To hear father and son artistic team Rene and Rio Yañez talk about San Francisco's Day of the Dead celebration is to realize how much the holiday has taken on its own light here in the city. “It's about personal experience, but also politics,” Rene says. The duo have crafted another year of homage to the dead around us -- and in so doing also reflect a shifting scene in San Francisco art.
No art event in the city reflects evolving tradition more than the Yañezs' yearly exhibit of Dia de los Muertos altars at SOMArts Cultural Center (opening Fri/8). As the three of us sit in Rene's office at SOMArts next to the cow brain in a mason jar on top of which the elder Yañez -- the center's director of special projects -- has stacked a pair of headphones and a plush Taco Bell chihuahua, Rene tells his son and myself about the first public Day of the Dead celebration in San Francisco. Read more »
Throughout the course of writing my feature story about the Tenderloin this week, which looks at the role art is playing in the gradually changing neighborhood, a couple of questions kept cycling back into the forefront of my mind. What should be the role of art in community-building? What kinds of art benefit the residents of a neighborhood? It's tough to categorically define the answers, but Rick Darnell and the North of Market Community Benefit District's plans for a TL art lending library come damn close to a perfect score.
Nate1's business card is totally dope. It's front depicts a Kry-lon paint can, the brand most used for graffiti in the days he was coming up as a street writer in 1980s San Francisco. “Back then we used to have to make art with automotive paint,” he tells me at 1AM gallery, where his new show on the golden age of Bay tagging, “The Classics” opens today (Fri/10). “We're talking about paint to paint red wagons and doors,” he remembers, smiling like a man that didn't mind too much. Read more »
SFBGWhat's it's like stepping in front of your camera? Dean Dempsey I don't have any strong feelings about it, perhaps because I know there is so much post-production involved. I certainly behave as though I am being watched, or surveyed. A bit like what John Berger said, "Women watch themselves being looked at," and although I'm not a biological woman that rings true for me, and perhaps for many artists who turn the camera onto themselves.There is a spectacle element involved. Read more »
At a recent sunny day preview of The Bowls Project at YBCA, I was very confused. I had spoken with Jewlia Eisenberg of the group Charming Hostess a few days earlier on the phone, and she had given me the impression her new sound installation at the gallery was about ancient Babylonian incantation bowls used to summon demons for help in the domestic arena. “I refer to it as apocalyptic intimate,” she told me, “they're things from the home, but they have angels and demons, things you have to deal with.” She read to me from wild inscriptions she's found through research on these bowls, which serve as some of our only records of female voices from the era. They include curses against gossips that their “tongue should cling to the roof of their mouths,” calls for Anwar next door to become “inflamed, heated” for the commissioner of the bowl – even an ode to the overthrow of the heavens. It was rad. But there I was, at the YBCA, listening to the description of -- a sustainable architecture project? Read more »
“Museums are, historically, piles of loots with a roof on them,” says Kim Shuck as she carefully beads a black raven onto the back of a pow-wow vest in the de Young's Kimball education gallery. I go to touch her intricate stitching, then draw my hand back. Shuck is telling me about her work's cultural significance, the struggle of the Native American community to coexist with the white art world. Am I really about to manhandle her sacred creation? “I appreciate your impulse to touch, and then not be sure if you can,” she says laughing, as she grants her approval for me to poke and prod the curving lines of tiny beads. Moments like these are what her current project's about – exposing folks to indigenous art, and teaching them the limits and guidelines to their interaction with it. Read more »
“She's more high brow, and I'm more...” Golden girl of classic porn, and ex-prostitute, Annie Sprinkle and I are eating lunch in her Bernal Heights kitchen. She's searching for the words to compare her partner Beth Stephens' and her own artistic repertoires. The two women are in the midst of what they call the Love Art Lab, a far reaching, seven year project that's seen them married eight times all over the globe in lavishly creative ceremonies that invoke Sprinkle's and Stephens' commitment to “ecosexuality.” Read more »
These pictures are a mix of Chilean street art I found in Santiago and Valparaíso (which is really similar to SF in too many ways to list). It was really cool walking though the back streets and stumbling across these beautiful and colorful pieces. I tried to focus my lens on the best murals, funniest cartoons, and the pieces that I felt were more than just "graffiti."
“Can you wait about fifteen minutes?” Brian Goggin asks as he climbs into the harness that will lift him up to the fourth floor of the abandoned building on Sixth and Howard. Out of respect for this remarkable artist (and rapt awe his elevation has on the observer), we wait, standing to the side on the pavement below. Goggin’s restoration of his iconic piece of public art, “Defenestration,” bears witnessing. Read more »
It’s a big weekend for celebration. May 1st is International Worker’s Day, it's the day when winter has finally left the Northern Hemisphere building, and marks the dawn dances of the pagan Beltane. All in all, it’s an apt time for rejoicing in the people and places what that make our world beautiful.
And given that we’re in the Bay, one of the Earth’s great cradles of populist art, there may be no better place to do that than CounterPULSE, the community art performance space that is celebrating 20 years (five in their current location) of helping cool artist do what they do. CounterPULSE has been sponsoring classes, performances, and residencies for some of our most progressive and exciting artists over the past decades -- and they're making it easy for you to throw some dough their way with three days of diverse, exciting programming that could really only happen here in San Francisco Read more »