• Don Van Vliet

    San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)

    In his previous guise as the musician Captain Beefheart, Don Van Vliet always invoked the powers of ceremonial delirium. His interventions along the byways of three-chord rock ’n’ roll floated funky, insistent, atonal guitar clusters around sublunar garglings in a strange amalgam of Howling Wolf and Tex Ritter. (With titles like “Woe Is a Me Bop” and “Lick My Decals Off Baby,” the songs are raucous nonsense of a high order.) It doesn’t necessarily follow that the same person who made that music would make Van Vliet’s paintings, but the congruent urge to extrapolate magic from mess is there.


    Read more
  • Jerome Caja

    Force Nordstrom Gallery

    This show of 150 miniatures by Jerome Caja (all works 1988) had more spunk and eloquence per square yard than any local exhibition in recent memory. Caja’s work is usually described in terms of outsider or folk art, terms that always remind me of what Big Bill Broonzy said when asked if what he did was “folk music”: “I guess all songs is folk songs,” he said,“I never heard no horse sing ’em.”

    These “Cosmetic Miracles,” as the artist calls them, are painted on small change trays, saucers, squares of black flocked paper, sandpaper, wood, and Masonite. They are mounted on lace, crushed cans, scrap

    Read more