Monday, 15 July 2024

Arts & Life

Artists and community members at the Raíces Hermosas exhibit opening. Photo by MAC staff.

MIDDLETOWN, Calif. — The Middletown Art Center, or MAC, invites the public to “Raíces Hermosas: Conversations with Artists,” on Saturday, April 6, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the MAC gallery.

The Raíces Hermosas ~ Gorgeous Roots group exhibit highlights contemporary expressions of Latinx art and culture.

Conversations with Artists and the Raíces Hermosas exhibit are free and open to the public.

This conversation with selected artists will be facilitated by the exhibit’s guest curator, Jez Flores-García, Ph.D. The event offers an opportunity to hear directly from the artists about their creative processes, inspirations and concerns as Latinx artists. The artist panel includes five exhibiting artists. Alex Blas, Jaymie de la Torre Hernandez, Maria Mariscal, Manuel Rios and Martín Zúñiga.

Lake County resident Alex Blas has exhibited his richly detailed figure paintings in galleries including Lyons Weir Gallery (New York) and George Billis Gallery (Los Angeles). Sculptor Jaymie de la Torre Hernandez of Angwin works in clay and found objects and is an instructor of fine art at Pacific Union College.

Maria Mariscal and Manuel Rios are based in Sacramento. Mariscal’s work focuses on intersectional Latinx identities and mental health. In his work, Rios explores the nuances of Latinx identity in rural versus urban environments. He is a professor of art at Woodland Community College. Martín Zúñiga creates art that focuses on community and facilitates collaborative youth art projects and art events as a member of the Raizes Collective in Santa Rosa.

Flores is a curator and art historian specializing in contemporary art and Chicano art. Her research focuses on the ways artists navigate burdens of representation and forge intersectional alliances of resistance. “The Raíces Hermosas exhibition brings together work by artists across generations who identify as Latinx. However, that identity is complicated, at both individual and community levels. During the panel we will hear from the artists about representation—in every sense of the word—and its burdens.”

The event will be accessible via Zoom through the MAC website at Live Spanish translation will be available.

Raíces Hermosas is on view at MAC through May 27, Thursday to Monday from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The gallery hosts school field trips on most weekdays until 1 p.m.

Please visit MAC’s website or contact 707-355-4465 to learn more.

Funding for the Raíces Hermosas project is provided by the Specified General Fund for the Museum Grant Program under the California Cultural and Historical Endowment

The Middletown Art Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the arts and cultural enrichment in the Middletown community and beyond. Through exhibitions, workshops, and events, MAC strives to inspire creativity and foster a deeper appreciation for the arts.

To learn more and contribute to support Raíces Hermosas and other MAC arts and cultural programs, visit or call 707-809-8118. The MAC is located at 21456 State Highway 175 in Middletown.

LAKEPORT, Calif. — The Lake County Arts Council will host performers from around the county to share their love of dance with the community this spring.

The 43rd Annual Spring Dance Festival hits the stage at the MAC Theatre at Clear Lake High School on Saturday, April 6, at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Doors will open 30 minutes prior to showtime.

Admission is $15, children 5 and under are free, and tickets are available at the door and online at

The Spring Dance Festival is a time honored tradition, showcasing a variety of styles — from classical ballet to funky hip-hop, and everything in between.

This year’s theme is “Dance the Night Away” and will feature local dance studios, including Antoinette Goetz’s School of Dance, Jeanette Marchais’s Studio Ballet, Claire Zimmerman’s BiZi Dance Co., Michelle John Smith’s Clear Lake Clikkers, Brianna Rojas, Elaine Johns, Audrey Showen, Jaimie Bracisco, and other talented choreographers and soloists.

You can learn more at


Ric Burns, the younger brother of noted documentary filmmaker Ken Burns (“The Civil War”), toils in the same genre with historical documentaries that have featured Andy Warhol and Ansel Adams.

To date, his masterpiece is likely the eight-part series “New York: A Documentary Film,” a chronicle of the city’s history from the time that it was first settled by the Dutch in the early 17th century.

While the first episodes were broadcast in November 1999, and the eighth episode in September 2003, there was apparently a plan for a ninth episode which has not yet come to fruition, and the PBS website yields no information.

