Posts archive: February 2003

We invite artists and others around the world to gather on Moratorium Day, March 5, in their local museums which exhibit ancient near eastern art. In New York, this action will take place from 9:30 to 5:30 in the Assyrian gallery at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We will respectfully draw with pencil on paper the art around us, which was created as early as five thousand years ago in the land now known as Iraq, where urban life and the written word originated. Our goal is to call attention to all of the civilizations which have flourished in Babylonia, Assyria, the Arab/Muslim Abbasid Empire and contemporary Iraq. This is a peaceful vigil, made in protest against US foreign policy under George W. Bush. If someone asks what we are doing, we will speak quietly with them and explain our position, then continue to draw. We will keep in mind the intention: to pay homage to this land, culture and people, which our government is planning to destroy. We are deeply concerned about an imminent threat to human life, and to the memory and history embedded in all of Mesopotamia, modern Iraq.

- Meredith Tromble [Thursday, February 27th, 2003]

Glen Helfand provides a nice quick summation of 20 years of Capp Street Project that will prepare the uninitiated for the sold-out installation art symposium hosted this weekend at CCAC. You can catch it simulcast on videoscreen, however, at SFMOMA’s Koret Education Center.

- Ella Delaney [Thursday, February 27th, 2003]

NEWS FLASH—word tonight is that the proposed merger between the California College of Arts and Crafts and the San Francisco Art Institute, first announced last November, has been called off. In the mid-1980s, a similar proposal ended in the same way. The more things change the more they stay the same…

- David Lawrence [Thursday, February 27th, 2003]

He gives over-looked painter Lois Dodd a rave review.

- Meredith Tromble [Wednesday, February 26th, 2003]

A significantly reduced exhibition schedule and other drastic cuts at SFMOMA are the latest developments in the worsening economic news for the arts.

- Meredith Tromble [Wednesday, February 26th, 2003]

This really sucks.

- David Lawrence [Monday, February 24th, 2003]

During the rise of modernism, the arts and sciences divided like a growing cell. Now they’re joining together again, says John Brockman. Read his thoughts on this embryonic development in the Edge.

- Meredith Tromble [Saturday, February 22nd, 2003]

EBay’s “privacy” policy (reportedly buried pages deep within their site user agreement) enables law enforcement to merely fax a letter to EBay requesting information - no court order needed. They’ll gladly turn over all of your transaction, browsing and chat records, no questions asked. After all, you agreed, right?

- Ella Delaney [Thursday, February 20th, 2003]

First Steps: Emerging Artists from Japan. The work ranges from an elegant brick wall made of salt to a video of golf clubs repeatedly smashing plastic models. The exhibition retains the Pop-y sensibility of much recent Japanese art, but the works are executed with refreshing subtlety. Highlights include Chelin’s installation Mellow House ver 5, a house made of cookies with a floor of sugar (the best-smelling art I’ve encountered) and Yuriko Yamamoto’s piece Yuriko Yamamoto + Yukako Okamuro Project—Kyosei muriki jyotai sochi. In Yamamoto’s piece participants climb into a glass box on an elevated platform encased in a room-sized black box. There they put on a boxing glove and punch a button on the floor. Shockingly, when the button is fully depressed the floor opens up and the puncher falls through. Although it is a bit sensational, the excitement of seeing the person fall for the first time overcomes the “jack-ass” elements.

- Asha Schechter [Wednesday, February 19th, 2003]

Richard Avedon has a way of making celebrities look common and larger-than-life at the same time. Andy Warhol and The Factory is the infamous triptych of Warhol with some of his cohorts, a huge frieze-like group portrait that makes you feel like you were there. Basically. And The Family is a series of smaller portraits of the elite politicians and power moguls of 1976—familiar faces like Rumsfeld and Kissinger make you wonder what they are still doing in the news. All this and more at Fraenkel Gallery, until March 1.

- Tucker Nichols [Tuesday, February 18th, 2003]

With the noose tightening on our civil liberties in the form of increased sentences for protesters of the former School of the Americas, the Patriotic Act, and the secret but leaked Patriot 2, I won’t do any naming names here. But the Bay Area art world was out in force along with the rest of our community at Sunday’s huge San Francisco protest of the possible U.S. war on Iraq. One of our favorite gallerists was seen up close to the stage wearing his totally to the point “Fuck Bush” jacket. Also among the many artists were a hip and happening performance artist, and along the route, one of the recent Eureka award winners. Last but not least, we greeted photographer Sharon Wickham, whose cover has already been blown by today’s San Francisco Chronicle. Sharon and her huge hula hoop peace sign frame the front page color photograph of the S.F. rally.

- Cheryl Meeker [Monday, February 17th, 2003]

which opened January 31st in Tokyo, puts Monty dePietro in mind of New York’s Chelsea District. With work by artists such as Takashi Murakami, Sean Landers, Naofumi Maruyama, Nobuyoshi Araki and Lisa Yuskavage on view, we can see why.

- Jeannine McDonald [Sunday, February 16th, 2003]

You gotta figure reviews of exhibitions in San Jose are rare in the Kansas City Star. But LA Post-Cool caught the eye of critic Alice Thorson, who interprets “post-cool” as a big shift in the big picture, post-911. Kind of makes me want to slap on my darkest sunglasses…

- Meredith Tromble [Sunday, February 16th, 2003]

Check out the flurry of Valentine’s Day openings. Start your evening at Gallery 16, where Chicago-based artists Michelle Grabner and Brad Killam serve up collaborative work about the suburbs. Then, head over to Ampersand International Arts, where Lisa Goldshmid and Indigo Som serve up a combination of the conceptual and traditional. Last, make your way to Southern Exposure which will offer a plethora of visual delights sure to suit every taste. For more information, check out Stretcher’s partner, the Artsync calendar. And, of course, go with someone you love.

- Ella Delaney [Friday, February 14th, 2003]

Nelson Mandela joins the ranks of artists celebrated for accomplishments in other fields. His training in color theory came courtesy of years of grey existence in the prison at Robben Island. “I could not get enough of this looking at, feeling, touching and experiencing this new recovery of the experience of color,” Mandela is quoted as saying in the New York Times.

- Meredith Tromble [Wednesday, February 12th, 2003]

If you have ever logged time as a single person in San Francisco you will appreciate this blind dates performance by James Bewley at the gallery at Mills College, Oakland. He will purportedly recreate the performance he did originally at The Exploratorium last spring. It was strangely poignant to see James meeting audience members for coffee while wearing a huge red tomato head & gallantly crashing and burning through date after date - don’t miss this one. Wednesday Feb 12, at 7:30 pm.

- Cheryl Meeker [Wednesday, February 12th, 2003]

Transmediale this year seemed to be a routine affair, with no single exhibition, performance, or presentation standing out as a marker of the new media state of the art. Perhaps this absence speaks for itself, but with a background of economic malaise and impending war it comes as no surprise that the both the festival theme, “Play Global,” and latest takes in electronic art and culture practice looked a bit flat here. Only Peter Greenaway’s presentation of his new multi-perspectived movie/website/tv series/interactive DVD/book/exhibition Tulse Luper Suitcases seemed to generate much buzz. This was as much due to his engaging personal style as it was to the fact that big money (in experimental new media terms) was being spent to provide high production values and a strong cultural and media presense to ideas that have been common currency in interactive art practice for the last decade or more.

Other noteworthy Transmediale events:

- Writer David Toop read excerpts from an upcoming book about his travels to research, curate, and create sonic environments worldwide. Late in the reading he described a “crisis of memory” resulting from the ingestion of too much data, music, and other media stimulus. It wasn’t clear whether he intended his free-form writing style and the live soundscape mix that accompanied his talk to provoke its own crisis of memory, but it had that effect.

- “I Love You”, an exhibit on the history of computer viruses, reprised a show presented last year in Frankfurt. Featuring examples of code, screenshots of infected computers, and information about hacking practice, the show was engaging up to the point where you realized that it had been sponsored by a computer security firm that had their own promotional area set up as part of the exhibit.

- Also on the virus track Jodi‘s show, “INSTALL.EXE” at local gallery Büro Friedrich featured distressed operating systems and a series of games made for ancient ZX Spectrum computers (each of which holds a mighty 48k of memory and has their programs loaded by cassette). Though the press release said that the exhibition was an important step out of the “crisis of web art”, the show’s presentation didn’t do much to alter the usual format of screen-based work awkwardly deployed in a gallery setting. One was tempted to imagine it as an example of the “crisis of web art presentation”, though in fairness this problem has been around far too long to be called a crisis and Jodi’s usually savvy work could scarcely help but suffer when taken out of its normal internet context.

Elsewhere in Berlin Heike Baranowsky’s “American Skies” at Galerie Barbara Weiss features three videos of land and sky scenes from the United States: one in the California desert, one of a blimp slowly turning over Pasadena - its silhouette changing shapes in a hypnotizing ballet from oblong to disk and back again, and one of a flock of birds moving around a watertower in Illinois. The pieces all look sharp, but the latter piece, “Die Vögel” (The Birds) does have the misfortune to be shown at this time of year when the slowly lengthening days here encourage the perpetual crow population to circle hard into the sky in anticipation of spring. One must puzzle as to whom would pony up 12,000 euros for a DVD of the midwest birds when a much more wonderous version can be seen here at no cost during any snow-free dusk.

