Weekly Pick


"The Big Picture Escapes Me," 2015, acrylic on found wood, 64 x 84"

“The Big Picture Escapes Me,” 2015, acrylic on found wood, 64 x 84″

The art I am loving this week.

Chris Johanson, “Equations” at Altman Siegel, San Francisco (through Dec. 19): I have long enjoyed Chris Johanson’s work, and with this show of new work, all paintings on found wood, he delivers again. I had the privilege of writing about his last show at Altman Siegel for Art Practical, and many of those words still apply: “This selection of brightly colored . . . paintings continue in the naïve, raw style that has earned the self-taught Johanson, a former graffiti artist, critical praise and recognition as part of San Francisco’s street-inspired Mission School. Here again, Johanson’s aesthetic is simple, direct, and rough. The . . . paintings are childlike in their hand-hewn simplicity.” Also notable about the work is that, while the aesthetic may be naïvethere is a definite outsider art feelthe subjects and design are complex.

NEAT: New Experiments in Art and Technology” at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco (through Jan. 17): This show explores the Bay Area’s influence on bringing technology and science to the practice of art. It features new or updated work by such notable artists as Jim Campbell (whose work is currently also featured in a show at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art; see below), Paul DeMarinis, Alan Rath, and Paolo Salvagione (Salvagione also worked with CJM Chief Curator Renny Pritikin as a curatorial consultant on the show). This show very much lives up to its name on many levels. The museum also created an excellent digital catalog for the show that features essays, artist interview videos, stills from the show, and more.

Jim Campbell, “New Work & Collaborations with Jane Rosen” at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, San Jose (through Feb. 14, 2016): In this immersive show of new light works by the internationally recognized Bay Area artist Jim Campbell, he explores ideas of blurring and fracturing the image (even into three-dimensional space), as a counterpoint to technology going to higher and higher resolution. He has also worked with glass sculptor Jane Rosen to create meditative, glowing pieces.

Lisa Kokin, “10 Years in the Making: Lisa Kokin at Seager Gray Gallery” at Seager Gray Gallery, Mill Valley (through Dec. 6): This show takes place in the small back area of Seager Gray, but don’t let its size or location fool you: this intimate display is front row incredible. As the title implies, these textile- and book-based pieces range in terms of year created, as do they in execution; Kokin is an artist of many talents (so much so, if not informed otherwise, one could easily think this was a group show). Consistent are they though in excellence: delicate, intricate, fun, beautiful, smart.

Upcoming!

Performance at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, December 3, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.: “New Experiments in Art and Sound.”

Opening November 19 in Oakland: Sanjay Vora, “Lost Love” at Vessel Gallery. An opening reception will take place Thursday, November 19, 6 to 8 p.m. An artist talk will take place December 12 at 2 p.m.

 

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Cornelius Völker, "Oysters," oil on canvas, 2004

Cornelius Völker, “Oysters,” oil on canvas, 2004

It’s fall, and that means the art galleries are hanging some of their most stunning shows of the year. This year is no exception; there’s an incredible selection of great shows up right now (and more coming). Be sure not to miss these stellar offerings:

Corneluis Völker at Hosfelt Gallery (through Jan. 2): From my recommendation published in Visual Art Source (http://bit.ly/1MC0JT2): “Cornelius Völker can make any subject enticing, as he demonstrates in this survey of work from the last fifteen years. The German artist explores the traditional genres of still life and portraiture, with a sometimes strange (or perhaps to some, humorous) twist, uniquely luscious brushwork, and lively color.” This is a tremendous show, and the artist’s first ever solo show on the West Coast. It is not to be missed.

Sandow Birk, “Imaginary Monuments” at Catharine Clark Gallery (through Jan. 2): Birk delivers again with this show of new drawings and an etching. These works are part of the ongoing Imaginary Monuments series, which Birk started in 2007. Birk combines recognizable text with imagined and fantastic imagery to create highly charged, often to the point of being humorous, works that resonate on multiple levels. Also to note, Birk’s book American Qur’an is now available for pre-sale; a copy of the book is on display with the show (complete with white gloves so that visitors can safely navigate the pages). The gallery is hosting a book release signing and holiday party November 21.

Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb, “Memory City” at Koch Gallery (through Nov. 14): From my recommendation for Visual Art Source (http://bit.ly/1HpmJZT): “Photographer couple Alex and Rebecca Norris Webb collaborated to create this body of images featuring scenes of and people in Rochester, New York. This work is inspired by the bankruptcy closure of Eastman Kodak in 2012, which was long headquartered in the city, and the impact that shutdown has had on the community. These are everyday scenes, but with such a sublime use of composition and light as to produce rich narratives and strong emotional qualities.” Simply put, these are gorgeous, emotionally rich images.

a2a434ed-6f6c-49b4-9f37-9bfd26581356Catherine Wagner, “Rome Works” at Anglim Gilbert Gallery (through Nov. 21): This new body of color photographs came out of Wagner’s Rome Prize residency at the American Academy in Rome. These bold and beautiful images explore the display, conservation, and handling of Greco-Roman statues and marbles, providing a unique, fresh approach to viewing these treasured classic artworks. There will be a reception Thursday, November 5, 5:30 to 7:30.

Upcoming! There are also several great shows opening this week, many in coordination with First Thursdays in San Francisco and First Fridays in Oakland. Here’s a selection:

Opening Friday in SF: Julian Hoeber, “The Inward Turn” at Jessica Silverman Gallery (Nov. 6 to Dec. 19). The opening reception will take place November 6, 6 to 8 p.m.

Opening Thursday in SF: Julio César Morales, “Emotional Violence” at Wendi Norris Gallery (Nov. 5 to Dec. 19). A discussion between the artist and Lucía Sanromán, director of the visual arts at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, will take place November 5, 6 to 7 p.m.; a reception will follow, 7 to 9 p.m.

Opening Friday in SF: Barry McGee, “China Boo” at Ratio 3 (Nov. 6 to Dec. 19). An opening reception will take place November 6, 6 to 8 p.m.

 

"Shooting Script" by John Waters

I was excited to see the solo exhibition at Rena Bransten Gallery of work by John Waters (on show through July 10). I’ve seen a lot of Waters’s creations online and in print (and, like most, am much more familiar with his movies than his artwork), but this was my first experience of them in person. I liked them, some surprising much.

Most of Waters’s artwork has some connection to film; he often alters movie stills, making them much more darkly humorous than the original. Those are fun. But even better are the works that show the poetic mundaneness of filmmaking, the everyday stuff that’s really great to look at and provides us outsiders an insider peek into that mysteriously magical world of movies (apparently, it’s not as glamorous as you might imagine). Though I love the “Pecker” images, a series of photos taken on the set of Waters’s 1998 movie by that name (note that while many of the pieces on show in this exhibition have been previously shown in galleries in New York and L.A., this series makes its debut here), the piece that I revisited several times and return to in my memory often now is the one featured here, Shooting Script.

So simply, it gives us sense of how much goes into moviemaking; all the pages that had occupied those pads used up. Our imagination fills with all of the notes, directions, revisions, re-revisions that may have been on those sheets. Those nine pieces of blank cardboard (arranged so neatly; this is an organized process), fringed on top by all those little shredded scraps of paper—one with a small bit of writing still left—resonate with the all the activity dictated on what are likely now crumpled yellow balls in the trash. The whole process relayed in a grid of the remnants of dime-store notepads.

"From Above" by Patrick Wilson

Since the point of this weekly selection is to pick one work of art to highlight, I forced myself to choose from the numerous outstanding paintings featured in Patrick Wilson’s solo exhibition, “The View From My Deck,” currently on view (but only until June 5, so get in to see it now!) at Marx & Zavattero. I’m always astonished by artists who can take something as simple as four-corner shapes and their outlines, and layers of color and, again and again, create exquisitely sublime art. I chose From Above for its subtle boldness, gentle resonance, and bravery (let’s face it: it’s an accomplishment to make sickly greenish yellow  and grey tones so appealing), but I’d happily rehang this entire show where I live; these are works that keep giving.