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Friday, March 25, 2016

Roman Vishniac Rediscovered: Breathtaking Exhibit at Contemporary Jewish Museum

Posted By on Fri, Mar 25, 2016 at 1:00 PM

Roman Vishniac - CJM
  • CJM
  • Roman Vishniac

Currently on display through May 29, Contemporary Jewish Museum's photo exhibition Roman Vishniac Rediscovered is a breathtaking journey back to Europe, immediately before and immediately after the Holocaust.

Roman Vishniac (1897-1990) was a Russian Jew who took hundreds of photographs of Jewish communities in Europe during the years leading up to World War II. Emigrating to New York City in 1940, he became an accomplished portrait photographer. Portraits on display at CJM include scientist Albert Einstein and Yiddish stage star Molly Picon.

In 1947 Vishniac returned to Europe and documented the struggles of survivors. 

One might wonder how many of the photo subjects made it through the war years alive. Looking at haunting images of an older couple carrying their groceries home in pre-war Poland, or at a photo of children playing in the street, with Nazi flags clearly visible in the background, one can only surmise that they weren't long for this world. 

A Polish couple, 1938. - ROMAN VISHNIAC/CJM
  • Roman Vishniac/CJM
  • A Polish couple, 1938.

Photos taken post-war include images of a woman walking her dog amidst the rubble of destroyed buildings in Berlin and shots of survivors in displacement camps These images illustrate the magnitude of the devastation which Europeans — Jews and non-Jews alike — endured as a result of the rise of the Nazis. 

Some of the images are chilling: Vishniac photographed his own daughter standing in front of a Hitler campaign poster when Hitler was running for German Chancellor in 1933 — that photo now hangs on the wall at CJM. Next to it hangs the actual poster.

Attendees will hear the words of one of Vishniac's subjects. David Eckstein, born in Europe in 1930 and photographed by Vishniac in 1938, was one of the lucky ones. Eckstein now lives in the U.S. Next to his photo is a small video monitor with which visitors can hear him share his story via earphones.

The exhibition includes some of Vishniac's photos from Berlin, circa 1929, when the city was a glittering metropolis, a haven for artists, filmmakers, writers, and the era's LGBT community. 

As one museum patron noted to her friend, it can happen here. The rise of Donald Trump, and the passage of a sweeping anti-LGBT bill in North Carolina serves as a harsh reminder that what we enjoy in the Bay Area is not infallible.

Roman Vishniac: Rediscovered illustrates what we have to lose. It can happen anywhere.

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Monday, November 2, 2015

Queer Photo Journalists Document Community History At SF Public Library

Posted By on Mon, Nov 2, 2015 at 12:00 PM

Local drag icon Heklina at the Castro Theater, 2005 - RICK GERHARTER
  • Rick Gerharter
  • Local drag icon Heklina at the Castro Theater, 2005

For many years, Rick Gerharter and Jane Philomen Cleland have been the photographers-in-residence at Bay Area Reporter, San Francisco's venerable LGBT weekly. They've covered scores of events: Pride Parades, street fairs, political rallies, openings at the Castro Theater, and much more. Their work now stands as an historical document of the queer community as it existed over the past several decades.

Gerharter and Cleland have now joined forces. Their new photo exhibit Daily and Transcendent: 25+ Years of Queer Photo Journalistic Portraits , is now underway in the Jewett Gallery on the lower level of the San Francisco Main Library. The show will remain on exhibition through Jan. 3, 2016.

Gerharter and Cleland spoke to SF Weekly about their work and about the exhibition.

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

"Current Photography From Colombia" Shares the Colombian Experience with S.F.

Posted By on Thu, Sep 24, 2015 at 1:00 PM

"Guardians" - LUZ ELENA CASTRO
  • Luz Elena Castro
  • "Guardians"

Colombia is a country overflowing with love, pain, faith, and through it all, a sense of survival. It is a nation that has suffered, working hard to not be shrouded in the stereotypical veil of drugs, violence, and scandal. However, these things did happen, shaping the country. Photography, often the truest truth, captures these moments, these movements, these feelings. Four Colombian photographers — Jaime Ávila, Zoraida Díaz, Luz Elena Castro, and Andrés Felipe Orjuela — offer their visual representation of the Colombian experience in the exhibition Fourth World: Current Photography from Colombia, curated by Carolina Ponce de León and Santiago Rueda Fajardo, and running through October 24 at SF Camerawork.

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Monday, August 31, 2015

Behind the Lens With Street Photographer Ken Walton

Posted By on Mon, Aug 31, 2015 at 11:30 AM

  • Ken Walton

“You’re always hunting for something, for that perfect shot, for that perfect situation to come together and then it’s up to you to capture it.”

Ken Walton hunts people for a living. The San Francisco-based photographer aims his weapon of choice, a fujifilm x100t, at innocent bystanders engaged in obscene behavior. Walton, who refers to what he loves as “street photography”, has developed a knack for scoping out moments of absurdity before they happen.

“I wait around for that right situation that looks like it’s going to be good and I’m getting better and better at sensing when those are going to happen.” Ken Walton told SF Weekly. “I just love being out there. It’s like the thrill of the’s a bit of a rush to get really close to a situation that might be harry or there might be emotion involved or whatever and just to get right up in the middle of it and start snapping photos.”

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Documenting Burning Man's Construction, Through Wind and Rain

Posted By on Thu, Aug 20, 2015 at 1:00 PM

  • Toby Silverman

As you enter Black Rock City, the scene is otherworldly, like a refugee camp on the moon. For a moment, all you can see are the ragtag encampments — tents, RVs, and a few modest structures set up on the dried lake bed. But suddenly, the view opens, and the Playa becomes visible — marooned pirate ships, hundred-foot ant farms, fire-breathing art cars and the lit-up Man. It is utterly overwhelming—unfathomable in scale, oddness, and  LED.

But for Toby Silverman, a local photographer who attended his fifth Burn last summer — this time as part of the Temple building crew — the view was quite different.

“We came down that hill and it was just completely empty,” he told SF Weekly. “Center Camp was just a set of poles. The Man was just some legs.”

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

San Francisco Looks Better in Black-and-White

Posted By on Wed, Aug 12, 2015 at 10:00 AM

7:03-8:03am | Marina - KEVIN B. JONES
  • Kevin B. Jones
  • 7:03-8:03am | Marina

We didn’t get much rain last winter, but it turns out the shortest, darkest day of the year yielded quite a bit of moodiness. The Dryansky Gallery commissioned 24 Bay Area photographers to shoot black-and-white pictures during a 24-hour period around the winter solstice, and the forlorn, fog-bound city they captured feels at once placeless and instantly recognizable. Randomly assigning each artist to particular neighborhood, Project 24 San Francisco's organizers assured that San Francisco in its entirety would be covered.

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Monday, August 3, 2015

Unfiltered: Chatting With the Duo Behind @PolaroidSF

Posted By on Mon, Aug 3, 2015 at 4:00 PM

  • PolaroidSF

Bruce Scott and Billy Westley moved to San Francisco five years ago, but they talk about a neighborhood’s hidden as if the backstreets gave them life. However, the Polaroid cameras around their necks serve as better evidence of their street knowledge than the tender way they talk about the City, their city.

Scott and Westley founded PolaroidSF in 2011 as a photographic memoir of San Francisco. For the past four years, they've posted a Polaroid image of San Francisco every single day. And what started as a need to scratch their analog itch — as well as express their undying gratitude for and to the city — soon turned into a project that struck a chord with more people than expected.

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Monday, July 20, 2015

Who Wants to See Marilyn Monroe's Only Fine Art Nude Photos?

Posted By on Mon, Jul 20, 2015 at 1:00 PM


Best known for its Belle Epoque posters of fin-de-siecle French tabacs and Art Nouveau motifs, Sarah Stocking’s Jackson Square shop is about to get a jolt of blonde ambition.

A traveling tour and sale of 21 color separations and the original print of the only fine art nude photography session that Marilyn Monroe ever did is coming, Aug. 5-8, from LimitedRuns, along with prints of other never-before-seen images. In total, the collection is expected to net several million dollars, and will move on to New York from here, if unsold.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

"Third Eye Vision": Hip Hop's Phesto Dee's Solo Photography Exhibition

Posted By on Tue, Jun 16, 2015 at 8:00 AM

  • Self-portrait by Phesto Dee

As one quarter of the hip-hop group Souls of Mischief, Phesto Dee found musical prominence at a young age, as the group released its classic record, '93 Til Infinity, when he was just one year out of high school. He has spent the last two decades solidifying his reputation as one of the most complex lyricists in the Oakland-based hip-hop collective Hieroglyphics, as well as releasing three solo records and making a name for himself as a producer. But while Dee was building an admirable career for himself as a musician, he was also honing his eye as a visual artist, creating an collection of work that paints an intimate portrait of life on the road and his daily life in the Bay.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Right Swipe Pics: Business Aiming to Make Your Tinder Pics Look Better Recently Expanded to San Francisco

Posted By on Tue, May 19, 2015 at 4:00 PM

Izaurralde and Nanda on a shoot in the Haight in May 2015 - JESSICA NEMIRE
  • Jessica Nemire
  • Izaurralde and Nanda on a shoot in the Haight in May 2015

Miami photographer Maria Izaurralde makes people look good on Tinder for a living.

Izaurralde’s business — called Right Swipe Pics, for the obvious reasons — focuses on taking flattering pictures of people (mostly men) for their online dating profiles.

Izaurralde said she initially got the idea for her business because when she's on a date, she naturally notices which lightings and settings make her date look more attractive.

“If someone looks really good in a certain light, I want to capture that, for example,” Izaurralde said. “I want to make people look sexy.”

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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.'"