Kara Q. Smith

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Where does digital art live? Today, it’s usually found on your computer. While networked practices, hacks, and coded mixed-media practices are supported through scattered exhibition spaces and sites like Rhizome, digital art—art made using digital tools (think gifs), including digital photography, created to be viewed on a screen—hasn’t found much of a home away from your computer screen. Until now. Last year, in New York, a small start up raised hundreds of thousands of dollars over their... [more]
In 2009, I assisted with , an exhibition curated by Jessica Silverman. Featuring works depicting real or imagined memories of the Lexington Club, we installed the show on the patchy maroon walls of San Francisco’s iconic dyke bar. Each image made palpable the fact that the space is so much more than four walls and some bar stools. A destination for lesbians from all over and a staple for many younger city dwellers, the Lex is where a spectrum of LBTQ patrons have felt comfortable mingling,... [more]
Endurance training for the noncommittal   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Conrad Guevara at City Limits July 19th, 2014 - August 23rd, 2014
Posted 8/17/14
At the heart of the works in is the ethos of endurance. Entering the exhibition is not unlike entering an interpretation of a physical training facility. Equipment-like inventions dangle from the ceiling and perch amidst the gallery space; there is even a painted panel squatting in the crease of a gym mat on the floor. Many of the works, like Bow 4 (2014) have a suggestive tenacity. Bow 4 is a delicately curved wooden pole bending like a “C” around an entire wall, held in place by the tension... [more]
Threadless Patchworks and Seamy Fabrications   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Michelle Grabner, Angie Wilson, Lena Wolff at Cult June 20th, 2014 - August 2nd, 2014
Posted 7/16/14
Here, the process and patterning of quiltmaking multifariously inspires. The repetitive tattoo of the sewing machine, the lush and rough textures of fabrics, and the echoing generational symbols of the tradition thread their way through varied works. Each artist concentrates upon, refines, or abstracts individual facets of the rich history of the quilt-as-medium, using it as a launching point for experimental explorations in the present.   At its simplest, the mathematical construction of the... [more]
Place, Decoupled   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Cybele Lyle at Et al. May 30th, 2014 - July 4th, 2014
Posted 6/15/14
Place, to each of us, means many things. Often times being physically located in a place is very different than feeling a sense of place. Place is as simple as a well-worn wooden stool and a pint of Smithwicks inside a small pub on the west coast of Ireland and as complicated as our universal existence at any moment in the tangled web of time and possibility.   Descend the stairs of Et Al., a small space in the basement of a dry cleaner business in Chinatown, and immediately noticeable is an... [more]
Through Someone Else's Looking Glass   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Anne McGuire, karla milosevich at Steven Wolf Fine Arts April 26th, 2014 - June 14th, 2014
Posted 5/17/14
sinne [Swedish] n.   mind, sense   spegel [Swedish] n.   a mirror; a smooth reflecting surface something flat and smooth, resembling a mirror (e.g. the surface of a lake) a (moral) guideline, used for correcting errors, similar to a mirror   My creative practice, or lack thereof rather, exists in my head. I take other people’s ideas and make them my own and find them wildly successful in there.   The layers of identity laid bare in Anne McGuire and Karla... [more]
A lingering beauty: the impeccable marks of Rex Ray   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Rex Ray at Gallery 16 April 4th, 2014 - May 17th, 2014
Posted 4/21/14
I lingered in front of Rex Ray’s (2013). Polychromatic shapes shimmer against a black sky. A firework-like flower bursts above that skyline of plump perfume bottles. Simultaneously hard-edged and fluid, the layers of colorful forms luminesce from the canvas, awaiting adoration, unflinching. I’m mesmerized more by the detail than the subject. Each filigree and wash of color hand-painted, each curving form cut out by hand. I move in very close to notice all the circular shreds of paper that... [more]
Material Ascension   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Randy Colosky, Chris Fraser, Sandra Ono, Dean Smith at Incline Gallery October 11th, 2013 - November 22nd, 2013
Posted 11/16/13
The best part about science fiction: seeing how far folks can un-imagine the familiar. In the future, the curious life of humans after Earth, what will phones look like? forks? mops? How can artists reenvision the mundane and embrace the unknown? Should they re-invent the mop? Simply ascend the first ramp… In a gallery weirdly made up mostly of ramps, four artists have installed work grouped together under , the title nabbed from a short-lived science fiction show in which earthlings find... [more]
Alexis Courtney - Honorable Mention, ArtSlant Prize 2013 Working across media, Alexis Courtney delicately exposes vulnerable sensitivities in both the artist and the viewer. Be it pleasure and frustration, or intimacy and rupture, Courtney’s pieces oscillate between affectabilities with an effortless honesty. , a series of photographs created over the last couple years, most prominently features the artist herself as subject. In Shorts (2013), Courtney sits topless, in a pair of cut-off jean... [more]
