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Jonathan Richman featuring Tommy Larkins

With all the hubbub surrounding the current crop of downtown New York-style punks (the Strokes, the Hives, the White Stripes, et al), some of you may have forgotten that a few of the originals are still at it. Granted, Jonathan Richman is actually Boston-born, and, come to think of it, he long ago abandoned the lean, garagey rave-ups popularized by his first band, the Modern Lovers, back in the early ’70s. But, fact is, Richman’s celebratory take on rock & roll primitivism has probably been the greater influence on those bands than the oft-cited Velvet Underground, whose harrowing, nihilistic drug ’n’ decadence vibe is difficult to ape convincingly.

Though Richman, who will appear at Valentine’s on Monday, no longer trucks in proto-punk, he has maintained an unwavering fascination with simple—some have said naive—subject matter: The pleasures and pangs of youth have provided him with seemingly inexhaustible source material, from “Roadrunner” and “Girlfriend” on the Modern Lovers’ 1976 debut release to the more recent “Couples Must Fight” and “Maybe a Walk Home From Natick High School.” Richman’s compositions have kept a distinctly adolescent, albeit precocious adolescent, tone. Stylistically, Richman has gone globetrotting, incorporating elements of Latin folk music, particularly, into his sound, but he remains at heart the same quintessentially American kid, in love with rock & roll and women he can never have.

Jonathan Richman will appear with longtime drummer Tommy Larkins at Valentine’s (17 New Scotland Ave., Albany) on Monday (June 24). Tickets for the 8 PM show are $10. For more information, 432-6572.

From Pop to Now: Selections from the Sonnebend Collection

Here in the Capital Region we’ve grown used to getting only miniature versions of the fine-art shows running in the more prestigious big-city museums, if even that. At best, we sometimes have the opportunity to trek on over to the Berkshires to catch the exhibitions most likely to turn up in the New York Times or Art in America. However, the From Pop to Now: Selections From the Sonnebend Collection show beginning on Saturday at the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College is a first-rate, world-class collection of some of the defining artists of the 20th century—and it’s ours, all ours! Ah, ha ha ha!

OK, it’s not actually all ours. It’s open to the public, of course, and once it wraps up here, it’s heading out on tour. But until Sept. 22 we can allow ourselves to feel a little proud and just a touch proprietary about the show, which boasts work from such major art-world figures as Andy Warhol, Robert Rausch enberg, Claes Oldenburg, James Rosenquist, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein and Jeff Koons (whose work Rabbit is pictured).

The exhibition is culled from the private collection of Ileana and Michael Sonnebend, whose galleries in New York and Paris were among the first to display the works of artists involved in movements such as pop art, Arte Povera, minimalism, Neo-Geo and video art. (Ileana was, in fact, referred to affectionately as the “mom of pop art” during that movement’s heyday.)

In a press release, Tang museum director Charles Stainback, who is also curator of the exhibition, says, “By looking at the progression of artistic activity since 1960 through the eyes of this unique collector, this exhibition is a prologue for what the future of contemporary art may bring.” In order to provide viewers with the background to so speculate, the exhibit is ordered both chronologically and grouped thematically to “address in a cogent and thoughtful manner the intersection of pop, conceptualism, minimalism, postmodernism, and many other avenues of artistic expression since abstract expressionism.”

From Pop to Now opens on Saturday (June 22) at the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College (815 Broadway, Saratoga Springs). Admission is free. The Tang is open 11-5, Tuesday through Sunday, except on major holidays. For more information, 580-8080.


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