Yes, But Is It Art? Nearly two weeks ago, 60 Minutes made the startling discovery that there's some bad modern art out there; between assertions that modern art isn't like classical art and that modern art makes people go ballistic, good modern art went entirely unmentioned. Viewers can only hope for a smarter approach when the Vector Theater Company, a collaboration of local theater veterans like Wilma Bonet and Gerald Hiken, stages Tina Howe's Museum, a loving parody of the contemporary art scene. The Village Voice and the New York Times, which have each seen modern art debated at length in their pages, lauded the way Museum reframes the discussion among students, guards, critics, art lovers, vandals, and French people attending the last day of a controversial exhibit at a modern art museum. The show previews at 8 p.m. (and runs through Nov. 15) at the 450 Geary Studio Theater, 450 Geary (at Mason), S.F. Admission is $20; call 421-2882.
Are We Having Fun Yet? Bill Griffith's enigmatic, epigrammatic Zippy the Pinhead makes perfect sense after viewing John O'Hagan's documentary Wonderland, which played this year's S.F. International Film Festival. Wonderland is about Levittown, N.Y., America's first postwar suburb and Griffith's hometown. "It was like we were all acting in a TV sitcom," Griffith says in the film, describing the subversive weirdness that pervaded the "planned community," and that's what Zippy is like, too, with its off-kilter use of vivid color, cheerful sloganeering, and frequent commercial and pop-culture references. More than 100 of Griffith's pen-and-ink and color drawings will hang at "Zippy and Beyond: A Pinhead's Progress -- The Bill Griffith Retrospective," which includes work from Young Lust, National Lampoon, High Times, and The New Yorker, alongside stories and cover art and a sneak preview of character studies for an animated Zippy TV series now in development. The exhibit opens at 11 a.m. (and is up through Feb. 22, 1998) at the Cartoon Art Museum, 814 Mission (at Fourth Street), S.F. Admission is free-$4; call CAR-TOON.
Love Hurts As the Back Stabbing Machine makes clear at the interactive robot spectacle Violent Machines Perform Acts of Love, you never know when romance will sneak up on you. Art-tech collective Seemen will unveil this scary little number as well as the Kissing/Headbutting Couple, the Fucking Farmhands, and the Buttfucking Couple, plus contraptions geared more toward singles, like the Suicide Chair, the Beer Bottle Thrower, and the Robotic Pit Bulls. Seemen founder Kal Spelletich will be guiding viewers from machine to machine, giving people the chance to explore each one and reflect on their own love lives, and likewise giving each machine the chance to damage viewers, psychologically and otherwise. The show starts at 10 p.m. (and continues through Oct. 25) at the Lab, 2948 16th St. (at Capp), S.F. Admission is $7-10; call 864-8855.
Child's Play There's an old knock-knock joke that pertains to Les Enfants Terribles: Children of the Game, and it goes like this: Knock, knock/ Who's there?/ Knock, knock/ Who's there?/ Knock, knock/ Who's there?/ Knock, knock/ Who's there?/ Knock, knock/ Who's there?/ Knock, knock/ Who's there? Philip Glass. Said composer, whose distinctive and challenging work includes the epic opera Einstein on the Beach and the scores for Powaqqatsi and Koyaanisqatsi, has collaborated with choreographer Susan Marshall on a dance-opera version of French poet Jean Cocteau's 1929 novel Les Enfants Terribles, an ever-so-surreal tale of teen-age siblings whose imaginary world eclipses their perception of the real one. The two live and one late collaborators are accustomed to innovative interdisciplinary work; dancegoers will recall Marshall's theatrical, acrobatic piece The Kiss, wherein she suspended a pair of lovers in harnesses hung from the ceiling, while this is Cocteau's second fling with the dance world; the first was his story for the 1917 ballet Parade. The show begins at 8 p.m. (also Saturday), preceded by a discussion with Glass at 7 p.m. (tonight only), at Zellerbach Hall, Bancroft & Telegraph, UC Berkeley campus. Admission is $22-40; call (510) 642-9988.
Mug Shot Brace yourself for photos like the one of Ruth Snyder being electrocuted in 1928 (in a dress, no less), in "Police Pictures: The Photograph as Evidence," a group show that is as gruesome as it is fascinating. In documentary style similar to that of past SFMOMA exhibits "Crossing the Frontier: Photographs of the Developing West 1849 to the Present" and "Dorothea Lange: American Photographs," this exhibit attempts to place in historical context the use of photography and art in criminal cases, with shots by several well-known photographers like Jacob Riis and Weegee, along with work by law enforcement officers and unidentified artists. There are mug shots and wanted posters, crime scene and surveillance camera photography, drawn from state and federal archives, prison records, libraries, and private collections. Amid the colorful array of petty criminals, gangsters, and corpses, there are some startling bits of information, such as the 19th-century theory that a person's facial features reveal his character. "Police Pictures" opens at 11 a.m. at SFMOMA, 151 Third St. (at Mission), S.F. Admission is free-$7.50; call 357-4000.
Keeping You Abreast You'll have to hunt for the 4-foot-wide, helium-filled latex breasts amid the throng of photographers at the National Breast Cancer Bra Tapestry event, but they'll be there, hovering above the crowd, draped with a tapestry of bras that spectators will have donated and tied onto the tapestry themselves in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Conceptual artist Nicolino launches his Bras Across the Grand Canyon project with this event, which is intended to draw attention to the thousands of American women who die from breast cancer every year. The day, which will also feature breast self-examination information and a demonstration on how to take off a bra without disrobing, begins at 10 a.m. (at 3 p.m. the launching of the breasts will occur) in Justin Herman Plaza, Market & Embarcadero, S.F. Admission is free; call (510) 237-3939. And while you're at the waterfront, check out I'm San Francisco's Main Squeeze, an accordion contest featuring 10 bands and beginning at 11 a.m. (also Sunday) at the Anchorage, Fisherman's Wharf, S.F. Admission is free; call 775-6000.