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Our critics weigh in on local exhibits 


"The Dust Never Settles." In this thought-provoking group exhibit, four contemporary artists respond to the centennial of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Inspired by photographs of survivors setting up "house" outdoors with only their furniture, Claudia Tennyson's repurposed domestic objects are both inventive and cautionary. An easy chair draped in an emergency-orange slipcover, Untitled (Chair) includes handy pockets for knitting and Kleenex, as well as a toothbrush, fly swatter, and rubber gloves, reminding us that the comforts of home are precarious. Kate Pocrass photographs the one item — some conventional (a locket, a doll), some idiosyncratic (a pirate flag, a hard drive) — that a person would take with him in an evacuation. Printed alongside an explanatory quote on posters, they're quirky symbols of what's really important. (They'll also grace city kiosks and a blog starting July 1.) In comparison, Margaret Tedesco's flip books of confrontational scenes from old movies seem impersonal and out of place. Far more intriguing is The Rate of Transfer, in which artist Patricia Diart will spend the duration of the exhibition reconstructing a demolished kitchen in the window at the View 155 gallery. Footage of several large men dismantling the kitchen plays on a monitor, while behind it you can watch the diminutive Diart diligently piecing together the same room from piles of cracked and broken parts. The contrast between the video and the performance reminds us that destruction is far easier and quicker than recovery; though Diart's efforts are a heroic attempt to restore what has been lost, the place will never be the same. In our post-Katrina moment, it's a poignant reminder that no amount of rebuilding can ever turn back the clock. Through Aug. 26 at SFAC Gallery, 401 Van Ness (at Grove); View 155, 155 Grove (at Polk); and the San Francisco Public Library, Main Branch, 100 Larkin (at Grove), all in S.F. Admission is free; call 554-6080 or visit (Sharon Mizota) Reviewed June 28.

"The Elegant Gathering: The Yeh Family Collection." This exhibition takes bygone practices and concludes that the meticulous clay work of Korea is not as remote as it may first appear. "The Elegant Gathering" comprises 80 paintings and calligraphed items collected over three generations by the Yeh family, a Cantonese clan made up of imperial bureaucrats, national ambassadors, and college professors who represented the cultural illuminati of 20th-century China. The family's practice of yaji, or "elegant gatherings," at which rich people talked art and literature and engaged in some substantial commerce, is reflected in the delicate scrolls of masters like Mi Fu, Fu Shan, and Zhang Daqian. Through Sept. 17 at the Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin (at McAllister), S.F. Admission is free-$10; call 581-3500 or visit (Nirmala Nataraj) Reviewed March 22.

"Sequence." Timothy Nolan's reductive paintings are paroxysms of obsessive patterning. Inspired by the weave and texture of fabric, their networks of lines and simple shapes look both mathematical and natural, suggesting constellations, crystalline structures, or light filtering through trees. The large painting Converge is a net of white starbursts on black that creates the illusion of a faceted, organic texture. It's as if Nolan started in the center and just kept riffing on his system of lines until he got to the edges of the paper. Surge is a smaller work that feels more decorous and self-contained; its arrangement of marks floats just short of the edge of the panel. Nolan makes no attempt to hide the quality of his brushwork, and gets a surprising range of effects out of what is essentially the same arrangement — intersecting starbursts that form prisms of shimmering black, white, silver, and gray. The vibrations of shapes and tones are enchanting, all the more so for the casualness with which they're executed and the simplicity of their materials. Slide, the exhibit's only sculptural piece, is an array of triangles of white and gray card stock affixed to rows of fishing line with metal office clips. It creates a flickering, unexpectedly complex web of light and shade. This balance of abstract pattern and everyday style gives the works a delicacy and physical presence that's quirky, yet sublime. Through July 8 at Heather Marx Gallery, 77 Geary (at Grant), Second Floor, S.F. Admission is free; call 627-9111 or visit (Sharon Mizota) Reviewed June 28.

