Stacy Martin

Manufacturing Frida


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REVIEW Though overshadowed during her lifetime by her famous muralist husband Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo is one of many examples of driven artists who achieved their icon status posthumously. And, like other historical figures with life stories loaded with tragedy, Kahlo underwent her share of suffering, which makes for great book sales and dramatic film plots. But as anyone who knows a bit of her story beyond her groundbreaking art can attest, she handled the physical and emotional pain with flair: she was a modern, intelligent Mexican woman who, from the 1930s through early ’50s, chose to flamboyantly dress herself in celebration of her cultural ancestry. She was exotic — even among her circles of culture vultures and political activists — and strikingly beautiful, so it’s no wonder that nearly half of her paintings are self-portraits. One thinks she might have wowed herself. Nonetheless, the well-known photographers who caught her on film left more telling documents than her paintings — of someone who radiated charisma and soul.

Before we dismiss a round of would-be Fridamania as an attempt to generate even more profits from Kahlo reproductions on bags and T-shirts, we should remember why she was plucked from history. Currently on view at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is the first major American exhibition of Kahlo’s works in nearly 15 years. Last year, for the centennial of Kahlo’s birth, the Palacio De Bellas Artes in Mexico City held a comprehensive show of her artistic accomplishments, along with personal photos and documents. Visitors to SFMOMA’s "Frida Kahlo" — which was organized by the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis — will get a similar experience to the Mexican exhibition: beyond almost 50 Kahlo paintings, there is a trove of documents and photographs. Don’t expect to see just the greatest hits, though those are present.

Strange still-lifes — like the pile of bodylike root vegetables in Still Life: Pitahayas (1938) — are displayed alongside bizarre folkloric conglomerations of Aztec mythology, Mexican jungle life, and political figures merged with events from Kahlo’s life. Her portrayals of other people are as mesmerizing as her self-portraits. Portrait of Luther Burbank (1931) presents the odd scene of the elder Burbank sprouting from the soil of a browned landscape. The area where his feet should be is a mass of roots growing into a decaying corpse. He holds a leafy tropical plant — a reference to his horticultural focus. Another compelling work rarely viewed outside of Japan’s Nagoya City Art Museum is Girl with Death Mask, (1938) in which a skull-masked child in a pink dress stands on a barren, sky-dominated expanse with a mask of a tongue-wagging monster at her feet.

When we enter the last rooms of the show, we are greeted with walls and display cases of family photographs, many with Kahlo’s handwritten notes. Two photos of Rivera, from 1929 and 1940, have her lipstick kiss prints on the back, and several other images are marked with pencil or ballpoint doodles. These funny, poignant bits of reality were not meant for public consumption, and the fan is given a deeper view into the real person. Add the early color photos of Kahlo and a home movie of Kahlo and Rivera fawning over and goofing around with each other, and you could begin to think that you actually know her.

So when one views the photos of Kahlo in traction, her strained face attempting to smile, or the pre-tragic pregnancy photos, subjects explored repeatedly in her art suddenly become even more clearly felt. Icons rarely get to be real after their ascension: we don’t want them to be mortal, perish, and take their magnetism away. When Kahlo died in 1954 at 47, a final diary entry read, "I hope the exit is joyful, and I hope to never return." Yet no one wants her to go.


Through Sept. 28

Mon.–Tues. and Fri., 10 a.m.–5:45 p.m.; Thurs. 10 a.m.–9:45 p.m.; Sat.–Sun., 10 a.m.–7:45 p.m.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

151 Third St., SF

Doing it naturally


Donald Fortescue and Lawrence LaBianca’s "Bay Area Now 5" work — jokingly referred to earlier this month as the "Top Secret Oyster Project" — is not just about the creation of a well-crafted object. The piece also deals with the current state of San Francisco Bay’s wildlife, tides, and geography. So the two artists decided to let the physical environment affect the work — literally.

After putting in plentiful research, studying ocean survey charts, and talking with local environmental authorities on the work’s impact of their piece, the pair hired a diver to install the steel-table form they built — a muscled-up version of traditional cabriole or animal-legged furniture, as Fortescue describes it — on the floor of Tomales Bay, where it was designed to sit for several months. During the installation, however, their diver told them that the conditions weren’t the best for the hoped-for weathering and oyster- and barnacle-encrusting process, so the table was relocated to Pillar Point. In the meantime, they gathered hydrophone recordings in Bodega Bay to augment the work.

Fortescue, an Adelaide, Australia, expatriate who now heads the California College of the Arts’ furniture department, and LaBianca, who teaches interior architecture at CCA, share more than a keen interest in the physicality of the Bay Area: the two master craftsmen have a history of creating fine-art sculpture. "For me, it’s all just one spectrum — sometimes located more in one area than the other," says Fortescue from Sebastopol. Although this will be the pair’s first manifestation of an object together, it’s not the first time they’ve worked together. The met in Chicago six years ago when they each had work in a retrospective show of recipients of Virginia A. Groot Foundation grants. About two years ago, they collaborated on a proposal to the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts for an installation based on Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Even though that project didn’t get the green light, they learned a great deal about collaboration, an approach that seems suited to the Bay Area art scene. "Unlike New York, with artists jockeying to get into the best galleries, you see a lot less ruthless, cutthroat behavior here," Fortescue says. "This is a much more friendly environment, much more helpful.

"I wouldn’t be surprised if what we are making is the most crafted object" in "BAN 5," Fortescue continues. "We use making as a way to explore new ways of making — crafting as an excuse for crafting." Oh, and it’s a great excuse to spend even more time amid the Bay Area’s natural settings.

Timothy Horn: Bitter Suite


REVIEW At some point this summer, you’ll likely be asked — or roped into — accompanying visitors to see the Dale Chihuly exhibition at the de Young Museum. It’s a pretty series of darkened rooms with enormous blown glass forms, lit to show off a floorshow of colors and whimsical shapes. There’s nothing conceptually difficult or politically offensive in this Willy Wonka–scale display. But if it leaves you craving craftsmanship and concept, a quick trip upstairs to see Timothy Horn’s installation "Bitter Suite" should cure that.

The Australian sculptor, known for his large-scale versions of 18th-century jewelry, also has a background in glasswork. But two of the three pieces he created for this part of the museum’s Collections Connections series sparkle with sugar crystals. Horn’s objects are a response to the not-so-happy Cinderella story of Alma Spreckles, widow of millionaire sugar baron Adolph Spreckles and founder of the California Palace of the Legion of Honor. Horn’s hefty 300-pound chandelier piece Diadem is a larger-than-life, rock candy–encrusted beast hanging near Sir John Lavery’s matronly oil portrait, Mrs. Adolph Bernard Spreckles (1932). Mirrors on either side of the room create that never-ending-hallway effect, with the honey-colored chunky chandelier echoing like a lost guest at Versailles. Big enough for a small princess to ride in, Horn’s carriage, Mother-Load, is also caked in sugar crystals and shellacked light brown. Looking like a giant baked cookie confection, it’s cousin to the museum’s sedan chair (circa 1760) that once served as a phone booth in Spreckles’ home. The third piece, Sweet Thing, a grossly magnified French baroque earring with big blown-glass pearl drops, drips with unwearable glamour. In this era of comically high-priced contemporary art and Las Vegas-as-the-adult-Disneyland, Horn points us to the intersection where beauty and greed mutate together.

TIMOTHY HORN: BITTER SUITE Through Oct. 12. Tues.–Sun., 9:30 a.m.–5:15 p.m. (Fri., 9:30 a.m.–8:45 p.m.). De Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, SF. $10, $7 seniors, $6 for ages 13–17 and college students with ID (free first Tues.). (415) 750-3600,

“Matt Gil: Reel to Real”


REVIEW Remember those jazzy Raymond Scott tunes that accompanied many Depression–era Bugs Bunny cartoons? The rhythmic tinkling of the xylophone, the metronome and piano one-two-ing, while the trumpets and clarinets wah-wahed to our wise-ass rabbit scrambling to free himself from the inner workings of a factory. Those images merged Technicolor fantasy and swinging wackiness to the dumb, impersonal nature of mass production, a cartoonish combo that comes to mind when entering Matt Gil’s exhibition at the Marx and Zavattero Gallery. Residing over the majority of the space is Gil’s kinetic work Conveyor with 24 Sculptures (2007-08), a nonstop catwalk of coffee-tabletop-size ceramic forms parading in a loop for the viewer. The slip-cast, candy-colored glazed shapes are straight out of the space-age Googie design era: it’s the kind of curvy, biomorphic, and geometrically surreal commercial art our parents and grandparents bought at department stores. Gil’s mechanism rotates smoothly, though the forms occasionally wobble. Nothing like wobbling ceramics to make one nervous in a gallery. This carousel, however, leads one to imagine that — like Schroeder’s closet full of Beethoven busts — there might be a replacement or two in the artist’s studio. What transforms Gil’s piece further is that it’s underlit by floodlights, generating Dr. Seuss–like shadows on the walls that grow larger, then smaller. There are other large-scale sculptures — including the blue standing noodle Puzzle Piece and the almost 11-foot-tall black tiki comb Muckracker 1.0. Nevertheless, Conveyor‘s humor and nod to Walter Benjamin’s 1936 essay The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction makes it deservedly the most attention-worthy thing in the room. Along the walls are Gil’s ink and watercolor sketches of would-be monumental forms. These too radiate a giddy simplicity, inviting viewers to appreciate form and space for precisely what they are.

MATT GIL: REEL TO REAL Through July 2. Tues.–Fri., 10:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m.; Sat., 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Marx and Zavattero Gallery, 77 Geary, second floor, SF. (415) 627-9111,

“You Make Me Make You”


REVIEW We photograph stuff and immediately pass it on to everyone who has Internet access. We ingest news events recorded only moments ago — and expect information on the next event even before it has completely unfolded. Artist Suzanne Husky is also driven to document what is happening right now: from social concerns to what she witnesses in her community. But she doesn’t give it to us flat, like so much documentation via electronic media. Instead, Husky renders her vision in 3-D and makes them potentially huggable.

In her current show at Triple Base Gallery, Husky has sewn, stuffed, and collaged a miniature wonderland that merges her social network with ecological and pop-cultural concerns. The initial effect of the installation is like seeing a grade-schooler’s attempt to recreate a Christmas window at FAO Schwartz. But these toy-size dioramas were designed for adults to contemplate. That desire to immediately disseminate information, the urge to make real what is only flat onscreen, and seeing the big picture are some of the ideas that come to mind when viewing her work — after you’re done chuckling over details like the composting toilet (Humanure). Husky wants her viewers to become social anthropologists and make their own connections. Using photographs for doll faces so there is no mistaking who is represented, the artist gives us Kobe Bryant dunking a basketball, her friends at a gallery opening, and that ever-present naked guy doing yoga in Berkeley Hot Tub. The herd from the Highway 5 stockyards, Chinese factory workers, and an activist aloft in the University of California, Berkeley oak trees also are reproduced with sad and funny results.

YOU MAKE ME MAKE YOU Through June 29. Artists Amy Franceschini and Michael Swaine discuss Husky’s work at a dinner lecture, June 27, 7 p.m.; e-mail for reservations. Thurs.–Sun., noon–5 p.m. Triple Base, 3041 24th St., SF. (303) 909-5481,

“Written on Spiders”


REVIEW From this side of the planet, as many in the American art world see it, Berlin is currently the art world’s utopia. Things are happening there: experimentation and funding can be had, as well as cheap studios, alternative-gallery spaces, and thriving collectives galore. But this scene didn’t just fall from the sky like a space virus and infect the German capital in the past few years. It’s been brewing for some time. One collective, known as a hub that links dozens of contemporary German artists, is Starship. In 1998 it began publishing a self-titled alternative-art magazine with conceptually-themed issues, including images and writing generated by its community. San Francisco gallerist Jessica Silverman befriended Starship founding members Ariane Müller, Martin Ebner, and Hans-Christian Dany five years ago, and Silverman Gallery’s inaugural exhibition in its former Dogpatch location showcased their work.

The collective’s current show at Silverman is a mixed-media gathering that includes drawings, text, sculpture, back issues of Starship’s magazine, and a selection from the group’s poster series titled The Like of it now happens, which focuses on the subjects of excess and sustainability. Judith Hopf’s Singing Frogs — a photo collage of frogs with frogs in their throats — and Klaus Weber’s Ultra Moth provide weirdly funny, surreal social commentary in the tradition of propaganda posters. Because the group chose to not plaster its work around San Francisco — a city not known to embrace guerilla art kindly — they created a faux "outside" for them to exist in. Visitors entering Silverman are confronted by a large, silver, barred cube, like an astral reproduction of the gallery space. Sit on the space’s floor and thumb through the relatively recent Starship issue, The year we went nowhere (2005), and it feels like browsing a travel guide: you might get a sense of these Berliners’ flourishing art boom.

