Weekender: Last Chance to See Einstein! — Funk Art at Natsoulas

Coming Soon: Noon Concerts, SF Symphony; New Art, Fall Opening, at Manetti Shrem

Weekend in your pocket: Catch Einstein! production this weekend and note that this month you can see the work of UC Davis Professor Emeritus Roy De Forest in two Davis venues: Natsoulas Gallery (now) and Manetti Shrem Sept. 25. Plan ahead.

Einstein! at UC Davis this weekend

Sept. 16, 7 – 8:30 p.m.

Photo of performer on stage at UC Davis.
Jack Fry in "Einstein!" (Courtesy/Ze' Castle Photography)

Einstein! — a one-person play that explores the physicist’s earlier years as he struggles to prove his theory of general relativity — will be presented by the University of California Observatories and hosted by the UC Davis Department of Physics and Astronomy. The Sept. 16 performance at the Main Theatre, Wright Hall, is presented in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of an astronomical observation that proved the theory.

UC Davis physics professor Steven Carlip will introduce the performance and participate in a post-show Q&A.

Written and performed by Jack Fry, the play is set in 1914 Berlin as Einstein’s work is being rejected by the scientific community. Along with this, he is shunned for his pacifist views as World War I starts, antisemitism is on the rise, and his personal life is in turmoil with his wife refusing to grant him a divorce and his young son fights for his affections — all leading to Einstein suffering a nervous breakdown.

In spite of the dark subject matter, Fry’s play is filled with humor. It also uses projected 3D graphics and animations that give the audience insight into Einstein’s mind.

Einstein! contains adult themes and situations.

The performance begins at 7 p.m. Reserved tickets are available at $50 for adults and $20 for students. Tickets may be purchased at the UC Davis Ticket Office, located on the north side of Aggie Stadium, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, by phone 530-752-2471 during the same hours, or online here.

Einstein! is supported by two departments in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science — Physics and Astronomy, and Theatre and Dance — and by the University of California Observatories, a multi-campus research unit supporting astronomy research and education across all UC campuses.

The Department of Theatre and Dance is part of the UC Davis College of Letters and Science.

Courtesy/Michael G. French

Poetry reading at John Natsoulas Thursday

The Poetry Night Reading Series will feature Mischa Kuczynski and Jordan Karnes at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 15, on the roof of the John Natsoulas Gallery, 521 1st Street in Davis.

Mischa Kuczynski holds an MA in Creative Writing from UC Davis and a BFA in Photography from the University of Utah. A finalist for the 2009 Ruth Lily Poetry Fellowship, Kuczynski has seen her work appear in the American Poetry Review, Gigantic, Fence, Sinister Wisdom, and elsewhere. According to Dr. Andy Jones, “Mischa Kuczynski writes poignant, important, and unforgettable poems that stir the heart.” She lives in Davis.

Poetry in cursive writing
Illustration (Getty Images)

Jordan Karnes is the author of It Hasn’t Stopped Being California Here (Carville Annex Press) and More Silver Than Gold (Finishing Line Press). More recently, their work has appeared in the Believer Magazine, New Life Quarterly, and at the Prelinger Library’s Place Talks. Jordan Karnes is the Chair of the Literary Arts Department at Oakland School for the Arts. 

There will be an open mic after the featured performers. Open mic performances will be limited to four minutes or two items, whichever is shorter. As Tom Stoppard says, “Good things, when short, are twice as good.” 

No matter the policies of the CDC or Yolo County, John Natsoulas ask that you wear your mask inside the Natsoulas Gallery. Although it may be warm on the 15th of September, you are encouraged to dress in layers to accommodate the drop in temperature between 7 and 9 p.m.

The Poetry Night Reading Series, taking place on the first and third Thursdays of the month at 7 p.m., is generously supported by the people and poets of the Sacramento Valley, and by John Natsoulas and the staff at the John Natsoulas Gallery. Your host will be Dr. Andy Jones, poet laureate emeritus of the City of Davis. Special thanks to local arts hero Timothy Nutter for his ongoing help with amplification equipment.

Find the Facebook page for this event here.

California Funk to Figuration: A New Narrative Mythology Exhibition

Through Jan. 7, 2023

The John Natsoulas Gallery is hosting an exhibition of paintings, sculptures, and works on paper by the leading 20th-Century Funk artists. While the Funk Movement is often categorized as a West Coast art style, this show brings together artists from California and Chicago.

