Visual Art

Uncomfortable truths

The SF Arts Commission's "SHIFT" asks America to put aside its discomfort and talk about race

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arts@sfbg.com

HAIRY EYEBALL Sometimes it seems like Americans would rather undergo a root canal than honestly talk about race in this country. Witness the rounds of recrimination and defensive posturing on all sides that followed the Washington Post's recent front page story that the hunting camp Texas governor Rick Perry has long frequented was formerly known as "Niggerhead."Read more »

The sight of sound

Punting audible obsolescence with Christian Marclay's cassette-based photograms and Fran Herndon's poetic echoes. 

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Caves of forgotten dreams

Brice Bischoff's "Cave X" and Colin Christy's "Wild and Scenic" turn the outside inward

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arts@sfbg.com

HAIRY EYEBALL If you follow Canyon Drive from Hollywood Boulevard all the way up into the hilly territory of Los Angeles' Griffith Park, you'll reach a cul-de-sac. Beyond that, accessible by foot, is a small stone bridge which leads to a dirt trail that eventually lets you out in what's known as Bronson Valley. This is where you'll find the Bronson Caves.Read more »

Vision statement

FALL ARTS PREVIEW: Our visual arts column Hairy Eyeball sizes up fall's gallery and museum shows

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arts@sfbg.com

FALL ARTS You better start doing your stretches and invest in a good pair of walking shoes. There's as much ground to cover as there is art to see this fall, and if you get to every gallery, studio, and museum on this far-from-comprehensive list your eyes will probably be as sore as your feet. But as any seasoned hiker will tell you, the views are well worth any aches incurred along the way.Read more »

The persistence of objects

Dadaist hybrids breathe remarkable new life in Berkeley Art Museum's "Kurt Schwitters: Color and Collage"

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arts@sfbg.com

HAIRY EYEBALL German artist Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948) acted as an interpreter for the discards of modern life, or what Alfred Barr, the first curator of New York's Museum of Modern Art, tellingly referred to as, "witnesses stolen from the ground." He listened to what the matchbook covers, torn ticket stubs, crinkled packaging, scrap paper, fabric remnants, and other junk that he took back to his studio had to say about form and color, and in turn, re-presented their testimonies to the world in which they once circulated.Read more »

Just say no

HAIRY EYEBALL: "Negative Space" at Steven Wolf Fine Arts transforms pessimism into something unexpected

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arts@sfbg.com

HAIRY EYEBALL Summertime is supposed to be about taking it easy and soaking up good vibes. This is decidedly not the case with "Negative Space," Steven Wolf Fine Arts' current group show that, like an old punk rock mix-tape, delivers one lean, catchy declaration of refusal after another.Read more »

California dreaming

Metal quilts and radical piss-taking marks YBCA's Bay Area Now

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HAIRY EYEBALL In his review of the latest Venice Biennale, Boston Globe art critic Sebastian Smee threw down something of a gauntlet when he wrote, "The received wisdom is that contemporary art is mostly about ideas. In truth, however, it's mostly about gestures."Read more »

A minor place

The Mission school resurfaces with shows by Margaret Kilgallen and Chris Johanson

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arts@sfbg.com

HAIRY EYEBALL The painter Margaret Kilgallen died in 2001; she was just 33 years old. A year later, critic Glen Helfand would write in the Guardian ("The Mission School," 7/1/2002) a coming out party for Kilgallen, her husband Barry McGee, and friends such as Chris Johanson and Alicia McCarthy, whose scruffy, heartfelt, and street-influenced art had started to attract a popular following abroad as well as intense interest from beyond the Bay Area art world.Read more »

Fake-out

Stephanie Syjuco plays with the art of plundering, Matt Bryans calls up photography's ghost.

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arts@sfbg.com

HAIRY EYEBALL It's not just the title of Stephanie Syjuco's solo show "RAIDERS" — her first at Catharine Clark Gallery — that brings to mind Indiana Jones. Something of the latter-day swashbuckler comes across in Syjuco's art, which, like Indy, initially seems to be playing to all sides for the sake of plunder — when in fact this cleverness is the outward expression of a deeper skepticism toward the very institutions it's engaged with.Read more »

Crying in public

Being brave through site-specific choreography on Market Street 

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arts@sfbg.com

HAIRY EYEBALL Weaving my way through the groups of slower moving shoppers and tourists ambling out of the Powell Street BART Station, I realized I was already too late.

I had wanted to be present for the June 11 noon kickoff of Market Day — the large-scale public art event tied to Allison Smith's current Southern Exposure exhibit "The Cries of San Francisco" — but when I reached Mint Plaza and had been handed a schedule I saw that my timing had been off by an hour.Read more »