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The Acme of Acme-ness

By Christa Palmer

Besides Acme cartoons, Acme dynamite in Roadrunner episodes, Acme products and even Acme beer, a string of unrelated Acme galleries are strewn throughout our cities' concrete grids.

In New York City there's Acme Art Incorporated, in Chicago an Acme Art Studio, in Los Angeles an Acme, and in San Francisco an Acme Fine Art on Post Street. And according to gallery owner Eric Fakhoori, there once existed another gallery called Acme-something-or-other 10 or so years ago, not to mention--unbeknown to Fakhoori--an Acme Gallery that shut down on Howard Street just last year.

For such a generic term, Acme sure labels its share of original exploits. But why the jockeying over the Acme name, anyway? Lamont Gardner of that closed Howard Street gallery explains: "We chose a name that directly reflected the dictionary's definition, as a gallery that strived to obtain or show the best. But we also chose the name because it's such a nonspecific word, which didn't brand our gallery with a particular identity, as we were an underground gallery that sometimes showed community and street-related art, among many other things."

So, with all its popular usage, what does acme actually mean? Webster's dictionary defines acme as the highest point, the peak, the point of culmination. Thus, some use the word to describe the best of all generic products. Some galleries refer to the dictionary definition, while others adopt the name simply because of its generic connotation--any business or product can claim it. (Still others choose the word out of solidarity with the eternally frustrated Wile E. Coyote.)

And because acme has become so hackneyed and nonexclusive, it's almost as if this word means absolutely nothing at all--and that's precisely what one gallery owner wants the name to suggest.

"I thought about it a lot, and it just seemed appropriate because of the postmodern, all-American, generic sound of it all," explains Fakhoori of Acme Fine Art in SF. "I wanted to demystify the gallery with a name that is not egocentric or narcissistic by its very nature. The name makes one think of, well, nothing."

Acme Fine Art's current exhibit, "Masters-Bation", runs through May 10, Tue.­Sat. 10­5pm, 808 Post St. 775-1899.

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From the May 1997 issue of the Metropolitan

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