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20130215212138-20130105130651-willbrown1 Meet Will Brown: Meta-Curating   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Posted 2/15/13

Although “meta” is often misused as dismissive shorthand for the self-referential, it is, in its most fruitful sense, a tool for critical distance. Will Brown’s second exhibition was a history of black monochrome painting that included requisite, museum-quality copy and literature, but the paintings themselves were merely signified by chalk outlines on black gallery walls. The shapes creeped over moldings and ceiling space, overlapping in ways that made it clear that even if the proprietors of the m... [more]

20130128122037-untitled INSTITUTIONAL HASHTAG   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Taryn Simon at John Berggruen Gallery January 16th, 2013 - March 30th, 2013
Posted 1/28/13

If the New York Public Library’s circulating picture library were constructed according to the popular tastes of the denizens of Instagram, then there would only be three folders: Food   —> (subcategory) macaroons Dogs / Cats Cleavage   —> (subcategory) “duck face” The NYPL’s library—a mere 1.2 million mainly photographic images culled from books, magazines, adverts, and grouped according to some 12,000 subject headings—seems quaint compared to the amount of visual information an online search... [more]

20130131093855-1-regrets-only2 Adult Books: Meet Matthew Brannon   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Posted 1/28/13

It’s like looking into your parents' liquor cabinet, all mysterious bottles, unknown quantities and unbounded possibilities. Happy new year? I’ll still drink it. Post-party, what good fortune: to find a single cigarette, golden filtered, stashed on a ledge. Adult books, interiors, pleasures. Displaced from their habitual twilights, Matthew Brannon relocates the murky signifiers of cosmopolitan debauchery to the spare matte tableau of letterpressed sheets and precise sculptures. Everything is taken in isolat... [more]

20130115100024-tanning_1 le ventre de feu   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Dorothea Tanning at Gallery Wendi Norris January 10th, 2013 - March 2nd, 2013
Posted 1/15/13

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]

20130108024614-20120110055752-1_songco A Year in Poster Quotes: Blurbing 2012   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Posted 1/8/13

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]

20121101171109-165 Modality, Material & Me: Carolee Schneeman & Gay Outlaw   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Carolee Schneemann at Anglim Gilbert Gallery November 14th, 2012 - December 22nd, 2012
Posted 12/7/12

“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]

20121206195315-20120607184728-what_a_life_ ArtSlant Prize 2012: Steven Vasquez Lopez - California Reflections   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Posted 12/6/12

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]

20121129010859-800px-palace_legion_honor_sf Overlapping Histories: Curatorial Practices in San Francisco   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Posted 11/29/12

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]

20121127191822-2-barry_mcgee-bampfa_8-2012 Nom de Guerre   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Barry McGee at Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive August 24th, 2012 - December 9th, 2012
Posted 11/27/12

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]

20121019100409-nightca1920 The Optometrist and the Wallpaper Designer.   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Charles Burchfield, Ralph Eugene Meatyard at Fraenkel Gallery September 6th, 2012 - October 27th, 2012
Posted 10/19/12

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]

20120929185835-campbells-soup-limited-edition-cans Let Them Eat Pop   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Posted 9/29/12

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]

20121127191822-2-barry_mcgee-bampfa_8-2012 McGee and Me   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Barry McGee at Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive August 24th, 2012 - December 9th, 2012
Posted 9/13/12

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]

20120905013055-shrigley_1 Flipping the Switch   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
David Shrigley at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts June 22nd, 2012 - September 23rd, 2012
Posted 9/5/12

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]

20120816182752-the_fence Meet Trevor Paglen: Under the Radar   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Posted 8/16/12

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]

20120810090032-smithson Par Infinity: Earth Putt // Putt Works at Will Brown Gallery   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Water de Maria, Ant Farm, Michael Heizer, Nancy Holt, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Richard Long, Isamu Noguchi, Robert Smithson, James Turrell at Will Brown July 1st, 2012 - August 12th, 2012
Posted 8/10/12

“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]

20120726204434-cindysherman Identity Outfitters   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Cindy Sherman at SFMOMA - San Francisco Museum of Modern Art July 14th, 2012 - October 8th, 2012
Posted 7/26/12

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]

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