On cross-country road trips I always stop at national monuments, whether the undistinguished concrete slab of Four Corners or the carved visages on Mount Rushmore. But no matter how much I try to appreciate these American shrines, they just aren't that thought-provoking. Now the folks at the California College of the Arts have had the brilliant brainstorm to commission more than 70 artists to design their own colossal -- and genuinely provocative -- creations, on view at "Monuments for the USA."
Because these are just proposals rather than full-size assemblies, the artists can exercise their visions without concern for skyrocketing budgets and meddling politicos. Thomas Hirschhorn's The Road Side Giant Book Project may look like an enormous volume perched alongside a highway interchange, but it's actually a library that also houses daily discussions about philosophy and art. Aleksandra Mir's The Great Ears (East & West) proposes a pair of ears made out of white marble, one on each coast, that would, according to the artist's statement, "make us aware of what goes on in the world and protect us from evil threat, like ears do." The big-picture exhibition runs through May 14 at the Wattis Institute's Logan Galleries, 1111 Eighth St. (at Hooper), S.F. Admission is free; call 551-9210 or visit www.wattis.org.
-- Jane Tunks
Reality hackers exposed
News junkies may remember the brilliant Web site www.gwbush.com, which made scary but believable campaign promises to make the rich richer and the poor poorer, all while ruining the environment. With its deadpan tone, the prank site fooled lots of voters, and even caused the Texan himself to blurt out, "There ought to be limits to freedom," when asked about it. Inspired rabble-rousers the Yes Men are responsible for this presidential practical joke. Tonight Other Cinema presents "Political Stuntmen," a video retrospective of their various hoaxes, including this one. The show also highlights their work passing undetected as corporate evildoers from Dow Chemical and the World Trade Organization on media giants like the BBC and CNBC. Our humble heroes attribute these successful "identity corrections" to their thrift-store suits. The revolution is televised at 8:30 at Artists' Television Access, 992 Valencia (at 21st Street), S.F. Admission is $6; call 824-3890 or visit www.othercinema.com.
-- Jane Tunks
A short film
We like it when art scares us a little and attracts us a lot, like Lollipop (In 200 Days I'll Be 11) by Maria Marshall. The work is just 6 1/2 seconds of a seamless film loop set to ominous music, featuring Marshall's son's face as he sucks a lollipop -- while wearing hyperrealistic stubble makeup and gazing intently into the distance. Shot in a widescreen format with a brownish color wash, the 10-year-old becomes a tribute to Sergio Leone and Clint Eastwood. The result is a somewhat creepy and totally brilliant endless film. See it on Wednesday at 6 p.m. (and through May 15) at Ratio 3, 903 Guerrero (at 21st Street), S.F. Admission is free; call (646) 732-2767 or visit www.ratio3.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
Images sent home by American photographers helped turn public opinion against the Vietnam War. Hear author and photographer Catherine Leroy talk about her new collection of those iconic pictures, Under Fire: Great Photographers and Writers in Vietnam, at a reception at 5:30 p.m. in North Gate Hall, followed by a panel discussion in Wheeler Hall on the UC Berkeley campus, Telegraph & Bancroft, Berkeley. Admission is free-$10; call (510) 642-9988.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser