Volume 43 Number 38

“2012: Super-Bato Saves the World”


REVIEW Energy must not be conserved in Enrique Chagoya’s universe. From his earlier pieces on paper through his show-stopping work on linen at the turn of the century (Le Cannibale Moderniste, 1999; Aparición Sublime, 2000; Pocahontas Gets a New Passport (More Art Faster), 2000), the experimental printmaker’s mock-specificity and hidden sensitivity — both aspects of a brilliant pictorial stubbornness — leave the whole body buzzing. This is art that gathers energy from its viewers as much as its subjects. An edition of eight fully-functional, gaudy, lusty, but also mystically calm slot machines in the style of souped-up Camaros, "2012: Super-Bato Saves the World" lacks the intentionally confusing expansiveness of Chagoya’s accompanying work on paper, but maybe that’s the point.

Spread out in one area of Electric Works is Histoire Naturelle des Espécies: Illegal Aliens Manuscript I, a 2008 contribution to an ongoing series that explains our country and the world at large, especially the art world, to "others." In this panoramic piece, creationists are represented by an ape kneeling before a paper-like flame, conservatives by a man in monk’s clothing, and neocons by a happy couple between human and ape; all are setting fire to Aztec iconography. Elsewhere art historians lay siege to the museums and emerging media artists visit the world in a UFO. Around the corner, Super-Bato grins.

The date cited by Chagoya doesn’t just mark the next U.S. presidential election — it’s also the end-year of the ancient Mayan 5125 year calendar. In Chagoya’s eyes, the world might have already ended, collapsing in a mockery of a sham. In addition to an obvious affinity with Guillermo Gómez-Peña’s vision (the two have collaborated on some iconic books), Chagoya’s most affecting work here recalls Mildred Howard’s politically charged, lushly wrought assemblage sculptures and intricate installations. Both artists map aesthetic delights on top of the real world. What happens in politics no longer stays in politics.

2012: SUPER-BATO SAVES THE WORLD Through July 2. Electric Works, 130 Eighth St., SF

(415) 626-5496, www.sfelectricworks.com

A bailout for the middle class


OPINION I don’t need to remind you that our economy is in trouble. The current banking crisis has demonstrated to all of us just how fragile and susceptible to manipulation our current system is. President Obama has spent billions of dollars and untold hours trying to bail out our failing banks and financial institutions. Whatever your opinions about his efforts, I think we can all agree we should also be helping out American workers — the real engine of the economy. The Employee Free Choice Act, currently being debated in Congress, offers needed help.

In 1979, 23 percent of the American workforce earned the inflation-adjusted equivalent of $20 an hour. This level of pay, about $41,000 per year, is generally considered the minimum necessary for a family of four to live something like a middle-class lifestyle. I wish I could say that progress marched on, that every year after 1979 the percentage of workers earning the minimum to support a middle-class family grew. In fact, the opposite happened — today only 18 percent of American workers earn enough to support a family of four.

What happened to the other end of the spectrum during that time? In 1978, American CEOs earned 35 times what the average worker earned. Over the next 10 years, this ratio grew, so that in 1989 the average CEO was earning 71 times what the average worker was earning. By 2007, the ratio had grown to an unbelievable 275.

The causes of this imbalance are many, but one is declining labor union membership. In 1983, 17.7 million workers were members of unions, accounting for 20.1 percent of America’s workers. In 2008, only 16.1 million workers were unionized, accounting for 12.4 percent of our nation’s workforce. These numbers are critically important because union membership makes a large difference in the well-being of America’s workers. In 2008, the average union worker earned $886 a week, while the average nonunion worker was paid only $691.

With all the effort we’re putting in to a bailout of the banks, we need to be discussing a bailout of the middle class. We don’t have to wait for the Treasury Department to come up with the plan — it’s sitting there in Congress and is called the Employee Free Choice Act. The bill would give workers a fair, direct route to forming a union without illegal interference from corporations.

Unfortunately, the middle-class bailout is stuck in Congress. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the other shills for mega-corporations have turned up the pressure and succeeded in preventing the Employee Free Choice Act from moving forward in the Senate. Our own Sen. Feinstein recently said she wouldn’t vote for the bill because of the economic downturn, even though she cosponsored the legislation last year.

