. An ode to the consoling power of deep and abiding friendships, the film observes one night among an intimately connected group of friends in their 20s who reunite at the family lake house of Daniel (played by “90210’s” Ryan Eggold), whose parents have just died in a car crash. Facing the imminent loss of the house, Daniel invites his pals to their old haunt for one last debauched weekend of drinking, dancing, and scheming. An accomplished fine-art photographer, the 28 year-old Lowell uses montages of his own black-and-white photos throughout “Beside Still Waters” to represent Daniel’s haunted memories. Writer & Producer Mo Narang will attend. Screens with Simon Christen’s Adrift (2013), a mesmerizing four minute and 35-second love letter to the fog that surrounds and often engulfs our Bay Area.  Christen worked for two years to capture perfect shots for this masterpiece.

 

Closing Night—Sunday, April 6: From director Amma Asante and the producer of Iron Lady, Damian Jones, comes Belle, a captivating period romance. The film screens at 6 PM at the Sebastiani and is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the illegitimate mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral. Raised by her aristocratic great-uncle, Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson), and his wife (Emily Watson), Belle’s lineage affords her certain privileges, yet the color of her skin prevents her from fully participating in the traditions of her social standing. Left to wonder if she will ever find love, Belle falls for an idealistic young vicar’s son bent on change who, with her help, shapes Lord Mansfield’s role as Lord Chief Justice to end slavery in 18th century England. Director Amma Assante is attending.

After the Closing Night film, at roughly 8:30 PM, people will gather in the Backlot tent for the presentation of the Jury and Audience Awards, the last hurrah of the festival.

To read ARThound’s festival coverage from March 12, 2014, click here.

Details: The 17th Sonoma International Film Festival is April 2-6, 2014.  Eight screening venues are all within walking distance of the central town plaza.  Street parking is ample.

Passes: Click here to read about and purchase all SIFF passes. Passes were offered at discounted rate until March 17, 2014 and are now full price.

Individual tickets: Click on the festival calendar and then select a film in the daily schedule. If individual tickets are offered for that film, you will see a “tickets” hyperlink which will appear beneath the screening information.

Festival Information: Click here or call 707 933-2600

The 17th Sonoma International Film Festival has 25 documentaries. “Man Up and Go” (2012), directed by Randy Bacon, speaks to the heart. When Roger went to Ethiopia to get his adopted daughter, she was 6 months old, but weighed only 7 pounds and was dying. Roger asked himself, “Is there a way out of this?” He called his dad and heard words that rocked his core: “Roger, man up! If she dies, at least she will die in the arms of a father.” Roger had to inspire men to be better husbands and fathers, so he launched the Man Up movement. Shot in the U.S., Ethiopia and Rwanda, “Man Up and Go” tells the remarkable story several ordinary men who stepped up to change the lives of orphaned children and were forever changed themselves. Photo of Roger Gibson with orphan at Return Ministries, Uganda, courtesy Wynne Elder

The 17th Sonoma International Film Festival has 25 documentaries. “Man Up and Go” (2012), directed by Randy Bacon, speaks to the heart. When Roger went to Ethiopia to get his adopted daughter, she was 6 months old, but weighed only 7 pounds and was dying. Roger asked himself, “Is there a way out of this?” He called his dad and heard words that rocked his core: “Roger, man up! If she dies, at least she will die in the arms of a father.” Roger had to inspire men to be better husbands and fathers, so he launched the Man Up movement. Shot in the U.S., Ethiopia and Rwanda, “Man Up and Go” tells the remarkable story several ordinary men who stepped up to change the lives of orphaned children and were forever changed themselves. Photo of Roger Gibson with orphan at Return Ministries, Uganda, courtesy Wynne Elder

 

March 23, 2014 Posted by | Film, Food | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

It’s not too late—California’s 8th Annual Artisan Cheese Festival closes Sunday with a marketplace filled with all the new artisan cheeses and outrageously au’courant delicacies for pairing

ARThound fell in LOVE with “Simple & Crisp”  dried fruit crisps, brand new at the 8th California Artisan Cheese Festival, March 21-23, 2014.  These gorgeous blood orange delicacies paired perfectly with Petaluma Port’s “Deco”—a port with essences of dark chocolate— and with Beehive Cheese’s “Barely Buzzed”—a unique espresso and lavender hand-rubbed Jersey cow cheese with subtle notes of butterscotch and caramel.  Photo: Geneva Anderson

ARThound fell in LOVE with “Simple & Crisp” dried fruit crisps, brand new at the 8th California Artisan Cheese Festival, March 21-23, 2014. These gorgeous blood orange delicacies paired perfectly with Petaluma Port’s “Deco”—a port with essences of dark chocolate— and with Beehive Cheese’s “Barely Buzzed”—a unique espresso and lavender hand-rubbed Jersey cow cheese with subtle notes of butterscotch and caramel. The festival closes Sunday with a marketplace packed with artisan cheeses and gourmet foods and condiments to taste and buy. Photo: Geneva Anderson

ARThound has spent the past two days at Petaluma’s Sheraton Sonoma County realizing how blessed I am to have so many dedicated artisan cheesemakers nearly in my backyard.  The Artisan Cheese Festival, now in its 8th year, has brought together our most innovative and creative local cheesemakers and paired them with equally creative chefs, winemakers, brewmasters, and even a celebrity Cicerone (Rich Higgins) resulting in a weekend celebrating cheese and discovering all the culinary companions and beverages that passionately enhance its flavor and texture.  If you haven’t been to the festival yet, tomorrow’s Sunday Marketplace is an excellent introduction. Bringing together more than 70 of California’s best artisan cheesemakers, restaurants, breweries and wineries, this walk-around tasting and marketplace is one of the weekend’s most popular events—and for good reason!  With two tents set up outside of the Sheraton, there will be more than 20,000 sq. feet of space—filled with goodies which you can sample to your heart’s content and buy.  Talk about a no brainer for picking up gifts that earn you cudos when you’re been invited to dinner at a friend’s home.  Most everything offered will be locally and sustainably made too, supporting our community and the values that keep it flourishing.  You can chat with the vendors, artisans, cheesemakers, brewers and winemakers, all of whom have amazing pairing advice.   Throughout the day there will be chefs’ demos representing some of the Bay Area’s best chefs, including Brandon Guenther of Valley Ford’s  Rocker Oysterfellers at 1:45 p.m. and Liza Hinman of Santa Rosa’s Spinster Sisters  at 3 p.m. Several of the weekends’ cheesemakers and chefs are also authors and many will be selling and signing their cheese-inspired tomes at the Marketplace. The chefs’ demos will be taking place inside of the Sheraton Sonoma County and the book signings will be taking place inside of the tent throughout the day. Book signings and demos are included with admission to the Marketplace. (Tickets $45 for adults; $20 for children 12 and under, Sheraton Sonoma County, 12 – 4 p.m.)

