Bay Area Now 4
Alison Bing, special to SF Gate
July, 2005

A triennial survey of visual art by local talent.

Bay Area Now 4: Visual Art is not your usual art show, with pictures hung just so and wall text to resolve any nagging questions about meaning. This is Yerba Buena's triennial showcase of Bay Area artists -- but the past three years have offered no time for complacency, and the artwork here isn't about to sit still and be admired. The white gallery wall itself ripples and rises to the occasion in Christian Maychack's "A Legacy of Ceaseless Forces"; it's as though the wall finally found its backbone and bucked the system and meaningless artwork, like a pony saddled with a pesky kid. Wall tags need not apply here, either: Contemplation, not explanation is required by Frederick Loomis' "Third Testament of Edward Matthew Taylor," an elaborate end-of-days diagram and penciled-in redemption scenario. Another standout think piece is Jim Jocoy's then-and-now composite of shots of kids on the punk scene in the '70s and early '80s alongside current photos. They're remarkable enough as raw individual portraits, but together they are a sophisticated study revealing the essence of continued self-invention: unabashed attitude and stubborn bravado, coupled with absolute earnestness and undisguised vulnerability. There's a lot to consider in Bay Area Now 4, but don't take my word for it: Take the "Familiar Audio Tour" created by artist Helena Keefe, featuring a running commentary by friends and family of 15 artists in the show. And why stop there? Kate Pocrass' "Mundane Journeys" invites viewers to leave the gallery and turn their attention instead to the odd details that make an art of urban life: a tilting palm, a flag hung backward, a corner-store display of Radical Red and Blowout Blue bubble gum. This show is indeed very Bay Area, and very Now: Like the shifting tectonic plates beneath our feet, this artwork doesn't just stand there, but actually does something.