Caught at the Berlinale film festival, Joerg Siepmann’s “Golden Lemons” is a documentary about a two-week tour of an aging punk band, Hamburg’s Die Goldenen Zitronen, through the West Coast and Southwest a few months after September 11. Sharing the tour and tour bus with Grand Buffet, an unlikely rap duo who sing about things like finding a lost cat and their love of candy bars, and headliner Wesley Willis, a 350-pound schizophrenic black man whose songs sung over a programmed keyboard are as engaging and and oblique as he is, the German crew with their anti-capitalist messages and terse sound find themselves lost in numerous ways. As the grind of playing in small, sometimes hostile venues and staying at truckstops wears on, Die Goldenen Zitronen become increasingly puzzled by and alienated from both their immediate surroundings and the culture that they are traveling through. At one point an electronic billboard over one truckstop promises temporary relief consisting of “Showers, ATM, Time,” but here these things seem like nothing more than devices to enable a portable exile. Though Grand Buffet seem aware of their limited shelf life and Willis knows he will always be an outsider, they at least can navigate through the travel and gigs and boredom without letting it get to them. The Zitronen have no such luck. “Do you believe in rock and roll?”, the group asks at the beginning of every concert, “Well we don’t.” A portrait of displacement on numerous levels, I can scarcely remember a film that presents so many different kinds of malaise concurrently.

- Ed Osborn [Monday, February 10th, 2003]

Pavil, a powerful multifaceted exhibition featuring wall paintings, wooden sculptures, and installations by Brazilian muralists (and twins) OSGEMEOS opened on Friday at the Luggage Store. This is their first exhibition on the West Coast. They talk to Rigo 03 about their public and private work in a free public lecture on Tuesday, February 18 at 7 p.m. at CCAC.

- amy berk [Sunday, February 9th, 2003]

a panel organized by Rhizome L.A., will feature six Weblog innovators, Mark Frauenfelder, Heather Havrilesky, Evan Williams, Susannah Breslin, Doc Searls, and Tony Pierce, discussing the birth of blogging, the emergent tension between blogs and traditional journalism, innovations in blogging such as video-blogging, audio-blogging, and mobile-blogging, the shifting roles of race and gender in the Blogosphere and the state of the blog economy. February 15, 7:30 pm, at the Electronic Orphanage, 975 Chung King Road, Chinatown, Los Angeles.

- Meredith Tromble [Saturday, February 8th, 2003]

poet and writer Frank Cebulski is taking the reins at Artweek as the new Editor-in-Chief. Cebulski, a long-time contributor to the magazine, fills the position opened by the departure of critic, curator, and Stretcher contributor Berin Golonu.

- Meredith Tromble [Friday, February 7th, 2003]

Libby Black unveils her life-size Mercedez Benz—made entirely of painted paper—at the SF Arts Commission Grove Street window. The show opens Friday evening, but you can join her fantasy any time of day—it’s rotating like a slice of cherry cheesecake in the window, right across the street from City Hall.

- Tucker Nichols [Wednesday, February 5th, 2003]

Libby Black unveils her life-size Mercedes Benz—made entirely of painted paper—at the SF Arts Commission Grove Street window. The show opens Friday evening, but you can join her fantasy any time of day—it’s rotating like a slice of cherry cheesecake in the window, right across the street from City Hall.

- Tucker Nichols [Wednesday, February 5th, 2003]

What fun we had at the last opening reception for peres projects, which will be moving to L.A.‘s Chinatown district this spring. We got to know Javier Peres a little too late and will miss him very much. This ambitious gallerist brought a fresh aggressive curatorial project to SF - watch for him in the future in the international art press. And check out the last gallery show at this location: Stuart Hawkin’s graphically strong color photographs which are presented with a light touch and a sensitive installation. Watch her video in the space upstairs and muse on the connections in the wide ranging & original imagery of the new work.

- Cheryl Meeker [Monday, February 3rd, 2003]

River and Tides, a visually stunning film about Scottish sculptor Andy Goldsworthy, shows Goldsworthy hard at work in often less than ideal circumstances on his precarious and often transitory outdoor homages to the landscape. Beautiful, but I kept wanting to hear more from him about his methodology (beyond intuitive) and how he turns these fleeting moments into high-end gallery art. Plays at 12 noon every Saturday and Sunday at the Roxie Cinema.

- amy berk [Saturday, February 1st, 2003]

From the editors