Archive for February, 2009

Tag-a-Log and Please Save the Forests

Posted by erin on February 23rd, 2009

Chris Sicat at Space 47 in San Jose
By Erin Goodwin-Guerrero

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Chris Sicat works on his Space 47 installation, Tag-a-Log.

Chris Sicat comes to Northern California from an interesting and diverse career in the arts in the Los Angeles area. Beyond his exhbition history an artist, he has impressive credentials as gallery director, and director of a dance troupe. His performance/installation at Space 47 in San Jose follows previous work with socio-political ramifications. Entitled, Tag-a-log, Sicat causes us to think of the rape of mahogany forests of the world.

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Natural Blunders at the deSaisset

Posted by erin on February 16th, 2009

Sometimes Whimsical, Sometimes Satirical…
By Erin Goodwin-Guerrero

Curator Karen Kienzle leaves the deSaisset Museum with a light note on a serious subject in an exhibition that amuses us and plays on our mixed relations with nature. We are reminded of the historic artist’s still life composed of edibles, flowers and perhaps the bounty of the hunt, but mostly, it is our contemporary relations to the animal world that are featured. Some of the artists put their animal musings in the context of nature as a whole. Some observations are sympathetic and some are bizarre. There is plenty to say, of course, about the contemporary politics of our knowledge and conservation of the natural balance of things. The exhibition is timed to coincide with the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin whose observations on evolution so rudely upset the theistic narrative of centuries.

One of my favorite works in the show is an enormous sad rodent by Elisabeth Higgins O’Connor. Higgins O’Connor sculpts larger-than-human-scale anthropomorphic rats and mice out of a wide range of fabrics from lace curtains, towels, panty hose, old levis to throw rugs. The precariously assembled figures that emerge look like the cross between a bag lady and a rat’s nest in a box of Goodwill donations discovered after it was accidentally left behind in the garage. They are funny but at the same time they seem to comment on how even the most persistent pests of the ages may be affected by our failure to care properly for the animal kingdom.

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Stephanie Metz’ Super Suckler, 2008

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The Pasto-Midjo Landscapes

Posted by erin on February 14th, 2009

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Tarmo Pasto’s erotic red hills are a response to the desert of the Southwest and, perhaps, and homage to Georgia O’keefe.

Works Shows Surprising Local Collection
By Erin Goodwin-Guerrero

For its first show of 2009, Works new Exhibitions Coordinator, Stephanie Battle, introduces a local collection of two artists’ work. This is not in the Works tradition of contemporary art. The Pasto-Midjo collection, loaned by Dr. Mathew Pasto, is one of mostly modernist landscape paintings by Christian Midjo and Tarmo Pasto. At first glance, I was taken aback by this retro surprise, but Works is nothing if not full of surprises these days. I quickly got into the game of sorting out the influences of these two painters, and enjoying many of the dramatic landscapes that they interpreted in paint.

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A dramatic cloud with a phallic rocket-like formation dominates Christian Midjo’s desert landscape.

As an art historian, Stephanie Battle is the right person to help viewers appreciate the historic threads that run through Pasto and Midjo’s work. There are references to of Cezanne, Kandinsky, Franz Marc, Georgia O’Keefe and others in one image or another.

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Tantalum-Memorial Reconstruction Offers the Ironic Links of the Congolese Diaspora to Coltan and the Electronics Industry

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Clockwise, Thomas Asmuth, Teck Liew, Matsuko Yokokoji, Sara Lowe and Ethan Miller at the keyboard at the San Jose Museum of Art Contemplate the Congoleze diaspora through Tantalum. Photo: Mike (Cookie Evans) Lowell.

Tantalum, is the collaborative work of Graham Harwood, Richard Wright and Matsuko Yokokoji, students from Goldsmiths University, SJSU’s Cadre Lab and other individuals interested in digital media and the complex social issues implicated in its use of industrial through information age technologies. First seen at San Jose’s Zero1 in 2008, Tantalum (described by Thomas Asmuth, below) was among eight selected for exhibition, from a group of sixty projects culled out of more than 1000 nominees for inclusion in the European Transmediale. It was reviewed by five international jurors of the biennale in 2009. Its first place award is an achievement that not only reflects upon the work of its team, but the overall character and potential of the digital artform to address sociopolitical issues.

