Out There :: Besties in Arts & Culture

  • by Roberto Friedman
  • Saturday April 9, 2016
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San Francisco Ballet dancer Vitor Luiz in Yuri Possokhov's 'Swimmer'
San Francisco Ballet dancer Vitor Luiz in Yuri Possokhov's 'Swimmer'

Eagle-eyed readers who have been following Besties coverage in Arts & Culture over the years will have noticed that many of the winners in various categories have been previous awardees as well.

This phenomenon came up for discussion during the planning process for the 2016 Besties, the LGBT Best of the Bay awards. There was some talk of retiring perpetual winners in a sort of "hall of fame" so that other deserving entries might prevail. But this seemed too much like penalizing the winners for their persistent popularity. So let the laurels fall as they may, and the repeats come as they do!

This year, in honor of the Bay Area Reporter's 45th anniversary, we dug through some files of newspaper clippings and found past press notices, from a variety of sources, about the winners. Here are the results in eight Arts & Culture categories.

Best Art Museum

de Young Museum

(Runners up: Asian Art Museum, Contemporary Jewish Museum, GLBT History Museum, Legion of Honor, Museum of Craft and Design, Museum of the African Diaspora, Oakland Museum of California, San Jose Museum of Art, SFMOMA [closed through May 2016], Walt Disney Family Museum)

"But the new de Young Museum, designed by Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, is proof that despite these naysayers, a museum can be both gorgeous to look at and a cozy place to view art. Clad in its elegant copper skin, this building suggests that art and architecture can make good bed partners after all, and that a dialogue between the two can be creatively fruitful.

"That a famously fussy Swiss team from Basel could accomplish this in a city that is so self-consciously protective of its public image is all the more remarkable." - Nicolai Ouroussoff, The New York Times, Oct. 13, 2005.

Best Ballet Dance Company

San Francisco Ballet

(Runners up: Alonzo King Lines Ballet, Ballet San Jose, Diablo Ballet, Oakland Ballet, Post/Ballet, Smuin Ballet)

"Nothing else is as riveting as the solo by Gennadi Nedvigin suggesting a ghostly matador. Pulled up and slightly back, he flicks his whole body from one oblique angle to another with absolute economy, becoming simultaneously beauty and ruin, silence and wail. In those moments, fearful symmetry is achieved." - Anne Murphy, San Jose Mercury News, Jan. 28, 2016.

Davies Symphony Hall auditorium, as seen from the stage. Photo: Courtesy San Francisco Symphony

Best Classical Venue

Davies Symphony Hall

(Runners up: Herbst Theatre, Veteran's Building, War Memorial Opera House, Old First Church, SF Conservatory of Music)

"Davies Hall reopened last night with the new sound that everyone has been waiting and hoping for. The acoustics, which were the controversial issue for the first 12 years of the hall's life, have been remade to provide an excellent and exciting symphonic sound.

"The excitement of the preparations, the buildup and the celebratory activities were more than matched by the response of the hall itself to the sounds of the San Francisco Symphony playing Beethoven 's Ninth Symphony under Herbert Blomstedt 's direction." - Robert Commanday , San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 10, 1992.

Best Live Music Venue

The Fillmore

(Runners up: The Chapel, Great American Music Hall, Masonic Hall, Regency Center, The Warfield )

"As her band tore into the song 'Pumping (My Heart)' in a hailstorm of feedback and fury on Wednesday night at the Fillmore, Patti Smith stood teetering at the edge of the stage, strangling her microphone and howling from the bottom of her soul: 'Coming in a force field, coming in my brain/And my heart, my heart/Total abandon.'" - Aidan Vaziri , San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 23, 2015.

Best Modern Dance Company

ODC Dance

(Runners up: AXIS Dance Co., Jess Curtis/Gravity, Joe Goode Performance Group, Katie Faulkner/little seismic, Keith Hennessy/Circo Zero, Sean Dorsey Dance )

"Tomorrow night, San Francisco's pioneering contemporary dance company ODC will premiere a new work inspired by famed sculptor/environmental artist Andy Goldsworthy with live music by experimental cellist and loop musician Zoe Keating. For this piece, titled boulders and bones, ODC artistic directors Brenda Way and KT Nelson took choreographic inspiration from the ever-transforming landscapes of art and nature. The visual context of the dance comes from a time-lapse film by RJ Muna shot during the seven-month installation of a Goldsworthy sculpture at a private location north of San Francisco." - David Pescovitz , Boing Boing website, Mar. 19. 2014.

Best Nature or Science Museum

California Academy of Sciences

(Runners up: Exploratorium, SF Botanical Gardens, SF Conservatory of Flowers)

"Head left from the entrance to the wooden walkway over otherworldly rays in the Philippine Coral Reef, then continue to the Swamp to see Claude, the famous albino alligator. Swing through African Hall and gander at the penguins, take the elevator up to the living roof, then return to the main floor and get in line to explore the Rainforests of the World, ducking free-flying butterflies and watching for other live surprises." - Fodor's Travel, San Francisco travel guide.

Best Small Music Venue

El Rio

(Runners up: Martuni's, The New Parish, Thee Parkside, Rickshaw Stop, SF Eagle, Soundbox )

"The best part about this place is you have room to breathe, thanks to the back patio. Even when the bar area is crowded, you always feel like you can go outside, be with the people you came with, and not be stepping on everyone's toes. I always have a good time here. It's El Rio! It's not fancy or pretentious. It's just a great time.

"The bathroom situation is not excellent. Just - plan ahead." - Martha P. , SF, CA, Yelp review, Oct. 6. 2015.

Best Theatre Company

American Conservatory Theater

(Runners up: Aurora Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, New Conservatory Theatre Center, Ray of Light Theatre, Theatre Rhinoceros )

"Soon Bill Ball was moving his Pittsburgh-based American Conservatory Theater to San Francisco. Ball was something of a creative maniac, and perhaps the best archival film clip is a scene from his production of The Taming of the Shrew. Marc Singer, as the Kate-taming Petruchio, expounds on gender issues as he maneuvers Fredi Olster's Katherina around his body as if she were a snake being charmed." - "Theatrical zeitgeist," review of Stage Left: A Story of Theater in San Francisco, by Richard Dodds, Bay Area Reporter, Nov. 1, 2012.

Last Word

With this week's review of "Bitter Rice" (Riso Amaro), now out on a Criterion Collection DVD, arts writer Tavo Amador turns his attention to Italian films made by Neorealist directors during the post-WWII period. One of those filmmakers, the openly gay Luchino Visconti, also directed the first Italian stage production of "A Streetcar Named Desire," starring Vittorio Gassman as Stanley. Playwright Tennessee Williams commented admiringly on opening night, "I have never seen pants that tight on a man before!" Special Bestie award for costume design!

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