On the Ground 

Children's art from Baghdad


An East Bay youngster brings home pictures from preschool and, as remarkable as she may be to her parents, her drawings are much the same as those of her peers: a sun in the top left radiating lines of yellow, blue scribbles across the top for sky, stick figures with big smiles. Sometimes she adds a flower or a tree. Shocked and Awed, on exhibit at the Museum of Children's Art (MOCHA) in Oakland starting this Sunday, is a collection of drawings by students from the Al Assail School in Baghdad. The pictures show tanks, helicopters, airplanes, stick figures standing with guns, dense clouds of bullets, and figures lying on the ground. Whatever your view of this particular conflict, the pictures tell the hard story of every war. Created only weeks after the intense bombardment of Baghdad ended in 2003, some of the children -- ranging from seven-year-olds to teenagers -- use imperfect English to convey their thoughts. "We are not Gilty" reads one; "No, Sadam. Yes, Boosh," says another; "Wher's the Water?" reads yet another. In many pictures women are shown crying, hands raised to the sky. In one, the Tigris river flows red with blood. The 76 drawings were created when American documentary filmmaker Patrick Dillon teamed up with Carl Rosenstein, owner of Manhattan's Puffin Room gallery. Rosenstein, who has featured the work of children from war zones before, commissioned Dillon to bring home children's pictures from Iraq. Armed with paper, crayons, and colored pencils, he managed to convince the teachers at Al Assail -- despite their fear of repercussions -- to allow their students to draw the pictures as a way of communicating directly with people in the United States. Dillon then smuggled the children's work home to New York, where it showed at the Puffin Room in SoHo last winter. "Shocked and Awed" is now at MOCHA from May 2 to June 6. The gallery is open Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., weekends noon to 5 p.m. Admission is free. Join Barbara Lubin of the Middle East Children's Alliance at the exhibit's opening, on May 5 from 6 to 8 p.m. MOCHA is at 538 9th St., between Washington and Clay streets. 510-465-8770 or www.mocha.org -- Eve Pearlman

SAT 5/1

Honorcore in L-More

This weekend, Pine Street Bar and Grill takes you back to a time when musicians weren't afraid to show off their chops. Or wear scarves, spandex, and nonironic mullets. No, the Darkness isn't making a stop in Livermore -- it's just another sizzling-hot plate of tribute-band action to make you scream "WOO!!" Headlining is the Rush Project , paying homage to those Canadian kings of suburban alienation, Rush. Also on the bill is SFO, a tribute to the music of Joe Satriani. If that's a little too much technical proficiency for you, but not enough schmaltz and circumstance, then feast your bleeding ears on Hammer of the Gods, doing their best to honor the memory of Led Zeppelin, and Earthshaker, paying tribute to Y&T. 875 Rincon Ave., 21 and up, 925-606-8266. -- Stefanie Kalem

SUN 5/2

Beyond Trance

Those Israeli kids love their trance music. But there's a deeper musical tradition over there, and during Desert Rhythms: An Israeli Musical Journey at the Berkeley YWCA (2600 Bancroft Way), you can learn all about it. Donny Inbar, cultural attaché to the Israeli consulate in San Francisco, will unravel the threads of popular music in Israel through video and audio clips, followed by a set by Berkeley's Za'atar, who combine traditional and modern instrumentation for a moving mix of Mizrahi (Middle Eastern Jewish) styles. There will be beer, wine, and tasty treats, and the whole thing is free. Lehrhaus Judaica: 510-845-6420. -- Stefanie Kalem

SAT 5/1

Fox and Its Friends

Oakland's enormous Fox Theater, the ultimate white elephant/chamber of commerce rallying point for urban renewal, keeps on trying to revive itself. The latest Fox Oakland Premier Fund-Raising Gala takes place this Saturday, 7 to 11:30 p.m., in the Rotunda Building at 300 Frank Ogawa Plaza in downtown Oaktown. Mayor Jerry Brown will undoubtedly be there, alongside food from some dozen restaurants and '30s-nostalgia live music and dancers. Maybe someday we can all go to movies in the Fox, or at least a stage play. But it'll take money. Tickets are $75 from 510-869-3519 or Ticketmaster.com -- Kelly Vance


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