Visual Art

Off the wall

A strange string of art thefts hits local galleries -- is the once exploding market to blame?
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johnny@sfbg.com

It's Saturday morning, and Michael Rosenthal Gallery is crowded — because it's playing host to a baby shower. The current show of paintings by Terry Hoff is partly obscured by the small celebration. In one corner, Rosenthal sits on a couch. Aside from the dark circles around his eyes, you wouldn't know that he's caught up in perhaps the strangest of a string of recent art thefts at SF galleries.

At 3 a.m. on Friday, March 20, police notified Rosenthal that his Valencia Street space had been vandalized. Read more »

"Meet Me at the Center of the Earth"

Cave's art is a fusion of fashion, body art, and sculpture so imaginative that it might possess transformational qualities
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PREVIEW This collection of "soundsuits" by Nick Cave (the Chicago artist, not the Australian musician) is the most anticipated show of the season. If, as this paper's D. Scot Miller has observed, Afro-surrealism is in the air, then Cave's art — a fusion of fashion, body art, and sculpture so imaginative that it might possess transformational qualities — is a prime example. His wearable constructions are eye-boggling counterparts to the Afro-surreal music of figures both present (Chelonis R. Jones) and newly revived-from-the past (Wicked Witch). Read more »

"The Caretakers"

Surveying the loss that saturates the American West
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REVIEW As the U.S. continues to blindly race forward, wise eyes look closely at what is left behind. In the case of Bill Mattick's "The Caretakers," this means uncovering the lives hidden within — and the haunted spirit of — a defunct train station in west Oakland. Surveying the loss that saturates the American West, "The Caretakers" makes a great companion piece to Lee Anne Schmitt's California Company Town (2008), screening at Artists' Television Access this week. Read more »

Copy this

Two new gallery shows ask you to adjust your toner
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Do you copy? If people who still like books — rather than people who stare at screens all day — are the zombies, then secret zombie networks are forming and strengthening throughout the Bay Area. Read more »

Naked kiss

Curt McDowell paints the town with utter, exhilarating shamelessness
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johnny@sfbg.com

One of the things that I appreciate most about Curt McDowell's art is its shamelessness. It is shameless in a lively, funny, righteous, even virtuous manner that should embarrass prudish American moralists. "An uneven dozen broken hearts," a show of the late filmmaker's paintings and drawings, is a revelatory pleasure because of how directly it conveys McDowell's lust for and love of simple revelry. Read more »

"transPOP: Korea Vietnam Remix"

Artists gathered by curators Viet Le and Yong Soon Min are the children of Andy Warhol and Coca-Cola
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REVIEW Spam, napalm, and derivative pop songs weren't quite the only legacy of U.S. military sojourns through Asia — and specifically Korea and Vietnam — as Yerba Buena Center for the Arts' "transPOP: Korea Vietnam Remix" exhibit demonstrates. The artists gathered by curators Viet Le and Yong Soon Min are the children of Andy Warhol and Coca-Cola.

Credit goes to the organizers for pointing to the connections between Vietnam and Korea, which are seldom at the foreground stateside: both shared a history of rapid modernization facilitated by U.S. Read more »

"Yan Pei-Ming: YES!"

The struggle between material creation and the subject
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REVIEW James Elkin starts off his wonderful book What Painting Is (Routledge, 1998) with the simple statement that "painting is alchemy," an elegant encapsulation of the process by which combining oils and pigments, applying that mixture onto a canvas, and generally getting one's hands dirty results in something as ethereal as one of Monet's Water Lilies. Elkin's words came to mind while looking at Franco-Chinese artist Yan Pei-Ming's massive watercolor and oil paintings. Read more »

"Michael Light: New Work"

Gorgeous, absurd, disgusting, and lovely shots of landscapes under human siege
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REVIEW After viewing Trevor Paglen's contribution to the SECA Art Awards exhibition at SFMOMA, you can stroll six or seven blocks to Hosfelt Gallery, for a small — yet vast — sample of new work by Michael Light. Read more »

A search for patterns in the light - and dark

SECA: Trevor Paglen, Tauba Auerbach, and Jordan Kantor
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A search for patterns in the light — and in the dark

ENIGMATIC: TREVOR PAGLEN AND THE EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN

Trevor Paglen's section of the 2008 SECA Art Award exhibition is somewhat centrally located — you have to pass through it to get to Jordan Kantor's room, as well as to a small room containing pieces by all four awardees. Read more »

She's a magic woman

SECA: Try to understand — the play is the thing in Desirée Holman's masked wonderlands
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SECA ART AWARDS

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There is a lot of play going on in the work of Desirée Holman. Read more »