Funk Art emerged organically in the 1960s in the leading art schools in California as a rebellious response to both the restrictiveness of Bay Area Figurative Art and the nonobjectivity of Abstract Expressionism. While this movement has continued to elude a decisive definition, its hallmark is a significant degree of absurdity. Artists famously responded, “when you see it, you know it,” when asked to describe Funk. 

Those championing the ridiculousness that is the fundamental doctrine of Funk are known for their collaborations and exchanges of ideas. The artists of the movement worked in both two and three dimensions. Major sculptors and other artists, including such UC Davis artists as Robert Arneson and Roy De Forest, late faculty, as well as David Gilhooly, Viola Frey, Clayton Bailey, Patti Warashina, Robert Hudson, Richard Shaw, and Mark Bulwinkle, produced playful works with enticing textures and iconography. Painters such as Robert Colescott, Peter Saul, Joan Brown, Louise Stanley, Jim Albertson, Maija Peeples-Bright, and Terry Allen used vivid colors to emphasize their highly expressive narrative figures.

While Funk is often categorized as a West Coast movement, several artists including Gladys Nilsson and Jim Nutt, made their way to California from the other major center of the movement — Chicago. Regardless of their origins, these artists all imbued their works with unorthodox traditions and self-referential humor.

Find more information about the exhibit and view some of the artwork here. The gallery is located at 521 1st St., Davis.

New Exhibitions at the Manetti Shrem and a Fall Season Celebration

Roy De Forest: Habitats for Travelers

Sept. 25 – May 8, 2023

First-generation art faculty member and UC Davis Professor Emeritus Roy De Forest (1930-2007) is beloved for his colorful narrative figurative paintings, drawings and prints. Printmaking offered De Forest a means to explore his visual vocabulary — to experiment with the colors, textures and mark-making unique to the medium. Featuring a recent gift of prints from the artist’s estate, Habitats for Travelers explores De Forest’s dedication to the medium over three decades.

Curated by Jenelle Porter, independent curator.

Loie Hollowell: Tick Tock Belly Clock

Sept. 25 – May 8, 2023

Abstract art of pastel on paper by Loie Hollowell
On view in September is Loie Hollowell, Belly, breast…, August 23, 2021. Soft pastel on paper, 25.5 x 22 in. © Loie Hollowell. Courtesy of Pace Gallery. Photo: Melissa Goodwin.


Known primarily for paintings and drawings that map the body through both figuration and abstraction, New York-based artist Loie Hollowell draws from her own life experiences in her work. The first exhibition to focus on her soft pastel drawings, Tick Tock Belly Clock asserts the primacy of drawing within her overall practice as key to making her paintings, while also celebrating them in their own right. The exhibition features all new works made in 2020-21, and speaks directly to the pandemic moment. Hollowell, a rising star in the art world, grew up in Woodland, California, and is the daughter of longtime UC Davis Professor Emeritus David Hollowell.

Curated by Susie Kantor, Manetti Shrem Museum associate curator and exhibition department head.

Find more information here.

Fall Season Celebration

Sunday, Sept. 25, 4:30 – 7 p.m.

Join the museum on Sept. 25 to celebrate an exciting new season. Be among the first to visit three dynamic new exhibitions that span generations. Meet exhibiting artists Loie Hollowell and Sadie Barnette and hear about their creative practice in our featured presentation, The Personal is Profound, moderated by Associate Curator and Exhibition Department Head Susie Kantor. Get creative with art activities presented in partnership with the Crocker Art Museum’s Block by Block initiative. Experience the soulful sounds of Oakland singer-songwriter August Lee Stevens and her band throughout the evening. Free for all!

Soroptimist LUNAFEST film festival is Sept. 25

Sept. 25, 3 p.m.

Davis Odd Fellows Hall, 415 Second St., Davis, $25 general, $15 student; $40 household (online)

Tickets are still available for LUNAFEST, a series of short films by and about women that will run on Sunday, Sept. 25 at Davis Odd Fellows Hall, or online that weekend. The event is a fundraiser for Soroptimist International of Davis.

