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Light One Up 

Burning Man regulars flip the switch

SAT 5/14

When art majors say "light," they're usually referring to painterly shadows or shading techniques like chiaroscuro. But when the artists of BORG2 say it, they likely mean the real McCoy: high-voltage incandescent bulbs, otherworldly neon, tesla coils, black bulbs, and good old-fashioned combustion. Get the lowdown on using light as a live medium at the "Illuminated Disaster" Blacklight Ball, an art festival and dance event thrown by BORG2 (which is funding and curating art for Burning Man 2005) and Mysdom Giant Glow Puppet Theatre, home to the desert festival's fire puppets. Although the ball isn't concerned with blowing stuff up or setting things ablaze -- that comes later at Black Rock City -- it'll have plenty of electricity flowing, with more than a dozen artists showing off their light boxes, neon sculptures, black-light paintings, LED installations, and what publicity materials call "amazing light machines." And yes, there'll even be a crackling tesla coil.

If the art turns you on, head to the dance floor for live music from Boenobo the Klown and Gooferman (whose Web site says the group's members dress in "neo-post-sub-modern clown costumes"), light-spinning performances by the Fire Arts Collective, "light poi" by Glitter Girl, and assorted jugglers and stilt-walkers. The raucous sounds extend into the night with primordial taiko drumming and electric beats by DJs Prana, Chakka, Solsken, and others. Performances, discussions, and demonstrations start at 5 p.m., and dancing begins at 8, at Studio Z, 314 11th St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $10; call 252-7666 or visit
-- Michael Leaverton

Body Art

ONGOING 5/14-10/30

Fashion is about much more than matching shoes with handbags or banning the wearing of white after Labor Day. And "Artwear: Fashion and Anti-fashion," a retrospective of wearable art spanning 35 years and more than 100 pieces, proves it. The show begins its study with crocheted garments worn by 1960s fashionistas and moves through the decades to modern-day haute couture. The exhibit includes a hippie-era hand-painted rainbow wedding dress, a knitted Tibetan tiger jacket, and items from designers Kansai Yamamoto and Issey Miyake. "Artwear" opens Saturday at 9:30 a.m. (and continues through Oct. 30) at the Legion of Honor, 100 34th Ave. (at Clement), S.F. Admission is $2-12; call 863-3336 or visit
-- Jane Tunks

Opening Wide
Constructing art

FRI 5/13

Anything Scott Snibbe does is OK by me: The man mixes Buddhist mindfulness and cutting-edge computer gimcracks to make astonishing art. His involvement alone would be reason enough to check out the opening reception for "Social Construction" and "Cross Cuts," but other incentives abound.

The experimental video program "Cross Cuts" is five weeks long and includes work from around the world. The art in the exhibit "Social Construction" (which Snibbe co-curated) involves collaboration with, as the gallery's Web site puts it, "other organisms." This credo translates into pieces like John Knuth's Paintings, for which he rigged up a contraption that encouraged flies to eat paint and excrete it onto a canvas. But my favorite is Barbara Bartos' Philosopher's Stone: two hollow plastic brains filled with live bees. The reception begins at 7 p.m. (and the shows continue through June 18) at Southern Exposure, 401 Alabama (at 17th Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 863-2141 or visit
-- Hiya Swanhuyser

Peels of Laughter
Online satirists make us cry

THURS 5/12

If it weren't for The Onion, I would never have peed my pants while sitting at my desk, reading headlines like "Heaven Not as Opulent as Vatican, Reports Disappointed Pope" and "Microsoft Patents Ones, Zeros." In fact, the parodic weekly made people across America laugh with its post-9/11 edition, which screamed, "America Vows to Defeat Whoever We're at War With" and "Hijackers Surprised to Find Themselves in Hell." The newspaper has only grown in popularity since then; its sardonic Web site has more than 2 million readers a week. Now the irrepressible geniuses behind "America's Finest News Source" are in town to hold forth on their creative reporting with an educational slide show and discussion. Comedian Patton Oswalt keeps the scribes in line at 8 p.m. at the Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness (at Grove), S.F. Admission is $18.50; call 392-4400 or visit
-- Jane Tunks

My Little Ponys

WED 5/11

Celebration Castle is the second full-length recording from Chicago's Ponys. Though someone in the band apparently can't spell, we don't care, because that someone is part of an act that can go from a slight rockabilly vocal throb over a spare, Flat Duo Jets type guitar riff to a lush Cure-inflected chorus with shimmery keyboards in a matter of seconds. The Ponys are a rock band, despite their roots and pop moments, one with the nerve to rely on Richard Hell's influence. And rock ain't about spelling anyway. Plastic Crimewave Sound and Nathaniel Mayer open at 9:30 p.m. at Café Du Nord, 2170 Market (at Sanchez), S.F. Admission is $10; call 861-5016 or visit
-- Hiya Swanhuyser


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