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[whitespace] SAP
Matt Ipcar

SAP Makers: Jim Schatz and Julie Deamer look forward to SAP, their far-out avant-garde happening, block party and alternative art fair.

SAP, the alternative art fair, hits the big time

By Christine Brenneman

Starting as a random idea over breakfast in Hayes Valley last January, SAP: the residue of the san francisco art scene has become a 24-room reality for organizers Julie Deamer and Jim Schatz. With the advent of the high-profile, high-art San Francisco International Art Expo this year, Schatz and Deamer were concerned that important local talent would be overlooked--thus, SAP was born.

To Deamer and Schatz, SAP (the word and the fair) represents a life-force, a powerful, potent extract. It seems an apt metaphor for the dynamic organic body that is the San Francisco art scene. Styled as an alternative art fair, SAP seeks to create an art event that's free, exciting, community-oriented and participatory. With the work of 28 artists in 24 motel rooms, and 12 bands and various performances taking place over a 10-hour period, SAP should be a hybrid of an avant-garde happening and a block party.

SAP will be held Oct. 3 at the Lanai Motel on Lombard Street, close to the SFIAE at Fort Mason. The SFIAE, which is happening for the first time this fall, aims to tap into the lucrative art-collecting market of the West Coast by drawing fine-art enthusiasts from around the world to the area. But although SAP originated as a response to the SFIAE, the organizers of SAP aren't opposed to the Expo. "We don't want to come across as these bitter alternative types," Deamer says. "You can't exclude that [world of fine art]--that needs to be there." Deamer and Schatz plan to work in informal conjunction with the Expo, harnessing some of its energy and hype to bring exposure to local artists. They will even provide a shuttle between Fort Mason and the Lanai Motel.

Following in the tradition of hotel art fairs at such venues as San Francisco's Hotel Triton and the Gramercy in New York City, SAP hopes to take the idea one step further by encouraging artists to incorporate the actual motel rooms into each piece. SAP's venue, the Lanai Motel, is a kitschy, almost perfectly preserved '60s Hawaiian-themed motel. "The motel's physical characteristics are not to be ignored," Schatz says. Whereas other fairs might use a hotel room simply as low-rent gallery space, SAP's unique approach integrates the rooms into each piece--all the work is being made specifically to be installed at the Lanai.

Within this unusual environment, SAP's artists (almost all from the Bay Area) approach the challenge of the Lanai Motel with verve and variation. Glen Helfand and Didi Dunphy will explore the motel as central to the entertainment industry as they transform one room into a talk-show "green room" complete with hired hosts. The performers will busy themselves bathing, primping, warming up and snacking while SAP audiences wander through the room. Melissa Pokorny will install her faux brick, stone and textured paneling to highlight "the use of the motel as the scene of illicit activities, a place of shelter for the naughty and a refuge for those on the run."

In another room, Erin Thurlow and Jake Harman will try their hand at tongue-in-cheek interior design with ultracheap materials. Updating the principles of the Bauhaus and de Stijl schools, Thurlow and Harman will focus on the utilitarian aspects of the motel room, redecorating with re-upholstered furniture, monochromatic paintings and video.

In his installation, artist Tony Meredith plans to ring the baseboards of his room with fluorescent lights to create an ethereal, futuristic effect. Meredith is interested in overcoming the dilemma of making space livable even if you're only renting it, and his work aims to comment on transitory urban lifestyles. His installation of cold, spooky lights represents his attempt to personalize his atmosphere.

Adding to the festivities will be a number of bands and SAP's own Carport Performers. Acts include the Now Sound, Nguyens, the Helen Lundy Trio, Robot Assassins, the Deep Throats, Matterhorn, Optimist International, Noise Wall, Tarentel, Zmrzlina, Plain, Steve Brown, and Jeff Green and the Cubby Creatures.

Encompassing so many different elements, SAP promises to be an intense few days for all involved. The motel has only been rented out for 48 hours, and during that limited time, the artists must install their work, attend the fair and festivities and then take it all down--in time for checkout.

Still, the artists' participation is just one of the many reasons why Deamer and Schatz think of themselves as breaking down barriers and crossing boundaries with SAP. San Francisco may simply serve as a scenic backdrop for the chi-chi SFIAE, but SAP intends to incorporate the city's artistic identity and sensibility into each aspect of the fair. Deamer and Schatz are hoping that everyone from Mission riffraff to Expo yuppies makes it to the motel. "This fair is going to have a strong Mission presence. This is the flipside of San Francisco that we love," Schatz says. "We enjoy the filth and dirt of the Mission. Our reality is not Pacific Heights."

SAP, the event, take place Oct. 3, 1-11pm, at the Lanai Motel, 2361 Lombard St. (at Scott). For more information, visit www.sap98.com or call the infoline at 415/675-9877.

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From the September 21-October 4, 1998 issue of the Metropolitan.

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