Rupturing the Familiar   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Michel Auder, Martin Boyce, Slater Bradley, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, John Menick, Enrique Metinides, Yelena Popova, Amie Siegel, Kelley Walker at CCA Wattis Institute September 10th, 2013 - December 14th, 2013
Posted 10/7/13
Enter slowly; it will take a moment, but your eyes will begin to adjust to the dimness of your new environment and you’ll likely find yourself quizzically wandering toward Martin Boyce’s sculptures. In Our Love Is Like the Flowers, the Rain, the Sea, and the Hours, 2002, branching neons delicately tower over a bench one could not physically sit on, astride a misshapen trashcan through this park-like installation. Or so those are the associations I immediately make. Bordering more on... [more]
I first saw Ala Ebtekar’s work on a billboard in downtown San Francisco. Juxtaposed amidst condo developments and rush hour traffic, it was a visual reprieve. It broke up a familiar landscape, one where billboard iconography is quite familiar and expected, and presented a new motif. The animal-like character featured in the center of a patterned background was almost recognizable, perhaps a ceremonial beast of some ancient history, but just abstract enough to welcome the unenlightened. What it... [more]
Cool Media   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Michael Barrett, Keith Boadwee, Nick Cope, Chris Corrente, Dean Dempsey, Laura Hyunjhee Kim, Jasmine Moorhead, Chris Silva, Tim Sullivan at Krowswork August 2nd, 2013 - August 31st, 2013
Posted 8/19/13
I wake up and mindlessly hold my iphone over my face and click through instagram, tumblr, facebook. I always feel so displeased. What am I searching for? Social media is now an extension of my brain – an involuntary impulse, a robotic motion. Each of us grapples with the push and pull of media in our lives: causing anxiety, soothing our worries, suspending us in space, critiquing our world, making us feel somehow productive. Artists negotiate new media landscapes with a power to conceptually... [more]
I met Jason Kalogiros at Building 11, an old warehouse-type structure at Pier 70, near the Port of San Francisco. Surrounded by an assortment of functional and non-functional factories, fences and loading docks, it was built in the early ‘40s by the government to support wartime production and now houses studio space for a selection of artists. We first travel to the back of the studio so Jason can show me his Agfa Repromaster 310 from the late ‘70s. It's an old process camera, also called a... [more]
Look out for the unicorn   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Elisheva Biernoff at Eli Ridgway Gallery February 2nd, 2013 - March 9th, 2013
Posted 3/9/13
After going to this show, I spent the next two days holed up reading Rebecca West’s Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Journey Through Yugoslavia. In around 1200 pages, West details her journey with her husband to Yugoslavia after World War One. Indistinguishable between fiction and non-fiction, she tells stories of past and present lives and experiences, bridging the distance between the reader and the experience. The story opens on a train: I could not have gone on to justify my certainty that... [more]
le ventre de feu   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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... [more]
Modality, Material & Me: Carolee Schneeman & Gay Outlaw   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Carolee Schneemann at Anglim Gilbert Gallery November 14th, 2012 - December 22nd, 2012
Posted 12/6/12
“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]
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... [more]
Flipping the Switch   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
David Shrigley at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts June 22nd, 2012 - September 23rd, 2012
Posted 9/4/12
Next to a taxidermy rat lying on the floor of the gallery is David Shrigley’s animation, , 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]
Long Live Cinephelia   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Deric Carner at Romer Young Gallery June 15th, 2012 - July 21st, 2012
Posted 6/26/12
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... [more]
Friday night at ArtPadSF, one of the raft of fairs floated out these years to swell art commerce here in San Francisco. Trafficked, but sparser then remembered, the fair hosted a heavy load of California galleries, especially from the Bay Area, far outnumbering those from less local climes. Some switches and changes, neighborhood gossip and shifting allegiances: Eleanor Harwood Gallery previous exhibitor at fair rival ArtMRKT now at ArtPad, a change of scene… Weaving through the rooms I caught... [more]
Drawing a Line   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Tom Marioni, Pat Steir at Crown Point Press April 5th, 2012 - May 19th, 2012
Posted 5/5/12
I don’t know why I felt so driven to point this out, but I think it’s funny that Pat Steir is in a show with Tom Marioni at Crown Point Press. It’s an exhibition with beautiful, if unlikely balance. Tom Marioni’s most recent color drypoint prints are minimal yet expressive. The movement of Marioni’s marks accentuates the expressive aquatint colorscapes of Pat Steir. Together, you can tell the works are full of intention and I can find forms within the conceptual formlessness. Comparing... [more]
Six Twelve-Year-Olds   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Rineke Dijkstra at SFMOMA - San Francisco Museum of Modern Art February 18th, 2012 - May 28th, 2012
Posted 3/31/12
