Facing the Past 

Black history via photo show


The saying "a picture is worth a thousand words" is trite but true. Photography, perhaps more than any other medium created in the mechanical age, offers an unchanging vision of what was -- telling not only the story of what's in front of the lens, but what's behind it. Reflections in Black, a remarkable exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution on the history of black photography, is a reminder of the power of still images. A groundbreaking collection of more than three hundred works, "Reflections" captures the rich complexity of the African-American diaspora from the perspective of some 120 black photographers. The only complete presentation in the western United States of this phenomenal three-part exhibition opens Saturday. Part one of the collection, "The First 100 Years: 1842-1942" -- presented at Oakland's African American Museum and Library (14th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way) through August 31 -- distills early images from the days of slavery through the Harlem Renaissance. The exhibit features works from Jules Lion, James VanDerZee, and Augustus Washington, who present a chronicle of African-American daily life as well as a history of techniques such as composite printing and flash photography. Part two, also through August 31, will be shown at the Oakland Museum of California (Oak and 10th streets). "Art and Activism" chronicles the civil rights and black power movements through the work of photojournalists such as Gordon Parks, Ernest C. Withers, and Jonathan Eubanks, an Oakland photographer who documented the Black Panther Party. The exhibit includes rare pictures of Malcolm X, H. Rap Brown, and Thurgood Marshall. Part three, "A History Deconstructed" -- at the Mills College Art Museum (5000 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland) through August 10 -- focuses on the work of African-American photographers during the last two decades. Contemporary photo artists Carrie Mae Weems, Albert Chong, and Keba Armand Konte, among others, redefine both the concept of race and the nature of photography. In this unique collection, text blends with image, montages go digital, and the medium appears on some decidedly unconventional surfaces.

African American Museum and Library: Tuesday-Saturday, noon to 5:30 p.m. Free. 510-637-0200. Oakland Museum of California: Wednesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.; first Friday of the month until 9 p.m. $6 adults; $4 seniors and students. Free admission every second Sunday of the month. 510:238-2200. Mills College Art Museum: Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m.; open every Wednesday until 7:30 p.m. Free. 510-430-2164. --Joy White

WED 6/11

Not Lost

Davy Rothbart reads in Oakland

To quote a dumped Grandpa Simpson: "Aw, who needs her? Now I'll have more time to read things I find on the ground." For years, Davy Rothbart's Found magazine has indulged our desire to probe the paper evidence of other people's lives. Publishing rescued ephemera must have provided Rothbart with some sweet inspiration, judging by the notices for his short story collection, The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas, released earlier this year and inspiring comparisons to Denis Johnson, Jim Carroll, and Arthur Bradford. He reads at Diesel (5433 College Ave., Oakland), and there will be music and other surprises. 510-653-9965. -- Stefanie Kalem

FRI 6/13


Comprising Larry Lepore and Larry LeCoq of Spore Attic and jazz drummer Larry Levis, East bay trio Superlarry peppers King Crimson's smart noodle soup with the crush and fury of hardcore and metal. We'd call it "post-prog," but they've termed their sound "post-partum rock," and they're the third band on a four-band bill at the Stork Club (2330 Telegraph Ave., Oakland). Headliners the Stellas are a coed duo from Oklahoma who do crunchy pop-rock while looking ridiculously pretty. Local outfits the Kevin Beedles Band and pop faves ing play first and second, respectively, and the action starts at 9:30 p.m. 510-444-6174. -- Stefanie Kalem

WED 6/11

Four-Way Hitch

Twenty-three years after his death, Alfred Hitchcock continues to inspire filmmakers -- especially experimental ones, if Wednesday evening's All the Hitchcock You Can Repeat video show at the Pacific Film Archive is any indication. Bob Paris goes psychedelic over The Birds. Rea Tajiri plays Bernard Herrmann's evocative Hitch music over her own scenarios, and voilá! -- instant suspense. Les LeVeque speeds up Spellbound. Christoph Girardet and Matthias Müller take a trip into Hitch's notorious obsessions. You get the picture -- endless deconstruction and refraction of the Master of Suspense. The vertigo hits you at 7:30 p.m. at the PFA, 2575 Bancroft Way on the UC Berkeley campus. 510-642-1124 or www.bampfa.berkeley.edu -- Kelly Vance


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