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Amy Regalia at SF Camerawork; Ana Teresa Fernandez at Braunstein/Quay Gallery

Wednesday, Jul 4 2007
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Photographer Amy Regalia shoots yard trimmings in her home town of San Jose, a city that allows the waste to be set out loose in the street for pick-up. It may not sound like much, but by putting the garbage front and center, Regalia elevates the little heaps to the status of fetish objects that seem compellingly out of place in their drab subdivision settings. In one photo, a pile of trimmed tree branches seems to be communing with the shorn tree behind it. In another, a cluster of oranges in the gutter looks like an offering to the gods set in front of an anonymous gray fence. A bundle of cactus cuttings sits in front of a perfectly mowed lawn. A heap of dead leaves half-obscures a toy car. Around the neat piles of yard waste, beige ranch-style houses compete with electrical wires and minivans for space. The title of Regalia's show, "Leavings," hints at the lonesome feeling evoked by these photos. Some larger story seems to loom; one senses that, out here, garbage isn't the only thing being disposed of. —T.V.
Through July 14 at SF Camerawork, 657 Mission St., second floor, S.F.; admission is $5, $2 for students and seniors; call 512-2020 or visit www.sfcamerawork.org

"Men want a lady at the table, and a whore in the bed." Ana Teresa Fernandez first heard that saying as a young girl in Mexico and she uses this sadistic macho paradox to inspire her surrealistic oil paintings, now on display at Braunstein/Quay Gallery. In the paintings, Mexican women perform household cleaning tasks while dressed in "the quintessential little black dress, a symbol of American prosperity," as the gallery notes put it. Fernandez, a San Francisco Art Institute grad, models her paintings on photographs of her own performance pieces. Untitled 2 shows women sweeping sand from the San Diego/Tijuana border; in Untitled 1, a female figure attempts to mop up ocean waves. In her Press series, a woman straddles an ironing board in attitudes of erotic exhaustion. Clearly, Fernandez understands that Sisyphus has nothing on housework — but the racial and sexual overtones also seem to imply that overcoming chauvinism is infinite work as well. Fernandez has said that that her work "demonstrates how women identify their strengths and sensuality in performing labor in which there is no visible economic or social value, and most often is seen as dirty." By throwing the dirt back in our faces, she wakes us up to its implications. —T.V.
Through July 28 at Braunstein/Quay Gallery, 430 Clementina, S.F.; call 278-9850 or visit www.bquayartgallery.com.

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Traci Vogel

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