Sunday, October 23, 2011

Adventures in Art Six Weeks of Openings and Shows (Part II)

Even more shows...
As I mentioned in Part I of this post, as part of my 'job' as an artist, I have been looking at a lot of art in San Francisco over the past six or seven weeks.  Regretfully, I haven't posted about any of it.  Here is a view of some Bay Area Art taken with my very amateur photography skills.  I am starting to feel like my blog is too positive- geez, what a curmudgeon I am- so here's to being more honest with you.  Because what we desperately need is another mouthy, cynical blogger in the world.  So very desperately we do.  What can I say- I'm just calling 'em like I see 'em.  If you get offended, you can take pot shots at me on your own blog.

Seriously, there's something weird about Root Division.  Maybe it's the fact that they have art hanging opposite all the bathrooms.  Anyway, another round of their annual juried exhibition was under way, "Introductions 2011", and several of my CCA peeps were on the roster so I sort of had to go show my support.  Really, the people there seem nice but the implied donation to get in just to the reception is off-putting.  And while it's great that they serve a portion of the community with classes and another with studio spaces, there's something I can't put my finger on.  I just get the creeps there.  Maybe it's the SFAI connections of the staff.  Like I have said before, these MFA school loyalties run deep.  BTW, this is a chalk piece by Jillian Clark, from my CCA graduate class.

Sarah Thibault, another grad from my CCA class, was upping her game with this very classy drawing/installation.  Word on the street is that fancy-but-wild-bearded art gallerist, Jack Hanley, has been in conversation with her about her work and recently took her pieces to the Frieze Art Fair in London.  Go Sarah!

I went to see my old art professor, David Huffman's, show "Shift" at the San Francisco Arts Commission, which is situated downtown by all the fancy buildings like City Hall and the Opera House.  This view across the street is a nice change from the seediness of the Mission or the Tenderloin or wherever else in the city I end up schlepping around to see art.  The show is still up until December 10th.

Fancy marble digs inside and a jam-packed turnout.

David Huffman's installation of a pyramid of basketballs, (I couldn't get back enough with the crush of people to get a whole shot), which was basically a part of his signature sarcastic narrative of black cultural tropes come to life in 3-D.  There were paintings and videos, too, but too close to get photos.  It was a good show but the space was too small for the grand pyramid even without the people inside.  

Art in the Mission:  You know it's a bad sign when there's a sandwich board.  

On the same night as my Arts Commission jaunt, I did a small tour and drove over to Triple Base to see Todd Bura's new show, but I seriously could not find a parking space around the decidedly car-unfriendly Mission neighborhood and said "Fuck It" and drove over to another part of the Mission to Southern Exposure as the third leg of my gallery crawl.  So-Ex was also having its annual juried exhibition with a theme, this time called "Proof".  So-Ex,  just in comparison to Root Division, was equally crowded with onlookers hung with art I liked or didn't like just as much.  A juried show is always a mixed bag.  However, it felt much more welcoming as a space, and that does really stand for something.  Above is a textile triptych piece by current CCA MFA student, Johanna Friedman.

Rachel Foster's prints hung in constellations and an old lady deciphering Rachel's print depicting the average suicide age for literary greats.  

Here's Rachel Foster, herself, who forced me to accompany her to Lafayette, a weird outpost of rural suburbs outside of Walnut Creek, to deliver some of her artwork for a show.  It just happened to be the Lafayette Annual Art and Wine Festival, so we seized the opportunity to people-watch big-boobed blond women and gawk at the terrible art in the lovely weather.

Yeesh.  The worst kind of art might possibly be faux-naive "Outsider" art of Tom Waits and mohawked nerds with guitars.

The best space I saw this year so far was the Chapel of the Chimes, an actual chapel and columbarium (a place which houses ashes), down the street from my house in Oakland.  The fact that they had an art show with a call for proposals within the space was sort of dwarfed by the sheer beauty of the architecture, designed by the renowned architect,  Julia Morgan.  There were rooms within rooms featuring tons of indoor gardens and many of the ashes were encased in vessels shaped like books and held within walls shaped like bookcases, totally changing your expectations of what a columbarium would look like.

There was some art, but it was so small and put into nooks and crannies of the walls so that we could barely detect it in the first place.  This is tiny funereal diorama by Maggie Simpson, which apparently was the controversy of the night because the original display held a real tiny dead kitten inside the miniature coffin.  Not cool in the house of the Lord, I suppose.

The problem with an art school is that we learn so much about art that we are over-educated and constantly confused.  "Is it art?", Rachel and I discussed many times throughout our wanderings inside the infinite walls of the Chapel of the Chimes.  Are the flags art?  Are the cones art?  The draped coffin-shaped thing?  No, was the real answer, but the sad thing (maybe it's not?) about our observations was that sometimes we preferred the random findings to the real art.  

Here's a ceramic piece by our friend, Rachel Dawson, ( bad image), which was completely hidden within the many cubby holes of the shelves of the columbarium.  It was kind of like a treasure hunt to find the art, but we had to cheat our way through most of it because we simply couldn't tell where the work was.

Another night, another art show.  Here I am dragged to the Tenderloin again  to Jonathan Runcio's solo exhibition, "Wide Wide Ruin" at a new space, The Popular Workshop.  Much to my delight, the space was lovely, (look at those ceilings!), and his art was great, as always.  Don't tell him I said that.  I don't want him to get a big ego.  

Some how-does-he-make-it? screen-printing on canvas with beautiful colors.

The scene: prints, sculptures, etc

A metal sculpture.  I like it. I mean, geometry is not my number one love, and neither is minimal sculpture, but I think the whole show worked very well together and it's worth checking out just for Jonathan's color combinations.  It's still up but the site doesn't say until when.  I would guess at least til November 1.  

I went on another art adventure with Rachel the other day and had a positively delightful day checking out art, indulging in food, and going shopping.  I'm sad to say I can only afford to do such things once every couple months because now I am broke as a joke again.  But, the SF MoMA is free for me as CCA staff, at least, and that's where we found not only CCA Painting Faculty, John Zurier's, luscious abstract painting in the Contemporary Collections  section, but also his own dessert in the cafe!  "The John Zurier Popsicle"- that's how you know you have arrived.

Outside in the sculpture garden I indulged in a Blue Bottle coffee served in an artisan-crafted Heath Ceramics mug, and the "Wayne Thibaud Layer Cake" frosted to look as delicious as his cake paintings.  Awesome. 

Down the block we stopped into Eli Ridgway Gallery to see recent CCA Curatorial Grad, David Kasprzak's, curatorial venture, "Better a Live Ass Than a Dead Lion".  The show, as far as I could tell without reading the press release, was about place and environments.  I thought it was a successful show, and not too over-hung.  Elisheva Biernoff's hand-painted double-sided postcards and other works were featured predominantly in the downstairs space, and her slide show screening with mist was great, though her heavy-handed environmental message is better off unread.  

Rachel put on the white gloves to check out Biernoff's art book, featuring an idyllic landscape and the various disasters that could befall it painted into the image.  I would have liked it better if all of the disasters happened one after another to create a total anarchic apocalypse, instead of flood, back to normal, fire, back to normal...

A photo negative piece by Richard Misrach, who I can tell from the price list is a big deal.  Check out the show- it will be up til November 5.

That's pretty much how I can wrap up the last two months of art in the Bay Area.  I don't get to everything, and I should be making art and talking about it less, anyway.   See you at the next round of openings.

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