When the ancient Polynesians invented surfing, they often used a paddle to help them navigate. Fast-forward a few millennia, and Stand-Up Paddleboarding, or SUP, finds itself trendy again. Part of its increasing popularity is that standing upright allows surfers to spot waves more easily and thus catch more of them, multiplying the fun factor. Paddling back to the wave becomes less of a strain as well. The ability to cruise along on flat inland water, surveying the sights, is another advantage. Finally, its a good core workout. If youre sold on the idea, schedule an intro SUP lesson, free with board and paddle rental, and you may find yourself riding the waves like a Polynesian king.More
Llewelynn Fletcher's immersive sculptures beguile the senses. Sasha Petrenko's site-specific installations and performances strive to capture a dynamic, living planet. Austin Thomas hides heady themes in seemingly austere drawings, photos, and sculptures. She also cobbles together site-specific social spaces which she calls "perches," but which are obviously kick-ass treehouses, minus the trees. These and other artists are contributing super-sized works for "Just Passing Through: Sculptures and Installations" at the University of San Francisco's Rooftop Sculpture Terrace. "Just Passing Through" promises to challenge notions about how we inhabit or pass through space, or at least provide a lovely respite in a busy city.
"Just Passing Through: Sculptures and Installations" is open to the public 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and runs through Dec. 11 at Kalmanovitz Hall, University of San Francisco, 2130 Fulton St., S.F. Free; 422-5178 or usfca.edu. More
Mondays-Fridays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through Dec. 11
Weird little marvels are the works of Ron Nagle, the ceramicist whose work has helped prove that a sculptor who works in clay can be a serious presence in the art world. Nagle has been making vessels and intimate-sized sculptures since the 1960s, when he was associated with the norm-busting California ceramics movement and studied with one of its prime forces, fellow abstract-expressionist Peter Voulkos. A species of one, Nagle has continued to create compelling and painstakingly crafted pieces that are elegant yet unsettling. His sculptures contain puckered surfaces, unusual textural juxtapositions, amorphous shapes, and a surreal look. His cups, some of which have been overglazed and repeatedly fired, appear to have come from a tea party on Mars. With diverse influeneces, including ceramicist Ken Price, abstractionist Cy Twombly, still-life painter Giorgio Morandi, and California cool-car culture, Nagle is a distinctive artist and a San Francisco spirit. To learn more, come hear his lecture at the San Francisco Art Institute — his first appearance there since his 1978 Adaline Kent Award exhibition.More
199 Valencia St., 415-255-7505
As beloved dive bars shutter their doors (RIP Pop’s) and new, shiny condominiums spring up all over the Mission District, there is one place left that defies the tech empire’s new, unsullied landscape of luxury: Zeitgeist.
Some 23 years in the making, Ellen Kurass first film as a director is a portrait of Laotian refugee Thavisouk Phrasavath. The Betrayal (Nerakhoon) is also a haunting flashback to the lush green and fiery orange phantasmagoria of wartime Indochina. The son of a Laotian army officer, and a baby when the first U.S. advisors arrived in neighboring South Vietnam, Phrasavath grew up in the zone. He escaped Laos by himself at 12, swimming across the Mekong to Thailand and living for two years on the streets until his mother and siblings joined him. Long one of the independent film movements leading cinematographers, Kuras had yet to shoot anything when she discovered Phrasavath and his family living in a Brooklyn housing project and embarked upon their epic collaboration. Although she documented Phrasavaths life for over two decades, Kuras seems particularly fascinated by things that could not be filmed directly. The Betrayal eschews straightforward chronology, incorporating photographs of colonial Laos, TV footage of JFK, newsreels of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, bombs falling, towns burning, and clips from a Pathet Lao propaganda movie. The mode is free-associative, but the movies blunt accusatory title fits multiple periods of its subjects life. The Betrayal is refined, even delicate, filmmaking. Subtly off-speed and suffused with late-afternoon light, the movie weaves through time. Which is the dream, America or Laos? Impressionistic and lyrical, as well as somber and gripping, The Betrayal conveys a ceaseless flow. Its as if the filmmaker has opened a window onto a parallel world traveling beside our own.
Feb. 27-March 5, 2009