Maria Porges

  • Jim Barsness

    For several years, Jim Barsness has been perfecting the idiosyncratic combination of materials and techniques from which he generates the large, complex drawings that are a major part of his work. With a blue ballpoint pen, he renders gracefully stylized, sometimes cartoony figures on a background of found material (maps, comics, pages from books), which is then collaged onto a canvas support. In the past, the overall mood of these scenes—colored at least in part by the mellow gloom of the bruised-looking palimpsest that acts as a backdrop—has been benign, if sometimes a little loony. The printed

  • David Cannon Dashiell

    After the resumption of his career as an artist in 1985, David Cannon Dashiell’s work focused on questions of love and passion, health and morality: on AIDS, as both metaphor and reality in contemporary life. “Queer Mysteries,” the Adaline Kent Award exhibition for 1993, served as a retrospective of the remarkable body of paintings, drawings, sculpture, and installations Dashiell made over the past eight years, since he first began to suspect that he was infected with HIV. Sadly, this show was also Dashiell’s last as a living artist: he died in San Francisco during its final week.

    The earlier

  • Catherine Wagner

    Although Catherine Wagner is known for studies of public environments—schools, a World Exposition, a convention center—her current body of work systematically explores a more intimate terrain, focusing specifically on the American home. In each of the 34 pieces included in this exhibition, three 16-by-20-inch views have been smoothly juxtaposed to create a long horizontal rectangle. These tripartite compositions, dramatically spotlit in a darkened gallery, present us with large-format views of opulence and simplicity, comfort and chaos, from one end of the country—and the spectrum—to the other,

  • Lauren Elder

    Although billed as “environmental theater,” Lauren Elder’s immensely ambitious multidisciplinary performances encompass far more than mere drama. Like her earlier work Off Limits, 1989, Surrender is a sprawling, archetypal story with a narrative thread that twists into knots at times, guiding the audience from event to dream to memory, but always wandering back to the story at hand. This temporal movement is echoed by the frequent physical relocation of both players and audience in and around the hangar-sized space of the theater. Surrender also shifts from spoken text to singing, chanting, and

  • OPENINGS: RACHEL LACHOWICZ

    Does a woman’s sexuality correspond to what she looks like?. . . Does it bear any relation to the way in which commercial images represent it? Is it something women need to buy like a product? . . . Does all this mean we can’t wear lipstick without feeling guilty anymore?

    —Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth, 1990

    CAMILLE PAGLIA MAY DENY it, but most intelligent adults acknowledge that a backlash against feminism has taken place over the last decade, making its presence felt in a variety of unfortunate ways. Media manipulation of everything from statistics to photographs has led many women born in

  • Maria Fernanda Cardoso

    On first acquaintance, Maria Fernanda Cardoso’s simple arrangements of materials gathered in her native Colombia present themselves as exoticized appropriations of formal inventions and ideas from earlier decades. Cardoso’s rectilinear piles and stacks of hand-formed soaps, raw sugar, and guava-paste candy, for instance, instantly suggest arte povera–like materials framed in Minimal/Conceptual forms: a tropical party-mix composed of equal parts Carl Andre and Richard Serra, Joseph Beuys and Eva Hesse, so to speak. These pieces, however, are a lot more than just clever gene-splicing. Instead,

  • Andrej Roiter

    Since the late ’80s, the greater part of Andrej Roiter’s work has been painted a shade of brownish-green, ubiquitous in his native Moscow, where countless gallons of this drab olive have been used to cover everything from hospital walls to military hardware. As if to emphasize the way in which he carries his own world wherever he goes, Roiter—a nomadic expatriate who divides his time between Europe and the United States—had the main wall of the gallery painted a dark, mossy hue, creating an environment that reflected the color of several pieces in the show. Most of the work on view also featured

  • Stefan Kürten

    The 25 works included in “Mundus Symbolicum” present Stefan Kürten’s own private Wunderkammer of significant objects. On each canvas, Kürten has painted a neatly arranged collection of several images of a particular genus of thing, including leaves, bones, condoms, potted cactuses, crowns, hand tools, and hats, to name just a few.

    Although something about these works recalls Sigmar Polke’s disarmingly straightforward depictions of consumer goods (or maybe Bernd and Hilla Becher’s endless cataloguing of various kinds of water towers), they stem directly from Kürten’s boyish enthusiasm for a very

  • Michal Rovner

    Unlike many historical “birthdays” (Pearl Harbor Day, Independence Day, Columbus Day), the first anniversary of the beginning of the Gulf War, on January 15, inspired few commemorative exhibitions, In “Decoy—The Gulf War,” Israeli artist Michal Rovner reminds us why that is, despite the overwhelming popularity of Operation Desert Storm and the “victory” it brought about. The seven works in this show were made by photographing videotape images of the war as it appeared daily, even hourly, on television. Enlarged substantially, these pictures show shadowy figures in an almost nonexistent landscape,

  • John Randolph/Bruce Tomb

    John Randolph and Bruce Tomb’s collaborative architectural installations point toward the eradication of the traditional separation of “fine” art and functional, workmanlike aspects of architecture and design. In Randolph and Tomb’s most recent installation, entitled Prima Facie, 1991, art and life met in an elaborately engineered, gallery-sized device. If houses are the metaphorical equivalents for bodies, then stepping into this installation was like entering a brain. Seen from the gallery door, the structure suggested an immense wooden camera; like a set of stereoscopic lenses, two identical

