Posts archive: August 2004

you might enjoy this preview of Michael Christian’s sculpture for the Burning Man festival.

- Meredith Tromble [Friday, August 27th, 2004]

Brazil’s Minister of Culture, Gilberto Gil, told the Organization of American States (OAS) that culture should be included in our thinking about basic human rights, reports At the second OAS Ministers meeting, which ended on August 24, in Mexico, Gil said: “Government policies for culture can no longer be secondary, fragile, peripheral. They represent the social and infrastructure policies of the 21st century… Gil reminded the other ministers present that the development process “is not completed, if it is not given cultural underpinnings, if it does not incorporate wider access by the population to the means of production and dissemination of cultural materials.”

- Jeannine McDonald [Friday, August 27th, 2004]

Mission Movie, award-winning filmmaker Lise Swenson’s “passionate, soulful urban drama” based on true life stories from San Francisco’s Mission district, opens at The Victoria Theatre (1261-16th Street at Capp—in the Mission, of course) tomorrow, Thursday, August 26th, at 7:00 pm. Well-known artists and activists are featured in many cameo roles in a cast led by veteran Columbian actor Diego Vasquez.

For more about Mission Movie, including trailer and cast and crew biographies, visit Thursday’s showing is a presentation of the 12th Annual Cine Accion Bay Area Latino Film Festival in cooperation with the Mill Valley Film Festival.

- Meredith Tromble [Wednesday, August 25th, 2004]

A memorial for Irene Pijoan, who passed away last week after living with breast cancer for a number of years, will be held at the San Francisco Art Institute Sunday, September 26 at 2:00 pm in the Lecture Hall and in Studios 13 and 14.

Pijoan, the daughter of Spanish art historian Jose Pijoan, was born in Switzerland in 1953. She completed her education in the United States, earning a BA and MFA from the University of California, Davis. She began her teaching career at SFAI in 1982 and taught in the Painting Department until recently.

Although Pijoan’s work was well-received and widely shown throughout her career, in her final decade her work achieved a new level of beauty and complexity in a series of large works layering cut papers with painted imagery and reflected light.

- Meredith Tromble [Monday, August 23rd, 2004]

Ev Funes and James Bewley. Tonight is a last chance to see their curating work: The Element of Temporary 5, in a one night show.  The opening reception is from 7 - 11 pm at the SF Arts Commission Gallery. Artists include: Rachel Bank, Julianne Becker, Michael Campbell, Ishan Clemenco, Renee Delores, Suzanne Husky, Kim Miskowicz, James Tantum , collaborations by Brian Caraway with Joslin Pollard and Gilbert Guerrero with Kathleen Quillian and one anonymous artist. A show featuring performances, a tatto parlor of sorts, and a house made of cheese with a mouse eating it are part of what we’ll be missing without Ev and James.

- Cheryl Meeker [Friday, August 20th, 2004]

The Metropolitan Museum is showing Andy Goldsworthy on the Roof, in the The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden. This show of two wood structures Goldsworthy built, called Stone Houses (2004) are shelters for two 13.5 foot tall columns of balanced stones that rise in descending size. You are not invited to enter these houses, but view them through the slats of the octagonal shelters. The setting on the Met’s roof is odd for Goldsworthy’s stone menhirs—he usually has more context for the work—but with Central Park and New York surrounding you, the experience is spectacular.

- Terri Cohn [Monday, August 16th, 2004]

Ana Mendieta at the Whitney Museum was a strong survey of her photography, with some performance documentation on video thrown in. This was the first large selection of Mendieta’s work I’ve seen, and I was struck by its oddly retro “goddess/body and the earth” qualities, which I have never associated with her work. She was clearly talented, prolific, and spent much of her short career resolving her early emotional issues attached to growing up in Cuba and being an ex-pat. It felt too bad that she didn’t live longer, as it would have been wonderful to see more mature expressions of her youthful talent.

