Thursday, July 22, 2010

SFMOMA Artists Gallery, Wondrous Strange: A 21st Century Cabinet of Curiosities

Leslie Frierman Grunditz, SeanO
 Organized by curators Maria Medua and Renée de Cossio of the SFMOMA Artists Gallery, Wondrous Strange takes the Renaissance idea of a "cabinet of Curiosities" and updates it to a surrealist version for the 21st century.  By combining ideas from steam punk, oil punk, DIY, and the Burning Man communities, the show attempts to present a complex combination of themes as diverse as evolutionary biology, history and anti-history, progress and decadence.

Muenning, Older than a dream
Wondrous Strange, the exhibition’s title, is derived from Midsummer Night’s Dream, and uses the wondrous and the strange as propellants for the imagination. Featuring works by more than a dozen Bay Area artists, the exhibition includes photography, sculpture, and painting.

The space at Ft. Mason has been transformed in to a Wunderkammern, or wonder room. Similar to the original cabinets of curiosities, the display method dissolves the distinctions between culture and science, and craft and fine art inducing awe, especially in children. The sixteenth century’s cabinets of curiosities, precursors to today’s museums, were encyclopedic collections of specimens from the natural world, as well as man-made artifacts. These cabinets served as educational resources for artists and natural philosophers of the early modern period in Western Europe.

Come in costume for the opening reception on Thursday, July 22 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Dress as time travelers, looking to the late 18th thru the early 20th century as sources for inspiration—prizes will be awarded for best costumes.

Step into the Long Now Museum to see prototypes for the monument sized 10,000 Year Clock that the organization is building as an icon to long-term thinking. Clock engineers will be on hand to explain the intricacies of the mechanisms and to discuss the fluid nature of time itself. Other time-based aspects of the project including the micro-etched Rosetta Disk and Bristlecone Pines living at the Clock site will be on display.

Just back from the LA Art Walk, the Golden Mean a.k.a. the Snail Art Car will also make an appearance. Created by Oakland blacksmith Jon Sarriugarte and his wife Kyrsten Mate, this transformed 1966 VW Bug shaped like a snail, transports 6 comfortably and has the added advantage of shooting flame from its feelers.

Also from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., the punk band The Grannies will perform outside the gallery. The Grannies claim to have met in a police station in the Mission while being held for petty crimes involving Wild Turkey, electricity, naugahyde, Top Ramen, and Drano, among other things.

There will also be burlesque performances by the Burley Sisters. Fierce and sexy…the Burley Sisters delve into the psyches of different characters, and explore their relationships to each other and to their histories, interacting with and seeking to provoke the audience.

Inside the gallery, locally based opera singer and San Francisco Conservatory bound tenor Jonah Hopton will delight you with arias and art songs by Fauré, Massenet, Scarlatti, and Bellini.

On Saturday, August 28 from 2 to 4 p.m., the Artists Gallery will hold a closing event in honor of Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s birthday. A key figure in German literature of the late 18th and early 19th century, Goethe is best known as the author of Faust. Goethe is of particular interest because of his work often describes the practical and the poetic in conflict.

Activities will include color theory exploration for children and a curator’s talk by Kathy Aoki. Aoki will also lead a curator’s talk on the Tomb Room, A Special Exhibit on Loan from the Museum of Historical Makeovers and provide an introduction to the Gwen Stefani Memorial Temple and archeological dig.

SFMOMA Artists Gallery, Building A, Fort Mason Center, San Francisco
Gallery hours: 11:30 a.m. –5:30 p.m.; Tues. through Sat.

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