If there’s any doubt that fall is underway, look no further than the offerings at local galleries. Here’s a brief survey of what’s out there.
SF Camerawork Dear Erin Hart In 2011, Jessamyn Lovell’s identity was stolen by a woman who then used it to run a drug syndicate, rack up astronomical fines for unpaid parking tickets, rent cars and commit crimes in the artist’s name. Lovell pursued the woman and developed this exhibition, employing video, photographs and assorted documents to respond to the crime and tell an all-too-familiar story. Armed with a camera, Lovell exacted a form of retribution in an examination of the uneasy coexistence between our digital selves and real life. (Sept. 3-Oct. 18)
John Berggruen Gallery David Park, Richard Diebenkorn, Nathan Oliveira, Manuel Neri: Figures and Landscapes is a historical survey and celebration of four independent, forward-thinking artists who were key actors in the Bay Area Figurative movement. Though the tonal emotional content varies with the individual artist, their work, inspired by their surroundings but not exclusively tied to a specific place, is imbued with an innate love of nature, a sunny native optimism, serenity and solitude. (Sept. 4-Oct. 18)
Dolby Chadwick Gallery Between Head and Hand Standing at the intersection of figuration and abstraction, plumbing his unconscious and referencing black & white and color photographs, altered digital imagery and fragmented visuals of corroded metal, Kai Samuels-Davis’ richly textured, de-saturated oils are (mostly) fractured portraits of solitary individuals – maybe facets of the artist himself – refracted through a hall of distorted mirrors. (Sept. 4-27)
Jack Fischer Gallery Familiars Bay Area artist Lauren DiCioccio is most readily associated with her finely crafted replicas of everyday items destined for obsolescence, from hand-sewn plastic shopping bags and embroidered dollar bills to encased or bagged copies of The New York Times. In her most recent work, she retains a palette of colored threads and fabrics to sculpt heretofore unknown, often biomorphic forms with deliberately inflicted mistakes that reflect the artist’s hand. (Sept. 6-Oct. 18)
Gallery Wendi Norris Architects of Destruction Sydney-based collaborators Claire Healy & Sean Cordeiro, a husband-and-wife team who witnessed their city’s makeover for the 2000 Summer Olympics, specialize in investigating the destruction and resurrection of objects and the relationship between innovation and extinction. They deploy boldly colored, textured Legos in their abstracted explorations of the 1986 Challenger space shuttle catastrophe, linking child’s play to disaster, and in a series of brightly-hued embroidered tapestries that evoke notorious oil-industry explosions, they connect the wages of progress with calamity. (Sept. 4-Nov. 1)
Hosfelt Gallery Lightmaster Jim Campbell, expanding his oeuvre with full-color LEDS, ventures into new sculptural frontiers. Two of the works are part of his ongoing Home Movies series; others incorporate carved, semi-transparent resin “screens,” multiple wall-mounted panels and arrangements of LEDS that produce three-dimensional effects. (Sept. 6-Oct. 18); Surabhi Saraf’s show Remedies is comprised of a series of multi-channel video installations inspired by his family’s pharmaceutical factory in India. (Oct. 25-Nov. 26)
Robert Tat Gallery 20th Century Salon Photography: A Tribute Before photography was considered fine art, and at a time when galleries and museums rarely mounted exhibitions, salons played a crucial role in elevating the status of the bastard medium and laying the foundation for a commercial market. Early in their careers, Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham and Edward Weston were among the notable artists who participated in these groundbreaking exhibitions, which offered the only venues for their work and the lesser-known figures showcased here. (Sept. 4-Nov. 29)
Catharine Clark Gallery Chris Doyle: The Fluid Water as muse and theme dominates the work of Doyle, a Brooklyn-based artist whose latest “immersive” multi-media exhibition is loosely based on one of his favored sources: Thomas Cole’s The Course of Empire, a cycle of allegorical 19th-century paintings that depicts the transformation of the landscape and the destructive impact of civilization. Delving into humanity’s precarious balancing act with the natural world, the show includes large-scale watercolors based on photographs of a frozen waterfall and the snowy environs of upstate New York, and a site-specific multi-channel video, sound and music installation that taps into the anxiety – in some parts of the country one might call it panic – about water. (Sept. 13-Nov. 1)
Museum of Craft and Design Wendy Maruyama: Executive Order 9066 Maruyama, a furniture designer and third-generation Japanese-American, created these works to reflect the shameful period in American history when the U.S. government interned thousands of Japanese Americans in the 1940s. (Oct. 4-Jan. 4); Second Life Glass features pieces by Amber Cowan, who refashions discarded glassware turned out in prodigious quantities by now-defunct American factories. (Oct. 18-Jan. 4)
Haines Gallery Political Fictions, a thought-provoking show that takes its title from Joan Didion’s essay collection on the brazen packaging of the American electoral process, assembles a roster of international artists who explore the media and its reportage. In his video The Simpson Verdict, for example, Kota Ezawa animates, in a cartoonish style, television footage of the dramatic conclusion of Simpson’s widely publicized, avidly followed 1994 murder trial. Vietnamese artist Dinh Q. Le’s 150-foot scroll appropriates and digitally elongates Eddie Adams’ infamous Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of the public execution of a Vietcong prisoner on a Saigon street, an image some credit with turning the tide of American public opinion against the war. Jeanne Friscia, Taha Belal, Alfredo Jaar and Todd Lavine also weigh in. (Sept. 4-Nov. 1) In a concurrent exhibition, San Quentin Prison Report, photographer Nigel Poor, who has an abiding interest in society’s management of crime and punishment, invited prison inmates to react to images by William Eggleston, Lee Friedlander, Stephen Shore and other masters by writing and drawing directly onto the prints. The three-part, collaborative project includes Poor’s reprinting of archived negatives taken at the prison between 1960 and 1987.
David Brower Center (Berkeley) Art/Act: Maya Lin Though she’s disinclined to discuss it these days, Lin’s controversial design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. made the Chinese-American, Yale-educated architect/artist famous and thrust her into the middle of a firestorm at the age of 21. That was 1982, and since then, she has forged a body of work addressing space and the emotions it engenders, among other subjects. In addition to the recent abstract sculptures here is Lin’s first interactive multi-media artwork and final memorial to vanishing species and environments, What is Missing?, which asks viewers to contemplate the fragility of the Bay Area. (Sept. 19-Feb. 4)