Beginning this month, Ric Burns’ “DANTE: Inferno to Paradise” is a two-part, four-hour documentary chronicling the life, work and legacy of the great 14th century Florentine poet, Dante Alighieri, and his epic masterpiece, “The Divine Comedy.”

“Dante knew he was writing something very different and very special. And ‘The Divine Comedy’ is one of these books that are made every once-in-a-while in human history,” says Oxford scholar Elena Lombardi, in an interview for the film.

This two-part film makes Dante’s incomparable achievement come alive for a worldwide English-speaking audience, exploring his hypnotically beautiful 14,233-line poem, in which crucial issues of politics, power, corruption, sin, violence, virtue, beauty, humility and compassion mingle and converge.

PBS would have you know that this film addresses universal human questions at once “timeless and urgently relevant to our own time: questions of morality and truth, life and death, the love of family and children, the love of country, the belief in something larger than oneself, the love of God.”

The sweep of this epic, unprecedented film has been seven years in the making, utilizing an extraordinary group of scholars and actors from the United States, Italy, France, and Britain.

The actors likely unknown to us include Antonio Fazzini in the role of Dante, Fattori Fraser as Dante’s wife Beatrice, Dikran Tulaine as Virgil, and Alan Cox as Boccaccio. What is important is that this project was conceived by Italian scholar Riccardo Bruscagli along with Ric Burns.

The film undertakes a gripping odyssey into the depths of Dante’s turbulent life, the faction-torn times he lived in, and the great poem he left behind. Along the way, the film juxtaposes stunning cinematography from across Italy.

Most dazzling is the array of paintings, drawings, manuscripts, maps, and frescos, many filmed on location and in the original spots in Florence, the Vatican and elsewhere. This really whets the appetite for a vacation in the nation that is shaped like a boot.

Woven throughout, forming the film’s narrative and emotional core, are dramatic re-enactments filmed for the production in locations from Florence to Carrara and Ravenna and beyond, in scenes drawn from “The Divine Comedy” and the “Vita Nova,” the masterwork of Dante’s early career.

Part One of the film, “Inferno,” chronicles the historical background of medieval Florence from 1216 to Dante’s birth in 1265, and recounts the dramatic details of Dante’s childhood, education, and early political career, culminating in his exile in 1302.

Dante’s decision to begin “The Divine Comedy” in 1306, plunging thereafter, with Dante and his readers, into the underworld of the poem itself where, guided by the Roman poet, Virgil, Dante will meet a vast cohort of historical and mythological figures.

Guided through the Nine Circles of Hell, Dante eventually arrives at the center where Lucifer resides. After escaping Hell, Dante and Virgil will go to Purgatory and then Dante makes his way to Heaven.

You could skip the film and go straight to the 2010 video game, “Dante’s Inferno,” where Dante is imagined as a Templar knight from The Crusades and guided by the spirit of Virgil to fight through the nine circles to rescue his wife Beatrice from the clutches of Satan.

Part Two, “Resurrection,” explores Dante’s experience in exile, and his completion of the last two parts of “The Divine Comedy,” shortly before his death in Ravenna in 1321.

Interweaving scenes are drawn from Dante’s life in exile with passages pulled from Dante’s journey up the mountain of Purgatory and then up through the incandescent celestial spheres of paradise.

Part Two finishes with an account of the final years of Dante’s life, ending with his death in exile, and goes on to explore the literary and cultural afterlife and impact of Dante’s masterpiece from the time of his death down to the present.

A fair question is posed by Riccardo Bruscagli in the film, when he asks “Why should we care about Dante Alighieri?” Well, because “Dante addresses the core of our humanity. Dante had the ambition of embracing everything – of embracing the sense of us being humans on this planet.”

To satisfy your intellectual curiosity and thirst for culture while waiting for more pedestrian fare in the next action or comedy film, watching “Dante: Inferno to Paradise” on PBS just might be the ticket.

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

Elena Casanova. Courtesy photo.

UKIAH, Calif. — Beloved concert pianist Elena Casanova will storm the stage in stilettos for the grande finale of the Ukiah Community Concert Association season.

The concert will take place beginning at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 21, at the Mendocino College Center Theatre, 1000 Hensley Creek Rd, Ukiah.

