Sunday, 23 June 2024

Arts & Life

Artwork by Meyo Marrufo.

MIDDLETOWN, Calif. — Join Middletown Art Center on Saturday, Oct 21, from 1 to 4 p.m. for Basket Patterns with Meyo Marrufo.

It’s part of the Water Basket workshop series designed to support Native people in bringing expressions of their innate cultural heritage into public space and non-Native people in learning about Pomo cultural heritage.

Artist Meyo Marrufo will discuss basket patterns, and participants will engage in painting.

The workshop is free, including materials and supplies and open to the public.

Advance sign up is requested at www.middletownartcenter.org/waterbasket.

“Basket designs have more than a pretty face!” said Marrufo. “Come explore some of our designs and where they are found within the cultural landscape. Learn about basket designs and create your own artistic interpretation.”

An enrolled member of the Robinson Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians, Marrufo is a visual artist and visual storyteller, bead artist, weaver, regalia maker, active member of the Pomo Weavers Society, and Environmental Department Director at Guidiville Rancheria.

A solo exhibit of Marrrufo’s art, “Birds, Baskets and Other Thoughts,” is currently on view at MAC.

Her work has been exhibited widely in Northern California and curated “Gathering Time” at the Grace Hudson Museum in Ukiah and “We Are Still Here” at the Sonoma Museum last year.

Her work was first featured at MAC in the Earth Sky and Everything In Between exhibit last year and has since been part of several regular group shows at MAC.

She presents and lectures widely on Pomo culture and traditional ecological knowledge, or TEK, and practice.

The Water Basket project aims to raise awareness of Pomo cultural heritage and the rich legacy of Pomo basketry unique to this region and renowned worldwide.

The workshops are designed to support both Native and non-Native people in submitting design proposals for 360° murals for the water tanks on Rabbit Hill.

Like the designs woven into Pomo baskets, design proposals should reflect the area’s history, people, and ecology utilizing geometric and organic shapes that are symbolic of animals and plants native to the region.

See the full Call for Proposals and learn more about the project at www.middletownartcenter.org/waterbasket.

Water Basket is a collaboration between Middletown Rancheria of Pomo Indians, of California, Pomo artists, Callayomi County Water District, and the Middletown Art Center. It’s funded in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional funding from the Middletown Rancheria, the Water District, and public support.

Middletown Art Center is a Lake County non-profit dedicated to engaging the public in art making, art education, and art appreciation. Through exhibitions, performances, workshops, and community events, the Art Center provides a platform for diverse voices and perspectives, striving to create an inclusive and accessible space for all.

To learn more and donate to support Water Basket and other MAC programs visit www.middletownartcenter.org or call 707-809-8118.

The MAC is located at 21456 State Hwy 175 in Middletown.


“Bear Claws.” Image courtesy of Meyo Marrufo.

MIDDLETOWN, Calif. — The Middletown Art Center is honored to host Meyo Marrufo’s “Birds, Baskets and Other Thoughts,” which opens this Saturday, Oct. 14, from 6 to 8 p.m.

On view and opening at the same time is MAC’s 51st group exhibit, “Changes.”

The opening reception is free to the public.

Marrufo is an enrolled member of the Robinson Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians. She has exhibited her work widely in Northern California and curated “Gathering Time” at the Grace Hudson Museum in Ukiah and “We Are Still Here” at the Sonoma Museum last year.

She is a visual artist and visual storyteller, bead artist, weaver, regalia maker, active member of the Pomo Weavers Society and Environmental Department director at Guidiville Rancheria.

Her work was first featured at MAC in the “Earth, Sky and Everything In Between” exhibit last year and has since been part of several regular group shows at MAC.

Marrufo calls her image making technique ”finger doodles.” The use of smartphone technology and the paint app as a drawing tool yields fresh vibrant images when printed or viewed on a screen.

Her unique images are testament to the resilience of cultural heritage in a fully contemporary media.

“It’s like she actually weaves the baskets with the lines in her drawings, ” said Lisa Kaplan, artistic director at MAC.

“My art is about what I am feeling or what I want to express. When I share my art, there is usually some writing with it that either talks about the basket, the animal or my mindset,” said Marrufo about her work. “If it starts a conversation or if a person sees it and learns from it, finds beauty in it, or even relates to it … it is doing what it is supposed to do.”

This collection of works focuses primarily on the birds of her homeland around Clearlake.

Feathered baskets, an artform that few people have mastered, were mostly done by the Lake Pomo and some Southern Pomo who live in areas where there are many birds.

There were probably less than 40 feather basket makers in the height of basketry in the early to mid 1900s.

The number of birds used varies from basket to basket and there was no annihilation of bird species in the making of these remarkable baskets.

