Glen Helfand

  • Anthony Discenza

    Including works in audio, video, and signage, Anthony Discenza’s second solo show at Catharine Clark Gallery is informed by Hollywood films and faceless copywriters, as well as by the mash-up—the viral spawn of the multiple, simultaneous media streams of today. For the wall-mounted text Sometimes a Great Notion, Part 1 (all works 2009), Discenza pairs cultural phenomena—television or movie titles, brand names, luminaries, and the like—presenting them in the syntax of the entertainment-industry pitch: IT’S J. CREW MEETS HELLRAISER, IT’S BLACKWATER MEETS SAVED BY THE BELL, IT’S DILBERT MEETS

  • picks February 18, 2010

    Diane Arbus

    Robert Gober’s engrossing selection of Diane Arbus’s photographs may bear his imprint, but besides two contextualizing admissions of influence—his 1976 drawing of her 1972 monograph and a wall text––in this exhibition he uses pictures culled from uncommon access to the Arbus archives to honor the artist and reroute the mythology of troubled psyches and exploitation into something that courses with humanistic subtext. The forty-five works, oddly enough, celebrate life—there’s a notable number of baby photographs; one uncharacteristically bright image from 1968 depicts an ebullient infant—as much

  • picks January 09, 2010

    Emigre

    Type design may be at the core of Emigre’s creative influence—they made computer typefaces hip and available—but in this twenty-five-year survey of their work, letterforms are elements with which to create. The type foundry, started by Rudy VanderLans and Zuzana Licko in 1984, the same year the Macintosh debuted, quickly came to enter publishing, music production, and visual art, tracking the pluralistic impulses that now course through contemporary culture. This exhibition’s selection of posters, press sheets, pasteups, audio and VHS cassettes, floppy disks, ephemera, and of course their

  • Kota Ezawa

    Kota Ezawa has made a career of reducing moving and static images to digital cartoons—likenesses characterized by their fields of unmodulated color, South Park–like animation, and impassive emotional core. His range of iconic source material has included footage of the O. J. Simpson trial (The Simpson Verdict, 2002), Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee’s sex tape (Two Stolen Honeymoons Are Better Than One, 2007), and Alain Resnais’s Last Year at Marienbad (LYAM 3D, 2008). The last—when viewed through accompanying blue-and-red lensed glasses—could be experienced in 3-D. The affectlessness of Marienbad

  • Luke Butler

    In “Captain!” Luke Butler’s first solo show at Silverman Gallery, a critique of male hegemony is filtered through 1960s and ’70s television. The artist’s witty paintings and collages depict men in charge—most notably, Star Trek’s Captain Kirk (as William Shatner played him) and America’s thirty-eighth president, Gerald R. Ford—but reverse power dynamics, hinting at the erotic potential of reduced authority. Taking on two white men who lorded over their charges with comical earnestness, the entertaining result nods to the peculiar homoeroticism of slash fiction.

    Butler’s Star Trek paintings are

  • picks November 13, 2009

    “Dress Codes”

    Art and fashion mergers seem so 2007—Takashi Murakami’s Louis Vuitton exhibition boutique would likely bomb in this economic climate. So it’s a relief to see a refreshingly sober and sometimes surreal view of fashion explored in the third ICP Triennial. The glittery thematic surface of “Dress Codes” quickly gives way to a bracing range of subjects—media manipulation and global economies chief among them. Only a few of the included thirty-four international artists directly employ the disco beat of haute couture: Cindy Sherman’s Paris Vogue–commissioned images take jabs at aging, Balenciaga-clad

  • Chris Gentile

    Chris Gentile’s work places him in dialogue with Amy Adler, James Casebere, Thomas Demand, and Erwin Wurm, who photograph handmade objects that rarely—if ever—leave the studio in 3-D form. Gentile also creates sculptures and installations exclusively for the camera, but while the aforementioned artists use the practice to explore cultural, psychological, or media-related issues, his images focus on processes of degradation and decay, which he presents in formal, and sometimes visceral, terms. The objects he depicts are abstract and self-consciously sculptural, yet flaunt their ephemeral nature

  • picks October 16, 2009

    Bessma Khalaf

    In two of the three videos that compose “You’re Not There,” Bessma Khalaf’s first solo exhibition at this gallery, the artist shares—through precise actions—an extremely ambivalent relationship with the American landscape and much of what it signifies. In Projection (all works 2009), a sequence of Sierra Club–style photographs of golden plains, majestic mountains, and rolling rivers is revealed as fictional when a fist punches through the sheets of paper the images are screened on one by one. These efficient blows to the land form a rhythmic slide show of constant insertion and, perhaps, rejection.

  • picks October 07, 2009

    Mitzi Pederson

    By titling her exhibition “I’ll Start Again,” Mitzi Pederson hints at reinvention. But though the show finds the artist maintaining an economy of modest gestures and low-grade materials that seem diverted from landfill, her new sculptures exude the integrity of starting from scratch. Where Pederson’s previous bodies of work have evoked Richard Tuttle, here the spirit of Fred Sandback appears in a series of string-based works that respond directly to the gallery space. Several balance thin thread and pieces of wood and at times articulate geometric volume. All are far more commanding of space

  • Kathryn Spence

    The press release for Kathryn Spence’s recent exhibition outs her as “an avid birder, gardener, and conservationist,” yet the sculptures—fastidiously arranged bundles of refuse, some of which resemble taxidermied animals—suggest another identity, that of flaneur. While looking at the show, it’s easy to imagine the artist keenly observing the city as she wanders streets, harvesting the bits of refuse used in her work. The listed materials—magazine clippings, plastic bags, string, wire, newspaper—are just the sorts of things abundantly available in gutters and alleys.

