Visual Art

Lens flair

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arts@sfbg.com

VISUAL ART Cindy Sherman is nearly always described as a groundbreaking postmodern photographer and pioneer. The mostly excellent, just-the-hits traveling retrospective currently visiting the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is carefully curated to justify that praise. All the high points of Sherman's prolific career are here, and her virtuosic scrambling of photographic conventions and assumptions are shown in high relief. As an act of institutional pedagogy, it's certainly effective if not exactly revelatory.Read more »

Off the walls

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arts@sfbg.com

VISUAL ART As the Cindy Sherman retrospective draws huge crowds to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's fourth floor, visitors will find it the gateway drug par excellence for a neighboring show just a few steps away. Taking in Sherman's frozen drag — in which visual art harnesses performance as both subject and tactic — is already to broach the invigorating dialogue underway in "Stage Presence: Theatricality in Art and Media."Read more »

Street sense

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caitlin@sfbg.com

VISUAL ART When I moved back to San Francisco as an adult, writer Erick Lyle taught me about my city. He didn't tell me about the earthquakes, the mayoral assassinations, or the hills, but rather how to recognize the social forces that would push and pull life in San Francisco over the years to come. And right now, that's an important thing to know about.Read more »

The heart in art

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arts@sfbg.com

VISUAL ART As the old saying goes, a picture can be worth a thousand words. But a local gallery has united two separate artists stemming from Jewish and Islamic backgrounds to convey only one: peace.

In "Shalom/Salaam," a joint exhibit running through May 26 at the Mishin Fine Arts gallery, self-proclaimed activist artist Tom Block and Afghan refugee Shokoor Khusrawy demonstrate that art can be more than a commodity, and rather a tool to dismantle cultural barriers and inspire change.Read more »

Cartoonist confidential

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VISUAL ART Daniel Clowes draws eyes that are eerily human. Dotting the pages of his well-regarded graphic novels, they are by turns embittered, despairing, and vulnerable. So it's fitting that the Clowes' first major retrospective is at the Oakland Museum of California. Oakland is an underdog city, and Clowes — a longtime resident — champions underdogs.Read more »

Cooking without borders

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By Cynthia Salaysay

arts@sfbg.com

VISUAL ARTS The aura of old wars was in the room. Sock-footed, sitting on the floor eating bowls of ramen in the old barracks of the Marin Headlands, we were cozy and well-defended from the coastal fog. Once, these barracks were used to keep the Japanese out. But now we were welcoming them in, with every slurp of soup.Read more »

Agrarian visions

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By Cynthia Salaysay

arts@sfbg.com

VISUAL ART Artists are makers, though rarely of history. But Fernando García-Dory and Amy Franceschini, two internationally recognized artists, seem to have a gift for it. "Perhaps," García-Dory says, "when you start with a long perspective on history, you start to make history as well."Read more »

This old house

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HAIRY EYEBALL Aside from its prime Cow Hollow location, the modest single floor, above-garage residence at 3020 Laguna Street is a largely unremarkable piece of real estate. Over its 150-year existence it has served as a home to people now forgotten, any relations of its last known occupants having cut all ties to this particular place. What's left is the building itself, which, judging from its dingy stucco exterior and the tidy beaver dam of exposed lath covering what had been a bay window, looks as if it has an imminent appointment with the wrecking ball.Read more »