With a characteristic lack of sentimentality, the artists and curators at Creativity Explored, the visual arts center devoted to adults with developmental disabilities, named their current exhibit "Don't Call Me Retard." While much of the rest of the world lags ignorantly behind, bemoaning the horrible fate of having to be what silly people call "politically correct," the members of CE just keep making good art. Case in point: Jesus and the miracle pills birthday cake, a piece by Camille Holvoet, which manages to be unsettling, mysterious, and cheery. Is it about medication? Is it devotional art? Or does the importance of the drawing rest solely in the creator's brilliant vision of having five different colors of frosting on one cake? Any way you cut it, the image is packed with big questions.
One of the other exhibiting artists is critical darling Michael Bernard Loggins, whose book Fears of Your Life has made him, if not famous, at least featured in films by the brilliantly out-there Miranda July and curators Francis Kohler and Todd Herman. Loggins' book is a handwritten list of things that frighten him; an oft-quoted favorite is "#85 Fear that if you put too much toilet paper in the toilet bowl it will run over and get all over the floor and on you and on someone else too, it would leak from upstairs to the next floor below."
The opening reception for "Retard" begins at 5:30 p.m. (the show continues through Oct. 13) in the Main Library's Jewett Gallery, 100 Larkin (at Grove), S.F. Admission is free; call 557-4277 or visit www.creativityexplored.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
We Pledge Allegiance
A glimpse of the American flag can bring on a surge of national pride -- or disgust. Does our banner stand for justice, or are red, white, and blue just the gang colors of a global bully? Artists debate at "Unfurl," an exhibition of nontraditional flags that criticize the republic for which they stand. Coolest is Shannon Spanhake's Transformation, which replaces our flag's starry quadrant with containers of blue chemicals filled with white microorganisms, whose fight to survive and thrive symbolizes our country's conquest fetish. Stand up and salute at today's opening reception (or catch outdoor displays through Sept. 17) at 6 p.m. at Pond, 324 14th St. (at Valencia), S.F. Admission is free; call 437-9151 or visit www.mucketymuck.org.
-- Joyce Slaton
Care Not Fear
As the controversial "Care Not Cash" program and other Draconian-sounding measures go into effect, thinking people are trying to figure out the realities of life on the streets. No matter what your state of shelter is, the Sound Shack seems like a good place to educate yourself about homelessness in a creative, fun environment. The interactive cardboard structure holds recording devices, musical instruments, murals, time lines, and information about basic survival, and provides a space for attendees to ask and answer questions of one another in a context beyond the normal spare-change negotiations.
An art sale complements the Shack, and everyone is encouraged to bring clean socks and underwear to donate at 3 p.m. on Friday at Dog Eared Books, 900 Valencia (at 20th Street), S.F. (The art sale continues Saturday at 3 p.m. at Adobe Book Shop, 3166 16th St. at Valencia, S.F.) Admission is free; call (510) 271-8356 or visit www.liziz.com/homelessproject.html.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
Viewers beware: Robert Greenwald's critique of Fox News, the documentary Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism, is built around clips from the world's loudest cable network, with its thumb-in-the-eye imagery and contorted, perpetually angry anchors. Granted, concerned liberal talking heads and fuzzy DIY computer graphics provide some visual relief, but most of the time you're staring at Sean Hannity, schoolyard bully, and Bill O'Reilly, falsely hearty, towel-snapping, taunting gym coach. Can you take it?
As a media critique, Outfoxed lacks historical context (Who is Rupert Murdoch, and what are his motives?) and, of course, any semblance of "fairness" or "balance." But it's good on the network's distortions and endless stoking of fear. Perhaps that explains the unnerving ugliness. Screenings take place daily at 6:15, 8, and 9:45 p.m., with Wednesday matinees at 1, 2:45, and 4:30, at the Roxie Cinema, 3117 16th St. (at Valencia), S.F. Admission is $4-8; call 863-1087 or visit www.roxie.com.
-- Gregg Rickman
Bruce Conner's art is usually described as "landmark" or "influential." He got his start in North Beach in the 1950s, and ever since, his work in photography, assemblage, drawing, painting, and other media has been curator catnip. But his short films in particular were the prototype for a then-new form: the choppy, referential style of the music video. "The Films of Bruce Conner" features the man himself in conversation with writer Anthony Reveaux, plus screenings of A Movie, The White Rose, Valse Triste, and more. The film buffing begins at 7 p.m. in SFMOMA's Wattis Theater, 151 Third St. (between Mission and Howard), S.F. Admission is $8-12; call 357-4027 or visit www.sfmoma.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser