Friday, February 29, 2008

Junk Mail is Art at SF City Hall

From SFMike at the blog, "
Civic Center":
On the fourth floor at City Hall, there's a new art show sponsored by Mayor Gavin Newsom's office and the Academy of Art University. This is the same school that's been gobbling up San Francisco real estate voraciously... It seems that the firestorm of bad publicity over the flower mart eviction finally stopped the plan in its tracks, and now they are taking a page out of Mayor Newsom's public relations playbook and are presenting a student exhibit displaying "environmental consciousness" called "Junk Mail: From Debris to Design."

The pieces look a bit strange on the ornate fourth floor of City Hall, but the whimsical junk mail papier-mache has its own charm.
(Images and text from Civic Center - more photos and info over there.)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Zhan Wang All Over SF

At the Asian Art Museum:
"On Gold Mountain: Sculptures from the Sierra" by Zhan Wang; at the Asian Art Museum February 15 – May 25, 2008

At the Haines Gallery:
"Flowers in the Mirror, Beijing Series #7", by Zhan Wang 2004, C-print, 23.62 x 31.5 inches
Zhang Wang Sculptures and Photographs at the Haines, through March 22nd.

And on SFGate:

Beijing artist Zhan Wang first came to the attention of the Bay Area art public with the unveiling of his large outdoor sculpture in stainless steel at the 2005 opening of the new de Young Museum.

Wang has two shows in San Francisco at the moment that, in different ways, confirm the artistic promise of his big de Young piece.

from Kenneth Baker in the Chronicle

(Image at right is Zhan Wang's sculpture on the patio near the cafe at the de Young Museum - photo is from Frisco Vista.)

Right inside the de Young, in a gallery that looks out on the Zhan Wang sculpture is an installation by Josiah McElheny. It's made of glass, not steel. But visually as well as conceptually, the Wang installation at the Asian is very similar to the McElheny installation at the de Young:

"Model for total Reflective Abstraction" by Josiah McElheny 2003 - photo from Cocolaco at Flickr.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Drama and Desire: Japanese Paintings from the Floating World 1690–1850

Living only for the moment, turning our full attention to the pleasures of the moon, the snow, the cherry blossoms and the maple leaves; singing songs, drinking wine, diverting ourselves in just floating, floating: caring not a whit for the pauperism staring us in the face, refusing to be disheartened, like a gourd floating along with the river current: this is what we call the floating world . . .
—Tales of the Floating World (Ukiyo Monogatari),
approx. 1661, by Asai Ryoi

They lived for the moment: beautiful geisha, flamboyant actors, seductive courtesans. Meet the denizens of the "Floating World"—the theater and pleasure quarters of Japan's Edo period. The art of ukiyo-e ("pictures of the floating world"), originated in the metropolitan culture of Edo (Tokyo) during the period of Japanese history, when the political and military power was in the hands of the shoguns, and the country was virtually isolated from the rest of the world. It is an art closely connected with the pleasures of theatres, restaurants, teahouses, geisha and courtesans in the even then very large city. Many ukiyo-e prints by artists like Utamaro and Sharaku were in fact posters, advertising theatre performances and brothels, or idol portraits of popular actors and beautiful teahouse girls.

Paintings by masters of the era—Hokusai, Hiroshige, and others—captured the lives of the Floating World in vivid detail. Now, for the first time in more than 100 years, view 80 of these rare exquisite paintings from the unrivaled collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Mingle with beauties in an intimate world of sumptuous colors and stylish surroundings.

Strolling through this exhibit of exquisite images was a fabulous way to spend a rainy afternoon. It’s a glimpse of a world that I find both seductive and exotic and the work could not be more beautifully displayed. Of course, I'm glad that I was not a woman of the time whose family - because of poverty - sold their daughters into brothels. No matter how gorgeous the gowns or how glamorous the facade, beneath it was a world of debt, obligation, poverty and oppression. The life of a courtesan was brief and her end was almost always tragic. But - like many eras that were harsh and cruel, artists created amazing art, graphic designs that are still fresh and strong today. I can imagine what it must have been for Manet or Van Gogh or Toulouse-Lautrec to see these prints for the first time. They were a revelation that created an artistic revolution.

