Monday, December 04, 2006

San Francisco Sightings — November 2006

Gen Art, a non-profit based in New York, organizes events for an audience of 21 to 39 year old “hip, sophisticated, brand aware influencers,” as their website says. In San Francisco, Gen Art produces an annual event called “Emerge,” styled as a cutting-edge art exhibit. But art and artists never seem to be the first priorities in this event. The shows are curated, but they aren’t a good snapshot of the local scene, not even the emerging edge of it. What’s more, some artists have told me, after participating, that the Gen Art organizers lack the understanding and practical skills necessary to support artists in an exhibition. One problem that keeps coming up is pretty basic: lighting of the artwork. Even security can be an issue. Last year, two artists I know had their work and equipment stolen—by a security guard for the show! I have seen three of the last four “Emerge” shows, and each has been a downward slide from the previous one. Gen Art’s real mission seems to be the opening party, which was ticketed at $40 this year.

Nonetheless, the “Emerge” shows have included some good artists over the years. Young artists are always hungry for a place to show. I can’t blame them. In this year’s show, I particularly liked Misako Inaoka’s field of moss that floated near the ceiling (photo at top).

I was also impressed by Caleb Duarte’s installation, part of which was a little hut that seemed to have been caught in a cyclone (photo below).

Elsewhere in town, the San Francisco Art Commission Gallery raised funds by selling artwork (multiples) commissioned by the gallery. (Some of these are still available at the gallery through 12/16/06.) There is some good work, reasonably priced. I particularly liked Valerie George’s photo diptych of her mother and herself (a digital print, alas, but a good one):

An unrelated artist with the same last name, Mary George, had a solo show at the artist-run Queen’s Nails Annex (QNA). Her major motif was weird head masks hanging from the ceiling—you could pop your head into one for a quick identity switch. There was also a shelf of oddball sculptures, including one that included a fragment of tree trunk, two color photo negatives, and a small flashlight. I looked at this and thought, “That’s so Mary George.”:

Also at QNA, Reuben Lorch-Miller had an installation in a darkened back room that involved a projection of video noise and a single drawing. I didn’t get it, but I did purchase (for $10) a CD of short sound pieces by this artist. I’ve been playing the first cut, programmed to repeat, as a soundtrack while driving.

At Steven Wolf Fine Arts, the Los Angeles artists Kent and Kevin Young did a mind-reading performance and exhibited several videos. Their work plays on the fact that they are monozygotic twins. For me, the most compelling of the videos showed just their eyes, shifting around, uncertain or perhaps fearful. Here are two shots from this work:

Clement Street now has an art space, at the rear of a new store called Park Life. A recent show there included sets of work of the shaggy dog variety. One standout was an equestrian X-Games diorama by Porous Walker, aka Jimmy DiMarcellis:

This artist also makes drawings in a low-brow style that falls flat or pops by turns. I was amused by this one that reads "USE PEOPLES POWERS AGAINST THEM":

Japanese artist Ogi had several works in the show, including a warning about TV:

Finally, Kyle Mock presented a tight row of small works including his conception of an early miniature music player:


Anonymous said...

You say "alas" that a print on the blog is a digital print. Why do you dislike digital prints?

It would be an interesting discussion of that "alas" because I suspect it is shared by many people. But what is the cause, the underlying assumption, is it that digital prints are somehow not as clear, or not as archival, or not the same as photographs using an emulsion?

This is interesting and I would appreciate, and I think others wouls appreciate, a wider discussion of the bias against digital prints as opposed perhaps to other kinds of printmaking.

-- John Sheridan

Bob said...

I didn't mean to condemn all digital prints. I think digital prints need to be evaluated on an individual basis. One problem is that when an artwork is described as a "digital print," that doesn't tell you much about the printing technology or the quality of the materials. There is considerable variation in these, so I prefer to know a good deal about how the print was produced.

With regard to the print cited in my blog posting, my objection is to the surface. The areas with the densest despoits of ink are hyper-shiny. At some viewing angles, this creates an image reversal: dark areas look light. Extra care is needed in situating and lighting this type of print.