The Bay Area is a hub of artistic expression, attracting artists, writers and musicians from around the globe to live, work and create. We highlight some of the offerings here.
• A feast for the eyes: As it has every October for the past 32 years, the city of Emeryville is throwing out the welcome mat for lovers of great art, locally produced. The 33rd annual Emeryville Art Exhibition kicks off with a preshow gala reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4, at the Pickleworks Building, 1375 55th St. Many of the 115 artists and craftspeople who live or work in Emeryville and whose works are on view will be on hand to greet you, and music will be provided by The doRiaN Mode: Vintage Jazz & Blues band. Admission is free, as is the festival that follows at the same location, running daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 5-27. A cash bar at the reception, however, will raise funds for a youth art program in Emeryville. Works on display at the juried show include paintings, photographs, ceramics, textiles, glassworks, sculpture and even poetry. More information is at 510-652-6122 or www.emeryarts.org.
• Hardly Strictly Bluegrass: Like its title says, this annual bonanza of music in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park is not just for bluegrass, as it has been known to host everything from rock and gospel to jazz and hip-hop. But it is free. Every joyous second of it. The event runs runs Oct. 4-6 and the staggering lineup this year features Tanya Tucker, Robert Plant, the Wayterboys, Judy Collins, Oakland’s own Fantastic Negrito, Bay Area legends Hot Tuna and many, many more. Like we said, it’s free and you don’t even need tickets or reservations. What you do need, though, is a plan (in other words, don’t just drive to Golden Gate Park and expect to find parking.) Go to www.hardlystrictlybluegrass.com for what you need to know.
• A mixed-genre lollapalooza: While bluegrass and blues hounds will be trekking over to Golden Gate Park for Hardly Strictly, those who prefer classical music, jazz, contemporary and even experimental music will be swarming all over the War Memorial Veterans Building for the annual SF Music Day. From noon to 7:45 p.m. on Oct. 6, 30 professional ensembles and musicians will play 30-minute sets in the historic and grand Herbst Theatre on the ground floor and the gorgeous, glowing Green Room, the brand new Atrium Theater and the Education Studio on the upper floors. You can hear everything from Debussy and Beethoven to George Gershwin and John Coltrane — and it’s all absolutely free. Performers include invented instrument pioneer Paul Dresher, the Astraeus String Quartet, the Friction Quartet, Trance Mission, the Living Earth Show, Melody of China and Terrence Brewer’s Acoustic Jazz Quartet. Check it out at 401 Van Ness St. in San Francisco. Registration and information is at www.intermusicsf.org.
• Mill Valley Film Festival: It’s almost as if they snipped off a small portion of the Toronto International Film Festival and planted it in Marin County. MVFF may not be huge (and that is part of its charm), but it never fails to draw some A-list stars and their Oscar-hopeful films. On tap this year: Kristen Stewart with her film “Seberg,” a thriller/biopic about the French New Wave icon Jean Seberg; Jamie Foxx and his civil rights/courtroom thriller “Just Mercy”; Robert Pattinson and his intense drama “The Lighthouse”; and Alfre Woodard and her death penalty drama “Clemency.” The fest also offers a wide variety of indie features and documentaries, with a solid representation of Bay Area and women filmmakers. The event runs Oct. 3-13 at theaters in Mill Valley, San Rafael and Larkspur, with select screenings at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. Admission prices vary by event, go to www.mvff.com for tickets, schedule and more information.
• “Mark Twain’s River of Song”: What could be better than watching acclaimed Bay Area stage actor Dan Hiatt tear it up onstage as iconic writer/humorist Mark Twain? How about all that AND a live band delivering foot-stomping spirituals and folk tunes. That’s the idea of this new musical getting its West Coast premiere by TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, a stage company with a real affinity for tackling musicals with a historical bent. The show is in previews through Oct. 4, with the main run set for Oct. 5-27. All performances are at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $30-$100; theatreworks.org.