Monday, 15 July 2024

Arts & Life

LAKEPORT, Calif, — The Soper Reese Theatre will host the popular Pianists Benefit Concert on Sunday, March 3.

The performance will feature six professional pianists combining their diverse musical styles to raise funds for the theater’s Renovation Fund and scholarship programs of the Lake County Friends of Mendocino College.

The event begins at 2 p.m. with a no-host reception followed by the concert at 3 p.m.

Premium reserved seat tickets may be purchased for $30; general assigned seats are $25 and youth 18 and under are admitted free of charge.

Tickets are available online at or by calling the box office at 707-263-0577.

Performers from Lake and Mendocino counties include Spencer Brewer, Elena Casanova, Tom Ganoung, Elizabeth MacDougall, Barney McClure and Ed Reinhart.

The concert will feature all the pianists on stage throughout the performance as they converse about their life experiences and play a variety of musical selections, ranging from classical to jazz, boogie woogie to Cuban, original compositions to popular favorites.

Jennifer Strong of Strong Financial Network, a financial planning firm based in Lakeport, will be the host and Mistress of Ceremonies.

Sponsors of this eleventh benefit concert include the Law Office of Mary Heare Amodio, the Law Office of Judy Conard, Lakeport Furniture, Strong Financial Network, Steve and Carol Schepper, Brock Falkenberg, Wilda Shock, Pat and Lori McGuire, Susie LaPointe, Peggy Campbell and Educational Leadership Solutions.

Jennifer Strong of Strong Financial Network, a financial planning firm based in Lakeport, will be the host and mistress of ceremonies.

Major sponsors of this 11th benefit concert include the Law Office of Mary Heare Amodio, the Law Office of Judy Conard, Peggy Campbell, Community First Credit Union, Lakeport Furniture, Strong Financial Network, Steve and Carol Schepper, Tallman Hotel/Blue Wing Saloon and Tomkins Tax Consultants.

Contributing sponsors are Educational Leadership Solutions, Brock Falkenberg, Jon and Annette Hopkins, Tim Karas, Susie LaPointe, Harry and Roberta Lyons, Natalie Marino, Pat and Lori McGuire, and Wilda Shock.

Proceeds from the event will be dedicated to the Renovation Fund of the Soper Reese Theatre for continuing efforts to modernize and expand its facilities, and to the annual scholarship fund of the Lake County Friends of Mendocino College which also supports the summer production of Shakespeare at the Lake in Clearlake and Lakeport.

The Soper Reese Theatre is located at 275 S. Main Street in Lakeport. Autographed CDs and other materials by the artists will be available for sale during the reception and intermission.

In the world of streaming services, Apple TV+ may be considered a relative newcomer that had to survive in its formative years the disruptive effects of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.

Of course, last year’s strike by actors and writers in the entertainment industry posed even more challenges for production of new movies and television programs, affecting all facts of the business for streaming services.

A sign of recovery and good health is that Apple TV+ recently highlighted new programs at the winter press tour of the Television Critics Association, where critics from around the nation gathered to learn about new series.

Kicking off a full day of panels, Rita Lee Cooper, Head of Communications and Publicity for Apple Worldwide Video and Apple TV+, noted that limited series “Masters of the Air” from Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, was just one of their “high-quality, culture-moving Apple Originals.”

A sure mark of continuing quality programming arrives with the historical drama “The New Look,” a 10-episode drama that tells the fascinating story of how fashion icon Christian Dior and his contemporaries in Paris navigated the horrors of World War II during the Nazi occupation and then the- post-war years.

Inspired by true events and filmed exclusively in Paris, the first episodes focus on the tyranny of the Nazi subjugation of life in the French capital where the Vichy government collaborated with the German enemy.

Emmy Award winner Ben Mendelsohn’s Christian Dior weaves a narrow path of having to reluctantly accommodate the occupiers with fashionable clothes for the spouses of German officers headquartered at the Ritz Hotel.

Meanwhile, Dior’s younger sister Catherine (Maisie Williams) was active in the French Resistance, and as the days of the Nazi occupation of Paris near an end, she’s captured by the Gestapo and shipped off to a concentration camp until being liberated by Allied forces.

A parallel story involves Juliette Binoche’s Coco Chanel, who ends up living at the same hotel with the high-ranking Nazi officers and having an affair with German diplomat Baron Hans von Dincklage (Claes Bang).

