Knute Stiles

  • James Reineking

    The James Reineking exhibition at the Quay Gallery reveals a consistent development in his art. He has almost abandoned the moire-causing veil which represented the humming sound emanating from within as a visual symbol, the single draped veil in this show being attached to a tube coming out diagonally from the wall, and the veil coming out of a curving slot in the tube rather than the tube hanging in the veil. The tubes are no longer metal but plastic; the ends reveal a thickness whereas the metal tubes had presented no evidence of real substance to the edge and had thus appeared diagrammatic.

  • Rudy Bender

    I seldom review photo shows, but this month the San Francisco Museum of Art mounted a show by Rudy Bender that had some extra appeal which had the weekend crowds congesting the hallway where it was on display. There were rows of stereopticon binoculars lining the walls in the most popular part of the show and the view was of nudes, layers of them, transparently seen through each other, filling up the space. The imagery was so dense that at times a part which one had initially associated with one nude is revealed on closer scrutiny to be a part of another. A nude walks out of herself and moves

  • Norm Lofthus and Nancy Haigh

    The photos at the Reese Palley Gallery were more Dada Concept-oriented than (properly speaking) a photo show. Norm Lofthus had taken the pictures, and Nancy Haigh had tinted them, not by hand as the ad used to say, but with stencil and airbrush. The sitters were the VIPs of the University of California’s Art Department—or rather that part of them who were willing to indulge in the concept dialogue. Each had to wear the same corduroy jacket and fuchsia and black tie for their posing. It would be possible to guess who wore the tie in what sequence; its condition changed as the concept progressed.

  • 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.

  • Sargent Johnson

    The Oakland Museum of Art has sought out, researched, and mounted a retrospective of the work of Sargent Johnson who died at the age of 80 in 1967. I had gotten to know him well in the last 15 years of his life. He remained active and his work was experimental to the end. In the mid-fifties he was in Mexico and was excited about with the black clay from Ceyotepec (near Oaxaca). The Zapotec Indians had been kilning this black earth since pre-Columbian times. It has been used many ways, for example as a hard armature at the core of third and fourth epoch artifacts with a slip of softer

  • A Centennial in San Francisco

    THE FIRST PAINTING TO CATCH my attention in the painting section of the San Francisco Art Institute’s Centennial Exhibition was a great rosy canvas by George Miyasaki. I saw it glowing and I went closer to study it. All of the tonal variations were rosy, coral rose in association with fuchsia rose, subtle colors tuned for optimum vibration. A literary journalist came by and wondered why I was looking at the Miyasaki, and immediately began telling me about a more literary painting that he had just seen. I insisted that he confirm or deny that Miyasaki’s painting was a successful visual illusion

  • Vaea

    At the beginning of Vaea’s exhibition at the Berkeley Art Center he stretched a black plastic drop-cloth across the floor and unloaded a truckload of nice damp clay carefully worked and ready for a ceramics operation. He worked on the show each day for the duration of the exhibition, and at the end he cleaned up his clay, dumped it back in the truck and took it away. Firing the clay into more or less permanent ceramic pieces was not part of the idea. Hardness removes from clay its tactile liveliness, and this show was to demonstrate just that: it is easy to work, takes many forms with great

  • Gurdon Woods

    Most people in urban places are involved (if only their ears) with the infernal and unending breaking of the old structures and the rebuilding of the city. Having replaced bird song and talk with the noise of hammers and scrapers of all dimensions it could be expected that someone would notice the transient beauty and expressive force of some of the breakage before it is carted away. Gurdon Woods’ sculpture at the Bolles Gallery is a consciously-made replica of just such forms. Separate fragments of concrete are fastened together by structural iron which comes out of the chunks just as though

  • Claudia Chapline

    The actual found object has been pressed into service again in the work of Claudia Chapline with the difference from the usual collage being that her found object is concealed and utterly changed. An object which might be a shaman’s marvelous wand is revealed to be a garden cultivator woven and wound with woolen yarn, fringed and knotted with magic complexity, or a scythe transformed to a harp. Her work at the Humbolt Gallery looks a bit like a dancer’s props, so it came as no surprise that she was into dance, too.

    Knute Stiles

  • William Soghor and James Prestini

    At the Quay Gallery William Soghor’s bags of a metallic-colored plastic breathed on a twenty minute schedule. There were a half dozen of them, all hanging. The act of expanding was perhaps their most interesting aspect. In the pneumatic state they are bloated bladders which vary from hamlike to symmetrical. They make a very otherworldly room. To be among them makes you conscious of yourself as a thing of bladders, lobes and appendages. The metallic element in the color specifically undoes any organic symbolism of the form. The forms do not go up like some balloons but hang down. The forms change

  • Hassel Smith

    A show of Hassel Smith’s paintings from 1963 and 1964 has turned up at a new gallery, the Suzanne Saxe Gallery. These paintings have never been exhibited before, perhaps because they are quite free, loose and gestural after the manner of an earlier Smith phase, whereas the paintings that I recall from that period were more architectural. One is like a fireworks display, but in cool colors; another has objects that seem to have broken through from the subconscious: stocking, deer, and in another a laughing boyish face, never refined or perfected but accepted as a revealing accident. Smith has