Visual Art

"Summer Reading"

Visual art inspired by literary classics
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REVIEW I wish I were Jorge Luis Borges. The Argentine man of letters was top among those writers, such as Orhan Pamuk, Margaret Atwood, and Ali Smith, whose nonfiction is even more potent, surreal, and addictive than their fiction. Borges once remarked on a translation of William Beckford's Vathek: "The original is unfaithful to the translation." I'd say the same about "Summer Reading" at Hosfelt Gallery. Taking as their inspiration a range of literary classics, from Jane Austen's Mansfield Park (1814) to Philip K. Read more »

Exposer

Ana Teresa Fernández confronts the manual in "Tela Araña Tela"
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REVIEW Some early Bay Area figurative painting, wrote Peter Selz in 2002, encountered "the human figure by means of the physicality and the gestural performance of abstract expressionism." More explicit figures later emerged from this abstract cauldron. Ana Teresa Fernández, however, would rather start with the explicit body and work backward. Fernández, who grew up in Mexico, isn't a figurative painter, performance artist, videographer, feminist, or Latina artist — although she assumes all of these roles from time to time. Read more »

Manufacturing Frida

To see 'Frida Kahlo' at the SF MOMA is to know her?
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REVIEW Though overshadowed during her lifetime by her famous muralist husband Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo is one of many examples of driven artists who achieved their icon status posthumously. And, like other historical figures with life stories loaded with tragedy, Kahlo underwent her share of suffering, which makes for great book sales and dramatic film plots. Read more »

"Conflux Vignettes"

Brian Lucas, Daniel Glendening, and Julie Oppermann spark up Mama Buzz Cafe
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REVIEW Being unpatriotic, I spent the Fourth of July observing indoor fireworks at the opening of the group show, "Conflux Vignettes," at Mama Buzz Café's Buzz Gallery. I was lured in by poet-painter Brian Lucas, whose 2006 book, Light House (Meeting Eyes Bindery), is out of print but obtainable secondhand. Like his longer poems, which accumulate as aphoristic remarks, Lucas' abstractions accrue in obsessively worked increments. Read more »

"3"

Predatory birds, variously shaped atomic bomb clouds, lambs, and a wide-eyed man
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REVIEW For "3," artist Chris Duncan gathers a trio whose work explores pattern-making — either through the mark itself (Kyle Ranson's decorated figures and Derrick Snodgrass' prismatic constellations) or ordering select bits of visual information (Ernesto Burgos' wall collage).

Bay Area artist Snodgrass' Easter egg–colorful watercolors on paper from 2000 are refracted architectural shapes dotted with sunspots. Between then and now, Snodgrass loosened his grip and minimized his palette. Read more »

Biennialmania

Bay Area Now: For regional survey exhibitions, it's location, location, location
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Biennials, triennials, and whatever other rotation of years, are place-based exhibitions. They obviously happen somewhere, and the place dictates the context. The "Whitney Biennial 2008," for example, focused on "American art," an increasingly ambiguous term — in recent years the show has included growing numbers of artists with hyphenated identities. Read more »

You're going to myth me

Bay Area Now: Ala Ebtekar rises above while tapping into persian and personal mythologies
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You don't need to pick up all the subtleties of Berkeley-born Iranian American artist Ala Ebtekar's work to appreciate the resonant beauty of, for instance, The Ascension II (2007), and its angelic, part-griffin, semi-human, quasi-Homa messenger drawn from Persian mythology, winging across reams of Farsi as assorted readers' delicate notes intricately lace the printed manuscript. Read more »

Doing it naturally

Bay Area Now: Donald Fortescue And Lawrence Labianca take to the tides
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Donald Fortescue and Lawrence LaBianca's "Bay Area Now 5" work — jokingly referred to earlier this month as the "Top Secret Oyster Project" — is not just about the creation of a well-crafted object. The piece also deals with the current state of San Francisco Bay's wildlife, tides, and geography. Read more »

Creature feature

Bay Area Now: Misako Inaoka mashes together animal-vegetable-machine hybrids
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Nature — in its many contrived or bizarrely hybridized forms — has ways of rearing its at-times-grotesque, at-times-seductive heads in Misako Inaoka's work. Are her cunning mutants little monsters — be they chirping mechanical birds with propeller beaks or flowery pincushion pates, or donkeys or cattle mermaid-merged with John Deere tractor parts? Miniature extras from a lost installment of Ultraman? The petit-four-size stuff of surrealist nightmares? Read more »

Super Wofler

Bay Area Now: Hitching a ride with Galleon Trade
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Super Wofler! That's as good a nickname as any for artist, curator, teacher, and creative tornado Jenifer K. Wofford. Read more »