Even though Jarnow's multilayered vision made a lasting impression on a whole generation in heyday of the Children's Television Workshop, no one knew the author behind the box — and very few had the opportunity to penetrate NYC's avant-garde animators scene. But earlier this year Jarnow finally got his due. Chicago's archival imprint Numero Group digitally transferred 45 of Jarnow's 16mm shorts and compiled them in a handsomely packaged DVD. Celestial Navigations: The Short Films of Al Jarnow includes a 30-minute documentary and 60 pages of liner notes. The title piece, Jarnow's most explicit scientific voyage, traces the window-light defining his studio walls from equinox to equinox, montaged with heliocentric frames of Stonehenge. It's stunning — and difficult — but with some patience, you can travel the cosmos with the druids and back again.
The retrospective is hardly exhaustive. "Making art is a way of learning about the world," Jarnow says. "It's a way of processing the information coming in through you." Jarnow hasn't stopped experimenting with new artistic forays, ceaselessly searching for engaging mediums to provoke and compel. From installing exhibits at San Francisco's Exploratorium (which set the framework for cofounding the Long Island Children's Museum) and developing interactive computer software to making ephemeral sculpture on the beach, Jarnow continues to make a playful game, and invoke an animated wonder, of the world.
AL JARNOW: CELESTIAL NAVIGATIONS
Screening and Q&A with Al Jarnow
April 22, 7:15 and 9:30 p.m., $6–$9
Red Vic Movie House
1727 Haight, SF