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Preview: The Yerba Buena Center For The Arts 2009-2010 Season

The artists and curators were chatty, the mini-sandwiches were tasty, and the mingling was in full swing at Orson Restaurant today as Yerba Buena Center for the Arts announced its 2009-2010 season. Music in the galleries, new large-scale commissions, longer exhibition hours that will allow audiences to take in the exhibitions as well as YBCA’s performances, and a “Big Ideas” program delving into major themes of interest to artists, are a few of the shifts going on at the center.

The exhibition coup: Internationally renowned artist and San Francisco Art Institute Dean of Graduate Programs Renee Green will be presented in her largest U.S. exhibition in 15 years at YBCA from Feb. 20, 2010 to June 20, 2010. This comes after Green offered her two cents to last year’s “Bay Area Now”: she made an extremely media-ted video portrait of her brother Derrick, the vocalist-guitarist of Sepultura, created with magazine stories and radio interviews, for the Queens Nails Annex portion of the triennial. Her show for the 2009-2010 season, “Endless Dreams,” connects two projects: United Space of Conditioned Becoming, which encompasses videos, objects, events, and lectures made over the course of 15 years, and Endless Dreams and the Water Between, her most recent multimedia project. Unrealized components of the latter – short films, drawings, audio projects, and more – will also be highlighted.

As I dug into Orson’s couscous and tofu salad sandwiches, new Director of Visual Art Betti-Sue Hertz told me she was particularly excited about Wallworks (July 18-Oct. 25). For that project, artists will be commissioned to create new large-scale pieces directly on the walls of the galleries and public spaces. From July 18-30, viewers can stroll through the YBCA and watch the artists create the works on site. California College of Arts instructor Chris Finley briefed me on his piece, which will make use of parts of the building's entry architecture and benches. Other Wallworks artists include Leslie Shows, Odili Donald, Makoto Aida, Amanda Ross-Ho, Tillman Kaiser, and Edgar Arcenaux. And the back-and-forth doesn’t end with Wallworks creation: emerging and established musicians in response to the pieces as they perform in the first-floor galleries, as part of PUSH PLAY>YBCA Summer Festival’s New Frequencies series.

I spoke with new adjunct curator Julio Cesar Morales, who I knew from his work at Queens Nails: he’s co-curating New Frequencies, which will bring together artists like femtronica star Juana Molina and the Bay Area’s Amy X Neuburg and the Cello ChiXtet (Aug. 22), and throat-singer Tanya Tagaq and KIHNOUA, which includes Rova’s Larry Ochs, Joan Jeanrenaud, and Scott Amendola (Aug. 15). He’ll also be helming a series of process-based exhibitions by creators from the Bay Area and around the world. One such artist, Emeryville’s Kamau Patton – who chatted with me about his forthcoming artist-as-anthropologist work at Root Division’s “Leave the Capital” show -- will play with a new breed of radio, made by and for the local art community, as part of his Jan. 23-March 7, 2010 installation, Icons of Attention.

Also notable: the world premiere of the YBCA-commissioned trilogy of dances created by the Bay Area-based Margaret Jenkins Dance Company in collaboration with Guangdong Modern Dance Company of Guangzhou, China (Sept. 24-26), and the West Coast premiere of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company’s Fondly Do We Hope... Fervently Do We Pray (Oct. 1-3), a blend of video, live music, movement, and theater staged in celebration of the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth.

On the cinematic front, YBCA maintains its rep for breaking new ground with a special engagement of Until the Light Takes Us (July 9-11), which unearths the realm of black metal, the epic Beyond ESPN: An Offbeat Look at the Sports Film series (Aug. 6-30), which includes intriguing entries by William Klein and Claire Denis, and films by New Argentine Cinema trailblazer Lucrecia Martel (July 14-15 and 23), who made 2004’s remarkable coming-of-age film Holy Girl.

Oh, yeah, and, of course, I’ll be seeing you at “When Lives Become Form: Contemporary Brazilian Art, 1960s to the Present” (Nov. 5, 2009-Jan. 31, 2010), organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, which starts with Tropicalia and takes it up to Brazilian art’s favela funk present.

For more information, go to www.ybca.org.