Fun, free, cheap — What to do in San Francisco this week

Lunar New Year Nightlife, S.F.’s Bad Art Gallery, Chinese railroad worker photo exhibit

By Johnny Funcheap

Special to The Examiner

“Winter Lights” lighted forest final night

Not to be confused with the “Entwined” light art installation of glowing artificial tree sculptures at Peacock Meadow (which, incidentally, just got extended to March 5), Tuesday is the final night to catch the more natural “Winter Lights.” Combining actual trees and over 1,000 LED lights, artist Joshua Hubert has taken over nearly an acre of woodlands in Golden Gate Park and transformed the area into an illuminated “Phosphorest” that pulses and changes color based on the ambient sounds for the forest. Nightly through Tuesday, sundown to 10 p.m., near 6th Avenue Skate Park, Golden Gate Park, S.F. joshuahubert.com

Thriller’s “free play” skeeball party

If you like balls, holes and rolls (and don’t mind coming up with a pun-filled team nickname), then you’ll probably want to join the free kickoff party of the new Brewskee-ball “skeeson.” The mildly competitive eight-week skeeball league — run by three-time national champion Joey the Cat — is looking for new rollers and will treat you to three hours of free play at Thriller’s upstairs skeeball lounge. Test your skills, go for hundos and get tips from some of The City’s top skeelebrities; balls are not required. Far from being bro-ish, the league counts about 50% women among its roller ranks. Wednesday, 6–9 p.m., Thriller Social Club, 508 4th St., S.F. RSVP (21+ only). eventbrite.com

Lunar New Year NightLife

Although there are no tigers at the California Academy of Sciences, you can still ring in the Year of the Tiger at a special Lunar New Year edition of NightLife. Along with the usual weekly activities, you’ll get to enjoy a traditional lion dance performance, martial arts, a tea ceremony and a cooking demo of delish steamed BBQ pork buns. Boosters required for all eligible guests. Thursday, 6–10 p.m., California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park, S.F. $17.50-$25 (21+ only). calacademy.org

S.F.’s Bad Art Gallery

We all know art is in the eye of the beholder, but what about when it’s really REALLY bad? That’s the question we’ll try to answer at the 10th annual Mission Bad Art Gallery. Check out 30 horrible new paintings — the finest bad art found at thrift stores, yard sales and flea markets (along with hilarious museum-quality “catalog notes”). See which pieces get sold, which get ironically bought and which ones someone truly loves enough to give a home. Saturday, 8–11 p.m., 518 Valencia St., S.F. RSVP requested. sfindie.com

“Silent Spikes” historic photo exhibit

Beijing-based photographer Li Ju traveled the entire route of the Transcontinental Railroad seven times to chronicle the historic achievement of uniting the United States from east to west by rail. In this detailed 30-panel exhibition, Li Ju places his contemporary photos next to historic photos from the 1860s (re-creating each photo using the same precise location and angle) to show the accomplishments of the largely anonymous 12,000 to 20,000 Chinese workers who built the Central Pacific portion of the railroad enduring racial discrimination and two of the worst winters ever recorded. Through May 22, San Francisco Main Library, 100 Larkin St., Skylight Gallery Exhibit Area, 6th Floor. sfpl.org

Visit Funcheap.com for a hand-picked list of more fun, free and cheap things to do in San Francisco.

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