With the current state of our economy, we need a middle-class bailout — and we need it soon. Feinstein has the ability to make that happen. She should deliver the one bailout we all really need. *

Debra Walker is a San Francisco artist and progressive activist.


The caption for last week’s dine review should have referred to Fly, not Terzo.

Editor’s Notes



In the midst of all that is bleak in the state of California and the City and County of San Francisco, I am having fun specuutf8g about what will happen when Gavin Newsom is no longer mayor.

It’s a fascinating exercise — and trust me, I am by no means the only person engaging in it.

The broad outline is that the race to replace Newsom at this point bears no relation to the dynamic that brought him into office. Back in 2003, the race was the progressives against downtown; Tom Ammiano, Matt Gonzalez, and Angela Alioto were competing for the progressive vote, and Newsom was downtown’s darling, running on a platform of taking welfare money away from homeless people. The Newsom-Gonzalez runoff was about as clear and stark a choice over political vision as the city could ask for.

Six years later, I can count four people who are getting ready to run, and none is much like either Newsom or Gonzalez.

Sup. Bevan Dufty, who is sometimes with the progressives and sometimes with the mayor, told me last week that he’s definitely running. He’s part of the board’s moderate wing, but isn’t the downtown call-up vote that Newsom was and clearly isn’t counting on the big-business world for most of his support. Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting has made no secret of his political ambitions and is putting himself in the limelight with high-profile statements about Proposition 13 and taxing the Catholic Church. He sounds pretty liberal these days, although his chief political consultant is Newsom (and PG&E) operative Eric Jaye.

Just about everyone in local politics assumes City Attorney Dennis Herrera will be in the mix. He’s had the advantage of not having to take stands on local measures and candidates (as the city attorney, he’s not allowed to endorse), and while some progressives see him as the most appealing choice, he’s not Ammiano or Gonzalez. And then there’s state Sen. Leland Yee, who is utterly unpredictable, sometimes great on the issues and sometimes awful — and is almost certainly going to run.

And right now, other than Sup. Ross Mirkarimi, who might or might not run and isn’t putting together any kind of a pre-campaign operation, there’s no obvious progressive candidate in the race. If Mirkarimi’s serious, he needs to be moving.

But wait: There’s more.

Assume for a moment — and whatever you may think about the guy, it’s not a crazy assumption — that Gavin Newsom is the next governor of California. (How? He beats Jerry Brown in the primary by running future vs. past, then beats any Republican, who will be saddled with the Schwarzenegger mess. He isn’t remotely ready for the job, but that’s politics.)

Gov. Newsom would be sworn in Jan. 4, 2011. David Chiu, president of the Board of Supervisors, would be acting mayor — until he convenes the board and somebody gets six votes to finish Newsom’s term. That decision could be made by the current supes, who hold office until Jan. 8, 2011, if they can meet and decide in four days, or by the new supes — and we don’t know who they will be.

The person appointed doesn’t have to be a supervisor. Could be anyone. Could be Chiu. Could be Mirkarimi. Could be Dufty. Could be …. Aaron Peskin. Just takes six votes. And then that person could run as the incumbent.

Don’t go thinking any of this is just idle chatter. There are political consultants all over town having the same discussions, today. *

Stop PG&E’s alarming ballot measure


EDITORIAL One of the greatest threats to public power in a generation is quietly working its way toward the California ballot.

As Rebecca Bowe reports on page 12, a proposed initiative that would require two-thirds of the voters to approve any sort of public electricity measure, including community choice aggregation (CCA), has been submitted to the state attorney general’s office. And Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s fingerprints are all over it.

There’s no doubt whatsoever that this measure is designed to derail successful CCA efforts in places like Marin County and San Francisco, where the supervisors are moving forward to set up the equivalent of a buyer’s co-op for electricity. A San Francisco CCA would offer lower costs and much greener power — and would give the city far more control over its energy future.

The measure could also hamper the efforts of existing public power agencies to expand their territories or offer service to new customers.

The state Legislature approved a bill back in 2002 allowing California cities to replace private utility service with CCAs — and the bill included language barring PG&E and the other giant electricity companies in the state from spending money to undermine CCA efforts. In other words, it’s illegal for PG&E to use its immense resources and lobbying clout to try to block San Francisco’s efforts.

And PG&E has spent tens of millions of dollars in San Francisco, Davis, and elsewhere trying to block public-power programs.

So now the utility is going to the state ballot, where a campaign with enough money on an issue that’s sufficiently complicated can often pass. The law firm that filed the initiative papers, Neilsen Merksama (a political powerhouse that represents, among others, PG&E) won’t divulge much about the funding sources — except to say that the filing fee came from … PG&E. So there’s little doubt the measure will have the funds it needs to gather more than 600,000 signatures and mount a campaign of lies and disinformation.

That’s why supporters of CCAs and public power need to rally, now, to start planning to defeat this thing.

Mustering a two-thirds majority at the ballot for almost anything is difficult. Even in liberal San Francisco, bond measures requiring a two-thirds vote often pass only narrowly — and that’s if there’s no opposition. Even the most popular sorts of measures — say, for funding schools or libraries — can go down to defeat if anyone mounts serious opposition.

And PG&E, with its unlimited resources, would have the ability to kill the current CCA plans — or anything in the future that threatens the company’s illegal monopoly.

The two-thirds majority requirement is undemocratic and has paralyzed state government. Two-thirds mandates for new tax measures have made it almost impossible for cities and counties in this state to raise new revenue, even in desperate times like these.

The San Francisco supervisors need to immediately pass a resolution opposing the measure. Assembly Member Tom Ammiano and state Sen. Mark Leno have told us they oppose it, and they should see if there’s any way the Legislature can add language to the CCA bill to bar regulated utilities from spending money to undermine public power statewide. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission should be talking to public power agencies all over the state and helping organize the opposition. If the measure makes it onto the ballot, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, and every other municipal utility agency in the state will need to raise money — millions — and marshal forces against it.

This is a very serious threat, and the time to start defusing it is now. *

P.S.: Mayor Newsom has nominated Anson Moran, the former general manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, for a seat on the commission. This is a terrible idea. Moran had a notoriously anti-public power record when he was running the agency. In fact, in 1994, he tried to stop the city from bidding on the lucrative contract to supply electricity to the Presidio, saying that going up against PG&E would be "too political." And although he later said he would be willing to bid on the contract, he privately urged then-Mayor Frank Jordan to veto then-Sup. Angela Alioto’s measure pushing for public power at the Presidio. With all the battles over CCA and public power, the last thing the city needs is a PG&E call-up vote on the PUC. The Rules Committee hears the nomination June 18, and should vote to reject him.

Art listings


Art listings are compiled by Johnny Ray Huston. See Picks for information on how to submit items to the listings. For complete art listings go to sfbg.com.


Asian Art Museum 200 Larkin; 581-3500, www.asianart.org. Tues-Wed, Fri-Sun, 10am-5pm; Thurs, 10am-9pm. $10 ($5 Thurs after 5pm), $7 seniors, $6 for ages 12 to 17, free for 11 and under. "In a New Light: The Asian Art Museum Collection." Ongoing.

California Palace of the Legion of Honor Lincoln Park (near 34th Ave and Clement); 750-3600. Tues-Sun, 9:30am-5pm. $8, $6 seniors, $5 for ages 12 to 17, free for 10 and under (free Tues). "Surrealism: Selections from the Reva and David Logan Collection of Illustrated Books." Work by surrealist poets and artists. Ongoing.

Cartoon Art Museum 655 Mission; CAR-TOON. Tues-Sun, 11am-5pm. $6, $4 students and seniors, $2 for ages 6 to 12, free for five and under and members. "The Art of Stan Sakai: Celebrating 25 Years of Usagi Yojimbo." Through July 5. "Watchmen." Illustrations, sketches, and comic book pages by Dave Gibbons. Through July 19. "The Brinkley Girls." Retrospective devoted to early 20th century illustrator Nell Brinkley. Through August 23.