"Shomei Tomatsu: Skin of the Nation." This first U.S. retrospective of the Japanese photographer's oeuvre cuts a wide swath through the modern history of Japan. Captured with candor and a gentle intelligence, Tomatsu's subjects encompass the everyday effects of WWII devastation, American military occupation, and the ensuing Westernization of Japan. His eye for telling detail and critical nuance gives his works an immediacy and freshness that balances the specific humanity of his subjects with stories of national and global proportions. For example, his pictures of atomic bomb survivors are restrained and demure, while his images of the objects that survived the blast speak volumes. The vessel in Bottle Melted and Deformed by Atomic Bomb Heat, Radiation, and Fire, Nagasaki is twisted and bloated like a deformed limb or a mutant fetus. It's a graphic stand-in for the devastated flesh and psyches of the bombs' human survivors, whose scars Tomatsu was too respectful to probe fully with the camera. This sensitivity also shows up in his ambivalent portraits of Americans during the occupation. Part of a series titled "Chewing Gum and Chocolate" (after the treats that U.S. soldiers handed out to Japanese children), some images are overtly critical — two young black men harassing a Japanese woman, the sole of a white soldier's boot looming above the camera — but others capture a tentative air of unease that betrays Tomatsu's sympathy for even the most antipathetic subjects. Through Aug. 16 at SFMOMA, 151 Third St. (between Mission and Howard), S.F. Admission is free-$12.50; call 357-4000 or visit (Sharon Mizota) Reviewed May 31.

"The Three Gorges Project: Paintings by Liu Xiaodong." To make way for China's Three Gorges Dam, thousands of villages will be submerged and more than a million people displaced along the Yangzi River. Liu's massive paintings of the region are suitably panoramic, but their balance of carefully observed detail and symbolic elements reveals not just the vast scope of the project, but also its darker human toll. In Displaced Population, six tired-looking men stand above the valley where the dam is being built holding a long metal rod on their shoulders. Composed of four panels, the image is slightly misaligned at each seam so that the rod shifts upward from left to right. Presaging the rising level of the water, it also charts a quietly building emotional tension. In the background, we see the transition in more literal terms: The gray ruins of a demolished city give way to a riverbed dotted with bright blue construction tents. Newly Displaced Population tracks a generation gap, juxtaposing wayward little boys with toy guns, disaffected teenagers, and lonely middle-aged men. Tumbling improbably through the dull sky above them is a duck that looks as if it's just been shot, a crystallization of latent violence. Throughout, Liu's loose, casual brushwork makes the works feel like snapshots of a transitional moment, capturing the evanescence of an old way of life and the brutish birth of a new one. Through July 16 at the Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin (at McAllister), S.F. Admission is free-$10; call 581-3500 or visit (Sharon Mizota) Reviewed April 26.

Also Showing



Amaru Gallery. "Orgullo": Through July 22. 510 Valencia (at 16th St.), 552-3787,

City Hall. "1906-2006 Rebuilding: Then and Now": A collection of historical and contemporary photos of workers constructing and reconstructing San Francisco. Opening reception is July 5 at 5 p.m. Through Aug. 25. 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Pl. (at Fulton), 554-5184.

Lisa Dent Gallery. "Summer Group Show": New work by Sean Horchy, Candice Lin, and Tim Sullivan. Opening reception is June 29 from 6 p.m. June 29-July 28. 660 Mission (at Annie), 975-0860,

Needles & Pens. "Grand Re-Opening Benefit Art Show": Through July 29. 483 14th St. (at Guerrero), 255-1534,

Richmond Art Center. "4 Ways: Art from the Emerging Teen Artists Program": Mixed media exhibit of work by high school students. Opening reception is July 8 at 2 p.m. Through Aug. 13. "Microcosm": Group exhibition including work by Sydney Buffman, Reed Danziger, Alison Foshee, Benicia Gantner, Dee Hibbert-Jones, Seth Koen, Seth Minor, Sean Olson, Mel Prest, Nomi Talisman, Victoria Wagner, Alexis Weidig, and Renee Whitworth. Opening reception is July 8 at 2 p.m. Through Aug. 13. "Eighth International Juried Enamel Exhibition": Exhibition of contemporary enamel work. Opening reception is July 8 at 2 p.m. Through Aug. 13. "Cast-Offs": New work by James Gouldthorpe. Opening reception is July 8 at 2 p.m. Through Aug. 13. 22540 Barrett (Civic Center Plaza), Richmond, 510-620-6772.

