Weekender: Taproot New Music Begins; Catch Performances and Exhibitions

Two-headed horse-like figure in wood is part of Manetti Shrem Museum exhibitions
One of many pieces on view at the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art is Marcos Ramírez ERRE: Toy-an Horse Model 2/5 at the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, UC Davis, October 1, 2023–June 24, 2024, (photo/ © Muzi Rowe)

This week, the annual Taproot New Music Festival begins with the noon concert. Catch the MFA studios and work in an exhibition at the Gorman Museum of Native American Art, The Design Museum, or the Manetti Shrem Museum. More about all of these exhibitions is available in this Arts Blog wrap-up of winter exhibitions. Read on for concerts, performances and more. Many are free, some are low-cost. Have a great art week.

Karen Nikos-Rose, Arts Blog Editor

Taproot New Music Festival starts with noon concert

Thursday, Feb. 8 – Sunday, Feb. 11 at the Ann E. Pitzer Center at UC Davis

Opening Concert: Thursday Feb. 8, 12:05 pm – 1 p.m., Recital Hall, Ann E. Pitzer Center, UC Davis

The Taproot New Music Festival will take place on the campus of the University of California, Davis, during the week of Feb. 5, 2024, and will culminate in performances at the end of that week (Feb. 8–11, 2024). Eight composers have been chosen to participate in the festival: they’ll have new pieces performed, and will participate in seminars and workshops facilitated by the visiting artists and UC Davis composition faculty. The festival will feature Splinter Reeds as a visiting ensemble. UC Davis’s own Empyrean Ensemble will also join the festival line-up.

A biennial festival at UC Davis, it features concerts and other events, and also creates the opportunity for our students to work alongside exceptional artists. Actively inclusive and participatory, Taproot broadcasts a unique vision of how to sustain a musical community.

The Taproot New Music Festival brings together a diverse group of composers and performers, both local and visiting, and gives them the chance to hear new work, and to make lasting connections.


More on Taproot Music Festival

Band of musicians dressed in black on black background
Splinter Reeds is among the performers scheduled. (Leann Gonzalez, Courtesy)

The Mondavi Center presents Lakecia Benjamin and Phoenix Thursday-Saturday

Thursday, Feb. 8 - Saturday, Feb. 10, The Mondavi Center’s Vanderhoef Studio Theatre, tickets starting at $45

Lakecia Benjamin was voted 2020 Downbeat Critics Poll Rising Star Alto Saxophonist and Up and Coming Artist of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association.

Dark-complected woman in costume

A charismatic and dynamic performer who has played alongside Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, The Roots, Macy Gray and many more, Benjamin also has an inimitable skill of fusing traditional conceptions of jazz, hip hop and soul in her original songs. For this Studio debut, Benjamin features the quartet from her 2023 release Phoenix, an album that featured cameos by some of Benjamin’s heroes including Wayne Shorter, Angela Davis, Dianne Reeves and Patrice Rushen.

See a clip here Lakecia Benjamin Quartet Spiral

Book tickets: Lakecia Benjamin and Phoenix | Mondavi Center

'Auditions' through March 17 at Verge, Sacramento

Jottings, sketches, marginalia, improvisations, etudes – this is the stuff of process. As artists, thinkers and around-the-house tinkerers, we typically exercise our materials, concepts and embodiments as a means to an end. We are on our way somewhere. We are pushing ourselves and our tools. In search of an as-of-yet undefined, unrealized destination. 

In this exhibition curated by Richard Haley, artists work with a purpose to capture the materiality of process as an end unto itself.

This exhibit features the work of UC Davis Professor Shiva Ahmadi (also appearing at Manetti Shrem Museum) and more...

More at Verge

Coming events

Fog and Smoke book launch, signing next week

Thursday, Feb. 15, 4:30-6 p.m.

Written in the wake of the pandemic, Fog and Smoke describes how the movement of fog and the threat of smoke orient and disorient ordinary life. It’s also a California book that follows one family through the confusions of COVID, the sorrow of climate grief, and the delights of early childhood. Peterson will read from the collection, followed by a Q&A. She will be introduced by Associate Professor Margaret Ronda, author of two award-winning collections of poetry.

True crime comes to Main Theatre, UC Davis

Feb. 22, 23, 24, 29 and March 1 at 7 p.m. and March 2 at 2 p.m., Main Theatre in Wright Hall, tickets starting at $5

Triggered by a hate crime, which brought attention to the lack of hate crime laws nationwide, The Laramie Project is a riveting contemporary drama that challenges the inhabitants of a rural American community.

Written by Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project including alumnus Greg Pierotti (M.F.A., dramatic arts, ’16), the drama chronicles the reaction to the 1998 murder of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming.

Warning: This play is based on a true story, and includes strong language and mature content that some may find upsetting, including descriptions of homophobia, violence and death.

Tickets available through this portal.

Templeton Colloquium 2024 presents 'Moving Things, Making Ideas: China-Inspired Objects and International Trade'

Friday, Feb. 23, 4-6 p.m., Community Room, Manetti Shrem Museum of Art

Line drawing representing Templeton Colloquium theme of Chinese artifacts

China exported immense quantities of art across the globe in the early modern era, which made Chinese art highly influential in international design trends. The 2024 Templeton Colloquium in Art History will explore the influence of Chinese art and aesthetics on European and East Asian societies.  Chinese art brought cultures into contact with each other, created increased awareness of geographically distant societies, and shaped modern tastes in art.

Wallpaper design with waterfowl and foliage in color
Chinese wallpaper, detail from Chinese Bedroom, Felbrigg Hall, Norfolk, England; originally from China; Ca. 1750, printed ink and hand-painted watercolors on paper. (Tamara Bentley/Courtesy)

Chinese wallpaper, detail from Chinese Bedroom, Felbrigg Hall, Norfolk, England; originally from China; Circa 1750, printed ink and hand-painted watercolors on paper. (Tamara Bentley)


Tamara Bentley’s talk builds upon and extends work in global history by Maxine Berg and Beverly Lemire. They argue that, in the 17th and 18th centuries, imported Indian printed cottons and Chinese silks and wallpaper, as well as Chinese and Japanese lacquerwares and porcelains, jump-started the English and French domestic manufacturing of textiles, japanned furniture, ceramics, and wallpaper as acts of import substitution.

Kristina Kleutghen’s talk will examine Kangxi’s experimental painted enamel Yixing ware in relation to the new technology of painted enamels at his court and compare it to Johann Friedrich Böttger enameled stoneware for Augustus II, Elector of Saxony, Germany, where European porcelain was first manufactured.

Katharine Burnett’s presentation will investigate the exchange of tea culture and teapots between China and Vietnam between 1300 to 1700, with an emphasis on the late Ming period. 

Organized and moderated by Michael Yonan, Templeton Professor of European Art, 1600–1830, UC Davis, this event is co-sponsored by the Department of Art and Art History and the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art.

The colloquium is made possible through an endowment established by Alan Templeton (B.A., art history and psychology, ‘82).

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