Fall Arts 2016: Weird

Dana Hemenway – All That Glows Sees
Saturday, Sept. 10
Eleanor Harwood Gallery,
1275 Minnesota St., Suite 206,
415-867-7770 or eleanorharwood.com

When was the last time you looked at an electric light bulb with awe and wonder? Turning it on at night is just an accepted part of your routine, like brushing your teeth. But not so for artist Dana Hemenway. Her work resides in that liminal space where, according to her artist’s statement, “utilitarian objects and materials step outside of their usual function and oscillate between their prescribed use and their new role as art.” At the gallery, you’ll find among the installations Untitled (Yellow Extension Cords, Rope) and Untitled (Cord Grid). After examining all this illumination, you’ll never look at a wall socket quite the same way again.

Chronicle of a Dream Device at Shapeshifters Cinema
Sunday, Sept. 11
Temescal Art Center, 511 48th St., Oakland, shapeshifterscinema.com

What do you get when you cross an octopus with a DJ? I don’t know, but it would totally love performing with the Octoplayer, which is a sound-and-performance sculpture that plays eight old-fashioned records at the same time. Artists Thad Povey and Mark Taylor created this oddity from a shared place: They dreamed it into reality. Presenting a few of their recent videos while the Octoplayer delivers its cacophonous and/or melodious grooves, they’ll be joined by noted musical youth Henry Plotnick on the digital ivories. The kid’s got mad keyboard skills.

An Evening of Music and Conversation with Jeff Bridges
Saturday, Sept. 17
Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, 3200 California St., 415-292-1200 or jccsf.org

He’s a little bit country, a little bit rock ‘n’ roll, and Hollywood all the way. Jeff Bridges would appreciate it, though, if his vocal stylings were compared with Dwight Yoakam’s rather than with Russell Crowe’s. Still, does acting the part of a country singer, even if you win an Oscar for it, qualify you for membership in the Grand Ole Opry? Who cares? As a civilian with a guitar, he rewards his rapturous audience with the loopiness of The Dude. Everyone loves his crazy heart.

Ludwig: Requiem for a Virgin King
Sunday, Sept. 18, 4 p.m.
BAMPFA, 2155 Center St., Berkeley,
510-642-0808 or bampfa.org

“I am the king. Whatever I like is right and proper.” So declares Ludwig II in Hans-Jürgen Syberberg’s theatrical biopic, Ludwig: Requiem for a Virgin King. He was the King of Bavaria in the late-19th century, remembered primarily for his lavish excesses and probable homosexuality. (No wife or heir!) The film looks strange: It calls attention to its own artificiality, as the backgrounds are film projections like the ones used in old Hollywood movies to indicate changing scenery for cars going nowhere on set. The acting stands somewhere between stilted and unnatural. The director commits to a pure and listless melodrama, as if he’s staged an opera with a cast of depressives. For over two consumptive hours, the end effect disconcerts as much as it dislocates the viewer. Surely Rainer Werner Fassbinder was a fan.

Schick Machine
Friday-Sunday, Sept. 23-25
Z Space, 450 Florida St., 415-626-0453 or zspace.org

Do not entertain the idea of going anywhere near these performances with even the last traces of a hangover. You have been warned. One way to describe Steven Schick is that he delivers a Thinking Man’s version of STOMP. He wears black gloves on stage to protect his hands. They look like a pair of mittens an animal might wear. In fact, his movements on stage are ferrety and badger-like — but his cranium is clearly in charge, bobbing this way and that, set in some kind of predetermined course to press, bop, or slam the correct (if off-kilter) note. The instruments are invented or deconstructed with names like the Tumbler and the Hurdy Grande. Between “songs,” expect some Joaquin Phoenix-in-Her philosophizing as Schick engages with an unseen female narrator. She must be another part of the machine.

Art Silicon Valley/San Francisco
Thursday-Sunday, Oct. 6-9
San Mateo County Event Center, Expo Hall, 1346 Saratoga Drive, San Mateo, artsvfair.com

Nothing in the Bay Area seems more relevant to our Moment in Tech Sunshine than Art SV/SF 2016, the West Coast edition of Art Miami’s International Contemporary and Modern Art Fair. Come to the fair to enjoy “innovative cultural programming.” One can only hope that last year’s lecture on “Protecting the Value of a Collection” will make a return appearance. Or better yet, “The California Art Market Today”! Since you’ve mastered the real estate market here — making rent is certainly not a worry — it’s time to direct your surplus cash flow to the capital “A” version of art. And please don’t worry about arriving at the gala opening on time. (Platinum VIP Preview begins at 6 p.m.; VIP Preview at 7:30 p.m.). “I’m steppin’ out, my dear / To breathe an atmosphere / That simply reeks with class.”

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