Category: San Francisco

The Digest. 01.22.10.

Southern California, 1985 by Henry Wessel. Part of the exhibit The View From Here at SFMOMA. (Image courtesy of SFMOMA.)

Calendar. 01.07.10.

Gravity Always Wins, by Claire Jackel at The Lab in San Francisco, part of the solo exhibit of the same name; opens Friday at 6 p.m. (Image courtesy of The Lab.)

On the town in S.F.: It’s all about Artsy Fartsy Urinals.

Piss on this: Clark Sorensen’s over-the-top urinals. (Photos by Sebastian Puig.)

On a recent visit to San Francisco’s once nitty gritty Mission district, we paid a visit to the studio of Clark Sorensen, a ceramicist known for his outrageous glazed and high-fired floral urinals. Interestingly, Sorensen was raised as a Mormon in Utah (and once proselytized for the Latter Day Saints in France) but found himself as a pinko leftist queer in San Francisco where he came to his senses, and he has recently let his politics creep into his work. In addition to producing some highly unusual urinals (ever tinkle on a cala lilly?), he also has a series titled Down the Drain: The Legacy of George W. Bush — a fitting urinary tribute to those eight lousy years. There’s no telling what his next series will be devoted to, but may we kindly suggest the addition of hysteria-monger and kooky gold shiller Glenn Beck.

Take that, Dubya!

Gay Swan on Squeak Carnwath at the Oakland Museum of California.

If only guilt-free zones weren’t so small: Good Luck, by Squeak Carnwath at the Oakland Museum of Art. (Photos by Gay Swan.)

Squeak Carnwath’s paintings are too big to be shoplifted. Otherwise, I would happily “own” one or two of the idiosyncratic, icon-addled, blackboard-sized canvasses from her first solo museum show at the Oakland Museum of California — at the tender age of 62. As one of the leading California artists no one’s ever heard of (unlike her cohorts Viola Frey and Jay DeFeo), Carnwath fuses the personal symbology of a genius Waldorf preschooler with the flawed humanity of the psychotherapy couch. The result is pure Californication.

I couldn’t not love her recurring guilt-free zones (Everything(2)), or her collection of good luck symbols (Good Luck ), bunnies (Long Happy Life ) and record albums (Side One ) — the latter representing about the side-oneness of life. There’s a shameless appropriation of periodic table grids (Four Months), confession (Promise) and assorted visual elements that once led people to associate her work with outsider art. Each painting reads like a short story asking universal questions. Then on the video at the end of the show, there’s Squeak with all the answers. And you walk out feeling like you just had a great talk with your therapist.

Painting Is No Ordinary Object runs through Aug 23.

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C-Mon Giveaway Extravaganza: San Francisco Street Art.

San Francisco Street Art. (Photo by C-M.)

Photographer Steve Rotman has just released a photo book devoted to all things S.F. (He’s also the author of Bay Area Graffiti.) Among the artists featured in San Francisco Street Art are perennial favorites such as Miss Van, D*Face, Doze Green, Swoon, Neckface, Ron English and Shepard Fairey — as well as some funny pieces by Thesis, Hug and Dome.

Leave a comment below to enter to win this palm-sized hardback. If you’re looking to buy, you can find it here.

Gay Swan reports on Flaming Furbelows at Johansson Projects in Oakland.

The Musical Marmots of Marina Vendrell Renault. (All photos by Gay Swan.)

I had never wanted to hug intestines until I saw Marina Vendrell Renaut’s knitted sculptures at Johansson Projects, part of a group show called Flaming Furbelows. There were eviscerations, udders and other mammalian pudenda hanging like stalactites from the gallery ceiling. Undoubtedly, they’re meditations on the love/hate/grossness we feel towards our innards. And Renaut employs reduce-reuse-recycle tactics like a good citizen. But you just can’t get past how fun the pieces must have been to make. Imagine sweater heaven at the Salvation Army, combined with flea market furs and afghans. Grandma would turn in her grave if she saw the oversized tentacled sock monkey called Coochie Boo Hoo, and her phallus-enhanced tea cozies fitted over remote-control toy cars. But the cherry on top are the five bissected marmots, above. Pull the tassels and they croon lullabies like ghoulish mobiles.

Unfortunately, Renault’s humorous touchables make the paintings on the walls — by Kate Tedman and Eric Siemens, working collaboratively here as “Kate Eric” — look fussy and cold by comparison. The pair must love watching the Discovery Channel. Tiny alien hybrids of bugs and fish alternately war, screw and puke in heavily impastoed acrylic on paper. The technique is as precise as a Dungeons and Dragons drawing, so that you have to examine each monster up close. The animal violence provides a stark contrast to the jellyfish-like silks billowing through the compositions. But ultimately, between chopped up animals and light existential drama, the artists are well-paired, echoing each other in mutually controlled chaos.

Flaming Furbelows runs through May 2.

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The Digest. 04.02.09.

The Window, 1932, by Rufino Tamayo at SFMOMA. (Photo by C-M.)

The Digest. 03.30.09.

Detail from Susanna and the Elders, 1938, by Thomas Hart Benton at the de Young Museum in S.F. (Photo by C-M.)