Casanova’s brilliance is well known to American audiences where she is renowned equally for her spirited performances of both the European masters and Latin American composers.

Her recordings, “Ensuenos de Cuba,” “Fuentes sin Igual,” and “Recordando” have been met with rave reviews. Critic Joel Thompson wrote of the Cuban native: “The rhythms of this music that Casanova has so skillfully and passionately rendered may grab hold of your soul, allowing you to become Cuban for a while — the mark of a great pianist.”

In addition to numerous solo piano recitals, Casanova has performed as soloist with orchestras throughout Northern California, including Symphony of the Redwoods, Ukiah Symphony, and Pacific Union College Orchestra with a repertoire including Mozart’s “Piano Concerto no. 21,” the “Khachaturian Piano Concerto in D-flat Major,” Beethoven’s “Emperor Concerto,” and Liszt’s “Piano Concerto No. 1.”

She has also performed in a variety of popular idioms with Grammy Award winning reed player Paul McCandless, Grammy nominated guitarist Alex DeGrassi, and with recording artist and pianist Spencer Brewer in his annual Professional Pianists concert at the Mendocino College Theatre.

In a tour de force program created especially for the UCCA audience, Casanova will perform Cuban music with multimedia, multi-sensory and evocative elements including poetry and dance.

It promises to be a spectacular multi-media event celebrating Elena's Cuban heritage with exquisite piano compositions and snappy rhythms as well as participation by members of Cantabile (opera theater), Eloquence Ensemble (piano quartet), Paloma Victoria Rodriguez Irizarry (choreography and dance), and guest artist Adrian Casanova.

Tickets for non-season subscribers are $35 in advance and $40 at the door. Advance tickets are available online at and at Mendocino Book Company in Ukiah and Mazahar in Willits.

As part of their ongoing educational outreach program, free tickets are available to youth 17 and under when accompanied by an adult, and to full-time (12 units) college students. Free tickets must be reserved in advance by calling 707-463-2738 with name, phone number and email address.

For more information, please contact the UCCA at 707-463-2738 or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Ukiah Community Concert Association has been presenting nationally acclaimed talent since 1947.

This all-volunteer nonprofit’s mission is to build and maintain a permanent concert audience and cultivate an interest in fine music of all genres among the citizens of the community and surrounding area. It is also their goal to encourage music appreciation in the schools of the community.


Not likely to escape any sentient being’s notice is that 2024 is a presidential election year, and PBS’ “American Masters” continues its quest to examine influencers and disruptors of American political thought with “Thought Leaders,” its strand of programming focused on changemakers.

The “Thought Leaders” series returns with two new documentaries on Daniel Patrick Moynihan and William F. Buckley, Jr., two political titans who helped shape the current landscape of American democracy.

Narrated by Academy Award nominee Jeffrey Wright, “Moynihan” is the first-ever feature-length documentary to follow the life of former U.S. Senator and diplomat Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

An interesting connection, of sorts, between Moynihan and William F. Buckley, Jr., is that Moynihan, who had already served in the Nixon administration and then as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, was elected to the Senate in 1976 as a Democrat, beating Buckley’s brother James, the incumbent.

James L. Buckley had the distinction of being elected to the Senate representing the state of New York, running as the nominee of the Conservative Party of New York State, beating appointed Republican incumbent Charles Goodell and Democratic congressman Richard Ottinger.

An interesting fact about the 1970 election was that Charles Goodell had been appointed to the Senate by Governor Nelson Rockefeller to fill the vacancy created by the assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy. Senator Goodell’s son is NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

Moynihan had a distinguished career of serving as an Assistant Secretary of Labor under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, devoting much of his time to the War on Poverty.

In a bipartisan spirit, Moynihan served as an Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy in Richard Nixon’s first term, and after leaving the administration, he later accepted an appointment to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations by President Gerald Ford in 1975.

Moynihan authored the controversial report, “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action,” commonly known as “The Moynihan Report,” a document intended for Lyndon B. Johnson and his appointees that outlined Moynihan’s perspective on the forces that impact Black families in America.

“Moynihan” includes interviews with President Biden; New York Senator Charles Schumer; Eleanor Holmes Norton, the delegate to U.S. House of Representative from the District of Columbia; the late Henry Kissinger; and controversial author Ta-Nehisi Coates.

