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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Christine Elfman Investigates Photography With Amaranth Juice and Roman Mythology

Posted By on Tue, Jul 19, 2016 at 8:30 AM

Christine Elfman, Ash, 2016.
  • Christine Elfman, Ash, 2016.

In the Roman myth of Diana and Actaeon, the goddess of the hunt grows furious when Actaeon, a young hunter, is found gazing at her while she bathes nude in a sacred grove. Diana transforms Actaeon into a stag and his own hounds prey upon and kill him for his transgression. The myth has been a popular subject in visual art for millennia, but in Even Amaranth, her solo exhibition at Gallery Wendi Norris, Christine Elfman transforms Actaeon’s tragic demise into a parable for the plight of photographers.

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Monday, July 11, 2016

Pithy Remarks: "Not a Lemon," a Citrus-Themed Art Show at Alite Outpost

Posted By on Mon, Jul 11, 2016 at 7:30 PM

  • Peter Lawrence Kane
A bag of lemons is almost like currency in the Bay Area, Alicia Dornadic says. "My grandparents had a lemon tree. We would pick them and squeeze them, and coworkers bring them to work. So many people have lemon stories."

It's this idea of a happy, if somewhat banal fruit — the flavor of ordinary cough drops, the scent of household cleaning supplies — that inspired her to mount Not a Lemon, an art show at the Scott Ellsworth Gallery inside the outdoor goods retailer Alite Outpost's Mission location. The gallery space is tiny, but Dornadic managed to include 50 works, mostly by local artists. (Local in this case encompasses the East Bay and South Bay, which Dornadic, as a San Mateo resident wanted to include, and which are definitely regions more hospitable to happy citrus groves.
  • Peter Lawrence Kane

  • Peter Lawrence Kane
While many of the works are quite straightforward exercises in sunny shades of yellow, others go farther. T. Garrett Eaton's forlorn painting of a lemon on a shelf takes the subject matter of a still life and imbues it with an Edward Hopper pathos. An image of two beefy, pierced African-American men sipping the same pitcher of icy lemonade through straws has undeniable erotic undertones but could plausibly be read as ordinary male bonding. Perhaps the cleverest image is Sara Myrup Diamond's photograph of a Buddha's hand with manicured tips appended to its citron fingers and the title Eightfold Pith (a reference to Buddhism's Eightfold Path).

Initially, Dornadic had planned on showing 25 or so pieces, it inevitably expanded when people told her that such-and-such wrote a book on lemons, or had done work that was impossible to exclude, curatorially speaking. (There is also work by an artist named Jenny Lemons.)

Dornadic has done shows based around a simple premise before. The most thematically similar effort was Strike Away, a show she put together with Courtney Cerruti at Paxton Gate Curiosity for Kids last spring that consisted solely of art made out of matchboxes and matchsticks. It was much larger than Not a Lemon, with 500 pieces by 250 artists mounted on foamcore. (Dornadic called it "insanity," but in a happy sense.)
  • Peter Lawrence Kane
  • Peter Lawrence Kane
"I like themed exhibits, because I think when you give artists a couple rules, and they really know how to push them and break them, they do this amazing work that they would never do," she says. "So many people come up to me and say 'Thank you for giving me a homework assignment.'"

Apart from the lemon theme — the name "Not a Lemon" pays homage to Magritte's Surrealist image of a pipe, The Treachery of Images, with its playfully profound caption "Ceci n'est pas un pipe," or "This is not a pipe" — the only stipulation was size. (But even then, Dornadic was relaxed about policing anyone's artistic license.)

One drawing, of a chubby gerbil, takes the Surrealist nod to its logical endpoint. "This is not a lemon," the caption beneath the rodent reads. "He just looks sour."

Not a Lemon, through Aug. 14, at the Scott Ellsworth Gallery, in Alite Outpost, 3376 18th St., 415-626-1526.

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Friday, April 15, 2016

Perpetual Motion: Automata Art Form Gets Inaugural Exhibition

Posted By on Fri, Apr 15, 2016 at 10:30 AM

Haney poses with several of his pieces. - TOM HANEY/FACEBOOK
  • Tom Haney/Facebook
  • Haney poses with several of his pieces.

Automata, a little-known art form which enjoyed great popularity during the 19th century, is making a comeback. Perpetual Motion: Contemporary Interpretations of Fine Art Automata will revive the genre when it holds an opening reception on April 16 at Heron Arts. Curated by Automata artist Tom Haney, the exhibition will display works by eleven national and international Automata creators.

Automata became popular because of the ability of the pieces to mimic life and generally dazzle people with movement. They fell out of favor with the advent of movies and more modern pastimes, but in the past two decades, more and more American artists have been creating them and a network of these particular people has formed thanks to the internet.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

USF's Mapping “The East" Artfully Traces Cultural Biases Over Time

Posted By on Tue, Apr 5, 2016 at 12:30 PM

John Speed's 1626 masterpiece, The Kingdome of China newly augmented, is cooler than your father's Thomas Guide. - MANRESA GALLERY
  • Manresa Gallery
  • John Speed's 1626 masterpiece, The Kingdome of China newly augmented, is cooler than your father's Thomas Guide.

