Visual Art

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 »

Sweetest taboo

"Banned and Recovered: Artists Respond to Censorship"
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PREVIEW The taboo has always had a special place in my heart. As a pre-adolescent, I was given a list of banned books from a rogue librarian and I hunted down and read every one of them. It may have seemed odd to find an 11-year-old black boy reading the likes of John Rechy's City of Night (Grove, 1963) and William Burroughs' Naked Lunch (Olympia/Grove, 1959), but these verboten tomes, along with the librarian's free beer and porn, served as an illicit gateway out of my little coal-mining town into the larger, lustier world. Read more »

Hunters and collectors

Two high concept shows take the meta approach to curating
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REVIEW It wasn't so long ago that the term "curated" moved from dusty archive territory to popular lexicon. When did curated databases, boutique merchandise, and Netflix queues become commonplace? In the Bay Area, more than one school offers a master's degree in "curatorial practice" — but who has a concise description of what that really means? The term has become elastic, perhaps because there's too much material — of all sorts — to deal with in contemporary culture. Read more »

No mere ornament

"Birth of Cool: California Art, Design, and Culture at Midcentury"
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REVIEW In Mary and Russel Wright's Guide to Easier Living, first published in 1950, the designers instruct the midcentury housewife to avoid the "deeply carved wooden chair" in favor of a "contour design" to "simplify cleaning." This form-follows-function approach to design reached its height in the mass market in 1950s and '60s, most notably with the introduction of the stacking, molded fiberglass chairs of Charles and Ray Eames — which can still found, en masse, in libraries throughout the University of California system.

Initially fuele Read more »

Eye of the needle

Lauren DiCioccio threads lightly, suggesting a spirit left behind
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johnny@sfbg.com

REVIEW During the fall of 2004, I interviewed Bruce Conner, who had no shortage of viewpoints regarding contemporary art. "Many people," he said, "will develop a style of painting or subject matter or content that appears to be very innovative, and their next solo exhibition will be made up of 20 paintings that are all the same, aside from tiny variations."

Lauren DiCioccio offers a remedy for just such a malaise. Read more »