Approaching the Omega Point: Aron Meynell and Erik Otto at White Walls

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The work of San Francisco artist Aron Meynell doesn’t immediately command attention. His tones are muted—“somber” is how White Walls gallery owner and curator Justin Giarla put it—and his subject matter that which might be swiftly passed over in the work of a less-skilled artist: trees, animals, the occasional person. But to round down the quietude of these pieces to silence would be an underestimation of their power. Instead of choosing to shock or scream, the carefully constructed landscape studies comprising Meynell’s first solo show hum along almost inaudibly, their worlds not quite plausible but not easily rejected as fantasy. […]

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The Same Anxieties: Contemporary Irish Art Group Show ‘this little bag of dreams …’

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There seems to be nothing particularly “Irish” about the show this little bag of dreams … at the Catharine Clark Gallery, other than the nationality of its seven featured artists. The art does not overtly perform, assert or attempt to define “Irishness” in a way we might expect, especially when the work is presented under a banner like “Imagine Ireland,” Culture Ireland’s yearlong transatlantic outreach program (and the show’s sponsor). As though to definitively dispel any residual expectations of a culture-on-exhibit show, Mediterranean food was served at Saturday’s opening reception. Guinness was available, but so was Sierra Nevada. In fact, […]

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Delicate But Unnerving Patterns: Tahiti Pehrson’s Solo Show ‘Theta Pegasi’

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  Initially, the works comprising Tahiti Pehrson’s solo show, “Theta Pegasi,” at Ever Gold Gallery appear doubly insubstantial: these monochromatic paper canvases sliced into intricate geometric designs, often layered three-dimensionally toward the production of still more ephemeral shadows, declare their own fragility. Were it not for their glass cases, a San Francisco wind could easily devastate the show. Intellectually, too, the pieces seem to lack heft. They are astounding technical displays – the craftwork of a probably obsessive and detail loving mind – but that’s about it. Fortunately, before long, Pehrson’s works induce a rug-pull on our perceptions. What begin […]

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From a Treasured Vase to a Cutout: Stephanie Syjuco’s Solo Show ‘Raiders’

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  On the back wall of the Catharine Clark Gallery hangs one of the more baffling works from “Raiders,” Stephanie Syjuco’s solo show: a photograph of a pixilated jungle wedged between two patterned linen lumps. Bed sheets cum tropical mountain terrain? They’re Syjuco’s pillows, and in the valley between them is an image of her birthplace, the Philippines, that the San Francisco artist snatched from a quick Google search and turned into a cutout. The terrain of that country, her dreamscape of a piece leads us to recognize, is only immediately available to her in digital form. The predominant themes […]

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The Famous Artist as Art: ‘Seeing Gertrude Stein: Five Stories’

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In a 1924 print by Henri Manuel, featured as part of a new exhibition at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, Gertrude Stein is at work. Avoiding the camera, she sits dressed in a dark jacket and regal brooch, a pen in one hand; before her, a single sheet of paper glows luminously against the desk. The retrospective show, which examines both the biography and cultural influence of the lauded American-Jewish writer, contains innumerable inventions of both portrayal and homage. Stein, a patron of renowned artists from Picasso to Thorton Wilder and collaborator with musicians such as Virgil Thomson — with whom […]

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