WRITTEN ON SPIDERS Through June 14. Tues.–Sat., 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Silverman Gallery, 804 Sutter, SF. (415) 255-9508,

“Tree Show IV”


PREVIEW In Shel Silverstein’s 1964 classic book, The Giving Tree (HarperCollins), a self-sacrificing tree hands itself off to a boy — surrendering its shade and its lumber — until it ultimately ends up just a stump for the now-old man to sit on and die. You don’t have to be a tree hugger to know that everything from the air we breathe to the paper we print on wouldn’t exist without them.

For the fourth consecutive year, the San Francisco branch of Giant Robot presents "Tree Show," a fundraising exhibition with a portion of the sales benefiting Friends of the Urban Forest. It includes mostly two-dimensional pieces by more than 40 artists who work mainly in the street-art and comic-book graphic style GR is known for supporting. Check out Deth P Sun’s painting with his trademark Orphan Annie–eyed warrior kitty in a grim, gray forest, and collage artist Alexis Mackenzie’s vintage-lady-as-lupine-shrub, embellished with butterfly blooms. François Vigneault contributes an ink-and-watercolor image of a huge tree getting a scooter ride in the rain, and Cupco makes three nasty forest lumberjack elves ("Cut! Kill! Burn!") out of stuffed felt.

GR founder Erik Nakamura writes in an e-mail that the gallery-store came up with the show concept years before eco-movement causes became so ubiquitous. "We like trees, and we felt, just for a second, it would be great to turn people onto trees," he explains. That second has obviously been extended, since Nakamura has noticed that many of the participating artists continue to paint tree images even after the exhibitions. And why not? "It’s a big part of their art supplies!" he adds. So pick out an affordable work of art for your home and help plant more trees in San Francisco — a happier dynamic for artists and arbors alike.

TREE SHOW IV Through June 18. Mon.–Fri., 11:30 a.m.–8 p.m.; Sat. 11 a.m.–8 p.m.; Sun., noon–7 p.m. Giant Robot SF, 618 Shrader, SF. Free. (415) 876-4773,

Mighty morphin’ power ranger


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REVIEW Those of us who got to see the eastbound I-580 freeway connector overpass right after it was charbroiled by that teetering gas tanker truck understand the weirdness of witnessing a thing so hefty and solid transformed into something much like melted cheese sliding off a pizza slice. It was a grave reminder that structures, no matter how fixed their engineering appears to be, can stop holding a given form and make like something entirely else if given the opportunity.

Bay Area sculptor Christian Maychack is a master of creating objects in which materials misbehave in ways that leave their viewers with a sense that the laws of physics are just aching to be broken. For "Christian Maychack: A General Record of Things Breaking Down," the artist’s second solo show at the Gregory Lind Gallery, Maychack has created a site-specific work as well as several wall pieces and other freestanding pieces, all of which are variations on the themes of evolution and transformation.

His site-specific work is installed on both sides of a partial wall. On one side, what looks to be scrap lumber and decorative molding stacked and standing in the corner turns out on closer investigation to be morphing at the bottom — the molding is molding. And the tops of the tallest pieces of lumber appear snakelike and wiggle over the wall. When the top of the wall is viewed from the other side of the divider, the lumber seems to have burst forth from within, as if worms or roots have exploded from soil. Below, the corner of the wall has curled up slightly, separating from the floor, and has started to reconfigure itself as a crystalline, multifaceted form. Farther down, near one’s feet, the gallery wall has started to suck into itself, becoming some sort of mineral that doesn’t allow itself to be defined as animal or vegetable — or drywall.

On the back wall of the gallery, a wonderfully globby Rorschach form oozes like an overly muscled but flayed GI Joe doll. It appears to have time-warped from the baroque era but not quite to have survived the trip. Titled A Thinnest of Betweens, this monochrome gray wall piece hangs with the presence of a regal portrait, but with an air of cartoon malevolence too.

There’s exuberance in much of what Maychack creates, a quality of frozen animation that makes the pieces seem to be holding their breath in order not to be found out. One pedestaled piece in particular has stopped midbounce, like a froth of marshmallow fluff that is either symbiotically sharing space with or being virally infected by volcanic, rocky bits. The chunks subtly taint the plump creaminess with their rusty dust.

Close to the gallery’s reception desk, a sponge-colony form buds from the wall, white and gray with a shiny dark gray cap, as if it were readying itself for even further mushroomy blooming. It grows with an elegant lean, which hints at the essence of Maychack’s objects: they are so well crafted and organically clever that viewers depart feeling like they have been given a convincing presentation of what mysterious life forces are capable of. In these works, stuff has a way of willing itself into existence — even in places where we have assumed there is no life. Maychack gives us another plot twist in the evolutionary story, which in some way, during this uncertain time of teetering environmental stability, seems fantastically hopeful. Lo, the very stuff from which we have built our shelters could bubble forth and mutate its way into our ecosystem. *


Through June 30

Tues.–Sat., 10:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m.

