It's "First Thursday" time again. This particular installation of the monthly gang-gallery-opening won't be as populous as some, due to the draining off of creative people bound for Burning Man. But it's a chance to take the whole thing a little more slowly, and this has an appeal all its own. Thinner crowds, fewer cawing schmoozers, and more room to actually see the art -- sounds like a treat. Naturally, fewer openings are offered this time around; no doubt, plenty of curators and gallery owners, as well as art appreciators, have fled to Black Rock City. But something caught my eye: Hang Art and Hang Art Annex are presenting new work (as usual), and as usual, it looks interesting.
Hang habitually puts up a solo show in the gallery and a group show in the annex each month; the two spaces are located across Sutter from one another, so attendees can saunter back and forth between them. The atmosphere is calm but not staid, and the artists tend to be young but not what you'd call wild. The experience seems like the perfect basic training to see art: If you don't like it, you know why; if it's too boring, you can head over to the Mission District; and if you crave more famous names, check out the Geary Street honeycombs. But there's a lot to like.
This month, Bryan Ida's show "City or Nature: Reverence and Esteem" features his meticulously layered semiabstract paintings, while across the street, "Laugh Out Loud" has work by David Fullarton, Josh Keyes, David Lippenberger, Mark Soderstrom, and DAVe Warnke. The dual opening receptions start at 6 p.m. at Hang, 556 and 567 Sutter (at Mason), S.F. Admission is free; call 434-4264 or visit www.hangart.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
Like many great American policy changers, Harry Bridges wasn't American. Born in Australia, the thick-skinned longshoreman spent 21 years dodging threats of deportation while determinedly spearheading a labor movement for West Coast dockworkers to gain decent working conditions. If you're curious about learning more, save some gas this Labor Day weekend and stay in town for the screening of Haskell Wexler's new movie, From Wharf Rats to Lords of the Docks, a filmed version of a one-man theatrical play based on the life of Bridges. The movie, starring Ian Ruskin, begins at 7 p.m. at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, 3301 Lyon (at Bay), S.F. Admission is $10-100; call 392-4400 or visit www.palaceoffinearts.org.
-- Karen Macklin
Three to get ready
Sounding like a 14-year-old girl who found an unfinished Spandau Ballet track and dubbed in her own vocals over the no-holds-barred 1980s synth, New England Roses say, "We're diggin' on you!" Featuring Sarah Shapiro, JD Samson of Le Tigre, and Brendan Fowler of BARR, this lo-fi supergroup is smelling pretty sweet. Bringing the faux beat and the real love from their far-flung (New York, Portland, and L.A.) hometowns, the musicians have been working on an album, Face Time With Son, for three years, and haven't played "out" very much yet; the current few California dates are "just to get the 'playing shows' part of the life of us rolling," according to the group's MySpace page. KIT, Still Flyin', and Paradise Island open at 10 p.m. at the Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St. (at Missouri), S.F. Admission is $8; call 621-4455 or visit www.bottomofthehill.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
"Mom, it's an art site!"
The first time I heard the words "Fecal Face dot com," they were whispered to me -- there were people about -- and I assumed that the whisperer, whom I had just met, was recommending a porn site. It took a minute of back-and-forth before she convinced me that a) it was an art site, and b) the art therein contained no fecal bits, unless artistically deployed.
Fashioned by John Trippe, a "dude's dude" who enjoys photographing "stupid clouds," as he says on the site, Fecal Face attracts hordes looking for underground art news, show information, and user-contributed art. Celebrate the scene at the "Fecal Face Dot Com 5 1/2 Year Anniversary Show," featuring work from more than 35 site regulars, starting at 5 p.m. Thursday at the 111 Minna Gallery, 111 Minna (at Second Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 974-1719 or visit www.fecalface.com.
-- Michael Leaverton
Juan Maclean Gets Daft
The sound is pure robot rock -- "Tito's Way" recalls Talking Heads crammed through a software program -- but for Less Than Human, the Juan Maclean sampled only drums (and only from Juan's previous band, Six Finger Satellite), using live instruments otherwise. "I might spend months and months on one track," Maclean says on his Web site. "A lot of things that sound like samples are actually me playing." The result is an unexpected array of old styles, a commingling of Lipps, Inc., Kraftwerk, and a persistent but lovely cowbell. Shiny Toy Guns open at 9 p.m. at Slim's, 333 11th St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $13-15; call 522-0333 or visit www.slims-sf.com.
-- Michael Leaverton