Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Elephant Magazine, Issue #7

Issue #7 of the British art publication Elephant Magazine is out. Two of my map pieces are featured in an article about artists working with maps.

Summer at Pier 24

There is a new exhibit up at Pier 24, so it was time to go back. I still am in awe of the show I saw last winter. The current exhibit is another stellar offering from their collection. I am beginning to think San Francisco can boast the best museum for contemporary photography on the West Coast and one of the best in the world.

There is a nice series of the Eadweard Muybridge Victorian images of San Francisco. They were taken before the 1906 earthquake and fire. Below each image is a corresponding, more recent, photo by Mark Klett. They help provide some orientation, but as nearly everything in the Muybridge photos was destroyed, there are few similarities between the sets of images. The Muybridge prints are pristine and amazingly clear. San Francisco looks stunning. It took me a moment to grasp that part of the effect is that these photos were created at a time when we truly were a Victorian city. Every bit of trim and bric-a-brac is intact. Even though I live right below Alamo Square, Victorian San Francisco is not quite what it once was. The exteriors of about half the remaining Victorians have been altered in significant ways — everything from Art Deco, stucco “modernizations” to the sacrifices of front yards for parking garages to some really tragic asbestos or aluminum siding.

The show also includes a new series of work by Larry Sultan. Perhaps best described as landscapes. They show the intrusion of mcmansion subdivisions into wild California. Like so much of his work, far into the future it will be used as a document of our current era. Sultan is one of the Muybridge’s of the current Turn of the Century.

One of the reasons I go to see work in person is to expose myself to new work and new artists. I am wondering how I have gone so far without knowing the work of Henry Wessel.

You have to plan to go see Pier 24, reserve it in advance and maybe play hooky from work. Right now, it is still a local treasure that we can take advantage of before it really gets discovered.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Craft Renegades Invade San Francisco

The Renegade Craft Fair came into town this past weekend. They are one of these “alternative” craft fairs that are traveling around. We also have a few local variations on this theme. All of these fairs like to make you think they are doing something new and cutting edge, but craft fairs have been around for a long time. The real difference is that these newer versions tend to appeal to a younger demographic of the self consciously hip. There are some really cool and creative things at these shows, but the attitude behind these fairs is a little silly. The items may be different, but the experience is the same with these alternative fairs. Another generations sand candles and macramé abound.

That said I really do enjoy these things. You see plenty of new and interesting work and most of it is pretty accessible in terms of cost. Like any of these things, it’s always a mixed bag. There are some ideas that after a few years feel like they have been done to death. Though at least I didn’t see any more jewelry made out of old typewriter keys. That was clever the first or second time I saw it. After a few times, I had the same reaction to typewriter key jewelry as I used to when I saw jewelry made out of old silverware (uh oh, I’m dating myself). The only thing that really disturbed me at the Renegade Craft Fair, were the grossly overpriced vintage globes. They were covered with uninspired collage. Repurposing globes needs to be left to the pros.

There were some real great things. I loved the Tough Chick series. How can you go wrong with a cartoon chick wearing a studded collar? Especially when the target market is for little girls. A nice alternative to the princess set. Black Forest Clockworks is reviving the lost art of souvenir, kitsch cuckoo clocks. If you didn’t inherit that treasure from Grandma, here is your chance.

Don’t let the name Tofu fool you, I am not a vegetarian. I even collect meat art for my kitchen. If I had a large kitchen, I would want all the meat prints form artist Alyson Thomas. Her work is wonderful and I recommend you check it out.