Most of the artisan cheesemakers at the Artisan Cheese Festival are from Northern California but the family-owned Beehive Cheese Company travelled from Northern Utah to present their award-winning hand-rubbed artisan cheeses. “Barely Buzzed” cheese (above) is covered in grind of lavender and Colorado Legacy Coffee Company’s espresso.  “Teahive” has bergamot resulting in a cheese with rich hints of orange blossom. “Seahive” is hand-rubbed with local honey and sea salt.  Photo: Geneva Anderson

Most of the artisan cheesemakers at the Artisan Cheese Festival are from Northern California but the family-owned Beehive Cheese Company travelled from Northern Utah to present their award-winning hand-rubbed artisan cheeses. “Barely Buzzed” (above) is a rich Jersey cow cheese rubbed with lavender and Colorado Legacy Coffee Company’s “Beehive Blend” espresso coffee. French Superior Lavender buds are ground with the coffee and the mixture is diluted with oil to suspend the dry ingredients in the rub. The rub imparts notes of butter¬scotch and caramel, which are prevalent near the rind, but find their way to the center of the cheese. This is a full-bodied semi-firm cheese with a nutty flavor and smooth texture. The company’s “Teahive” is rubbed in a blend of black tea and bergamot oil resulting in a cheese with rich hints of orange blossoms in April. “Seahive” is hand-rubbed with local wildflower honey and REALSALT, a salt harvested from an ancient sea bed near Redmond Utah. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Cheesemakers showcasing their products at the Marketplace include:

Achadinha Cheese Company (Petaluma)
Ancient Heritage Dairy (Madras, Oregon)
Beehive Cheese Company (Uintah, Utah)
Bellwether Farms (Petaluma)
Bleating Heart Cheese (Sebastopol)
Bohemian Creamery (Sebastopol)
Bravo Farms (Traver)
Casitas Valley Farm & Creamery (Carpinteria)
Central Coast Creamery (Paso Robles)
Cowgirl Creamery (Point Reyes Station)
Cypress Grove Chevre (Arcata)
Fiscalini Farmstead Cheese Company (Modesto)
Garden Variety (Royal Oaks)
Gypsy Cheese Co. (Valley Ford)
Laura Chenel’s Chevre (Sonoma)
Marin French Cheese Company (Petaluma)
Nicasio Valley Cheese Co. (Nicasio)
Orland Farmstead Creamery (Orland)
Petaluma Creamery/Spring Hill Jersey Cheese (Petaluma)
Pennyroyal Farm (Boonville)
Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. (Point Reyes Station)
Pugs Leap (Petaluma)
Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery (Sebastopol)
Schoch Family Farmstead (Salinas)
Shamrock Artisan Goat Cheese (Willits)
Tomales Farmstead Creamery/Toluma Farms (Tomales)
Two Rock Valley Goat Cheese (Petaluma)
Valley Ford Cheese Co. (Valley Ford)
Weirauch Farm & Creamery (Penngrove)
Willapa Hills Farmstead & Artisan Cheese (Doty, Washington)

Breweries and wineries pouring their products at the Marketplace include:

AppleGarden Farm (Tomales Bay)
Berryessa Gap Vineyards (Winters)
Black Kite Cellars (Anderson Valley and Santa Lucia Highlands)
Bucher Vineyard (Healdsburg)
Clif Family Winery (St. Helena)
Crispin Cider (Colfax)
Half Moon Bay Brewing Company
(Half Moon Bay)
Handley Cellars (Philo)
Heidrun Meadery (Point Reyes Station)
Kokomo Winery (Healdsburg)
Lagunitas Brewery (Petaluma)
McEvoy Ranch (Petaluma)
Navarro Vineyards & Winery (Mendocino)
North Coast Brewing Company
(Fort Bragg)
Paul Mathews Vineyards (Graton)
Russian River Vineyards (Forestville)
Sonoma Valley Portworks (Petaluma)
Wandering Aengus Ciderworks (Oregon)

Artisan food purveyors and other vendors will include:

American Cheese Society (Nationwide)
Black Pig Meat Company (Sebastopol)
Brown Dog Mustard Co. (Concord)
California Artisan Cheese Guild (Oakland)
California Endive Farms (Rio Vista)
Cassata-Sonoma Olive Oil (Glen Ellen)
CC Made Inc. (San Anselmo)
Cheese Shop of Healdsburg (Healdsburg)
Clover Stornetta Farms (Petaluma)
Copperfield’s Books (Petaluma)
Creminelli Fine Meats
(Salt Lake City, Utah)
Culture Magazine (Massachusetts)
Farm Fresh to You (Capay Valley)
Friend in Cheeses Jam (Santa Cruz)
Gary & Kits Gourmet Mtn Mix
(St. Helena)
GrilledCheezeGuy (Oakland)
Humboldt Hot Sauce (Arcata)
ILeoni (Petaluma)
Interiors by Lynn (Rohnert Park)
Kelly’s Jelly (Lake Oswego, Oregon)
L’Artisane Box (Burlingame)
Leafware (Folsom)
Marin Agricultural Land Trust (Marin)
McEvoy Ranch (Petaluma)
McClelland’s Dairy (Petaluma)
Mi Distinctive Tastes (Ukiah)
Negranti Sheep Dairy (Central Coast)
Noci Foods (Walnut Creek)
Petaluma Visitor’s Center (Petaluma)
Poco Dolce (San Francisco)
Potter’s Crackers (Sacramento)
Quesalera (Chico)
Redwood Empire Food Bank (Santa Rosa)
R&J Toffees (San Jose)
Rosso Pizzeria & Wine Bar (Petaluma)
Rustic Bakery (San Rafael)
Simple & Crisp (Seattle, Washington)
Sonoma Land Trust (Santa Rosa)
The Beverage People (Santa Rosa)
The Garden Wild (Middletown)
Three Twins Ice Cream (Petaluma)
Valley Fig Growers (Fresno)
Village Bakery (Sebastopol)
Yelp (Bay Area)

About California’s Artisan Cheese Festival
A 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization, California’s Artisan Cheese Festival strives to increase cheese appreciation, educate consumers about artisan cheeses, support the cheesemaking community and its sustainability and celebrate the creations of California’s many farmers and cheesemakers. The festival began in March 2007 as the first-ever, weekend-long celebration and exploration of handcrafted cheeses, foods, wines and beers from California and beyond.  In keeping with its dedication to the community, the Artisan Cheese Festival donates 10% of all ticket proceeds to Sonoma Land Trust, Marin Agricultural Land Trust, Petaluma Future Farmers of America, California Artisan Cheese Guild and Redwood Empire Food Bank. To date the Artisan Cheese Festival has contributed more than $55,000 to these non-profit organizations that work to support the artisan cheesemaking community and its infrastructure in California.  For more information, visit www.artisancheesefestival.com.

March 22, 2014 Posted by | Food | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Berkeley Rep’s “Accidental Death of An Anarchist”…tweaked for the liberally inclined, through April 20, 2014

Comic actor Steven Epp returns to Berkeley Rep as the insanely shrewd Maniac who sets off the investigation in Dario Fo’s classic comedy, “Accidental Death of an Anarchist.” Photo by Joan Marcus

Comic actor Steven Epp returns to Berkeley Rep as the insanely shrewd Maniac who sets off the investigation in Dario Fo’s classic comedy, “Accidental Death of an Anarchist.” Photo by Joan Marcus

Ever since he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1979, Italian playwright and actor Dario Fo has been on my radar.  An anarchist and a profoundly gifted clown, Fo’s genius comes in his ability to make us look at ourselves in new light. All of his plays, in some way or another, deal with subverting ideology, questioning why society is set up a certain way and why some people are the winners and others losers. Accidental Death of an Anarchist, which opened Wednesday at Berkeley Rep’s Roda Theater and runs through April 20, 2104, is a tweaked version of Fo’s original masterpiece from 1970, a  bit too tweaked.

Adapted by Gavin Richards from a translation by Gillian Hanna and directed by Christopher Bayes, this Yale Repertory Theatre co-production has been injected with some (stale) references to contemporary American politics and pop culture (Obama health care, NSA, Netflix, Bush-Cheney and so forth) intended to resonate with the well-informed liberal cognoscenti.  The resulting mash-up feels like an overdone affirmation, considering Berkeley’s Rep’s sophisticated audience.  The good news is that the add-ons are fired off quickly and only mildly detract from the play’s exhilarating tour de farce—Steven Epp.  Director Stephen Bayes and Epp were the team behind Berkeley’s Rep’s 2012 hysterical hit A Doctor in Spite of Himself.  Here, Epp works with a great group of comic actors whose chemistry and timing and lunacy are so spot on you have the impression it’s all being improvised on the spot.  The play contains some of the finest comedic acting you’ll see in the Bay Area this year.  And the various musical gigs, all under Aaron Halva’s direction, are lyrically delightful and hysterically performed.

