Weekender: Cabaret, Ranky Tanky and String Quartet are Highights

New Art in Regional Galleries Coming Up; Manetti Shrem Open

Men on stage in black suits holding musical instruments
The Alexander String Quartet returns to the Mondavi Center this Sunday. (Courtesy photo)

Meow Meow cabaret Friday

Friday, March 31, 7:30 p.m., Jackson Hall, Mondavi Center

It might not be too much to say that a Meow Meow cabaret performance is a life-changing event. Named one of the “Top Performers of the Year” by The New Yorker, the spectacular crowd-surfing tragi-comedienne has been called a “diva of the highest order” (New York Post), but one whose insecurities are always simmering just below the surface. Careening from French chanson to Radiohead, with brilliant dashes of Brecht and Weill in between, she’s a remarkable singer and physical comedian who hypnotizes, inspires—and terrorizes—audiences with ease. Hilarious and heartbreaking in equal measure, an evening with Meow Meow will have you holding on to your seats (as she might try to take them from you) and grabbing for handkerchiefs. 

One sample of her will have you rushing for the ticket office. See video below.

Find more information and purchase tickets here.

Ranky Tanky with Dom Flemons: music traditions of coastal South

Saturday, April 1, 7:30 p.m., Jackson Hall, Mondavi Center

Ranky Tanky (a Gullah phrase for “get funky”) are five lifelong friends from Charleston, South Carolina, who have established themselves as passionate global ambassadors for their local Gullah culture and community. Their deeply grooving music helps to faithfully preserve the traditions originated by African Americans in the coastal South during slavery that are kept alive through the present day. The band’s second album, Good Time, won a Grammy for Best Regional Roots Album. They are joined on this Mondavi Center debut by fellow Grammy-winner, multi-instrumentalist, former Carolina Chocolate Drop and “American Songster” Dom Flemons. 

Find more information and purchase tickets here.

Band photographed on weathered house portch and invidual photo of member
Ranky Tanky performs Saturday at the Mondavi Center.  (Courtesy photo)

Alexander String Quartet with Robert Greenberg

Sunday, April 2, 2 p.m., Jackson Hall

A major artistic presence in its home base of San Francisco, the Alexander String Quartet is equally beloved in its second home, the Mondavi Center. This year the quartet appears with violist David Samuel joining cellist Sandy Wilson, and violinists Fred Lifsitz and Zakarias Grafilo.

The final Alexander String Quartet performance will take place in Jackson Hall and will feature Robert Greenberg's lecture on each piece followed by a full performance of the same piece. The program will include String Quartet No. 13 in G Major, Op. 106 and String Quartet No. 14 in A-flat Major, Op. 105.

Greenberg has performed, taught and lectured extensively across North America and Europe. He is currently music historian-in-residence with San Francisco Performances, where he has lectured and performed since 1994. 

No nineteenth century composer wrote chamber music more joyful, more melodically brilliant, more accessible, and more compositionally sound than did the Bohemian born and bred Antonin Dvořák (1841-1904). Protégé of Johannes Brahms, father of nine children (all with his first and only wife); beloved teacher, conductor, violinist, and pianist, Dvořák was perhaps, along with Joseph Haydn, the nicest, kindest, least neurotic person ever to become a major composer. Like Haydn, Dvořák created a body of musical work remarkable for its straightforward expressive content, its humor, humanity, grace and technical polish. 

Find more information and purchase tickets here.

UC Davis Creative Writing Series: Salvador Plascencia

Wednesday, April 5, 2023 at 4:30 p.m.; UC Davis Library, room 205

Blue cover of book with hands and arms drawn on in white
People of Paper (HarperCollins)

Salvador Plascencia is the author of the cult favorite The People of Paper, named a best book of the year by the San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times and Financial Times. The People of Paper has been translated into a dozen languages and widely anthologized and adopted in Chicanista, postmodern, and design courses throughout the country. His writing has appeared in McSweeney's, Lucky Peach, Tin House, and the Los Angeles Times. He teaches fiction writing at Harvey Mudd College.


Ongoing Exhibitions at UC Davis

From Concept to Creation: Inspired Shoe Design by Chris Francis

Through April 23, UC Davis Design Museum

The UC Davis Design Museum takes a bold step with the exhibition “From Concept to Creation: Inspired Shoe Design by Chris Francis,” which showcases the colorful and imaginative footwear created by the Los Angeles-based shoe designer.

Co-curated by Professor Susan T. Avila and Cristina Gomez, graduate student in design, the installation spotlights creations by shoemaker and designer Francis. His work combines global shoemaking traditions and techniques, with references to the built environment such as industrial design and brutalist architecture as well as 20th-century art movements and punk rock. His narrative-based, unique hand-constructed shoes theatrically bridge contemporary art and wearable design.

Visit the Design Museum for map and parking information.

