Monday, October 26, 2020
Arts + Culture Arts Forecast Arts Forecast: Apocalypse... but make it fashion!

Arts Forecast: Apocalypse… but make it fashion!

The arts community is putting on a damn good face in this catastrophe, from floral masks to streaming Shakespeare and more.

-

The name of this column, “Arts Forecast,” has suddenly taken on an ominous tone in this moment of cancellations and uncertainty. While we are waiting to see what help is on the way to allow the arts community here to survive, the Bay Area is of course coming together in its wonderfully scruffy way to try to make things brighter.

There’s a lot of bad news, but also a lot of good things being done, on a grand scale—like pushing for relief for arts workers in the community fundraising and political arena—to smaller things, like a neat project by fashion designer and nightlife promoter Saul Sugarman, sewing colorful masks to raise money for people in need. He’s donating proceeds (more than $400 already!) to the SF Queer Nightlife Fund and masks to Let’s Kick ASS, a group empowering long-term survivors of HIV and AIDS, and hosting a “Stitch and Bitch with Saul: Making a Face Mask” online tutorial event Thu/26, 5pm-8pm, free.

Sugarman’s cloth masks won’t protect you from COVID-19—social distancing should still be the priority—but if you are feeling ill, they can help filter the air, and help keep you from spreading the flu or a cold to someone else. (Remember to wash and disinfect often!) Yet his lovely masks are tapping into both a post-apocalyptic aesthetic that tempers cynicism with skill and humor, plus a DIY revival born of endless time cooped at home. (Designer Christian Siriano has also taken a turn toward mask-making.)

A bouquet for breathing. Mask by Saul Sugarman

Pokemon, Harry Potter, sequins and more are all on Sugarman’s mask menu. When I asked him about how he started, he not only cited Lady Gaga and JoAnn Fabrics (not a drag queen) as inspirations, but told me, “I’m embarrassed to admit it began as Instagram narcissism. In early February, before coronavirus spread in the US, I was reading about the issue and thought of these floral overalls I’d recently made. They were a gorgeous print, actually, that I initially bought for an apparel customer who went on the January Atlantis cruise. He wanted an upper body harness for their ‘Mother Earth’ party. Everyone loved it, so I had a couple yards laying around.

“In the fabric scraps I had left, I figured I would make a mask and then post: ‘But make it gay.’ A lot of my business is just that: posting fun things I wear that reach sufficient thresholds of amazing that people message me to purchase them. But I sat on running the post at all because I thought it was insensitive. Then COVID-19 affected all of us, and it felt like every day someone was thinking to themselves, ‘Who do I know who sews masks? Oh, Saul.’ And I’d get messages. I could have just sewn them for fun and to simply donate the masks, but I wanted to find a way to help a community that’s close to my heart.”

Thats’ the gayest story ever, and also quite sweet. You can check out more of Saul’s masks here.

——-MORE ARTS——

There are no upcoming arts events really except streaming ones, and renegade moments like impromptu  bagpipe concerts from decks and rooftops. The SF International Arts Festival just announced it’s cancelling its fortnight-long May event, caring the loss of $200,000 to its artists and organization. They are offering full refunds on tickets, but if you’d like to donate the refund (or contribute) to its various artists, you can do so at the SFIAFF website here. The 149-year-old San Francisco Arts Institute has announced that huge changes are afoot after a deal to save it collapsed, sounding like it is going to close very soon, or undergo some kind of anime transformation where it “assumes a new form.” In any case, workers are being laid off and the future is up in the air.

Live music institution Slim’s has also announced it has closed: Things have been shaky there since both it and Great American Music Hall started outsourcing booking duties to concert behemoth Golden Voice in 2018, but now things have been exacerbated by COVID-19 fallout. Will there be any small venues left when we come out of this? You can help determine this: Here’s a list of local venue, restaurant, and bar fundraisers—please contribute if you can!

Now some good stuff! Here is a Facebook group you can join called Art and Culture You Can Stream Online for Free that has already introduced me to endless delights, including a reading of all of Shakespeare’s plays from the beginning by actors from all around the world (called, of course, the Show Must Go Online), Living Room Concerts from top Broadway stars, a virtual tour of the Palace of Versailles,    plus streaming local theater, music, drag shows, and more. The group was started by local author and bookstore owner Ken White.

