Visual Art

Book 'em

Bay Area Now: Outside the white box with Michael Swaine
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Michael Swaine is contagious. Whether investigating Reap What You Sew/Sewing for the People (2001, ongoing) in the streets of the Tenderloin, using braille to make a Plea for Tenderness (2007) at the Southern Exposure Gallery, or joining forces with Futurefarmers and the interdisciplinary design studio's founder, Amy Franceschini, with whom Swaine began collaborating in 1998, the San Francisco artist brings a driven curiosity and sense of aesthetic detail to every project he touches. If you experience his work, you can't help but get involved. Read more »

Nailing it

Bay Area Now: The Queens Nails Annex snares "Estacion Odesia" in its glam talons
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Queens Nails Annex has long had its street-level glam talons on the pulse of the Mission District art scene — one that so often melds visual art, music, film and video, and performance — so it's fitting that unexpected connections are emerging from its curatorial contribution to "BAN 5": "Estacion Odesia," a four-parter named for a metro stop that will present visual works by artists and musicians at QNA and their audio pieces at YBCA listening stations; produce a limited-edition box set of music and visual artifacts; and throw a music club with download Read more »

Timothy Horn: Bitter Suite

Sparkling with sugar crystals and enormous glass-blown forms
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REVIEW At some point this summer, you'll likely be asked — or roped into — accompanying visitors to see the Dale Chihuly exhibition at the de Young Museum. It's a pretty series of darkened rooms with enormous blown glass forms, lit to show off a floorshow of colors and whimsical shapes. There's nothing conceptually difficult or politically offensive in this Willy Wonka–scale display. Read more »

"Jim Campbell: Home Movies"

The technophile artist has arrived at a startling depiction of memory and magic
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REVIEW The West Coast electronic artist Jim Campbell returns to the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum to reprise his popular 2006 installation "Home Movies," a screening of amateur, low-resolution family films projected through a tapestry of LED lights. Strung from ceiling to floor, the highly pixilated reflections of quotidian family life become nothing less than digital simulacra when magnified to such extremes. Read more »

"Matt Gil: Reel to Real"

A nonstop catwalk of coffee-tabletop-size ceramic forms parading in a loop
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REVIEW Remember those jazzy Raymond Scott tunes that accompanied many Depression–era Bugs Bunny cartoons? The rhythmic tinkling of the xylophone, the metronome and piano one-two-ing, while the trumpets and clarinets wah-wahed to our wise-ass rabbit scrambling to free himself from the inner workings of a factory. Those images merged Technicolor fantasy and swinging wackiness to the dumb, impersonal nature of mass production, a cartoonish combo that comes to mind when entering Matt Gil's exhibition at the Marx and Zavattero Gallery. Read more »

Heart shaped box

The Queer Issue: Tammy Rae Carland's "An Archive of Feelings"
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"Let's pretend we own the world today," Kathleen Hanna sings midway through the uncharacteristic Bikini Kill ballad "For Tammy Rae." In her new solo show "An Archive of Feelings," the woman Hanna was singing for, Tammy Rae Carland, breaks down and reframes some of what she owns from a queer, feminist perspective that upsets emotional and financial conceits. Carland can wittily point out the beauty of mold and frame it in gold, but her show's largest C-prints are perhaps the most powerful. Read more »

A different light

The Queer Issue: Gay photographers review the urban landscape
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THE QUEER ISSUE It's best to begin at the edge. Gay urban photography has a fleeting yet reliably revelatory home at those places where water laps up against land. On the East Coast, from 1975 through 1986, Alvin Baltrop explored the Hudson River side of Manhattan, capturing black-and-white visions of sex, murder, and architecture by cruising the piers as a peer rather than as an exploitative outsider. Read more »

"Punball: Only One Earth"

William T. Wiley's anti-genre-fication catalog reaches a grinning pinnacle
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"Punball: Only One Earth"

PREVIEW From large-scale printmaking to the small masking-tape sculpture Pillow Talk (2002), William T. Wiley's anti-genre-fication catalog reaches a grinning pinnacle in the 65 works from the past eight years on display at the "Punball: Only One Earth" exhibit at Electric Works. Read more »

Tech art 2.0

Wistfully hopeful, 01SJ's "Superlight" aerates a genre
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REVIEW Does anyone still truly abide by the hope that technology is the benevolent force that can deliver a luminous future? Sure, we've got biotech, greentech, and Web 2.0 to tackle disease, our environmental sins, social alienation, and economic downturn. But at the same time, who isn't aware of the corporate capitalist machinery and toxic waste that will accompany the next Apple marvel or Monsanto-engineered miracle crop? Read more »

"You Make Me Make You"

Suzanne Husky documents life in huggable 3-D
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REVIEW We photograph stuff and immediately pass it on to everyone who has Internet access. We ingest news events recorded only moments ago — and expect information on the next event even before it has completely unfolded. Artist Suzanne Husky is also driven to document what is happening right now: from social concerns to what she witnesses in her community. But she doesn't give it to us flat, like so much documentation via electronic media. Read more »