Friday, August 19, 2011

Orientalism @ The Sake Bomb Bar

Interior view, Sake Bomb Bar

The Sake Bomb Bar, a beautiful watering hole on the 600 block of Central, hosted an art show based on an Oriental theme that opened two weekends ago. Lots of works were shown, varying wildly in subject matter and quality. Curator Johnny Vitale showed many of the same artists he showed when his gallery opened back in Feb 2010. Here are some highlights.

Malcom Johnson

I ran into my friend and former Art Taco correspondent Malcom Johnson, a documentary photographer, 'zine maker, and soon to be blogger. Malcom knows more about the history of the Bay Area art scene than anyone I know.

Work by Danielle Shockley

 This Oriental Genghis Khan-style, well-armored warrior looks tough and battle ready with his large sword. He also looks like a kind of alien neo-punk cartoon character in his well-studded get-up.

Heinz Hinrichs, "Fukushima" No. 1 & 2

Events fuse into Art, sometimes quickly. In this work by Heinz Hinrich, the reference is to the earthquake & tsunami-damaged reactors at Fukushima, Japan, whose impact and outcome remain far from certain, and are perhaps the greatest nuclear plant accident to date.

Chris Giuffre, "Beast from the East"

Here, sushi and other cultural signifiers with Japanese Pop overtones come across as, in part, connoting the threat to the West from the rapid rise of the East, a theme that was recently explored at length in two shows, both curated by Mindy Solomon, one at her own gallery, the other at Morean Arts Center with Theo Wujcik and other artists.

Pale Horse, "Tiger & Dragon"

Chris Parks/Pale Horse's "Tiger and Dragon" . In  Chinese mythology, the Tiger and the Dragon are eternal enemies, representing  different types of life energies. The Tiger is about memory and brute strength, the Dragon about understanding movement. Here they square off in the form of a wild cat and Cobra, dancing into eternity.

Darryl Bills, "Chiburi"

The title, "Chiburi", comes from a Japanese slang word for symbolically removing blood from a sword before putting it in its scabbard ('noto'). What we are seeing is a recontextualized female swordwoman (samurai?) in modern feminine garb who has apparently drawn blood, won the contest and is about to call it a day.
Darryl Bills, "Yukata"

On the right, another painting by Bills. The title ,"Yukata", refers to the garment, which is a light summer kimono that has apparenly enjoyed a revival in Japan. The image may look old and traditional, and it is, but it is also about the present.

Robert Phelps, "Far Away Eyes"

An Orientally themed nude on a classic cultural patterned background. The interaction of the form of the body with the background, the way they riff off each other, is delightful.

"When you love something you can really see it" -- Robert Phelps


Work by Frank Strunk III

This motorized piece consisted of a fly dangled from the structure on the right, and the automated "arm" on the left that reaches up, and articulates two chopsticks to grab the fly momentarily. I was told it is based on the Karate Kid movie where Miyagi snatches a fly out of the air with his chopsticks. A great Pop kinetic sculpture from Frank.

Congratulations to the artists, Vitale and the Sake Bomb for an interesting show.

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