Arts Devo

April showers bring May art shows … and Explosions in the Sky

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Opening … It has been a gorgeous spring in Chico. Best in years. On-and-off-again rains have kept things green, in bloom and smelling sweet (the air is thick with star jasmine in Arts DEVO’s hood). And with nothing but sunshine in the forecast, there’s a good chance things are going to start drying out fast, so get out and enjoy those May flowers now, maybe while walking or biking to one of this week’s many art openings.

Two receptions on Saturday, May 14: Salvatore Casa Paintings is now showing at the Upper Crust Bakery & Eatery, featuring new works by the local master. Reception is 4-6 p.m. And Abracadabra, at Idea Fabrication Labs, will kick off with a Gallery Soirée (6-9 p.m., all-ages; 9 p.m.-2 a.m., 21-over), featuring treats, live music by Sisterhoods and sets by a bunch of DJs. The show is the culmination of Rosemary Widmann’s residency in a tech-art incubator program at IFL’s sister site in Santa Cruz. More than 60 pieces of varying media produced with the facility’s high-tech tools will be on display. Tickets for the party are $15; RSVP at

And, two more openings on Monday, May 16: Old Drawings, a collection of old (and one new) pen and pencil drawings by local friendly badass and illustrator-to-metal-dudes Matt Loomis, is up at the Great Northern Coffee train car. Reception 4-6 p.m. And Food in Art-The Art of Food, an open-entry group show at the Chico Art Center, kicks off with a reception (5-7 p.m.) that will include edible creations by local foodies and chefs alongside the food-themed artwork.

… and exploding Explosions in the Sky is one of my favorite bands in the world, but as much as I dig the recorded output of the Texas instrumentalists, listening to the albums vs. experiencing the band live is akin to looking at a picture of Mount Shasta vs. hiking to its summit, or listening to one of those sounds-of-the-ocean machines vs. standing on the rocks at the shore while waves crash around you.

Thankfully, this past Saturday (May 7) at the Fox Theater in Oakland, Mrs. DEVO and I got to experience EITS in its natural state (thank you, Stromo, for the tickets … and for introducing me to the band … and for introducing me to my wife!), and in an effort to avoid my usual hyperbole, I’ll just say it was “awesome” in the truest sense of the word.

The dynamic sound of the guitar-forward four-piece (three guitars and drums, plus a guest bassist for live shows) is often described as cinematic. For this performance, the players lingered less on the quiet scenes, staying with gracefully interconnected melodies just long enough for us take in the pastoral before shaking us free with unnatural sonic disasters. A couple of the huge, slow-building crescendos of screaming guitars and sustained feedback somehow found a whole other level of volume to launch into, threatening to punch through the high ceilings of the repurposed 1928 movie house. It was as huge as, you know, an ocean or, like, a mountain.

OK, just awesome.