A new exhibit of photographs by Brianna Johnson opens this weekend at Pearls of the Antilles (3716 Central SE) with a party featuring live poetry and drumming. Pearls is a pan-African artist collective that recently opened at the east end of Nob Hill. Rock your little world at the reception this Friday, August 5, from 6 to 9 p.m. Runs through August 31. 315-5341.
Dead Poet's Society
Ainadamar at the Santa Fe Opera
At its finest, the reality portrayed in opera is a hyperreality. Plucking out the most dramatic, the funniest, the most extreme moments in life, opera pins these events to the velvet, expanding them, drawing them out, embellishing them, digging into their weird emotional heart until their most profound elements are so intense they'll make you dizzy. In this way, the best opera productions become less about momentous events than about the unruly emotions that boil up in reaction to those events. This, I suspect, is why people attend opera in the first place—for the shot of adrenaline you get from being exposed to this kind of emotional vertigo.
Craig Lucas' enthrallingly warped play Reckless follows a woman named Rachel as she meets a series of strange challenges with unwavering optimism, continually searching for answers to some of life's most difficult questions. Ashleigh Hile, who is independently producing and directing the performance, says, "I fell in love with the play and I just wanted to go ahead and get it produced right now." And that's exactly what she did. Catch it now. It's running for one weekend only. $6 general, $5 students/seniors. Performances will be held on Friday, August 5, and Saturday, August 6, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, August 7, at 2 p.m. at the Cell (700 First Street). For more info, call 270-9605.
516 Central SW
A small group of art supporters in Albuquerque weren't about to let the 15-year tradition of showcasing Albuquerque's contemporary art die. Instead, they're carrying on with the 16th annual juried exhibition that was once hosted by the now defunct Magnífico. Aptly retitled Transitions and presented by the Harwood Art Center, this year's exhibit will be housed at 516 Central SW, the old Magnífico art space. It features 38 pieces by 27 local artists selected from more than 240 entries. Laura Steward Heon, incoming executive director of SITE Santa Fe, juried the show. She says the exhibit, which includes many surreal images, could be called Desert Dada. Come get your Dada on at the Saturday night opening featuring live gypsy jazz music from the Duke City Hot Club from 7 to 9 p.m. Transitions runs through September 17. For more information, call 883-9126 or go to contemporaryalbuquerque.com.
The Clumsiest People in Europe: Or, Mrs. Mortimer's Bad-tempered Guide to the Victorian World
In today's world, where multiculturalism and political correctness reign, one wouldn't expect to see a book declaring that the Irish are drunks, Mexicans are lazy and Jews are greedy. Yet The Clumsiest People in Europe is just such a book. One of its authors, Mrs. Favell Lee Mortimer, was a profoundly unhappy woman with very little good to say about anyone outside of England. But it's the research of the other author, Todd Pruzan, that makes The Clumsiest People in Europe an enlightening look at how Mrs. Mortimer, a long-forgotten Victorian writer, may have established in our forefathers' minds some of the ethnic and cultural stereotypes still perpetuated today.
Lighten Up, Will Ya?
Hardboiled & Hard Luck
From the beginning, Banana Yoshimoto has been eerily preoccupied with loss and slumber. Her blockbuster debut novel, Kitchen, which sold 2 million copies in Japan, conjured a Tokyo college student mourning the death of her grandmother. Other books explored suicide (NP), the premature death of a sibling (Amrita), comas (Asleep) and the plangent briefness of youthful friendship (Goodbye Tsugumi). It would be wrong to place Yoshimoto alongside some creature of the night like Stephen King. Still, it would be unwise to press a Yoshimoto novel upon a depressive in December.