Arts & Culture

Arts & Culture

Air play

The natural history of Bay Area artist Ruth Asawa
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REVIEW There is something about "The Sculpture of Ruth Asawa: Contours in the Air," the de Young Museum's current retrospective of Ruth Asawa's work, that initially feels a bit like a natural history museum display. The darkened space, punctuated with spotlights, showcases Asawa's floating woven wire forms, which look like giant representations of diatoms or plankton. Read more »

James Broughton's liberation machine

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AVANT DVD "At an early age I arrived in San Francisco," James Broughton says in his 1974 cinematic self-portrait, Testament. "There I spent the rest of my life growing up." A straight-hearted honesty and smiling irony here lie snug side by side, as they do typically throughout the work of the poet and avant-garde filmmaker. Read more »

Funny business

SF Sketchfest is a serious concern to comedy lovers
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The world has rushed headlong and with questionable taste into 2007. Whatever else that implies, it wouldn't be funny if not for SF Sketchfest. The annual comedy showcase, which sails in buoyantly every January, grows fresher by the year, despite being nearly as old as this increasingly passé century.

Admittedly, the Bay Area has several admirable places to go for comedy — evergreen locales like Cobb's, newer nooks like the Dark Room, and a couple yearly improv festivals, for example. Read more »

Surreal genius

Kaspar Hauser's mighty wind
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Are Kasper Hauser's members the funniest people in San Francisco? Just try not busting a gut over the sketch troupe's new SkyMaul: Happy Crap You Can Buy from a Plane, a takeoff on the SkyMall catalogs you find on airplanes. An uncanny takeoff. Read more »

Left Behind: Eternal Forces

Fighting for Christ is like playing Pong in a swamp
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GAMER It's no secret. We're in the end times, and at the clarion's call when all of God's children are raptured into heaven, we'll be left to deal with the Antichrist — who, by the way, has a job at the United Nations and is working like the devil to see that people get college educations to further support the dark lord and his satanic machinations (which, of course, include sexual equality). Read more »

Step lively

Twelve picks for twelve months of dance
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The year in dance began as a bummer, but it's ending on a note of hope. In January, Oakland Ballet closed its doors. This week they're back — sort of — with former artistic director Ronn Guidi's Nutcracker. What happened? Guidi wouldn't face reality, that's what. He never has. He didn't program George Balanchine when everyone else was jumping on that bandwagon. He commissioned female choreographers when few others would. Throughout his career he swam against the stream, pursuing what he loved most, in particular almost-forgotten ballets from the ’20s and ’30s. Read more »

The territory of The Forest War

And the world around it ...
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Three years ago playwright-director Mark Jackson and the Shotgun Players teamed up to present The Death of Meyerhold, Jackson's devilishly imaginative and ambitious distillation of the revolutionary life, work, and world of Russian theater innovator Vsevolod Meyerhold. Read more »

Keeping up with John Waters

Hairspray gets another 'do.
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CULT MOVIES Cobbled and crumbling streets with a homegrown musk of fish, piss, and National Bohemian Beer wind through Charm City — a place where ragged and palsied vagrants stroke crack pipes atop benches reading "The Greatest City in America." The dainty, dapper man serving me coffee from an antique tray couldn't be further away from Baltimore.
His recent San Francisco appearance has been moved from the Fillmore to the Swedish American Hall. Read more »

They rule — and drool

Clown cars riddle the work of leonardogillesfleur
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REVIEW It may sound like a toast at a wedding reception, but in order to have some measure of success in a collaborative project, there has to be an agreement between the parties involving respect, patience, and a dose of humor. The opposite would be when a couple filing for divorce cites "irreconcilable differences." For the collaborative art team leonardogillesfleur (Leonardo Giacomuzzo and Gilles-fleur Boutry), this phrase is also the clever title of their recent body of work currently on exhibit at Catharine Clark Gallery. Read more »

Looking up

Sales and salvation were art world keywords in 2006
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In late 2006 several major art-market events — record-breaking auctions and 14 Miami Beach art fairs — provided a bracing contrast to a slew of exhibitions concerned with the immaterial, experiential, mystical, and social. These instances clearly illustrate the exciting, age-old tensions between the thrill of commerce and the quest for artistic integrity.
In November a Christie's sale of impressionist and modern art yielded nearly half a billion dollars. Read more »