Visual Art

The O word

Dark versus light and soot versus cute in the art of James Castle
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Believe it!

Don't say house. It's an empire — Granny's Empire of Art

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arts@sfbg.com

VISUAL ART What would you do if you had been born with a treasure chest? This is a real-life Pippi Longstocking-tale: Jaina Bee is a quirky lady who sports a pink glam crewtop, was raised with minimal parental interference, and is undeniably devoted to her friends. Like Pippi, she was given a suitcase full of gold coins and owns a home.

Thirteen years ago, when Jaina Bee was in her late 20s, she purchased her Potrero Hill property with a vague vision of creating a collaborative-art utopia.Read more »

Inspirationstitute

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I don't do regrets, but I do wish that I'd arrived in San Francisco early enough to catch more than the hot tail end of the Popstitute years. (A show of Popstitute-related archival objets d'art is on display at Goteblud starting Sat27.) In another way, though, the Popstitute era continues, perhaps more forcefully, now. Read more »

Trapped in the museum

From R. Kelly to petroleum jelly — our picks from the SFMOMA's 75th anniversary show

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VISUAL ART Have you heard? SFMOMA turned 75. There is a lot to take in across the museum's related exhibits, from the "Anniversary Show" centerpiece to the small retrospectives devoted to specific artists that SFMOMA has fostered relationships with over the years. While everything is certainly worth a gander, below are some pieces worth more than your while.

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Cities and memory

Ahmet Ögüt constructs a utopia from sites of terrorism

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Miami plays itself

Art Basel, part two: Faux-favelas and real degradation
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ESSAY On opening night of Art Basel, N. Miami Avenue was a sort of Potemkin museum, every storefront packed with art, free wine and cheese, and the usually sleepy street clogged with taxis and limos. Ordinarily no one walks in muggy Miami, but tonight the cracked and littered sidewalks were deep with art patrons dressed in their Midtown Manhattan finery, looking out of place, as if passengers on a private jet that had made an emergency landing on a tropical Caribbean island. Wynwood is an area hard-hit by foreclosures. Up and down N. Read more »

Clouds and mirrors

A trip through the mirage of Art Basel into the scarred face of Miami

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Carl Fisher turned a mosquito-plagued, malarial sandbar into Miami Beach, "The Sun and Fun Capital of The World," in less than a decade — dredging up sea bottom to build the island paradise, an all-American Las Vegas-by-the- Sea, where Frank Sinatra and Jackie Gleason partied and Richard Nixon received two Republican nominations for president. Art Deco hotels lined the beach, bold as Cadillacs, defiant in the path of hurricanes, their confident Modern lines projecting postwar American power. Read more »

Art, work, and artwork

Artist-run groups move beyond doodling for dollars in a screwed-up economy
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VISUAL ART The global financial crisis continues to impoverish and displace those within reach of its residual tremors. Yet in the art realm, there have been signs of hope. Recent fairs — Frieze Art Fair in October and Art Basel Miami Beach earlier this month — brought reports of strong sales and optimism within the distressed economy. So why are artists everywhere worried about their futures, and more critically, panicking about their present tenses? The squeeze has to do with the work in artwork. Read more »

Glitchy kisses

A trio of Toban Nichols shows overtaxes, the good way
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marke@sfbg.com

VISUAL ART "I'm interested in the destruction of everything. I was the kid who screwed up all his toys," Toban Nichols (www.tobannichols.com) says over the phone from his studio in Los Angeles. The longtime San Francisco resident and multimedia artist is still unpacking from his recent move to the capital of schmooze, but he's been frantically yo-yoing up to the Bay to attend three concurrent gallery openings, a "trilogy of terror," of his work here. "It's been very weird, to put it mildly. I moved to L.A. Read more »

Crosses and losses

"Amish Abstractions" ponders whether the "simple" life is different from the life of (Bridget) Riley
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a&eletters@sfbg.com

VISUAL ART "Amish Abstractions," the de Young Museum's exhibition of 48 quilts made primarily by anonymous Amish girls and women, gains its conceptual interest from the unusual pairing of the words Amish and abstraction.

The collectors of these quilts were initially drawn to them by their similarity to works by 20th century abstract artists. While the attendant monograph asserts this juxtaposition several times, within the show itself you only get a disclaimer by curator Robert Shaw. Read more »