“My hope is that when you look at my work, you see not just the birds and other animals depicted, but the honor and relationship we have with them,” Marrufo said.

Free to the public, “Birds, Baskets and Other Thoughts” will be on view through Jan 10, Thursday through Monday, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., or by appointment.

The group exhibit, “Changes,” will be on display for the same time period.

Middletown Art Center is a Lake County nonprofit dedicated to engaging the public in art making, art education and art appreciation.

Through exhibitions, performances, workshops, and community events, the center provides a platform for diverse voices and perspectives, striving to create an inclusive and accessible space for all.

The MAC is located at 21456 State Highway 175 at the junction of Highway 29 in Middletown.

To find out more about MAC’s programs, events, and ways to support their efforts to weave the arts and culture into the fabric of life in Lake County, visit www.middletownartcenter.org​ or call 707-809-8118.

Michael Divine at home in his studio. Photo by Violet Divine.


MIDDLETOWN, Calif. — Join the Middletown Art Center, or MAC, this Friday, Oct. 6, from 6 to 8 p.m. for the opening reception of the full gallery exhibition of Michael Divine’s paintings featured in his new art book, “Persuing the Ineffable.”

Michael Divine is best known in Lake County for the numerous murals he has created with his wife, Violet Divine, as TenThousandVisions.

An accomplished artist for over 25 years, he has just released his second limited edition hardcover art book featuring work from the past ten years.

“I try to make work that explores what it feels like to be alive and be human in this day and age,” said Divine. “My artwork is an expression of the archetypes of the human experience. It's a dialogue of our modern cultural and social landscapes with my own inner worlds and imagination coupled with my desire to create the most beautiful expressions of that interaction.”

Divine’s breath-taking work, with its sweeping vision and intricate detail, has been shown and admired around the world. The emotive quality of his work resonates deeply across the human spectrum.

Many of these paintings are on public display for the first time ever and are featured in his newly released book, which will be available for purchase at the gallery. Several new pieces featured are sold and on loan and will likely not be shown publicly again.

His new book, “Persuing the Ineffable.” is a 226-page limited edition hardcover monograph of both paintings and drawings coupled with essays from Divine and other contributors.

The public is invited to the reception at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 6, at MAC.

Divine’s work will be on view through Oct. 9.

The public is also invited to join us at MAC on Sunday, Oct. 8, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. for a Q&A with Divine as he talks about the work on display and some of the inspirations and stories behind it.

Find out more about events, programs, opportunities, and ways to get involved, support and celebrate the MAC’s efforts to weave the arts and culture into the fabric of life in Lake County ​at www.​middletownartcenter.org.




‘EXPEND4LES’ Rated R

Panned almost universally by any critic with a pulse, “Expend4bles,” the fourth installment of the Sylvester Stallone franchise makes no excuses for being what it has always been, namely a B-movie action thriller that cares little about plot and character development.

Given the critical disdain, it seemed almost irresistible to see for oneself how lacking it might be, or is it just a case of reviewers running with the pack mentality, lest one’s cred be irreparably damaged?

What fans of the “Expendables” series are interested to know is whether Stallone, along with Jason Statham and the rest of the gang (there are some new members) are delivering mindless entertainment with a heavy dose of gunplay and explosions.

The answer to the question is that the action, though practically nonstop, is so generic that one’s mind may drift to other better films. With Statham’s Lee Christmas killing an endless army of goons with ease, he risks being little more than an emulator of Keanu Reeves’ John Wick.

In all fairness to Statham, who is usually more than workmanlike in his body of action picture endeavors, his character is the glue holding the exploits together, even when he operates with only the help of retired Thai Special Forces operative Decha (Tony Jaa).

The plot, such as it is, involves the Expendables on a mission to retrieve nuclear detonators that might be used by international arms dealer Rahmat (Iko Uwais) to trigger World War III, but for inexplicable reasons.

Stallone’s Barney Ross remains the senior leader of a team that includes veterans Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren) and Toll Road (Randy Couture), whose cauliflower ear is still a subject of derisive banter.

With Mr. Church no longer available, stepping in as CIA honcho is Andy Garcia’s Marsh, who is now in charge of orchestrating who goes where and how on the mission.

Newcomers to the team of avenging mercenaries include Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, underused as a former Marine; Jacob Scipio as Galan, the son of former Expendable Galgo (Antonio Banderas); and sassy Lash (Levy Tran), a tattooed ninja with unique skills.

The leading female role goes to Megan Fox’s Gina, who is dressed in either lingerie or stylish clothes as if she was a guest on a Kardashian reality show. But she’s a tough cookie – just ask her lover Lee Christmas after a stormy tryst.

At least, Lundgren’s Gunner remains a crazy mercenary who always carries some weird baggage with him. He’s trying to stop drinking, though he seems unable to shoot straight when sober.

