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    Margaret Kilgallen – In the Sweet Bye and Bye

    July 30th, 2009

    Margaret Kilgallen - In the Sweet Bye and Bye

    Margaret Kilgallen (1967-2001) was a San Francisco-based artist from the Mission School who, throughout the 1990s, produced a significant body of work influenced by American and Indian folk art, hand-painted signs and hobo writing. In addition to traditional drawings and painting, she also worked in other mediums that veered all the way from illegal graffiti work to officially commissioned murals to full-blown installations. Although Margaret was honored with one major show during her lifetime at the Hammer Museum in 2000 with her husband and fellow artist Barry McGee, most of the major retrospectives of her work were mounted after her death in 2001, including the Whitney Biennial in 2002 and the REDCAT in 2005.

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    Rich Jacobs + Billy Sprague – The Clouds Caught on Fire

    July 26th, 2009

    Rich Jacobs + Billy Sprague – The Clouds Caught on Fire

    The Clouds Caught on Fire is a sumptuous, self-published art book by Rich Jacobs and Billy Sprague, two visual arsonists who currently claim the San Francisco Bay Area as their accelerant. Spanning the years 2006-2008, this feral work is a tour de force of wild abstraction, offering up a seemingly endless procession of vivid color and layers of intricate line work that rejoices in a collision of influences ranging from ’60s psychedelia, avant garde LP covers, and folk art. Occasionally, Rich’s well-known distorted and disembodied heads are thrown in the mix, as well. As stated in the forward, the artists’ modus operandi was simply to hang out, listen to obscure music, throw caution to the wind, and push each others’ work into new places it wouldn’t have gone in a solo setting. Indeed, Rich and Billy’s efforts intertwine in such a natural manner that it’s sometimes hard to tell exactly who drew what. In other words, it’s pleasantly clear that an entirely new beast is afoot.

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    Nancy N. Schiffer + Val O. Bertoia – The World of Bertoia

    July 5th, 2009

    Nancy N. Schiffer + Val O. Bertoia - The World of Bertoia

    Harry Bertoia (1915-1978) was an Italian-born American artist who was active from the 1930s through the 1970s. Although he worked in many different mediums, he is best known for a series of metal wire diamond-shaped chairs he designed for Knoll in 1952; as well as dozens of large, abstract, metal sculptures for public spaces such as airports, banks, fountains, libraries and universities; and, of course, his sound sculptures of the 1960s and ’70s.

    Many of these sound sculptures, also known as “tonal sculptures,” feature dozens of tall, slender, metal rods attached to a base. When set in motion by hand, the rods gently sway to and fro and collide with one another, forming an ethereal, haunting cloud of sound. The sound is so beautiful, in fact, that Harry wisely invested in a reel-to-reel tape recorder in the 1970s and captured hundreds of hours on tape of himself playing these sculptures. He then released 11 long-playing vinyl records of the best sessions, which have since become legendary collector’s items in underground record geek circles.

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    Paula Court – New York Noise

    July 4th, 2009

    Paula Cort – New York Noise

    Do you drink coffee? Do you own a table? If you answered yes to both questions, the time is nigh to buy a copy of New York Noise, a coffee table book filled to the brim with an aromatic, tasty brew of photos from the New York music and art scene of the 1970s and ’80s. Spanning a whole decade, from 1978 to 1988, this luffly pub is chock-full of huge, stark yet gorgeous black and white photography that ping-pongs wildly back and forth from one genre to another.

    From avant-garde classical composers John Cage and Phillip Glass to elder rockers Lou Reed and Patti Smith. From no wavers James Chance, DNA and Lydia Lunch to post-punkers Bush Tetras, ESG, Liquid Liquid and Y Pants. From minimal guitar composers Rhys Chatham and Glenn Branca to mainstreamers David Byrne, Madonna and Michael Stipe. From hip-hoppers LL Cool J and the Rock Steady Crew to visual artists Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Robert Longo and Cindy Sherman, plus dozens upon dozens more. Amazingly, Paula Court was there in the right time and place, in the middle of a violently artistic vortex, documenting it all.

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