July 05, 2004

Recombinant Flux

After finding ourselves affected with one of the most severe cases of Video Store Amnesia ever known to man, Aimee and I finally grabbed Wet Hot American Summer for our Wednesday night movie. A loose spoof of the '80s summer camp movie, WHAS was really just an excuse for Michael Showalter to run around looking all cute in a bowl cut as one of the camp counselors. Hysterically funny and highly recommended, especially if you have a tub of Trader Joe's cookies close at hand.

Thursday evening after work I made my way into the Tenderloin for the Recombinant Flux opening at Rx Gallery. The last time I'd been in the space was for last year's Nice Collective sample sale, and now it's a gallery/wine & sake bar/lounge where the doorman suspiciously inquired if there was any alcohol in my messenger bag as I scrabbled for my ID. Inside they were literally still hanging the show while I wandered around and eyeballed the computer-generated art by the nine artists represented in the show. I liked Christina McPhee's large-scale skewed photography and Shirley Shor's "generative architecture". I'm afraid I didn't see anything else that grabbed me, though I'm sure some pieces might make lovely screen savers.

From Rx I drove a short distance south of Market to Punch Gallery for another opening, Unseen Works: New Photography by Eric Coleman and B+. Coleman has spent the last four years documenting the state of a single clothesline and its surrounding environs. The drama is in the details: a black comforter is never removed from the line, a stack of drawers appears, a clothes basket slowly sinks into the lawn. By contrast the photographs by B+ are more politically charged, documenting parts of Florida that were disenfranchised in the 2000 election including a retirement community and an African-American church. I confess I didn't stick around for the screening of B+'s great short film "Keepintime" having already seen it a couple times in the recent past.

Yet another opening Friday evening, this time at the fabulous Mama Buzz cafe in Oakland. For her show Circulation Ventilation Emma Spertus took photos of the Webster Street Tube that divides Oakland from Alameda (immortalized in The Matrix Reloaded) and transformed them through a number of printmaking techniques into beautiful representations of industrialization and in-between space. John Schroeder's sound installation bleeped and blooped from one corner of the gallery, adding to the feeling of otherworldliness. I was highly tempted to buy a print but settled happily for something from a pile of free silkscreens.

Saturday evening I fried up some Cajun krab cakes and settled in at home to watch Variety Lights, Fellini's debut film that he co-directed with Alberto Lattuada. The story is fairly linear and follows the rise of a young dancer after she joins a travelling variety show, but the film features many Felliniesque asides including chorus girls in skimpy costumes and a festive late-night dinner party at a remote villa. Giulietta Masina steals the show as a woman unwillingly drawn into a love triangle when her fiancee falls for the fresh-faced addition to their company.

A beautiful sunny afternoon in the Mission on Sunday was the perfect time to go check out the Summer Solstice show at Ratio 3 featuring photographs by Sam Gordon, Ryan McGinley, and Collier Schorr. The gallery is nicely set up in the front room of a house with a few choice pieces from each artist. The homoerotic high school wrestlers by Schorr made me smile, and I also liked Gordon's kitschy composites complete with rainbows of refracted light. However, my favorite was a dreamy and sexy McGinley photo of a young couple running naked through a very wet night.

After a long respite at the Eichler that afternoon/evening, I bravely fought Fireworks Night traffic (and blatantly lied my way through several roadblocks) on the way to Coit Tower to see a projection by Ben Wood and David Mark. After the sheer hell on the streets below it was nice to lie down on the grass at the back of the tower and gaze up at the images being cast high above. The overarching theme seemed to be a tribute to the culture of the local Ohlone Native Americans, quite appropriate for the Fourth of July I think. The calmly waving grass being projected onto the tower eventually lulled me into thinking the cars and drunken pedestrians and firecrackers had magically disappeared. And then I tried to drive home.


Wet Hot American Summer
Rx Gallery
Punch Gallery
Mama Buzz Cafe
Variety Lights
Ratio 3
Ben Wood

Posted by nightfall at July 5, 2004 10:01 PM