The play addresses a real-life mystery that got tremendous play in Italy—the 1969 death of a suspected anarchist who “fell” from the fourth floor window of a police station window while being interrogated for bombing of a bank in Milan which left 16 dead.  Did he fall, or, was he pushed?  That’s the question.  The charges were eventually dropped against the anarchist but it was too late to be of benefit.  Fo called his play a “tragic farce.”  Knowing full well that laughter can be a profound vehicle for exploring human nature, Fo deconstructed this man’s tragic death through comedy.  A Maniac (Steven Epp in the role Fo wrote for himself), who himself has been arrested for fraud, sequentially questions the police who are holding him captive  By pretending to be on their side, he gradually wins the trust of the gullible officers, records their conversations and tricks them into divulging what really happened.  In the process, he exposes their brutality, corruption and collusion with neo-fascist gangs carrying out such bombings in Italy at the time.  The events of the play are fictional but the implications profound.  The fast-paced momentum, epic slack stick and wonderful moments of musical comedy are delightful.

In Dario Fo’s comedy, “Accidental Death of an Anarchist,” now at Berkeley Rep, Maniac (Steven Epp) (center) impersonates a judge and interrogates quack Constable (Eugene Ma, left) and dim-witted Inspector Pissani (Allen Gilmore) and catches them in a lie about a death that occurred at the police station.

In Dario Fo’s comedy, “Accidental Death of an Anarchist,” now at Berkeley Rep, Maniac (Steven Epp) (center) impersonates a judge and interrogates Constable (Eugene Ma) (left) and dim-witted Inspector Pissani (Allen Gilmore(right)) and catches them in a lie about a death that occurred at the police station.

Highpoints are the opening of the play, when Inspector Bertozzo (Jesse J. Perez) is interrogating the Maniac on the first floor of the police station. Perez and Epps are magical.  Perez later shows how light he is on feet as he performs a number of song and dance gigs with Inspector Pissani (Allen Gilmore), the Superintendent (Liam Craig), and Eugene Ma, brilliantly playing two Constables at once and seemingly embodying Oliver Hardy.  Renata Friedman steals the action as Feletti, an Oriana Fallaci-style investigate journalist who is conducting her own investigation in a short red dress. When she lets go with a stupefyingly-agile rap riff, prepare to have your jaws drop.  But nothing compares with Epp, who jumps from one disordered personality to another, never ever missing a beat.

Cast & Creative Team: The cast of Accidental Death of an Anarchist includes Liam Craig (Superintendent), Steven Epp (Maniac) Renata Friedman (Feletti), Allen Gilmore (Pissani), Eugene Ma (Constables), Jesse J. Perez (Bertozzo).   The creative team consists of Aaron Halva (music director, composer, and musician), Travis Hendrix (musician), Kate Noll (scenic design), Elivia Bovenzi (costumes), Olivier Wason (lighting), Charles Coes (sound designer), Nathan Roberts (composer and sound designer), Michael F. Bergmann (projection designer). The stage manager for Berkeley Rep is Kimberly Mark Webb.

Jesse J. Perez (L) is the fiery tempered police inspector, Bertozzo, and Renata Friedman (R) is an Oriana Fallaci-style investigative journalist, Felletti, who bring considerable depth to Dario Fo’s classic comedy, “Accidental Death of an Anarchist,” at Berkeley Rep. Photo by Jared Oates

Jesse J. Perez (L) is the fiery tempered police inspector, Bertozzo, and Renata Friedman (R) is an Oriana Fallaci-style investigative journalist, Felletti, who bring considerable depth to Dario Fo’s classic comedy, “Accidental Death of an Anarchist,” at Berkeley Rep. Photo by Jared Oates

Special Events:

Repartee :  FREE docent talks before Tuesday and Thursday evening performances, and free discussions after all matinees

Post-play discussions:  Thursday 3/27, Tuesday 4/1, and Friday 4/11 following the performance

Open captioned performance:  Sunday 4/20 @ 2pm

Details:  Accidental Death of an Anarchist runs through April 20, 2014 at Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison Street @ Shattuck, Berkeley, CA 94704.

Performances are Tues-Sun with matinees on Sat, Sun and some Thurs.

Tickets: $29 to $99.  Discounts:  Half-price tickets available for anyone under 30 years of age; $10 discount for students and seniors one hour before curtain.  Tickets and info: 510 647–2949 or visit: www.berkeleyrep.org

Parking:  Paid parking is readily available at over 5 parking garages as close as one block from the theatre. The Allston Way Garage, 2061 Allston Way, between Milvia and Shattuck, offers $5 parking Tuesday–Friday after 6 PM.

March 17, 2014 Posted by | Theatre | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The de Young Museum’s “Bouquets to Art” —glorious flowers and foliage in art’s image, March 17-23, 2014

The 30th annual Bouquets to Art is March 18-23, 2014, at the de Young Museum. Over 125 leading floral designers respond to artworks in the museum’s permanent collection.  Georgia O'Keeffe, “Petunias,” 1925. Oil on hardboard. FAMSF, museum purchase, gift of the M. H. de Young Family. © Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. Floral design by Sunshine Flowers and Event Design. Photograph © Greg A. Lato / latoga photography

The 30th annual Bouquets to Art is March 18-23, 2014, at the de Young Museum. Over 125 leading floral designers respond to artworks in the museum’s permanent collection. Georgia O’Keeffe, “Petunias,” 1925. Oil on hardboard. FAMSF, museum purchase, gift of the M. H. de Young Family. © Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. Floral design by Sunshine Flowers and Event Design. Photograph © Greg A. Lato / latoga photography

Spring has sprung early in the Bay Area and gardeners, art lovers and floral artists will find endless inspiration and creativity in the de Young Museum’s annual Bouquets to Art, which turns 30 this year.  Over 125 of the Bay Area’s most innovative and sought after floral designers will create a spectacular array of floral arrangements in the museum that respond to artworks in the museum’s extensive permanent collections.  Their designs, each a unique masterpiece, range from the stunningly simple to the elaborately complex.  Some designers have a delightfully wicked sense of humor, while others use plants that confer a complex symbolism.  It’s a great deal of fun just to stroll and browse and it’s no wonder that this is the museum’s most highly attended event

The seven day extravaganza kicks off on Monday evening (March 17) at 7 PM with an Opening Night Gala and Preview  which transforms the museum’s hall and galleries into a fragrant and sensual display of blooming color and creativity.  This fabulous party features a sumptuous buffet catered by McCalls, cocktails, live music by Switched ON Audio, the Jesse Barrett Oboe Quartet, and Alan K. Choy, a couture fashion show inspired the de Young’s artworks created and modeled by students from the Environmental Horticulture/Floristry department at City College of San Francisco, and dancing the night away.

Bouquets to Art week will feature floral design demonstrations by locally, nationally and internationally acclaimed floral designers, among them two Bay Area favorites, Laura Dowling, chief floral designer for the White House, and Shane Connolly, artistic director of the flowers for the 2011 royal wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Local participating floral designers include: Francesca Perez of Francesca’s Flowers and Garden (Santa Rosa), Catherine Scott of Catherine Scott Flowers (Sonoma), Daisy Rose of Daisy Rose Floral Design (Sonoma); Josette L. Brose-Eichar of Lavender (Sonoma), Debbie Hitchcock of Lovey’s Garden (Kenwood) and Natasha J. Drengson of Natasha’s Designs (Glen Ellen).

Bouquets to Art raffle tickets available for sale will provide the opportunity to win exotic travel packages, fine dining, wine tastings and other luxury items. There will also be seated luncheons by McCalls hosted on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and special hands-on art activities for children during the weekend. All proceeds from the entire Bouquet to Art event benefit the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF).

Daisy Rose of Daisy Rose Floral Design in Sonoma is creating a floral arrangement in response to James McNeill Whistler’s “The Gold Scab: Eruption in Frilthy Lucre (The Creditor)” 1879, .  This is Rose’s third year as a participant in “Bouquets to Art.”  Oil on canvas. Gift of Mrs. Alma de Bretteville Spreckels through the Patrons of Art and Music, 1977.