(Images from the Asian Museum Web Site)

Additional Resources:

Asian Art Museum, SF, February 15–_May 4, 2008

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Monster Drawing Rally - artist's report

From John Casey's blog:

Woah. I thought having worked this gig last year I’d somehow be immune to the intensity of this environment. Although I was a little more relaxed, there is nothing like being immersed in this storm. It’s fun and frightening at the same time sort of like a roller-coaster ride but more my speed. I did a little pre-drawing before which helped a lot. I was able to get two drawings done. Thanks to Mary who was kind enough to brave the crowd and snap some cool pics.

I met David from Brazil, who collects mostly Brazilian artists, who was able to snag both of my drawings by using, as he described it, “teamwork.” He said my work has parallels with contemporary Brazilian art and I can see that. I wish I had thought to have a pic of him and me together. Ah well.

I sat next to my pal Martha Sue Harris. I think it’s a lot easier to sit with a buddy…

many more photos (and video!) at John's site

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Daria Martin Lecture Tonight

Daria Martin Lecture
Graduate Studies Lecture Series
Thursday, February 21, 7 pm

California College of the Arts
Timken Lecture Hall
San Francisco campus
1111 Eighth Street
San Francisco, CA 94107-2247
Info: 415.703.9505
Free and Open to the Public
View Events Page on

"I came to the medium of film because of its open potential," writes Daria Martin, "its invitation to travel through time and space within an imagined world." She calls her work a cinematic expression of the aesthetic impulses manifested in Joseph Cornell's shadow boxes; her films assemble memories, reveries, scholarly research, and imported citations into fragmented totalities. She values the contradictions of the medium of film, in particular the tension between the private fantasy it stimulates and the public physicality on which it depends.

History and Filmography (Excerpt From Film London)
Man and Mask by Daria Martin - one of the short films commissioned as part of the A Movie project

Martin was born in 1973 in San Francisco, California. She now lives and works in London. Following a degree in Humanities at Yale (1995) Martin attended UCLA in Los Angeles.

Her first film In The Palace (2000) was directly inspired by the Giacometti sculpture 'The Palace at 4am', and forms the first part of a trilogy which also includes Birds (2001) and Closeup Gallery (2003), the latter completed during her residency at Delfina Studio Trust, London. Her most recent film Soft Materials (2004), commissioned by the Showroom Gallery, was shot in the Artificial Intelligence Lab at the University of Zurich where scientist's research 'embodied artificial intelligence'.

She has exhibited at Hotel, London, Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York and Kunsthalle, Zurich. Her work has been included in '100 Artists See God', ICA, The Moderns, Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art, Turin, and Art Now Lightbox, Tate Britain. She is currently making a film about the Olympic sport Pentathlon, entitled Modern Pentathlon and was recently been nominated for Becks Futures 2005.

Still image of HarpString from

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Dutch in SF 2009

From Leah Garchick's Wednesday column in SFGate:
"Before the beginning of the Gilbert & George press walk-through last week, Fine Arts Museums Director John Buchanan mentioned that he'd been also working with visiting curators from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, with whom he is planning a 2009 show centered on a Vermeer love letter, including many works of Dutch 17th century art."

Image is Jan Vermeer's
"Love Letter", c. 1669-70; Oil on canvas, 44 x 38.5 cm; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Fecal Face is opening a gallery

This appeared yesterday on SFweekly's site. My favorite quote: "You can appreciate the work much better when it's seen in person" (from Fecal Face founder and editor John Trippe.)

- - - - -

Fecal Face to Unleash New Art Gallery Saturday: BetterKnowanSFBlog

Tue Feb 19, 2008 at 10:40:00 PM

Every Tuesday, SF Weekly's news blog The Snitch profiles one of the Bay's many cool blogs in a segment we call... BetterKnowanSFBlog! This week, it's really more of a website than a blog, but anyways, we've got the scoop on San Francisco's freshest art gallery!

(Photo courtesy of

By Tyler Callister

San Francisco's top art website Fecal Face will open a real life art gallery in Hayes Valley on Saturday, featuring the artists Kill Pixie, Jay Howell, Jeremy Fish, Kelsey Brookes, Andrew Schoultz, Hilary Pecis, Tara Foley, and Maya Hayuk. "It's nice to see work online but having a physical space to show and support artists is going to be great," Fecal Face founder and editor John Trippe says. "You can appreciate the work much better when it's seen in person." (Click "more" to continue reading)

The new 200 square foot gallery, located in Hayes Valley at 66 Gough St., will have its opening show from 5-8pm with an after party at The Uptown.

Trippe says he started Fecal Face in 1998 as a "Xerox-Kinko's style zine." In his then 22-year-old mind, the name "Fecal Face" just sounded funny. "I didn't think the site would grow to what it's become," he says. "At times I considered changing the name and then I'd be like 'ah whatever.' Now it's just the way it is."

Fecal Face gets about 13,000 unique visitors a day and hosts tons of local art info, a space where users can post their own art, and blogs by popular artists. The website says it's, "developed every day with php, html, mysql, Javascript, a hand built content management system, a canon SD800, a scanner, Photoshop, and a lot of love."

Trippe says the internet has helped local artists' careers because it allows them to easily sell their work across the world, and many collectors dish out fat cash for a painting without even seeing it in real life.

He also has some advice for aspiring artists on the net: ditch the MySpace and Flickr accounts and get a real website with your own URL. "It's nice when you can really see that someone's taking their work seriously by presenting their work in a nice way," he says.

Trippe feels confident about the current San Francisco art scene, and the new gallery, although modest in size, could become an important part of it. "It's a very creative, amazing city," he says. "There's always gonna be awesome artists here."

- - - - -

Story & photo copied from SFWeekly's blog, the Snitch.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Gilbert and George at de Young

From L7 at Glittering Generalities:

It is possible to know too much about the inner workings of complete strangers. You don't even have to read the results of their online psychology tests.

Yesterday I had planned to go to a big wine tasting event in San Francisco with L. the Lively, who is in town for a few days. I ended up kicking myself for not buying advance tickets, and it got sold out, so we went to the de Young instead, ponying up the five extra bucks to see the Gilbert and George show. (I had never heard of Gilbert and George. The cashier got a little cranky when I asked if it were crowded in order to decide whether or not we wanted to see the exhibit. I don't like crowds. I'd already decided how much I hate people when we stopped at the gift shop on the way in.)

Oh my God. At first, I was just a little bored by the endless images of Gilbert and George, who were clearly their own favorite subjects. Then I was annoyed by a piece that could have been scrawled on the wall of the men's bathroom of any Greyhound bus station (a rough drawing of a big dick next to an open-mouthed face with the word "Suck!" underneath). That kind of thing always does annoy me. I am not shocked, I am just irritated, the irritation accompanied by a lack of interest that is off the charts.

But none of that prepared me for the huge images of penis-shaped turds. Guess what was next to the pillars of penis-shaped turds? Naked images of Gilbert and George. Full frontal, baby. Also, Gilbert and George presenting their rears, looking back over their shoulders, and either tugging down their tighty-whities or experimentally sticking their own fingers up in there, I couldn't quite tell which and had an extreme disinclination to make a close examination.

As we are on so many topics, L. and I were of like mind and exited posthaste. On our speedy exit, the security guard and I had a chat. (You know I like me a museum security guard if he be a big hunk of a man.)

Big Nice Guard: What'd you think?
Me: I am rolling my eyes. On the inside. [eye roll] And on the outside. What do you think?
Big Nice Guard: We're not allowed to say. So what would you rate it?
Me: One to ten?
Big Nice Guard: That'll work.
Me: Can I go into negative numbers?
Big Nice Guard: You can do whatever you want.
Me: Negative google? [I meant "googolplex." I was a little flustered.]
Big Nice Guard: [laughs]
Even though I'm not completely sorry we went (we did see some John Singer Sargent paintings I really liked, and some by Diego Rivera, and some great chairs), all in all, I'd rather go winetasting.

P.S. I forgot to say that Gilbert and George were there in person, signing copies of their books and other merchandising paraphernalia. The line was a mile long! (Figuratively speaking. But it was long.) L. and I could not believe it. We peeked in to see G & G, and they were two elderly balding men in spectacles and beige suits. They were sitting at this table in this vast empty room. The people waiting to get autographs were mostly young hipstery-looking folk. Who, one supposes, like to look at XXXXXXXL penis-shaped turds?

For more Glittering Generalities

Image is Gilbert & George, Gink, 2005. Collection Maja Hoffmann
© Gilbert & George, Photo courtesy of de Young Museum

Friday, February 15, 2008

Nic Hill Documents SF Graffiti

From Dimitri Hagnere at the SJ Mercury News:

Nic Hill has captured the world that inspired Jeloe and hundreds of other graffiti artists in the film "Piece by Piece," part of KQED's "Truly CA" series of independent documentaries that showcase the Golden State. The documentary delves into the history of graffiti art and profiles the people who lived it.

Like the city itself, San Francisco street art has transformed a lot over the last 25 years. Between 1993 and 2000, people from all over the world flocked to the city to do graffiti; the scene they found was already in full bloom. Local stylists like Jeloe became internationally known for their diversity and unique flare.

But things have changed. Harsh penalties keep all but the heaviest risk takers off the streets and rooftops. The graffiti art scene is not what it once was and its practitioners say it will never be that again.

The documentary is especially valuable in capturing the inherently temporary nature of illegal graffiti. Because their work is often removed or painted over, many artists photograph it. Gathering a comprehensive collection for public viewing requires the right connections -- connections Hill fostered through his own years in the world of graffiti art.

"Graffiti was sort of a stepping stone for me," he said. "I got into filmmaking from there. It's all about channeling creativity. There's a similar connection."

According to Hill and street artists like Jeloe, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's zero tolerance position on graffiti has driven a lot of talented artists out of town. And while new graffiti emerges almost every night, it's painted over nearly as quickly.

"The entire N Judah tunnel used to be covered with burners; it was like a preserved art gallery in there," Hill said. "But about a year ago, the city painted over everything; and now anytime someone gets up, it gets covered up right away."

More of the story, with quotes from taggers and city officials, HERE

From KQED's site:

Nic Hill graduated from the University of San Francisco's Media/Film Studies program, where he studied communication/media theory and documentary filmmaking. He was an assistant producer on various short films for San Francisco director Melinda Stone. His 2003 short film Diet took Best in Show at the Mira Costa DV Festival in San Diego. He currently lives and works in San Francisco as a director and editor, and is directing a feature length documentary about Wikipedia.

Image from Nic Hill's site.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Amy Stein

Amy Stein, Trash Eaters, date unknown

Amy Stein’s Domesticated pictures are like fairy tales. You know, in fairy tales it doesn’t matter if there’s really a troll under the bridge or if the house was made of gingerbread. It’s fun to think about anyway. These pictures are like that.

And I suppose it does seem unlikely that those foxes hung around while Stein set up the lights and tripod. Or that the bear was actually standing by the swimming pool, with the kid on the diving board, as Stein crept up to snap their picture. On the other hand, the kid does look petrified, so maybe there was a bear.

As far as I know, Stein isn’t telling, although she does say that each of these pictures “represents a very long and considered process.” That could mean a lot of time in front of the computer, or a lot of freaked out kids running screaming from the pool. Either way, the pictures speak of what it might be to live as an outsider, like an animal in a domesticated world.

Amy Stein, Watering Hole, date unknown

(Opens Saturday at the Paul Kopelkin Gallery in LA. And for something disturbingly real, check out Stein’s Women and Guns.)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Chitra Ganesh Lecture Wed Feb 13th at CCA

Chitra Ganesh: Painting Lecture Series
Wednesday, February 13, 6:30 pm

Timken Lecture Hall, San Francisco campus
1111 Eighth Street, San Francisco, CA 94107-2247
FREE and open to the public.
More info: 415.551.9230

Chitra Ganesh's work incorporates collage, photography, drawing, text, and paint to tell personal and postcolonial stories, which are enacted by characters from Hindu and other cultures. She is particularly interested in the expression of gender in mythology, poetry and song lyrics (both Bollywood and girl rock), the logic of dreams, imperialism, and queer politics. She has exhibited internationally in Canada, Brazil, Italy, and India, and in New York at White Columns, the Queens Museum of Art, the Bronx Museum, Momenta Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and Apex Art. She is based in Brooklyn. She holds a BA from Brown University and an MFA from Columbia University.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Patrick Heron at Hackett-Freedman

Drawing Space in Color
JANUARY 10 - MARCH 01, 2008

"For a very long time now," Patrick Heron wrote in 1962, "I have realized that my overriding interest is COLOR. Color is both the subject and the means, the form and the content, the image and the meaning in my painting today."

Color is certainly on view in the gallery. Color that is vibrant, alive and glowing without any pretense of subject matter or post-modern theory or angst. Kenneth Baker of the SF Chronicle thinks that his work is parochial compared to today’s art. I would beg to differ. What art is he referring to – the flatly painted stick cartoons and manga-inspired figures that populate so many popular galleries and web pages? The splats and tats of certain trendy mailing lists? The endless loops of video with their abrasive contemporary music? Heron is no Anslem Kiefer; rather his inspirations are Matisse and Bonnard. For him, “Decorative is the height of art.” Patrick Heron believed that a work of art’s greatness lies in direct proportion to its aesthetic qualities. He shunned symbolism and the literary in art, and celebrated the decorative; indeed, he often said, “I love images and hate symbols.” For Heron, color acted as “both the subject and the means; the form and the content; the image and the meaning.”

Contemporary painting has learned to despise the word “decorative” and it’s our loss. Go and see the show, bask in the vibrant colors and come out recharged. That’s no small feat in these dark and painful times.

Interview with Benji Whalen

Claudio Parentela interviewed San Francisco artist Benji Whalen. Whalen is the artist who does the embroidered, stuffed arms seen at Bucheon Gallery recently. He's also rep'd by Gallery Paule Anglim.

Sunday, 10 February 2008 -

Claudio Parentela - How did you get started making art?

Benji Whalen -My father is a painter, my mother a puppeteer, my grandmother was a pianist. So, making has always been part of living.

CP- Where do you get the inspiration for your art?

BW- Honestly, I am stimulated by almost everything. I live in a city - in the course of a couple of hours, the awe, love and disgust I feel for everyone and everything I see gives me all I need for a day in the studio. I think I am probably like many artists in finding existence itself pretty stunning. As an artist you get to create new existences, of a sort, making a world in your own image. Not unlike the way kids play - artists don't grow out of it.

CP- What is your main medium of choice?

BW - That's like asking the bigamist to name his favorite wife - you've got to make everyone feel appreciated. I don't know if I've tried a medium I didn't like, and it's healthy to keep trying new ones. I am at home with clay, and thread. And oil paint. There's nothing else like it - it makes me happy just to say the words.

. . . full interview here

image from Whalen's site: "No Complaints", Embroidery floss on stuffed cotton, 24.5" x 7" x 3.5"

Monday, February 11, 2008

Seth Koen at Gregory Lind

From Marianna Stark's "Stark Guide", posted Feb. 6, 2008:

Seth Koen
’s work has evolved dramatically from the knitted amoebic soft sculpture he had been carefully crocheting for years. His new pieces are delicate long stretches of unvarnished maple that seem to defy gravity as they soar in the air. If you’re searching for a way to classify this style of sculpture, Koen suggests “friendly minimalism.”

The spirits of Sol LeWitt’s conceptual line drawings, Alexander Calder’s playful mobiles and Constantine Brancusi’s graceful abstract birds are present in the gallery with Koen’s work. “Cardinal Point” looks like a flying lasso. “Sway” is two wishbones. “Simple Gift” is an empty vase waiting for Valentine’s Day flowers.

The special effects secret is tiny pins that secure the pieces to the wall or custom designed shelf (also called “display furniture”). Fortunately the display furniture comes with your purchase of the sculpture, in case you were wondering how you could set one up in your own home.

These sculptures are essentially line drawings in three dimensions.

Through March 1, 2008, Seth Koen “Ellipsis,” Gregory Lind Gallery, 49 Geary Street, Fifth Floor, San Francisco 94108, 415-296-9661, Tuesday through Saturday 10:30am - 5:30pm.

Image from Gregory Lind: "Samson", 2006, by Seth Coen, cotton thread, plastic pellets, wire, 19 x 9 x 5

Friday, February 8, 2008

Leonora Carrington at Frey Norris

One of the most important shows in the Bay Area right now is “Leonora Carrington: The Talismanic Lens” at the Frey Norris Gallery in San Francisco through March 30, 2008.

Carrington is one of the most famous women surrealists. Born in England in 1917, she attended art school in London, and then at age 19 met famous Surrealist Max Ernst and became his lover. They lived together in France collaborating with other Surrealists. At the beginning of WWII Ernst was arrested by the Nazis and later escaped to New York, while Carrington fled to Spain where she was hospitalized for a nervous breakdown. Carrington escaped war torn Europe and traveled to Mexico where she resides to this day at age 90.

The show at Frey Norris provides a mini retrospective of her extensive art career from an ethereal gouache fairy painted at age 16 to work done in 1987. The exhibit contains drawings, paintings large and small, lithographs, and a collection of books and photos. Carrington is also an author of novels and poetry.

This exhibit is two years in the making and filled with high quality examples of her work. Carrington’s visual world is filled with ethereal figures, real and imaginary animals, mystical meanings, psychological conundrums, pagan references, feminism, hints of world cultures and spiritual identity. One can get lost in these mysterious worlds for hours, even days.

It is rare to see such a large collection of Carrington's work in one place. Enjoy it while it is still here. I know I will be making multiple trips.

Images from the Frey Norris Gallery ( and Art Daily ( websites.

Dustin Yellin and Eric Zammitt

Phykos Cherrexus

I saw a couple of shows last night during "First Thursday" illustrating the divergent outcomes when two different artists work with layered plastics.

Dustin Yellin, at the Haines, layers synthetic resin, acrylics and inks to create the illusion of organic sculptural forms. At first glance, the clear boxes seem to be filled with sea creatures suspended in solution, along the lines of Damian Hirst's shark. But closer inspection reveals that the forms are dozens of tiny flat paintings on clear resin surfaces, each one about 1/8 inch from the surface below it. From the front or back, the 3D effect is complete. From either side, the slices of resin are apparent and the form disappears. Even the boxes themselves seem organic - with slightly wavy edges, they seem to be impersonating aquariums.

Eric Zammitt's layered plastic constructions, at Scott Richards, are machined into precise shapes and geometric patterns. The colored plastic strips are cut and fused with clear plastic spacers into mind-blowing patterns that are mathematically precise and at the same time shifting, flowing and vibrating. They seemed like the corporeal manifestation of one of Chris Ashley's html pieces. Some are mounted on the wall as paintings, others are placed on pedestals, to be viewed from all angles.

Both artists express the bit rate nature of reality, that comes to us in discrete packets of time yet seems to flow smoothly and unceasingly.

Images top to bottom: Dustin Yellin's "Phykos Cherrexus" at the Haines, Dustin Yellin's "Arboreus" at the Haines, Eric Zammitt's "daddy-o". More photos on BAArtQuake's Flickr page.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Peter Max Lawrence does de Young

KQED is hosting an abstract film about the de Young Museum.

The 9 minute film is by Peter Max Lawrence.

It has the look and feel of a Jeremy Blake piece. No dialogue, no narrative - the images are purely visual artifacts, collected and combined in a rhythmic pattern and accompanied by a single ambient piano score by David Moore. The blurry abstract passages alternate with time-lapse images of the building, the visitors, and the grounds. It could almost be considered a music video.

And speaking of film, today's the opening of the 10th San Francisco Independent Film Festival!

(top image is a still from the film)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Thomas Campbell at Mollusk

ReBlogged from Monique at Apartment Therapy:

"After what seemed like weeks of rain we finally had a gorgeous sunny morning here in San Francisco. We took the opportunity to drive out towards the beach and have a look at the Thomas Campbell show currently up at Mollusk. The show has been up since December 7th and will come down on February 7th so you have about a week left to drive out there and have a look.

The show consisted of paintings, photographs and collages. His work was so fresh and inspired we wanted everything. Most of the pieces are sold but there were a few photographs available as of this morning.

The interior of the shop includes two tree houses built by local artist and curator Jay Nelson that are so amazing you will end up wanting one of your own to hide out in. The store was fully stocked with tables full of great t-shirts and books by local artists such as Chris Johansen, Barry Mcgee, Clare Rojas, and others."

Many more photos at the original post.

The Mollusk is on Irving at 46th Ave. and open 7 days 10-6

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Goya at SJMA

I saw three print exhibits at the San Jose Museum of Art last weekend - work by Picasso, Goya and MirĂ³. The less said about the Picasso and MirĂ³ works, the better, but luckily the Goya show is worth the price of admission.

The complete "Los Caprichos" printed in 1799, is a series of 80 etchings and aquatints satirizing the foibles of humanity. Francisco de Goya was referring to his time and place, late-eighteenth-century Spain, but most of his observations still hold true today. They weren't terribly popular images when he made them, and Goya apparently had some difficulty getting them exhibited:

"An early draft by Goya of an advertisement for the series shows that he was proposing to sell them through a bookseller; he must have been unable to find anyone interested in the project and was forced to put them on sale in the shop below his apartment, surrounded by bottles of liqueurs and perfumes." (via)

The prints are small, about 6" x 8", but in sparkling condition. Every scratch and smudge on the plate is clearly visible on the paper, with rich blacks next to brilliant whites and the evident hand of the artist in the lines and hatches that bring his cast of characters to life. Goya's gripes about the government, the church, the schools, medical care, and popular culture are still relevant, but in some cases, the contemporary viewer needs a little hint to get past arcane symbolism.

The exhibitor has used an interesting triple-play wall-tag strategy. Each print is accompanied by a wall plate that gives three views, commentaries, or interpretations of the image. Two of the commentaries are from Goya's time and the third is by Robert Flynn Johnson, curator of this show.

The show was organized by Landau Traveling Exhibitions and has been making its way around the country. It just arrived in San Jose - will be in there until April 20th. You can download the audio tour (free) from the web and listen to it before, during or after show. Bring your reading glasses - if you use them, you'll definitely need them here.

(And, HEY - if you're in California, get out there and VOTE today!)
Images from top to bottom are: "And Still They Don't Go", "All will Fall", "Here Comes the Bogey Man", "Might Not The Pupil Know More?" from various public domain sources.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Claudio Roncoli at Gallery 415

I wandered in here during one of our many rainy days in the last two months and was immediately cheered up and impressed. Christina Bosemark, the gallery owner, is both charming and informative and the wealth of art (unknown to me) from Latin and South America is awesome. The group show (that just closed) was full of vibrant colors and fascinating geometric constructions from architect turned artist Anibal Catalan and images from Gerardo Caro that looked like landscapes from space with their richly textures surfaces and layers of color. Guilldermo Bert's sly and glossy painting surfaces contained political commentary that escaped me until it was pointed out by the vivacious Ms. Bosemark. There were a couple of pieces by Claudio Roncoli whose show opens this coming Thursday and it's a first Thursday show that I'm actually looking forward to attending.

60's pop icons, "Fly America " ads, photos of the trendy models from the 40's through the 70's, even Elvis images are combined with digital collages on a vinyl surface to create pieces that seem to glory but actually ridicule and critique our insane consumer culture and contemporary politics. Everybody is young, happy, flawlessly beautiful and then, you are drawn to look closer for the surface of utopia hides some very ugly facets. Beautifully painted and politically astute, Roncoli makes political criticism that's also very fine art.

49 Geary Str. 4th floor | San Francisco, CA 94108 | p: 415.398.2158 | f: 415.341.1137 || Tue - Sat, 11:00am - 5:30pm

Friday, February 1, 2008

Is it a fiber show?

"Santa Fe Pile" by Emma Luna

"Is it a fiber show?" has been open about a month, and will be up a couple more weeks. I was in Hayes Valley recently and stopped by Bucheon Gallery. Just walking in cold, without knowing the theme or thinking behind the show, I thought it was work about releasing the animus, and/or piercing the surface.

I think my favorite piece is an embroidered Lucha Libre cape, covered with subversive overlapping line drawings of contemporary and Aztec images. The artist, David Gremard Romero, has paintings and drawings of other neo-mythic narratives on his website. It reminds me a bit of Goya - the skilled drawing combined with recycling of the old mythic images. The cape is a shiny, silky, rippled blue that's very difficult to photograph, but I tried anyway - at least you'll get a hint of what it looks like. (More photos on Flickr.)

detail - David Gremard Romero

A corner installation by Martha Sue Harris includes a painted wall behind a shelf full of aggressively cute plants and animals, all covered in fleece. The underside of the shelf reveals roots with character.

MarthA Sue Harris

There's some amazing trompe l'oeil in this show, including a pair of embroidered baseball cards by Ray Materson, who started his needlework in jail. (Great photo of one of the "cards" at right, from Alan Bamberger's review of the show - more photos of the show there, too.) The stack of ceramic "washcloths" by Emma Luna was hard to resist, as well (image at top.)

Lots of great pieces here, and most are not on the web, so you need to see it in person, if you can. Bucheon - 389 Grove St. San Francisco.