Contemporary Jewish Museum 736 Mission; www.thecjm.org. Mon-Tues, Fri-Sun, 11am-5:30pm; Thurs, 1-8pm. $10, $8 seniors and students, free for 12 and under and members. "Chagall and the Artists of the Russian Jewish Theater." An exhibition of 200 works of art and ephemera. Through Sept 7. "Being Jewish: A Bay Area Portrait." Ongoing.

De Young Museum Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive (near Fulton and 10th Ave); 750-3600. Tues-Sun, 9:30am-5:15pm (Fri, 9:30am-8:45pm). $10, $7 seniors, $6 for ages 13 to 17 and college students with ID (free first Tues). "Signs: Wordplay in Photography." Thematic survey. Through Sun/14. "The Fauna and Flora of the Pacific." Mural by Miguel Covarrubias. Ongoing.

Legion of Honor Lincoln Park, 34th Ave and Clement; 750-3600. Tues-Sun, 9:30am-5:15pm. $20 adults, $7 seniors, $6 youths and students, free 12 and under. "Waking Dreams: Max Klinger and the Symbolist Print." Retrospective of the German Symbolist artist. Through July 4.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art 151 Third St; 357-4000. Mon-Tues, Fri-Sun, 11am-5:45pm; Thurs, 10am-8:45pm. $12.50, $8 seniors, $7 students, free for members and 12 and under (free first Tues; half price Thurs, 6-8:45pm). "Austere: Selections From the SFMOMA Collection." Photography and architecture and design. Through July 7. "Otl Aicher: Munchen 1972." Graphic design. Through July 7. "Patterns of Speculation: J. Mayer H." German architectural studio. Through July 7. "Looking In: Robert Frank’s ‘The Americans’." Exhibition devoted to the photographic classic. Through August 23. "Georgia O’Keefe and Ansel Adams: Natural Affinities." Show dedicated to the two popular American artists. Through Sept 7. "Art in the Atrium: Kerry James Marshall." Monumental murals. Ongoing.

San Francisco Museum of Performance and Design War Memorial Veterans Bldg, 401 Van Ness, fourth floor; 255-4800, www.sfpalm.org. Tues-Fri, 11am-5pm; Sat, 1-5pm. Free. "Star Quality: The World of Noel Coward." Exhibition dedicated to the icon. Through August 29. "Maestro: Photographic Portraits of Tom Zimberoff." Portraits of national and international conductors. Ongoing. "150 Years of Dance in California." Ongoing. "San Francisco in Song." Ongoing. "San Francisco 1900: On Stage." Ongoing.

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts 701 Mission; 978-ARTS. Tues-Wed, Fri-Sun, noon-5pm; Thurs, noon-8pm. $6, $3 seniors, students, and youths, free for members (free first Tues). "Under a Full Moon: 30 Years of Perpetual Indulgence." Show devoted to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Through June 28. "Nick Cave: Meet Me at the Center of the Earth." Mixed media sculptural "soundsuits" by the Chicago dancer-turned-artist. Through July 5. "Through Future Eyes: The Endurance of Humanity." Contemporary work by ten artists, incuding six Young Artists at Work curators. Through July 5.


Cantor Arts Center Lomita and Museum, Stanford University, Stanford; (650) 723-4177. Wed, Fri-Sun, 11am-5pm; Thurs, 11am-8pm. "Appellations to Antiquity." 19th and 20th century works from the museum collection. Through July 26. "Pop to Present." Survey from the 1960s to the present. Through August 16. "Contemporary Glass." Modern glass works. Ongoing. "Rodin! The Complete Stanford Collection." Ongoing.

Judah L. Magnes Museum 2911 Russell, Berk; (510) 549-6950. Mon-Wed, Sun, 11am-4pm. $4, $3 students and seniors. "Memory Lab." Interactive installation allowing visitors to make family albums from their documents, photographs, and memories. Ongoing. "Projections." Multimedia works from the museums archival, documentary, and experimental films. Ongoing.

