Perhaps you associate F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel, The Great Gatsby, with a long-winded school lecture on moral decadence, classism, and the glittering paradox of the American Dream. Then again, you might simply recall the 1974 movie version, where a dashing young Robert Redford tosses pastel shirts in the air and ends up shot dead in a pool. Either way, you’re bound to remember Gatsby’s spunk. When faced with the possibility that his love affair with Daisy is but a distant memory, he cries incredulously, “Can’t repeat the past? Why, of course you can!” This Sunday’s Nineteenth Annual Gatsby Summer Afternoon proves the elegance of the Roaring Twenties is not only repeatable, but can be had for a cover. Hosted by the Art Deco Society of California — the SF nonprofit committed to the preservation and promotion of all things Deco — the popular garden party recreates the elegance of the Jazz Era with vintage motorcars, dancing, and dining al fresco. From 1 to 6 p.m., Oakland’s historic Dunsmuir Estate (2960 Peralta Oaks Court) becomes the backdrop for an authentic Gatsbyesque lawn picnic, minus the bathtub gin. Activities include a fashion parade, a bathing-beauty review, and the crowning of this year’s Miss Art Deco. Tours of the Dunsmuir House and music from Don Neely’s Royal Society Jazz Orchestra round out the afternoon.
Fun and games are certainly the order of the day; however, to avoid getting the high hat at this society-style soirée, you’ll need to observe a few social conventions. Do sport your seersucker suit and tennis whites, or cloche hat and parasol — proper period attire is mandatory (ADSC offers a How to Gatsby Handbook for the fashion-challenged). Do pack a picnic — cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off are optional. Do brush up on your Charleston and foxtrot — there’ll be a dance contest. Don’t bring cans, plastic cutlery, or anything Styrofoam — picnics of the times included furniture and china. If keeping up with the Gatsbys seems a little regimented, just remember: No one ever said being frivolous was easy. To receive an invitation, call 415-982-DECO or visit Art-Deco.org. Tickets are $25 for ADSC members or $30 for nonmembers in advance, $35 on the day. — Joy White
SF native photographer Larry Keenan is responsible for some of the most famous pictures of Beat icon Jack Kerouac and pals, but he didn’t stop there. Starting with his computer-graphics experiments in 1985, Keenan’s talent for multi-imaging and digitizing has made him one of the most sought-after commercial photographers. He is repped by The Image Bank/Getty Images, and his client list includes Hewlett-Packard, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Sony. There’s an art to digital imaging, and his new show, The ART in Commercial Art, drives that point home with samples of his work spanning four decades. Sarber’s Portrait & Frame in Oakland (6232 La Salle Ave.). Reception: Saturday, September 13, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. — Kelly Vance
Victoria, BC’s Carolyn Mark may be a Terrible Hostess, but don’t let that fool you, she’s a Party Girl at heart. The big-haired Canadian alt-country singer frequently likes to perk up her shows with stories and comic routines, but what chantoozie Mark (famous as one of the Corn Sisters with Neko Case) really likes to do is rearrange the roots of honky-tonk with whimsical, original songs such as “Fuzzy Slippers,” “Catscan,” and “Chumpville.” Her production of a tribute to Robert Altman’s movie Nashville featured Case as well as Carl Newman, Kelly Hogan, and Dave Lang. None of those artists will show up at the Starry Plough Friday night with Mark — we’ll have to make do with her band the Room-Mates. 510-841-2082. — Kelly Vance
Patrick Killoran ‘s Glass Outhouse is a familiar-looking portable toilet — the kind you see near any construction site — except that it’s painted solid silver on the outside, and from the inside the walls are absolutely transparent. This means that when you’re doing your business you can watch passersby, but they can’t see you. The mind reels with possibilities. The piece was commissioned by the SculptureCenter and sponsored by PolyJohn Enterprises, and we have no idea if the artist has actually put it to use. Nevertheless, it and other Killoran sculptures are on display at Mills College Art Museum through October 19. For more info: 510-430-2164 or www.Mills.edu/MCAM/ — Kelly Vance