The latest entry in this awesome 7-inch series in which modern musicians interpret pieces from the Secret Museum of Mankind compilations of ethnographic field recordings. Local audio/visual artist Andy Puls, here working under his A Magic Whistle guise, takes on tracks from Tajikstan and Georgia and turns them into beautiful psychedelic wonderment. Any devotee of "ancient and contemporary weirdnesses" should snap this right up, and the other records in the series too.
Through December 18 - Lindsay Tully: Game On at The Little Shamrock. The second in a series of exhibitions by Luca Antonucci and David David Kasprzak's brilliant new project Service Industries, this show is tucked into an otherwise unused corner of the historic pub (look for the plexiglass case). I recently saw Tully's installation work in the excellent show at Interface Gallery from her Bonanza collective that drew on that gallery's origins as a horse stable, and here she directly addresses the rituals associated with the sports bar by creating sculptures with clever and elegant athletic references. The Service Industries display stand becomes a sort of subversive trophy case filled with mementoes of artistic prowess.
Through December 21 - John Zurier / MATRIX 255 at the Berkeley Art Museum. This is not only the last week for this exhibition but for the Berkeley Art Museum itself in its current incarnation, as they are bidding adieu to their gorgeous (but seismically unsafe) brutalist building with a huge Farewell Revel this coming Sunday before they move into their new space in 2016. Knowing the closure is coming (and soon) my heart was a little sad while looking at Zurier's paintings this weekend, but as his minimalist canvases and works on paper encourage a quiet and meditative gaze it felt remarkably apropos for my own goodbyes. The exhibition features artworks created during the last year or so, much of them painted while Zurier was in Iceland. It is easy to see the influence of that country's landscape in Zurier's use of color and in his visible brushstrokes, even as no literal forms are readily apparent. It's an absolutely spectacular show, and I especially resonated with a quote from Icelandic novelist Halldór Laxness that Zurier cites in the exhibition brochure:
Certainly Nature is in front of us, and behind us; Nature is under and over us, yes, and in us; but most particularly it exists in time, always changing and always passing, never the same; and never in a rectangular frame.
Through December 6 - Lowell Darling: How I Learned to Draw at Random Parts. This wonderful small gallery in Oakland is a new discovery for me, exactly the sort of artist-run space that I always find highly inspiring. One wall of the gallery is currently occupied by a spectacular collage that melds childhood drawings by Darling's daughters with work that he augmented for them as they slept in his self-described role as the "art fairy." Those freeform pieces contrast beautifully with a series of compact, dark drawings Darling made while hiking the Sonoma County forest, each one sized to fit in his shirt pocket. A scarecrow that Darling fashioned for his daughters stands at attention near the gallery door and ties the two halves of the show together quite nicely.
Through December 6 - New Bed at Krowswork. Speaking of the best of what Oakland has to offer, Krowswork is one of the few galleries in the Bay Area that consistently shows challenging multimedia work. A visit there often requires time and attention from the viewer, but it is so so worth it. This current group show, featuring individual installations and video by Sanford Biggers, Roderick Kiracofe, Karen and Malik Seneferu, and Nicole Shaffer, demonstrates brilliantly what can result when artists bring the personal into the public eye. Curator and gallery director Jasmine Moorhead designated Robert Rauschenberg's groundbreaking 1955 piece Bed as the starting point for the exhibition, and indeed beds and the quilts that lie on them make several appearances throughout the works in the show. Themes emerge around love, community, and marriage, as well as the ability of a quilt to offer solace and catharsis. Heartbreaking, uplifting work.
Michelangelo Antonioni has been one of my favorite directors ever since I first began to love films that totally confound me, and La notte is one of his great masterpieces. Featuring a mesmerizing Jeanne Moreau at the height of her powers, the film perfectly captures the growing emotional distance between her character Lidia and her husband Giovanni (played by Marcello Mastroianni, he of the ever-wandering eye) with camerawork that subtly highlights the couple's respective mental states over the course of one day and night. La notte culminates in an incredible series of party scenes that had me wanting to step through the screen just to bathe in the early-'60s Milanese cool, but it is at that same party that the cracks in Lidia and Giovanni's relationship become impossible for either of them to ignore. Every single performance in the film is indelible too, including the one by Antonioni's longtime muse Monica Vitti as she snares Giovanni seemingly with a single look. And of course there is a suitably ambiguous ending that will have you musing on the state of modern love for hours afterward.