Great Fire of London, with Ludgate and Old St. Paul's, Artist Unknown, ca 1670, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Great Fire of London, with Ludgate and Old St. Paul’s, Artist Unknown, ca 1670, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

Humanities West, a Bay Area non-profit devoted to exploring history to celebrate the mind and the arts, launches its 2012-2013 Season at a new venue, the Marines’ Memorial Theatre, located in downtown San Francisco.

The 2012-2013 lecture/performance series illuminates people and places that mark significant points in history, fine art, the performing arts, social history, politics, and philosophy of the arts. Designed to both entertain and educate, the programs bring together regional, national, and international scholars and artists to present lectures, performances, readings, and discussions.

The new season launches its armchair journey with a special introductory presentation exploring the fascinating history of piracy on the high seas. The two-day programs begin with a visit to Paris during the 1920’s and ’30’s to examine the remarkable creativity of American Expatriate Geniuses; then on to 17th-century London to revel in the reign of Charles II – an era rich with pomp, intrigue, and innovation, and finally the season ends its travels in 17th-century Rome to enjoy the splendor of Bernini’s triumphant masterworks of Baroque art and Architecture.


Les Misérables coming to San Francisco

Marin Shakespeare Company opens summer festival with ‘King John’

Quintessentially American: ‘Nixon in China’ at San Francisco Opera

With the support of collaborating organizations, each two-day event is complemented by ancillary programs providing opportunities to learn more about the featured topic and related issues.

Season tickets for all three two-day programs are $275 orchestra and $165 balcony (includes Piracy, special Sunday program).

San Francisco Bay Area Film and Theater2012-2013 HUMANITIES WEST

–Special Sunday Afternoon Program-
Is Piracy the Second Oldest Profession? September 16, 2012
Piracy on the high seas is the stuff of ancient legends and today’s headlines. Homer and Thucydides told of pirates roaming the Mediterranean. Julius Caesar himself was ransomed. Augustus Caesar’s fleets vanquished them and the Byzantines kept them at bay. The Ottoman Turks unleashed the Barbary Coast pirates, while European rivals in trade and at war preyed on one another through state sponsored privateering. The long history of piracy has been immortalized, and sometimes romanticized, in the world’s artistic heritage.

Speakers include Ian Morris (Stanford), Tyler Stovall (UC Berkeley), and Andrew Jameson (USC). Musical performance by Skip Henderson and the Starboard Watch.

-Two-Day Programs-
Paris: American Expatriate Genius October 19 & 20, 2012
Postwar Paris, with its tolerant and cosmopolitan atmosphere (and its low cost of living), attracted a startling number of America’s cultural icons to live and work among the European avant-garde in a moveable feast of creativity. The exhilaration of Paris in the 1920s and 1930s inspired talented American expatriates crossing national, cultural, and artistic boundaries to create innovative modern forms of their art. Gertrude Stein’s “Une generation perdue” , this “lost” generation of American artistic geniuses exuberantly and profoundly influenced literature, art, filmmaking, music, dance, and theater, reshaping twentieth-century American and European culture.

Speakers include Donald W. Faulkner (NY State Writers Institute), Wanda M. Corn (Stanford), Deborah Loft (Marin College), and Tyler Stovall (UC Berkeley). Luciano Chessa (SF Conservatory of Music) introduces a musical performance with Heidi Sali (soprano) and Benjamin Kreith (violin). Actress Laura Sheppard performs Paris Portraits, with direction and design by Suzanne Stassevich;, pianist Karen Rosenak provides accompaniment.

Charles II: Phoenix of Restoration London February 22 & 23, 2013
The restoration of Charles II to the throne in 1660 helped London emerge from civil war and Puritanism. Fueled by the Merrie Monarch’s patronage, Restoration London burst with creative energy. Theatres reopened and women appeared on stage for the first time; accomplished musicians gave the first public concerts. A thriving public sphere also emerged, with Court antagonists spewing forth in clubs, coffee houses and newspapers. This artistic and lusty exuberance was matched by scientific and architectural advances, spurred by Charles’s sponsorship of the prestigious Royal Society for Improving Natural Knowledge. In rebuilding London after the Great Fire of 1666, society luminaries fostered a more rational and spacious city that gave rise to the first political parties, a relatively free press, public arts patronage, an explosion of scientific knowledge, and other hallmarks of modernity. It may be that Restoration London invented the Modern world.

Speakers include Robert Bucholz (Loyola U Chicago), Tim Harris (Brown), Blair Hoxby (Stanford), and Julia Marciari-Alexander (San Diego Museum of Art). Performance by Gilbert Martinez (harpsichord), Rita Lilly (soprano) and Joshua Lee (viola da gamba), introduced by Clifford (Kip) Cranna (SF Opera).

Bernini’s Rome: Art and Architecture of the Baroque April 26 & 27, 2013
Enjoying the patronage of Popes and the wealth of the resurgent Counter-Reformation Church, Gian Lorenzo Bernini used his immense talents as an architect, painter, and especially as a sculptor to help define the unique visual style of the Baroque Age. In seventeenth-century Rome, designed by far-sighted urban planners in the shape of a star, Bernini and his collaborators and rivals restored a monumental grandeur to the Eternal City that survives to this day.

Speakers include Theodore Rabb (Princeton), Max Grossman (University of Texas, El Paso), Deborah Loft (Marin College), Thomas Dandelet (UC Berkeley), and Paula Findlen (Stanford). Performance by Corey Jamason (harpsichord), with Richard Savino (lute), introduced by Clifford (Kip) Cranna (SF Opera).