Left Coast Leaning @ YBCA [Review]

The Left Coast Leaning performing arts festival, organized by the YBCA in conjunction with Youth Speaks’ Living Word Project, kind of oscillated between the two poles of pure visual enjoyment and entertainment, and perplexing uncomfortableness. On the one hand there was the dazzling spectacle of virtuosic tap dancing by Jason Samuels Smith, on the other there was a strange and brain-taxing performance piece by Anna Martine Whitehead. Between were the three remaining works, which attempted both to entertain the viewers as well as elicit an emotional response. Interestingly enough, all three were about love.

What? Love, you say? The prominence of that theme was a little bit surprising. In the current moment, with the country electrified by Occupy, you might expect to see things that are more political than romantic. But that is not to say that Left Coast Leaning strayed far from the zeitgeist. At least two of the pieces explicitly dealt with love in the contemporary world, and one was a response to fairly recent events–namely, Proposition 8.

Alexandro Segade, Replicant VS Separatist, Pictured: Colin Martin and Justin Streichman. Credit: Scott Groller.

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Art Top 5: Exhibitions & Events December 2011

Beat by the Bay, San Francisco Visual Artists of the Fifties and Their Galleries, Ever Gold, December 8, 2011 – January 6, 2012

Everybody’s heard of the literary works produced by the great writers of the Beat generation, like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. But that legendary countercultural movement also included visual artists, who without a doubt deserve the same recognition. Recall, for example, the staggering paintings of Jay DeFeo, such as “The Rose” (now in the collection of the Whitney Museum).  By organizing “Beat by the Bay” the Ever Gold gallery aims to reconnect the Bay Area with its own cultural heritage. It will show experimental pieces by artists who lived and worked here in the 1950s, as well as tell the stories of the alternative gallery spaces where those artists presented their output.

Jay Defeo, Courtesy Jerry Burchard Estate, c. 1957

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The Global Within: Indian Art at the YBCA [Review]

The Matter Within | Saturday, October 15, 2011 – Sunday, January 29, 2011 | YBCA | San Francisco

Whether you’re conscious of it or not, when you go to an exhibition dedicated to India, you expect to encounter pieces that address certain cliches. Maybe not Bollywood or beggars, but at least the IT industry. Thankfully, “The Matter Within” stayed away from “branding” the country (unlike, for example, the YBCA‘s “Brazilian” exhibition “When Lives Become Form” that happened a few years back). The exhibition is international in outlook, taking on such themes as the legacy of colonialism, nationalism, homophobia, and exclusion. One could easily imagine that framework applied to exhibitions dedicated to a variety of regions, from Africa to Latin America to the former Eastern bloc. Maybe some works chosen for those imagined exhibitions would even turn out to be similar to those in “The Matter Within.” Whether this would be the case for a show centered exclusively on a “First World” country, such as the U.S., is a thought-provoking question–but that’s another story.

Sudarshan Shetty, No Title (from "this too shall pass"), gold leaf on fiberglass, mild steel, coin box, etched brass, 2010 — credit: Anil Rane

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ARTSEEKR Events November 22 – December 5, 2011

Left Coast Leaning, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, December 1-3, 8pm This annual performing arts festival supports diverse forms of expression. The centerpiece of this year’s edition is perhaps a multimedia work by Alexandro Segade, which “takes place in a dreamlike, sci-fi L.A. cityscape where gay marriage is state-mandated and those who don’t conform are hunted down.” Also on the bill: slam poetry (Rafael Casal), tap dancing (Jason Samuels Smith), and dance performances that explore “the sexualized black body in the realm of the spectacle” (Anna Martine Whitehead) and “the awkwardness of human beauty and the struggles of intimate negotiation” (tEEth).

Alexandro Segade, Replicant VS Separatist, Pictured: Colin Martin and Justin Streichman. Credit: Scott Groller

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Art Top 5: Exhibitions Opening November 2011

Francesca Woodman, SFMOMA, November 5, 2011 – February 20, 2012

One of the strengths of the SFMOMA is its photography program. This season the museum will host an exhibition of photographs by Francesca Woodman, which will be the first major show of her work in the United States (it will later travel to the Guggenheim). Woodman died in 1981, at the age of just 22, but she left behind a huge body of work, amounting to more than 800 pieces. She created highly enigmatic and haunting images, in which the body (often her own) is placed in evocative settings.

Francesca Woodman, Self-portrait talking to Vince, Providence, Rhode Island, 1975–78; gelatin silver print; 5 1/8 x 5 1/16 in. (13 x 12.9 cm); courtesy George and Betty Woodman; © George and Betty Woodman. Photo provided by SFMOMA.

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ARTSEEKR Events November 1 – November 7, 2011

Urbanized, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, November 4-10. You have probably seen (or at least heard about) Helvetica, a popular documentary by Gary Hustwit about typography and its relationship to how we see things. Now, the YBCA will be screening Urbanized, Hustwit’s new movie which focuses primarily on urban design. You can check the detailed schedule of screenings here.

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ARTSEEKR Events October 25 – October 31, 2011

This wonderful song is a blatant and unimaginative way to attract attention.

 

And now, about art. So, what should we expect from the glorious week starting October 25 (yes, my weeks start on Tuesday!!) and ending October 31?

Geof Oppenheimer, Ratio 3, October 28 – December 11. People usually associate “anarchy” with “chaos,” but an anarchist would tell you that authority-free cooperation actually results in a more perfect order, whereas an authoritarian system is what breeds chaos. That’s what I recalled when I came upon this article featuring Geof Oppenheimer’s video, Washington Color Field School, which seems to explore that kind of “authoritarian chaos” by presenting a Congressional hearing as a “theater of the absurd.” In his practice, which also embraces sculpture and photography, the artist studies violence and power. Here is an interview about Oppenheimer’s new exhibition at Ratio 3, in which he talks about the sexiness of sculpture, the aesthetics of violence, the relationships between avant-garde and politics, etc.

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