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Preview: SFGate: Sam Whiting

Sam Whiting


Festival of Rock Posters celebrates a milestone in S.F. history

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 18:06:16 UT

Decades later, they continue to attract music lovers, and on Saturday, Oct. 22, the niche art will be celebrated during the Festival of Rock Posters at the Hall of Flowers in Golden Gate Park. The annual event, presented by the Rock Poster Society, is particularly special this year as 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the invention of the psychedelic rock poster. “The psychedelic style stood out from everything else in the world,” says poster artist Chuck Sperry, who will have a booth at the festival. In commemoration of the milestone, posters from the Human Be-In and Summer of Love events will be at the Hall of Flowers, as will two of the artists, Stanley Mouse and Wes Wilson, who will be signing posters for a fee. In keeping with the psychedelic spirit, the admission fee for the Festival of Rock Posters will decrease as the day goes on.

Naked ‘Truth’ towers over East Bay campus

Sat, 15 Oct 2016 20:28:39 UT

“That thing is massive,” says Marcus Stevenson, 22, who is seeing it for the first time after riding in from San Francisco, past the junkyards and vacant lots. The sculpture, by Marco Cochrane is named “Truth Is Beauty,” and any Burning Man regular has seen her standing out on the Playa. [...] she won’t be back to Black Rock because she has been leased with an option to purchase by the developer of the new San Leandro Tech Campus. The event is private, but the sculpture will be very public once the switch is thrown on 2,500 LED lights planted inside her steel mesh skin. Add Rigo 23’s wall mural of a woman (fully clothed) chasing monarch butterflies, on the opposite side of the elevated tracks, and another mural, “Pulse of Nature” just south of the station, and there is now public art to be seen coming from either direction into “the ’Dro,” as those in the know call the city south of Oakland. Over the past few years, $500,000 in public funds and $1.5 million in private funds have been spent on public art in San Leandro, ranging from illustrated utility boxes to this sculptural greeter, which is 55 feet tall and weighs 13,000 pounds. Outside the San Francisco Civic Center station is the twisty stainless steel “Venus,” who awaits her public debut in March in the courtyard of the Trinity Place apartment complex at Eighth and Mission streets. Using an antique tool called a pantograph, Cochrane tripled its size in clay, then tripled it again for the final version, made with steel bones and stainless steel skin. The other completed work, called “Bliss Dance” spent a few years rusting away on Treasure Island before being purchased by MGM Resorts International last spring. [...] I do sculptures of nude women who are just expressing themselves normally. The sexual assault was never talked about again and the rapist was never caught.

Plain folk of Market Street get their due in oil panorama

Wed, 12 Oct 2016 00:25:32 UT

Plain folk of Market Street get their due in oil panorama There are any number of characters on Market Street inviting portraiture, and these are the people that painter Ryan Malley avoids. Slobs standing on a curb looking for a bus, people shambling along, and people just standing there for no reason are the inspiration for his first solo show, “Everyday Icons,” at Mighty Box Gallery, which opened in March above the Sherwin-Williams paint store on South Van Ness. The marquee piece of Malley’s show is a 30-foot panoramic painting that moves on a conveyor belt, which means the viewer can stand and watch 25 or 30 people roll by. “I’m trying to draw attention to the things that people aren’t willing to take the time to look at,” says Malley, 37, who is from a town known for its dog food factory on the West Virginia-Pennsylvania border. “People are so caught up in their ravenous digestion of media that they don’t take the time to look at what is happening around them,” he says. The 30-foot panorama titled “Market Street Cycle” took about a year to make.

