Video Work, Dystopian Nightmares, and Melodrama: Four Don't-Miss Art Shows This Week


The art world has a wonderful tendency to expose a variety of attitudes, sometimes ones that are diametrically opposed. That is the case this weekend, as the rosy, utopian architectural fantasy in Patricia Araujo’s Tomorrowland Today opens not far from The Brinksman, Cleon Peterson’s collection of blood-red, dystopian nightmare images. In between, look forward to a clever reanimation of landscape photography and a feature length melodrama, for those courageous enough to dive in.

Fulll Firearms
It takes guts to saunter into an art gallery for a feature-length film – especially when the work promises a non-linear narrative and severely fragmented sense of reality, among other challenges to Hollywood form. Consider this one vetted, though. Emily Wardill’s films have screened at the likes of Tate Britain and the New York and London Film Festivals.

Her second full-length to date, Fulll Firearms is a melodrama that follows the character of Imelda, the daughter of an arms manufacturer. Convinced that those killed by her father’s weaponry will come to haunt her, she commissions an architect to build a home for her soon-to-be-arriving specters. Together, their ability to distinguish between imagination and reality grows more and more troubled.

The film will be accompanied by a series of related photographs. Worth venturing downtown for a viewing? We certainly think so.

Fulll Firearms runs March 9 through April 14 at Altman Siegel, 49 Geary. For start times, see the gallery’s website.

Patricia Araujo; New City, 2010; Size: 48" x 60"; Medium: Oil on canvas

Geometric Goddesses
The author of SOMA SEEN, Patricia Araujo has dedicated much of her career to the painterly exploration of the Mid-Market neighborhood’s architectural character, rooting out what it might tell us about the cycles of urban growth and decay. In Tomorrowland Today, however, the artist turns her sights toward an altogether different place – the imaginary.

Araujo’s imagined utopia conjoins classical and futuristic structures, weaving circus arenas and roller coasters into rosy, dream-like scenes. In doing so, she hopes to bring out the sense of “what might be” – a fantastic inquiry too often stamped out by the monolithic “what is” in our daily experience of architecture.

Spenser Sass’ psychedelic, iconographic paintings of females will accompany Araujo’s work, providing much in the way of compare-and-contrast.

Geometric Goddesses runs March 9 through March 25 at Roll Up Gallery, 161 Erie Street. Opening Reception March 9, from 6 – 9pm (21+)

Alice Shaw; Curtain Call, 2012

Landscape Update
We live with an artworld that has pronounced painting dead … repeatedly. Photography has likewise heard its last rites read more times than are worth counting. While critics waver back and forth on these matters, there is one art subject that people do tend to agree has definitively bought the farm: landscape photography. So, naturally, Alice Shaw made it the focus of her latest exhibition.

In particular, Shaw explores the axiom that men photograph the land, while women photograph nature. Which is to say that women get intimate and up close to flower pedals and blades of grass, while men embrace sweeping views.  It remains to be seen, whether landscape photography will draw breath under Shaw’s direction. At least at the opening reception, a playlist of cowboy songs and a tarot card reader (he’ll chart your “inner landscape”) will be there to help.

Landscape Update runs March 9 through April 21 at Gallery 16, 501 3rd Street. Opening Reception Friday, March 9 from 6 – 9pm

Cleon Peterson; PinkCity; 72"x75"

The Brinksman
There are some pretty grim anxieties tucked away in the collective unconscious. To venture a guess, the job of articulating them is one that most people are glad not to have. Los Angeles-based painter Cleon Peterson can’t seem to help himself, though, and the resulting canvases are as dark as they are compelling.

Peterson depicts a world where power differentials and primitive self-interest escalate to savage extremes, producing scenes of nightmarish brutality, abuse and perversion – a place where the social code has eroded to a point where “law breakers and law enforcers are one in the same; a world where ethics have been abandoned in favor of personal entitlement.”

Alongside this dystopia-in-paint, Bill McRight’s When You Get Power displays the makeshift weapons – shivs, bludgeons, spiked baseball bats – produced by the fringe groups of the world. Not the cheeriest of exhibitions (by a long shot), but necessary viewing just the same.

The Brinksman runs March 10 through April 7 at Guerrero Gallery, 2700 19th Street. Opening Reception Saturday, March 10, from 7 – 11pm

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