Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Film: "In a Dream" at SF DocFest

In a Dream, which screens at SF DocFest over the next few days (details below), is a film about the mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar, who has become an icon in South Philadelphia for the massive scale and extent of the mosaics he has created there. They include, by his description, about “a hundred murals” and “seven buildings, top to bottom, inside and out.” His best-known work is Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, which represents the transformation of two derelict buildings into a labyrinthine complex that covers half a city block with winding mosaic-covered passageways and sculptures.

Zagar’s mosaics are bright, colorful, and complex, rich with a celebratory spirit towards physicality and sensuality. But the surface cheerfulness of these mosaics belies the deeper obsession and the narcissism that makes such vast, intricate works possible in the first place, and Jeremiah Zagar — the director of the film and the artist’s younger son — uncovers that darkness here with unrelenting economy. All the father’s past secrets rapidly come out in the open, culminating when one of his most shameful episodes plays out right in front of the camera: his self-centered pursuit of “passion” with his assistant, which ends with a brief separation from his wife Julia, right when their oldest son is separated from his own wife and having drug problems.

Jeremiah describes the moment: “I went home to film my parents as they picked my brother up from rehab. The stress from the situation boiled over, and my father suddenly admitted [the affair] to my mother and me … that same night, my parents separated for the first time in 43 years.” Isaiah’s admission is made directly into the camera, and it’s a moment of remarkable drama. Amazingly, Jeremiah retains his composure — he coughs and the handheld camera shakes for an instant, but that is all — and he goes on to capture every instant of what ensues. “I shot 16 hours that day and hated myself for every minute of it,” he writes. Fortunately, Isaiah realizes he has made a big mistake quickly enough. Soon afterward, he goes to stay with his assistant and, as he confesses, “within minutes, my whole being started to rebel. My whole being.”

In the end, he reconciles with Julia, and the film has a brief epilogue, highly effective in its simplicity, that shows how, after a time of healing, the two simply picked up their life together and continued on into the next adventure.

For all the darkness that Jeremiah reveals, it’s an affectionate film. He shot his footage over the course of seven years, filming “whenever something significant happened,” and he describes the result like this: “what started as an exploration of my father’s life has exposed the secrets of our entire family. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing. … We know now how imperfect we really are, but also how much we need and love each other.”

The film is highly recommended. In a Dream screens at the Roxie this Sunday, October 26th at 2:45 PM, and Tuesday, October 28th at 9:30 PM. It will also screen at the Shattuck next Sunday, November 2nd at 2:45 PM.

Mashups of Shepard Fairey’s "Hope" Poster


Check out this page of 84 parodies of Shepard Fairey’s iconic poster (original above left), taken from around the web. It’s pretty funny, overall; some are pro-Obama, others are not. Be warned: many are outright offensive — racist, sexist, what you will. This post is NOT an endorsement of the entire collection behind that link! However, several are worth saving. My favorites are the two above; other good ones are POPE, MIME, TYPE (which features Mavis Beacon) and perhaps best of all, CHOPE: Where Change Meets Hope.

I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to a little chope this fall myself.

Improv Everywhere in Dolores Park: Video

Not long ago I posted about Improv Everywhere’s Mp3 Experiment in Dolores Park, which happened on Saturday, October 4th. For all those who couldn’t participate (including me … *sniff*), Improv Everywhere’s official video of the event is now live on their page: check it out. That four minutes was condensed from a forty-five minute event! Fuller documentation (a written report and photos) is available here.

The Mp3 Experiment San Francisco was just one city in a 4-city “tour.” Check out the Mp3 Experiment Tour page to see footage and photos from the Chicago, New York, and Toronto events.

