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Fall 2005 Arts Guide:
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Golden Glow Award: Sandow Birk's 'Inferno, 2003' predicts an apocalypse for the sinners of California at the San Jose Museum of Art.

Revolting Artists

Politics takes to the walls of area museums

By Michael S. Gant

WITH CINDY SHEEHAN'S campout in Crawford, Texas, igniting the first signs of a serious antiwar protest, it seems appropriate that so many of this fall's art shows take a dip into the turbulent waters of politics.

The Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University surveys the writing on the wall in a show called "Revolutionary Tides: The Art of the Political Poster 19141989." The exhibit features about 100 examples of poster art ranging from World War I and the Russian revolution to the fall of the Berlin Wall. The works encompass everything from Soviet and New Deal agit-prop to more aesthetic representations by artists like Andy Warhol, who is represented by his famous silk-screen of Mao Tse-Tung (the ironies of which were lost on Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen in a July fulmination about leftist hero worship).

The show, curated by author and director of the Stanford Humanities Lab Jeffrey T. Schanpp, looks at both the influence of political posters on graphic arts (and vice versa) and the ways posters galvanize the activities of crowds, moving individuals to mass action. The posters are gathered from the extensive holdings of the Hoover Institution (which carries some political baggage of its own) and the Wolfsonian-Florida International University in Miami Beach.

The de Saisset Museum at Santa Clara University, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, looks to the turning-point event of the last century in two exhibits. "Impossible to Forget: The Nazi Camps Fifty Years After" culls the work of English photographer Michael Kenna, who has spent more than a decade, beginning in 1988, taking thousands of pictures of Nazi concentration camps in Germany, Poland, Austria and other countries. The photographs show the various levels of preservation maintained at these sites where so much horror was inflicted. Although now empty, these locations are so fraught with history that they serve as repositories of memory—and the will not to forget.

The exhibit is paired with Evvy Eisen's "Legacy Project," another long-term effort to come to terms with the Holocaust. Eisen, starting in 1992, has traveled through California and France making portraits of Holocaust survivors. The images are accompanied by the sitters' recollections of how they persevered.

One of the most striking paintings in the permanent collection of the San Jose Museum of Art is Inferno, 2003, Sandow Birk's vision of California aglow with the flames of the coming apocalypse that we all know we so richly deserve. The painting is part of Birk's project to reinterpret Dante's Divine Comedy. Birk and collaborator Marcus Sanders have translated the entire Comedy (anybody can do the Inferno, but sticking all the way through Purgatory and Paradise takes real commitment) into a supple, slangy verse. Following the footsteps of Doré, Birk has created illustrations for the poet's journey that take the reader through an all-too-familiar modern landscape of fast-food outlets, liquor stores, freeway underpasses and toxic landfills. The museum's show will showcase Birk's original paintings and prints for the project.

As a complement to Birk's commentary, the museum presents an explicit show starting in November called "Visual Politics: The Art of Engagement," which attempts to demonstrate how art and politics are impossible to separate. The show concentrates on political imagery in works by West Coast artists since the Cold War.

Finally, on Sept. 17, downtown San Jose welcomes the opening of the brand-new location of the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles, on South First Street (just a few doors up from Metro's world headquarters). The fully renovated space gives the museum the chance to stretch out from its old, cramped quarters on the Paseo de San Antonio. The opening show emphasizes the museum's permanent collection of quilts and woven art pieces from the 19th century to the present.



Pearl-Handled: Sarah Ratchye's beaded pistol, 'Dimunda,' shows as part of SJICA's fall show 'Ornamentation.'

San Jose Museum of Art
110 S. First St., San Jose; Tuesday-Sunday, 11am-5pm; free; 408.294.2787

    Caja de visiones/Box of Visions, photographs by Manuel Álvarez Bravo—ends Sept. 11
    Brides of Frankenstein—ends Oct. 30
    Tales From the Kiln, contemporary ceramics—Sept. 1-July 9
    Robert McChesney—Sept. 24-Jan. 8
    Sandow Birk's Divine Comedy—Sept. 25-Jan. 7
    Visual Politics: The Art of Engagement—Nov. 20-March 5

San Jose Museum Of Quilts & Textiles
520 S. First St., San Jose; Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-5pm, Thursday till 8pm; $4/$5; 408.971.0323

    Traditions in Transition: Three Views of the Permanent Collection— Sept. 17-Jan. 8

