Megan Wilson
Writings > Recess

San Francisco Art Institute
Through January 20, 2001

Framed by its intentionally evocative, playground title, this group show of 8 individual artists and three artists' teams encourages risk and creative liberation. Curated by Artists Committee members Mark Brest van Kempen, Eva Konigova, and Liz Oppenheimer, artists were challenged to confront projects they previously thought were “too scary, too ambitious, too unambitious, too politically incorrect, too politically correct, too personal, too pretentious, too light, too big, too ridiculous or projects they conceived of as being impossible.” Attesting to the fecundity that permission from an outside power can arouse, the exhibition injects caution and familiarity with the unruly and the absurd. Most resonant in this respect are Diana Craft's playfully contorted and conjoined dried gourds, and Down River's sweetly macabre room installation of handmade dolls that spin atop phonographs churning forth a combination of music box melodies and hushed whispers. The affect could be likened to a simultaneous reading of “The Secret Garden” and John Saul's “Suffer The Children.” Both Margaret Tedesco's “These Stacks Seem To Be Well Massaged?” (25 years worth of newspapers, magazines, art rags, and ephemera from shows), and Val F. Russell's “Virtual Tattoo, Part II” (a video projection of layered graffiti cast onto the stairs), explore the psychic parameters of space and entitlement. Other works, notably Nicola Donald & Mary Iwata's newly resuscitated concept of the body and landscape presented in their performance and video installation “This Is Not A Runner,” or Tania Vu's mass of English Ivy, chart paper, solutions, electrodes and electronics, entitled “Experiment,” defy traditional notions of and divisions between art and seemingly incongruous disciplines. Several works appeared to be too contrived. Will Rogan's “Untitled (or the title for this work is carved in a stick which is presently caught in a whirlpool moving neither closer to the vortex nor further from its pull)” and Chris Cobb's table covered with what appears to be the contents from that kitchen drawer we all have (you know the one – flashlights, pens, twine, cords etc.), “Cozy” are particularly challenging in this regard. However, I consider those to be exceptions in an impressive show overall.

Walter & McBean Galleries
800 Chestnut Street, San Francisco Art Institute
Mon. – Sat. 11a.m. – 6 p.m.
(415) 749-4507 (Megan Wilson)