Posts archive: October 2002

Larry Rinder, Whitney Museum curator and Mark Hertsgaard, author of The Eagle’s Shadow: Why America Fascinates and Infuriates the World join in conversation for “How the World Looks at America: A Conversation Between Art and Journalism.” The centerpiece of the evening will be a exploration of how the world sees and represents America, a topic that grows more important by the day as our government prepares to make war against Iraq. Rinder has organized a summer 2003 exhibition exploring foreign artists’ conception of America, so his presentation will be a bit of sneak preview. It’s free, Thursday, October 31, at 7:30pm, at the Whitney Museum, Madison Avenue at 75 Street. Seating is limited, doors open at 7:00pm. For more info: 212-206-5306.

- Meredith Tromble [Wednesday, October 30th, 2002]

October 23, the San Francisco Bureau of Urban Secrets, a project of Jeannene Przyblyski, sponsored an afternoon of search and serendipity created by artist Lee Walton. Participants were given a c.100 page book of “instructions,” then set out on a quest to find the randomly ordered clues. Chance was the essential ingredient: each clue branched into several possible successors. Groups were instructed to “call in” their clues as they found them. I helped man the office, where bedlam ensued. As groups called in their clues, we attached the relevant pages to the wall with colored stickers. Some groups worked so fast their streams of paper cascaded off the wall, while others neglected to call in at all. When a group finished, they were to return to start for a catered party. The last group to arrive had taken the wrong bus and ended up in Daly City, a Situationist-inspired comedy of sorts.

—Terri Cohn

- Meredith Tromble [Sunday, October 27th, 2002]

This weekend’s Bay Area Now 3 opening at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts was a swarm of party-goers. Throngs of people in the galleries don’t make for ideal art viewing conditions, but the people-watching was a worthy stand-in. And really, who was there to look at the art anyhow? The show itself is decidedly mixed in that Whitney Biennial way, but there are many stand-outs: Katherine Sherwood’s large abstract paintings, Abner Nolan’s prints from a found box marked “bad negatives,” and Jona Frank’s video panels of uniformed cadets performing stylized syncopations, to name a few.

- Tucker Nichols [Sunday, October 27th, 2002]

Simon Evans shows us the fragmented, obsessive part of his brain in the back room gallery at Adobe Books in San Francisco’s Mission District. Using uncountable shreds of paper, Scotch tape, pen, and liquid paper, he literally merges collage with text in hilarious guides to love, truth, and (why not) the universe. If nothing else, the show will make you feel like your own compulsions are relatively tame.

- Tucker Nichols [Saturday, October 26th, 2002]

Stretcher asks: “How do you imagine your life might change if the United States attacks Iraq?”
Kim Anno: My life is changed even by the threats, the thoughts, the aggression of my country around the world that has been going on for as long as I have lived. This changes me into a very defiant citizen. Can anyone imagine what it would be like to wake up and say “Wow, I love what my government is and what it does…” This is not the reality, so my thought is that the U.S. government is in a wrong universe, that we as a nation have to have a paradigm shift of how we conduct ourselves in the world. We are the imperial power that preys upon the lifeblood of a people and then we speak of human rights when it benefits us. There has been no ethics and no aesthetics in our government, or perhaps it has tiny micro pockets that do not make it into media. But having such a souless government based on fear and retaliation and preemptive strikes is a heavy responsibility for a caring, thinking person. Because even if we dissent they keep it going. Somehow the dissent has to escalate in very visual ways, very visible ways. A really interesting Buddhist Nun by the name of Tsensin Palmo said, “Check your motivation first, and then act, do it in the name of compassion for all the characters, all the people, both the perpetrators and the victims.” This of course can happen quite quickly if we want to do it. I want to find the bridges.

- Meredith Tromble [Tuesday, October 22nd, 2002]

Stretcher asks: “How do you imagine your life might change if the United States attacks Iraq?”
Mary Hull Webster: At the worst, I imagine that nuclear, chemical and biological devices will explode in New York and that I might lose my sister Diane and her family who live in White Plains. I imagine an eventual aftermath such as I’ve read about in a Paul Auster novel in which there are no cars and no gasoline and not much left at all regarding the way we are accustomed to living. I also imagine that our shining and spectacular city of San Francisco will be a target. My partner and I would, if we were lucky, get to his off-the-grid property in the mountains of Northern California, where we probably would be joined by his son’s family; we would not hear from his other son who lives near Boston, nor from my brother in Atlanta or my other sister in Washington, DC. My old father in a small town in NC would be entirely cut-off from his four children; not knowing whether we were dead or alive would probably hasten his demise, even if the lack of his medications didn’t do him in. In the country, we would shoot the wild turkeys and deer that we used to love, and try to grow vegetables and hope that the spring water was still clean. We would hoard bullets, since they would be needed for meat and to fend off anyone who tried to displace us or take our food. The new grandchild would not be vaccinated or have pediatric visits. Depending on the timing, I might have to figure out how to deliver that baby. Our contact with the outside world would be through radios, as long as the batteries lasted or we could replenish them in a country where battery manufacturers and radio stations may no longer be in business. The good that might come of this has to do with not being able to do my electronic art and returning to the simplest forms of drawing, writing, and family performances. Everything I’ve learned as an artist would become life-like art, and I think life would be about feeling among a very small number of people who are trying to survive together, and that there would be good lessons for me in that. At the least, I will carry the guilt of having my country responsible in my name for the worst-case scenario above enacted on the people of Iraq

