Posts archive: September 2002

Stretcher asks: “How do you imagine your life will change if the United States attacks Iraq?”
Lynn Hershman: I think the United States already has attacked Iraq. It’s been going on for decades. If things escalate now, there will be an increased level of morass that covers dreams, more static in our lives. It’s more important than ever to pay attention to poetic thoughts and put them in the air as an antidote to the level of negativity which is now engrained in the environment.

- Meredith Tromble [Monday, September 30th, 2002]

San Francisco artist Barry McGee is making quite a splash over on this side of the pond. McGee is currently showing in both London and in the Liverpool Biennial. McGee’s latest gallery graffiti claims back some of the street grit of his early works, which were found on buildings and in alleyways in San Francisco, when viewed in the more industrial settings of Liverpool and London’s east end. McGee (aka Twist) continues to rely on his familiar stockpile of amorphous shapes and baggy eyed down-and-outers painted on scraps of wood, empty bottles, directly on the walls, and in the case of Liverpool, on a van. His installations are both humorous and depressing, not unlike the venues themselves. I am left wondering if the irony of his work is lost on the hip crowd riding the wave of gentrification in London’s dirty-chic Hoxton area. If you can’t make it to the UK, you can check out the installations online. Barry McGee is at Modern Art Inc., London till October 13 and in the Liverpool Biennial till November 24, 2002.

—Cameron Cartiere, London

- Meredith Tromble [Monday, September 30th, 2002]

Stretcher asks: “How do you imagine your life will change if the United States attacks Iraq?”
Ella Delaney: I’ll become even more overwhelmed with forebodings of darkness in our future, of impotence in the face of these fanatical forces that have taken over my country. I ask myself, why do I keep hearing that over 50% of Americans agree with this red herring from Baby Bush? Why don’t I hear an outpouring of American voices calling this the sham that it is? I will try to stay in the United States and search for a new way, to redraw a nation that lives its ideals rather than paying lip service, but I don’t know how. I think that protest movements have become nothing more than mildly entertaining media events that have lost any real effectiveness and, short of redrawing the Constitution, electoral politics are just as farcical.

- Ella Delaney [Saturday, September 28th, 2002]

Stretcher asks: “How do you imagine your life will change if the United States attacks Iraq?”
Nathan Burazer: I don’t think my life would change much. I just hope me and my friends and family can keep food on the table. War is very expensive and the economy is already wounded. My respect for the United States government will continue to dwindle, and my pride in being an American (if I ever had any) will, too. I think this is true for many Americans, this country is becoming increasingly divided and the best we can hope for is that the provocative events of late will bring the nation closer to a revolution of consciousness.

- Meredith Tromble [Friday, September 27th, 2002]

Stretcher asks: “How do you imagine your life will change if the United States attacks Iraq?”
James Heron: I’ll move to France.

- Meredith Tromble [Friday, September 27th, 2002]

Toba Khedoori, Liza Lou, and Camillo Jose Vergaras take home MacArthur fellowships.

- Meredith Tromble [Thursday, September 26th, 2002]

Stretcher asks: “How do you imagine your life will change if the United States attacks Iraq?”
Carol Lemmon: I would be a lot more fearful about what’s going to happen here in this country. If we start having gas rationing, everything will go up in an inflationary spiral. I can live without my automobile, but I can’t think of anything more terrible than what it must be like in Baghdad right now, waiting for the bombs to fall. What if we were waiting for them to bomb San Francisco? The threat of terrorism would become much more profound, I wouldn’t be able to put my blinders on and think that my life is about going to work and my pleasures.

- Meredith Tromble [Thursday, September 26th, 2002]

For a moving installation of Keith Haring’s last work before his untimely death, go to Grace Cathedral, atop Nob Hill in San Francisco. And if his altarpiece in the Interfaith Chapel doesn’t help, take off your shoes and walk the Labyrinth on the floor of the nave. This magnificent building welcomes all.

