Lacking the back-stabbing arrogance of New York or the unrelenting cynicism of Los Angeles, San Francisco has long been a magnet for the sensitive artiste. But with sky-high rents and a dearth of affordable work spaces, where's a wannabe Warhol supposed to create -- much less display -- his art?
Luckily, ArtSF has taken up this noble cause, hosting a string of benefit shows geared toward funding a community art center to serve artists across all disciplines, from fashion designers and photographers to dancers and filmmakers. As ArtSF Space Manager K2 explained in a recent phone interview, "We want to create an affordable place where people can create and showcase their work with no fear or judgment of what constitutes 'real' art."
Until it raises the estimated $1 million to make this vision a reality, the all-volunteer organization holds court in its current Mission digs, where it's throwing "Happy," a blowout party complete with fashion show. The hourlong clothing extravaganza features local glamour pusses strutting down the runway in garb designed by indie fashionistas Pickle, Dominiwear, and D.O.R.K.S. United, amongst others. The night's festivities also include an art show with work by more than 100 artists, including Lee Harvey Roswell's surrealistic paintings, Chupa Cabras' corpselike sculptures, and K2's graffiti art, as well as Egyptian-style belly dancing, punk band the Clones, and the "Stubs and Daggers" poetry booth, an attraction in which two lovely ladies create a custom poem on the spot for customers who provide a bit of background information. The event starts at 7 p.m. at ArtSF, 110 Capp (at 16th Street), Fifth Floor, S.F. Admission is $5; call 552-7873 or visit www.artsf.org.
-- Jane Tunks
Student Film to the Rescue
SAT-SUN 1/22-23 Anyone a little disappointed with recent events in the San Francisco film programming world would do well to see what the kids are up to these days. For two weekends, student curators present the San Francisco Art Institute International Film & Video Festival. The school's Web site assures us that the lineup is "a showcase for bold and challenging work," which is refreshing in the face of so-called "family-friendly" stuff elsewhere. Encompassing four thematically cohesive programs, the festival begins with "Sculpting Time & Light: Contemporary Approaches to the Moving Image." Screenings start at 8 p.m. both nights (also Jan. 29 and 30) at SFAI's Russian Hill campus, 800 Chestnut (at Jones), S.F. Admission is $5-20; call 749-4558 or visit www.sfai.edu.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
Girls Will Be Boys
Remember when the word gay covered a whole spectrum of folks who didnt quite fit into the straight world? No longer. Now there are a plethora of highly specialized labels for those in the know and the people who love them: gender queers, bois, boydykes, pansexuals, heteroflexibles, and the like. Tune in to the new scene at the cabaret/erotic film night for women and transgendered artists Sizzle, which this month features a live performance from revered drag king Rusty Hips, spoken word from folk-rocker Storm Florez, readings from the anthology of female-to-male tales From the Inside Out: Radical Gender Transformation, FTM and Beyond, and a screening of Morty Diamonds racy Trannyfags, an adult flick starring a cast of frolicking transmen. It all starts at 8 p.m. at Femina Potens, 465 South Van Ness (at 16th Street), S.F. Admission is $3-5; call 217-9340 or visit www.feminapotens.com.
Tipple while you browse at the Academy of Sciences
Assuming you're not racing home to watch The Daily Show With Jon Stewart or to take your pup to the park before his bladder explodes, your post-work plans have likely fallen into a comfy yet stale pattern: You meet friends for dinner, head to the gym, poke around a couple of Haight Street shoe stores. Stir things up this week with the first installment of "Third Thursdays at the California Academy of Sciences," an after-hours party with drinks and live music amid neat-o nature exhibits. Wouldn't your Tanqueray and tonic taste better if drunk while you gaze upon a giant aquarium full of brilliant tropical fish? Doesn't a display of adorably waddling penguins go well with Brazilian jazz (courtesy of Boca do Rio)? Join the groovy cocktail klatch at 5 p.m. at the Academy, 875 Howard (at Fifth Street), S.F. Admission is $5; call 321-8000 or visit www.calacademy.org.
-- Joyce Slaton
The organizers of the Tape Music Festival call it "cinema for the ear." What does that mean, exactly? "Well, the sound is diffused into 16 speakers, as opposed to stereo. With stereo, you hear different sounds coming from two speakers. Imagine that times 16." That's how composer Merlin Coleman describes the setup for her new audio work Fern, which gets its premiere this weekend. She's not alone: The festival also includes pieces by Morton Feldman, György Ligeti, and Frank Zappa. "It's a spatialization of sound," Coleman says. Listen up nightly at 8 at the ODC Theater, 3153 17th St. (at Shotwell), S.F. Admission is $12-35; call 863-9834 or visit www.odctheater.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser