Friday, January 30, 2009
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Desiree Holman's Spooky Videos at the SFMOMA
The shadow play speaks louder than words.
Photo by Claude Shade
If you feel a sense of unease looking at Desirée Holman’s videos, as if something important is going unsaid, then the artist has succeeded. “My formula is performer plus prop, but I’m not necessarily interested in those two parts. I’m interested in what happens in between the two. It’s an intangible space, the story that’s not being explicitly told.” Take The Magic Window, for instance, on view at SFMOMA this month as part of its SECA Art Award show (Holman, along with three other local artists, won the award for 2008). In it, two separate video screens show actors—hooded in eerie masks—playing out typical scenes from the sitcoms Roseanne and The Cosby Show, while, on a third screen in the middle, they break character, join together and dance in a green-on-black glow. It certainly reads as a statement on the ’80s, the artist’s formative decade, but the viewer is left to decipher what, exactly, the message is. And while the prop part of the equation (those spooky masks) is evident from the beginning, that’s not the case in Holman’s Babies, a video installation opening in April at the Silverman Gallery. Not to ruin the element of surprise, but those aren’t real infants the actors are cradling. They are sculptures that Holman based on Newborn Nursery dolls, lifelike figures that collectors “adopt” from “nurseries” complete with “birth certificates.” “I’m interested in all of these women engaged in this massive fantasy game,” she says. “The prop allows the expression of fantasy in a way that’s different than without it. It’s like when you give a child a toy and with it, they express feelings they aren’t comfortable talking about.” Yes, Holman’s work is exactly like that—like giving an intelligent, perceptive child a toy and watching as she indirectly speaks to you through it. You’re not sure what she’ll say, but you instinctively brace for it.
Jean Paul Gaultier printed mesh dress ($550) at Barneys New York, 415-268-3500. Marc by Marc Jacobs black leather motorcycle ankle boots ($495) at Barneys New York. Vintage black-and-gold wood bangles, stylist’s own. Black cotton/wool tights, model’s own. Black leather croc-embossed belt, stylist’s own.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
|Headlands January 2009 eNEWS|
Happy new year from Headlands Center for the Arts, and welcome to 2009! Before we put 2008 fully behind us, we'd like to send out one last resounding THANK YOU for your support last year. Your attendance at programs, your efforts to share Headlands with friends and family, and your contributions of time and finances made 2008 a year of new highs for us.
Front + Center
When: Sunday, January 18 - Sunday, February 22. Exhibition Hours: Sunday - Friday, noon - 5PM *Headlands will be closed Monday, January 19, Tuesday, January 20 and Monday, February 16
LOCAL ARTIST Neil Ledoux
TITLE Pigna (60" x 48", oil on canvas)
STORY This is part of a series based on a hallucinatory memory LeDoux imagined during his childhood. He recounted seeing a fountain in the thick Louisiana forests. The fountain's beauty was so astonishing that he immediately wanted to share it with his friends and family, but when he took them back to see it, it was nowhere to be found.
BIO LeDoux was born in 1976 in Louisiana. He is currently a BFA candidate at California College of the Arts.
SHOW "The Fountain of Giant Teardrops," Fri/23 through Feb. 28. Silverman Gallery, 804 Sutter, SF (415) 255-9508. Opening reception Fri/23, 7–10 p.m. Conversation with Larry Rinder and Neil LeDoux, Feb. 29, 7 p.m.
"Jessica Silverman, Silverman Gallery, and This is A Myth, Ben Shaffer
Silverman Gallery has occupied two spaces in San Francisco: it started in a basement space in an industrial district of the city, however its present home is a white store-like space in Sutter Street, closer to the activities of the financial and retail quarters. It retains, though, a vigorous on-the-edge mind-set, occupying a territory between its Fluxus inspirations (Sliverman’s grandparents own North America’s largest collection of Fluxus work) and an explicitly ‘emergent’ program working with local and international artists.
Jessica Silverman, who has run the gallery since its inception in 2006, has created a forceful voice in the San Francisco scene by generating a program that neatly links the city and its artists with operations across the globe. Her roster of artists includes TV addict visual artist Desirée Holman, currently a recipient of a major award from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the beguiling pencil drawings of Israeli, Los Angeles-based Yuval Pudik and the photography of artist Job Piston, exploring sexuality, intimacy and voyeurism
It is though a more spiritually considered magical installation that takes over Silverman for the transition from 2008 to 2009. Los Angeles-based Ben Shaffer’s This Is A Myth fills the gallery with numerous drawings, paintings, sculptures, liquor (‘spirits’) and mirrored video projections that ruminate on chaos and order, myth, consciousness and narrative. The installation is the result of a series of emails he sent to friends, a kind of electronic train of thought rendered here as sketchy, imprecise, colourful, golden interactions: part-painting, part-drawing, part-object. Shaffer is obsessed with the construct of meaning within symbols and here he explores gender, the sacred, religion, spiritualism and alchemy through the distortion of their symbolic terminology. The effect is a poetic tangle of restless ideas and subtle gestures that rely on sympathy and acquaintance with spiritualism and its codes and an openness to experience their hallucinatory persuasions. Shaffer’s myth making is an alluring activity, one that questions our belief systems and the potency of these symbols that turn ‘beliefs’ and ‘truths’ from abstractions to realities."
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Check it out! Opening: Thursday, March 5th, 2009, from 6 to 9PM
Job Piston in BMR 3 and Paper Exhibition at http://www.artistsspace.org/
Open Studios at UCLA on January 30 and 31.
