Some say San Francisco is the Lost in Space of the Art World, with minimalist, post-structuralist, realist, installation, new genre, and interactive forms all bumping up against and whirling around each other. Artist statements rattle off phrases like "lost origins," "spatial refraction," "consumerist ideologies," and the "implications of erotic overtones." Even with an art history degree it's hard to contextualize the mishmash. Fret no more. Self-taught German artist Tilo Schulz used to suffer from the same state of art perplexity. At age 17, with no training and little exposure to traditional forms of art, Schulz started making paintings and objects. Within a couple of years he discovered that work like his had already been made -- in abundance. He conceived of a new art form -- one that used other artists' work as a frame for his own conceptual pieces. (He's worked with the likes of Martin Kippenberger and Fischli/Weiss.) Schulz's role as an artist is to act as a sort of facilitator, designing postcards and posters, placing advertisements, writing articles and catalogs, and arranging lecture series around the exhibitions to make them more digestible to a general public. His pieces both work as real-world functional objects and stand apart as conceptual items on their own.
Schulz's new Refusalon show has three parts: The first is a wall of posters announcing the show itself. The second are "word sculptures"; he builds letters, then words, then stacks the words. Most interesting is the third portion of the show, nothing more than a series of shelves. Other artists have been invited to fill them with books relating to the subject at hand. 20 Hawthorne (at Howard). "Tilo Schulz: The Body of Work -- The Ideal Show" is up through May 2. A reception for the artist will be held March 12 from 7 to 9 p.m. Call 546-0158.
Calling all cars! Ultrabrainy multimedia artist Stephen Wilson pokes fun at some pretty serious issues in his upcoming installation "Crimezyland" at the S.F. Art Commission's City Site location. Toy police cars spin, flags flip, lights flash, and sirens sound on a living map of San Francisco's neighborhoods. And it's all triggered by real-time police statistics. Wilson has constructed this virtual city to twit inflated media attention to street crime and corresponding inattention to more insidious offenses like bay pollution and white-collar crime. But wait, it doesn't stop there! The project's virtual counterpart -- http://userwww.sfsu.edu/~netart/crimezy/crimemain.html -- gives folks "cocooning" at home a chance to view the site and participate in a portion of the activities via a Web camera and recording devices. Exploration: City Site, 155 Grove, across from City Hall. "Crimezyland" opens on Friday, March 6, from 4 to 6 p.m. and continues on, 24 hours daily, through July 5. Call 554-6080.
Photographer Robert Dawson, in collaboration with historian Gray Brechin, shows his new work "Farewell Promised Land: How Paradise Lost" beginning March 5 at S.F. Camerawork. Brechin's text accompanies Dawson's photographs in a devastating account of almost 100 years of irresponsible farming in California's Central Valley. The piece shows how damming and draining projects have come at huge costs to both the citizenry's pocketbooks and health, and the well-being of the wildlife, water, and land of these regions. Dawson's gelatin silver and color prints -- pieces like Cracked Mud and Vineyard, near Arvin, California and Acid Fog, Merced -- are aesthetically rich and textured; unified with Brechin's text they shatter the image of unceasing bounty and success that we associate with California: The huge chunks of dried soil thirsting for water in these photographs won't produce plenty for much longer; the stunning fog that rolls into valleys on little cat's feet also has the ability to absorb pesticides and transport them miles away. 115 Natoma (at Second Street). The opening reception is Friday, March 6, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. The show continues through April 25. Call 764-1001.