Cantor Arts Center
Stanford campus; Wednesday-Sunday 11am-5pm, till 8pm Thursday; free; 650.723.4177

    Food, Frogs and Fido: Works on Paper by David Gilhooly—ends Nov. 27
    Manufactured Landscapes: The Photographs of Edward Burtynsky, 1982-2002—ends Sept. 18
    Revolutionary Tides: The Art of the Political Poster 1914-1989—Sept. 14- Dec. 31
    Fired at Davis: Figurative Ceramic Sculpture—Oct. 12-Feb. 26


Poster Power: The Cantor Arts Center at Stanford traces the history of political graphics in the 20th century for its 'Revolutionary Tides' show, starting Sept. 14.

De Saisset Museum
Now in its 50th anniversary year; Santa Clara University, 500 El Camino Real; Tuesday-Sunday, 11am-4pm; free; 408.554.5125

    Impossible to Forget: The Nazi Camps Fifty Years After—Oct. 1-Nov. 21
    The Legacy Project: Portraits and Personal Narratives of Holocaust Survivors—Oct. 1-Nov. 21
    Highlight 2006: Red Trailer Motel, a found-art installation by Michael C. McMillen—Winter 2006

Triton Museum of Art
1505 Warburton Ave., Santa Clara; Monday-Sunday, 11am-5pm, till 9pm Thursday; 408.247.3745

    New Works by Craig Miller—ends Oct. 4
    Julius Hatofsky, abstract expressionist paintings—Sept. 24-Jan. 1
    Michael Cutlip, mixed-media paintings and collages—Oct. 15-Dec. 11
    David Tomb, mixed-media portraits—Dec. 15-Feb. 20
    Special Events: Blues Bash concert fundraiser—Sept. 25, 1-5pm

Los Gatos History Museum
Forbes Mill, 75 Church St., Los Gatos; Wednesday-Sunday, noon-4pm; free

    The Art of the New Deal in Los Gatos: Historical Context, featuring WPA works done in Los Gatos by Clay Spohn, George Post and others—ends Sept. 25

Anno Domini
New location opens in December; 366 S. First St., San Jose; www.galleryAD.com

    Fresh Produce—starting Dec. 2


Urban Vinyl: Samuel Rodriguez's work shows at MACLA in September and October.

MACLA
510 S. First St., San Jose; Wednesday, noon-7pm, Friday-Saturday, noon-5pm; 408.998.ARTE

    The Latino arts gallery opens the fall with a group shop of works by six artists who ground their urban art in the aesthetics of graffiti. The show is called Can Control: Urban Transformers and runs Sept. 14-Oct. 29.

Mohr Gallery
Community School of Music and Arts at Finn Center, 230 San Antonio Circle, Mountain View; Monday-Friday, 10am-7pm, Saturday, 9am-3pm; 650.917.6800

    Binh Danh, photographic works—ends Sept. 28

Montalvo Arts Center
15400 Montalvo Rd., Saratoga; grounds open weekdays, 8am-7pm, weekends, 9am-5pm; gallery open Wednesday-Sunday, 1-4pm; 408.961.5800

    Sit Down! Artist Bench Invitational—ends June 2006
    New Geology, environmental art inside the gallery and on the grounds by Steven Siegel—Oct. 2-Dec. 11
    Montalvo Open House, a free all-day event to celebrate the center's 75th anniversary and to show off the grounds and mansion to the public, featuring tours of the artists' studios, guided hikes, a poetry reading and a performance by Los Cenzontles—Oct. 15

Palo Alto Art Center
1313 Newell Rd., Palo Alto; 650.329.2366

    Cluster, photos by Lukas Felzmann; We/Metamorphosis, an installation by Yuriko Yamaguchi; Trusting Woods to Tempest Sea by Robert McCauley—ends Sept. 4
    Romancing the Shadows; The Cycladic Swing, by Elsa Rady; Classicism and Chaos, by Edward Eberle—ends Sept. 4

San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art
451 S. First St., San Jose; Tuesday-Friday, 10am-5pm, Thursday till 8pm, Saturday, noon-5pm; free; 408283.8155