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Coltan: the controversial mineral is extracted from Congolese soil for use in electronics products. Photo: from the Global e-Sustainability Initiative report on coltan mining in the Congo.

Thomas Asmuth writes:
Graham Harwood once said to me, “We complicate things.” There was no antagonism in Harwood’s voice when he said this. It simply meant he saw his artist role as provocateur; this is to say that he would rather incite questions than answer them. Our conversation was the start of a complex relationship which developed around the international FUSE residency project for 01SJ named Tantalum Memorial – Reconstruction. I was fortunate to become part of this team which included colleagues at CADRE Laboratory, the team of Harwood, Richard Wright and Matsuko Yokokoji , their students at Goldsmiths University, and many friends from Silicon Valley and around the world.

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Presley Martin’s Play with Fragile Illusions

Posted by erin on February 8th, 2009

Clay Work in SJSU’s Herbert Sanders Gallery
By Erin Goodwin-Guerrero

Presley Martin uses clay, paper and graphite in some engaging ways. His exhibition in the Herbert Sanders Gallery at San Jose State University is arresting for intriguing forms and materials that are initially unidentifiable to the viewer. They are elegant in their simplicity and even evoke a chuckle over some of the titles.

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Untitled, with its metalic appearance and paper thin reality is a conundrum.

The greatest impact upon entry to the gallery is the large Untitled three-panel screen-like form hanging about eight inches from the wall. Each horizontal panel is a sheet of thin drawing paper saturated with powdered graphite, polished and then puckered, both vertically and horizontally, by having been draped over long parallel strips of wet porcelain. It looks like corrugated tin with a vertical striation, perhaps a functional thing, but it really cannot be explained. Part of its inherent mystery and appeal in the gallery context is the collection of shadows that surround it.

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Robin Kandel at Andrea Schwartz Gallery

Posted by erin on February 1st, 2009

by Hanna Hannah

Visit the San Francisco Exhibition:
525-2d Street January 14- February 20

lakewater 12 by Robin Kandel

Entering the Andrea Schwartz Gallery in San Francisco where Robin Kandel’s exhibition of paintings and videos is currently installed, one feels that mixture of being soothed while also having one’s attention tingled into acute alertness when stepping into the limpid surface of some primal body of water—lakes, in this case—with depths unknown.

The main exhibition space is hung with four large paintings: lakewater 3, by the front entrance; lakewater 13 (a diptych) on a side wall; and lakewater 10 and lakewater 12 on the furthest wall facing the front entrance. Installed on parallel posts roughly in the middle of the space are two small videos: row and watersamples. Surrounded as these two videos are by the paintings, at first they feel upstaged by the lush paintings and so they can be easily marginalized and seen as playing a secondary role to them.

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Printmakers Show at Santa Clara University

Posted by erin on February 1st, 2009

The Art Department Gallery: Always a Good Show
By Erin Goodwin-Guerrero

Shipyard Roses, 2008, by Kathryn Kain

The January-February show at the Santa Clara University Art Department’s Gallery featuring prints by Kathryn Kain, Micheal Oehsli and Erik Madsen is diverse and illuminating, especially for the growing audience for prints in the South Bay.

Kathryn Kain’s Healthy, 2008

Kathryn Kain, master printer at Paula Anglim’s Smith Anderson Editions, offers a seamless interplay of pastel washes, monoprint and monotype imagery and an occasional collage element. The scale of her prints is impressive. There is a beautiful a quality of light that emanates from her fields of largely transparent color. Most of her imagery springs from elements of nature and random detritus she discovers amid the abandoned buildings surrounding her Hunter’s Point Shipyard studio: a fragment of a calendar, an anatomical diagram of the human body, etc. One consistent element that binds most of her works together is the representation wild roses, beautifully rendered in many colors that are only occasionally faithful to the real color of roses.

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