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Graffiti and fashion ring in START SOMA's new location

THURS 4/17

Naked, graffiti-painted models, the latest fashions, and spray-painted canvases: Sounds like "Urban Couture," the reopening celebration for START SOMA, a two-month-old art gallery. START SOMA's collection had previously been housed in a 2,000-square-foot loft at Howard and Fifth streets, but it has now taken up residence at Studio Z. The gallery is the culmination of volunteer effort and the vision of high-tech entrepreneur John Doffing, CEO of Start Inc. Doffing has been an art patron for years, and launched the space in hopes of cultivating young talent and revitalizing a neighborhood abandoned by dot-coms. So far, the response has been positive. Last month, the venue featured more than 1,000 artists at an opening in Doffing's loft, where he sold hundreds of pieces from the likes of Shepherd Fairey and Winston Smith.Doffing has now joined forces with local jewelry designer Jacinta to host another show held at START SOMA's new site at Studio Z, a warehouse four times the size of Doffing's living room. The event benefits Destination Foundation, a Bay Area organization that provides dream vacations for people living with life-threatening illnesses, and features local and international spray-can artists such as Neonski, Misk, and NoMe. The studio has also brought in works from two German graffiti artists, Daim and Seak, whose unusual styles combine classic techniques with new-school photo-realism.

Doffing explains, almost humbly, "Although we are now one of the largest retail art galleries in San Francisco, our commitment to showcasing the affordable artwork of top-notch emerging artists remains the same. Our target customer is someone with a couple hundred bucks and some empty walls." Doors open at 8:30 p.m. at Studio Z, 314 11th St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $15; call 495-7844 or visit -- Suzanne Ashe

Embody Your Ideals

SAT 4/19

Nude peace protests have caught on mostly in cold places, inconveniently. In snow and rain, people have been photographed forming the letters or symbols they find important. Our own version of this trend won't be much warmer than most, since it's at Baker Beach. But it also won't have any less of the sincere-but-goofy charm of the in-the-buff peace signs and undressed "No War" assemblages that have appeared from Mendocino to Cape Town. Here, organizers plan to make the "Naked Make Love Not War" photo shoot a veritable love-in, with 100 couples embracing while forming the words with their bodies. Disrobe at 10 a.m. at Baker Beach, Bowley (at Gibson). -- Hiya Swanhuyser

Big Cats

WED 4/16

The kings of rock en español, Jaguares bring their moody, philosophical lyrics and blues-influenced sound to the Bay Area tonight. The band formed in the aftermath of the defunct Caifanes, an important part of the Latino rock explosion of the early '90s. Singer Saul Hernandez, drummer Alfonso André, and guitarist Cesar "Vampiro" Lopez have spoken out against the war, so don't expect them to keep silent -- the band's Web site shows photos of a César Chávez memorial march, where the members made known their opinions. They're more likely to encourage the audience to "cuestionar la autoridad." Hear it at 9 p.m. at the Fillmore, 1805 Geary (at Fillmore), S.F. Admission is $35; call 346-6000. -- Hiya Swanhuyser

Welcome Back

WED 4/16

Even the war in Iraq and demonstrations at City Hall couldn't keep folks from attending the grand reopening of the Asian Art Museum in the Civic Center last month. That's the kind of loyalty the place inspires in its fans, many of whom have been anxiously awaiting the return of its "Art After Hours" series, where revelers can mingle -- and drink -- under the guise of taking in some "culture." At "The ReincarnAsian," the first of these shindigs in the museum's fancy new home, partygoers can marvel over Italian architect Gae Aulenti's handiwork, make origami, sample international teas, and wind down with reflexology treatments. Visit -- Lisa Hom


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