Due to collaboration with the Nazis, Chanel’s reign as the world’s most fashion designer is put into jeopardy, and she goes into exile in Switzerland after the war for nearly a decade before returning to Paris.

During the war, Dior is connected to the fashion house of Lucien Lelong, working with the eponymous owner (John Malkovich), before rising to prominence on his own with groundbreaking, iconic designs.

Besides the wartime drama, “The New Look” centers on the saga of Dior’s equals and rivals from Chanel to Balmain, Givenchy, Balenciaga, Pierre Cardin, and others reviving Paris as the fashion capital after the war.

During the press conference, John Malkovich observed that Lelong’s “principal importance in the series is that he was someone very involved with keeping the French fashion industry in France, in Paris, and not in Berlin.”

Another historical drama is the eight-episode “Franklin,” the thrilling story of one of the greatest gambles of Benjamin Franklin’s (Michael Douglas) career.

At age 70, without any diplomatic training, Franklin convinced France, an absolute monarchy, to underwrite America’s experiment in democracy. A persuasive character with an extraordinary career and life, Franklin was a decisive figure on the world stage.

As Michael Douglas observed at the press tour, Franklin’s undercover trip to France to get support was driven by the fact that “we desperately needed them to supply us with weapons and cash and everything.”

By virtue of his fame, charisma, and ingenuity, Franklin outmaneuvered British spies, French informers, and hostile colleagues, all while engineering the Franco-American alliance of 1778 and the final peace with England of 1783.

Douglas remarked that Franklin was “a little bit of a philanderer, liked to imbibe, big flirt, and yet, had a wonderful ability in terms of his idea of negotiating which was sort of a seduction.”

The essence of “Franklin” was not so much a history lesson, according to Douglas, but more a story of “the intrigue and the gamesmanship” that was part of the gamble without which Franklin’s eight-year French mission would not have resulted in America winning the Revolution.

The Apple TV+ schedule is not all about historical dramas, but the upcoming “Manhunt” that premieres on the Ides of March (that would be the 15th) has nothing to do with the assassination of Julius Caesar, but sadly it’s about the killing of one of our greatest presidents.

Based on the bestselling non-fiction book by James L. Swanson, “Manhunt” is a conspiracy thriller about one of the best known but least understood crimes in history, the astonishing story of the hunt for John Wilkes Booth in the aftermath of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.

In the role of John Wilkes Booth, star Anthony Boyle noted that since he grew up in Ireland, his introduction to the character was “through an episode of the ‘Simpsons’ where Bart plays” Booth and says “Hasta la vista, baby.” Fortunately, he and others did a lot of serious research.

Apparently, Apple TV+ offers a free seven-day trial.

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

Joe and Hattie Craven. Courtesy photo.

UPPER LAKE, Calif. — Joe Craven, the famed folk musician, musicologist, teacher and storyteller, will be performing on Sunday, Feb. 18, at the Tallman Hotel in Upper Lake along with his musical partner and daughter Hattie.

Beginning at 3 p.m., this informal “Concert with Conversation” will take place in the Meeting House next to the Hotel.

“Joe Craven is quite a legend on the folk and bluegrass scene,” said Tallman owner Bernie Butcher, “and adding the personality and great voice of his daughter Hattie should be something special.”

Joe Craven is past recipient of the Folk Alliance Far-West Performer of the Year. He’s made music with many luminaries from Jerry Garcia to David Lindley and harmonica wizard Howard Levy, to seven years with banjo fusionist Alison Brown and 17 years with the mandolinist David Grisman.

Hattie Craven, in addition to being a seasoned actor in community theater, has built a reputation as one of the finest young performers on the stages of the Strawberry Music Festival, California Worldfest, Kate Wolf Memorial Festival, Live Oak Music Festival and the Millpond Music Festival — all to standing ovations.

Together, this father/daughter team has created a celebration of music making by finding common ground between different generations with differing musical tastes and sensibilities.

At $30 plus tax, the price of admission includes coffee and cookies served at the concert venue. Tickets can be obtained online at or by calling at the Tallman Hotel reception desk at 707-275-2244, Extension 0.

The 3 p.m. starting time is convenient for late lunch or early supper patrons at the Blue Wing Restaurant next door.

From left, Taran Dutra and Kia Richardson perform a number from “Annie” at a past lip sync event. Courtesy photo.

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. — The stage is set, the music is queued, and Lake County Theatre Co., or LCTC, is thrilled to announce a community interest meeting for the upcoming lip sync, “Lip Sync — Music That Moves” show.

