Glen Helfand

Tech art 2.0

Wistfully hopeful, 01SJ's "Superlight" aerates a genre
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REVIEW Does anyone still truly abide by the hope that technology is the benevolent force that can deliver a luminous future? Sure, we've got biotech, greentech, and Web 2.0 to tackle disease, our environmental sins, social alienation, and economic downturn. But at the same time, who isn't aware of the corporate capitalist machinery and toxic waste that will accompany the next Apple marvel or Monsanto-engineered miracle crop? Read more »

Faith-based initiative

The Contemporary Jewish Museum's opening show starts at the "Beginning"
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REVIEW The Contemporary Jewish Museum was founded in 1984 as the Jewish Museum San Francisco, and "starchitect" Daniel Libeskind's building design, which seemingly bursts out of an 1881 vintage brick facade opposite Yerba Buena Gardens, began taking shape nearly a decade ago. But for all intents and purposes, the CJM's opening this week marks the launch of a new art space that must affirm its brand identity on our cultural landscape. Read more »

Starry-eyed and stripped

Ryan McGinley dreams of a New World
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REVIEW More than one witness has reported that Mayor Gavin Newsom, fiancée in tow, dropped by the jam-packed opening reception for photographer Ryan McGinley's show at Ratio 3. The civic-minded pair joined the fray of cool kids and art world cognoscenti — I heard John Waters and Todd Oldham were there — and in some ways the appearance was apropos: the artist and politician share a lineage of tall, charismatic Irish Catholics who inspire others to action. Read more »

Karaoke revolution

The world won't listen -- but it will sing, thanks to the younger Phil Collins
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REVIEW The radio at my neighborhood Laundromat is a source of pop music melancholy. That a-ha song "Take on Me" gets me misty while folding socks — damn it.

Something similar happened when I first saw British artist Phil Collins's captivating Smiths karaoke video project, dünya dinlemiyor (Turkish for "the world won't listen") at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 2006. Read more »

Double talk

Give-and-take with Gilbert and George
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PREVIEW I approached a meeting with Gilbert and George, the joined-at-the-hip-since-the-late-1960s so-called living sculpture, with some trepidation. How does one interact with such a well-honed identity in a way that resembles a real conversation? How do you talk to a work of art?

Thankfully, the pair are a burnished public entity with manners — and demeanors that may seem a bit canned but not exactly insincere. Read more »

J-pop sucker punch

With brand names and bright colors, "MURAKAMI" gets you in the gut
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Visceral reactions are the last thing one might expect from the perversely brilliant "© Murakami," Takashi Murakami's well-publicized survey exhibition at Los Angeles' Museum of Contemporary Art. The telling copyright symbol that precedes the artist's name in the exhibition title fits the cool, post-Warholian corporate-style control he exerts over his art and his identity. Read more »

Staying power

In 2007, Bay Area arts were in constant flux
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Looking back at the Bay Area art scene in 2007 affirms our perennial difficulty in holding on to ambitious players. It's an oft-repeated story. Given San Francisco's commitment to nonprofit and alternative models over commercial ones and the high cost of living, artists find it easier to start off than to build their careers here. Read more »

The reel world

Takeshi Murata at Ratio 3
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Among the coverage of the horrific San Francisco Bay oil slick, I saw a short video of a fowl gliding through sea glimmering with petroleum. The bird maintained grace in this toxic environment, navigating marbled, paperlike swirls in the blackened water. Read more »

Slow art movement

Olafur Eliasson makes reduced speed sexy
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PREVIEW If you didn't experience The Weather Project, Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson's 2003 installation in London's Tate Modern, chances are you've seen images of it in any number of nonart publications or photo blogs. The piece — a dramatic emulation of an amber sun's atmosphere, created with such simple elements as a bank of lights and a mirrored ceiling — reportedly attracted two million visitors, many of them repeat customers, who sprawled on the public floor, pondered their reflections on the ceiling, and basked in the glow. Read more »

Double trouble

Alice Shaw and Kelli Connell get down with the looking glass
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Rosie O'Donnell, in a recent New York Times article about the TV star's video blog, has been outed as a woman of many personalities. The piece notes the shades of O'Donnell's various public talk-show personae, from closeted lesbian girl next door to outspoken View-er, and surveys her current makeup-free webcam self. Read more »