As the Chinese Year of the Dog begins, Towne Center Books on Main Street and the Harrington Gallery at the Firehouse Arts Center are presenting free events with author and artist Irma Grant this weekend.
Towne Center Books will host a book launch party for "The Red Lantern," a children's picture book, at 11 a.m. Saturday, with author Irma Grant making a brief presentation and signing books. There will also be an art activity.
Then at 12:30 p.m. that day, Grant will be at Harrington Gallery to take visitors on an informal exploration of her original oils and illustrations for the book, including a discussion and Q&A session. The works will remain on display through March 14.
"The Red Lantern" is the tale of a young girl named Annie who is helping her grandfather at his shop in San Francisco's Chinatown. She encounters the Jade Emperor's daughter, who tells her the history of the New Year's Lantern Festival and challenges her to solve three riddles before the sun sets.
Grant noted that her paintings are generally visual narrations of stories.
"Every painting presents a new adventure -- a means to express some favorite memories, moments and causes," she said.
Grant, who lives in Pleasanton with her husband and two daughters, is an artist, writer and teacher. She was born and raised in the Netherlands, lived in Canada and Sweden and studied in France before moving to the United States. Multicultural themes dominate her art and writing.
A number of Bay Area families participated in the production of the book, Grant said. Tane Chan, the owner of San Francisco's famous Wok Shop, allowed Grant to photograph her shop for the book's setting. Tom Yee, his granddaughter Trisha, and Amy Chen volunteered their time posing for the three characters in the book: the grandfather Gung Gung, Annie and the Jade Emperor's daughter.
Welcome to Year of the Brown Dog
A free, family-friendly Chinese New Year celebration will be held from 10 a.m. to noon this Sunday in the Bankhead Theater lobby with traditional dancing, demonstrations, food and crafts.
According to Chinese tradition, a different animal represents each year in the 12-year Chinese zodiac, and 2018 marks the Year of the Brown Dog.
The event will include a colorful and dramatic lion dance, one of the most familiar Chinese New Year traditions, by KungFu Dragon USA, which will also perform an exhibition of martial arts. And members of Xiaopei Chinese Dance will entertain.
Two presentations will be offered: Margaret Zhao of the Life Renewing Center will speak on "Chinese Health and Healing: The Art of QiGong"; and a representative from the Dragon School in Oakland's Chinatown will talk about the success of its innovative community street art program for young people and artists.
Throughout the morning, an art activity station will be open for people to create a Chinese New Year craft to take home. Food, including authentic Chinese dim sum and noodles, will be for sale in the concessions area, and a festive community altar will be set up so visitors can offer gifts such as fruit, flowers or money for good tidings of health and prosperity in the coming year.
This event is sponsored by Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center. Although it is free, online registration at lvpac.org is recommended. Everyone who registers will be entered in a drawing to win a colorful Chinese calendar.