Thursday, May 25, 2006

Travel Stories- San Francisco Art School Mish-Mash

This is the last SF travel story, I promise, but it's a lengthy one so I was reluctant to get into it. I visited both the San Francisco Art Institute and the San Francisco College of Arts and Crafts. (They recently dropped the "Crafts" part of the name because they thought it was denigrating.) I was there to compare and contrast to my own art school experience, to do a little spying. The SFAI was definitely very "rock and roll" as someone there put it. Lots of graphic t-shirt designs everywhere, an abundance of photo-realism in the painting department and also lots of paintings of decadent young life (i.e., paintings of people sitting in shabby student apartments drinking beer in their underwear and smoking joints. *See picture.).

*A Graduate Student's Watercolor of a Lesbian Quilting Romp.

When I went outside, there was a gathering of fashionable students in tapered ironic acid washed jeans and girls with really long bangs in their eyes eating chips. It was bright and sunny and warm and this upper level roof top pavilion of the school had a view of the city and of the ocean. A South-American teacher introduced himself and explained that the giant inflatable heart that the students were jumping inside of was his project. You know those giant castles that people rent for children's parties, sometimes they have them at fairs, and you have to take off your shoes to jump inside them? That's basically what this guy made except it was a human heart, with four chambers inside, just like a real heart. All the jumping inside made it look like the heart was beating frantically. It was very red and womb-like, pleasant even, but eventually the students broke the heart. The teacher had to shoo everyone out and trample the heart from the outside to squish all the air out. He said he couldn't have planned a better ending.

At the recent School of the Art Institute of Chicago grad show, I was super disappointed. Tons of
architectural displays, cluttered installations, unappetizing monitors, and noisy video. Not much painting, but what was there was pretty unexciting, very minimalist 80's style. Lots of self-absorbed, self-referential work including a girl who made videos of herself talking about feminism while performing simulated sex acts. One installation stated "No one knows I'm a lesbian". But you know what? No one cares.

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