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Arts & Culture

Arts and culture.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Fresno audiences will get a special taste of the classical world of art songs this weekend at Fresno State. The university's music department will host its first "Art Song Festival" Friday and Saturday at the music building, featuring performances by students, faculty and guest artists. Poet laureate Juan Felipe Herrera will also participate in the event. Professor Maria Briggs joined us on Valley Edition to talk about the event.  

Brittany Greeson/GroundTruth

Critics across the globe are starting to pay attention to the music of one young valley artist – Omar Nare. The Sanger native was recently profiled on Public Radio International and the New York Times for his fresh take on mariachi traditions. He’s taking traditional songs and re-inventing them with hints of jazz, soul and funk.

Kelly Mizue Aoki / Yonsei Memory Project

A new project organized by fourth-generation Japanese Americans is seeking to preserve memories and create art. Called the Yonsei Memory Project, the effort is a project of Nikiko Masumoto and Brynn Saito. The two will hold events in Fresno on Saturday Febaury 17th and Monday February 19th, including memory tours and an event of poetry and art at the Fresno Assembly Center, the site where local Japanese Americans were processed before they were sent to concentration campus during the Second World War.

Go For Broke

The Kingsburg Historical Society is hosting a new traveling exhibit on the Japanese American experience during the Second World War. The small farming community is known today for its Swedish heritage, but before the interment of citizens in domestic concentration camps during the war, it had a vibrant Japanese American community. The new exhibit, "Courage and Compassion: Our Shared Story of the Japanese American WWII Experience" is on a nationwide tour from the Go For Broke National Education Center, with support from the National Park Service.

Randi Lynn Beach / used with permission

California's mammoth feats of water engineering in the 20th century turned the barren west side of the San Joaquin Valley into the most productive farmland in the world. But in the 21st century, as society's appreciation of the environmental costs of these water diversions, many have questioned whether west side farms will last into the next century. Combined with the threats of drought, climate change, and increasing salinity, the question is fertile ground for photojournalist Randi Lynn Beach.

Sierra On-Line

It might be hard to believe today, but the Madera County community of Oakhurst was once one of the biggest players in the world of computer gaming. For much of the 1980's and 90's, the mountain community was home to Sierra On-Line, an early pioneer in computer gaming, known for adventure game titles like Kings Quest. Sierra's games featured both innovative technology and groundbreaking storytelling, an approach that came directly from company founders Ken and Roberta Williams.

Kevin Mahogany has been called the standout male jazz singer of his generation. His rich baritone is equally at home singing romantic ballads or on uptempo bebop songs. With influences that range from Motown to Charlie Parker, he’s been one of the top jazz vocalists for the last three decades, and he’s performing at Fresno’s Tower Theater this Saturday at 8:00 PM. A few days ago, FM89’s David Aus – host of our Sunday night jazz program – spoke with Kevin over the phone to learn a little more about his career and what valley audiences can expect.

From a film about legendary Gypsy-jazz star Django Reinhardt to a documentary about police and the Oakland community, organizers of the 13th annual Fresno Film Festival say the event has something for everyone. It takes place November 10th - 12th at the historic Tower Theatre. This week on Valley Edition, we spoke with Fresno Filmworks board member Justus Bier Stanberry about this year's event. 

Heather David / Cal Mod Books

Sixty years ago, taking a road trip in California was a lot different than it is today. In the days before superhighways, Airbnb and navigation software, a family vacation likely included a stop at a roadside motel. Hundreds of these "mom and pop" establishments popped up along the highway in places like Fresno and Bakersfield, offering a clean room, a swimming pool, and maybe even something exotic, like a faux-Polynesian tiki-themed cocktail lounge. Flashing neon signs and space-age architecture were designed to catch the eye from a moving car and bring in new customers 

NPR

Comedian Paula Poundstone is already a familiar name to NPR listeners, thanks to her appearances on Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me. Now fans can hear even more of Paula, with a new NPR-produced podcast, a new book, and a tour that take her to Fresno for a performance Thursday night September

The highway plays an important part in the mystique of the American West. From the so-called "Mother Road" of Route 66 that wound from Chicago to LA, to the picturesque beauty of the California coast along Highway 1, our highways are more than just transportation infrastructure, they are a part of our culture. That’s certainly the case here in the middle of the state, where a ribbon of concrete and asphalt has stitched together towns big and small for decades – Highway 99.

Jazz mandolin virtuoso Eva Scow and her band Le Petit Strings visited Valley Public Radio for a special performance Thursday as part of the station's Summer Fund Drive. FM89 Development Director Joe Garcia hosted the performance in the Barrman Chaney Performance Studio, which comes a day before their Friday August 11th concert at Bitwise in downtown Fresno. 

Google

For decades Trout's Nightclub has been a fixture in the Oildale neighborhood of Bakersfield. It was the musical home of people like the late Red Simpson and others who helped make the "Bakersfield Sound" incredibly popular among country music fans in the decades following World War II.  The venue was also considered one of the city's last original honky-tonk clubs. But earlier this spring the bar closed, and doesn't show any signs of reopening soon.

theovationtheatre.com

Bakersfield has a new stage for actors to perform on. And its first show, "Jesus Christ Superstar," opens June 2.

The new space in the downtown Bakersfield arts district is called The Ovation Repertory Theatre. Its owned by Adam Cline, Hal Friedman and Bien Resolme. Friedman joined Valley edition Tuesday May 30 to tell us more about the opening and upcoming shows. To listen to the interview click play above.  

https://www.gordonhuether.com/

Downtown Fresno's Mariposa Plaza could soon get a major new piece of public art. The Fresno City Council is set to vote on a proposal Thursday May 25th to award a Napa  artist a $200,000 contract to create a new piece of public art for square at Fulton and Mariposa Streets.

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