Gregory Lind Gallery

49 Geary, fourth floor, SF

(415) 296-9662

Air play


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REVIEW There is something about "The Sculpture of Ruth Asawa: Contours in the Air," the de Young Museum’s current retrospective of Ruth Asawa’s work, that initially feels a bit like a natural history museum display. The darkened space, punctuated with spotlights, showcases Asawa’s floating woven wire forms, which look like giant representations of diatoms or plankton. The shadows this installation creates are an important factor, illustrating the concepts the artist considered during their making: positive and negative space, organic growth, and continuous line. One of the first pieces greeting visitors at the entrance resembles a hanging column of ballooning onion and bell shapes. It’s made of woven aluminum and brass wire, and Asawa describes it as a test to see how large a sculpture she could create in crocheted metal wire without it collapsing from its own weight.

A nearby glass case displays sketchbook pages from her formative art-school years. On one page a sentence stands out boldly: "DRAW AIR WITH NOTHING." The lacy forms of industrial metal wire are paralleled by the pen-and-ink drawings on the walls, some of which Asawa calls "meanderings." They’re images formed in an intuitive yet mathematically exponential process — not unlike the route her lifelong career of object making and art activism has taken.

Born in Norwalk, Calif., in 1929 and raised on her parents’ vegetable farm, Asawa was one of thousands of Japanese Americans interned during World War II. At the Santa Anita racetrack camp, she had her first formal lessons in art, taught by several Walt Disney studio animators who were also interned. After the war she attended Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where she studied with legendary artists and thinkers including Josef Albers and Buckminster Fuller. There she met the man who would become her husband and father to her six children, architect Albert Lanier.

After college Asawa studied in Toluca, Mexico, where she learned to crochet baskets. She pushed this traditional craft into the realm of fine art during the 1950s. Her work was chosen to represent the United States in the 1955 São Paolo Biennial, and soon after the Whitney Museum of American Art acquired her work for its collection. However, in the Bay Area, where she has lived since the ’50s, Asawa has remained relatively unknown.


At the de Young the viewer traipses past Asawa’s complex, bundled copper-wire tumbleweed puffs; wiry snowflake configurations; spongy Möbius strips; plump, electroplated copper, cactilike works; and graphically bold, obsessive-compulsive-esque lithographs and drawings. Some of these date to the late ’90s, but nonetheless, we are really wandering in a realm of late-modernist works. So by today’s postmodernist and post-postmodernist values, Asawa’s pieces don’t readily leap into a contemporary critical arena. They are, for the most part, graceful and avoid the taint of macramé kitsch, although a subtle whiff of hippie-era flavoring does hover over the exhibition. Yet before one judges her art by today’s standards, let’s look at why she merits a retrospective.

This is not Asawa’s first overview: the Oakland Museum of California held one in 2002. One dramatic mandala sculpture on display — Wintermass, from the late ’60s — is similar to the bronze gracing the front entrance to the Oakland Museum. And this isn’t the only Asawa piece available for free viewing in the Bay Area — she is far more ubiquitous than many locals realize. Over the days following my visit to the de Young exhibition, I stumbled upon several of her public works — many of which in no way resemble the art chosen for the show. Rather, they seem to be created by an almost evil twin. Asawa’s public objects generally tend to land in a goofier, now quaint public-art aesthetic. The list includes that tourist mecca mermaid fountain at Ghirardelli Square, the sea lion statue (generally hidden under climbing children) at Pier 39, the whimsical San Francisco landscape fountain outside the Grand Hyatt San Francisco at Union Square, the pair of occasionally functioning giant origami fountains in Japantown — and the steel origami doughnut fountain (titled Aurora) near the Gap’s Embarcadero headquarters. She also helped with the design of Children’s Fairyland in Oakland and more recently a San Jose memorial dedicated to the Japanese American internment.


Asawa was a public sculptor to be reckoned with during city upgrades in the 1970s and ’80s. She was also the force who created the revolutionary Alvarado School summer art workshops in the early ’70s. She spearheaded the creation of San Francisco’s School of the Arts High School and actively served on both state and city art boards. This exhibit includes photo documentation by Asawa’s close chum Imogen Cunningham of her early work and bohemianlike family life. Asawa saw little difference between making art and teaching it to children, which could easily make her one of the godmothers of the social practice genre. The format in which Asawa chose to display her objects early on could also make her something of a forebear of installation artists.