Even if some fans may have tired of this genre, “Expend4bles” is nothing more or less than a diversion. With massive gunplay and explosions, there are no pretensions of cleverness.

In the final analysis, the best way to look at this last chapter is with low expectations and to wait until it’s on a streaming service. Take “Expend4bles” for what it is – some wisecracks and an excess of fight scenes that lack the style and punch of the “John Wick” franchise.

‘KEVIN COSTNER’S THE WEST’ ON THE HISTORY CHANNEL

In his varied career, Kevin Costner has been successful in several film genres, and as of late, he’s had a good run with the “Yellowstone” TV series, a dramatic Western about a ranching family in Montana.

Costner’s first foray into television was the “Hatfields & McCoys” on the History Channel, and that is where he is scheduled to return in the future as the host of “Kevin Costner’s The West,” an eight-episode documentary series.

This original program intends to transcend the cliches and myths of the “Wild West” and from a myriad of perspectives capture the spirit of opportunity, adventure and peril through the untold stories that defined the era and continue to shape our country today.

“I am in love with history. I love the rich, heroic and harrowing stories of the West. The people and their stories have always held a fascination for me, but there’s an urgency today to put those times and the men and women who we think we know in perspective,” said Costner.

According to legendary biographer and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, an executive producer for the series, “Kevin Costner’s body of work on the American West has defined him as one of the finest storytellers of this genre and our time.”

Told through extraordinary characters, historical archives, and distinguished expert interviews, “Kevin Costner’s The West” will capture a portrait of the American frontier from the literal trailblazers to the law enforcers and the bloody battles for both land and freedom.

“Kevin Costner’s The West” will mark the History Channel’s fourth overall project with Doris Kearns Goodwin, who produced the 2022 docudrama “Abraham Lincoln,” the five-hours event “Teddy Roosevelt,” and this year’s “FDR” miniseries.

With the strikes that shutdown production for television and film in Hollywood, the release date of the documentary remains uncertain as does its title. “Kevin Costner’s The West” is a working title until further notice.

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.



‘THE CONTINENTAL: FROM THE WORLD OF JOHN WICK’ ON PEACOCK

Fans of “John Wick” are most likely to be drawn to the prequel miniseries “The Continental: From the World of John Wick,” if not to experience an origin story, but at least because the fourth chapter of “John Wick” seemed to signal an end to the franchise.

However, because the timeline is set in the gritty New York of the 1970s, there’s no place for Keanu Reeves’ fraught hit man, for the obvious reason that Wick himself was probably in grade school at the time.

The connective tissue is the presence of Colin Woodell as young con man Winston Scott, who will be later, in the person of Ian McShane, the owner of The Continental hotel in the movie series.

In his youthful incarnation, Winston’s unbridled ambition is to replace the current proprietor, Cormac O’Connor (Mel Gibson, more grumpy old man than true menace).

As any fan of the movies would know, the Continental is a neutral ground for assassins and assorted underworld figures who labor under the umbrella of The High Table, a council of criminal overlords.

With its standing policy of a place where no business may be conducted, any breach of the hotel’s sanctuary protocol results in a bounty placed on the head of an offender.

This three-episode series of ninety minutes apiece begins as the tale of two brothers, the younger being Winston, and the older one Frankie (Ben Robson). Winston is based in London where he’s trying to con a wealthy real estate developer.

Meanwhile in New York, Frankie is bent on breaking the sacrosanct rules of The High Table. But first he visits the hotel for a New Year’s Eve party that hosts the top criminal element.

After exchanging pleasantries with Cormac who trained him to be an assassin, Frankie makes his way to the nearby subway station, meeting up with an associate to hatch a heist.

In what is not only bad form but an unforgivable breach, Frankie burrows into the Continental’s vault to purloin an ancient coin press that manufactures the currency used by global assassins.

Of course, Frankie goes into hiding with his Vietnamese wife Yen (Nhung Kate), who proves as brutal as any assassin. While Winston has been estranged from his big brother, he’s inevitably drawn to help Frankie and Yen to elude Cormac’s henchmen.

Some of the interesting characters include Ayomide Adegun as the young Charon, who becomes the hotel’s concierge played so brilliantly by the late Lance Reddick in the films.

Most amusing are twin killers Hansel (Mark Musashi) and Gretal (Marina Mazepa) in their matching Prince Valiant hairstyles. The High Table’s Adjudicator (Katie McGrath) sports a distorted porcelain mask as if emulating an ersatz Phantom of the Opera.

Curiously, Mel Gibson gets a top billing, and other than the fact that he’s the best-known name in the cast, his Cormac is more cartoonishly malevolent than truly dark and foreboding.