San Francisco Art Institute. "San Francisco Art Institute Exhibitions": Ongoing student exhibitions change weekly, with opening receptions on Tuesdays from 5 to 6 p.m. Daily. 800 Chestnut (at Jones), 771-7020,

Intersection for the Arts. "State of the Nation: Intersection's Summer Art Auction": Benefit auction featuring work by Kim Abeles, Brad K. Alder, Conrad Atkinson, Amy Berk, Claudia Bernardi, Sandow Birk, Carlos Cartagena, Victor Cartagena, May Chan, Scott Chernis, Chris Cobb, Ali Dadgar, Binh Danh, Lauren Davies, Lewis deSoto, Ala Ebtekar, Amanda Eicher, Tia Factor, Erez Golan, Jesse Gottesman, Robert Gutierrez, Paul Hayes, Jonn Herschend, Su-Chen Hung, Chris Johanson, Monica Johnson, Kathryn Kenworth, Noah Lang, Richard Lang, Judith Selby Lang, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Ken Light, Leslie Linnebur, Bernie Lubell, Scott MacLeod, Kara Maria, Sean McFarland, Julio Morales, Elizabeth Moy, Abner Nolan, Patrick Piazza, Maria Porges, Rigo 23, Brion Nuda Rosch, Favianna Rodriguez, Rebeka Rodriguez, Jos Sances, Andrew Schoultz, Luc Schwab, Winston Smith, Tracey Snelling, Heather Sparks, Stephanie Syjuco, Megan Wilson, Christine Wong Yap, and Rene Yung. Live auction is June 29 at 7:30 p.m. Through June 29. 446 Valencia (at 15th St.), 626-3311, Asian Art Museum. "The Three Gorges Project: Paintings by Liu Xiaodong": A series of monumental paintings by one of China's leading artists chronicling the Three Gorges Dam project, a massive 17-year effort to dam the Yangzi River. Through July 16. "From the Fire" and "The Elegant Gathering": Through Sept. 17. "Elephants on Parade": Highlights include an elaborate silver howdah made for a raja's use in ceremonial processions, sculptures of caparisoned elephants, and British and Indian paintings. Through Aug. 6. "In a New Light: The Asian Art Museum Collection": A display of more than 2,500 objects from the museum's permanent collection explores the major cultures of Asia. Daily. Free with museum admission. "Shadows, Masks and Music: Aspects of the Performing Arts in Asia": The museum displays a diverse collection of musical instruments, set designs, costumes, and masks that are used in Asian performances. Tuesdays-Sundays. Free with museum admission. Gallery Tours: Trained museum docents offer both general introductions to the museum's collections as well as tours that highlight special exhibitions. Tuesdays-Sundays, 11, 11:30 a.m., 1 & 2 p.m. Free with museum admission. Architectural Tours: Learn about the transformation of the old San Francisco Main Public Library into the Asian Art Museum's new quarters with this regular tour. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays-Sundays, 12 & 2:30 p.m.; Thursdays, 12, 2:30 & 6:30 p.m. Free with museum admission. "Asian Art Museum Storytelling": Each weekend the museum leads a family-oriented tour through a particular exhibit, followed up by a retelling of stories related to the exhibits. Sundays, 1 p.m.; First Saturday of every month, 1 p.m. Free with museum admission. "Family Art Encounter": Drop in to make arts and crafts pieces related to the museum's current exhibits. First Saturday of every month, 1 p.m.; First Tuesday of every month, 11 a.m. Free with museum admission. Target Tuesday Family Program: Each month this special family program presents an activity connected with Asian art and customs. First Tuesday of every month, 11 a.m. Free with museum admission. 200 Larkin (at McAllister), 581-3500,

Berkeley Art Museum. First Impressions: Free First Thursdays: Check out a world of art and film with free entry to the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive each month. Thursdays, 11 a.m. Free. 2626 Bancroft (at Telegraph), Berkeley, 510-642-0808,

Cable Car Museum. Permanent Exhibit: Located in a historic cable car powerhouse, the museum displays a variety of cable car gear, historic photographs, installations explaining how the cars work, and several antique vehicles. Daily. Free. 1201 Mason (at Washington), 474-1887.

