THIS WEEK: A SELECTIVE GUIDE

GLASSWORKS, PUKKELPOP AND SOME OLD FAVOURITES | August 12th 2008

The de Young

Special to MORE INTELLIGENT LIFE

Our guide to what's on around the world, compiled by Ariel Ramchandani

GLASS CASTLES

At the hands of Dale Chihuly (or, rather, the many minions in his workshop), glass is transformed, becoming anthropomorphic, sculptural, theatrical. See it for yourself at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, in what the artist himself calls "his most ambitious show" to date. The exhibition spans his entire career, with huge installations (outdoor and indoor), drawings and free-standing pieces. His undulating works in riotous colours (with apt names such as "Ruby Red", "Turquoise Icicle" and "Orange Hornet") are often overwhelmingly dramatic. Kenneth Baker of the San Francisco Chronicle describes the pieces as "so theatrically lighted that they make a visitor feel like a walk-on performer in some costly, unnamed spectacle. That spectacle is Chihuly's career." This extravagance should not be missed.

CHIHULY AT DE YOUNG, through September 28th, San Francisco

 

WHAT'S IN A NAME?

Pukkelpop is both fun to say and mildly unsavoury (a pukkel is a pimple, hump or satchel in Dutch). It is also the name of an appealing music festival, about 70 kilometres east of Brussels in Kiewit, Hasselt. Pukkelpop started 23 years ago as a small one-day deal, and has since grown to epic proportions--three days and 143 confirmed acts, including the Killers, Metallica, Soulwax, One Republic, Iron and Wine and MGMT. There are also DJs, comedy shows, a "cultural village" and plenty of food and drink.

PUKKELPOP 2008, through August 16th, Hasselt

 

A COLLECTOR'S DREAM

Johannes Vermeer earned notoriety for painting beautiful, intimate, luminous works that many have felt compelled to posses. That the Dutch master left behind only some 35 paintings before he died in 1675 has made them ever more precious. A painting by Vermeer is “the greatest treasure for an American collector," Wilhelm Bode, a late German scholar and museum director, once wrote in the New York Times. Henry Clay Frick, founder of the Frick Collection on Manhattan's upper east side, evidently agreed. The last painting the steel magnate ever bought was Vermeer's "Mistress and Maid" in 1919. Now, for the first time in ten years, the Frick Collection's three Vermeer paintings have been reunited in a special installation. In seeing these glowing domestic scenes side-by-side, one is aware of what James Gardner of the New York Sun calls the "mysterious, eternal nowness of the present instant, the eternal present in whatever land and in whatever age men have been alive to perceive it."

FRICK'S VERMEERS REUNITED, through November 2nd, New York

 

THANK HEAVEN FOR LITTLE GIRLS

"Gigi", the classic Lerner and Loewe musical, is enjoying an energetic revival at the Open Aire Theatre in London's Regent's Park. This witty love story between a rich playboy and a young, beautiful courtesan-in-training (a so-called "modern-day Cinderella story" that should leave some squirming in their seats), based on Colette's Belle Époque novel, offers a fine mix of memorable songs and some unexpected zingers. But much of the buzz about this production--London's first in 20 years--is about the talent. Chaim Topol, who is perhaps best-known for playing Tevye on stage and screen in "Fiddler on the Roof", has graduated to the silver-haired role of Honoré (the bachellor's uncle, played by Maurice Chevalier in the 1958 film). The young lady herself is played by Lisa O' Hare, fresh from touring as Eliza Doolittle in "My Fair Lady" (another Lerner and Loewe treat), where her performances were called "young, fresh and daring".

"GIGI" AT THE OPEN AIR THEATRE, REGENT'S PARK, through September 13th, London

 

BILBAO AWAITS

Delicious food, excellent weather and fine art--surely you need no other excuses to visit Bilbao this August. Those lucky enough to be there should certainly catch the Bilbao Semana Grande (Aste Nagusia) festival, from August 16th to the 24th. Over 100,000 people are expected to celebrate Basque heritage with this raucous all-day, all-night party of food, song, dance, concerts and performances. Head to the bridges for views of spectacular fireworks displays over the water, and check out concerts at Plaza Nueva and the amphitheatre for performances from bands such as Amparanoia, Amaral and Travis.

ASTE NAGUSIA 2008 BILBAO, through August 24th, Bilbao