Along with ACT and Berkeley Rep, queer Theatre Rhinoceros has announced an online streaming program for two of its plays, Radical and Scotus, and Marin Theater Company is selling tickets to its streaming production of Love. Speaking of radical, if you are in the mood for some inciting reading, Haymarket Books is offering a solid selection of free e-books from the likes of Angela Davis and Naomi Klein, and Verso Books is offering 40%-80% discounts on its equally radical e-titles. Want some jazz accompaniment? SFJAZZ is streaming Friday evening concerts.

On the visual art side of things, the great Creativity Explored is launching its first all video and digital exhibition on Thu/26, curated by Dena Beard, executive director of The Lab. And bright sketch comedy troupe SF Neo-Futurists are broadcasting their “World Wide Wrench” show every Friday.

Eventbrite is keeping a list of online classes and general events here, which contains some gems (bachata lessons, anyone?). Manny’s in the Mission has gone totally online, and you can catch titllating political conversations plus big guests like food writer Michael Pollan from the couch. If you’re looking for some queer local entertainment and company, the Facebook group Queer Quarantine Hangouts and Performances offers a dazzling array of fabulous moments.

Don’t forget our continuing suggestions at 48 Hills! Film critic Dennis Harvey gives a great run-down of streaming options here and some movie recommendations here. Food writer Tamara Palmer tells you where to order some yummy and affordable dinners while helping the local food scene. And music critic John-Paul Shiver is full of good new (and classic) music recommendations. Plus, why not some great local podcasts about your neighbors?

Stay tuned and don a cute mask, more is on the way! Hang in there.

Marke B.
Marke Bieschke is the publisher and arts and culture editor of 48 Hills. He co-owns the Stud bar in SoMa. Reach him at marke (at) 48hills.org, follow @supermarke on Twitter.

More by this author

[UPDATED] Arts festival sues city in push for safe live performances—before rain comes

City revokes SF International Arts Festival permit for weekend program as arts languish amid reopenings

[UPDATED] 48 Hills Variety Gala: Honey Mahogany, Marga Gomez, Rev. Norman Fong, more to appear!

Join us Thursday, October 22 at 7pm for our free online all-star celebration, and find out who won Best of the Bay 2020!

You’re invited! Join us October 22 online for our ALL-STAR VARIETY GALA

Honey Mahogany, Marga Gomez, Peaches Christ, Davey D, Rose Aguilar, and more help us celebrate seven years!

Last chance to vote for Best of the Bay!

Voting ends Sunday! Tell your friends and favorites—and join us October 22 for a LIVE announcement of the Best of the Bay winners!

Arts Forecast: Museums reopen, Litquake rolls out… and music in parklets?

Plus: SOMArts DĂ­a de los Muertos show, DJ Mark Farina, California Symphony, 'Heads of Hip Hop, more.

Most read

The biased coverage and real story around Lowell High and school renaming

Attention Chronicle: A lottery for the 'elite' school is neither new nor a radical idea -- and neither is discussing changing the names of schools celebrating racists and colonialists.

Best of the Bay 2020: Food and Drink winners

Best Burger, Best Sushi, Best Burrito, Best Dive Bar, Best BBQ, more in our 2020 Readers' Poll

Nancy Pelosi just announced her retirement

Rep. Nancy Pelosi cut a deal that will put her in the position of House speaker for four more years (assuming the Democrats retain...

The end of Shahid Buttar’s campaign — and the lessons

Shahid Buttar’s campaign against Rep. Nancy Pelosi was always a longshot. He was challenging the person most responsible for challenging Donald Trump, and while...

The big GOP and real-estate money moves into District One

Fake tenants group and big outside cash is now trying to promote Philhour over Chan in a race that could determine the balance of power on the board.

Best of the Bay 2020: City Living winners

Best Street Fair, Best Salon, Best Politician, Best Tour, Best Hotel, Best Trainer, more in our 2020 Readers' Poll

Best of the Bay 2020: Arts & Nightlife winners

Best Art Gallery, Best DJ, Best Drag Queen, Best Arts Festival, Best Nightclub, and more in our 2020 Readers' Poll

Wiener tries to look progressive in debate

But that requires a bit of historical revisionism, since his record has always been very moderate on police, housing, and homelessness.

Our Best of the Bay 2020 Readers’ Poll winners are here!

Thousands voted—here are the results of our 45th annual readers' choice awards.

Screen Grabs: Borat’s ‘totally sensationalized false account’ and other bombshell releases

Sure, it has Giuliani looking suspect—but is 'Borat Subsequent Moviefilm' any good? Plus, a new documentary on the grifters leading the alt-right movement, and 'The Guardian of Memory.'

You might also likeRELATED