Visual Art

Faith-based initiative

The Contemporary Jewish Museum's opening show starts at the "Beginning"
|
(0)

› a&eletters@sfbg.com

REVIEW The Contemporary Jewish Museum was founded in 1984 as the Jewish Museum San Francisco, and "starchitect" Daniel Libeskind's building design, which seemingly bursts out of an 1881 vintage brick facade opposite Yerba Buena Gardens, began taking shape nearly a decade ago. But for all intents and purposes, the CJM's opening this week marks the launch of a new art space that must affirm its brand identity on our cultural landscape. Read more »

"Written on Spiders"

Berlin's Starship collective lands on all eights
|
(0)

REVIEW From this side of the planet, as many in the American art world see it, Berlin is currently the art world's utopia. Things are happening there: experimentation and funding can be had, as well as cheap studios, alternative-gallery spaces, and thriving collectives galore. But this scene didn't just fall from the sky like a space virus and infect the German capital in the past few years. It's been brewing for some time. One collective, known as a hub that links dozens of contemporary German artists, is Starship. Read more »

"Tree Show IV"

Buy stuff! Save forests!
|
(0)

PREVIEW In Shel Silverstein's 1964 classic book, The Giving Tree (HarperCollins), a self-sacrificing tree hands itself off to a boy — surrendering its shade and its lumber — until it ultimately ends up just a stump for the now-old man to sit on and die. Read more »

Power everywhere and nowhere

"After the Revolution: Contemporary Photography from Tehran and California"
|
(0)

REVIEW Arguably the strangest image in the news this year was an Associated Press-circulated pic of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wearing the type of 3-D glasses you'd find packaged with a comic book, examining a map at Tehran's space center in a state of deep concentration. Read more »

Starry-eyed and stripped

Ryan McGinley dreams of a New World
|
(0)

› a&eletters@sfbg.com

REVIEW More than one witness has reported that Mayor Gavin Newsom, fiancée in tow, dropped by the jam-packed opening reception for photographer Ryan McGinley's show at Ratio 3. The civic-minded pair joined the fray of cool kids and art world cognoscenti — I heard John Waters and Todd Oldham were there — and in some ways the appearance was apropos: the artist and politician share a lineage of tall, charismatic Irish Catholics who inspire others to action. Read more »

"Held Rectangles"

Artist John C. Fernie jumps on the frame
|
(0)

REVIEW In Lawrence Weiner's 1968 piece, A 36" X 36" REMOVAL TO THE LATHING OR SUPPORT WALL OF PLASTER OR WALL-BOARD FROM A WALL, the title functions as a set of instructions for a physical action that must be performed to complete the work. Like a number of Weiner's other pieces in the same vein, the result varies based on where the piece is installed and/or executed, making for a work of art that is difficult to re-create identically. For these reasons, Weiner's art seems to defy substantive definition. Read more »

The yard sticks

A train-hopping trip from the Polaroid Kidd's hobotopia to William T. Vollmann's tramps -- and the truths in between
|
(0)

› a&eletters@sfbg.com
I hopped my first freight train in the spring of 1993, outside a small central Florida town. My first train sat behind a drive-in theater along old Highway 301, among the pines sometimes seen in old photos of turpentine camps and prison work crews. Under a Southern moon, I battled mosquitoes and listened to a chorus of swamp frogs that must have been heard by the very men who built the railroad. Read more »

"Broken Promised Land"

Shai Kremer's subtle treatment of Israel's disfigured landscapes
|
(0)

REVIEW "Broken Promised Land" is a distracting title for Israeli photographer Shai Kremer's exhibit at the Robert Koch Gallery. Though broken dreams and bombed-out promises are certainly present in the 11 color photographs on display from Kremer's seven-year project shooting Israel's militarily disfigured landscapes, it's ultimately the subtlety of his work that defines its wide-ranging resonance.

Kremer also has shown works from this series at New York City's Julie Saul Gallery. Read more »

Unfreeze my tableaux

The Rape of the Sabine Women arrests and exhausts
|
(0)

REVIEW Eve Sussman and the Rufus Corporation's epic 2006 video opera The Rape of the Sabine Women is a sprawling and beguiling reinterpretation of classical myth, art history, and film-as-sculpture. Working improvisationally on the scale of a Cecil B. Read more »

"Fox in the Mirror"

Eerie vignettes and a dance of sex and sadness
|
(0)

REVIEW When artists speak of found objects, they sometimes mean found — in a marketing plan. But Liliana Porter is different. Read more »