Museums Wednesdays-Sundays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through Dec. 22
The oil paintings of Los Angeles artist Linda Stark take her months, or even years, to create. Her piece “White Weave,” for example, required a process of repeatedly dripping thick stripes of off-white oil paint onto a canvas. Each separate layer took weeks to dry before the next could be applied. The product is a textural statement, a weaving of paint that reflects the painstaking nature of women’s handiwork. Like most of her pieces, it transcends the two dimensionality of the painting process, forming a sculptural subtly that is affecting in its soft indentations and outward bubbling. The same supple semblance appears in “Brand,” a portrait of a naval in which paint is built up to portray the protrusions of the skin where they wrinkle around the awkward dip. Around the eye-like focal point is a red outline of a flower that looks as if it has been seared into the skin of the painting, with pink irritation surrounding it. Now on view at BAM/PFA in Linda Stark / MATRIX 250, Stark’s pieces are poignant and important meditations on the pains of being a woman.
In Yang Fudong’s 2005 short film The Half Hitching Post, two suit-clad men ascend a sinuous mountain road headed for an isolated village. Meanwhile, a young couple attempts to escape that same village. As the duos each travel their whimsically enmeshed paths, we see them lost amid an entanglement of mountainous curvature that is both eerily unfamiliar and sublimely beautiful. The film is part of Multiple Encounters, an exhibit currently on view at BAM/PFA (2575 Bancroft Way, Berkeley) that puts it in direct conversation with historical 16th-century Chinese ink paintings. The show is complementary to the museum’s spectacular mid-career survey of Yang’s work, entitled Estranged Paradise, which runs through December 8. But while the primary exhibit focuses on Yang as a seminal contemporary Chinese filmmaker, Multiple Encounters takes a more conceptual standpoint, urging viewers to consider him as one name in a long history of Chinese artists. Paintings like Wen Zhengming’s “Landscape with Figures,” which portrays travelers in an unruly mountainous terrain through delicate and languid brushstrokes, tie Yang’s piece to a thought-provoking aesthetic ancestry. In doing so, the exhibit prompts discussion of the ways in which our cultural relationships to both natural landscape and artistic medium have in some ways shifted drastically, and in others remain nearly the same.
The Bay Area’s most defining weather phenomenon gets a close examination in the Oakland Museum of California’s (1000 Oak St.) new video exhibition, A Cinematic Study of Fog in San Francisco. Created by filmmaker Sam Green and cinematographer Andy Black (of The Weather Underground fame), the ten-minute video explores how we romanticize the wind, air, and water systems. It includes interviews with fog novices, like tourists whose views of the Golden Gate Bridge are obscured, as well as experts like meteorologist Jan Null who explains what fog is. While watching dramatic shots of the climate sensation rolling in over the hills, viewers can let the filmmakers envelop you in its misty haze.