Knute Stiles

  • Terry Fox Meanders

    WHEN I OPENED THE DOOR I heard a snoring sound coming from a tape recorder across the room. I had been apprised that a performance of Terry Fox’s The Labyrinth Scored for the Purrs of 11 Different Cats was to be held one day in March. Next I tripped over a piton and ring fixed to the floor a few feet inside the door. I assumed that had to do with the industrial or warehousing use of the building; the first floors were still evidently in use for that sort of business, so a piton and ring might be left over from a former tenant. Only later did I realize that this also was part of the show, which

  • R. Cedric Smith

    An announcement arrived in the post informing me that Cedric Smith’s Loiter Piece was to take place in the plaza of the Bank of America from 11 a.m. until 6 o’clock. The postman had arrived well after noon, so I didn’t get there till mid-event. Smith had hired two hippies to go to the plaza and act as though they were loitering. They weren’t, of course, because they had been paid $1000 each to perform this service. The release had suggested that anyone could interview the hippies. When I arrived two girls were interviewing them. The girls informed them that everyone upstairs was talking about

  • Nancy Graves

    Nancy Graves came to San Francisco to teach a summer session and while here she constructed an elaborate thicket of fantasy plant forms. The stems are of structural steel rods, generally erect though in a couple of cases they zigzag like a staircase, perhaps simulating a climbing model. Each plant form is divided into leaves, tendrils, flowers, nuts, shells, bones, pods—too many on each stem to approximate anything we know on this planet; such an otherworldly place would have a botany of several sexed plants. The thicket entitled Variability and Repetition of Variable Forms is mounted in the

  • Karl Benjamin

    The title Variability and Repetition of Variable Forms would almost seem more appropriate for another show in town, the paintings of Karl Benjamin at the Sawyer Gallery. He has gridded his canvases with twelve six-inch horizontal and vertical blocks and founded the smaller square diagonal grid on the tensions of the other; he has used twelve colors (except one in which the greens and blues are left out to allow the violets to dominate). The first impression is that the grid is an unrelieved waffling of the square, but you soon realize that your own eye is completing the left-out divisions, and

  • Leo Valledor

    Leo Valledor was a precisionist, too, a while back. His work is still very simple, but he has become enamored with the brushstroke, and in his new enthusiasm the paint flies to the bottom of these canvases. Except for the framing color the monochromatic paint quality has a good deal of texture deriving from the runniness of the paint and the mark of the brush. A large upright rectangle painted a flat, even, coppery-brass-gold on the edges, about two inches wide, borders a quite juicy yellow center. The yellow has flowed in uneven scalloped patterns that tend to make the surface mosaic pulse and

  • Tom Akawie

    These paintings were part of the last phase of a group of shows mounted in the San Francisco Museum of Art this summer. Now that the season has begun in earnest museum-goers will be subjected to a constant fare of package shows specially designed for provincial museums; and experimental work, at least as far as the museums are concerned, will go back underground. The California Palace of the Legion of Honor (whose policy has been traditionally ‘moderne’ rather than ‘modern’ or that even newer contemporaneity ‘modernist’) regularly shows working contemporaries month after month. Rumors (and even

  • Joan Snyder

    The exhibition of Joan Snyder’s paintings at the Michael Walls Gallery gives San Franciscans their first opportunity on the West Coast to see some recent paintings seen and written about in the East (“The Anatomy of a Stroke: Recent paintings by Joan Snyder” by Marcia Tucker, Artforum, May 1971). Many of these paintings have never before been exhibited. Seeing the actual paintings rather than just reproductions reveals a large amount of powdered brass in the paint, as well as copper, bronze, etc.; photographs revealed that factor to a degree, but the metallic paint was apparently from an aerosol

  • Manuel Neri

    The last show in the summer salon at the S. F. Museum is of fiberglass castings that Manuel Neri has taken from his own earlier carved plaster figures. The older plaster pieces are also there. The fiberglass has taken the form of the carved plaster but the mold is not made to cast other pieces; instead the mold is the piece, a thin skin of various half-portions of the carvings. On a full-face one Neri has mounted some plaster on the head and recarved a new face in a more block style. The originals were fragments, and the casts are half as much. Neri’s work is related to archaeology; not puzzling

  • Carl Vilbrandt

    Another sculptor who has been using casting in an original way is Carl Vilbrandt (Bolles Gallery) who has taken molds of many faces—and hands, feet, and even genitals, and has pieced them together, glazed and fired them. One of the more innovative aspects of Vilbrandt’s technique is the use of a pump with small holes like a salt shaker to press the clay into fine strings like vermicelli. The form, when pressed into his molds, retains an element of the strings. These can be fired without fear of breakage in the kiln, because the heat dispersal problem (the bane of terra-cotta sculptors), has been

  • Robert Hartman

    Robert Hartman was one of the first painters who showed us a painting full of sky, no horizon. The focus was originally on primitive airplanes and the sky was merely their element, but then we saw a whole show of skies, some seen with the cloud strata diagonal, as from a plane banking. The show at the Berkeley Gallery is all sky, no planes or horizons, but a graph of equally atmospheric but geometrically stratified planes of sky or, in another, grids of lines as though to parse the sky for some mundane calculation. There are carefully brushed portions, portions of stain absorbency and elements

  • Arthur Okamura

    Arthur Okamura has put painting aside in favor of graphics for a while. There is a frog just in the corner of the page which was, on first glance, a texture of greens. His block cuts, silk screens, and book illustrations are very Zen, even avowedly as in his illustrations for a book called Ox Herding which is a very traditional Zen sequence. Joel Weishaus, who wrote the poems, interpreted the text as“Search, traces, caught, taming, riding home, no ox, source, and city.” Okamura’s equivalent for city is a mandala of four circles of color around a circle of white. The traces are the oxen’s spoor.

  • Karl Kasten

    Very often a graphic period is an experimental phase which sometimes completely alters subsequent work in an artist’s major media. Karl Kasten was working in a very painterly way when I last saw his paintings. I did see a show of his collotypes which I thought were both experimental and resolved, though a distant leap from the paintings. Now he is back to painting and the results are at the Bolles Gallery, this time with acrylic and metal leaf and hard-edged forms which tend to project themselves as solids in a void, though they do also lend themselves to being read as the inside warp of the