“The Incomparable Mr. Buckley” follows the personal and political journey of conservative writer, strategist, candidate and provocateur William F. Buckley, Jr., one of the architects of the modern conservative movement.

Born in 1925, Buckley joined the U.S. Army during World War II and was stationed in the United States. After the war, he studied at Yale University, and after graduation penned “God and Man at Yale,” a book critical of his alma mater.

A short stint with the Central Intelligence Agency had Buckley, fluent in Spanish, stationed in Mexico City, where his boss was E. Howard Hunt, later known for his role as a central figure in the Watergate scandal of the Nixon administration.

A prolific author of books that could fill a library, Buckley did not focus on politics and history alone. He penned at least a dozen novels in a series that featured the exploits of fictitious CIA officer Blackford Oakes.

Aside from being a nationally syndicated columnist, Buckley may be best known as the founder and editor of “National Review” and host of the public affairs program “Firing Line” for over thirty years.

Rising to prominence as a public intellectual of the conservative movement, Buckley influenced a generation of politicians, including Senator Barry Goldwater’s presidential run in 1964 and the campaigns of Ronald Reagan.

More than just a political influencer, Buckley helped launch the conservative “Young Americans for Freedom” political activist group, which became involved in his brother’s run for the Senate.

Most notably, Buckley tossed his hat into the political ring with a quixotic run for Mayor of New York City in 1965 as the candidate of the Conservative Party. When asked what he would do if he won, Buckley replied, “Demand a recount.”

“The Incomparable Mr. Buckley” includes interviews with his only son, Christopher Buckley; Richard Brookhiser, senior editor of “National Review;” Jeff Greenfield, journalist and “Firing Line” moderator; Sam Tanenhaus, former editor of “The New York Times Book Review;” and Jay Nordlinger, Buckley’s biographer.

“Moynihan” premieres on Friday, March 29th, and “The Incomparable Mr. Buckley” on Friday, April 5th.


TCM announces that the festival’s closing night screening of “Spaceballs” will be presented by writer and director Mel Brooks, a genius in the comedy genre if there was ever one.

Famed director Steven Spielberg will have a Q&A with UCLA Film School’s Howard Suber ahead of the director’s cut screening of Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” a classic science fiction adventure.

Filmmaker Nancy Meyers (”Private Benjamin” and “Father of the Bride”) will introduce the world premiere restoration of one of her favorite movies, Alfred Hitchcock’s “North By Northwest,” completed by Warner Brothers and The Film Foundation.

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

LAKEPORT, Calif. — Award-winning New York City jazz pianist/accordionist Ben Rosenblum and his sextet, the Nebula Project, will perform an intimate concert at the Soper Reese Theatre in Lakeport on Wednesday, April 10.

The show will begin at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $25 for general reserved and $30 for premium reserved.

The internationally-touring multi-instrumentalist has been described as “mature beyond his years,” (Sea of Tranquility), an “impressive talent” (All About Jazz), who “caresses [the music] with the reverence it merits” (Downbeat Magazine).

Drawing from an eclectic repertoire which includes selections from the jazz and popular music traditions, as well as global music influences from South America, Eastern Europe, Ireland and the Caribbean, Rosenblum combines his modern, melodic sensibility with his broad knowledge of a variety of musical lineages from the past one hundred years.

The band never repeats the same program twice in a row - every evening is a unique experience shaped by the audience and the setting.

Ben Rosenblum Nebula Project is celebrating their February 2023 release, “A Thousand Pebbles.”

Since the Nebula Project's first album release in 2020, “Kites and Strings,” The Nebula Project was voted runner-up for Best New Artist in JazzTimes' 2020 Readers' Poll, and the album received positive reviews from over twenty publications, including All About Jazz, NYC Jazz Record, JazzTimes, JazzLife (Japan) and more.

Recently, the group was featured in an article in Downbeat Magazine’s May 2023 issue. This unique sextet project features prominent global music influences, as well as the incorporation of the accordion into the jazz format.

More information on the concert can be found here.

The Soper Reese Theatre is located at 275 S. Main St., Lakeport, telephone 707-263-0577 and email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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