In a period in which homespun crafts and the DIY joys of creation — think ReadyMade magazine — are so prevalent, an appreciation of Ruth Asawa is a timely thing. Captured in the wonderfully dated 1978 documentary by Robert Snyder that’s screening at the exhibition, Asawa declares that "a line can go anywhere" and talks of the importance of being like a bulb planted in soil: she should always be growing while here on earth. Much like that enormous New England mushroom discovered expanding for miles underneath the soil, Asawa planted herself here and flourished quietly, germinating an idealistic sense of the importance of art in the community — something I hope never grows out of style. *


Through Jan. 28

Tues.–Thurs. and Sat.–Sun., 9:30 a.m.–5:15 p.m.; Fri., 9:30 a.m.–8:45 p.m., $6–$10

De Young Museum

Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr., SF

(415) 750-3614


They rule — and drool


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REVIEW It may sound like a toast at a wedding reception, but in order to have some measure of success in a collaborative project, there has to be an agreement between the parties involving respect, patience, and a dose of humor. The opposite would be when a couple filing for divorce cites “irreconcilable differences.” For the collaborative art team leonardogillesfleur (Leonardo Giacomuzzo and Gilles-fleur Boutry), this phrase is also the clever title of their recent body of work currently on exhibit at Catharine Clark Gallery. The title plays on the struggle to create collaboratively and points to the sometimes fruitless results in pushing idealistic — or just plain romantic — notions. Paired with this work is “Action Series,” a grouping of videotaped performances that touch on a similar vein.
The team graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2004 with MFAs from the New Genres Department. And it shows. Upon entering the gallery, you are confronted with a candy-apple red contraption: a push-me-pull-you Fiat, a car with two front ends seamlessly melded together to create a vehicle that can drive in two directions. It has two steering wheels, two front windows, no back seat, and a propensity for going in circles. The car isn’t real, but the photos and schematic layouts are convincing enough. On close investigation, you can see that the car is actually an altered toy and leonardogillesfleur altered its photograph. This is something children would happily invent with crayons.
The pair have also included a recording of their own childlike car sounds, which emits vrrrroommms from a corner in the gallery, near the large-scale photo of the car, One Way or Another Puzzle. The vehicle sits waiting, parked on cobblestones, with the pair walking toward it, dressed in matching exercise gear — ready for action. But the action they get, as shown in one photo of the car after it’s made donuts (“Going in Circles”), is likely to prove frustrating. A real object the team made prior to this two-way Fiat is a bicycle with two handlebars and two seats. Unlike on a tandem cycle, a third wheel in the center has the riders facing away from each other and forever pedaling hard to try and go their direction instead of their partner’s. These objects are visual puns and teeter on the edge of dadaism but fall more directly in the realm of conceptualism, the kind taught at a clown college — smart but also smart-ass.
In the next room video monitors on the walls and a large projection in a small theater loop the staged photolike performances of “Action Series.” Leonardogillesfleur are playing with the idea of holding a moment, markedly a special occasion, for as long as they can. Akin to a freeze-frame kiss at the end of a sappy movie, Myself as a Fountain highlights the team seconds before they go into a passionate lip-lock. They stand outside in some city park, amid the sound of cars and dogs barking — with heavy strings of drool pouring from their mouths. In all these videos — including one with the painfully cold setting of a blizzard, in which the couple hold a waving-at-the-camera pose — the title includes the length of time the subjects endured these attempts to hold on to the moment. In the loop in which a birthday cake’s candles melt down while awaiting a puff of air from Boutry’s mouth, friends wobble and work to hold their poses in the background. The time reads “8:42.” Family and friends actually suffered it out as we do when enduring each other’s company for too long. In these video pieces leonardogillesfleur capture the clear sense of futility in preserving a moment that didn’t happen the way it was imagined. The duo are fortunate in their pairing: they have figured out how to mix their multimedia works with just enough humor to hold viewers’ attention, yet leaving them open to the works’ harder messages.<\!s>SFBG

Through Fri/22
Wed.–<\d>Fri., 10:30 a.m.–<\d>5:30 p.m.
Catharine Clark Gallery
49 Geary, second floor, SF
(415) 399-1439