More updates soon!
Remember to check out atripdown-false-memorylane.blogspot.com!
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Friday, January 2, 2009
THE cherry on top of 2008, the year that the predatory capitalism virus binged itself to death by accidentally killing its host, was what I dubbed “The Christmas That Nobody Wanted.”
“I think everyone is finally burned out on ‘stuff,’ ” my uncle Rick said. “People are realizing that having 1,300 teddy bears didn’t make their life any better.”
I bought my first good belt — sturdy, plain, timeless — at MAC (Modern Appealing Clothing) on Post Street in San Francisco in 1993. At the time, I was way too broke for this reckless expenditure. But I still have the belt, and I still wear it.
Today’s MAC is a 3,500-square-foot shop in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley. In the foyer a huge farm table holds a sprawling prehistoric pleasure garden of potted cacti and euphorbia from Flora Grubb Gardens.
MAC, run by Ben Ospital and his sister, Chris (their mother, too, has a hand in the business), has been a beloved San Francisco retail destination for more than 25 years. Arguably, the core attraction has always been the family’s gleefully eccentric personalities, their affection for quality and their dedicated cultivation of lesser-known talents, which has kept the store vibrant as long as its doors have been open.
In 2007, MAC celebrated the holiday season by offering small gifts made within 100 miles of the store. For 2008, their motif was “Artists Like the Holidays, Too,” a collection of works ranging from $25 to $50, all original pieces by local artists. MAC took no commission; 100 percent of the proceeds went to the artists.
“Art has always sustained us through depressions,” Mr. Ospital said, offering me a shot of artisanal chestnut soup, imported every day from the celebrity chef next door, Elizabeth Falkner of Citizen Cake.
Let it not be said that MAC doesn’t also go out of its way to support literature. A book on Geoffrey Beene by Kim Hastreiter of Paper magazine was on display; also “Poems about anything for $25” by Zach Houston, a local poet who writes wild, wobbling lines on a vintage red Olivetti typewriter right in the store. A selection of hand-painted bottles of homemade (and allegedly drinkable) moonshine by the artist Ben Shaffer was also included in the $25 to $50 gift range.
In the last two decades, Mr. Ospital has done considerable work for the Creative Growth Art Center, an organization that supports disabled artists. His appreciation for the work of these artists is genuine and wholly infectious. One of Creative Growth’s rising stars, the self-taught William Scott, was commissioned to draw the MAC holiday card: a slightly too glamorous pencil portrait of Barack Obama, next to the words CITIZEN PRESIDENT in block letters — an image, ever so slightly off, that blazes with unfiltered pride.
The clothing in the shop shows a clear bias toward Belgian and Japanese designers. Chris Ospital walked me through her current favorites: a collection by Dirk Van Saene of whiplash-collar sweaters, massive mohair coats in bright Muppet colors, and wool party dresses exaggerated into primary triangles with big bows.
“All the Belgians are ‘on the bow’ right now,” Ms. Ospital said. “See? You’re a present!”
She showed me how one reversible gown with an obi-size Audrey Hepburn bow could also be used as a kind of fashionable arm restraint.
Other items beloved of Ms. Ospital included a pair of Martin Margiela cotton leggings in a faux fishnet print, and a Tsumori Chisato skirt inspired by the movie “Helvetica,” featuring the designer’s name, laser-cut and layered into black Helvetica frills ($748). “Fonts are the new accessory!” Ms. Ospital enthused.
MAC has a truly superlative men’s section, with selections from Engineered Garments, which has rediscovered Woolrich Woolen Mills and made masculine plaid shirts worthy of Jack London. “Sometimes it takes a Japanese man to reinterpret American style and show what’s good about it,” Mr. Ospital said.
This statement also held true for Yoshi Kondo’s beguiling reinterpretations of classic wool melton schoolgirl coats, which Mr. Ospital described as “French ingénue peacoats for the girl who shops at L. L. Bean but is also a stripper.”
I was taken by the work of Ryan Roberts, a men’s designer specializing in Italian knits. I bought his black wool sweat-kilt ($198) and would have bought the matching zipper jacket had it not been $400 (a fair price had my wardrobe budget not already been damaged beyond sanity this year).
“Our model is really the farmers’ market,” said Mr. Ospital, who speaks in free-associative bouquets of enthusiastic appreciation and well-tuned mission statements. “The farmers honor labor. They sell the freshest stuff at its most perfect point in time. Disposable fashion is like fast food! We honor the hands that make clothes. Like ‘slow food’? We like to think of our clothes as ‘slow clothes.’ We’re not fashion victims. You want to find that jacket that is your most perfect tomato, and wear it for 20 years. If it’s all going to end up as landfill anyway, it should all be really good-looking.”
How does one reconcile the relatively expensive price of perfect tomatoes and/or perfect clothing?
The answer, according to Mr. Ospital, lies in one’s personal values. “We have customers who buy a Jil Sander coat, then to save money they’ll stay home at night and learn to make beer.”
At the finish of any regrettable life episode, we invariably go back to basics to distinguish values that are real and indissoluble from those that are false and temporary. In doing so, we rediscover joys we forgot during our manic race to the dead end.
MAC is a good place to remember that you really can’t buy style. Style is evolutionary, egalitarian, deeply curious, often weird and always personal — the accidental costume of any character with a wide-open mind, enjoying a constant bumper crop of new discoveries. But for those having trouble finding their own inspirations, MAC has almost always been there.
387 Grove Street (between Gough and Franklin Streets), San Francisco; (415) 863-3011.