  • Jeffry Mitchell

    In Jeffry Mitchell’s sprawling installation of gleefully goofy objects and drawings, his pantheistic preoccupation with art as a vehicle for the expression of religious faith reveals itself in objects and images derived from wildly diverse sources. These include a 3-D version of Ensor’s famous painting of Christ’s entrance into Brussels; a mandala of Mickey Mouse–like images called The Jesus Flower, 1991; and two truly amazing tableaux, the forms of which are loosely based on Buddhist devotional sculpture. These last two, My Pond and Joy in Repetition (both 1991), are each composed of hundreds

  • May Sun

    In a linked series of graceful visual metaphors, May Sun’s installation at the Capp Street Project presented a lesson in history, both local and international. Titled FUGITIVE LANDING: a revolutionary at sea, 1991, it told the story of Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s little-known visit to San Francisco in 1896. (A political exile, he came to California to gather support for the eventual overthrow of the ruling Manchu Dynasty in China.)

    Dr. Sun was a pivotal figure in his nation’s political development—first, as a leader of China’s national independence movement and, later, as the president of the new republic

  • Susan Martin

    A large part of the appeal of Susan Martin’s floor piece Sprinkle, 1990, resides in its enchanting combination of mysteriousness and sheer sensual beauty. Although plenty of art being made these days resists easy reading through the use of enigmatic or peculiar materials, such work is often unabashedly repulsive in one way or another. In contrast, Martin’s transformative manipulation of quirky materials heightens their seductive appeal. Consisting of a seemingly haphazard pile of waxy, dark gray disks, Sprinkle’s friendly scatter almost invites an investigatory caress (as its fingerprinted

  • QUICK QUICK PAUSE: DEBORAH OROPALLO

    To gaze at the river made of time and water

    And recall that time itself is another river. . . .


    —Jorge Luis Borges, “Arte Poética

    IN DEBORAH OROPALLO’S PAINTINGS, as in the flowing current of Borges’ river, there are many different kinds of time: the hours of making work and the years of acquiring skill, the solitary imagined time of remembrance and the shared time of history. Through an adroit manipulation of a repertoire of mnemonic devices, she conducts the pace of our reading of these temporal themes as we navigate a river of narrative. It flows, like time, from the past into the future,

  • Mildred Howard

    As immune as we have become to the media’s grim recitation of violent events, the death of children still shocks and saddens most of us. Although almost fifteen years have passed since the summer day in 1976 when South African soldiers gunned down black children in Soweto, the memory of that event still has the power to move us—particularly as it has been invoked in Mildred Howard’s installation Ten Little Children Standing in a Line (one got shot, and then there were nine), 1991. Simultaneously a memorial and a plea for the end of racial violence, Howard’s piece is centered around a powerful

  • Sherrie Levine

    In After Man Ray (La Fortune), 1990, Sherrie Levine’s ambitious, elegantly ironic appropriation of Ray’s classically Surrealist painting from 1938, the 19th-century billiard table has been removed from the original dreamscape and carefully reproduced not once, but six times. Though in Man Ray’s painting, the table’s bottle-green surface is raked at an alarming angle, three balls rest on the field of felt in a neat triangular configuration. Levine’s massive mahogany tables are each crowned with an identical triangle of red and white balls. As if in a long camera pan, vast slabs of green and brown

  • Lutz Bacher

    Sex, a perennially popular subject, has achieved unusual prominence of late. In what is primarily a male, homosexual phenomenon, artists are examining gender roles, politics, and pleasure often in the shadow of the twin specters of AIDS and censorship. Lutz Bacher’s recent series, entitled “Men in Love,” consists of 12-inch squares of unframed mirror, fixed invisibly to the wall like a suite of gleaming Minimalist objects. A short text, varying in length from a sentence to a paragraph, is silk-screened dead center on each slick surface. The jittery, ever-so-slightly-off register reflection of

  • “Anxious Visions”

    One of the central ideas to emerge from the recent post-Modernist/post-Structuralist theoretical vogue is the notion that history can be understood as fiction—that “facts,” far from being immutable, are highly susceptible to all kinds of manipulation by the teller of the tale. Although history has always been subject to periodic reinterpretation, the recent preoccupation with hidden subtexts has instigated new readings of parts of the past about which we thought we knew the truth.

    “Anxious Visions: Surrealist Art” revises one of this century’s most important and influential artistic movements.

  • YOU'RE HISTORY, PAL: READING NAYLAND BLAKE

    What we are given . . . is abundant evidence of a masculine ideal that directs and reinforces behavior; one which, by posing as a norm, impels adaptation to a constructed situation. . . . Sexual difference should not be seen as a function of gender . . . but as a historical formation, continually produced, reproduced and rigidified in signifying practices.

    —Kate Linker, “Representation and Sexuality”

    CURRENT INTELLECTUAL FASHION dictates an automatic distrust of the historical record as it has been (falsely) constructed by dominant culture. Still, history, simply by repeating itself, can teach