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Gallery Opening: IlluminOpArt

Thursday I attended an art opening at a gallery called 20 GOTO 10. I learned of the show as I learn of many parties these days–through a friend on Facebook. Most such parties I learn of through one particular friend and it lends me to wonder if she spends her time searching for events on Facebook. (I tried this recently, but the interface is poor.) My working hypothesis is that she networks with a lot of the hipster Web 2.0 crowd and she thereby gets invited to events posted to Facebook. She probably gets more invites than your average Internet groupie because she is a “total babe” but whatever the deal she has lately been responsible for a fair proportion of my going-out / nightlife in San Francisco.

Anyway, yesterday I hit a gallery opening after work because the art in question was technological in nature and because art openings are a good way to score free snacks and wine. I showed up at the start time of 7PM because I didn’t want to romp around so late and because I figured it would be less crowded and possibly more delicious at the early end of the evening.

They needed more time to finish setting up. (In San Francisco everything happens late–it is a cultural thing.) I waited on the sidewalk with a middle-aged Asian man named Mike. He had a scruffy goatee with several meandering strands of beard, many of them white. He said he had recently moved from Bayview which has bad air that irritated his skin and bad neighbors, to the Mission, which suits him better in many ways. The hallmark of a true San Franciscan, he at one point mentioned his cultivation of avocados in Bayview. He said he is an educational technologist. One thing he did was design a widget for the old 8-bit Nintendo that slotted in between the system and the cartridge, and would show you and let you fiddle with the various registers and whatnot so that a curious kid could explore how fiddling with these things affected playing the game. I thought that sounded like an awesome fun thing that would help open the understanding of technology as something we can control to the people for which such appreciation is most important. He seemed proud, but explained that the project never really got anywhere.

There was plenty more time to wait and I think Mike really needed to talk because he continued through stories of himself–geek friends inviting themselves over to his workshop to use his lathe, for example. He said now that he had divested his life of such things as the workshop that he didn’t get visitors so often. He did not tell this story as an appeal to pity but as a simple matter of fact.

“It should be, ‘Hey Mike, I’ll bring a pizza over tonight and then maybe I can use your lathe.'”

“No, they never brought food.”

“Well,” I offered, “geeks do tend to lack in social graces.”

Another story he told was of his efforts to touch up a mural. He strategized things out in Photoshop then, frustrated that the muralist was busy, he went and fixed things himself. “Because I had to look at it every day.” He said that his efforts had been recognized as an excellent job, and that this had softened the attitudes of his neighbors towards him.

He asked if I knew of ephemeral art. I know of Mandelas made of sand and then cast into the wind. He said a large one had been assembled outside of the De Young Museum and while it lasted he took his own steps to preserve the thing — a series of photographs stitched together into a very large image. He wanted to build a tilt-shift lens, and I was pleased that I could ask a question along the lines of “it somehow shifts the lens to get a consistent focus across the depth of field?”

The show opened, and Mike took an SLR digital camera from his bag. It sported a home-made fish-eye lens and he explained that this took round pictures which he wanted. Lenses on the market distorted such optics back to a rectilinear format, which is not what he wanted. He seemed dubious of his ability, however, to fashion a tilt-shift lens.

A crowd of us entered the tiny gallery — fascinating paintings of various repeated geometrical shapes that were set into motion with changing colored lights. Fascinating and wonderful. I squeezed carefully to the back and grabbed a plastic cup of wine and a handful of what I suspect are actually gourmet dog treats. I squeezed my way back through the gallery, really digging the art work, especially two of the more complex works that did a lot of subtle color mixing within layers of geometric shapes — one was quartets of circles within ever larger quartets of circles, and another was circles within faces of stacked cubes.

I finished my nosh and since space was so tight I stowed the empty plastic wine cup in my bag, made my way out the door, where a line of people had formed, and headed home.

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Categories: Featured, News and Reaction, Sundry, Testimonials

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