"Dungeon" Tourist Trap Coming to the Wharf

Categories: Museums

This could be you very soon!

For those of you who were bummed when the wax museum on Fisherman's Wharf closed in August 2013, never fear -- a replacement wax museum is in the works. And it's bringing a dungeon with it!

Merlin Entertainments, the biggest tourist attraction company in the world (the biggest is Walt Disney, duh) has signed a lease with the former wax museum building to open a Madame Tussauds wax museum in the old space, as well as they're opening a San Francisco Dungeon in July at the same location (145 Jefferson).

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Contemporary Jewish Museum's Homage to Yiddish Radio

Harvey Varga

San Francisco's Contemporary Jewish Museum will put a 21st century spin on 1930s radio this Sunday; a hearty band of actors and musicians will take to the stage of the CJM's auditorium for a delightful afternoon of laughter and tears as they enact actual scripts from the Golden Age of Yiddish radio.

During it's 1930s heydey, Yiddish radio was enormously popular, with 30 Yiddish stations in New York City alone.

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Director Mike Mills Has Seen the Future in His Latest Piece, Project Los Altos

Mike Mills
Kyle Johnson

Perhaps this self-evident fact - that the work of brilliant artists is often colored by their own life -- veers toward cliché. What's less evident is if that fact contributes, or detracts, from their art.

Mike Mills' films codify transparency. In 2010's The Beginners, Mills detailed how his recently widowed father simultaneously dealt with being single, gay, and terminally ill, at 75-years-old. The son, played by Ewan Macgregor, tries to make sense of this while finding himself debilitated by his own romantic and artistic missteps.

Mills approximates ontological discomforts without attempting an oracular stance. His beginnings as a graphic designer, crafting covers for the likes of Sonic Youth and Air, lends his films a dreamlike melancholy that's rendered in beautiful, lush terms. In spite of their visual acuity, however, each frame has a very specific intention.

In his latest project, Project Los Altos, Mills was recently asked by SFMOMA to investigate a place well-known for its many flights of fancy: Silicon Valley. In Los Altos, once home to Steve Jobs, the director was curious to see if he could locate some of the past in a culture obsessed with progress, and get a sense of where it thought it was going. Interviewing children - the human "components" of technology -- Mills discovered a future brimming with light and dark.

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Tourism for Locals: Musée Mécanique Revives Past with Family Fun

Juan De Anda/ SF Weekly
Enter a Portal of Arcade Fun and Education for Free.

Fisherman's Wharf is already a circus show that most of us want to avoid, but there's one attraction along the Embaracadero that makes pushing through the crowds of tourists worth it.

With the drop of a coin, the Musée Mécanique has the power of bringing the past to life and entertaining our childhood euphoria. It aids us in finding the classic joy in playing with the quarter-clunking, old-school arcade games to the more modern, Japanese-inspired, Nintendo-nostalgic car chase booths -- all of which are present in this free museum that dedicates itself to showing the evolution of the arcade.

Juan De Anda/ SF Weekly
Laffing Sal

With more than 300 games, the arcade is one of the largest privately-owned collections of vintage penny machines and mechanically-operated attractions from the past century, according to the museum. One of the best perks of such an expansive collection on public display is that there is something for everyone and most are only a quarter to operate.

From worn-down grannies reading tarot cards inside their glass casings to self-playing pianos to flip books peepshows of sultry women to apparatuses recreating executions in Europe and North America through little marionettes -- the collection will bring out a smile or chuckle from even the most stoic of individuals.

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Seeing Spots: Hashtag for Discarded CJM Stickers

Snap a Instagram pic of this sticker next time you visit the Contemporary Jewish Museum.
Besides being temples of culture, knowledge and learning, there is one thing all major San Francisco museums have in common: stickers acting as proof of purchase clinging to your chest.

As bright and fashionable some them may appear to be, we eventually discard them. But where do you stick these little dots and squares?

The back of Muni seats? Random public bathrooms? Sides of our SF Weekly newsstands? (I personally stick mine to the ever growing sticker collection in the locker room at my other job.)

The Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco wants to find out and has created a new hashtag for Instagram to help you create an artsy photo opp for their curious eyes.

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Be a Ghost Hunter for a Night: Oakland Aviation Museum's Night Tour Gets Spooky

Categories: Events, Museums

Get spooked!

With all the eccentric personalities and fashion choices that make San Francisco kooky and unique, Halloween would seems like an everyday occurrence -- but there is a certain energy that comes with the impending fall season that causes the spirit to pop like caramel corn.

If the season doesn't make you too jumpy -- then you might just have the nerve to go on a ghost tour.