California Academy of Sciences. Docent Highlight Tours: Tours given by Academy docents highlight the HOTSPOT exhibit and Steinhart Aquarium. Ask the Information Desk for meeting place and times. Wednesdays-Fridays. "Astrobiology: Life in the Extreme": A permanent exhibition that explores the types of environments in the universe that could support life. Daily. "Illustrating the Sierra's Wildlife: The Artist's Studio Live": See first-hand the process of creating a field guide to more than 1,200 species of plants, fungi, and animals of the Sierra Nevada. Naturalist Jack Laws creates scientific illustrations inside a specially designed studio within the HOTSPOT exhibit. Tuesdays-Fridays, 10:30 a.m. African Penguin Feedings: Watch an Academy biologist enter the penguin tank to toss vitamin-stuffed fish to the African penguins. Visitors can ask questions and talk to the birds' caretakers during the feeding shows. Daily, 11 a.m. & 3:30 p.m. Snake Feeding: Watch whip snakes feed on fish. Fridays, 2 p.m. free with museum admission. "Hands-on Science": Visitors of all ages can examine microscopic aquatic life or study adaptations of marine animals with Academy docents and interns. Wednesdays-Fridays, 4 p.m. 875 Howard (at Fifth St.), 750-7145,

Cartoon Art Museum. "Cartoon Tunes: Capturing Music in Comics": Examines the love affair between comics and music through more than 40 pieces of original artwork on themes from biographies of legendary jazz and blues musicians to childhood musical memories to illustrated song lyrics. Artists include R. Crumb, Lloyd Dangle, Gene Deitch, Eric Drooker, Gary Dumm, and many others. Through Oct. 15. 655 Mission (at New Montgomery), 227-8666,

Chabot Space & Science Center. "Astronomy in California 1850-1950: Telescope Makers, Telescopes, and Artifacts": Take a look at California's rich history in astronomy with this display of telescopes, astronomy history documents, and other ephemera. Daily. Free with museum admission, $9-$13. "Skywise — Astronomy Cartoon Exhibit": Help your child understand that vastness and majesty of space with this exhibit of astronomy comic strips. Daily. Free with museum admission, $9-$13. "Destination Universe": Take a virtual journey from the sun to the end of the cosmos with exhibits on nebulae, space travel, black holes, and moving galaxies. Daily. Free with museum admission, $9-$13. "Mars Encounter": The National Aeronautics and Space Administration sponsors this exhibit on travel to Mars, which includes data on current and past missions, a giant tactile Mars globe, and Martian meteorites. Daily. Free with museum admission, $9-$13. "One Giant Leap: A Moon Odyssey": Take a simulated moonwalk, try on a space helmet, climb into a space capsule, and virtually land a lunar module in this exhibit. Daily. Free with museum admission, $9-$13. Discovery Lab: Intended for kids aged 3-7, the Discovery Lab contains hands-on science experiments that illustrate scientific phenomena like wind and moving machines. Wednesdays-Fridays, 1 p.m.; Saturdays, 10:30 a.m.; Sundays, noon. free with museum admission, $9-$13. "Garden Days in the EnviroGarden": Explore the mysteries of planet Earth with hands-on activities, including worm composting, hiking in the forest, or building mini-volcanoes. Saturdays, noon. "Escape From the Red Planet!": The hour-long simulated mission on Mars casts kids as the crew on a struggling space shuttle. Saturdays, 12:30 & 2:30 p.m.; Sundays, 1:30 & 3:30 p.m. free with museum admission, $9-$13. 10000 Skyline (at Joaquin Miller, in Joaquin Miller Park), Oakland, 510-336-7300.

de Young Museum. "Crown Point Press: The Art of Etching": The contemporary print publisher is celebrated in this exhibition of 35 prints by 16 artists. Through Aug. 27. "From the Ground Up: American Artists of the Etching Revival": Covers the "etching revival" in the United States. Through Sept. 3. "Personal Perspectives: Aspects of European Photography": European photography from its beginnings in the 1840s up to the present. Through Sept. 17. "Highlights of the Art and Architecture of the New de Young": Enjoy a 50-minute, docent-led tour. Through Dec. 31, 10:30 a.m. "Introduction to the Masterworks of the New de Young Collections": Enjoy a 50-minute, docent-led tour. Through Dec. 31, 12:30 p.m. 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden (at JFK), 863-3330,

