Readers’ Choice 2015:

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Time to Celebrate

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Business & Professional

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Local Theater

With theaters from art deco houses showcasing Broadway’s seasonal best to intimate playhouses staging avant-garde works by local and international playwrights, the Bay Area offers wide choices to drama buffs and musical aficionados.

San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater, a Tony Award-winning nonprofit, presents drama, comedy and musicals in its 100-year-old, 1,040-seat Geary Theater as well as the recently restored Strand Theater in Civic Center, with two performance spaces. The 2015-16 season features “Satchmo at the Waldorf” by Terry Teachout, Eugene O’Neill’s “Ah, Wilderness!” and Dickens’ perennial “A Christmas Carol.”

With two stages, a school and a Tony Award for outstanding regional theater, Berkeley Repertory Theatre has grown from a storefront stage, launched in 1968, to a nationally renowned arts organization. Upcoming shows include Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” with Frances McDormand, an adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island” and “The Hypocrites’ ‘Pirates of Penzance,’ ” an offbeat adaptation of a Gilbert and Sullivan favorite.

Launching its 46th season, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley offers an eight-play season in Palo Alto and Mountain View, a summertime New Works Festival, plus camps for kids and workshops for adults. Upcoming plays include “Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin,” the Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning play “Proof” and the regional premiere of “Cyrano.”

The 49-year-old Marin Theatre Company, based in Mill Valley, produces a six-show season of provocative plays by playwrights from the 20th century as well as new works, also offering a series for young audiences along with classes. The 2015-16 season includes August Wilson’s “Gem of the Ocean,” Howard Brenton’s “Anne Boleyn” and “The Invisible Hand,” by Pulitzer Prize-winning actor-writer Ayad Akhtar.


San Francisco

American Conservatory Theater

(415) 749-2228


East Bay

Berkeley Repertory Theatre


(510) 647-2949


South Bay/Peninsula

TheatreWorks Silicon Valley

Palo Alto

(650) 463-1950


North Bay

Marin Theatre Company

Mill Valley

(415) 388-5200


Local Museum

While many Bay Area museums display art and sculpture, others are dedicated to specific interests, including science and technology, Judaica, kids’ activities and California culture. Readers’ choices reflect that variety.

The Contemporary Jewish Museum, situated in a building designed by architect Daniel Libeskind, who adapted it from a power station, reflects the spectrum of the Jewish experience and culture. The show “Night Begins the Day” explores the aesthetics of science as well as art, while “Hardly Strictly Warren Hellman” pays homage to the late Bay Area business leader, philanthropist and musician who sponsored annual bluegrass festivals.

Founded in 1895 in Golden Gate Park and reopened in 2005 in a new facility, the de Young Museum — under the rubric of Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, along with the Legion of Honor — displays its permanent collections of American art, works of European masters and the art of Asia, Africa and Oceania. It also showcases the contemporary craft collection of Jewish community leaders Dorothy and the late George Saxe, and presents special exhibitions, currently paintings by 19th-century British artist J.M.W. Turner and prints of the late Bay Area artist Richard Diebenkorn.

More than an art museum, more than a natural history museum, the Oakland Museum reflects our multicultural state in art, history and natural sciences. Current exhibitions include “Bees: Tiny Insect, Big Impact” and “Pacific Worlds,” which looks at historic and cultural relationships between the Pacific islands and California.

Situated on the Stanford campus overlooking one of the largest collections of Rodin bronzes outside Paris, the Cantor Arts Center is a free, small museum with changing exhibitions from the permanent collection plus touring shows, such as “500 Years of Italian Master Drawings.” The permanent collection — 40,000 works spanning 5,000 years — incorporates art from Asia, Africa and Latin America as well as classical and contemporary works by noted American and European artists.

San Francisco

Contemporary Jewish Museum

(415) 655-7800


de Young Museum

Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

(415) 750-3600


East Bay

Oakland Museum of California


(510) 318-8400


South Bay/Peninsula

Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University

(650) 723-4177


Art Gallery

For many art lovers, gallery hopping is a favorite pastime, offering not only an opportunity to view contemporary work close up but to purchase a favorite piece.

Conveniently located for browsing, in the heart of San Francisco’s theater district and near Union Square, the Cohen Abee Gallery features an eclectic mix of works by contemporary artists from throughout the world. Works include vibrantly painted abstracts, classic landscapes, romantic pastels, pop art inspirations and sculpture.

While Danville’s Reutlinger Community for Jewish Living is also home to a small Judaica museum, over 300 works by the residents themselves hang in permanent displays in public and residential areas throughout the building. The Residents’ Gallery of Art in the entrance lobby, a gift of Marian and Daniel Koshland Jr., features annual exhibitions by current participants in the award-winning Discover the Artist Within (DRAW) program, run by artist-in-residence Betty Rothaus; sales are at the discretion of the artists.

The Peninsula JCC in Foster City is committed to exhibiting the works of talented Jewish artists as well as work that explores Jewish values, themes and ideas. The gallery features artists from Israel, the Bay Area and throughout the country and is currently displaying Scott Switzer’s “Torah Series,” with 54 paintings inspired by each of the weekly Torah readings.

Artworks Downtown, a nonprofit arts center in San Rafael, houses not only four art galleries in a 40,000-square-foot building, but also more than two dozen studios and classrooms, a ceramic center, a jewelers’ guild and even a restaurant. Recent exhibits have included “The Art of Rock Legends” and paintings by abstract expressionist Jacob Brest, while an upcoming show features a juried “Fire and Water” exhibit.


San Francisco

Cohen Abee Gallery

(formerly Cohen Rese Gallery)

(415) 781-4278


East Bay

Reutlinger Residents’ Gallery of Art


Reutlinger Community for Jewish Living

(925) 648-2800


South Bay/Peninsula

Peninsula JCC Gallery

Foster City

(650) 212-7522


North Bay

Artworks Downtown

San Rafael

(415) 451-8119