“This Is The Sound of Someone Losing the Plot” opens the new Utah St. Catharine Clark Gallery with a show curated by Anthony Discenza entirely of California College of the Arts alumni and instructors. The warm summer night opening on September 7th felt like a block party as the gallery’s inauguration officially solidified the city’s newest art neighborhood in the Potrero Hill/Design district, where CCA’s SF campus is joined by galleries moving out of the downtown Museum district and 49 Geary building. According to the gallery, 800 people attended opening night, the unofficial Fall art season’s kick-off in a city where galleries closing felt as frequent as show openings this summer.
Upon entering, the first piece seen is Stephanie Syjuco’s “The Precariat (Material Witnesses),” an installation made of material from the gallery’s construction. A clever inclusion as a time-specific (in addition to site-specific) piece that lay bare some of the messier and industrial underpinnings of art commerce. Assembled like a picket line, it’s hard not to interpret as solidarity, but for the gallery (where Syjuco is the exhibition’s only represented artist in the show, besides its curator) or some greater goings on, is unknown. In the same room is Arash Fayez’s 2-channel video installation of two TV screens, intimately positioned, conversing in French, which for non-speakers is possibly to most literal explanation of the show’s title.
Josh Greene with Yangzi’s “Project Art” piece documents a series of art projects, including “The Last First” where the artist solicited family members to respond with their opinion of the worst of the artist’s proposed projects, and explain their reasoning. The written responses are shown with portraits of the family members. The piece feels part diary, and part family album, and obviously very personal. As a genre, Project Art could be understood as a heavily informational, or didactic conceptual art, employing almost a scientific method to art practice, and has proven to be a Bay Area art trend with legs.
The remainder of the show also borrows from the conceptual, from blocky sparse vinyl on canvas paintings by Bruno Fazzolari and Kate Bonner’s installation of also chunky, digitally printed board, to op-art-ish complimentary painting by Piero Passacantando and film loop by Gareth Spor, both using hued triangles as an infinite expanse, Spor’s “Lost Horizon” feeling very earthly and grounded for an artist I usually associate with the galactic and universal. Amongst the group, the stand alones seem to be Lauren Marsden’s ethereal courtroom prints, a series of “The Sentences,” which are mostly impenetrable, without further explanation, beyond some art historic references. All together, a veritable look book of art now in the Bay Area, with no real showstoppers, but a sort of muted harmony achieved. With CCA’s increasing influence on the local art scene solidified by the relocation of some of the city’s art business establishment to it’s neighborhood, it’s fair to say “This Is The Sound of Someone Losing the Plot” offers a glimpse at what we’ll be seeing for some time to come.
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-Contributed by Kathryn McKinney