Orin Rutchick outside his mobile portrait studio near the Berkeley Drop-In Center on Adeline Street at Harmon. Photo: Chris Polydoroff

BERKELEY PORTRAIT PROJECT If you strolled through South Berkeley in late 2017 or early 2018, you probably spotted Orin Rutchick and his modest mobile pop-up portrait studio. Then a fairly new South Berkeley resident, the professional photographer took black-and-white portraits of his new neighbors, and gifted them copies. Typically stationed by the Berkeley Drop-In Center at Adeline and Harmon streets, Rutchick often photographed homeless people, many of whom hadn’t gotten a formal portrait taken in years or decades. “The images became a source of pride, both for how they saw themselves and for how they were seen by others,” says the David Brower Center, which is exhibiting Rutchick’s photographs through May 5. For Rutchick, the exhibit is the manifestation of a desire he’s had since starting the Berkeley Portrait Project. Hear the artist speak with Berkeleyside contributing videographer Chris Polydoroff at an opening reception Saturday, April 6, 6-8 p.m., David Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way. Berkeleyside is a sponsor of the exhibit.

Watch Berkeleyside’s video, by Chris Polydoroff, on the Berkeley Portrait Project:

YouTube video

FREE PARK FRIDAYS Starting this Friday, outdoors folk of the East Bay can go hiking, biking, swimming and fishing at any of the 73 East Bay Regional Park District sites weekly without spending a penny. In honor of its 85th birthday, the park district — the largest in the nation — is waiving most fees (parking, dogs, boat launching) every Friday through the end of the year. Beginning in the summer, there will be family-friendly concerts and festivals at various beach- and lake-front parks too. If you break out the hiking boots this Friday, you might be able to cover a decent number of the 1,250 trail miles while the promotion lasts…

PEOPLE’S PARK: FIFTY YEARS As it turns 50, Berkeley’s legendary People’s Park is facing its greatest changes since students and other activists defied UC Berkeley administrators to build the park on a vacant lot in 1969. As the university prepares to develop student housing at the site, visitors to the Berkeley Historical Society can reflect on the park’s past — tear gas, police shootings, Ronald Reagan, rock concerts and all — and the transition to today’s plans. The People’s Park: Fifty Years exhibit opens Sunday. Historian Steven Finacom will give a talk following a Historical Society membership meeting. Sunday, April 7, 2-4 p.m., Berkeley Historical Society, 1931 Center St.

KITTEN SHOWER Does this photo even need a blurb? If you want to bottle-feed your own fluff-ball, check out the city animal shelter’s “Kitten Shower” on Sunday. Spring is kitten season, and Berkeley Animal Care Services is seeking foster homes and supply donations to support this year’s cohort of tiny cats. The “shower” will include presentations on kitten development, the impact on the community, city animal programs, and how the public can get involved. Sunday, April 7, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Berkeley Animal Care Services, 1 Bolivar Dr.

Berkeley Humane is similarly preparing for a kitten influx, and has secured grants to waive adoption fees for 25 adult cats to clear space at the shelter. The adult cats are often neglected and sit at the shelter day after day, once the little kittens arrive, according to Berkeley Humane, at 2700 Ninth St.

BAY FESTIVAL The Berkeley Bay Festival is nearly as old as the marina where it takes place. The city-run, family-friendly tradition features free sailboat and dragon boat rides, music, food and environmental education. It’s supposed to rain Saturday but, uh, it fits with the water theme, right? Saturday, April 6, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Shorebird Park Nature Center, 160 University Ave.

Don’t miss these other events covered on Berkeleyside:

Imaginative ‘Kill the Debbie Downers’ by Shotgun Players explores Chekhov’s ‘3 Sisters’
Big Screen Berkeley: ‘Diane’ and ‘The Public’

Natalie Orenstein reports on housing and homelessness for The Oaklandside. Natalie was a Berkeleyside staff reporter from early 2017 to May 2020. She had previously contributed to the site since 2012,...