- Meredith Tromble [Sunday, October 20th, 2002]

Last night’s round table discussion at the San Francisco Art Institute with Nicholas Bourriaud and artists in the exhibition TOUCH: Relational Art From The 1990s To Now provided attendees with a telling preview of what to expect at tonight’s opening. Mostly on view will be ephemera, remains from artworks which unfolded in real time and space. Bourriaud bristled at the show’s title, dismayed at the idea of creating a new art “brand”. Meanwhile, local curators rushed to inform him of the deep vein of like-minded seminal works created in the Bay Area over the past 40-odd years. The opening is from 5:30- 7:30.

- Ella Delaney [Thursday, October 17th, 2002]

Gerhard Richter’s paintings arrive at SFMOMA, and if Philip Guston confused people with his figurative-abstract-figurative personal history, what can we make of someone who has worked in several modes simultaneously throughout his career? From the opening Stag caught in the viewer’s gaze to the radiantly abstract Wall, the installation suggests someone who just plain refuses to choose. Richter is the rare artist who not only gets away with it, but makes us wonder why most everyone else settled for just one signature style. These paintings are so good, maybe he is simply the only one capable of pulling it off.

- Tucker Nichols [Thursday, October 17th, 2002]

In 1970, Philip Guston shocked the artworld with his return to figurative painting after being crowned one of the heroes of abstraction. Made a year later, Poor Richard is a series of over 70 political drawings of Nixon, Kissinger, Agnew, and Checkers the dog—a brave and humorous condemnation of the White House during the quagmire of Vietnam. You can feel the raw frustration in his mind, as if abstraction just wasn’t getting across what he needed to say. Visiting the show at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor may make you wonder who today is drawing these pictures of W., Cheney, and crew. The timing is chilling.

- Tucker Nichols [Sunday, October 13th, 2002]

A motley crew of maybe a couple of hundred protesters have mostly suceeded in turning away federal employees Friday. What was rumored among employees to differ this time from protests past was that SF police were not aiding and protecting employees trying to enter, but were instead blocking everyone, Federal judges and protesters alike. If a relatively small group can succeed in a building shutdown, perhaps due to law enforcement’s post 9-11 wariness, how long until things get really ugly?

- Ella Delaney [Friday, October 11th, 2002]

for us anti-war sympathizers in and around San Francisco’s Federal Building. Rumors are flying that protesters promise to shut the building down tomorrow because of the House vote for war. And on top of that, it’s Fleet Week, a macho show of military might in that same airspace.

- Ella Delaney [Thursday, October 10th, 2002]

Stay Free! magazine sponsors my dream show. Illegal Art: Freedom of Expression in the Corporate Age focuses on clearance-free work created outside the bounds of copyright law by musicians like Negativland, as well as visual artists. Why is this show not coming to San Francisco?

- Ella Delaney [Thursday, October 10th, 2002]

Adam mysteriously falls at the Met, and there was some pulverizing, to be sure. But he will be made whole again, and as Philippe de Montebello assures us, “only the cognoscenti will know.” Hmm.

- Tucker Nichols [Wednesday, October 9th, 2002]

Stretcher asks: “How do you imagine your life might change if the United States attacks Iraq?”
Ann Chamberlain: Everything will be the same - I will go to work, come home, eat meals. The only thing that will have changed will be, we will be living in a country that is increasingly isolated and rightly hated by much of the world for its greed and bullying. I will work and come home knowing that we will have lost our democracy twice: first in a false election and secondly through laws voted on by Congress, giving our president the authorization to use force when and how he pleases throughout the world.

- Meredith Tromble [Saturday, October 5th, 2002]

Today’s news was not good, it’s time to take to the streets. I’m passing the word on this protest. Sunday, October 6, 2002, 2PM, there will be a “Not in Our Name Mass Convergence” in San Francisco’s Union Square. Many different organizations will be coming from around the greater Bay Area to say “Not in Our Name!” to a war without limits. As groups make their way to the convergence from points north, east and south, they will be distributing materials, parading puppets, and flying banners.

- Meredith Tromble [Saturday, October 5th, 2002]

First Thursday in San Francisco was abuzz with talk of the re-opening of Lizabeth Oliveria last night, where Clare Rojas has painted the walls with tantalizing scenes of forlorn hooded figures and curious polar bears. The enveloping installation suggests an homage to the late Margaret Kilgallen, complete with framed paintings propped up on little shelves. A welcome injection of energy, no doubt. Laurie Reid’s spare watercolors sing on the walls at Stephen Wirtz.

