By Gianmaria Franchini
*Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History 705 Front St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 Close to the Flame: In the Spirit of Burning Man.* In celebration of Burning Man’s radically inclusive spirit, the Museum of Art and History is giving art made for the 40,000-strong, Black Rock Desert get-together a second life. Burning Man’s mission statement exalts immediacy to the “touchstone” of its culture, and this showcase is no different: expect it to be cutting-edge, and highly experimental. Installations will be housed in the Solari Gallery, away from arid Nevada sands, through Feb. 3.
Mary and Harry Blanchard Sculpture Garden
A new garden has taken root, budding at the Museum of Art and History’s rooftop. Alongside the plants and fountains, the garden displays its most intriguing forms: three outdoor sculptures from the museum’s permanent collection. Look for the bronze “Justice,” a gnarled female figure reminiscent of the goddess herself. If you’re tired of man-made artistry, take in the surrounding view.
*Mary Porter Sesnon Art Gallery* Literally speaking, Mexican multi-media artist Gabriela León’s exhibition Sunday Walk to the Zocalo of Oaxaca is a response to the recent and little-known Oaxacan popular revolt movements. But Sunday Walk is also a tribute to organized resistance itself: some images exude violence and sound installations conjure the cadence of fervent crowds.
The exhibition’s centerpiece, “Barricade Dress,” is tailored with barbed wire and tire treads. A video shows León milling about police while wearing the dress, proudly exhibiting her sartorial protest. The exhibition will be held at the Sesnon Art Gallery, Porter College, Jan. 29 through March 8. The artist will give a talk on Jan. 29 at the Media Theater, 6 – 7:30 p.m.
*The Rio, 1205 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95062* There are two notable — if incongruous — January events at Santa Cruz’s versatile East Side venue, Rio Theatre. The Monterey Jazz Festival swings its way up the California coast as part of its 50th anniversary national tour, stopping to give its coastal neighbors a visit on Friday, Jan. 11. The line-up includes a mix of savvy veterans and some younger artists. Doors open at 8 p.m.
Nascent all-female roller derby league Santa Cruz Rollergirls presents “Hell on Wheels” on Saturday, Jan. 19. The documentary chronicles the life of seminal Austin, Texas-based derby girl league Texas Roller Derby/Lonestar Rollergirls and rival Texas Rollergirls. Their own brutal 21st-century version of the old sport has spawned a national revival, and “Hell on Wheels” narrates the story in all its grit and glory. Doors at 7:30 p.m., show starts at 8:30 p.m. Bring your skates.
*A Midsummer Night’s Dream* Adding adolescent fuel to Santa Cruz’s love affair with all things Shakespeare, students from the Pacific Collegiate School’s Thespian Society is performing the Bard’s celebrated comedy with a 1920s-style twist.
Although youthful enthusiasm might not be able to compete with Shakespeare Santa Cruz’s renowned reputation, this isn’t your typical high school drama — the eight-year-old charter school was recently dubbed the second-best in the nation. “Dream” runs midwinter from Jan. 25 through Feb. 4 at the Pacific Collegiate School, 255 Swift, Santa Cruz, at 7 p.m Friday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Sundays.