Visual Art

"Istanbul-Berkeley"

Actual art at the "Orienting Istanbul" conference includes video works curated by Hou Hanru
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REVIEW When veteran Istanbulite Orhan Pamuk received the Nobel Prize in literature two years ago, the committee complimented his "quest for the melancholic soul of his native city." Melancholic? The world's third largest city has one big, melancholic soul? I think Pamuk, of all people, would disagree. Read more »

Mao and Coca-Cola

New waves of Chinese art hit the Bay Area -- from SFMOMA to BAM and beyond
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johnny@sfbg.com

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is in the grip of full-on Fridamania when I first pay a visit to "Half-Life of a Dream: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Logan Collection." Nonetheless, Yue Minjun's terracotta warriors attract photo-ops: a little girl poses next to a solitary Yue sculpture with his hands behind his neck, while five other Yue statues (each a life-size body — barefoot in white T-shirt and blue jeans — with an enormous head: eyes closed, mouth frozen in anxious "smile") stand in formation near the exhibition's th Read more »

Perspectives on metal

"David Maisel: Library of Dust" and "Zhan Wang: Gold Mountain"
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REVIEW San Francisco photographer David Maisel is best known for vast, expansive images. Critic Vince Aletti deemed his aerial views of Los Angeles freeways "absolutely post-apocalyptic." With "Library of Dust," Maisel shifts from the macrocosmic to the nearly microscopic. But his trademark clarity and intensity turns the viewer's mind into an infinite focus-puller regarding notions of existence and human relationships to the universe. Read more »

Friends of Dorothy

New group show takes off from The Wizard of Oz's yellow brick road
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As a child I remember being transfixed by the cover to Electric Light Orchestra's 1974 album Eldorado, A Symphony (Warner Bros.). I think I saw it before I ever actually watched Victor Fleming's 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, from which the album's art is taken. Designer Sharon Arden — now Ozzy Osbourne's wife — was undoubtedly riffing off of the concept album's storyline about a journey through a fantastic land. Read more »

Seeing differently

"Jonathan Burstein: Visage" and "Ross Smith: Pomp and Circumstance"
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REVIEW Lore has it that the collage grandmaster Jess rejected Artforum as source material for his imagery. Last week I happened upon a stack from the mid-1980s, and thumbing through the dated pages, I could understand Jess' stance. Still, the young Bay Area artist Jonathan Burstein proves that today's slablike glossy Artforum can be a vibrant source, especially when its pages are put through a color-coding process and turned into images that obliquely tweak notions of self in and outside the art world. Read more »

"Miju: Effigies and Demigods"

How did you fit so many big paintings in such a small gallery?
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REVIEW Dear Miju, I know you aren't a folk singer. You are an artistic collaboration between Bay Area artists (and couple) Michele Muennig and Juan Carlos Quintana. Using childhood imagery and a fittingly subdued palette, you deconstruct fantasy worlds on paper and canvas. Your solo show at Jack Fischer Gallery, "Effigies and Demagogues," is both outlandish and darkly comical: dolls catch fire and real people head to the edge of the abyss. Still, your art — how did you fit so many big paintings in such a small gallery? Read more »

Death and the maiden

Photographer Lee Miller maintained her unwavering focus on the gruesome
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kimberly@sfbg.com

REVIEW Somewhat eclipsed by the mob scene upstairs at "Frida Kahlo," the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's "The Art of Lee Miller" abounds with riveting images — not least those of the late photographer herself, who was, at different times, a nude model for her father, a high fashion mannequin for Vogue, and a muse and collaborator for her onetime lover Man Ray. Read more »

Vizzy with the possibilities

Fall Arts Preview: We scope out the promising shows
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KATIE KURTZ PICKS

"The Wizard of Oz" Not much has changed since L. Frank Baum's book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz debuted over a century ago and gave Americans something we still crave: escape to a fantastical land free of wicked witches. Read more »

Sino the times

Fall Arts Preview: Bay Area museums and galleries home in on Asia
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If the world-class flash of the Beijing Olympics isn't enough of an example of China's rising international cultural power, we'll have continued reminders at Bay Area museums and galleries in the coming months. It's perhaps a tipping point: Pace Beijing, a big outlet for a major western gallery, just opened, signaling a market vetting of art currently being made in China. Read more »

"Japanese Wolf"

When girl meets animal kingdom
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P>REVIEW When was the last time you chatted on your cell in a crowd of yaks? Or honored the dewy lavender morning with a steaming cup of green tea and a goat friend? Or crouched with a pack of sunset wolves howling on your back?

No offense, but I bet your social circle isn't this diverse. For the girl-woman at the center of Yumiko Kayukawa's paintings, though, communing with nonhuman creatures is typical. Born in the small town of Naie in Hokkaido, Japan, Kayukawa found her muses amid the land's sweeping beauty and native fauna. Read more »