Mike Henderson: Before the Fire, 1965–1985 at Manetti Shrem

Through June 25, Manetti Shrem Museum

UC Davis Professor Emeritus Mike Henderson’s first solo U.S. museum exhibition in 20 years brings to light the pioneering artist’s rarely seen contributions to the history of contemporary painting and filmmaking, radical Black politics, and to the story of California art. The exhibition integrates paintings and films by Henderson that offer new ideas about Black life in the visual languages of protest, Afro-futurism and surrealism. Challenging the protocols and propriety of art-making in the 20th century, these works depict scenes of anti-Black violence as well as utopian visions and questions of self-making. Curated by Sampada Aranke (Ph.D. ’13) and Dan Nadel.

Read more about Henderson and this exhibition here.

Exagerrated, high-heeled shoes in black and white
Brunel-28 motion shoe by Chris Francis is part of the Design Museum's shoe spectacular ongoing through spring. (Courtesy photo)

Ceramics highlighted in new exhibits at John Natsoulas Art Gallery

Patti Warashina: Ceramics Exhibition starts next week

Wednesday, April 5, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., John Natsoulas Gallery, Davis

The human figure has fascinated ceramic sculptor Patti Warashina for most of her 55-plus year art career. Her sustaining interest in the human figure is likely due to the fact that her own body is the closest resource from which she draws her ideas. The use of the body gives affirmation to Warashina’s own daily existence, and serves as the subject of her own “visual diary” which, for Warashina, is a reminder, reflection, and observation of personal time and the civilization in which she lives. Warashina draws from her daily life and has an abnormal interest in the absurdity and foibles of human behavior, in which her figures have become the actors in her introspective narratives.

Annual Ceramics Exhibition

April 5 –  May 7, John Natsoulas

In conjunction with the 36th Annual California Conference for the Advancement of Ceramic Arts, which runs April 28 – 29 and includes demonstrations, lectures, and shows with distinguished ceramic sculptors, this exhibition will feature some of the most intriguing ceramic artists from around the country.

Coming up on campus

Sammy Miller and the Congregation

Thursday, April 6, 7:30 p.m., Friday, April 7, 7:30 p.m., Saturday, April 8, 7:30 p.m., Vanderhoef Studio Theatre, Mondavi Center

The program includes Sammy Miller, drums and vocals; Alphonso Horne, trumpet; Ben Flocks, tenor sax; David Linard, piano; Corbin Jones, bass and sousaphone.

Sammy Miller and the Congregation are on a mission, crisscrossing the country like a vaudevillian revival show with evangelic fervor for music. The seven-piece band, described as a mashup of Ben Folds Five and Preservation Hall Jazz Band, is putting people in the moment with a bracing dose of joyful jazz performed with infectious theatricality. The New York City-based, familial collective has captured its frenetic energy and unflinchingly optimistic songwriting on its debut album, Leaving Egypt. “We want to get people back in a room together,” Sammy Miller says. “I love the idea of being unhinged, sincere, vulnerable, and breaking down walls through humor. Music is an uplifting gift, and I want to be generous in sharing it with people.”  

Find more information and purchase tickets here

Group of performers in black-and-white photo
Sammy Miller and the Congregation performs next week at Mondavi Center, UC Davis. (Courtesy photo)

HellaCappella returns

April 7, 7:30 p.m., Jackson Hall, Mondavi Center

Presented by UC Davis’ premier all-female-identifying, award-winning a cappella group, The Spokes, HellaCappella is an exciting collaboration between a cappella groups of all shapes, sizes and sounds. For the past 18 years, HellaCappella's audience has continued to grow, attracting music lovers across generations from the greater Davis and Sacramento communities. In previous years, HellaCappella has sold out the Mondavi Center's 1,800-plus seats, and now The Spokes are proud to present their show once again in the beautiful arts facility. This 19th anniversary show’s dynamic lineup includes show-stopping performances from groups all over the West Coast. Family friendly.

Find more information and purchase tickets here.

Vladimir Feltsman, piano

Saturday, April 8, 7:30 p.m., Jackson Hall, Mondavi Center

In this third and final — and pandemic-delayed — edition of his concert trilogy, Vladimir Feltsman shares the final act of a story he began telling at Mondavi Center in 2018. Known as one of the most versatile and commanding musicians of our time, pianist and conductor Feltsman covered works by Bach, Beethoven and Chopin in year one; and by Schumann and Brahms in year two. In this final program, titled “Inspirations,” Feltsman will perform his interpretations of works by Mozart and Schubert. The old saying is “the third time is the charm” but audience members will be hard-pressed to pick a favorite among Feltsman’s trinity of performances. 

Find more information and purchase tickets here.

Art social media of the week

Photo of darkened room with window to outside in social media post

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  • Karen Nikos-Rose, kmnikos@ucdavis.edu

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