A few notes on some recently encountered awesomeness:
-Ian McDonald, Matt Connors, and Gregory Lind at [ 2nd floor projects ]. McDonald's muted ceramic sculptures were a perfect foil to Connors's stacks of vibrantly-painted canvases with a beautiful edition by Gregory Lind to accompany. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love this space and how thoughtfully Margaret Tedesco puts together each show.
-Carl Lipo and Terry Hunt seminar hosted by the Long Now Foundation. Lipo and Hunt shared their paradigm-shifting research about what they believe really happened on Easter Island. For example watch the video above to see how the statues were likely moved across the island, and read their book The Statues That Walked for the full scoop.
-Will Tait, Rebecca Fogg, and Sgraffito Studio in Emeryville. If it weren't for my best friend's cat Tagalong deciding he liked them I never would have met this very talented artist couple or gotten a peek inside their amazing studio and gallery on San Pablo. You might have seen the outside, with its twisting metal vines in place of bars. Inside is a metal- and wood-working shop with enough specialized machinery and engineering cleverness to make me grin with glee.
-Three Shows curated by Jackie Im and Aaron Harbour at Royal Nonesuch Gallery. Mounting three shows in three consecutive weeks might destroy the average curator, but Im and Harbour have a lot of fun with the task they've set for themselves. I enjoyed the work by "two Bensons" when I was in the gallery Saturday, and this coming weekend is the final show: Object Oriented: An exhibition of obscured, misdirected, and/or autonomous objects and sites.
-Translocura: Art on the Brink of Madness at Headlands Center for the Arts. Curated by John Jota Leaños, this group show offers work by local artists that is in turn funny, disturbing, and contemplative. Well worth the drive, especially if it's a sunny weekend.
We Care Solar
-MLK Day of Service with WE CARE Solar at the Tech Museum of Innovation. Bay Area students building "solar suitcases" to send to schools in Sierra Leone and an orphanage in Uganda? Dr. King would have been proud.
Through July 6 - George Pfau at Royal Nonesuch Gallery. RNG is owning their stretch of Telegraph Ave this summer. Not only are they scheduling the shorts for Temescal Street Cinema again this year, but they're also conducting a bad-ass summer residency program, 3 for 3, right in the gallery. I am beyond psyched about the July and August artists (Veronica De Jesus and Amanda Curreri respectively), but George Pfau has already kicked the series off to a way solid start here in June. The artist is making himself available during "office hours" so that anyone may drop in for impromptu discussion, and Friday night he also organized a gallery lecture by Dr. Bradley Voytek, a bona fide neuroscientist who also happens to be a self-styled expert on the zombie brain. Pfau's current practice focuses on zombies, delving into their cultural popularity as a means of revealing deeper truths about our humanity. Voytek similarly uses the zombie angle to show his audiences some real live brain science, and during his lecture he described what parts of the brain might cause zombie-like behaviors such as aggression and certain kinds of amnesia. Pfau and Voytek both believe zombies make good metaphor, encapsulating societal ills as well as our sensations of fascination and disgust when it comes to our physical bodies. The ways in which zombies procreate so bloodily and decay at such a heightened rate of speed certainly can trigger a squirm or two even amongst undead aficionados. As for my own boundary of squeamishness I did just fine during the lecture through clips of fake zombie gore and genuine brain surgery alike but then almost passed out during the Q&A thanks to a passing reference to torture porn. So ask me over to see Shaun of the Dead but never Saw is what I'm saying.
I did just move to Oakland, but as you can see I've been up to a few other things besides. I finally have internet in my new apartment and look forward to getting back to something resembling a reliable blogging pattern. Here's to fresh starts and clean slates.
I'm woefully behind in my blogging thanks to some other sizeable projects and a day job that has been eating my brain, but I'm determined to get some things written up even if the shows have already closed. Stay tuned for those posts. And while you're waiting please visit Jennifer Steinkamp's site and ogle her gorgeous projection installations. I got to hear her speak at Mills last week and was delighted to learn she is the artist behind the light show that takes place above Fremont Street in Las Vegas that has blown the minds of more friends than I can count on two hands. I also love her undulating fields of flowers and dancing trees, all painstakingly crafted in Maya 3D software. Technology is rarely put to such divine use.
Last night I had the distinct pleasure of attending a lecture by renowned media and art theorist Gene Youngblood at SFAI, the first in the Institute's spring Radical Directing series and co-presented by SF Cinemateque. Although Youngblood didn't speak at length about directing as such he did have a lot to say about living outside the broadcast, finding media that is speaking truth and not just repackaging counterculture as consumer culture. Thanks to the internet truthful news sources are definitely out there, and it is up to us to construct a media diet that encourages conversation in a way that refers to the Latin origin of the word, a turning around together. Because we need to get radical, get back to the root, if there is any chance of turning around the apocalypse we seem intent on creating for ourselves. Just today Art Practical published a profile of Youngblood that opened with a wonderfully prescient quote of his from 1993:
I make a rather modest proposal that world peace, human liberty, and a healthy environment can only be achieved through a communications revolution.
His idea of utopia revolves around what is not permitted, "leaving the culture without leaving the country." And he calls upon artists and writers to be disciplined dreamers, to lead social modernization with the artistic. This was really only the first half of the lecture too, with the second part "The Challenge To Create On the Same Scale As We Can Destroy" delivered at Yerba Buena tomorrow night. Go get some tools for the revolution.
I went to hear Vito Acconci lecture at Mills last night with one primary question in my head: How exactly did a performance artist probably best known for 1972's Seedbed, the piece in which he publicly masturbated under the floor of one of his gallery shows, decide to found a visionary architecture firm, Acconci Studio, which is still very much active today? But Acconci laid it out quite clearly over the course of his inspiring two-hour talk how he has always been interested in movement, whether the flow of words on the page in his early poetry or the motion of people in a room or building, and that it was Seedbed that even gave him his first thoughts about architecture. His performance art emphasized his interest in site-specificity and his belief that there are no universals in art, ideas that he continued to expand upon in his installations in the '70s in which he attempted to construct "people-space". So from there it was really no great cognitive leap to architecture and the formation of Acconci Studio in the late '80s. Acconci quickly ran us through the many ways the firm grapples with ideas of motion and change, from their design for a new World Trade Center pierced by holes to an enclosed street in Indianapolis that at night illuminates passers-through with their own personalized swarm of LED lights. He wryly noted that in architecture and design theories about space can be more important than actual space when many projects do not get built, but happily the Studio's realized designs include the gorgeous wave-like elevated subway station at Coney Island and also the artificial island in Graz pictured here. I was struck when Acconci pointed out that architecture is one of the only art forms that recognizes time and assumes eventual revision, that we haven't found the materials yet that won't degrade or need to be replaced, which is something I think about a lot as a preservationist who also adores bleeding-edge design. I did feel a little sad when they ripped down the old de Young, but I also get a physical thrill every time I walk into the new Herzog and de Meuron building. It just makes me happy they have room to display that massive Gerhard Richter in the atrium now.