Art and performance liven up SoMa parking garage

Wed, 5 Oct 2016 22:16:37 UT

The piece involves seven multicolored abstract and figurative drawings against white walls, up and down the sides of the six-story garage, hidden in the interior of the garage and on the rooftop stairwell. [...] “Fallen Fruit,” a Los Angeles collective, will plant 10 citrus trees, in painted barrels on the roof and in the alley, and open a lemonade stand on the roof. Not visible from the street, these images range from a face made of text message symbols to an abstract that looks like the cover of a Dave Brubeck album from the 1950s. Both the murals and the opening day event are commissioned by Sites Unseen, a nonprofit tasked with coloring the drab and dangerous alleys South of Market with all forms of art. “A very important part of Sites Unseen is temporary participatory programming,” says Jessica Shaefer, who was recruited from Creative Time in New York, to be the nonprofit’s full-time project director. “We’re very excited to be producing the first large-scale public installation of Barry’s work in San Francisco in such a central location, where diverse audiences can enjoy the art at any time for free,” says Shaefer. The Moscone Garage is a particularly compelling site both because it’s a highly trafficked municipal building adjacent to an underused alleyway, and because it has sight lines from so many surrounding buildings, including SFMOMA.

Art cars to rev up and roll into Oakland this weekend

Wed, 5 Oct 2016 19:54:26 UT

To see a traffic jam of art cars on a city street can only mean the ArtCar Fest has rolled into town. On Saturday, Oct. 8, ArtCar Fest will hold its own event with live music, DJs, art car films and an ArtCar Fest Fashion Show at NIMBY, a warehouse space on Amelia Street. “It’s a celebration of this whole art medium,” says Harrod Blank of Berkeley, co-founder of ArtCar Fest and undisputed king of the art cars. Blank, 52, will be driving “For the Birds,” a 2004 Prius that belonged to his late father, the famous filmmaker Les Blank. Harrod Blank is also a filmmaker and put art cars on celluloid with “Wild Wheels,” a 1992 documentary in which he drove a ’65 Volkswagen Beetle, with a shot-up TV on its rooftop, around the country looking for friends. By the next year he had built his “Camera Van,” a 1972 Dodge van covered with 2,750cameras, 10 of which were wired to take pictures from a shutter on the dashboard.

Southeast Asian artists reflect on war that’s never in the past

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 17:41:58 UT

The American War, as the Vietnamese call it, is in some ways never-ending, and that is the point of view presented in “Love in the Time of War,” at SF Camerawork on Market Street. The group show uses the 40th anniversary of the ceasefire as a launch pad to explore all of the ways that the war is still being fought in Cambodia, Paris, Hanoi, Los Angeles and places in between. “Our exhibit asks, ‘How do we respond with love and compassion amidst overwhelming chaos?’” explains the show’s co-curator, Viet Le, 39, an assistant professor of visual studies at California College of the Arts. Together they assembled a dozen artists representing the countries President Richard Nixon bombed — Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia — along with Oakland, New York and the Netherlands. SF Camerawork has huge picture windows overlooking Market Street, and one of the images in “Love in the Time of War” is striking from the street below: Follow that to the big red SF Camerawork door and up the stairs to see images of folded letters. Taken together, “Love in the Time of War” amounts to “powerful new work from an exciting group of international artists that can’t be seen anywhere else in the Bay Area,” says Heather Snider, executive director of SF Camerawork.

Art installation reclaims Alhambra Theater for one night

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 23:11:30 UT

The cushioned chairs will not replace the workout equipment, but the big screen will loop a 15-minute video made of excerpts from movies shown there between the Alhambra’s grand opening in 1926 and its closing in 1996. The public is invited to help activate the project by partaking in choreographed movements based on the films. Or stand still and watch a cycle of six videos made by artists under the direction of curators Lynn Marie Kirby and Christoph Steger, both professors of fine art at the California College of the Arts. [...] part of the project is a neighborhood video tour with 17 stops accessed by a mobile app put together by Sam Elie.

Creative flow: landscapes of the city’s sewer plant

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 20:07:08 UT

“Without pride or embarrassment, I can say that I find the rebar and concrete of a construction site every bit as beautiful as fir trees delicately outlined by freshly fallen snow, and the apparent solidity of an office building as lyrical and ephemeral as fog floating over a sunlit ocean,” Citret says. The beauty in his statement was that he was talking about the Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant, commonly known as the sewage treatment plant. Twenty years later, these construction images are getting their gallery premiere at RayKo Photo Center, a few blocks south of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The photos are mingled among the large-format cameras, 1940s photo booth and photography ephemera that make up RayKo, a unique private photo facility that is free and open to the public. Called “No Child Left Behind,” the digital color images are by former teacher Victoria Heilweil, who was able to infiltrate, among others, the elementary school where her daughter is a student.