Daisy Rose of Daisy Rose Floral Design in Sonoma is creating a floral arrangement in response to James McNeill Whistler’s “The Gold Scab: Eruption in Frilthy Lucre (The Creditor)” 1879, . This is Rose’s third year as a participant in “Bouquets to Art.” Oil on canvas. Gift of Mrs. Alma de Bretteville Spreckels through the Patrons of Art and Music, 1977.

Earlier this week, ARThound spoke with Daisy Rose of Daisy Rose Floral Design in Sonoma who is preparing an arrangement in response to James McNeill Whistler’s “The Gold Scab: Eruption in Frilthy Lucre (The Creditor)” 1879.  The painting, executed in shades of teal, is the broke artist’s mocking portrait of his main creditor (and once patron), Frederick Leyland, a British shipping magnate who is depicted as a peacock, sitting upon Whistler’s house as if it were an egg.

“This is the only time of the year when I get to do what I want, “to be creative without constraints,” said Daisy Rose.  “It’s  nerve-racking.  I give myself a new challenge every year and pick a painting that is not like anything else I’ve done before, something that I’m not entirely sure I can pull off.  This is a really exciting, interesting and complex painting about a painter getting back at his patron once their relationship went sour. The patron is covered in scales and sitting at piano which he couldn’t play and sitting on top of Whistler’s house, which he took control of.  I just love it.  I like to use only floral materials—no plastic or metal or elaborate supports.  It needs to last a week, so I’ll use lots of succulents, air plants, eucalyptus, cala lilies and orchids, probably 15 different materials in all.   The painting is greenish-blue and covered in scales and for that, I’ll use eucalyptus and a few of those will be painted gold.  I’m not going to create the actual structure of the house but will use the colors of the house and its triangular shape…it’s all coming together in my mind.”

Like many designers, Rose will buy her flowers on the Friday before the event and will work on it through the weekend so that she is well-prepared when she arrives Monday the museum to set it up. “I like to have it pretty much ready to go when I get there.  I’ll use chalk to measure out my pedestal and will work with this fictional pedestal.  I’m excited to get started.”

Francesca Perez of Francesca’s Flowers and Garden in Santa Rosa is creating a floral arrangement in response to Maurice Brazil Prendergast’s “The Holiday” (1908-09), which the museum acquired in 1968. (Gallery 28, Section I).  The painting captures a leisurely afternoon at a lake and showcases the artist’s much appreciated mosaic-like style of painting which uses radically simplified forms that are arranged rhythmically on the canvas and bright jewel-like colors.

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This is Perez’s third participation in Bouquets and she was matched with the colorful painting by the well-known American post-Impressionist by the BtoA committee.  Two years ago, when she was assistant to the head gardener at McEvoy Ranch, she helped the McEvoy floral team create a stunning arrangement in the shape of an owl with spread wings as a tribute to the museum’s Nan Tucker McEvoy Wing which houses the de Young’s world renown early American collection, including the treasured Rockefeller collection of American Art.

“I was wondering what I was going to get this year,” said Perez, speaking from her design studio in her Santa Rosa home.  “When I saw the painting online, the colors really touched me and the wheels started turning. I really want to get to the flower market on Friday to see what speaks to me, things I may not have even thought about.  I’ll definitely try to recreate something in the painting, using its medley of colors, for example the colors in the dresses, as inspiration.  I need to consider too what flowers will make it through the week.”

Three years ago, Francesca Perez of Francesca’s Flowers and Garden in Santa Rosa created a floral arrangement in response to the de Young’s Nan Tucker McEvoy Wing which houses the museum’s world renowned early American collection, including the treasured Rockefeller collection of American Art.  Image courtesy: Francesca Perez

Three years ago, Francesca Perez of Francesca’s Flowers and Garden in Santa Rosa was a floral designer for McEvoy Ranch and designed and created the lovely wings on this striking owl. The floral arrangement was a response to the de Young’s Nan Tucker McEvoy Wing which houses the museum’s world renowned early American collection, including the treasured Rockefeller collection of American Art. Image courtesy: Francesca Perez

In the 30 years since its inception, Bouquets to Art has drawn over 650,000 visitors and raised nearly $6 million in net proceeds.  Funds from previous presentations of Bouquets to Art have been used to support special exhibitions, art acquisitions, educational programs and special projects at the Legion of Honor and the de Young.  Income from Bouquets to Art 2013 was used to fund, in part, the special exhibitions Impressionists on the Water, which was on view at the Legion of Honor from June to October 2013, and Modern Nature: Georgia O’Keeffe and Lake George, on view now at the de Young through May 11, 2014.

Schedule for the Week:

Monday, March 17

Opening Night Gala and Preview

7‒10 p.m., with 5:30 p.m. entry for Patron ticket holders

Advance tickets required.  Tickets are $300 and $200 for 35 years and younger. Call 415.750.3604

Tuesday, March 18

9:30 a.m.‒5:15 p.m.: Floral exhibits

10 a.m.: “Together Again for the Very First Time” Floral design demonstration by Ron Morgan and Shane Connolly

Noon: Luncheon in Piazzoni Murals Room. Click here for tickets, information

1:30 p.m.: “The Art of the Party” Presentation by acclaimed New York-based event producer David Stark

Wednesday, March 19

9:30 a.m.‒5:15 p.m.: Floral exhibits 10 a.m.: “Classic Design with a Modern Twist” Floral design demonstration by Paris-trained designer, Thierry Chantrel

Noon: Luncheon in Piazzoni Murals Room. Click here for tickets, information

1:30 p.m.: “Flower Inspirations in the Natural Style” Floral design demonstration by White House chief floral designer Laura Dowling

6‒8 p.m.: Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco member viewing hours

Thursday, March 20

9:30 a.m.‒5:15 p.m.: Floral exhibits

10 a.m.: “Floral Art of the Moment” Floral design demonstration by Soho Sakai, master of Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement

Noon: Luncheon in Piazzoni Murals Room. Click here for tickets, information.

6‒8 p.m.: Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco member viewing hours

Friday, March 21

9:30 a.m.‒5:15 p.m.: Floral exhibits

Saturday, March 22

9:30 a.m.‒5:15 p.m.: Floral exhibits

10:30 a.m.‒1 p.m.: Children’s hands-on art activities in the Piazzoni Murals Room

Sunday, March 23

9:30 a.m.‒5:15 p.m.: Floral exhibits, raffle drawing

10:30 a.m.‒1 p.m.: Children’s hands-on art activities in the Piazzoni Murals Room

Bouquets to Art 2014 Ticketing:  General museum admission allows access to all floral exhibits, located in the permanent collection galleries. $22 Adults; $19 Seniors (65 and above); $18 Students with current ID; $15 Youths 6–17; Members and children 5 and under are admitted free. Save $1 with advance online ticket purchase (discount price is reflected in online shopping cart.) General admission tickets may be purchased in advance either online or in person at the museum box office during regular museum hours. Advance tickets are required for the luncheons and floral design demonstrations. For more information and to order tickets, go to deyoungmuseum.org/bouquets.

Visiting the de Young: Address: Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive San Francisco, CA 94118. Hours: Tuesday–Thursday, Saturday and Sunday: 9:30 am–5:15 pm Friday: 9:30 am–8:45 pm; closed on Monday.

March 15, 2014 Posted by | Art | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sonoma County Museum and Santa Rosa High School’s documentary short screens at CAAMfest 2014 on Saturday, March 15

Santa Rosa High School students, Lilia Kilmartin and Maneesha Moua will debut their documentary short debut on March 15 at CAAMfest 2014  as part of the festival’s special Young Historians, Living Histories project.   The Sonoma County Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate, sponsored the student film program as part of Sonoma Stories initiative that records the oral histories of people living and working in the community.  Image: SCM

Santa Rosa High School students, Lilia Kilmartin and Maneesha Moua will debut their documentary at CAAMfest 2014 as part of the festival’s special Young Historians, Living Histories project. The Sonoma County Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate, sponsored the student film program that enabled their participation. Image: SCM

Local Santa Rosa High School students, Lilia Kilmartin and Maneesha Moua, will have their documentary short debut on Saturday, March 15, at CAAMfest 2014 at 12:10 PM as part of the festival’s special Young Historians, Living Histories project.  The program will debut the work of several young Asian Pacific American (APA) student filmmakers from nine Smithsonian Affiliate organizations around the country and several of the young filmmakers will attend.