Oakland Museum of California 1000 Oak, Oakl; (510) 238-2200. Wed-Sat, 10am-5pm (first Fri, 10am-9pm); Sun, noon-5pm. $8, $5 seniors and students (free second Sun). "Future of Sequoias: Sustaining Parklands in the 21st Century." Panoramic photos with commentary. Through August 23. "Squeak Carnwath: Painting is No Ordinary Object." A solo exhibition dedicated to the Oakland artist. Through August 23. "The Art and History of Early California." The story of California from the first inhabitants through the Gold Rush. Ongoing.

Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology UC Berkeley, 103 Kroeber Hall, room 3712, Bancroft and Bowditch, Berk; (510) 643-1193. Wed-Sat, 10am-4:30pm; Sun, noon-4pm. $4, $3 seniors, $1 students, free for 12 and under. "From the Maker’s Hand: Selections from the Permanent Collection." An exploration of human ingenuity found in living and historic cultures around the world. Ongoing.

San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art 560 S First St, San Jose; (408) 283-8155, www.sjica.org. Tues-Wed, Fri, 10am-5pm; Thurs, 10am-8pm; Sat, noon-5pm. Free. "It’s Not Us, It’s You." Rejection-themed art. Through Sat/20.

UC Berkeley Art Museum 2626 Bancroft Way, Berk; (510) 642-0808. Wed-Sun, 11am-5pm. $8 adults, $5 seniors and young adults, free for members and 12 and under. "Galaxy: A Hundred or So Stars Visible to the Naked Eye." Museum survey curated by Lawrence Rinder. Through August 30. "Human Nature: Artists Respond to a Changing Planet." Collaborative exhibition. Through Sept. 27.



Brian Gross Fine Art 49 Geary, fifth floor; 788-1050; Tues-Fri, 10:30am-5:30pm; Sat, 11am-5pm. "More Than Meets the Eye," metal collages by Tony Berlant. Through June 27.

Dolby Chadwick Gallery 210 Post, suite 5; 956-3560. "Suburban Birthday Party," new paintings by Douglas Schneider. Through June 27.

*Electric Works 130 8th St; 626-5496. Mon-Fri, 11am-6pm; Sat, 11am-5pm. "2012," slot machine by Enrique Chagoya. Through July 3.

Fraenkel Gallery 49 Geary, fourth floor; 981-2661. Call for hours. "A Survey: 1972-2006," photography by Bernd and Hilla Becher. Through July 3.

Gregory Lind Gallery 49 Geary; 296-9661. Call for hours. "Garden Ruin," new work by Bob Matthews. Through June 27.

Hosfelt Gallery 430 Clementina; 495-5454. Tues-Sat, 11am-5:30pm. "Cubic Drops," drawings and installation by Marco Maggi. Through June 27.

Italian Cultural Institute 425 Washington; 788-7142. Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm. "Giorgio Morandi: Works from the Estorick Collection," etchings and drawings. Through June 30.

Luggage Store 1007 Market; 255-5971. Call for hours. "Cultural Geometry," public art project by Rigo 23 and Fernando Cardoso. Ongoing.

Mark Wolfe Contemporary Art 49 Geary, second floor; 369-9404. Call for hours. Site-specific installation by James Sansing and paintings by Jared Walker. Through June 27.

Micaëla 49 Geary; 551-8118. Tues-Sat, 10:30am-5pm. "In Camera," photography by Douglass freed, Joshua Hershman, and Taliaferro Jones. Through June 27.

Modernism 685 Market; 541-0641. Tues-Sat, 10am-5:30pm. "The Murmur of the Innocents," work by Gottfried Helnwein. Through June 27.

*Oxenrose 448 Grove; 816-9530. Call for hours. "Nature’s Ladders," work by Tahiti Pehrson, sponsored by Arthur magazine. Through June 30.

Robert Koch Gallery 49 Geary, fifth floor; 421-0122. Tues-Sat, 10:30am-5:30pm. Photographs by Kenneth Josephson. Through June 27.

*Steven Wolf Fine Arts 49 Geary, suite 411; 263-3677. Tues-Sat, 11:30am-5:30pm. "You Feel Me?," work by Tim Sullivan. Through June 20.

*SFAC Gallery 401 Van Ness; 554-6080. Call for hours. "Trace Elements," group show curated by Meg Shiffler. Through July 3. *