- Tucker Nichols [Tuesday, September 24th, 2002]

Stretcher asks: “How do you imagine your life will change if the United States attacks Iraq?”
Cameron Cartiere: Two thoughts come to mind, both of which I find terribly saddening. The first is that as an American living abroad [London] I find myself often in the position of being asked to defend US foreign policy and, quite frankly, I can’t. Despite the terrible tragedy of Sept. 11, I feel that a wave of insanity has crashed over Washington and while I can write letters and sign petitions, I am quite powerless to hold back the tide. With my West coast, non-accent, I often choose the path of least resistance and become an honorary Canadian when strangers ask if I am from the States. My second thought is that if the US (and England for that matter) proceeds, I don’t know that the day to dayness of my life, or that of anyone else outside of Iraq, will change dramatically. Given the recent history with our foray into Afghanistan, the only people who will be radically effected will be the citizens of Iraq - the average person just trying to feed their family and stay alive. Here in lies the sad luxury of having a war “over there” - the conflict becomes a series of news highlights, statistics, and abstract government press briefings, filtered via CNN and when it all becomes too much to bear, we can simply turn of the television. The people of Iraq will be caught in to middle of this war of policy and there is no off switch for them.

- Meredith Tromble [Tuesday, September 24th, 2002]

Stretcher asks: “How do you imagine your life will change if the United States attacks Iraq?”
Allen Spore: In 1968 I was a military pilot stationed in Vietnam. Today, I teach a class at the San Francisco Art Institute, titled “Vietnam Odyssey” which includes a two week tour of Northern Vietnam. On our first student trip to Vietnam in 2001 I met Tran Ky Trung who had been a North Vietnamese soldier during the “American War.” Tran, a gentle and intelligent writer, invited us to his home for dinner. After dinner he read from the journal he had written in 1969. It was a poignant moment for me as I realized that we shared the same feelings during the war. We had a lot more in common than not. I am not sure how my life will change if we attack Iraq. I do know that I will not so much be thinking about Saddam Hussen and George Bush as I will be thinking about all the American and Iraqi soldiers and their families. These are people who make unimaginable sacrifices for our government’s actions.

- Meredith Tromble [Monday, September 23rd, 2002]

What’s refreshing about this French digital art fest is the mix of music and visuals, and its nod toward innovators like Kraftwerk, who will perform there.

- Ella Delaney [Monday, September 23rd, 2002]

but there’s nothing they can do about it. The growth of the commercial satellite industry means that images once available only to the military are now accessible by everyone. Wanna see what’s going on in Iraq right now? Click here.

- David Lawrence [Sunday, September 22nd, 2002]

Stretcher asks: “How do you imagine your life will change if the United States attacks Iraq?”
Meredith Tromble: “September 12, 2001, I bought five pounds of sugar. We didn’t need it, but my mother told me stories, as I was growing up, about having no sugar during the war. I knew foraging in the grocery store didn’t make sense, but I felt so lost and wanted to do something. So I guess I’ll be stocking the pantry, if I can. I’m concerned that all the ways I’ve found to work in art, by selling work, teaching, writing, and curating, will dry up. I wonder if the Navy will reclaim the former base where my studio is. None of my imaginings about what might happen are good.

- Meredith Tromble [Sunday, September 22nd, 2002]

Stretcher asks: “How do you imagine your life will change if the United States attacks Iraq?”
Ray Beldner: “I’m very upset about it but because I’m so busy with my family there’s not much I can do except sign online petitions. I feel the question of IF we attack is out of our hands. Bush has made up his mind and he’ll find an excuse. If it does happen, I’m worried about what a lot of middle class people are worried about, providing for my family. I do a lot of public art funded by percent-for-art programs, and when resources are diverted to war there’s less building here at home. And I worry about being involved in a war that can spread, especially with Bush’s “go it alone” attitude. We should be making friends, not antagonizing people. He’s setting us up for more terrorist attacks.”

- Meredith Tromble [Friday, September 20th, 2002]

Steve Roden’s exhibition at the singuhr-hoergalerie features a pair of delicately balanced sound installations. “Moon Gatherers (third version)” presents manipulated sounds generated from a set of empty bottles played back through speakers in four bottles placed at the edges of a small, dimly lit room. Extended listening reveals a stately, unhurried composition that evolves at low volume. Upstairs in the main space a similarly elegant piece, “Light Forms,” is built from the sounds of light bulbs and is augmented by a video that alternates between Roden performing a simple text in his own cryptic form of sign language and an abstract set of movements traced in colored lights. By turns engaging and hermetic, these works have a tactile presence that rewards prolonged attention and stays with you well after you have left the exhibition space. Through October 24.

- Ed Osborn [Friday, September 20th, 2002]

A concise and slightly daring retrospective of John O’Reilly’s photomontages is currently on view at the Addison Gallery of American Art, presenting four decades of the artist’s production. The photograph is the basis for his poetic meditations on art history and the human condition, and he draws freely from self-portraits, art books, religious imagery, gay pornography, and historical material to assemble his intricate montages. In their eccentric pairings and intimate confessions, these works are a little like experiencing the pages of an obsessively compiled private album.

—Diana Gaston, Boston

- Meredith Tromble [Friday, September 20th, 2002]

Stretcher asks: “How do you imagine your life will change if the United States attacks Iraq?”
Todd Hido: I recently became a father and more than ever I want to the world to be a
safe place.

- Meredith Tromble [Friday, September 20th, 2002]

Our daily lives go on now against the backdrop of howling war talk from the Bush administration. The mood is tense; we’re all in limbo. What shape do our apprehensions take, when they surface from beneath the facade of normal life? Stretcher posed the following question to several artists. We’ll be posting their responses over the next few days.

“How do you imagine your life will change if the United States attacks Iraq?

Rigo: I might get arrested. I might start making preparations to go live elsewhere. I certainly will become more actively and militantly anti-Bush, anti-MacDonald’s, and anti the Red, White and Blue Nazis - the National Capitalists at the controls of this expansionist North-American Warring Federation.

- Meredith Tromble [Wednesday, September 18th, 2002]

Those of us who enjoy the sight of an enigmatic letter in the mail will no doubt be thrilled to find so many great examples of correspondence art in CCAC’s To Whom It May Concern, on view until October 26 at the San Francisco campus galleries. If Allen Ruppersburg’s erased Jenny Holzer LED doesn’t do anything for you, Jeffrey Vallance’s mail exchange with Connie Chung (and accompanying head shots) should do the trick.

- Tucker Nichols [Tuesday, September 17th, 2002]

The Len Lye retrospective at the Wellington City Gallery showcases three areas of this New Zealander’s prodigious output: photograms, animated films, and kinetic sculptures. All the works on view reflect a sharp mind at work, but it’s the sculptures that really shine as the simplest of mechanical actions are shaped into an endlessly entrancing counterpoint of movement and sound. A large steel loop bobs gracefully and occasionally strikes a wooden ball hanging above it, a stately collection of arcing metal rods pivot and turn erratically, and a verticle blade shudders intermittently to life. Built in the 60’s and 70’s these pieces seem as fresh as ever and more than hold their own against most the tech art produced since then. Through November 24.

- Ed Osborn [Monday, September 16th, 2002]

at the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery was a personal, powerful statement on behalf of the Bay Area’s Iranian community (its proximity to 9/11 was coincidental). This year’s Cultural Equity grant recipient, Hemami relates their stories through dark, layered transparent images and text on reflective surfaces that add the viewer to the mix. A website extends the project beyond the gallery space. The exhibition’s on view until October 12th.