Film: Fear(s) of the Dark


This post is a little late, but if you’re still looking for something to do tonight, go check out the animated feature Fear(s) of the Dark, which will premiere tonight at the Embarcadero Center Cinema at 7:30 (general admission $12.50; discounts available). Check out the description of the film by Mike Plante of the Sundance Film Festival:

Spiders’ legs brushing against naked skin. Unexplained noises in the dark. A hypodermic needle getting closer and closer. A dead thing trapped in a bottle of formaldehyde. A growling dog running and on the hunt. A big empty house creaking . . . . Six amazing graphic artists and cartoonists lend their distinctive hands to stylize these dark nightmares with no color, only black, white and gray. With ultrarealistic techniques now possible, it is important to remember that animation is first and foremost art. Whether slick or rough, paint or pencil, or even originating from a computer, an image is carefully hand-designed for every single frame of film. It is the ultimate work of a creator, personally using the drawn frame, chiaroscuro contrast, the angle of the light and the line movement to tell a story. But it is also the duration of a shot, and what is and isn’t heard. It is the style of the art and the art of the storytelling that make Fear(s) of the Dark so wonderful. Since they come from the artists’ own phobias, you can trust a loving exploration into the surreal atmosphere of your creepiest dreams. As your emotions get worked over, you won’t jump up; you will sink in.

The animated shorts are by Blutch, Charles Burns, Marie Caillou, Pierre di Sciullo, Lorenzo Mattotti, and Richard McGuire.

At tonight’s show, Charles Burns himself will be on hand to do a Q&A session after the film.

If you can’t make it out tonight, don’t worry: it will be back on screen at one or more of the Landmark Theatres (they haven’t determined the venue yet) starting October 31st, Halloween. Appropriately enough!

LitQuake & The Madness Thereof

I missed it this year, sadly, but just re-read Cormac‘s (local writer, online novelist) version and it’s precious. Enjoy.

Note, try to give stuff away and people think that you are handing them the plague. To say it hurts when the junkie panhandlers get more respect and love just feet away from you, is an understatement.

I was sitting on a 45 Union with a writer friend during LitQuake, sharing stories of how we stalked potential agents and other antics, and how sometimes it’s nice to just avoid the scene altogether.

Galleries: Lydia Fong, Gallery 16

Lydia Fong at Ratio 3

Lydia Fong

I just watched KQED’s latest Gallery Crawl video (running time 13:43), and discovered that the show by “Lydia Fong” over at Ratio 3 is actually work by world-famous San Francisco native Barry McGee, who is still obviously keeping things cool. (If you don’t know about him yet, check out this great PBS feature page as well.) There is definitely a slightly different flavor to the work done under his pseudonym. In KQED’s video, he gives a fairly interesting tour of the exhibition, and it’s worth watching even if you’re not already a fan. Hi-res Quicktime is here, lo-res YouTube is here. If you have the time to get personal, the gallery is over on Stevenson at Duboce, a block west of Mission. The show will be up through October 18th, so you have just over one week left to see it.

Gallery 16

Opening at Gallery 16

The second half of KQED’s program is about Gallery 16‘s current show, a 15-year retrospective called “These Are the People in Your Neighborhood,” involving just about everybody the gallery has ever worked with. You can watch just the 7-minute segment devoted to that show by clicking here, and you definitely shouldn’t miss it. The (huge) retrospective runs through November 7th. In the past 15 years the gallery has come up a bit among commercial galleries; as interviewed artist Rex Ray put it, the gallery used to be on 16th, but now it’s on “glamorous 3rd Street,” at Bryant. But it has done so without losing any of its daring. Owner Griff Williams describes it as a place where artists are “free to fail.” And that’s a freedom that every artist needs.

[Images by the galleries named above; please click on them to visit their websites!]

Improv Everywhere’s Mp3 Experiment in Dolores Park this Saturday

Last Saturday, Dolores Park was home to the 9th Annual Expo for Independent Arts; this Saturday, the park will be home to an event for those more interested in art-as-performance than art-as-object. It’s Improv Everywhere’s Mp3 Experiment San Francisco. Beginning at 2:00 and running no later than 2:45, a huge crowd of people will converge on the park and follow instructions given by the voice in their heads.

Best of all, you can be one of them!