Farmworker images from California and Mexico come to Belmont

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 18:33:22 UT

To accurately document a group that is as off the grid as farmworkers, you have to live and move among them, as photographer Matt Black has done from Exeter, a railroad town deep in the San Joaquin Valley where he grew up and still lives. Photos of Migrant Labor by Matt Black, a solo show in the Wiegand Gallery at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont that opens Thursday, Sept. 15. The gallery is in the stone carriage house attached to the summer mansion of financier William C. Ralston, who drowned in 1875. “With immigration being one of the big issues in the presidential election, this is a visualization of the lives of migrants,” says Robert Poplack, director of the Wiegand Gallery and professor of art at Notre Dame. Sam Whiting is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.

Marion Gray, photographer of performance art, dies

Thu, 8 Sep 2016 20:20:07 UT

Marion Gray, a San Francisco artist who developed a niche photographing the performance art scene here and around the world, died Sept. 2 after a five-year battle with cancer. Ms. Gray had been hospitalized but was released so she could pass away in her favorite environment, her live/work studio in an art cooperative in the Mission District, said her daughter, Jennifer Tincknell of Healdsburg. In a 40-year career that started as a volunteer photographing Christo’s “Running Fence” in Marin and Sonoma counties, Ms. Gray developed a reputation for making candid pictures of artists as they were making art, whether it be dance, music, theater or painting. “She was both an incredibly dedicated artist and a really bright spirit,” said Christina Linden, associate curator of painting and sculpture at the museum and curator of that show. While teaching at an elementary school in Seaside (Monterey County), she met and married Robert Gray, an engineer who had graduated from Stanford University. [...] after the marriage ended in divorce, Ms. Gray moved to Europe for three years, to begin her education in the arts, which meant dragging her young daughters to “every single museum in Europe,” Tincknell said. Upon their return, they lived in Kentfield, where Ms. Gray began her academic education in the arts, first at College of Marin and then at UC Berkeley, where she earned both a master’s in fine arts in ceramics and photography and a master’s in art history, in 1975. Among the artists she portrayed were David Ireland, Tom Marioni, Karen Finley, John O’Keefe and Survival Research Laboratories.

New CFO takes over at Fine Arts Museums

Thu, 8 Sep 2016 00:51:43 UT

In its latest attempt to straighten out a long period of administrative and board upheaval, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF) has hired a new chief financial officer. Ed Prohaska, the longtime CFO of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, will take over fiscal management of the city-owned museums, the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park and the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park. Gutierrez was replaced on an interim basis by Laura Hussey, who resigned in April after suggesting changes to the FAMSF financial structure that the board declined to act on. Prohaska has a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Texas in Austin and has served as the chair of the finance committee for the boards of both KQED in San Francisco and the California Association of Museums. To fully achieve its promise, the institution must be top of class in every aspect of its operation and I am thrilled to join Max and his talented team to lead that effort on the finance front. “Ed has deep roots in the financial management of nonprofits and will be a valued partner, operationally and strategically, as we further develop our great institution’s reputation,” Hollein said in a statement.

Dancing around the art at Clark gallery

Wed, 7 Sep 2016 19:44:40 UT

An exhibition of photographs and video inspired by dance marathons of the Great Depression will be accentuated by a modern dance marathon on a spiral platform built in the center of her gallery. “It’s one of the coolest things I have ever done, because it bridges visual art and dance, and commercial galleries and nonprofit,” says Clark, 48, who was a professional modern dancer before an injury switched her from the performing arts to the visual arts. While visiting Olujimi’s studio on Governors Island, N.Y., Clark was introduced to a mix of sculpture, video and works on paper, all dealing with marathon dancing — she finally had her link to the show she’d always wanted to organize. What is central is this idea that dance can be a symbol of persistence and resilience,” Clark says, “and I thought it would be interesting to invite performers to respond to that idea in the context of the gallery space. The opening-day dance by the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company will be a free sneak peek of a full-length performance Jenkins has choreographed to be presented at a ticketed event on Sept. 17 at Clark Gallery. The exhibition component, “What Endures,” features long-exposure photographs of dance marathons that Olujimi staged in New York, and a video of him dancing and skipping rope in a tribute to Muhammad Ali.

