Archive for September, 2009

Everything’s Invisible

09.29.2009  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

Ryan Coffey asked me to read for the closing night of his 2008 show at Adobe Books. At the bar afterward he presented me with a collage that centered on an egg made of gold leaf. Floating above it there was a small red stain like an accidental Chinese ideogram — Ryan assured me that this was blood, that it was human, and I began to feel so at home talking with him. I remember that there was a well- rendered graphite portrait of the poet Philip Whalen hanging high in that show.

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A Lens on the World

09.28.2009  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

In lieu of a robust travel budget, there’s no better way to experience foreign lands than through their cinema offerings. I’m repeatedly stunned by the range of cultures I’m exposed to by attending just a handful of the many films that screen over the course of a year at the multitude of local festivals and cultural institutions t... More

The Provoke Era: Postwar Japanese Photography: Sandra Phillips and W.S. di Piero in Conversation

09.28.2009  |  By
Filed under: Conversations

One of our current collection exhibitions, The Provoke Era: Postwar Japanese Photography presents a number of pictures from that turbulent moment in Japanese history. After the devastation of World War II, Japan entered a period of American military occupation and modernization. Photographers reacted to the drastic sociocultural changes taking plac... More

Introducing “Who This?”: an art ID experiment

09.27.2009  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

As a guest columnist for the next four months, I am now taking submissions for a new blogging series entitled “Who This?” consisting of images of contemporary artworks posted by collectors who have forgotten who the makers are. Face it, what art lover hasn’t picked up a work from a local nonprofit auction only to realize a while later that they’ve lost the darn piece of paper that lists the artist’s name? And, heavens, the artist didn’t sign it in the first place, relegating themselves to unending obscurity. Or maybe your roommate moved out and left behind something that they had collected but neglected to fill you in on the details about. So now you sit, stumped, wondering… “Who this?”

That work sits anonymously in your possession, like a lost soul. Is it famous? Is it minor? Who knows? Come out from the shadows and let the rest of us, a savvy viewing public, help you in identifying who the heck made it. Collectively we are a smart... More

1001 words: 09.27.09

09.27.2009  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

*an ongoing series of individual images presented for speculation and scrutiny, with only tags at the bottom to give context. Because sometimes words are never enough…

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(!)

09.25.2009  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd

The Fisher Collection + SFMOMA

This morning SFMOMA announced the development of what looks to be one heck of a partnership with Gap Inc. founders Doris and Don Fisher:  One that will tuck their renowned collection—one of the world’s leading in contemporary art—neatly at home at our museum.

The Fisher Collection includes more than 1,100 works, by artists such as Alexander Calder, Chuck Close, Willem de Kooning, Richard Diebenkorn, Anselm Kiefer, Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein, Brice Marden, Agnes Martin, Gerhard Richter, Richard Serra, Cy Twombly, and Andy Warhol.

Huge. Chron article here.

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1001 words: 09.25.09

09.25.2009  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

In the spirit of this being a blog connected to an art museum, this post inaugurates a new series of sorts: individual images presented for speculation and scrutiny, with only tags at the bottom to give context. Because sometimes words are never enough…

(thank you Lilledeshan Bose for sending me the image)

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Two Letters (with Gifts) from David Enos

09.22.2009  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

I used to crowd into the back room of Edinburgh Castle each Monday night to watch new films by David Enos. This must have been circa 2005-6. I think of Light My Fire as his first true classic. It is the story of the Doors told in perfectly painted slips of paper with a revolving soundtrack: “He put his books on…He put his boots on…He put his boots on…” It was followed by The Dennis Wilson Story, In Service of the Waxen Moon, Joke Night, Leonard Cohen in Alberta, and Ringo. These are just the favorites I’m remembering... More

On the road with ORIGINAL PLUMBING

09.22.2009  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

There’s nothing worse than being sick on tour and that’s where I’m at right now. Blowing snot into a ragged gas station napkin while my tourmates discreetly look the other way. Being on tour, on the road in a van with other performers, is like living in the tiniest studio apartment eve, for one month, with six roommates. The tour is Sister Spit, I started it in the 90s with the poet Sini Anderson, first as a weekly open mic for girls only, an alternative to the boy-heavy open mics that raged through San Francisco at the start of the last ... More

Drawing Down Spirits: Sacred Ground Markings of Vodou in San Francisco

09.22.2009  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

A Haitian visual artist named Florencia Pierre visited San Francisco this weekend and blessed the ground of a public park with her drawings. She is a priestess of the sacred practice of vodou. What may look at first glance like an outdoor scene from some rural part of Haiti actually happened in San Francisco’s Mission District Sunday, September 19th at about one O’clock in the Afternoon. That day I had the pleasure of experiencing a casually ingenious, seamlessly organic blend of dance, visual art, narrative and ritual theater in the form o... More

Object Economies: Beyond a Great Depression

09.19.2009  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

With all the talk today swirling around issues of the economy and its impact on the artworld (Commercial gallery implosions! No sales! Museums slashing budgets! Art department layoffs!), I am heartened by creative projects that address in some way this depression/recession/whatever-you-want-to-call-it — especially those that are not necessarily... More

Wonderland, A Follow-Up

09.18.2009  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

On September 7th, I posted a blog entitled, “Wonderland: A world turned upside down” in regards to Lance Fung’s multi-site public art exhibition occurring in the Tenderloin in mid-October. The response to this post was overwhelming: there are currently fifteen comments posted, the majority of which are almost as long as the article itself. The commenters included participating artists, interns, former collaborators of Fung’s, social workers and educators in the Tenderloin, those outside the San Francisco art scene and those within it. These thorough and often heated responses communicated to myself and the larger public that people are eager to discuss the issues surrounding Wonderland and that it remains a highly complex and controversial exhibition. I am pleased that the SFMOMA blog Open Space provided a forum for this discussion and hope that the conversation will continue during Wonderland’s symposium on October 18th. While it would be exhaustive to a... More

Please Welcome! Our new columnists on Open Space:

09.18.2009  |  By
Filed under: Back Page

An official first welcome to our fantastic new crew of columnist-bloggers, who are already well underway this week with the posting, and for which I thank them. Your fall hosts on Open Space are:

MICHELLE TEA!, writer, poet, and founder of RADAR Productions, a literary non-profit; DUANE DETERVILLE!,  artist, writer and cofounder of the Sankofa Cultural Institute; the visual artist STEPHANIE SYJUCO!;   JOSEPH DEL PESCO!, independent curator, art journalist and web-media producer; and the poet CEDAR SIGO!

I a little overdo it with the all-caps... More

Van Gogh’s Blues People

09.17.2009  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

What is the canonized art piece that most occupies your imagination and how do you re-interpret its meaning in your own personal way?

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Coming Up: Greater Horrors, an interview with Anthony Discenza

09.16.2009  |  By
Filed under: Conversations

For the past year artist Anthony Discenza has been installing, without permission, a series of street signs attached to sidewalk poles on Minna Street, near SFMOMA. Last month I emailed him a few questions about the ongoing project:

Let’s start with some stats on the The Street Signs Project. How many signs have you installed? How many have been confiscated vs. stolen? When did you start the project?

I started the project a little over a year ago, back in May or June of 2008.  To date, I think I’ve put up 14 signs; of those, 6 have ... More

Five Questions: Bompas & Parr

09.16.2009  |  By
Filed under: Conversations

[Five questions to SFMOMA visitors, artists, staff, or guests. Harry Parr and Sam Bompas  are jellymongers who will be giving a performance this Thursday, in conjunction with the exhibition Sensate: Bodies and Design. Bompas & Parr claim to spend so much time together that they have become psychic, so for this interview Harry answered for Sam ... More

A Visit With John Altoon

09.15.2009  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

I was very taken with the few pages devoted to John Altoon in Semina Culture: Wallace Berman and His Circle (D.A.P., 2005). I mentioned my interest to the poet and scholar Duncan McNaughton, and he informed me that Altoon’s estate was owned by Braunstein/Quay Gallery, and suggested I pay a visit to see more of his works in person.

Ruth Brauns... More

I Love Yoko Ono

09.15.2009  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

When the woman taking our admission into the Yoko Ono show in Venice called Brittney ‘bambino’ it confirmed a growing suspicion: everyone everywhere is reading my girlfriend as a boy, and a young boy at that, like maybe a fourteen-year-old, which makes me, a visible thirty-something hanging all over her/him on the vaporettos and in the streets, something of a creep, and this is why wherever we go we are met with stares, many of them scornful. And so it is with the relief of an annoying mystery now solved that we enter the show at Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, a two-story gallery in Dorsoduro, outside a canal where during the week produce-bearing gondolas dock forming a floating, bobbing farmers’ market.

I love Yoko Ono. We have the same birthday for starters, which gives me hope that when I am in my seventies I too will be able to rock a micro-mini, stilettos and a massive pair of wrap-around sunglasses. Her song Revelations, with Cat Power, is my most favorite song even though i... More

In Memoriam: David Ireland 1930 – 2009

09.14.2009  |  By
Filed under: Projects/Series

This afternoon, SFMOMA is hosting a special memorial service honoring Bay Area sculptor and conceptual artist David Ireland, who passed away last spring. Ireland was a central figure in conceptual art in the Bay Area and beyond. From the 1970s until his death, he produced a highly idiosyncratic body of work concerned with the creation and function... More

Thank you. Gracias. Grazie Mille. Infinite, etc.