In this era of precise, convenient and regularly updated mapping apps that guide users via step-by-step directions, no one wants to squint at and decipher directions on a traditional paper map.  This theory is easily disproven by visiting Mapping "The East": Envisioning Asia in the Age of Exploration at Manresa Gallery.  The 20 16th- and 17th-century maps and guidebooks contained in the exhibition, culled from collections at Tokyo's Sophia University and University of San Francisco's Ricci Institute, are stunningly imaginative works of art as well as historically relevant demonstrations of early European attitudes toward Asians in the Age of Exploration.  Designed by European cartographers, these unique artifacts also remind us of how age-old cross-cultural relations still impact us today. Mapping "The East" runs through May 22 at Manresa Gallery. 

SF Weekly spoke to Mapping "The East"'s co-curator Madeline E. Warner (USF class of ’15) about developing the exhibit, the interesting cultural biases she uncovered along the way and why historic maps are worth far more than their weight in paper — even in the age of Google Maps. 

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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center Sounds Like a Stock Exchange. But It's a Cultural Space.

Posted By on Tue, Dec 1, 2015 at 11:00 AM

  • Courtesy the artist and bitforms gallery
  • Mesocosm (Wink, Texas)

There is a new venue for creative types, and it's in an unlikely place.

The Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center, on the corner of Howard and First streets — in the one area of town where people routinely wear pantsuits and ties — is collaborating with the Brooklyn nonprofit art and technology center Eyebeam to launch its new gallery space. Inaugurating their year-long partnership is an exhibit this Thursday, Dec. 5, showcasing multimedia artwork from former Eyebeam Resident Marina Zurkow, whose past work includes things like a five-course dinner highlighting invasive species (Not an Artichoke, Nor From Jerusalem) and a temporary "convention center" in the Guadalupe River in downtown San Jose (Paradoxical Sleep).

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Intergalactic Franciscans and Junípero Serra Protests in Interwoven

Posted By on Tue, Nov 24, 2015 at 2:00 PM

Katie Dorame, Mission Revolt, 2014.
  • Katie Dorame, Mission Revolt, 2014.

This September, Pope Francis visited the US to canonize Junípero Serra, who is respected and reviled across California, depending on one’s definition of ethnic cleansing. This year, as every year, fourth graders across the state will choose one of the missions Serra helped establish to build out of sugar cubes and toothpicks. They may even visit their local mission, before moving on to other state educational standards.

Katie Dorame, one of 15 artists included in Interwoven: Indigenous Contemporary at the USF’s Thatcher Gallery, remembers these field trips and grade school lessons well from her childhood in the Los Angeles area. As an adult, Dorame realized that her younger self didn’t see enough alternatives to the history of the Spanish conquest of California, including her Tongva ancestors who suffered greatly following the establishment of Mission San Gabriel Arcángel in 1771.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Surrealist Leonor Fini Exhibit Extended Until Dec. 5

Posted By on Wed, Nov 18, 2015 at 11:00 AM

  • Weinstein Gallery
Active from the 1930s until her death in 1996, Surrealist artist Leonor Fini is known for her brightly colored paintings of women. Currently showcased at the Weinstein Gallery, "Leonor Fini: Réalisme irréel" was recently extended through Dec. 5.

Although this is the fourth Fini exhibition the gallery has done, it’s different from their others in that it focuses not just on Fini’s art, but also on the “kind of person Fini was,” according to gallery director Kendy Genovese. In addition to selected works by Fini, Genovese said the exhibition will also feature “never before seen photos of Fini” to provide viewers with a bigger picture.

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Monday, November 16, 2015

WHEW!: Artists' Television Access Signs 5-Year Lease

Posted By on Mon, Nov 16, 2015 at 4:00 PM

Katie Bush's Tomorrow's Boners of Gay, at ATA in June 2014. - PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane
  • Katie Bush's Tomorrow's Boners of Gay, at ATA in June 2014.

It’s not the end of ISIS, but here is some good news for a troubled world. Artists’ Television Access, the wonderful and increasingly anachronistic gallery space, venue, and nonprofit on Valencia, has signed a lease to age in place for at least the next five years. It’s been around since 1984 as an all-volunteer, artist-run enterprise dedicated to experimental art with a media focus. I'm not going to attempt to catalogue the loss of so many arts spaces and galleries in the last five years, but suffice it to say that only a few months after the Dark Room, this would have been a genuine catastrophe.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Elderly Asian Hipsters of Chinatown Pretty Come to 41 Ross Gallery

Posted By on Tue, Nov 10, 2015 at 12:00 PM

  • Andria Lo/Chinatown Pretty

Few things warm our hearts more than the sight of Senior Hipsters. Whether they're impeccably attired riding the 45-Stockton or just looking good while pushing a grocery cart up a steep street, older San Franciscans who take time to look their best make the rest of us unafraid of growing old in a youth-obsessed city with a challenging terrain.

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Black Mail Show: Helping "San Francisco Bring Black Back"

Posted By on Thu, Oct 29, 2015 at 4:16 PM

Michael Covington (Database), Arrington West (A GUY NAMED WEST), Joonbug, and Chris Martin - VICKY SINH
  • Vicky Sinh
  • Michael Covington (Database), Arrington West (A GUY NAMED WEST), Joonbug, and Chris Martin

“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.”

Aristotle uttered these words, realizing art isn't just pretty colors, and rich paints and some designs put together in an aesthetically pleasing way. It's about emotion, experiences, perception, about life. Curated by CRWNRS (CROWNOURS), the Black Mail show, which opened Oct. 16 at the Luggage Store Gallery, is five black male artists — Arrington West, Michael Covington, Chris Martin, Joonbug, and Muzae Sesay — sharing their art, their lives, and their desire to keep art in San Francisco alive. Meet the artists behind Black Mail representing their “outer appearance of things:”

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  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"