Don't cry yet — the election's almost over! Here are the top five things you can do this weekend, besides re-watching this apt assessment of America's brutally endless campaign cycle:
Artist-naturalist Laura Cunningham works primarily as a scientific illustrator, rendering fossils for paleontology publications by the likes of UC Berkeley and the Smithsonian Institution. Her background comes through loud and clear in her first ever solo exhibition, Before California, which reads like a terrifically illustrated textbook about the effect of human activity on local wildlife. Cunningham captions paintings of condors and wolves with text explaining the nature of the species' endangerment, and draws East Bay flora along with an illustrated calendar of wildflower bloom times. The exhibition meanders into the domain of art with a series of imaginative works juxtaposing photographs of Bay Area locales with painted renderings of how the places might have looked five hundred years back, before the touch of civilization. Before California runs through January 30 at the David Brower Center. 510-809-0900 or BrowerCenter.org — Alex Bigman
Art in Science Gallery Gala
Who says scientists don't care about art? In "The Intersection of Image and Research," the Berkeley Arts Festival Gallery brings together artists and scientists to discuss the symbiotic relationship between the two seemingly disparate fields. As part of the Bay Area Science Festival, the two-day event on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 1-2, will feature photography, video, painting, sculpture, lectures, and demonstrations addressing topics like the role of artists in exoplanet exploration and the use of 3-D modeling to recreate the spaces of the Han Dynasty. 5:30-9 p.m., free. BayAreaScience.org — A.G.
New York writer Rachel Neumann was on a speedy path to exhaustion in the weeks after September 11, 2001, when, on assignment for the Village Voice, she met renowned Vietnamese Buddhist teacher-monk Thich Nhat Hanh. He was just sitting — nothing deeper than that — but his very being, quiet and present, changed her hectic life. Soon, she became his personal editor, learned about Buddhist practices, had two children, turned forty, and returned to the rural California commune of her youth — everything seemed to fall into place for this skeptic-workaholic-turned-mindful woman. Neumann shares the story of her conversion and lessons she learned along the way in Not Quite Nirvana, which she'll read from at Moe's Books on Wednesday, Nov. 7. 7:30 p.m., free. 510-849-2087 or MoesBooks.com — Alison Peters