Visual Art

"Japanese Wolf"

When girl meets animal kingdom
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P>REVIEW When was the last time you chatted on your cell in a crowd of yaks? Or honored the dewy lavender morning with a steaming cup of green tea and a goat friend? Or crouched with a pack of sunset wolves howling on your back?

No offense, but I bet your social circle isn't this diverse. For the girl-woman at the center of Yumiko Kayukawa's paintings, though, communing with nonhuman creatures is typical. Born in the small town of Naie in Hokkaido, Japan, Kayukawa found her muses amid the land's sweeping beauty and native fauna. Read more »

Sweetest taboo

"Banned and Recovered: Artists Respond to Censorship"
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PREVIEW The taboo has always had a special place in my heart. As a pre-adolescent, I was given a list of banned books from a rogue librarian and I hunted down and read every one of them. It may have seemed odd to find an 11-year-old black boy reading the likes of John Rechy's City of Night (Grove, 1963) and William Burroughs' Naked Lunch (Olympia/Grove, 1959), but these verboten tomes, along with the librarian's free beer and porn, served as an illicit gateway out of my little coal-mining town into the larger, lustier world. Read more »

Hunters and collectors

Two high concept shows take the meta approach to curating
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REVIEW It wasn't so long ago that the term "curated" moved from dusty archive territory to popular lexicon. When did curated databases, boutique merchandise, and Netflix queues become commonplace? In the Bay Area, more than one school offers a master's degree in "curatorial practice" — but who has a concise description of what that really means? The term has become elastic, perhaps because there's too much material — of all sorts — to deal with in contemporary culture. Read more »

No mere ornament

"Birth of Cool: California Art, Design, and Culture at Midcentury"
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REVIEW In Mary and Russel Wright's Guide to Easier Living, first published in 1950, the designers instruct the midcentury housewife to avoid the "deeply carved wooden chair" in favor of a "contour design" to "simplify cleaning." This form-follows-function approach to design reached its height in the mass market in 1950s and '60s, most notably with the introduction of the stacking, molded fiberglass chairs of Charles and Ray Eames — which can still found, en masse, in libraries throughout the University of California system.

Initially fuele Read more »

Eye of the needle

Lauren DiCioccio threads lightly, suggesting a spirit left behind
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REVIEW During the fall of 2004, I interviewed Bruce Conner, who had no shortage of viewpoints regarding contemporary art. "Many people," he said, "will develop a style of painting or subject matter or content that appears to be very innovative, and their next solo exhibition will be made up of 20 paintings that are all the same, aside from tiny variations."

Lauren DiCioccio offers a remedy for just such a malaise. Read more »

"Summer Reading"

Visual art inspired by literary classics
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REVIEW I wish I were Jorge Luis Borges. The Argentine man of letters was top among those writers, such as Orhan Pamuk, Margaret Atwood, and Ali Smith, whose nonfiction is even more potent, surreal, and addictive than their fiction. Borges once remarked on a translation of William Beckford's Vathek: "The original is unfaithful to the translation." I'd say the same about "Summer Reading" at Hosfelt Gallery. Taking as their inspiration a range of literary classics, from Jane Austen's Mansfield Park (1814) to Philip K. Read more »

Exposer

Ana Teresa Fernández confronts the manual in "Tela Araña Tela"
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REVIEW Some early Bay Area figurative painting, wrote Peter Selz in 2002, encountered "the human figure by means of the physicality and the gestural performance of abstract expressionism." More explicit figures later emerged from this abstract cauldron. Ana Teresa Fernández, however, would rather start with the explicit body and work backward. Fernández, who grew up in Mexico, isn't a figurative painter, performance artist, videographer, feminist, or Latina artist — although she assumes all of these roles from time to time. Read more »

Manufacturing Frida

To see 'Frida Kahlo' at the SF MOMA is to know her?
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REVIEW Though overshadowed during her lifetime by her famous muralist husband Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo is one of many examples of driven artists who achieved their icon status posthumously. And, like other historical figures with life stories loaded with tragedy, Kahlo underwent her share of suffering, which makes for great book sales and dramatic film plots. Read more »

"Conflux Vignettes"

Brian Lucas, Daniel Glendening, and Julie Oppermann spark up Mama Buzz Cafe
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REVIEW Being unpatriotic, I spent the Fourth of July observing indoor fireworks at the opening of the group show, "Conflux Vignettes," at Mama Buzz Café's Buzz Gallery. I was lured in by poet-painter Brian Lucas, whose 2006 book, Light House (Meeting Eyes Bindery), is out of print but obtainable secondhand. Like his longer poems, which accumulate as aphoristic remarks, Lucas' abstractions accrue in obsessively worked increments. Read more »

"3"

Predatory birds, variously shaped atomic bomb clouds, lambs, and a wide-eyed man
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REVIEW For "3," artist Chris Duncan gathers a trio whose work explores pattern-making — either through the mark itself (Kyle Ranson's decorated figures and Derrick Snodgrass' prismatic constellations) or ordering select bits of visual information (Ernesto Burgos' wall collage).

Bay Area artist Snodgrass' Easter egg–colorful watercolors on paper from 2000 are refracted architectural shapes dotted with sunspots. Between then and now, Snodgrass loosened his grip and minimized his palette. Read more »