09.10.2009  |  By
Filed under: Back Page

Left: Kevin Killian, Adrienne Skye Roberts, Eric Heiman.  Right: Anu Vikram. MIA: Julian Myers

You can see they weren’t a thousand percent keen on having me take their picture when we all got together the first time to meet that pretty afternoon last April, but hopefully I will be forgiven for posting these now.  I want to say a million times THANK YOU,  & offer  STANDING OVATION to our fantastic first group of columnist-bloggers, whose official term now comes to a close: KEVIN KILLIAN! JULIAN MYERS! ADRIENNE SKYE ROBERTS! ERIC H... More

Five Questions

09.09.2009  |  By
Filed under: Conversations

[New series. The same five questions to SFMOMA visitors, artists, staff, or guests.  Let's see what happens with these over time. Enjoy!]

Name/ Place of residence/ Occupation/ Hobby?

My name is John, I live in San Francisco, California. I am a full-time film student and I’m a full-time cyclist too.

Do you collect anything?

I collect Vonnegut boo... More

A Requiem, A Dream (Part Two)

09.08.2009  |  By
Filed under: Conversations

I sat down with Andy Vogt recently to talk about his work, including the “Sustained Decay” installation he created with Joshua Churchill at Adobe Books last month. (My post about this piece can be read here.)

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Wonderland: A world turned upside down

09.07.2009  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

Wonderland: a land of wonder, curiosities and marvels.

Wonder: something strange and surprising. A cause of astonishment.

In the popular novel, Alice and her Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, a young girl follows a rabbit down its rabbit hole to find herself in a place that, from her perspective, is full of nonsense and chaos. In Wonderland Alice meets a cast of characters, anthropomorphic plants and animals and travels through a fantasy land that is far from the hum-drum bore of the world she just left behind.

The Wonderland that curator Lance Fung refers to in his upcoming public, collaborative project is far from the fantastical space of Carroll’s novel. Fung’s Wonderland is the Tenderloin. Tucked between wealthy neighborhoods like Nob Hill and Union Square, the Tenderloin is a small, densely populated neighborhood. The Tenderloin, like many urban areas, is a difficult place to describe and categorize. The Tenderloin has the highest percentage of families, chil... More

Any Thoughts?

09.07.2009  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

I’ve seen a few things over the past few weeks that don’t warrant their own post, but certainly have heated argument potential. What follows is an attempt to make this post more of a forum for discussion. Any thoughts? Just keep reading…

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Happy Birthday, John Cage

09.05.2009  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd

Composer, philospher, poet, artist John Cage was born on this day in 1912. This video was made last winter, during The Art of Participation exhibition, when we were treated to daily noontime performances (usually with staff performers) of Cage’s seminal work 4’33″. Thanks to Tammy Fortin as always for fantastic video gesture.

4’33″ (1952) is a composition of silence lasting four minutes and thirty-three seconds. Without instrumentation, the score highlights ambient sounds surrounding the performance: noises in the environment and those produced by the audience. Having decided there is no such thing as absolute silence, Cage chose to define it as the absence of intentional sound. In this he was influenced not only by avant-garde composition and Surrealism, but also by Eastern philosophy and Zen Buddhism. Indeterminacy, chance, and nonlinear progression became integral to the structure of his music. By scoring silence, Cage sought to open his listeners to di... More

Dispatch from Ars Electronica

09.05.2009  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

I’m in Linz, Austria, at Ars Electronica. The festival, now in its 30th year, remains the definitive art and technology gathering, although that status is being challenged by newer events such as Transmediale in Berlin and our own Zero1 in San Jose. Though its practitioners come from nearly every continent, the field of media art remains quit... More

Visitor Flickr Photo of the Week

09.04.2009  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd

San Francisco – May 2009.  Photo: Irene Pomianowski aka bellearielparis

Irene Pomianowski took this shot of Anish Kapoor’s Hole (1988) while at SFMOMA with a group from the Newark Museum.  She says, “In the 5 days we were in SF we went on tours at 6 museums (in addition to SFMOMA), City Hall, Napa Valley for winetasting & ... More

Jim Granato on D-Tour & Rogue Wave

09.02.2009  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd

[This Thursday we’re showing San Francisco-based Jim Granato’s feature-length documentary debut, D Tour. The film follows musician Pat Spurgeon, drummer for the Oakland band Rogue Wave, as the group embarks on a tour. Spurgeon struggles with a failing kidney, mobile dialysis, and his friends’ responses to the competing claims of art and life. D-Tour won the 2009 SF Film Society Award for best Bay Area documentary feature. A little backstory here from Jim:]

Pat Spurgeon and I have been good friends for more than a decade and we both come from Indiana. Pat is from Michigan City, up near Chicago, and I grew up much further south in the college town of Bloomington; we didn’t meet and become friends until landing in San Francisco in the mid-late 90′s, just a few months apart. But I’d known of Pat years before: he was a popular drummer playing in various bands around Bloomington. Like many kids from the midwest, Pat came down to attend Indiana University o... More