Six twelve-year-olds walk into a Rineke Dijkstra retrospective. They stood in each room, looking closely at each photograph, waiting for someone to share their observations. Again and again appeared the photograph of a young French man, Olivier, from the day he joined the military and over the next couple years. The pictures are big, almost life-size. The twelve-year-olds eyeball Olivier, he mutely stares back. They spend a lot of time on the first two pictures of Olivier: one from the chest... [more]
Vaporous Subjugation   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Christina Corfield at Johansson Projects January 26th, 2012 - March 17th, 2012
Posted 2/7/12
“My relationship to new media is one predicated on imperfection, specifically, the importance of imperfection in a digital culture driven by the desire for seamlessness and unquestioned functionality.” — Christina Corfield[1] I found myself taking in Christina Corfield’s new work for Follies of the Digital Arcade by looking from one image to the other and back again, then repeating; piecing the images together, not unlike an early George Barnard panoramic landscape, to get the full picture... [more]
With Involuntary Sculptures   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Whitney Lynn at Steven Wolf Fine Arts January 7th, 2012 - February 18th, 2012
Posted 1/9/12
In the two solo shows folded into a single exhibition scenario, the viewer is left the option to draw their own conclusions about the relationship between the two self-contained, but proximal bodies of work. I found the two artists separate sculptural installations to happily complement each other through whimsicality—even though they may be contextually unrelated.Whitney Lynn’s exhibition, , contains mostly a collection of charming, small sculptures, distributed over the floor of the gallery.... [more]
A Salutary Glimpse/Love Affair   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Mauricio Ancalmo, Colter Jacobsen, Ruth Laskey, Kamau Amu Patton at SFMOMA - San Francisco Museum of Modern Art December 9th, 2011 - April 3rd, 2012
Posted 1/9/12
A regular round-up of best-of locals by the lights of the museum, SECA provides a continuity and perhaps the best yardstick of what the Bay Area thinks is the best thing it might be making.  Ascending the staircase of the SFMOMA, the most fitting compliment is the Fifty Years of Bay Area Art, an exhibition featuring SECA award recipients from the last half-century and one which everyone traveling to the current SECA exhibition must walk through before arriving at their destination. Providing a... [more]
A random and subjective mini time capsule from 2011 of things memorable, telling, or perhaps promising for the year to come…5: ArtPadSF Questionable, I know. In May 2011 three art fairs occurred in San Francisco on the same weekend. “A risky endeavor,” local critic Glen Helfand said in the New York Times about the idea of this art fair trifecta in our blessed city. Risky, yes, but of the three, ArtPadSF held fashionably true to what I thought an art fair should look like in SF (held at the... [more]
All the Waiting Rooms   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Sandra Calco, Vera Costa, Paz de la Calzada, others, Claudia Salamanca at Gallery at the Consulate General of Mexico in San Francisco October 20th, 2011 - December 13th, 2011
Posted 11/7/11
Sitting in the waiting room at Planned Parenthood for a check up or squished between other bodies in blue chairs at the DMV while voraciously staring at my number, these are situations I have no problem dramatically recollecting in my head. One part physical memory of space: the dirty chairs, drab paint, lack of decoration, and horribly ironic magazines.  And one part psychological place: being liminal, uncomfortable, scared I might have to empty my bank account for something I do not yet know... [more]
Scribbled Notes on the State of Collaboration   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
at Kadist Art Foundation October 26th, 2011 - October 26th, 2011
Posted 11/3/11
On the Wednesday of October 26, 2011, I deliberately found myself sipping rum and coconut water at Kadist Art Foundation for the presentation of Corrected Slogans, hosted by Julian Myers. Two performers, who I had never heard of previous to this evening, Jim Fairchild, famously known as a member of the band Modest Mouse, and Natasha Wheat, a Chicago-based artist, took the stage silently and began the show. A series of several very short song-like performances ensued featuring Fairchild on... [more]
Light Rhythms   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Matt Borruso at Steven Wolf Fine Arts September 10th, 2011 - October 15th, 2011
Posted 10/5/11
Perhaps like any work, the successful reception of video-based art in an exhibition is almost as dependent on its installation as it is the artistic merit and intentions of the piece, though sometimes the latter is built into the former. In the art world, there are varying schools of thought about the reception of video work in an exhibition. Recently, I have heard that viewers only watch a piece for a maximum of two minutes and that many people are now hesitant to put on headphones due to... [more]
Joie de Vivre   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Presley Ward at People's Gallery September 7th, 2011 - October 22nd, 2011
Posted 10/5/11
“Imagine a very small formal motif and try to execute it economically . . . the essence of the subject must always become visible, even if this is impossible in nature. .... The absence of foreshortening also plays a crucial part in the process.... I begin to execute forms, as if I know nothing about painting or, have I discovered a small, undisputed personal possession, a particular sort of threedimensional representation on the flat surface!” —Paul Klee, The Diaries of Paul Klee... [more]
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