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Art Picks for the Week

By Blake de Pastino

SEPTEMBER 8, 1997:  POOR ART: Haninga Thiel is an uncommon artist who works in the ersatz tradition of arte povera--so-called "poor art" that makes use of materials like found objects, everyday artifacts and the produce of the earth itself. Touted as the antithesis of Pop Art--nonconsumer, anticommercial, decidedly low-tech--arte povera is infused with a certain mysticism, an unspoken suggestion that these materials are piggybacked with inherent meaning and rarefied value. But semantics aside, the genre--if it can be called that--also offers an unusually dense palette of textures, one that somehow makes perfect sense in a Southwestern setting: the stringy strength of adobe, the graininess of unadulterated wood, the brittle timbre of bone. In a market known for reducing art into commodity, the rich innocence of arte povera can provide local gallery-goers with some much-welcome relief.

Haninga Thiel's A Wild Connection opens Monday, Sept. 8 at the Harwood Art Center (Seventh and Mountain) with a reception Friday, Sept. 12 from 5 to 7 p.m. Runs through Oct. 3. Call 242-6367.

PUPPET MASTER: After a summer swollen with TV reruns, water parks and hours on the Game Boy, your children would probably appreciate a chance to check out something new. And thankfully, this week offers a little culture for the kids. Fifth-generation puppeteer Yang Feng has been traveling the globe, sharing the gift of his tradition with kids all over, and now he's making a stop here in town. In a program called Tales of China, Yang performs elegant legends and tantalizing children's tales through the ancient idiom of Chinese handpuppetry--executed with fluid movements and wordless narrative, all choreographed to live traditional Guzheng music. And just to sweeten the deal, it's free. Yang Feng will be playing open shows all over town this week, so consider this your chance to make up for a summer wasted.

Yang Feng presents Tales of China Thursday, Sept. 4 at the South Valley Library at 1 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 6 at Juan Tabo Library at 1 p.m.; Sunday, Sept. 7 at Harwood Art Center at 2 p.m., and Friday, Sept. 12 at the South Broadway Cultural Center at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Call 344-2186.

MONKEY GIRL: Beth Lisick grabbed the mic on the opening night of last winter's Albuquerque Poetry Festival and never let go for a single second. And the traditionally raucous audience at the Dingo Bar that night hadn't been the only ones blown away by this poet from San Francisco: She's also read at Lollapalooza and South by Southwest and has opened up for rock god Neil Young. Her work is machine-gun fast, hysterically funny and the type of poetry that gains instant converts to the slam scene. Her new book Monkey Girl tells stories of crowded bars, weird pickup lines and other stories from the life of a modern woman. If you think of poetry as a hippie chick reading about butterflies in "da DUM da DUM da DUM" cadences, think again; Lisick represents the new face of spoken word that packs the houses across the country and right here in Albuquerque. I've been looking forward to this show for weeks, so don't miss it.

Beth Lisick performs at Gold Coast Coffee House on Wednesday, Sept. 10 at 8 p.m. It's free, but donations will be accepted. An open mic begins the show.

--Blake de Pastino

"Monkey Girl" by Angie Drobnic

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