Our own Sonoma Country Museum (SCM) had a hand in sponsoring the Santa Rosa students as the museum recently completed a new storytelling series serving local APA youth and their families. Working with Santa Rosa High School’s ArtQuest Video Lab and video and digital instructor Jim Helmer, SCM enabled Kilmartin, Moua and other students to learn about the documentary process and to create a short film telling a relative’s story.  This student program is a continuation of SCM’s Sonoma Stories initiative that records the oral histories of people living and working in the community.  SCM was able to sponsor the young filmmakers because it was one of nine Smithsonian Affiliate organizations nationwide selected for the national Young Historians, Living Histories project.  This program mentors APA students in multimedia skills and storytelling with the goal of deepening their understanding and appreciation of their history.  Young Historians, Living Histories involves the collaboration of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, Smithsonian Affiliations and CAAM (Center for Asian American Media).

CAAM’s Hardeep Jandu just interviewed Konrad Ng, Director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific Program, about the film shorts and importance of mentoring young filmmakers.  Read the interview here.

Details:  CAAMfest’s special presentation, “Young Historian, Living Histories,” is Saturday, March, 2014 at 12:10 PM at New People Cinema.  A reception with the student filmmakers will follow the screening at Pa’ina Lounge.  Tickets are $12.  Click here to purchase.

Read ARThound’s coverage of CAAMFest 2014 here.

CAAMFest 2014 is March 13th through March  23th  2014, in San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland at eight screening venues well as select museums, galleries, bars and music halls. The 10 day festival is screening over 121 films and videos, along with cutting edge music and gourmet food events.  The 32 year-old festival is named after its sponsor, CAAM , San Francisco’s Center for Asian American Media. Click here to see full schedule in day by day calendar format with hyperlinks for film and event descriptions and for ticket purchase.  The official website— CAAMFest 2014.

The Sonoma County Museum is located at 425 Seventh Street in downtown Santa Rosa.  Hours: Tues-Sun 11 AM to 5 PM.  General Admission : $7.   Camellia Has Fallen runs through May 4, 2014  and is the first U.S. art exhibition created in response to the Jeju April 3 Uprising, a major historical event leading up to the Korean War in which the United States played a critical role. The exhibition focuses on issues of memory, reconciliation and healing.

March 14, 2014 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sonoma International Film Festival passes are on sale now and prices will increase on Monday, March 17, 2014

Yılmaz Erdoğan's “The Butterfly's Dream” (2013), Turkey’s submission for Best foreign Language Oscar, is one of will screen at the 17th Sonoma International Film Festival (April 2-6, 2014). Set during World War II in Zonguldak, Turkey, the film is the real life story of two young poets, forgotten by history, whose writing developed while they were both terminally ill with tuberculosis.  The title is from an ancient passage by Chinese thinker Chuang Tzu, in which he pondered his dream of being a butterfly. Erdoğan’s gorgeously shot film addresses the nature of reality and the power of artistic practice to mitigate hardship.

Yılmaz Erdoğan’s “The Butterfly’s Dream” (2013), Turkey’s submission for Best foreign Language Oscar, will screen at the 17th Sonoma International Film Festival (April 2-6, 2014). Set during World War II in Zonguldak, Turkey, the film is the real life story of two young poets, forgotten by history, whose writing developed while they were both fighting to survive tuberculosis. The title is from an ancient passage by Chinese thinker Chuang Tzu, in which he pondered his dream of being a butterfly. Erdoğan’s gorgeously-shot film addresses the nature of reality and the power of artistic practice to mitigate hardship.

If you love cinema, world class food and wine from local artisans and vintners, and the breathtaking beauty of the wine country, it doesn’t get any better than the Sonoma International Film Festival (SIFF).  Discounted passes are now on sale for the 17th annual SIFF—April 2-6, 2014.  Lock in your passes now, as the prices rise considerably on Monday, March 17, 2014.

This year, SIFF features over 115 hand-selected films from 22 countries—features, documentaries, world cinema, Vamos Al Cine (showcasing Spanish-language film), and shorts.  Two hundred filmmakers and celebrities will attend and participate in premieres, Q&A’s an panel discussions.  Guests, celebs and attendees all mingle on the square and in Backlot, SIFF’s decadent den of epicurean delights. Film luminaries who have walked SIFF’s red carpet include: Susan Sarandon, Bruce Willis, Michael Keaton, Blythe Danner, Danny Glover, Lauren Hutton, Demian Bichir, Ray Liotta  and Mary-Louise Parker.  This year’s special guests have yet to be announced.

The line-up, of which we have just a few details, includes 62 full length features films, all selected by Festival Director Kevin McNeely and his programmers Claudia Mendoza-Carruth and Steve Shor, who know exactly what appeals to the savvy audience of this extended weekend fest.  For the first time, SIFF17 welcomes a film from Nigeria, director Biyi Bandele’s acclaimed Half of a Yellow Sun,  an adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s bestselling novel of the same name.  This year’s Vamos Al Cine program, which began as programming for the Spanish speaking community but has morphed into one of the festival’s biggest draws, will focus on Cuban cinema with Cuban director and actor, Jorge Perugorria, attending.  And dog lover ARThound is excited about this year’s special programming for children (and the young at heart) and the guest appearance of the amazing Olate dogs (winner of America’s Got Talent 2012 and $1 million.  These joyful dogs will perform at the historic Sebastiani Theatre in a special morning that includes the world premiere of Peter McEvilley’s French short, Le Sauvetage—which features Peter Olate’s rescue dogs and addresses animal welfare—and a live musical performance by members of “Everybody is a Star.”   This year, there are an unprecedented 24 documentaries, many of which unpack our increasingly confusing organic and green lifestyle and impart groundbreaking research on the health and environmental impacts of plastic, fracking and hemp.  One of these, Wings of Life, a new Disneynature film, narrated by Meryl Streep, uses incredible cinematography, high-seed, time-lapse and micro filmmaking techniques to reveal the extraordinary importance of flowers and their pollinator partners.  And for foodies, three world cinema offerings explore the fusion of storytelling, fine cuisine and restaurants.

All films are screened in seven intimate venues, all within walking distance along Sonoma’s historic plaza.  Many screenings include delectable gourmet samplings.  The SIFF ambiance is laid-back and the experience is unforgettable…that’s why most guests return year after year.  And it’s for a great cause— since 2002, SIFF and its members have continually supported Sonoma Valley High School’s Media Arts Program. This student program opens doorways to creativity in the digital arts through filmmaking classes, animation, scriptwriting, film theory, and – most of all – storytelling.  So far this year, SIFF has donated $25,000 to Peter Hansen’s media arts program at SVHS, having given almost $450,000 over the past 12 years.

Cinema Pass—$175* – All Films & Panels (*Price increases to $250 on March 17, 2014)

Cinema Soiree Pass —$450* First Entry to films, VIP hospitality area, tribute, parties & receptions & “First Look.” (*Price increases to $600 on March 17, 2014)

Patron Pass/All Access—single $2,500; couple $4,000

 

Click here to purchase all SIFF passes.