Exploratorium. "Traits of Life": A major exhibition area with 30 biology exhibits and demonstrations that help visitors understand the fundamental elements common to all living things from humans to amoebas. Daily. Free with museum admission. 3601 Lyon (at Marina), 397-5673,

The Holocaust Center of Northern California. "Holocaust Center of Northern California": The newly opened center's first exhibit showcases its facilities, including a library with more than 15,000 historical volumes, a reading room for screening documentaries and holding educational talks, and ongoing displays of the center's thousands of photographs and artifacts. Tuesdays, Thursdays, 1-6 p.m.; Mondays, Wednesdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Free. 121 Steuart (at Mission), 777-9060,

Lawrence Hall of Science. "Forces That Shape the Bay": The museum's permanent science park exhibit explores new ways to understand the bay. Daily. "Prove It — A ChemMystery": Kids and adults attempt to solve crimes using the basic forensic skills they learn step-by-step at the exhibit. Daily. Free with admission, free-$8.50. Centennial & Grizzly Peak, Berkeley, 510-642-5132.

Legion of Honor. "Monet in Normandy": 60 paintings from the master. Through Sept. 17. "Picasso as Book Illustrator": The greatest book illustrator of the twentieth century. Through Sept. 3. "Big Kids/Little Kids": Children aged 3 1/2 to 6 years and their parents take a gallery tour and then participate in a related hands-on art activity. Saturdays, 10:30 a.m. Free with museum admission, free-$8. "Doing and Viewing Art": Kids aged 7-12 and their families tour the Legion of Honor's galleries before taking part in a hands-on creative workshop led by a professional artist. Saturdays, 10:30 a.m. Free with museum entrance fee, free-$8. Organ Concert: Weekly organ concerts. Saturdays, Sundays, 4 p.m. free. Ford Free Tuesdays: Get in free to the Legion of Honor every Tuesday, thanks to a grant from the Ford Motor Co. Tuesdays. Free. 100 34th Ave. (near Clement), 863-3330,

Museum of Craft & Folk Art. "Will the Circle Be Unbroken": Featuring four generations of African-American quiltmakers, including Gladys Henry, Laverne Brackens, Sherry Byrd, and Bara Byrd. Through July 23. 51 Yerba Buena Lane (at Mission), 227-4888,

Oakland Museum of California. "Aftershock!": Brings to life the experiences of the men, women, and children who lived through the devastating 1906 earthquake and fire. Through Aug. 13. "Behind the Magic 50 Years of Disneyland": Go behind the scenes to see how Walt Disney and his Imagineers envisioned, created, and brought Disneyland to life. This touring exhibition includes hundreds of images and artifacts, including original artwork, construction drawings, architectural models, archival videos, promotional materials, and historic souvenirs. Through Aug. 20. 1000 Oak (at 10th St.), Oakland, 510-238-2200,

Pier 45. "Amusing America": The evolution of modern amusement parks and their effects on the American cultural landscape are examined in this conglomeration of photographs, penny-arcade machines, and other ephemera. Daily, 10 a.m. Free. Fisherman's Wharf (Taylor & Jefferson), 552-1266.

Randall Museum. "Drop-In Art and Science Workshops": Each week kids and parents can participate in artistic activities that illuminate some aspect of science. Saturdays, 1 p.m. $3 per person. "Saturdays Are Special": Ongoing weekly drop-in, hands-on art and science workshops. Saturdays, 1 p.m. Free-$3. 199 Museum (at Roosevelt), 554-9600,

Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum & Planetarium. "Leonardo Da Vinci: Artist, Scientist, Mystic": The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum will explore the life and career of Leonardo Da Vinci. Through July 20. 1342 Naglee (at Alameda), San Jose, 408-947-3636,

San Francisco Fire Museum. "Permanent Exhibits": Included among the items on display at this museum are antique fire extinguishers, old uniforms, cast-iron replicas of historic fire engines, hooks, ladders, and other ephemera. Daily. Free. 655 Presidio Avenue (at Bush), 563-4630.