    Titled “Cloudless White,” the

  • picks September 23, 2009

    Chris Ballantyne, Mark Mulroney, and Andrew Schoultz

    In this exhibition, a trio of artists express their sensitivities to ecological and social disasters in solo wall murals and collaborative paintings—all offering fantastical, critical views of American landscapes colorfully ravaged by unidentified catastrophes. Andrew Schoultz, who has previously made paintings, sculptures, and installations with a political edge, here bumps visually into Lari Pittman’s territory with two walls featuring glitter-dusted brick and wood patterns as well as images of viscous, dripping candles. An apocalypse is rendered in repeating and rippling curves that form

  • Alice Shaw

    As the veracity of photographic representation has been thrown into question, it follows by extension that the status of the photographer herself is also in serious flux. Alice Shaw’s most recent exhibition, titled “Auto(biography),” initially read as a whimsical look at self-portraiture, yet functioned as an endearingly digressive visual essay concerning the multitude of strategies for personal and artistic representation. Known primarily as a photographer, the artist here employed a range of media—drawing, painting, appropriated objects, sculpture, as well as photographs—in an inconclusive

  • picks August 11, 2009

    Michael Guidetti

    Galleries and museums are, for all intents and purposes, standardized exhibition containers. The three multimedia works that comprise Michael Guidetti’s solo show ruminate on this form, each representing a discrete space used to show art. He sets down basic architectural frameworks in watercolor and effectively enlivens them with superimposed digital projections. Two of the works, Bounce Room 1 and Bounce Room 2 (all works 2009), depict modernist white-cube spaces overlaid with projected red, green, and blue blobs that ricochet against the depicted walls and ceilings. These elements are as

  • interviews August 03, 2009

    Vincent Fecteau

    Vincent Fecteau was perhaps an ideal choice for an “artist selects” exhibition: His own sculptures are potent, peculiarly honed works that take months to produce, and the twenty-three objects he culled from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s storage facilities reveal as much about the quirks of a collection as they do about the vision of an artist set free within it. Pieces by the likes of Judy Chicago, Ron Nagle, and Tom of Finland will be on view through November 8 at the museum under the fitting title “Not New Work.” Fecteau will also have a solo show at Matthew Marks Gallery this fall.

  • picks July 25, 2009

    “Studio Sessions”

    Sandwiched between shows of Richard Avedon, Ansel Adams, and Georgia O’Keeffe, “Studio Sessions,” is a heartening find and an ode to artistic anxieties by slightly less established artists. Five video works, selected by curator Tanya Zimbardo, wittily probe processes and self-doubts—the kind of uncertainties artists, particularly white male ones, don’t usually reveal. The show humanizes artmaking by revealing various means by which artists endure public scrutiny.

    Two pieces rely on broadcast television for moral support and distribution: General Idea’s Pilot, 1977, is a made-for-TV manifesto that

  • diary July 15, 2009

    Sharin’ Stones

    Calistoga

    THE VEIL OF THE DOWNTURN covers everything these days, especially parties, typically good barometers of both mood and money. Moments after arriving last Saturday at Norah and Norman Stone’s summer soiree at their Napa Valley weekend home, someone told me that the number of RSVPs to the party had exceeded expectations. No doubt this was a reflection of a “staycation” summer (a casual assessment of the group’s demographics confirmed that suspicion), but it had the odd, and welcome, effect of adding a good shot of conviviality to what easily could have been a staid art-world affair. It’s funny how

  • picks June 14, 2009

    Tim Sullivan

    Andy Warhol didn’t live long enough to experiment with freeze-framing films on DVD, but if he had, the results might have resembled Tim Sullivan’s cinema-inspired photographs and videos in spirit. Like Warhol, Sullivan is pale of complexion and hair color and shares an interest in creating a cottage industry of filtering images of pop culture. For his first solo exhibition at this gallery, titled “You Feel Me?,” Sullivan looks for emotional triggers in Hollywood classics—no obscure subtitled source material here—as he re-creates reaction shots from films through gorgeously washed-out photo-booth

  • picks June 09, 2009

    Claire Fontaine

    Two of the four works in Claire Fontaine’s timely exhibition are titled Recession Sculptures, but the entire show, which is activated and visible for just a few moments at a time via motion sensor, manages to stretch modest, ready-made objects into radical political gestures with the added value of rich formal and conceptual associations. Each of the Recession works (both 2009) effectively and literally meddles with power—they are, respectively, an electric and a gas meter fitted with means to stall or wind back records of consumption with the aid of magnets, distilled water, and a Shop-Vac,

  • Curt McDowell

    Curt McDowell worked in San Francisco from the late 1960s until his death in 1987—a period that witnessed the Summer of Love, gay liberation, and the onset of AIDS, to which he succumbed at the age of forty-two. The author of numerous films that recast the American dream of plenty in pansexual terms, McDowell, like so many artists of his generation, indulged in the era’s carnal abundance, and his appetites and experiences are reflected in the work, which alternates between the revealing and the puerile. His short films, such as Weiners and Buns Musical (1972) and Loads (1980), celebrate sex as

  • picks April 30, 2009

    Desirée Holman

    “Reborns,” the official name of hyperrealistic baby dolls lovingly created by and carried by a subculture of women, is a This American Life–ready phenomenon that’s as fascinating for its psychological charge as it is for its materiality. Creating reborns is a codified and commercialized craft practice, like scrapbooking as though practiced by Ron Mueck. Desirée Holman entered into this milieu recently, meeting women and learning their craft, like a biased but not unsympathetic journalist. As evidenced by the video and drawings that compose this exhibition, she’s fully aware of the hefty emotional