Visual Art

Tastes of Cindy: Drag artists re-enact Cindy Sherman portraits from SFMOMA show

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To celebrate the incredibly engaging Cindy Sherman retrospective at the SF MOMA (through October 8), we asked four of San Francisco's premier drag performance artists to re-enact four of Sherman's iconic portraits. It's all about looking twice -- or in Sherman's case, four or five times -- and we wanted to see how many layers of gaze her work could hold.

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To be a poster artist during Occupy: Chuck Sperry on psychedelic art, social change, and port shutdowns

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With Occupy's first anniversary sneaking up on us, has enough time past since its inception to reflect on its urban encampments and frightening conflicts with law enforcement in a rational, reasonable manner? Maybe rational is the wrong word -- I'm sure many would agree that the movement's major contributiont to date was a general firing up of the 99 percent, even of those 99 percenters who would sooner have ridden a bike to work than sit in on GA meeting in Oscar Grant Plaza. Through leaving its agenda undefined, Occupy allowed us all to paint our own hopes and dreams for the world onto it like a piece of drawing paper. 

For some more literally than others. This month, an exhibit opened at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts that accumulates the work of 25 Bay Area artists who spun their Occupy dreams into poster form. Chuck Sperry is perhaps one of the most well-known name of the bunch. Read more »

7 ways to revive your sunburned brain this week

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Dead set on frying your brain in this sunshine? Fine. Just hit up one of your city's affordable cultural happenings afterwards and your gray matter will have no choice but to call it a draw. 

Epicenter reading series 

Sip on some of Cafe Tosca's famous non-coffee cappuccino (brandy and hot chocolate, what could be better?) and listen to three members of the contemporary literati. Along with San Francisco-native Josh Mohr, the program will include Joe Meno reading from Office Girl, his new fiction work of artistic detachment and big city love, plus Nathan Larson's The Nervous System, a novel depicting a terrorist-induced dystopia in the walls of the New York Public Library, starring a protagonist dubbed Dewey Decimal. Read more »

Generations confer over La Peña's second skin

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I'm sitting in on a meeting between two generations of muralists. In name, our encounter was designed as an interview about La Peña Cultural Center's plans to redo its decades-old facade, a historic piece that right now is a 3-D tableau named "Song of Unity" and meant to represent the people of North and South America coming together in art.

But it has become clear to me the interviewer that's it's way more momentous to let these groups talk largely unimpeded by my questions. Two people who created the mural in 1978 are speaking with two people who will design its rebirth in 2012 about changes in the world of street art over the last 34 years. It's the first time the four have met together. Assasinated Chilean artist-activist Victor Jara's detached hands strum a guitar in silent soundtrack over us as we sit on folding chairs in front of the mural in question. 

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Oaxacan surrealism hits the SF Mexican consulate

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Approximately 500 people pass through SoMa's Mexican consulate building each day, processing visas and civil registration, generally making it possible for themselves to live in the United States legally. The consulate's cultural affairs attache Marimar Suárez Peñalva sees these moments of bureaucracy as an opportunity. She wants expats to connect to their nationality not only through signatures and stamps, but by reacquainting themselves with its brushstrokes and creative underpinnings.

Hence, this art lesson. "The Zapotec origin is really relevant in surrealism," Peñalva tells me on the Friday afternoon that I visit her carefully-curated gallery, located on the second floor of the Folsom Street consulate. Read more »

The heart in art

Artists express their desire for harmony in 'Shalom/Salaam'

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arts@sfbg.com

VISUAL ART As the old saying goes, a picture can be worth a thousand words. But a local gallery has united two separate artists stemming from Jewish and Islamic backgrounds to convey only one: peace.

In "Shalom/Salaam," a joint exhibit running through May 26 at the Mishin Fine Arts gallery, self-proclaimed activist artist Tom Block and Afghan refugee Shokoor Khusrawy demonstrate that art can be more than a commodity, and rather a tool to dismantle cultural barriers and inspire change.Read more »

Claymation! Fashion! Digital Sound! An afterschool arts revival

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If you believe the children are our future, then you may soon agree -- contrary to rumors of its ongoing extiction -- that the future arts scene of San Francisco is actually looking bright.

While arts classes fall off the curriculum in public schools nationwide, a collaboration between the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department’s (SFRPD) Cultural Arts Division and its Community Services Division (which runs afterschool programs citywide) keeps the creative spark alive via the ongoing Arts Afterschool program.

Just a year and a half old, the Arts Afterschool program will host its first-ever live showcase, the Arts Afterschool Spring Gala at the Harvey Milk Center for the Arts on Sat/12. The gala will feature the artwork of 400 kids from virtually every neighborhood in San Francisco. The event showcases work from the program’s fall, winter and spring sessions.

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Sketching Sixth Street: In new show, Joel Phillips renders the unseen

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“I’m really interested in the idea of anonymity within a dense urban environment and how the denser an urban population is, the easier it is to be overlooked,” Joel Phillips says over a glass of red wine on a far too windy night in the Mission. His show, “No Regrets in Life,” opens tonight at Satellite66 and will feature seven charcoal and graphite drawings of men and women he’s met on the corner of Sixth St. and Mission.
 
Phillips, a few months shy of 23, has spent significant chunks of time in Seattle, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, and New York. While he was living in New York, he started thinking more about the social dynamics of cities and how some people tend to get lost in the mix. “In New York no one really looks you in the eye, everyone brushes past you and moves past you,” Phillips says.

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Cartoonist confidential

A new exhibit honors the work of Ghost World author Daniel Clowes

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VISUAL ART Daniel Clowes draws eyes that are eerily human. Dotting the pages of his well-regarded graphic novels, they are by turns embittered, despairing, and vulnerable. So it's fitting that the Clowes' first major retrospective is at the Oakland Museum of California. Oakland is an underdog city, and Clowes — a longtime resident — champions underdogs.Read more »

Utopia, mon amour

Arthur Tress, Bucky Fuller, and Harry Hay exhibits offer engagement and transcendence

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