    NextNew—ends Sept. 17
    LCA@ICA by Clive McCarthy—ends Sept. 17
    Becoming an Artist, a digital projection by Shirley Shor—Sept. 17
    Grid, a Night Moves installation by Shirley Shor—ends Sept. 23
    Annual Fall Auction, 25th year—Opening reception Sept. 30, auction on Oct. 22
    Ornamentation: The Art of Desire, a group show in mixed media focusing on repetitive and excessive patterns in objects and environments—Nov. 4-Jan. 7
    Vapor, a Night Moves installation by Kato Jaworski—Sept. 23-Jan. 8
    It's Hard and I Could Use Some Help, a video installation by Ken Fandell—Nov. 4-Jan. 8

WORKS/San Jose
30 N. Third St., San Jose; 408.295.8378

    The gallery's first show of the fall, The eBay Art Project, takes advantage of one of our indigenous sources for found art: eBay. Curator Michael Rosenthal trolled online for cheap art by unknown artists, then sent his bounty to 33 artists in the Bay Area and across the country and asked them to transform these artifacts. The show is paired with The Mona Lisa Postcard Project, for which Rosenthal distributed 1,000 postcards of the Mona Lisa and asked people, a la Duchamp, to remake the iconic image. The shows run Aug. 26-Sept. 7.

Specialists

Children's Discovery Museum
180 Woz Way, San Jose; Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-5pm, Sun, noon-5pm; $6/$7; 408.298.5437

    In My Family/En Mi Familia, a bilingual show spinning off from the colorful art of Carmen Lomas Garza—Opens Oct. 1
    Oh, Seuss! Off to Great Places, based on themes from the children's-book author—Opens Oct. 15

Computer History Museum
1401 N. Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View; public tours Wednesday and Friday at 1 and 2:30pm and Saturday at 11:30am, 1 and 2:30pm; self-guided tours 11:30am-5pm; 650.810.1019

    Mastering the Game: A History of Computer Chess—begins Sept. 10

Machu Picchu
Gallery and Museum of the Americas; 87 E. Fernando St., San Jose; 408.280.1860

    The gallery continues to present art from Mexico and South and Central America, with presentations in English and Spanish.

The Tech
201 S. Market St., San Jose; hours, price; 408.294.TECH

    The History, Culture and Future of Videogames—Opens Sept. 30

Bay Area

Asian Art Museum
200 Larkin St., San Francisco; Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-5pm, till 9pm Thursdays; $6-$10; 415.581.3500

    Tibet: Treasures From the Roof of the World—ends Sept. 11
    Fan Zhaoling: A Life in Painting, works by Hong Kong artist with a political bent—Oct. 1-Nov. 13
    Traditions Unbound: Painters of 18th-Century Kyoto—Dec. 3-Feb. 26

De Young Museum
The venerable museum reopens in its new building; Golden Gate Park; $11-$15; 415.750.3620

    Hatshepsut: From Queen to Pharaoh, a traveling show of Egyptian artifacts—Oct. 15-Feb. 5

Legion of Honor
100 34th Ave., Lincoln Park, San Francisco; Tuesday-Sunday, 9:30am-5:15pm, till 8:45pm Friday; $7-$10; 415.750.3600

    Artwear: Fashion and Anti-Fashion—ends Oct. 30
    Manuel Neri: Collaboration, Making Artists' Books—ends Nov. 27
    Art the Ruins, 1906 and 2006: Rephotographing the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire—Dec. 17-June 4

SFMOMA
151 Third St., San Francisco; Monday-Tuesday, 11am-6pm, Thursday, 11am-9pm, Friday-Sunday, 11am-6pm; $7-$12; 415.357.4000

    The Art of Richard Tuttle—ends Oct. 16
    Jeremy Blake, Winchester, an installation about Sarah Winchester—ends Oct. 10
    New works by conceptual artist Edgar Arceneaux—ends Nov. 27

Oakland Museum of California
Tenth and Oak streets, Oakland; Wednesday-Saturday, 10am-5pm, Sunday, noon-5pm; $5/$8; 510.238.2200

    Baseball as America—Sept. 17-Jan. 22

UC-Berkeley Art Museum
2625 Durant Ave., Berkeley; Wednesday-Sunday, 11am-5pm, till 7pm Thursday; $5/$8; 510.642.0808

    Yosemite in Time, 19th-century landscape shots of Yosemite retaken by modern photographers—Aug. 10-Dec. 23
    Taisho Chic: Japanese Modernity, Nostalgia and Deco, a show about Western influences on art and design in early-1900s Japan—Sept. 14-Dec. 23
    The Making of a Modern, a 30-year retrospective of abstract paintings by Hans Hofmann—Oct. 13-June 30


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From the August 24-30, 2005 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2005 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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