See the page for detailed instructions, but here’s how it basically works: you download an mp3 to your mp3 player and sync up your watch to their page before leaving for the event. At the appointed time and place you press “play,” and follow the instructions along with everybody else. Some videos of past events can be viewed here.

Improv Everywhere has a note about cameras: This is a participatory event. We encourage participants to leave their cameras at home and have fun participating. Same goes for the media. Let’s all enjoy the moment and resist the urge to document! That makes perfect sense for the participants, but the media? Sorry folks, but knowing journalists, that’s the exact kind of request that will guarantee the presence of at least one camera crew. Of course, maybe that’s what Improv Everywhere wants. They are rather devious folks, after all!

Asian Art Museum Matcha Event: Japanese Tattoo

Japanese Tattoo

It’s Matcha time! The Asian Art Museum hosts their Matcha event series on the first Thursday of every month, from 5 to 9 in the evening, and tomorrow, October 2nd, is that special day. The theme for tomorrow’s event is Japanese Tattoo:

There’s more to getting inked than you think. Takahiro Kitamura — aka “HORITAKA,” apprentice to the revered master Horiyoshi III — is an author, prolific tattoo artist, and owner of San Jose’s State of Grace. He will deliver a talk on the time-honored art of Japanese tattoos, a rich culture of beauty, commitment, and history.

See LIVE demonstrations of employing both traditional (no electric needles!) and modern techniques. Joining Horitaka’s diverse, talented crew of tattooists are special guests from Japan — Shige, a powerhouse tat artist who’s showcased all over the world; Mutsuo, who’s designed for Bathing Ape and Hysteric Glamour; and Kazunobu Nagashima, a client of Shige who will proudly display his backpiece, which won a 2007 Milano Tattoo Convention award.

In addition, dip into the world of Zen among ancient Samurai warriors through a guided tour of the galleries, learn about Japanese altars, sample teas by Ito En, soak up DJ Saiman’s aural offerings, enjoy a cocktail with friends, and much more.

The museum is on Larkin next door to Main Library. Admission is $5 after 5 PM, and as they imply up there, for that awesome price you get the run of the museum. Their special exhibition at the moment is Arts of the Islamic World from Turkey to Indonesia, featuring artifacts from the museum’s collection. (They’re tooling up for a big show about Afghanistan that won’t open for three weeks. But we’ll talk about that next month.)

Friday Night: Pick Locks Not Pockets at 826 Valencia

Earlier this afternoon I walked past 826 Valencia and saw a notice for this cool, typically whimsical event posted in the window:

Join artist Lucas Murgida as he completes a three-year traveling art project which began here in the 826 front window. This installation of The Locksmithing Institute will kick off with a reception in the Pirate Store, where refreshments and a demonstration on opening doors without keys will be enjoyed by all.

In February of 2005, The Locksmithing Institute conducted its first class at 826 Valencia. Here students were taught how to liberate themselves from their everyday shackles in a series of lock-picking courses. Since that time, the Institute has traveled all over the Western Hemisphere and has taught hundreds of students in Portland, New York, Oakland, San Francisco, Baltimore, Boston, and Uruguay a host of locksmithing skills such as how to pick locks, make keys, find keys, lose keys, and how not to pick locks. Click here for more details.

On Friday, September 26, the eleventh and final lesson of The Locksmithing Institute will begin at 826 Valencia. Incoming students will be given the opportunity to test their meddle in the Institute’s mobile locking window display classroom. Tuition is free, all ages are welcome, no experience is necessary, and keys are not required.

The event will run from 6-8 PM tomorrow night, Friday 26th. Unfortunately, I’m going to be down in Santa Cruz for most of the day, but I’m going to try really hard to be back in time for this!

[Event text taken directly from 826 Valencia; another heads-up from SF Funcheap.]

Imperial Fleet Week in San Francisco

Death Star - Coit Tower
[Image by this guy.]

Not long ago I blogged about Festival of Sail. If you haven’t seen this yet, check out the impact a different fleet had on San Francisco: the Imperial Fleet.

[Via Kevin Kelly’s article, The End of Video as Evidence of Anything.]

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