- Tucker Nichols [Friday, October 4th, 2002]

It’s Berman vs. Boucher. Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) and Rep. John Doolittle (D-Calif.) have introduced a long overdue bill, the Digital Media Consumers Rights Act, that would shore up the fair use rights of consumers. A broadbased coalition supports the legislation. Meanwhile, Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.). is floating a bill that would “limit the liability” of copyright owners (read: license to hack) for protecting their works on peer-to-peer networks. Guess who suppports that legislation?

- Ella Delaney [Friday, October 4th, 2002]

Stretcher asks: “How do you imagine your life might change if the United States attacks Iraq?”
Ian Green: If the U.S. does indeed declare war on Iraq, the sad reality will probably be that my life will not change substantially. It will end up being yet another conflict in which the country being attacked, invaded, liberated, will have its infrastructure destroyed, civilians killed and economy wrecked. Meanwhile the citizens of the country inflicting the damage will be able to sit in the comfort of our living rooms and watch it on TV as if it were a nightly soap opera. I find it disturbing that the U.S. can be inflicting such damage to another country while its citizens are not inconvenienced in the least. To be sure there are situations in the world which necessitate some type of action by other countries in the world, my fear is that the haste with which this situation has turned from a containment strategy to an offensive, unilateral attack on another country is politically motivated. I also fear that this will fuel the fire for those throughout the world who do not like the United States.

- Meredith Tromble [Thursday, October 3rd, 2002]

Majestic Sprawl: Recent Los Angeles Photography at the Pasadena Museum of California Art will likely satisfy your craving. Uta Barth, Soo Kim, Martin Kersels, and Catherine Opie, among many others, succeed in conveying L.A. (and regions slightly beyond) with beauty, humor, and sensitivity. The porn industry, the ubiquitous mini mall, Beverly Hills, and nightlife - it all looks sexier, or at least more interesting, through their lenses. Also on view is Capturing Light: Masterpieces of California Photography organized by the Oakland Museum of California.

- Elise Barclay [Thursday, October 3rd, 2002]

Stretcher asks: “How do you imagine your life might change if the United States attacks Iraq?”
Margaret Crane: Since I am neither a member of the American military nor a resident of Iraq, I’m sure I will be, relatively speaking, fine. I’ll probably miss my civil liberties at first, but as time goes by I imagine I’ll adapt to life without them… What’s with this question, anyway? It’s so passive…so “all about me.” I’d rather not assume that war is a done deal. This might be a good point in time to think in terms of dissent. Following are some on-line resources: Congressional Contact Information, National Network To End War Against Iraq, the Friends Service Committee petition, and a schedule of protests and events, “United For Peace,” sponsored by Global Exchange. The text of an interview with Nelson Mandela includes comments on US foreign policy on Iraq. And The Nation has special antiwar pages with more resources on the site. You can also contact the Iraq Speakers Bureau sponsored by the Education for Peace in Iraq Center.

- Meredith Tromble [Wednesday, October 2nd, 2002]

Fall brings many great shows to see in Southern California, and I’m NOT referring to Paramount’s latest release. One that is worth the drive is Axis Mexico: Common Objects and Cosmopolitan Actions at the San Diego Museum of Art. The show focuses on contemporary art from Mexico and, in spite of the loud and plentiful wall text, delivers lots of exciting work by artists whose names you may or may not know.

- Elise Barclay [Wednesday, October 2nd, 2002]

Stretcher asks: “How do you imagine your life will change if the United States attacks Iraq?”
Jessica Dunne: Since I paint cities I can’t help but feel that an undertone of fear might work its way into my paintings if it wasn’t there already. I think in the arts it takes many years to digest history so I’m so far unimpressed with art made ‘about’ 9/11. It seems like it’s too soon. I mean, just as writers tend to have a ten to twenty year lag on their work reflecting their real life we may only be able to ascertain how it changed art many years from now. I hope to see less of the ‘first person singular’ in art, i.e. art about issues that are quite narrow, the obsessive complaints of one’s identity as, say, a woman, that sort of thing. I’d love it if artists could look outward more. But this can’t be forced. The real effects are lurking there under the water and will emerge when ready.

- Meredith Tromble [Wednesday, October 2nd, 2002]

The Art Council is leaving San Francisco and moving their offices to New York City. This is reportedly a move toward becoming more of a national award. They’re also restructuring the entire program which includes eliminating some grants. The 2002 Bay Area recipients of 10K are Josh Greene, Julio Cesar Morales, Alice Shaw, Kathryn Spence and Benji Whalen. This year they also gave $1,500 to Geoffrey Chadsey, Liz Cohen, Felipe Dulzaides, Nigel Poor and Timothy Taylor.

- Ella Delaney [Tuesday, October 1st, 2002]

From the editors