Click here for more information, or call 707 933-2600

March 12, 2014 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Not just film, CAAMFest, has super-sized into an Asian American cultural extravaganza—it starts Wednesday, March 13, and runs for 10 days in San Francisco, Berkeley, and Oakland

New York artist Tenzing Rigdol’s poignant installation is the focus of Tenzi Tsetan Choklay’s feature documentary, “Bringing Tibet Home,” screening at CAAMFest 2014, March 13-23, 2014.   Following the death of his father, a Tibetan refugee, Rigdol embarks on a journey to bring 20,000 kilos of native Tibetan soil from Nepal to India. The smuggled soil is laid out on a platform in Dharamsala, the Himalayan hill town where the Dali Lama and many Tibetan refugees are based.  For many, this is a reunion; for some, this the first time that they set foot on their native soil; and for a few, this is probably the last time that they ever see anything of their lost nation.  A powerful portrait of artistic determination that explores homeland, exile and the transgressive power of art.  Image: courtesy CAAM

New York artist Tenzing Rigdol’s poignant installation is the focus of Tenzi Tsetan Choklay’s feature documentary, “Bringing Tibet Home,” screening at CAAMFest 2014, March 13-23, 2014. Following the death of his father, a Tibetan refugee, Rigdol embarks on a journey to bring 20,000 kilos of native Tibetan soil from Nepal to India. The smuggled soil is laid out on a platform in Dharamsala, the Himalayan hill town where the Dali Lama and many Tibetan refugees are based. For many, this is a reunion; for some, this the first time that they set foot on their native soil; and for a few, this is probably the last time that they ever see anything of their lost nation. A powerful portrait of artistic determination that explores homeland, exile and the transgressive power of art. Filmmaker will attend. Image: courtesy CAAM

CAAMFest is 32 this year and no longer just about great film.  The 10 day festival, which takes place between March 13th and 23th , in San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland, has long showcased the best and newest in Asian American film.  It got restless when it turned 30 though:  it changed its name from SFIAFF (San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival ) to the shorter CAAMFest , named after its sponsor, CAAM , San Francisco’s Center for Asian American Media.  Under the guidance of Festival Director Masashi Niwano, now in his fourth year at the helm, it also responded to changing times by tweaking its programming.  And growing.  And growing.  It now bills itself as the nation’s “largest showcase for new Asian and Asian American film.”

Music and Food:  In addition to its 121 films and videos, and stellar presentations and tributes, CAAMFest 2014 includes cutting edge musicians and the fusion of great food and film line-up.  Korean and Vietnamese hip hop and rock music, and leading female performers are the focus of the two “Directions in Sound” evenings. On March 22, 23-year-old rapper, singer and songwriter, Suboi (Hàng Lâm Trang Anh), tagged Vietnam’s Queen of Hiphop, will have her U.S. debut at 111 Minna Gallery.

Suboi, the first female rapper to make it big in Vietnam, makes her U.S. debut at CAAMFest.

Suboi, the first female rapper to make it big in Vietnam, makes her U.S. debut at CAAMFest.

Culinary artists like superstar Chef Martin Yan (of PBS and M.Y. China) and award-winning Chocolatier Windy Lieu of Sôcôla Chocolates are the focus of CAAMfeast,” a high-end tasting party/fundraiser, while three fabulous food films celebrate storytelling around Asian food.

CAAMFEST expands into artsy Oakland:  Promising to engage all the senses is “Super Awesome Launch,” an evening at the Oakland Museum of California (Friday, March 7) that includes a sneak preview of its highly anticipated upcoming spring exhibition, SuperAwesome: Art and Giant Robot, along with the chance to meet arts visionary and Eric Nakamura, who curated the exhibition.   What? Never heard of Nakamura? Then you’re WAY WAY behind the times and need a serious CAAMFEST infusion. Twenty years ago, in 1994, Nakamura founded Giant Robot, Los Angeles’ Little Osaka based store, magazine, art gallery that became an uber-destination for Asian and Asian American popular culture and art.  You can meet Eric Nakamura and experience the art in person at OMCA, which has become quite the hopping venue on Friday nights. The evening also includes high energy bands from Taiwan, a caravan of food trucks, and a screening of Patrick Epino and Stephen Dypiangco’s Awesome Asian Bad Guys (2013) starring Tamlyn Tomita and Dante Basco.  Easy to see why they call it “Super Awesome Launch.”   And, this year CAAMFEST has its closing night party in Oakland as well (see below), marking what promises to be a sweet partnership with the community’s vibrant arts organizations and galleries.

Big Nights of Film

Opening Night: The festival kicks off this Wednesday, March 13 with the US premiere of Vietnamese American director Ham Tran’s (Journey from the Fall, 2006) romantic comedy, How to Fight in Six Inch Heels, at the historic Castro Theater.  The film was Vietnam’s top box office draw for 2013 and features San Jose native Kathy Uyen as a New York fashion designer who infiltrates Saigon’s high-fashion world to test her fiancé’s fidelity. After the premiere, CAAMFest heads over to the Asian Art Museum for its Opening Night Gala, which features food from local chefs and restaurants, a special presentation by fashion stylists Retrofit Republic, dancing to beats spun by local DJ’s and the Asian’s amazing new exhibition, Yoga: The Art of Transformation.

How To Fight In Six Inch Heels (Âm Mưu Giày Gót Nhọn)  

Select Special Presentations:  Each year, CAAMFest highlights the works of significant media makers and their contributions to modern cinema.  In Conversation with Grace Lee: Award-winning documentary filmmaker Grace Lee will be in conversation at the Castro Theatre on Saturday, March 16, discussing her new documentary, American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs (2013), profiling the extraordinary life of activist and feminist Grace Lee Boggs which screens right after the conversation.  Lee’s narrative feature comedy, American Zombie (2006), screens on Friday, March 14.

American Revolutionary:  The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs

Tribute: Run Run Shaw:  CAAMFest offers a three film tribute to the legendary movie mogul Sir Run Run Shaw, who over the course of nine decades fostered some of the greatest filmmaking talent in Hong Kong, and produced some American classics such as Blade Runner (1982).  The films—The Kingdom and the Beauty; King Boxer (The Five Fingers of Death); and my personal favorite, Come Drink With Me, will all screen at the Chinatown’s Great Star Theater on March 15th..  The Great Star, refurbished in 2010, hosts both Chinese-language film and Chinese opera.

Set in imperial China, Chinese director Li Han-hsiang’s dazzling musical drama “The Kingdom and the Beauty” (1959) consolidated the Chinese operetta’s popularity in Hong Kong.  When  restless Chinese emperor (Chao Lei) disguises himself as a commoner and takes a stroll, he falls in love with a country peasant (movie queen Lin Dai) and promises to marry her after spending one night together—only for their budding romance to be abruptly curtailed. The film is part of a three film tribute at Chinatown’s Great Star Theater to Hong Kong entertainment and media mogul Run Run Shaw.

Set in imperial China, Chinese director Li Han-hsiang’s dazzling musical drama “The Kingdom and the Beauty” (1959) consolidated the Chinese operetta’s popularity in Hong Kong. When restless Chinese emperor (Chao Lei) disguises himself as a commoner and takes a stroll, he falls in love with a country peasant (movie queen Lin Dai) and promises to marry her after spending one night together—only for their budding romance to be abruptly curtailed. The film is part of a three film tribute at Chinatown’s Great Star Theater to Hong Kong entertainment and media mogul Run Run Shaw.

Closing Night: The Closing Night Gala, Sunday, March 23, marks the festival’s expansion to downtown Oakland’s arts district.  The evening starts off at the New Parkway Theater with a screening of Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Marissa Aroy’s documentary, Delano Manongs (2013).  A prescient chronicle of the life of Filipino activist Larry Itliong (1913-77), who organized the 1965 Delano Grape Strike and helped launch the United Farm Workers, the documentary explores the vital contribution of Filipinos to the American Farm labor movement.  Following this screening, the Gala moves one block to Vessel Gallery for a closing party that takes place amongst the art exhibition “Periphery: New Works by Cyrus Tilton and Paintings by Tim Rice.”

CAAMFEST expands into Oakland:

Stay-tuned to ARThound for detailed film picks, which will include:

Anthony Chen’s Ilo Ilo (2013) Winner of the Caméra d”Or at Cannes this May, a mesmerizing portrait of a middle class Indonesian family in crisis that sprang out of the director’s childhood in the Singapore and his nurturing relationship with his Filipina nanny who worked as a domestic helper for his family for 8 years from 1988 to 1997.  (Screens March 15 at 6:30 PM at Pacific Film Archive and March 17 at 6 PM at Sundance Kabuki Cinemas.)

