San Francisco State University MFA Graduate Exhibition
Even officials at rival art schools concede that San Francisco State has the most vital art program in the Bay Area. Eight graduating students show off this MVP (Most Valuable Program) status in this refreshing and diverse MFA show. Christine Hirsch's What Is the Voice and Who Hears It? is a mail-art piece based on a survey -- about religion, childhood memories, what they thought about the local industry -- Hirsch made of family members in her hometown of Cleveland. The answers are mounted next to photos of industrial images Hirsch took and photo-lithographed onto steel plates. Shows Monday through Saturday noon to 4 p.m. (through May 20) at the Art Department Gallery, Arts and Industry Building, 1600 Holloway, SFSU campus. Admission is free; call 338-6535.
Stanford MFA Exhibition
Geoff Tuttle, one of five graduation MFA candidates, rebuilds the heavens in this audio-video installation called Gemini. Everything's in twos -- the title refers to both the early '60s Gemini space program and the astrological sign. Half of the room is occupied by two upside-down chairs spinning from an electronic copper disc in the ceiling. This contraption is miked and videotaped for a monitor that sits on a silver desk on the other side of the room. In this mediated form, the chairs appear to be upright; on headphones the sound of the contraption is split up to spin in your head. The piece resolves the rift in the Gemini's personality: the assertive side that participates in experience exists alongside the reserved one that prefers experiencing from afar. Shows Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. (through June 14) at the Stanford University Art Gallery, 419 Lasuen Mall (at Serra), Palo Alto. Admission is free; call (650) 723-3788.
San Francisco Art Institute's
MFA Graduate Exhibition
I haven't seen any of the work in this year's San Francisco Art Institute graduate exhibition; merely looking at slides before the show itself, the school's publicist told me haughtily, could not convey the conceptual, avant-garde, very experimental, very groundbreaking, and really-on-the-edge-of-invention nature of the work. That's scarcely a recommendation, but one shouldn't hold the sins of the publicist against the actual artists; remember that the great assortment and sheer size of the program guarantees a handful of outstanding exhibits. The panorama of genres (painting, installation, film, video, sculpture, printmaking, and drawing) and gawkers (typically more than 1,000 of the artsy-fartsy show up for the opening) makes this the event of the week to hit. Opens Saturday, May 16 at noon; shows through May 24 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily at the Herbst Pavilion, Fort Mason Center, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is free; call 749-4545.
California College of Arts and Crafts MFA Exhibitions
I saw only last week's impressive edition of CCAC's MFA exhibition; this week's is different, but it's probably well worth the price of a BART ride. The highlight of last week was Saima Mussani's untitled work, a set of small magnifying glasses hanging from the ceiling. Marvelously, the lenses capture movement in the room and cast faint and subtle reflections onto the wall -- recording, in real time, the ins and outs of visitors to the space. Shows Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday noon to 4 p.m. (through May 16) at the Oliver Art Center, 5212 Broadway, Oakland. Admission is free; call (510) 653-8118.