The show of Sandow Birk’s paintings, drawings and bound illustrations of Dante’s Purgatorio, at Katie Clark’s through Feb 14 2004. Every generation has its own recontextualization of Dante; Birk’s is based in San Francisco, with Eden recast as the famous Garden of Eden strip club on Broadway. The books are beautiful; I’d love to purchase one of the $3,000 leather-bound litho editions, but will likely settle for the trade edition.
Deborah Oropallo’s new paintings at Wirtz, through Feb 28 2004. They’re warmer and more approachable than her last set of paintings (which were best on display at the San Jose Museum), but very evocative. From Glen Helfand’s essay: “Nothing in these paintings is as simple as it first appears, a concept that goes back to the lessons in the tall tales we read as children. So when Oropallo works with toy tree stump blocks, the image evokes the rather realistic idea that the enchanted forest has been clear cut. A gaggle of green flocked sheep is a Grimm’s-like fairy tale, yet it’s also a verdant reference to genetic tinkering… The artist’s masterful use of scale model ranch homes powerfully express the idea that whitewashed neighborhood refuges can easily give way to firebombed suburban blight.”
Pierre Huyghe’s The Third Memory, part of the Reprocessing Information show at SFMOMA, through Feb 8 2004. Through a mix of video, newspaper clippings and rebroadcast television interview footage, Huyghe uses the events surrounding the 1972 bank robbery that eventually became immortalized in Sidney Lumet’s Dog Day Afternoon to explore the mediated relationship between reality and fiction.
A note: I love Diane Arbus, but did not enjoy the exhibition. They stuffed the entire show into half of the fourth floor, when it should have been spread over the over half as well. Toss in a bit of over-curation and a healthy Saturday afternoon crowd, and the whole thing felt too claustrophobic for my tastes. Too many faces, not enough space.