Director Yuya Ishii’s The Great Passage (2013), Japan’s 2013 Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film about a shy, eccentric young man, who joins the Dictionary Editorial Department of a big Tokyo publishing house to help compile a new dictionary, “The Great Passage” and over the course of years is transformed.  (Screens: March 15 at 2:30 PM at Sundance Kabuki Cinemas and March 16 at 3:30 PM at Pacific Film Archive.)

Tenzi Tsetan Choklay’s feature documentary, Bringing Tibet Home (2013). Following the death of his father, a Tibetan refugee, Rigdol embarks on a remarkable journey to bring 20,000 kilos of native Tibetan soil from Nepal to India. The smuggled soil is laid out on a platform in Dharamsala, the Himalayan hill town where the Dali Lama and many Tibetan refugees are based.  For many, this is a reunion; for some, this the first time that they set foot on their native soil; and for a few, this is probably the last time that they ever see anything of their lost nation. (Screens: March 14 at 5 PM at New People Cinemas and March 19 at 7 PM at Pacific Film Archive.)

CAAMFEST Details:

When/Where: CAAMfest 2014 runs March 13-23, 2014 at 8 screening venues in San Francisco, Berkeley, and Oakland and as well as select museums, galleries, bars and music halls.

Tickets: This popular festival sells outs, so advance ticket purchase is highly recommended for most films and events.  Regular screenings are $12 with $1 to $2 discounts for students, seniors, disabled and current CAAM members.  Special screenings, programs and social events are more.  Festival 6-pack passes are also available for $60 (6 screenings for price of 5). All access passes are $450 for CAAM members and $500 for general.  Click here for ticket purchases online.  Tickets may also be purchased in person and various venue box offices open one hour before the first festival screening of the day.

Unpacking the festival: Click here to see full schedule in day by day calendar format with hyperlinks for film and event descriptions and for ticket purchase.  The official website— CAAMFest 2014.

March 9, 2014 Posted by | Dance, Film, Food, Oakland Museum of California | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stars in the Making…San Francisco Opera’s Adler Fellows perform “Dramatic Voices, Charming Soubrettes,” at SRJC’s Newman Auditorium this Sunday, March 9

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Lively, eloquent, and intensely determined, this year’s twelve Adler Fellows are literally the most talented young opera singers in the country and many will go on to become opera legends.  This Sunday, at 4PM, five Adlers will perform an intimate program of beloved opera arias, classical and cabaret songs at Santa Rosa Junior College’s Newman Auditorium as part of the college’s Chamber Series.  Performers are sopranos Maria Valdes and Erin Johnson; mezzo soprano Zanda Švēde, baritone Eugene Brancoveanu (former Adler 2005-6) and pianist Noah Lindquist. (Full program listed at end of article.) Normally, seeing the Adlers perform entails a lot more work—crossing the bridge and parking—but SRJC has brought these young singers right to our doorstep.

 

Former Adler, tenor Thomas Glenn (wrapped in blanket) and current Adler, soprano, Maria Valdes, prepare for their performance in Donizetti’s comedic opera, “Rita,” with the New Century Chamber Orchestra (NCCO).  Music Director Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg watches from behind the ironing board.  The Adler residency offers many performance opportunities. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Former Adler, tenor Thomas Glenn (wrapped in blanket) and current Adler, soprano, Maria Valdes, prepare for their performance in Donizetti’s comedic opera, “Rita,” with the New Century Chamber Orchestra (NCCO). Music Director Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg watches from behind the ironing board. The Adler residency offers many performance opportunities. Photo: Geneva Anderson

In February, I had the pleasure of seeing two Adlers who will perform Sunday— Maria Valdes and Eugene Brancoveanu.  They were involved in a rare performance of Gaetano Donizetti’s one act comedic opera, “Rita,” with dynamo Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and her New Century Chamber Orchestra (NCCO).  The venue was San Rafael’s intimate Oscher Marin Jewish Community Center where the audience sits at candlelit tables drinking wine and snacking while the performance unfolds just a few feet from them.  Soprano Maria Valdes was fabulous in the title role of Rita, a tyrannical and abusive wife who is tormented by two husbands.  She sang like an angel, juggling conversation, song, drama and comedy.  We had ample opportunity to experience her tremendous vocal reserve along with her ability to calibrate it to the setting, sustaining high notes without ever coming off as shrill or too forceful…a true star in the making.  The production was impressively staged and directed by former Adler, Eugene Brancoveanu, who also tweaked the script, adding spoken dialogue in English.  His modern set was minimal and included an ironing board and some clever space saving props.  Brancoveanu, born in Romania, has an unforgettable baritone and has sung at the Met, La Scala, San Francisco and Berkeley Operas as well for Opera Parallèle.  I heard him sing Sam last April in Opera Parallèle’s wonderful production of Leonard Bernstein’s “Trouble in Tahiti, a role which tested his range and acting ability.  He was on top of every note, emotionally searing and impossible to take your eyes off…what stage presence  Oh, he’s also been mentioned several times in the blog Barihunks, enough said.  You’re in for a treat on Sunday.

It’s rewarding to see young artists perform early in their careers and to track them as they move on to the world’s leadings opera houses and concert halls.  Renowned sopranos and former Adlers, Deborah Voight (1986) Leah Crocetto (2009), are shining examples.  Both are coming soon to Green Music Center’s Weill Hall—Crocetto is in recital on March 9 and Voight on April 10 (Click here for details).

More About the Adler Fellow Program:  The Adler Fellows all go through a grueling national competition to enter the ranks of the Merola Opera Program, a prestigious summer resident artist training program in San Francisco sponsored by San Francisco Opera and San Francisco Opera Center.  A select few perform so well that they are invited to continue their training in the elite two-year Adler Fellow residency program.  Named for the late great San Francisco Opera General Director Kurt Herbert Adler, the Adler Fellowship Program is the Princeton of performance-oriented residencies, offering exceptional young artists intensive individual training, coaching, professional seminars and a wide range of performance opportunities throughout their fellowship. Adler fellows frequently appear in SFO productions.

2014 Adler Fellows are sopranos Erin Johnson, (Washington, New Jersey), Jacqueline Piccolino (Chicago, Illinois), and Maria Valdes (Atlanta, Georgia); mezzo-soprano Zanda Švēde (Valmiera, Latvia); tenors A.J. Glueckert (Portland, Oregon), Pene Pati (Mangere, Auckland, New Zealand), and Chuanyue Wang (Hei Long Jiang, China); baritones Hadleigh Adams (Palmerston, New Zealand), and Efraín Solís (Santa Ana, California); bass-baritone Philippe Sly (Ottawa, Ontario). Johnson, Piccolino, Glueckert, Wang, Adams, and Sly are returning as Adler Fellows. The two pianists selected for Apprentice coach Fellowships are Noah Lindquist (Brooklyn, New York) and returning Adler, Sun Ha Yoon (Seoul, South Korea).

Other Upcoming Adler Fellow Performances:  Select Adler Fellows will perform Schwabacher Debut Recitals on March 30 at 2:30 PM and April 27 at 5:30 PM. Individual tickets are $25.  Youth tickets are $15 for students with a valid ID or youth, 16 years old or younger, who is accompanied by an adult.  Order tickets online or call the SF Opera Box Office at (415) 864-3330.  The season culminates with a special year-end concert featuring the singers in an evening of opera scenes and arias with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra. This year’s concert, The Future Is Now: Adler Fellows Gala Concert, showcasing the acclaimed 2014 Adler Fellows, takes place in November, 2104, at Herbst Theatre in San Francisco.