- Terri Cohn [Saturday, August 14th, 2004]

em>Constantin Brancusi: The Essence of Things (organized by the Guggenheim and the Tate Modern); and Speaking with Hands: Photographs from the Buhl Collection. The Brancusi exhibition was a treat, as his work is rarely shown in such breadth in this country. Its installation on the Guggenheim’s ramp made viewing it a bit strange, because there were few groupings and little context for the sculptures. I love Brancusi’s work, but enjoyed seeing it much more in Paris in his studios, which are a permanent part of the Pompidou Museum. Speaking with Hands is a wonderful collection of photographs that features images of hands or images where hands play an expressive role. The exhibition did not include all the images of this sort that are in the collection, but it was, like other shows I saw while in New York, a “who’s who” of New York and European vintage.

- Terri Cohn [Friday, August 13th, 2004]

The train ride from Grand Central Station along the Hudson River is lush and beautiful. The town’s signage seems to focus on directing visitors to the Dia Art Museum, which is set in 240,000 square feet of converted warehouse space (a former box-printing facility) illuminated by natural light. With its distressed wood floors, high ceilings, and white walls, it is the perfect setting for the lexicon of Minimalism with a few Earth artists (Smithson, Heizer) and Conceptual artists (Nauman, Weiner) thrown into the mix. And then, there are the odd inclusions: Louise Bourgeois (what a treat to finally see her Spider); Andy Warhol (an odd selection); Gerhard Richter. Note: in this exhibition of twenty-four artists, there were only four women (Bourgeois, Hilla Becher (along with Bernd), Hanne Darboven, and Agnes Martin), and only a few West Coast artists. The experience of the beautiful space and work was exciting, but the demographics were, well, hmmmm.

- Terri Cohn [Thursday, August 12th, 2004]

For some time now, museums have been enticing crowds with exhibitions outside of what most people consider art. The Guggenheim’s Art of the Motorcycle and the more recent Star Wars show at the Brooklyn Museum come to mind. Both succeeded in bringing in new audiences but failed in the more fundamental mandate of showing us something new in the process. We didn’t really gain anything by looking at motorcycles lined up along Frank Lloyd Wright’s twirling ramp or by considering Darth Vader masks in the context of Brooklyn’s grand art museum. Somehow a kidney-shaped skate pool, however, is a different thing altogether.

Beautiful Losers, a rambling, energized show dedicated to the art of skating (and graffiti, hip-hop, and punk culture), succeeds where motorcycles and action figures did not. Standing in a serpentine line with mustachioed men and their choppers along Fifth Avenue in New York was surely a thrill, but they didn’t get to ride their motorcycles up and down the ramp at the Guggenheim. At Yerba Buena, however, before you even get inside you’re likely to hear the action: clomping, skidding, rolling and occasionally cheering, all to the beats of a live DJ. The sounds are coming from the belly of what looks like a giant wooden whale lodged in the middle of the gallery. This is Free Basin, the work of Midwestern design team SIMPARCH. Walk up one of the staircases through the structure and you can see for yourself: one by one, visitors dropping into the bowl on a skateboard while everyone else watches intently. Everyone has their own style in the bowl. I watched one man pump his arms like wings while another kept his mouth open in a perfect circle as he grinded his board along the top edge. A seemingly nervous teenage girl dropped in and was instantly transformed—her eyes widened along with a little smirk as she swooped along the first turn. Two weeks into its run here and there’s already a shoulder-high smudge line along the wall where spectators and waiting participants have been leaning. It’s the kind of problem any museum would be happy to contend with.

But what makes Free Basin more than a ploy to get the museum numbers up is that it actually raises important questions about the nature of art and the role of audience. With its clamps and ribs below and seamless seams above, the bowl itself is a whimsical sculpture. But the skaters in it are performance artists in the truest sense, too: taking risks, expressing their individuality and making us all consider what the world would be like if everything was made of plywood.

- Tucker Nichols [Wednesday, August 11th, 2004]

Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty is turning white with age, according to this story from Arts Telegraph. “Three decades of immersion have coated the dark rock with sparkling salt crystals, so the Jetty and its surroundings now resemble a landscape from the frozen north. The rich, rusty waters coloured by moulting shrimp and algae have now turned pale pink. All of this poses a neat conservation dilemma for the Dia Centre for the Arts, to which the Spiral Jetty was donated in 1999.” Should DIA “dye” the Jetty with a new load of black basalt?

- Meredith Tromble [Tuesday, August 10th, 2004]

From the editors