This event promises to be a celebration of music, creativity, and community spirit.

The lip sync interest meeting will take place on Saturday, Feb. 24, at Drinx, located at 370 S. Main Street, Lakeport.

The doors will be open from 2 to 5 p.m., providing aspiring performers with a flexible time frame to drop by and learn more about this exciting opportunity.

Attendees will have the chance to mingle with the enthusiastic LCTC team, gain insights into the music selection process, and discover how they can become a part of this entertaining showcase.

Whether you're a seasoned performer or someone looking to try something new, the Lip Sync — Music That Moves is open to all.

Can't make it to the meeting? No problem. LCTC encourages interested individuals to visit their website at, navigate to the "shows" section, and complete the online interest form.

This ensures that even those with scheduling conflicts can express their interest and be part of the upcoming extravaganza.

“We are thrilled to bring the community together for this unique and entertaining event,” said Larry Richardson, director of lip sync at Lake County Theatre Co. “The Lip Sync — Music that Moves is not just a show; it's an opportunity for individuals to showcase their creativity, connect with fellow community members, and be a part of something truly special.”

Don't miss the chance to be a star on the lip sync extravaganza stage.

Work by artist Mona Cliff. Courtesy photo.

UKIAH, Calif. — Press Release: Mendocino College Gallery is excited to present “Creative Streak: Works in Series.”

The exhibition features a wide range of practices, from assemblage to cyanotype, ceramic sculpture, intricate pen + ink drawing and oil painting. The common thread is that these artists all work in series. ‘Working in series’ means that the artist creates a number of different pieces that all look similar, or have the same thematic content, but are not identical.

Working in series allows an artist to think deeply about a certain subject and potentially make better art through the process. In order to tell a larger story, or to refine content, artists will explore a theme in depth across a number of pieces through variations in design elements.

Many commercial artists work in series in order to have more pieces to sell, or alternates, if a collector wanted a certain work that had already been sold. Journalists and bloggers can craft a story from a series more easily and effectively than from an exhibition of unrelated works.

Working in series is often a more natural studio practice for the artist as well. While patiently waiting for one painting to dry, or ceramic piece to cure, the artist can move on to a similar piece without losing creative flow.

There is less pressure to create a single ‘great’ work of art when working on multiple pieces at once. Artists naturally move around the studio, allowing the
creative mind to rest and pivot without losing momentum, naturally building a cohesive ‘body of

Creative Streak: Works in Series features the following five artists:

Mona Cliff (Aniiih) is a multidisciplinary visual artist. She explores the subject of contemporary Native American identity and culture through her use of traditional Native crafting methods such as seed bead embroidery and fabric applique. Based in Kansas City, Cliff is an enrolled member of the Gros Ventre tribe (A'aninin/Nakota Nations) she is Frozen Clan (Aniiih) and of the Medicine Bear Clan (Nakota) of Ft. Belknap, Montana. Her works have been exhibited widely and will be featured in New Worlds: Women to Watch 2024 at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington DC.

Linda MacDonald makes intricate and detailed portraits of the interiors of redwood trees, coast and sequoia, in pen + ink drawing as well as watercolor and oil painting. The history of aging is there in the wood—marred, burned and charred, graffiti-laden, smooth, textured or curly. MacDonald has shown extensively in the US and Japan and has work in the collection of The White House, the City of San Francisco, the Museum of Art & Design (MAD) in NYC.

Shannon Sullivan creates sculptures, wall pieces and installations using a core visual vocabulary rooted in the prevailing ways of nature. Sullivan's work has been exhibited in galleries and museums nationally and internationally. She is currently head of Ceramics at College of the Redwoods in Eureka, California.

Spencer Brewer and Esther Siegel create assemblage works both collaboratively and independently. The husband and wife duo have lived on their Redwood Valley ranch for the last 39 years, where they maintain a robust studio practice. It’s hard to identify where art ends and life begins there. In fact, the entire property feels like walking into a massive art installation. What appears to be an outdoor seating area becomes an Alice in Wonderland themed water fountain with the flick of a switch, water gushing out of teapots, across cups and saucers and cascading onto the ground. Brewer and Siegel recently published a book of assemblage art: Lost and Found, which won the First Place Ben Franklin award for 'Interior Design' at the 2023 Independent Book Publishers Association.

The opening reception will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 22. Light refreshments will be served.