SRJC Chamber Concert Series Details:  An acclaimed annual series of six concerts featuring a musicians performing in an intimate environment, exactly how chamber music is intended to be heard.  After this Sunday’s Adler Fellows performance, there is one remaining concert in the 2013-14 series, Afiara String Quartet on Friday, April 25, at 7:30 PM at Newman Auditorium, Emeritus Hall, Santa Rosa Junior College.  Tickets are $25 adult/$15 youth. Parking is included for all performances.  Individual tickets are $25.  Youth tickets are $15 for students with a valid ID or youth, 16 years old or younger, who is accompanied by an adult.  Order tickets by Phone: (415) 392-4400. City Box Office Hours—M-F: 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM or Sat: 12 noon to 4:00 PM. Order on the Web at www.cityboxoffice.com .   Parking is included in the price of the performance.

Details:  “Dramatic Voices, Charming Soubrettes” is Sunday, March 9, 4 PM, at Newman Auditorium, Emeritus Hall, Santa Rosa Junior College, 1501 Mendocino Ave, Santa Rosa.   Individual tickets are $25.  Youth tickets are $15 for students with a valid ID or youth, 16 years old or younger, who is accompanied by an adult.  Order tickets by Phone: (415) 392-4400. City Box Office Hours—M-F: 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM or Sat: 12 noon to 4:00 PM. Order on the Web at www.cityboxoffice.com .   Parking is included in the price of the performance.

PROGRAM: “Dramatic Voices, Charming Soubrettes” SRJC Chamber Series

Songs of Travel – Vaughan Williams

The Vagabond                                                 Mr. Brancoveanu

The Roadside Fire Youth and Love

In Dreams

The Infinite Shining Heavens

Cinq mélodies “de Venise” – Fauré

Mandoline                                                       Miss Švēde

En sourdine Green

À Clymène C’est l’extase

from Floresta do Amazonas – Villa-Lobos

Canção de amor                                             Miss Valdes

Cair da tarde Melodia sentimental

from Cabaret Songs – Bolcom

Toothbrush time                                              Miss Johnson

Can’t sleep

At the last lousy moments of love Love in the 30’s

Waitin’ Amor

INTERMISSION

The Marriage of Figaro – Mozart

Crudel, perchè finora                                      Miss Valdes, Mr. Brancoveanu

 Rodelinda – Handel

Io t’abbraccio                                                  Miss Johnson, Miss Švēde

 Manon – Massenet

Je suis encore tout étourdie                             Miss Valdes

 Falstaff – Verdi

È sogno, o realtà?                                           Mr. Brancoveanu

 Le vespri siciliani – Verdi

Mercé dilette amiche                                       Miss Johnson

 Sapho – Gounod

O ma lyre immortelle                                      Miss Švēde

 The Merry Widow – Lehár

Vilja                                                                 Miss Valdes, tutti

March 6, 2014 Posted by | Chamber Music, Opera | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thistle Meats, downtown Petaluma’s new butcher shop and charcuterie, has opened

Thistle Meats is downtown Petaluma’s new butcher shop.  Co-owner Molly Best took some off Saturday afternoon and stepped outside her bustling shop to greet Jackson with one of Thistle’s sidelines—delectable grass fed liver treats for dogs.  $2.50 per pound.  Pawsome!  Photo: Geneva Anderson

Thistle Meats is downtown Petaluma’s new artisan butcher shop. Co-owner Molly Best took some off Saturday afternoon and stepped outside her bustling shop to greet Jackson with one of Thistle’s sidelines—delectable grass-fed liver treats for dogs. $2.50 per pound. Pawsome! Photo: Geneva Anderson

When I started ARThound four years ago, I said I’d be a hound for art, digging up stories and sniffing out the details.  On Saturday, Jackson, my Rhodesian Ridgeback—the better half of ARThound— scooped me while we were out walking.  Excitedly, he guided me to downtown Petaluma’s new boutique butcher, Thistle Meats, 160 Petaluma Blvd, marked by a life-sized white pig.  It was love at first whiff.  Forced to wait outside while Petalumans entered freely, Jackson uttered a tortured groan and locked busy co-owner Molly Best in a soulful stare.  It worked!  She stepped out to greet him personally with a dried grass fed liver treat that forever put her on his map.  As we left, Jackson did the equivalent of a hound tweet….soon a fetching another ridgeback, Daisy, turned up with her owners and so did an enthusiastic yellow lab, Gunner.  A droolfest for Molly Best!

I’d heard all about Thistle for months—proprietors Molly Best and Lisa Mickley Modica have been on the radar with the arts community due to Molly’s artsy background.  A few years back, when I was covering Cornerstone Sonoma, I discovered her shearing a sheep in a promo clip for the short film, “The Shepherd & the Dollmaker,” about the collaboration between Sonoma’s artists and farmers.  She’s also the grown daughter of local sculptor David Best (art cars and ephemeral temples).  Recently, I was struck by Paige Green’s photograph of Molly and Lisa, accompanying Inside Scoop SF’s update on Thistle—two beaming, talented, and determined women honing a great idea.

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Lisa Mickley Modica has a background in land conservation and small business and non-profit management.  She was introduced to Best through mutual friends in the community and they both have children who are close in age.  “I knew immediately that we would hit it off,” said Modica.  “I really wanted to start something that was central to our community and to bridge that gap between downtown Petaluma and what we’re surrounded by, which is this beautiful agriculture, and our ability to experience it first-hand. Teaming up with Molly was a natural progression from that.”   Thistle Meats, a whole animal butchery—with three butchers on staff—strives to celebrate Petaluma’s local bounty by offering really good locally raised meats from farms and ranchers that Molly and Lisa have selected for their quality.  Thistle will also offer a charcuterie program with a range of unique pates, salumi, terrines and other cured meats as well as local produce and eggs and prepared foods.  The process is incremental, taking time to do it right with an appreciation for traditional methods and flavors and banking on culinary-minded Petaluma following suit.

ARThound is on board—it’s high time that downtown Petaluma balance itself out…how many more upscale thrift and furniture stores do we need?  The small shop has a great clean minimalist vibe to it…white tile walls, expansive glass cases showcasing fresh cuts of meat and poultry, and all the tools of the trade on display.  There’s a gorgeous antique bronze bull head on the wall at the front of the shop…refinished by sculptor David Best who is also responsible for the gifting the pig outdoors, which had been in the family for some time.  “The pig landed in our laps and we just love the character it adds,” said Modica.

Atriaux is one of Thistle Meats’ artisan delicacies.  A rich combination of roughly equal parts of pork, liver, and heart, the mix is wrapped in lacey caul fat—the thin membrane of fat that covers the intestines of pig, cow or sheep—this helps it retain its shape and imparts flavor as is melts into the meat when cooked.  Photo: Geneva Anderson

Atriaux is one of Thistle Meats’ artisan delicacies. A rich combination of roughly equal parts of pork, liver, and heart, the mix is wrapped in lacey caul fat—the thin membrane of fat that covers the intestines of pig, cow or sheep—this helps it retain its shape and imparts flavor as is melts into the meat when cooked. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Business was hopping when I popped in on Saturday afternoon.  An attention grabber was the Atriaux, a gorgeous and traditional Old World delicacy, a 35-32-33 combo of pork, liver, and heart, wrapped in caul fat, a striated lacey fat membrane, resembling fancy stockings, that holds the intestinal lining together.  Chef butcher John Richter, who was working the counter on Saturday, told me that he had started the day with a huge double-stacked platter and, by late afternoon, had just a few patties left.  “It’s just amazing stuff,” he boasted.   I bought a plump one (total cost $2.76) and went home and grilled it and served it with sautéed mushrooms and a wine reduction sauce, all over a bed of greens…yummm.

Knowing full well that both women had been working non-stop for weeks to get Thistle launched, I jokingly asked Modica if they both planned to work in the shop all the time.  She let out a frenzied groan, “Let’s say we are still exploring how to do that in a healthy way.”

Details:  Thistle Meats is located at 160 Petaluma Blvd, see the life-sized white pig.   Hours: Monday –Saturday 10 to 7 and Sunday 11 to 4.  Phone: 707 772-5442.  Not much detail on their webpage yet but visit their Facebook page for the latest updates and specials https://www.facebook.com/thistlemeats

March 3, 2014 Posted by | Food | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment