Occupying the center, bellies hold babies, beer, guts (literal and proverbial), and intestines. They are a measure of our earthly life yet seem to take on a life of their own: ballooning, billowing, expanding, bloating, giving new shape to our bodies at any given time. In the work of Dorothea Tanning, the stomach is beautiful, sexual, and enchanting.
Wandering around the exhibition of Tanning’s work at Gallery Wendi Norris, I came to a halt in front of Traffic Sign, 1970. But then, that seemed an intention... [more]
Art critics are never quite shilled in the same way as critics for other avenues of culture. Yes, our reviews likely get listed on CVs and not read, adding some vague imprimatur to an artist's career that might help move some product, but we're never exploited in quite the same way, as say, the movie critic, whose thoughtful well-composed reviews (okay not always) get diced into a few words to grace a promotional poster. Oh, if only some art critic (someone from October would be nice, or Texte Zur Ku... [more]
“We’re going to see some recent work by an inspiring feminist artist who is known for performing radical pieces about sexuality and gender and another female artist who I think is a lesbian cowboy,” I told my date. I prefer to see shows alone, and definitely not during openings, so I can retrace my steps and mutter to myself as much as I like. But this week, I deemed Gallery Paule Anglim a decent date destination. I’m not sure if I hoped the content would titillate or I could suss out a vision... [more]
Steven Vasquez Lopez - 2nd Place, ArtSlant Prize 2012
Executed with laborious precision, it takes Steven Vasquez Lopez months to complete a painting. Replete with mesmerizing, detailed juxtapositions of line and color, layers of pattern and texture in his work reveal figureless landscapes, perhaps a view from poolside in Palm Beach where he spends a good portion of the year or the interior of his living room in the Bay Area. The tension between banal and chimerical in Lopez’s work reflects his hi... [more]
Yes, thanks to the Philistines of Cyberspace the word CURATOR is being stretched to the very limits of semantic significance, but rather than join the chorus of affronted cultural elites pointing fingers at every blogger or boutique-owner who dares to don that hallowed mantle, I thought it might be more productive to speak with two persons right here in the Bay Area who hold inarguable rights to the title yet work in vastly different contexts. Even when confined to the concerns of the art world,... [more]
Nom de Guerre by Gianni Limone Barry McGee at Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
August 24th, 2012 - December 9th, 2012
A short and incomplete list of pseudonyms employed by Barry McGee:
Ray Fong Lydia Fong Bernon Vernon P.KinRay VirgilTwistTwisterTwistyTwisto
A pseudonym is a way to stay hidden in public. Across racy novels, political tracts, city walls, a pseudonym is a public declaration that manages to stay secretive. A fake name presumes some reason for hiding, some illicit activity: the novel passes risque into pornographic, the political tract verboten samizdat, the city wall graffitied with a blushing spl... [more]
I like that Fraenkel Gallery doesn’t present the pairing of the two artists featured in their latest exhibition with an overwrought thesis. Burchfield / Meatyard is its own kind of poetry. The painter and the photographer do have a “shared sensibility” of nature that’s maybe summed up by a shared preference for peace and quiet, a place to go and think about looking. Burchfield said that an artist “must paint not what he sees in nature, but what is there.” I dig deep to try and reconcile this quo... [more]
I wanted to paint nothing. I was looking for something that was the essence of nothing, and that was it.
—Andy Warhol on why he chose to paint soup cans
If these musings prove nothing more than the paranoid ramblings of someone who finds poetry in grocery lists and weeps at the sight of octogenarians in matching hats, then so be it, but... something is off about this soup. There are consumer choices enough without worrying if one’s groceries are accurately reflecting some elevated cultural sens... [more]
The end of summer is a strange moment. The energy of back-to-school jitters permeates everything. Fashion releases its flimsiest glossies in preparation for the cinder-block September issues. Galleries shutter, giving their artists and proprietors a chance to check in with the Midwest and assure their families that they’re getting enough to eat and thus return to September a few pounds thicker for the fall previews. New York and Paris turn into sweaty metropolitan ghost-towns, those with means... [more]
Next to a taxidermy rat lying on the floor of the gallery is David Shrigley’s animation, Switch, 2007. Projected onto the wall in roughly a single square foot. In it, a finger, composed simply with black lines in the artist's emblematically elemental linework, pushes a light switch repeatedly, on-off, on-off, on-off. Click-click, click-click. Each time “off” comes into the rotation, the projection disappears, it clicks off. After a series of on-off’s the finger pulls back for a second. Will it go... [more]
There's at once more and less than meets the eye. On the face of it, an atmospheric wash darkens from plasma to clotted blood. In between, the colors roil with a complexity suggesting vastness, calling to mind the Romantic sublime and a few of its heirs, from J. M. W. Turner's paintings of the night sky and Alfred Stieglitz's photographs of clouds to Mark Rothko's brooding color fields.
Underneath, however, Trevor Paglen's The Fence (Lake Kickapoo, Texas), 2010, is pure Enlightenment. Electromagnet... [more]
“The par is three for every hole,” we were told matter-of-factly, “except number two, which is par seventeen, and number seven, which is par infinity.” I didn’t like the sound of that, but the potential embarrassment of swinging into the night was outweighed by the shame of giving up. We’ll deal with it when we deal with it. Land art is not an exclusively American phenomenon, and neither is miniature golf, but we have muscled ourselves into being primarily associated with them. Land art (or Robert Smi... [more]
Snaking through the rooms of SFMOMA’s recently opened Cindy Sherman retrospective, I felt disturbingly underwhelmed by portrait after portrait of the artist acting as her own costumer, make-up artist, hairdresser, and photographer, becoming in each photograph, a different woman. Whispering into their recorders and to each other, the critics sound-byte thesis statements echoed off the walls like sage axioms: “pictures are misleading,” “identity is a social construction,” “photography is implicit in the fabric... [more]
Balmy Alley and Clarion Alley in San Francisco’s Mission District are well-known for their high concentration of murals, for the diversity of color contained in one-block stretches of fences and residences with bustling commercial streets astride. Swoon, Andrew Schoultz, Sirron Norris, among many others, have added their signature styles, commissioned or not, to the famed narrow alleys. But it’s thanks to Intersection for the Arts in the Mid-Market for their exhibition programming that consistently... [more]
Conceptual Consumption by Christina Catherine Martinez Michael Delucia, Liam Everett, Ruth Laskey, Arik Levy, Sam Orlando Miller, Clare Rojas, Hugh Scott-Douglas, Anna Sew Hoy, Sara VanDerBeek at Hedge Gallery
June 21st, 2012 - September 1st, 2012
Usually, exhibitions organized around a technique or medium rather than a concept tend to come off as crafty rather than curated—the whole enterprise tends to knock ideas a notch (or two, or three) below form. But fetish craft revivalism and the weird, zeitgeisty impulse to BRAND BRAND BRAND make the consumption of technique and material a somewhat reluctant political activity, imbued with any and as much concept as you like. Some people relish this. They think of thrift-store shopping as a form... [more]
Upon entering Romer Young Gallery, it's quiet and cool, the way you want a gallery to be on the hottest day in San Francisco. About six minutes later, you hear baboon-like noises and jungle-nature sounds coming from the corner of the gallery and it is a relief because the absence of sound was already starting to get to the city girl inside of me.
The first tangible association I felt when glancing around Deric Carner’s exhibition, The Light that Failed, was: Hollywood. The pulp cinema kind of Hol... [more]