Monday, October 26, 2009

Yerba Buena Gallery Walk 09

The annual Yerba Buena Free Gallery Walk was this past Saturday (11/24) in San Francisco. This year 14 SOMA galleries opened their doors and provided drinks and munchies to wandering art lovers. SF photographer Wendy Crittenden joined me in having a look at about 80% of them.

We started at SF institution Crown Point Press and once we dragged ourselves away from their addictive bookstore, we found lots of interesting art. Among the works on display was a special exhibition by London based painter Tomma Abts, who had done a two week residency at CCP in the fall. Her etchings with color aquatint were gorgeous.

From CCP, we went downstairs to 871 Fine Arts, who had a special exhibition of paintings, watercolors and books by June Felter. We oooed and ahhed over a lot of her work. She often did still lives that include a newspaper open to a comic strip in the middle of the table, in this case Calvin & Hobbes, although I’ve seen pieces that feature Krazy Kat and other strips.

Around the corner from these two galleries was the Sculturesite Gallery which featured a joint show of works by Bella Feldman and JP Long. Neither Wendy nor I had ever been to this gallery before, and we were impressed by the range of sculptural works on display both inside and out in the courtyard.

Next we worked our way through the cluster of galleries around Mission and 3rd Street. We stopped at Chandler Fine Art and Baer Ridgeway across from SFMOMA. At BR, we enjoyed Brendon Lott’s quirky oil paintings, and were fascinated with the sound/film installation by Maurico Ancalmo in the downstairs gallery (still on the left). In the center of the room was a sculpture constructed from old film projectors, which cast 3 movies amongst the stills. Alternating between a group of traditional African singers and footage of classical pianist Vladimir Horowitz, we were both taken by the contrast. We also loved their bookstore! A great selection of artist made books in all price ranges.

Catherine Clark Gallery was host to Sandow Birk’s impressive American Qur’an series, an ongoing project to hand-transcribe and illuminate the Holy Qur'an with scenes from contemporary American life. These are intricately detailed and colorful, sometimes humorous and sometimes heartbreaking. There were also a few works from Birk’s Disasters of War series, commenting on the Iraq War (with a nod to Goya, of course).

We were blown away by the exhibition upstairs at SF CameraWorks, An Autobiography of the San Francisco Bay Area - Part 1: San Francisco Plays Itself. Wendy and I both agreed that it was one of the best we had seen there. I’d like to point out 2 artists doing work on labor themes that really stood out: Jona Franks Uniforms series (photos of workers in uniform immediately after finishing their shift) and Ken Light’s mid-1970’s series of workers in heavy industry.

We had a look at Topher Delaney’s model train installation at the UC Berkeley Extension Art and Design Center Gallery, and then went on to the Modernism Gallery. The featured artist in the front gallery was Jerry Kearns, whose large acrylic paintings depicting Jesus in ironic situations really cracked us up. Here is his Lowland Drifter ( 2008, acrylic on canvas, 72 x 112) on the left. Among the other works on display were some by Kasmir S. Malevich, and a selection of small works by Le Corbusier. We were most fascinated, however with the gallery office, which was basically a large desk ringed with towering stacks of art books. Reminded me of home, although we are a little better at hiding the piles (ignore all that research piled in laundry baskets under the dining room table…). After this we toasted the Pied Piper mural at Maxfield’s (Sheraton Palace) and fortified ourselves with wine and cheese.

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