Seven Days in the Art World, by Sarah Thornton (Norton, 256 pages, $24.95)
As economies tank everywhere, there is no better time to get Thornton's insider view of art fairs, auctions, art schools, and the like it already seems like glam art history. Plus it's great fodder for art opening chitchat.
5. Brendan Lott, at SF Art Commission Gallery and San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art
Lott's paintings farmed out to painting towns in China and based on appropriated culturally revealing Flickr images of American teens provided a remarkably concise picture of globalization.
6. Fritz Haeg, lecture at SFMOMA
Though the notion of garden-as-participatory-eco-artwork is beginning to seem rote, Haeg, a key figure in this movement, convinced skeptics with his self-aware and pleasurable take on social sculpture.
7. You Don't Mess with the Zohan (Dennis Dugan, USA, 2008)
Adam Sandler's crude, sure, but in this under-appreciated lark he joyfully takes on Arab-Palestinian conflict, the joys of intergenerational sex, the mall-ization of Manhattan, and vintage Paul Mitchell unisex cuts.
8. Park Life and Electric Works
These two relatively new gallery-bookstore entities, Park Life in the Richmond District and Electric Works in SoMa, have made good art seem accessible in the collector sense to everyone. If you can't afford the originals or prints (Electric Works makes 'em), then you can buy into the highly selective inventory of art books at either place.
9. Love Songs (Christophe Honoré, France 2007)
This down-tempo spin on Jean-Luc Godard's 1961's A Woman Is a Woman and Jacques Demy's 1964 The Umbrellas of Cherbourg restored my faith in French cinema, not to mention musical melancholy.
10. "Josephine Taylor: Bomb Landscape," Catherine Clark Gallery
Taylor first made a splash with delicately rendered, almost wispy epics of extreme family dysfunction and abuse. Her latest show is startling in its visual darkness and more dreamlike but still frightening surrealistic imagery.