Though Robert Rauschenberg may be best known for his early "combines" -- assemblages of found objects, sculpture, and painting -- a different aspect of his oeuvre is featured in an show opening Thursday at Cal State Hayward. Robert Rauschenberg, Artist-Citizen: Posters for a Better World is the first exhibit to exclusively focus on the posters he created for various humanitarian projects and organizations. All works are original and are on loan from the artist's own collection. They include posters supporting artists' rights, Earth Day, and the United Nations, and campaigning against apartheid, nuclear armament, overpopulation, and war. Also on display are posters from Rauschenberg's own project, Rauschenberg Overseas Cultural Interchange. He founded ROCI (pronounced "Rocky" and named after his turtle) in 1984 as a means to collaborate with artists around the world, especially those living under oppressive conditions. One of his major aims was to support and recognize artists who were fighting against curtailment of their freedom of expression; over a period of seven years, he visited Malaysia, Germany, the USSR, Cuba, Japan, China, Tibet, Venezuela, Chile, and Mexico, living with and learning from local artists and trading everything from symbols to techniques.
The posters at the University Art Gallery may look strangely familiar, even to a viewer who doesn't know Rauschenberg's work; that's a pretty good measure of his influence on modern art. He was one of the first artists to use collage and screenprinting in a way that is now ubiquitous -- in ads and on rock posters and T-shirts -- a style that broadcasts the multifaceted and diverse nature of his images and materials, but which also embodies a DIY-type of progressive spirit. Rauschenberg once said that "artists must be engaged in determining the fate of the earth." It's a high standard, but he is emphatically upholding it.
The University Art Gallery is on the ground floor of the Arts and Entertainment Building at Cal State Hayward, 25800 Carlos Bee Blvd. For hours, information, and directions call 510-885-3299 or go to www.csuhayward.edu/artgallery -- Nora Sohnen
If you run into a bunch of confused-looking metalheads wandering the streets of downtown Berkeley this Halloween night, don't be afraid. They're probably just reevaluating their sonic preferences. See, Blake's (2367 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley) is hosting fifteen or more local metal acts tonight from 6 p.m. on, each one playing three songs acoustic. Remember when Nirvana played MTV's Unplugged, and the whole world found out that grunge - electricity = country music? Well, anyone who goes to see Crypit Orchid, Omissa, Circle of 5ths, Hazerfan, Sol Ascending, Faced, Roadside Attraction, LoNero, Worldwide Sickness, Nonfiction, As She Burns, Charlotte Summer, and all the others tonight at Blake's Unplugged may experience a similar paradigm shift. Don't fear the folksongs, people. 21 and over, $6; eighteen to twenty, $8. 510-848-0886. -- Stefanie Kalem
To the Woods!
Paul Stewart is a veteran author of children's books whose titles include Dogbird and Football Mad. Graphic artist Chris Riddell, also from England, is a political cartoonist for the UK Guardian and Observer when he isn't making pen drawings for his collaboration with Stewart, The Edge Chronicles. That fantasy book series is a runaway best-seller, the first two installments of which, Beyond the Deepwoods and Stormchaser, trace the adventures of an elfin boy named Twig and his friend the Banderbear. Now it's time for the third, Midnight Over Sanctaphrax. Stewart and Riddell will appear in person to discuss it, Friday afternoon (3:30) at Danville's Rakestraw Books, 409 Railroad Ave., 925-837-7337. -- Kelly Vance
Are you familiar with the phrase "the elephant in the room"? Something that's obvious to everyone, but nobody wants to talk about. With SF quintet Elephone, the elephant in the room -- or rather, on the telephone, ringing and ringing and leaving insistent answering machine messages -- may very well be that the band isn't afraid to be pretty in a decidedly unpretty time in history. Dreamily poppy-pretty, in fact. It also isn't afraid to sneer a little, rock occasionally, and drone a lot. Elephone plays a free, all-ages show this Friday at Fort Oregon, 1911 Oregon St., Berkeley, with Tab, Hijack the Disco, and Rust Belt Music. 8 p.m. -- Stefanie Kalem
Culture Spy - February 23, 2:42 PM
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What the Fork - February 15, 2:00 PM
Culture Spy - February 15, 10:30 AM