Our critics weigh in on local exhibits

"Trust Me." Proving that you can't keep a good man down, or clothed, or away from controversy, "Trust Me" is a new exhibit featuring bits and pieces of the rampage that is Tony Labat's artistic career. Thirty years ago, the San Francisco Art Institute professor (then an undergraduate there) sent New Langton Arts' curators a dozen roses and a note, hoping to become one of their commissioned artists, but circumventing the usual essay/proposal route. They were charmed and gave his career a kick-start. The current exhibit is a perfect vantage point from which to gauge the value of that long-ago decision: The note said, "Trust me." The administrators did, and Labat is now an internationally shown performance and video artist, with a conceptually unfettered body of work spanning genres from painting to film, focusing largely on the absurdities and hypocrisies integral to the immigrant experience. Possibly his most notorious performance is Black Beans 'n Rice, during which he joined the audience in listening to his mother give her recipe for black beans live over the telephone from Cuba, while he stood on a canoe contending with a mirrored disco ball hanging from his nuts. The piece is incorporated into "Trust Me" with a commemorative disco decoration, poignant and funny on its own, even testicle-less. The breadth of Labat's oeuvre makes for a number of such interesting displays, including a fingernail nailed to a board and some of the infamous paintings made with his own crap. Much of the work represented here is intended to shock, yes, but the many awards and grants the artist has won are a reminder of the most basic rule of looking at art: This is all done for a reason, and it's up to you to suss it out. Trust him. Through Oct. 22 at New Langton Arts, 1246 Folsom (at Eighth Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 626-5416 or visit (Hiya Swanhuyser) Reviewed Sept. 21.

Also Showing


111 Minna Gallery. "Fecal Face Dot Com 5 1/2 Year Anniversary Show": The art Web site celebrates with a show featuring work from more than 35 site regulars. Through Sept. 30. 111 Minna (at Second St.), 974-1719,

33 Grand. "No Place Like Home": New work by Kirk Stoller and Alex Munn. Through Oct. 9. 33 Grand (at Broadway), Oakland, 510-866-9501,

Alpha Bar & Lounge. "Jerk Beefy": New paintings and drawings by Tyler Gates. Opening reception is Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. Sept. 28-Oct. 11. 3848 Geary (Third Ave.), 244-6989.

Ampersand International. "Assisted Living": A new installation by Michael Campbell and Kevin King. Through Oct. 4. 1001 Tennessee (at 20th St.), 285-0170,

Andrea Schwartz Gallery. "Recent Paintings": New work by Griff Williams. Opening reception is Aug. 31 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Through Sept. 30. 525 Second St. (at South Park), 496-2090,

Braunstein/Quay Gallery. "Cynthia Ona Innis": New paintings and drawings. Through Oct. 1. "ACCESS Program: Lynn Koble": A new video-based installation. Through Oct. 1. 430 Clementina (at Fifth St.), 278-9850,

California Institute of Integral Studies. "Pursuing the Invisible": Mixed media work by Mark Faigenbaum. Through Oct. 7. "Inner Trees": Paintings by Luis Fernando Uribe. Through Oct. 21. "Compassion: Auras and Altars": Photo work by Kathy Beal. Reception and slide presentation is Sept. 30 from 7 to 9 p.m. Through Oct. 28. 1453 Mission (at 10th St.) (Namaste Hall), 331-2076.

California Modern Gallery. "One Year Anniversary Exhibit": Group show. Through Sept. 30. 1035 Market (at Sixth St.), 716-8661.

The Canvas Cafe and Gallery. "The Art Print": New work by Brett Amory, Eric Bailey, David Ball, Shawn Barber, Kim Cogan, Ryan Malley, Mars-1, and Lee Harvey Roswell. Opening reception is Sept. 29 at 9 p.m. Sept. 29-Oct. 29. 1200 Ninth Ave. (at Lincoln), 504-0060,

City Hall. "Insights 2005": New work by legally blind artists including Lois Ann Barnett, Ida Berkowitz, Sujit Kumar Bhattacharjee, James Cadiz, Martha B. Cowden, Prosper Davies, Elizabeth Dilbeck, Pete Eckert, John Ednoff, Rosemarie Fortney, Carmelo C. Gannello, Jack Gelman, Bobbie Gray, Bruce P. Hall, Pedro Hidalgo, Bobby Hightower, Tara Arlene Innmon, Lacee King, Laura Landry, Annie Leist, Emilio Manzanares, Mari S. Newman, Pearl Palmer, Michael Richard, Barbara Romain, Ken Rossi, Keith Rosson, Velma Stiers, Takashi Tanemori, John Theiss, Alison Ulman, Elva Vergari, and Kurt Weston. Through Oct. 28. "Heroes All": Tom Graves' photographs of WWII vets. Through Oct. 28. "Free Dinner": New paintings, installations, and more by Sara Thustra. Through Oct. 14. 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Pl. (at Fulton), 554-5184.

Civic Center BART. "Art on BART": A tour with performance art, interactive photography and more, curated by Amber Hasselbring. Sat., Oct. 1, 10:26 a.m. $5.80. 1150 Market (at Eighth St.), 989-2278,

Creativity Explored. "Mindful": New work by the CE artists; curated by Alison Pebworth. Through Oct. 13. 3245 16th St. (at Dolores), 863-2108,

Dolby Chadwick Gallery. "Recent Paintings": New work by Ada Sadler. Through Sept. 30. 210 Post (at Grant) (Second Fl.), 956-3560,

Frey Norris Gallery. "New Yorkers: Portraits by Harvey Dinnerstein": Paintings, pastels, and works on paper by Harvey Dinnerstein. Through Oct. 27. 456 Geary (at Taylor), 346-7812,

Friends Meeting House. "Mark Brecke: War Photographer": Photographs from Cambodia, Rwanda, Iraq, and more. Wed., Sept. 28, 7 p.m. $5. 65 Ninth St. (at Jessie), 431-7440,

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