Visual Art

The Performant: Science, Honor, Psychogeography

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The Phenomenauts and Alley Cat Books shoot for the moon.

Trapped in a world they didn’t create, the spacecraft-garage band known to us as The Phenomenauts must surely come from a more evolved time and place, as evidenced by the spiffiness of their natty uniforms -- and the electric jolt of their stage shows. As refinement and heroism (the band motto is “Science and Honor”) are qualities in tragically short supply among your run-of-the-mill rock groups, bands which contain both are bound to stand out, with or without the additions of attention-grabbing technical flourishes such as pinpoint lasers, billows of stage fog, and the custom-built Streamerator 2000, which shoots festive streamers of toilet paper out onto the frenetic crowd. Speaking of frenetic, I love a band that can make San Franciscans dance as if possessed by dervishes with hyperkinesis. For that feat alone, they deserve an intergalactic medal for courage in the face of cosmic indifference.

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Headshots for the homeless? Photographer Joe Ramos connects art and social work

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Images of homelessness are not hard to come by. These scenes are often pathetic, clichéd. In the worst cases, the homeless are portrayed as inhuman heaps of blanket and facial disfigurement, people reduced to their time spent sleeping on the streets or begging for money. But in “Acknowledged,” photographer Joe Ramos’ exhibit at the Main Library that opens Sat/28, unhoused subjects are shown in a way that’s truly radical: as people just like us. Read more »

Abstract truth

Navigating an art movement — and a local gallery's history — in "Surrealism: New Worlds"

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VISUAL ART A museum-quality show in terms of ambition and achievement, "Surrealism: New Worlds" fleshes out a forgotten, if not effaced, chapter in American art history, even as it incidentally tells the story of the gallery showing it.Read more »

Wall played

Art Basel take two: Street art in Wynwood, it's complicated

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Also in this issue, Guardian writer Matt Sussman on who got the hype -- and who earned it -- in the galleries at Art Basel Miami 2011Read more »

What recession?

Art Basel Miami, take one: Buzz outflashed protest at this year's beachside art fair

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The Performant: Please appropriate me

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Bryan Boyce and Negativwobblyland pump up the culture jams at L@te

Nighttime at the Berkeley Art Museum. An undercurrent of glee emanating from the patrons, as with a roomful of children up past their bedtimes. Enhancing the playground vibe, a giant orange mountain of rippling wooden waves designed by Thom Faulders, squats in the middle of the room, serving as seating for the assembled crowd, as well as pre-show entertainment as we scramble up its sides.

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Just gimme the nudes: Art Basel's pervy side

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I dare you to lay your fingers on a city that's sexier than Miami. The whole urban area is one big infinity pool -- Cuban dancing, too-much-is-not-enough cleavage, shiny shirts, flirting in traffic jams. Add Art Basel weekend, when the population of nubile arty types skyrockets and you have yourself an I-saved-my-money-up-to-blow-it-here powder keg. Small wonder that the Miami Convention Center was packed with nudes and nakeds last weekend. Art's a great excuse to be pervy.

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Skew your perceptions: Lomography's new gallery store opens Thursday

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Almost as cryptic as some of their warped, blurred, color-drenched photos is the Lomography Society's 10th rule: “Don't worry about any rules.” For an artistic movement as commercially successful (the fantastically cheap cameras sell at Urban Outfitters worldwide) and historically important (the LOMO LC-A, the first lomographic camera, was mass produced in Soviet Russia for the enjoyment of the proletariat masses) as Lomography, it sure is hard to pin down. Read more »

Art Basel frontlines: SCOPEing out Friday

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Guardian photos by Paula Connelly

Art Basel is not the only show in Miami's town this weekend. In addition to every gallery, boutique, and busy streetcorner hosting its own opening of varying degrees of importance, there are approximately 2,100 smaller art fairs going on (give or take). One of these is SCOPE, which I heard about first because urban art trendsetter SF gallery White Walls was trucking some canvases of ABOVE's stenciled hip-hop dancers-- and street artist ROA's drawings of animals in capitivity, etched on wooden crates -- down to show. (CORRECTION: ROA's publicist has informed us that his installation is not wood etchings. His mediums are enamel, charcoal, China ink, aerosol and acrylic on found wood....no crates.) 

But to get into SCOPE, I first had to make it past the Alpine climber. Read more »

Art Basel frontlines: Thursday night in Wynwood

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All I did was program in the coordinates of a wall my friend was painting in the midst of Miami's mega Art Basel weekend and all of a sudden I'm in mural heaven. Going traffic snail-slow down the Wynwood neighborhood's Second Avenue (at one time a Puerto Rican enclave, now a place where corner restaurants are popping up with floor-length windows that display spindly humanoid statues clad in multi-colored sweater), all I could see were flood light-illuminated muralists in the finishing stages of turning the street into the most painted lane I've ever seen. Read more »