Theater & Arts

5 venues to visit for March ArtHop

A historical perspective from John Walker: a view of Mariposa Street, circa 1893, top, and present day, bottom.
A historical perspective from John Walker: a view of Mariposa Street, circa 1893, top, and present day, bottom. The Fresno Bee

With a ceremonial groundbreaking today (Thursday, March 3) for opening the Fulton Mall back up to traffic, it’s a big event in downtown Fresno history.

Which makes for a nice conjunction with tonight’s ArtHop, the monthly open house of galleries and studios in the downtown and Tower District areas (5-8 p.m. at most venues, details at www.fresnoartscouncil.org). Fresno Bee photographer John Walker shows us that art can offer insights into the controversial issue of redevelopment. His show is one of my five ArtHop picks for you to consider:

Then and now

For years, Walker has given Fresno Bee readers an occasional feature titled “Historical Perspectives.” In doing so, he bridges the past and the present by presenting a historical photo and then showing us what’s in that exact place now.

For his ArtHop show in The Bee’s main lobby, Walker has converted some of his most striking photographic comparisons into a before-and-after gallery format.

Some of these views will make your jaw drop. Take, for example, the 1893-era photo of Fresno’s once-grand Mariposa Street, with its lavish, opulent, three-story brick and stone Gothic-Romanesque buildings lining the street to a grand courthouse topped by distinctive copper-sheathed dome.

As Walker notes, people often look at that photo and guess that it’s San Francisco, Chicago or New York.

No. It’s Fresno.

The contemporary version of the same view? On the left side: a big, concrete parking garage.

Walker’s exhibition will likely become something of a Rorschach test for those passionate about the current Fulton Mall issue. People against reopening the mall to traffic (and destroying its architectural integrity) can point to the sadness of razing history. People for the traffic change can point to the fact that the mall itself changed downtown dramatically and that a city’s evolution is inevitable.

More than anything, Walker’s show reminds us that Fresno used to be a very different place. It’s a must-see.

Walker will participate in a 7 p.m. question-and-answer session during ArtHop. The show is available for viewing 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays at The Bee, 1626 E St., through April 1.

New printmaker

Fresno State’s art department features Aaron S. Coleman, the university’s new printmaking professor, in his new show, titled “Smithereens,” at the M Street Graduate Studios.

Coleman takes a decidedly gritty and political approach to his work. He tackles such issues as discrimination, civil rights and the misuse of mainstream religion, and his work has recently evolved “into a blanket description of the apocalyptic world in which we live.” Among his interests: police brutality, persecution of the LGBT communities, economic unrest, global warming, species extinction, habitat loss, holy wars, power trips and egomania.

On the brighter side, members of the campus Print and Glory printmaking club will be live-printing with wood blocks.

Details: 1419 M St., www.mstreetarts.com.

Guess that artist

Members of Spectrum Art Gallery are trying something fun: They’ve submitted anonymous photographic self-portraits for a show that reveals how they see their own personalities.

Part of the fun for the viewers of “Anonymous Self-Portraits”: a contest will be held in which viewers attempt to identify the photographers by name.

The show runs through April 3, with the contest winner named that day. Details: 608 E. Olive Ave. www.spectrumphotogallery.org, 559-266-0691.

Art and science

Here’s a big group show at Chris Sorensen Studio and Galleries with a twist: the annual “Art Scientifique.” It’s described as “representing the wide and diverse nature of science from astronomy to zoology and everything between.” The show draws entries from throughout the state and features work from both visual artists and scientists.

Details: 2223 S. Van Ness Ave. www.chrissorensenartstudio.com.

A sweet show

Stop by Peeves Public House for a look at artwork by students at UCP of Central California. There will be some wonderful examples of creativity on display. The works are for sale, and all proceeds go to the students. It’s sure to be an uplifting show.

Details: 1243 Fulton Mall. www.peevespub.com.

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