Running into a friend outside the 49 Geary building during First Thursday, we felt compelled to utter a stupidity: "Diane Arbus is a genius." Our friend, Traci Vogel, is SF Weekly's art writer -- of all people to make an obvious remark to, we had chosen poorly. Vogel is well aware that one of the United States' most famous photographers is talented. But we plead insanity: At "Christ in a Lobby and Other Unknown or Almost Known Works," standing face-to-face with actual prints -- made by Arbus herself -- can really make you feel like Hunter S. Thompson. Which is good, but crazy. Her androgynous teenagers, fuddled nudists, and those perfect little old weird ladies -- their compositions have gravitational power, and can cause head fog. The star of the show is an unfamiliar photo of a familiar subject: The beehive mom, alone in a room with the baby, sans sad husband and contorted seven-year-old, has the exact same operatic-tragedian look on her face as she does in the iconic "Woman With a Beehive Hairdo."
Jan. 7-March 6, 2010