The Oakland Aviation Museum will host a special edition of their regular after-dark "flashlight" tours, focusing on ghost stories and paranormal activities surrounding the museum. This special, one-night-only, tour will be conducted by Ellis Byrd, an author and paranormal investigator, in a partnership with Jennifer Hosel, investigator and host of the USS Hornet.

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Richard Diebenkorn Changed What it Means to be a California Artist

The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation
"Cityscape 1," 1963
During the thirteen years he lived in Berkeley, artist Richard Diebenkorn made a big transition from Abstract Expressionism to figurative painting.

"It's one of his greatest contributions, in addition to the sheer beauty of his work," said Timothy Anglin Burgard, the co-curator of Richard Diebenkorn: The Berkeley Years, 1953-1966, at the de Young Museum through Sept 29, 2013. "He bridged two styles that seemed unbridgeable."

The exhibit has more than 130 of Diebenkorn's works, including Chabot Valley (1955), his first clearly representation landscape. Burgard said the shift incited controversy in the art world, with some people feeling Diebenkorn had betrayed a movement by leaving abstraction behind.

"They used words like 'traitor,'" Burgard said. "This was during the Cold War and the mentality was you're either with us or against us."

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Sketchbook Project Comes to San Francisco, Mobile Art Library Takes U.S. by Storm

A sketch from "Numbered, Weighed, Divided" by Greg Kletsel of Brooklyn, NY.

Calling all art geeks -- self-proclaimed, professional, philistine and otherwise -- The Sketchbook Project is coming to San Francisco.

Founded in 2006 by by SCAD schoolmates Steven Peterman and Shane Zucker, The Sketchbook Project is an ever-evolving, crowd-sourced library of artists' sketchbooks
hailing from more than 130 countries.

"They really wanted to create something people could be involved in without the rigorous juried competitions, without the often closed doors of the art world scene they were coming up against," explains James Vanderberg, Senior Project Manager for The Sketchbook Project.

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International Museum of Women Launches New Exhibit Muslima, Tackles Boston Bombing Backlash

In a city that serves as a progressive paragon, it's easy to forget that American women didn't get the right to vote until 1920. And that's just one facet of the tumultuous history and continuing struggle for women's rights -- here and abroad.

The International Museum of Women (IMOW) -- an innovative online museum based in San Francisco -- has been championing female-focused issues since 2006, but its history of fierce feminism has roots stretching back to 1985.

First founded as the Women's Heritage Museum, this nascent organization operated as a museum "without walls" for 10 years, producing exhibits, sponsoring an annual book fair, providing fodder for teachers during Women's History Month, and of course, celebrating the lengthy lineage of women throughout the past, long overlooked for their accomplishments.

Elizabeth Colton, original founder of IMOW
In 1997, a Bay Area woman named Elizabeth Colton was hoping to take her daughter to a museum dedicated to women's contributions to society...but she couldn't find anything. She called up Gloria Steinem, a noted feminist activist, who she didn't know, and asked her if such a place existed.

"Gloria told her 'no, but I think you should [start] one!'" says Catherine King, Vice President of Exhibitions and Programs at IMOW. "Elizabeth took that has a call to arms." Elizabeth soon corralled a group of Bay Area teachers equally disappointed by the current feminist offerings and established the International Museum of Museum.

"She thought, 'lets expand the mission, let's get global.'"

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Camille Rose Garcia on Getting Dark with Disney

Camille Rose Garcia
A mad tea party

Growing up in Southern California not far from Disneyland, the celebrated "lowbrow" artist Camille Rose Garcia fell in love with all things Disney at an early age. Disney animation in particular has remained a key influence upon her work. In looking at her distinctive work, it becomes obvious that Garcia's vision of the world is darker and more complex than that influence alone.

Rife with dystopian ideas and phantasmagorical imagery, Garcia's paintings hold a central place in the pop surrealist movement of the last two decades. Still, there's a sense of her having come full circle as an exhibition opens this week at the Walt Disney Family Museum in the Presidio that pairs her interpretations of the Alice in Wonderland story with Mary Blair's imaginative, angular designs for Disney's Alice film of 1951. Garcia, who cites Blair specifically as an influence, spoke to us about the exhibition and her other recent work.

How did the exhibition come together?
I did the Alice in Wonderland book a couple of years ago, and I made the decision to keep all the artwork together. I was looking at the early Tenniel work -- the original Alice in Wonderland illustrations -- and I was thinking, "How great to have a whole body like that kept together." So I framed it all and showed it in Los Angeles. Then the Walt Disney Family Museum contacted me about doing a show, and I mentioned that I had this whole body of work in my personal collection. They loved it because it tied in with the Disney Alice in Wonderland -- and they do a spring, Alice in Wonderland-themed tea party every year.

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