Visual Art

Sprinting toward Babylon

Conrad Ruiz paints the speed-record horror and hilarity of contemporary life
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VISUAL ART I remember the first time I heard about Conrad Ruiz. I was standing by the fire on the patio of the Eagle, a spot that for me is a site of great tidings. A pair of talented San Francisco artists told me with enthusiasm about this young painter whose large-scale works depicted things like a man riding the nose of a killer whale as it burst forth from a pool, or a coach getting a golden shower of Gatorade from his triumphant team. According to their accounts, Ruiz magnified and entwined the absurdity and ecstasy of his subject matter. Read more »

Attention cultural mutants

Past, present, and future through the transcendent audio and video dregs of Jacob Ciocci
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arts@sfbg.com

"Jacob Ciocci is," as Wikipedia attests, "an American [Pittsburgh] visual artist, performance artist and musician ... he is one of the three remaining founding members of Paper Rad, an artist collective ... He also performs and tours regularly ... in the band 'Extreme Animals'..." Ciocci's work, especially with his recent video collection release, 2 Blessed 2B Stressed (Audio Dregs), is almost entirely not his own. His videos recycle pop cultural detritus as fast and furiously as his band freaks beats. Read more »

Media res

From white dust to blank page, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha ain't your Yoko Ono
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arts@sfbg.com

VISUAL ART/LIT Teresa Hak Kyung Cha isn't the most famous female representative of conceptual art and the marriage between text and film. But this visual artist and prose lyricist — born in 1951, killed in 1982 — found new zones between film language and the written word. Her body of work, now a hallmark for lesser-known Asian and feminist artists, roughly spans from 1972 to 1981. Read more »

This is it

Candice Breitz gets to the media heart of pop songs and mom with "On View"
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arts@sfbg.com

VISUAL ART In its opening week, the posthumous Michael Jackson film This Is It topped the international box office. It's a testament to the enduring ardor of his fans. But one day in the not-so-distant future, the film will likely be core material in a media studies program. Perhaps even a Michael Jackson studies program.

In 2005, Candice Breitz, a Berlin-based, South African-born artist whose works of photography and video installation address the psychosocial power of pop, created King (A Portrait of Michael Jackson). Read more »

Encapsuutf8g pulses

Jacqueline Gordon inverts the look and sound of utopia
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I happened upon the opening of "Our Best Machines are Made of Sunshine," a sound installation by Jacqueline Gordon at Queen's Nails Projects that has inspired noisy throngs both inside and outside the gallery's small walls. The work relays miked sound from the sidewalk and street outside QNP, ricocheting it through the gallery's innards via four white constructions of paneled vinyl and protruding, point-less (but sharp with meaning) pyramids. Read more »

Public screening

Three decades of posting the revolution with Mission Gráfica

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culture@sfbg.com

"Silk screening is cheap, easy, and you can do it anyplace," Calixto Robles says, looking over the busy workshop floor at Mission Gráfica. On any given week, the crowd might include a musician designing a CD cover, an activist creating a call-to-arms, an arts-and-craftser turning out calendars she sells online, or Robles himself, who teaches classes here and produces bright-hued prints filled with icons of Latino culture, from Teotihuacan to Carlos Santana.Read more »

David Wilson

Goldies 2009: Providing autonomous-zone community gatherings and memories to draw on
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johnny@sfbg.com

You can stare blankly at a museum piece for three seconds, or you can view a drawing through one of David Wilson's events — through a swim in the Pacific Ocean, or through staring at a sky criss-crossed by an intricate lattice of branches. Read more »

Emory Douglas

GOLDIES 2009 LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: Bringing the militant chic of the Panther image to the masses
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arts@sfbg.com

As a teenager, Emory Douglas was sentenced to 15 months at the Youth Training School in Ontario. It may have been the best thing for him — and the worst thing "the Man" could have done. In the prison printing shop, he discovered a gift for print and collage he would later use as the minister of culture for the Black Panther Party. From 1967 until the party disbanded in the 1980s, his iconic graphic art marked most issues of the newspaper The Black Panther.

Douglas brought the militant chic of the Panther image to the masses, using the Read more »

Veronica De Jesus

GOLDIES 2009: Training our attention on the physicality of drawing, and not erasing a line in 12 years
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arts@sfbg.com

Veronica De Jesus' art is centered on drawing — not limited to it — and is sewn to the practice of putting lines on a page in a passionate, automatic way. While the Oakland-based artist's biography and work speak of displacement and nomadism, her art is unmistakably rooted in the urge to copy and recreate images by hand. Read more »

Luke Butler

GOLDIES 2009: Exposing Shatner's vulnerabilities, Saddam's cock, and cultural double standards
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arts@sfbg.com

"It's so hard for me to figure out where it begins and ends with Shatner," comments artist Luke Butler on the man who, arguably, could be called his muse. "He's a genius," Butler continues, "not because he is a great actor, but because he has this unstoppable quality. His vulnerabilities are on the surface for all to see."

Butler has spent a lot of time thinking through what William Shatner reveals and withholds on his most expressive surface: his face. Read more »