- Ella Delaney [Monday, September 16th, 2002]

Downtown Salt Lake City shone with post Olympic spirit—spanking new buildings and well-kempt people with shiny name tags. Leaving the well tended streets behind, we entered the overly tended Museum of Church History and Art, where we were struck by the high production value of the exhibitions and how many people asked us if we needed additional information. The images and texts said it all - many fervent paintings of Jesus, lots of wagon trains through the wilderness and some very beautiful samplers. Also of note were interesting paintings from early 20th Century Latter-Day Saint artists and rugs and baskets from LDS Native Americans.

- amy berk [Saturday, September 14th, 2002]

posits the trailer to the new William Gazecki documentary, Crop Circles: Quest for Truth. For the skeptics, this movie will change the way you think about public art. The rest of us need to re-think our entire worldview. Either way, it’s refreshing to contend with something grand and beautiful nobody can easily explain away.

- Tucker Nichols [Thursday, September 12th, 2002]

Read about the czars of color.

- Ella Delaney [Thursday, September 12th, 2002]

The City of Berkeley has finally hounded The Crucible into shutting down their classes, reports Kenneth Baker. The city’s demands for code compliance were certainly a major factor in the closure, but rumor has it that the final straw was a rave party, organized by a promoter who rented the space for a “fraternity party with about 150 people.” Over a thousand party-goers crowded in, trashing the space and wrecking equipment. The school’s classes in ceramics, glass, and welding, will be especially missed (maintaining fire facilities is considered too expensive by many institutions.) A fund-raising drive to support reopening The Crucible in another location is in motion.

- Meredith Tromble [Wednesday, September 11th, 2002]

Read about what some artists say - and decided not to say - about 9/11.

- Ella Delaney [Wednesday, September 11th, 2002]

Although 58% of our fellow Californians believe war with Iraq is a good idea, an island of sanity still exists. Read Todd Gitlin’s essay about how American foreign policy is spinning out of control. Something to ponder on the eve of the one year anniversary of 9/11.

- Ella Delaney [Tuesday, September 10th, 2002]

“Traditionally, before there is an investigation, there is some level of suspicion. Here everyone would be under suspicion from the outset.’’ says Katie Corrigan, ACLU, about CAPPS II, a new airport screening system that will check passengers’ criminal backgrounds, credit histories and driver’s license data before flying. At least everyone is guilty until proven innocent in our new, post 9/11 reality, right?

- Ella Delaney [Tuesday, September 10th, 2002]

A poetic pre-9/11 view of the twin towers in Chilean poet and artist Cecilia Vicuna’s 1981 performance documention “Participation” shot from the West Side Highway. A new installation echoes Eva Hesse in form and color but not in material with spirals of wool suspended and cascading off stools and yarn balls hanging from above. Small pink flags on the floor round off “Cecilia Vicuna: Thread Mansion” a powerful exhibition at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art.

- amy berk [Monday, September 9th, 2002]

wrote Earle Ennis of The San Francisco Chronicle in 1928, “has come the greatest wizardry yet of the civilized day—television.” Today marks the 75th anniversary of the very first electronic television transmission, made by Philo T. Farnsworth in his North Beach laboratory. Envisioned as an educational tool that might end ignorance, illiteracy and the need for war, one wonders if the disconnect between Farnsworth’s dream and the evolution of the medium is mirrored by the internet today.

- David Lawrence [Saturday, September 7th, 2002]

The parties at the two “first Thursday” openings I attended foregrounded atmospherics over artworks. At artist/gallerist Charles Linder’s sharp new space next to Zuni, it was difficult to tell where the art ended and the furnishings began. Was that Antonioni DVD part of the exhibition? With Linder it’s always hard to tell. At 111 Minna, the party was in full swing. The big group show, Gestures was a mostly Art Institute affair co-curated by Cary Littlefield and Sabina Ott. Both spaces (and shows) are definitely worth a look.

- Ella Delaney [Friday, September 6th, 2002]

From the editors