Ari Messer

Lawrence Ferlinghetti and City Lights Books

GOLDIES 2008 Lifetime Achievement winner: Anything but a vanity press
|
()

The first book I held close to my heart was Italian poet Antonio Porta's 1987 Kisses from Another Dream, number 44 in the ongoing City Lights Pocket Poets Series. I bought it on a trip to the city from Santa Cruz when I was around 17, and I savored every line, whipping out the book at coffee shops and other high school hangouts, in attics late at night, at beach bonfires, and even for a speech at one friend's funeral. Read more »

Freeze! You're ... just browsing

Jack Hanley Gallery stakes a spot within the spectacle of the Frieze Art Fair in London
|
()

>a&eletters@sfbg.com

While the bankers who took your money were grabbing even more of it last weekend, a different sort of highbrow crowd — those whose investment, whether financial or personal, rests mainly in art — weren't quite sure what to do. At the Frieze Art Fair in London's Regent's Park, the theme was non-commitment. "It feels like the old days," gallerist Jack Hanley said on the second evening of the four-day international fair. Read more »

Vacancy and claustrophobia

German artist Matthias Hoch explores modern European cities in "New Work"
|
()

REVIEW Matthias Hoch's disconcerting skill as a photographer is connected to a pair of paradoxes. His close-ups of the byproducts of "moderne" European cities and suburbs, from geometric ceilings to business parks, feel like panoramas. In his wider shots — of large concrete grids, or one otherwise "perfect" building's sad slant — claustrophobia and a sense of vacancy commingle. Read more »

"Istanbul-Berkeley"

Actual art at the "Orienting Istanbul" conference includes video works curated by Hou Hanru
|
()

REVIEW When veteran Istanbulite Orhan Pamuk received the Nobel Prize in literature two years ago, the committee complimented his "quest for the melancholic soul of his native city." Melancholic? The world's third largest city has one big, melancholic soul? I think Pamuk, of all people, would disagree. Read more »

"Miju: Effigies and Demigods"

How did you fit so many big paintings in such a small gallery?
|
()

REVIEW Dear Miju, I know you aren't a folk singer. You are an artistic collaboration between Bay Area artists (and couple) Michele Muennig and Juan Carlos Quintana. Using childhood imagery and a fittingly subdued palette, you deconstruct fantasy worlds on paper and canvas. Your solo show at Jack Fischer Gallery, "Effigies and Demagogues," is both outlandish and darkly comical: dolls catch fire and real people head to the edge of the abyss. Still, your art — how did you fit so many big paintings in such a small gallery? Read more »

"Summer Reading"

Visual art inspired by literary classics
|
()

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"
|
()

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 »

Book 'em

Bay Area Now: Outside the white box with Michael Swaine
|
()

› a&eletters@sfbg.com

Michael Swaine is contagious. Whether investigating Reap What You Sew/Sewing for the People (2001, ongoing) in the streets of the Tenderloin, using braille to make a Plea for Tenderness (2007) at the Southern Exposure Gallery, or joining forces with Futurefarmers and the interdisciplinary design studio's founder, Amy Franceschini, with whom Swaine began collaborating in 1998, the San Francisco artist brings a driven curiosity and sense of aesthetic detail to every project he touches. If you experience his work, you can't help but get involved. Read more »

Flight or write

Sense and sensitivity in Horacio Castellanos Moya's Senselessness
|
()

› a&eletters@sfbg.com

"The moment one learns English, complications set in," wrote Spanish ex-pat Felipe Alfau, in English, beginning his 1948 novel Chromos (first published in 1990). Learning English, he wrote, "far from increasing [one's] understanding of life, if this were possible, only renders it hopelessly muddled and obscure." While this might be true of learning any new language — one starts to see how words simply refer to other words — we might say the same about literature. Read more »

"Punball: Only One Earth"

William T. Wiley's anti-genre-fication catalog reaches a grinning pinnacle
|
()

"Punball: Only One Earth"

PREVIEW From large-scale printmaking to the small masking-tape sculpture Pillow Talk (2002), William T. Wiley's anti-genre-fication catalog reaches a grinning pinnacle in the 65 works from the past eight years on display at the "Punball: Only One Earth" exhibit at Electric Works. Read more »