Mendocino College Gallery will also be open for ticket holders of The New World String Project on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2 p.m. at the Mendocino College Center Theatre.

Tickets are available online at and at Mendocino Book Co. in Ukiah and Mazahar in Willits. For more information, please contact the UCCA at 707-463-2738 or email
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Work by artist Mona Cliff. Courtesy photo.


Back to a time before the internet and cell phones, there was an advertising campaign for cassette recording tapes, with the tagline: “Is it live, or is it Memorex?” Could you tell if the sound was genuine, authentic, and real from the artist, or was it a recorded copy?

Not sure why this ad sticks in my head, but it came to mind in thinking about whether the espionage story was real or not in the spy action thriller “Argylle,” wherein the line between a novelist’s fictional world and the real one begins to blur.

During the COVID lockdown, visionary filmmaker Matthew Vaughn screened for his two daughters Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 classic “North by Northwest,” in which an ordinary man gets swept up in an espionage-tinged adventure.

The appreciation by his offspring for the film led to the motivation to make a movie in that ostensible genre. Just as inspiring might be “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” where Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are a married couple unaware that each harbors a secret of being an assassin for rival agencies.

The genesis for what Vaughn wanted to do soon landed on his desk in the form of a manuscript for an unpublished spy novel by an unknown author. Elly Conway’s book, “Argylle,” was, according to Vaughn, the best spy thriller he had ever read.

Befitting an espionage story, there’s an aura of mystery surrounding Elly Conway such that news outlets have been reporting that she may actually be two persons. Or maybe she doesn’t exist at all.

There’s wild speculation that Taylor Swift, or maybe J.K. Rowling, had penned the mysterious spy novel. The Taylor Swift theory would be interesting, but she hardly needs more exposure now that TV cameras frequently capture her at Kansas City Chiefs football games.

As far as the movie goes, Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard) is a reclusive author of a series of best-selling espionage novels, who is most comfortable at her Colorado home with her computer and her cat, Alfie.

Cat lovers may become fascinated with Alfie, who carries an attitude of cool disinterest or contempt and goes everywhere with Elly in a backpack with a plastic window. There will also be curiosity about Alfie’s breed, a Scottish Fold who looks adorably grumpy.

With a loyal fan base, Elly leaves her cocoon to interact with her followers, some of whom even wear clothing with the underlying theme of her books, namely: “The greater the spy, the bigger the lie.”

The spy novels feature characters who come to life, including the refined agent named Argylle (Henry Cavill with an odd haircut); his best friend Wyatt (John Cena), the muscle; and Keira (Ariana DeBose), their fearless field tech.

Richard E. Grant’s Fowler is a senior member of agent Argylle’s secret organization, and Grammy-winning superstar Dua Lipa’s Lagrange is Argylle’s elegant, lethal nemesis who gets involved in an elaborate, thrilling chase scene in scenic Greece.

While reading from her book to a captivated audience of fans, Elly is asked what’s in store for their favorite secret agent. She can only say that it’s a work in progress, which she’s either not willing to share or has no clue.

Retreating to the coziness of home, Elly shares her thoughts with her mother Ruth (Catherine O’Hara) for some advice on writing a forthcoming tome. Deciding to return home to Chicago, Elly packs up Alfie and takes the train since she’s afraid to fly.

Things take an interesting turn on the train ride when a stranger takes a seat across from Elly. His name is Aidan (Sam Rockwell), a scruffy looking dude with long hair and beard who looks like he has not changed clothes in forever.

Aidan recognizes Elly because he’s in the middle of reading her book. He claims to be in the espionage business as well as a fan, and then all hell breaks loose when armed thugs arrive to kill Elly, because apparently her books are too prescient and revealing about a corrupt group known as the Directorate.

Puzzled and frightened about what is happening, Elly is not too sure about Aidan but has no other choice than to be whisked away and go on the run with her savior to elude a horde of trained assassins.

At this point, it would be best to let the rest of the plot remain a surprise with its surfeit of twists and turns. Not a surprise is Samuel L. Jackson showing up as another man of mystery because he’s in the trailer.

As seems to be the case all too often these days, “Argylle” has a running time that is more than necessary even if it relies on a lot of smoke and mirrors obfuscating a spy caper that is already mystifying enough in its delivery.

“Argylle” does not lack for stylish action, with violence elegantly choreographed. In fact, just watching the film’s trailer reveals some of the best action scenes without spoiling the cliffhanger.

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

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