The event includes eight short films, told from perspectives that champion women and gender-nonconforming individuals, highlighting their aspirations, accomplishments, resilience, strength and connection. Though the films are unrated, they are most appropriate for ages 13 and up.

The in-person event will be Sunday, Sept. 25 at Davis Odd Fellows Hall, 415 Second St. Doors open at 3 p.m. and the screening begins at 3:30. Food and drink will be available for purchase, including alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages. 

Black person in front of larger group of people moving forward represents a film being shown in Davis
LUNAFEST attendees who bring a new package of girls’ or ladies’ panties to the Sept. 25 screening are eligible to receive a free item from the snack bar. (Dzokerayi Minya/Courtesy photo)

Those unable to join in person can still support Soroptimist programs by watching the films virtually from their smart TV or device. Beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 23, those purchasing virtual tickets will have 48 hours to begin watching the films, and 48 hours to finish viewing once they’ve started. The total running time for the eight short films is 80 minutes. Before the films, there’s a brief video from Soroptimist International of Davis, outlining how its programs improve the lives of women and girls in Yolo County.

The group is working with its Ruby Award winner Dzokerayi Minya of the TESE Foundation. Attendees who bring a new package of girls’ or ladies’ panties to the screening are eligible to receive a free item from the snack bar. These donations will support rural girls in Zimbabwe who need the panties to attend school. 

Proceeds from LUNAFEST benefit Soroptimist International of Davis, and its programs to educate and empower women and girls, as well as Chicken & Egg Pictures, a nonprofit organization that supports female nonfiction filmmakers.
For LUNAFEST tickets, visit here.

Soroptimist is a global volunteer organization that provides women and girls with access to the education and training they need to achieve economic empowerment.

Coming up

A Recital of American Music at Pitzer

Sept. 29, 12:05 – 1 p.m.

Recital Hall, Ann E. Pitzer Center, free, a Shinkoskey Noon Concert

Dagenais Smiley, violin and UC Davis lecturer in music with John Cozza, piano

illustration for concert

The program includes Amy Beach: Romance for Violin and Piano, Aaron Copland: Four Piano Blues​, Samuel Barber: Canzone for Violin and Piano​, George Gershwin: Summertime / A Woman Is a Sometime Thing, Copland: Sonata for Violin and Piano, and Gershwin: It Ain’t Necessarily So.

This recital features 20th-century American music, with transcriptions by famed Russian-Lithuanian-American violinist Jascha Heifetz, from George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, as well as Samuel Barber’s own transcription of the second movement of his Piano Concerto.

A native of Northern California, Dagenais Smiley earned her bachelor of music degree at the Oberlin Conservatory as a student of Milan Vitek and her master’s degree from USC under the instruction of Kathleen Winkler. She is proud to have worked under such notable conductors as Leon Fleisher, David Zinman, Robert Spano, Michael Tilson Thomas, and John Williams. She has participated in master classes given by Yuval Yaron, Kathleen Winkler, Alexander Barantschik, Fritz Gearhart, the Calder Quartet, and Glenn Dicterow.

Find more information here.

San Francisco Symphony at Mondavi in October

Thursday, Oct. 6, 7:30 p.m., Mondavi's Jackson Hall

Man and woman in diptich photos of San Francisco Symphony performers
Courtesy photo, Mondavi Center.


The San Francisco Symphony performed the first concert in the Mondavi Center in October 2002. They return to celebrate a 20-year partnership, now under the guidance of music director Esa-Pekka Salonen. This celebratory evening features a rich program: a U.S. debut of new piece by British composer Daniel Kidane; Sibelius’s lovely tone poem Luonnotar featuring South African soprano Golda Schultz; and a complete rendering of Stravinsky’s breakthrough ballet score, The Firebird. 

Find more information here.

Art social media pick this week

A tweet from verge center of the arts advertising Sac Open Studios artist spotlights. The tweet reads "Here's a selection of studios open in East Sacramento during Weekend 2m Sept. 17&18: Linda M. Paris #203, Cristina Arizmendi #204, Ed Forrest #212. There are four photos. The first is an advertisement for the artist spotlight. The second is a painting of a window with a cat outside. The third is of ceramic cups. The fourth is an abstract painting.

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Arts Blog Editor: Karen Nikos-Rose, kmnikos@ucdavis.edu

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