Posts: Bay Area

Detail from Suzanne Husky's Sleeper CellThe opening party for Bay Area Now 6 (BAN6), at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, was approaching lift-off as we left the building. The line to get in stood four deep and wrapped around the corner of Mission and Third. People in the queue could start their exhibition viewing with a green neon marijuana leaf mounted by the main entrance, a component of Tony Labat's conceptual work on medical marijuana. Once inside, persistent (and, given the thickening of the crowd, maybe pushy) viewers would find a precisely curated show with work by 18 artists--a small number compared to previous versions of the triennial survey. Change is good; although we missed the daring juxtapositions that characterized BAN5, curators Betti-Sue Hertz, Julio César Morales, and Thien Lam present a clear thesis about what matters in Bay Area art now. The emphasis is on work that seamlessly incorporates both "technology" and "handiwork;" as in Suzanne Husky's Sleeper Cell Hotel, charming cocoons of scavenged wood circling a video viewing area. Every work is well-crafted although several use raw materials to make a point. Nothing is dizzy, chancy, or even particularly playful; what the show loses in energy it makes up in focus. Perhaps this direction is just what the Bay Area needs now; one thing is certain—arguing the point will be the art world's summer sport. The exhibition continues through September 25.

- Meredith Tromble [Friday, July 8th, 2011]

This is by far my favorite blog site, Princess Sparkle Pony, which is largely a searing political site but is also written anonymously by a fellow who works in some capacity for the National Gallery so there are many Art World insights. To wit, this entry about a grammatical bugaboo that has always irked me, too.

- Dale Hoyt [Monday, April 25th, 2011]

There could still be time, if you are receiving this via Stretcher’s RSS feed, to make it over to the Merchants of Reality benefit at 285 Folsom in San Francisco. You’ll know you’re in the right place if you see a man leaning on a parking meter, banging a tambourine, and a violist waiting to serenade your progress up the stairs to the old Climate Theatre space.  The party, with eats from Food Not Bombs, music by Three Landlords, and a performance by The Unreal, was just kicking into gear at 7:00 and goes to 11:00 pm. Tonight’s event in the new “24hr creative work space,” slated to have a gallery, artist studios, recording and screen printing studios, multi-media theater, rehearsal space, and darkroom, is a sneak preview of things to come when the space opens officially this summer. Tonight, it’s raw, it’s grubby, and it’s energetic and full of promise. A suggested donation of $10 supports renovations in the gallery and studios. It’s so new, there’s no Web site yet — for more information, contact

- Meredith Tromble [Sunday, March 13th, 2011]

The Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) opens its doors at 8 pm Friday, February 4 for the debut of a new contemporary art series called the Oakland Standard. Admission is free. Tag Team Talks with Mary Roach, Walter Kitundu, Novella Carpenter, Jerome Waag, Tammy Rae Carland, and Wajahat Ali start at 8 pm, Turf Feinz will perform at 9:30, leading into DJ Mia Moretti’s California dance party at 10:00.

- Meredith Tromble [Friday, January 28th, 2011]

It is with bittersweet nostalgia that I reminisce about the first wave of culture wars unleashed by the exact same usual and deplorable suspects 22 years ago on the likes of Mapplethorpe (whose body was still warm), Frank Moore (whose physical state as a CP quadriplegic was never entered into the congressional record although his name was), Karen Finley, Annie Sprinkle, et al; and any institution that dared show them. Now a combination of Republicans flexing their newly endowed muscle and administrative cowardice has revived those horrid times with the yanking of a video and threatens to go even further in decimating free speech and public art funding in America.

Many institutions around the Bay Area have shown excerpts from the cause célèbre work and latest target of the Conservative Movement’s contempt and wrath A Fire in My Belly by the late David Wojnarowicz. SFMOMA will be screening the full 13-minute version of the video - shot on Super 8 film in 1986/87 - on January 4th, to be followed by a discussion including Rudy Lemcke (artist), SFMOMA curators Rudolf Frieling and Dominic Willsdon and others.

The piece is a thoughtful and pained meditation on manhood, sickness and being an American in a xenophobic foreign land, an unnamed Mexican boarder town. Bristling sensitivity to myth and pop culture is the main character. All of Wojnarowicz’s themes: death, nihilism, mysticism, sexual tension are represented in graphic simplicity though detached but keen photography and ingenious montage. And not a genuinely shocking or disturbing moment to be found. Just heartbreaking poetics.

Oh, to be able to ask one of these defenders of Christianity whether they would rather their child see ants on a plastic Jesus or the much lauded snuff film The Passion of The Christ?

Here we go again.

January 4th, Phyllis Wattis Theater
5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. 
Free and open to the public

- Dale Hoyt [Tuesday, December 28th, 2010]

Big fun this evening at the preview opening for Stephanie Syjuco’s Shadowshop. Filled with goodies from hundreds of bay area artists, Syjuco’s pop-up shop in the SFMOMA fifth floor gallery offers affordable access to a wide inventory of local creative products with 100 percent of the sales going directly back to the artists. Support local artists and get an early start on your holiday shopping! Shadowshop is presented in conjunction with the SFMOMA exhibition “The More Things Change” and is open to the public November 20, 2010 thru May 1, 2011 during regular museum hours. (above - Stephanie Syjuco shows Todd+Audrey+Owen Hido’s prints to a prospective customer.)

The crowd gathers to check out the wares.

Liz Hickok’s gelatinous landmarks.

- David Lawrence [Friday, November 19th, 2010]

From the editors