Foundation puts ballistics test inside mothballed Presidio bunker

Wed, 7 Sep 2016 00:09:10 UT

A bullet fired from a Soviet-era military rifle and one fired from an American rifle smash into each other. Called “AK-47 vs M16,” the artwork is composed of the two bullets encased in a gel block and an action video of the gunfire that got them there. “This is the first time the general public has been invited into these locations,” says For-Site founder Cheryl Haines, who is bringing life to three ghostly missile batteries built more than a century ago to protect against invasion by sea and air. Haines chose works that were “site responsive” to address issues of national borders and cultural misunderstanding. The low-slung and foreboding Nike Administration Building will be the hub, with its long-moribund offices broken into eight galleries. To reach it you go down a ramp and a flight of stairs and through a creaky dungeon door. The thick concrete walls are striped with rust stains and lining the tunnel are a miniature mosque and a church, both made of spent ammunition casings by San Rafael sculptor Al Farrow. The tunnel opens into the mezzanine where one-ton projectiles were stored, waiting to be hoisted to the launch pad on the ground level above it. Nguyen belongs to an international collective called the Propeller Group, and though its three members are not obsessed with guns or violence, Nguyen admits to being “very, very obsessed with the Cold War.” The Propeller Group’s objective was to re-create this moment using the weaponry shouldered by American and Soviet ground soldiers in the Cold War. The Propeller Group visited a ballistics facility in Maryland, and technicians were able to achieve the near impossibility of getting the two bullets to collide midair. “The gel was designed to mimic the density of human tissue,” says Nguyen, as he lifts the block onto an observation stand, lit from beneath by LED.

Film explores Brian Willson, activist unafraid of sacrifice

Sun, 4 Sep 2016 03:01:11 UT

Film explores Brian Willson, activist unafraid of sacrifice The freight train comes rolling down the tracks, bells ringing and horn wailing, and there is nothing that anyone can do to stop it as it moves toward Brian Willson, who is sitting on the tracks. To be a radical, you have to be willing to risk life, limb and prison. Everyone in Oakland’s Grand Lake Theater on Tuesday night will know what is about to happen in the Bay Area premiere of the documentary film “Paying the Price for Peace.” Willson, a veteran of both the Vietnam War and the nonviolence movement, got back up and onto prostheses and kept moving, to seemingly every war protest everywhere, and there has always been somebody filming him, going back to that gruesome day of Sept. 1, 1987, on the tracks outside the Concord Naval Weapons Station. Brian really wants to let people know what he thinks,” Boudart says, “and he’s been doing this for a long time. Sam Whiting is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.

Ocean paintings for gallery near Ocean Beach

Wed, 24 Aug 2016 17:21:56 UT

Marie Van Elder has always been terrified of the ocean, so she forces herself to sit at its shore and make paintings of it. Van Elder’s series of paintings will be on display Thursday, Aug. 25, in a solo show at Lindsey’s gallery, aptly named the Great Highway, which is as specific to the Pacific Coast as Van Elder’s works. The art gallery is on Lawton Street, but still is close enough that Lindsey can walk out his front door, see the surf, hear the wind and smell the fog. “I have recently become visually fascinated by the northern coast and its unruly ocean and crashing waves, unpredictable currents, enduring rocks, ever changing contours and light, moody reflections, moving skies,” Van Elder says in her artist’s statement. Lindsey operates the Great Highway as a small artist-run gallery in a former video store six blocks from the beach. Since he opened five years ago, three galleries — Irving Street Project, Far Out Gallery and Three Fish Studios — have joined him in the Outer Sunset, defined as the 12 blocks between Sunset Boulevard and the Great Highway. For the opening of “Entre Fleurs et Mer,” Lindsey is bringing in the Rusty Ladle Soup Factory to sling Belgian chicken chowder at the adjacent Lawton Trading Post, and a guitar-ukulele duo featuring Anastasia.