Since Gibson’s appearances are more limited at least in the first episode, being the weak link doesn’t undermine the story as long as his ham-handed performance remains overshadowed by his co-stars.

Even though a prequel holds little surprise in a buildup to the “John Wick” series, “The Continental: From the World of John Wick” has more than sufficient plot twists to be an engaging entertainment worth a look.



‘THE CAINE MUTINY COURT-MARTIAL’ ON SHOWTIME

On the heels of its Venice Film Festival premiere, Showtime brings to the small screen “The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial,” written and directed by Academy Award celebrated filmmaker William Friedkin and based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Herman Wouk of the same name.

The captivating film follows a U.S. naval first officer who’s standing for trial for orchestrating a mutiny after his captain shows signs of becoming unhinged and jeopardizes the lives of his crew.

At the start of the naval court-martial, Barney Greenwald (Jason Clark), a skeptical Navy lawyer, reluctantly agrees to defend Lt. Steve Maryk (Jake Lacy), a first officer who took control of the U.S.S. Caine.

In the center of controversy is Lieutenant Commander Philip Francis Queeg (Kiefer Sutherland), who appeared wobbly during a violent sea storm in unfriendly waters.

As the trial progresses, Greenwald becomes increasingly concerned and questions if the events aboard the Caine were a true mutiny or simply the courageous acts of a group of sailors who did not trust their unstable leader.

The late Lance Reddick, a popular figure for his role as Charon in the “John Wick” franchise, plays the part of Captain Luther Blakely. Other members of the ensemble cast include Monica Raymund as Commander Challee, Jay Duplass as Lieutenant Bird, and Lewis Pullman as Lieutenant Keefer.

After its festival premiere, “The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial” will stream exclusively on Paramount+ on Friday, Oct. 6, before making its linear debut on Showtime on Sunday, Oct. 8.

The film was completed prior to William Friedkin’s passing on Aug. 7, 2023. Friedkin will remain best remembered for classics like “The French Connection” and “The Exorcist.”

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.

“Reciprocity” workshop participants building sculpture for EcoArts. Photo by MAC staff.

MIDDLETOWN, Calif. — The Middletown Art Center invites the public to co-create a sculpture honoring the Hitch, or “Chi,” for the EcoArts Sculpture Walk.

In a rare opportunity to blend wisdom from the past with current issues, we will incorporate traditional bundling, stick bending and cordage making taught by culture bearers and artists Corine Pearce, Joe Weber and Luya Rivera to create sculptural work and raise public awareness to the plight of the hitch.

Pearce, Weber and Rivera will share native stories and wisdom, and traditional approaches to caring for the trees and the land.

They will discuss dwindling hitch populations, their importance to local Indigenous people, ecosystems and current efforts to preserve and strengthen their populations.

Known by the region’s Indigenous people as "chi,” the hitch’s spawning was a time of celebration when tribal members would gather to collect food for the year and visit each other.

The chi has been a staple food and cultural mainstay of the original Pomo inhabitants of the region since time immemorial.

Tribal elders recall the hitch being plentiful and filling creeks. Expanding development and agriculture, declining water quality, gravel mining, invasive species, removal of cultural fire from the land, habitat loss and drought took their toll.

The decline of the chi is the result of a legacy of environmental injustice and land dispossession in the Clear Lake watershed.

Last spring, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife convened a multi-agency state, federal and tribal summit to highlight the needs of the hitch and its risk of extinction.

The summit led to commitments by multiple agencies and tribes to take decisive actions to collect data, preserve streamflows, and enforce on illegal diversions and stream modifications as well as allocating funds for migration barrier removal projects and finalizing a grant to the Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians to conduct stream flow and groundwater monitoring in Clear Lake hitch spawning areas.

The public is warmly invited to attend one or both days of this weekend’s free event on Saturday, Oct. 7, and Sunday, Oct. 8.

Saturday's activities begin at Trailside Park at 10 a.m. and move to the MAC studio ending at 3:30 p.m. Sunday’s activities will take place at MAC from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

No experience is required and people of all abilities, ages and backgrounds are welcome (children under 15 with parents or guardians). Please bring clippers, loppers and gloves if you have them, plenty of water and a lunch. Snacks will be provided.

This event is part of the “Reciprocity” project aimed at revitalizing the EcoArts Sculpture Walk through community-engaged artmaking. It’s funded primarily by an Upstate California Creative Corps grant.

Please sign up in advance at www.middletownartcenter.org/reciprocity.

Upcoming Calendar

25Jun
06.25.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
29Jun
06.29.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
2Jul
07.02.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
4Jul
07.04.2024
Independence Day
6Jul
07.06.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
9Jul
07.09.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
13Jul
07.13.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
16Jul
07.16.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
20Jul
07.20.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile

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