San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. "Sparks, Waves & Wizards: Communication at Sea": The permanent exhibit presents artifacts exploring the means of maritime communications. Daily. Free-$6. Fort Mason Building E (Marina & Buchanan), 561-7000.

The San Francisco Museum of Craft+Design. "Designs for a Consumer Culture": The work of Raymond Loewy. Through Aug. 27. 550 Sutter St. (at Powell), 773-0303,

San Francisco Performing Arts Library & Museum. "150 Years of Dance in California": The exhibit spotlights over a century of dance in the Golden State with photographs and programs. Daily. "Maestro!: Photographic Portraits by Tom Zimberoff": The artist captures a generation of national and international conductors in his portraits. Daily. 401 Van Ness (at McAllister), 255-4800,

San Jose Museum of Art. "Inside Out: Selections From the Permanent Collection": Highlights of the museum's 35th-anniversary exhibition include Mildred Howard's Abode: Sanctuary for the Familia(r), a chamber built of blue glass bottles, and Brian Goggin's Desire for the Other, a couch stuffed with household appliances. Daily. Free. 110 South Market (at San Fernando), San Jose, 408-271-6840.

SF Maritime Museum. Permanent Collection of Ship Models: A big collection of figureheads, maritime paintings, photos, and artifacts. Daily. Fisherman's Wharf (at Polk), 556-3002.

SF Museum of Modern Art. "Shomei Tomatsu: Skin of the Nation": Through Aug. 13. "The Art of Design": A permanent exhibition of works in the museum's architecture and design collection, including works of graphic and industrial design (such as the famous Fillmore rock posters by Bonnie MacLean, Victor Moscoso, and Stanley Mouse). Daily. "Matisse and Beyond: The Painting and Sculpture Collection": Magnificent works of painting and sculpture culled from SFMOMA's own collections provide a quick tour of modern art from Fauvism to Minimalism. Daily. "Between Art and Life: The Contemporary Painting and Sculpture Collection": The ongoing exhibition presents works from SFMOMA's own collections, with special installations on artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Robert Gober, Eva Hesse, Anish Kapoor, Sherrie Levine, Brice Marden, Gordon Matta-Clark, Barry McGee, Bruce Nauman, Robert Rauschenberg, and Kara Walker. Daily. Nagasaki from a 45 Degree Angle: The Photographer Shomei Tomatsu: A video screening in conjunction with the Shomei Tomatsu exhibit. Through Aug. 13. "Picturing Modernity: Selections From the SFMOMA Collection": An exhibition of photographs from SFMOMA's own collection that illustrate a wide range of photographic styles. Daily. "Matthew Barney: Drawing Restraint": A full-scale survey of the artist's work occuping the museum's entire fourth floor. Through Sept. 17. "New Work: Tim Gardner, Marcelino Gonalves, Zak Smith": The latest exhibition in the ongoing "New Work" series presents the California museum premieres of three artists from across North America. Through Sept. 5. Drawing Restraint 9: A feature-length film and related photography, drawing, video, and sculpture. Through Sept. 17. SFMOMA Sculpture Garden Competition: Art on the rooftop garden. Through Sept. 5. "Architecture & Design Permanent Collection": An ongoing presentation featuring more than 100 works illustrating concepts in design and architecture. Daily. The Body as Matrix: Matthew Barney's Cremaster Cycle : A 60-minute film. Through Sept. 17. "SFMOMA Collection Highlights": In addition to spotlighting photographs, paintings, and sculptures in the SFMOMA collection, this audio guide includes a musical tour. Daily. $3. Xefirotarch/design series 4: Art from Hernn Daz Alonso's Los Angeles-based architectural firm. Through Sept. 17. Daily Tours: Topics change daily for these free tours led by SFMOMA docents. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays-Sundays, 11:30 a.m., 12:30, 1:30 & 2:30 p.m. Spotlight Tours: These innovative tours bring artists' voices directly to visitors, beginning with a short video clip of a featured artist, then moving into the galleries for viewing and discussion. Fridays-Sundays, noon. 151 Third St. (at Mission), 357-4000,


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