Chip Conley the boutique hotel entrepreneur mingled affably with press amid the artists on opening night of the third annual and growing Art Pad SF, he serving as producer at his Phoenix Hotel in the Tenderloin. Conley stands out as tall and lean with a shaved head, comfortable in his frayed jacket and jeans at this benefit for SF MOMA. It’s a funky and hip almost underground extravaganza of emerging artists, each in their own mini-gallery inside a pool-view hotel room.
Conley sounds like a tenor but with a cool huskiness that suited his appearance and the location. He and his guests seemed like old friends and were affectionate with each other while the most fun exhibits evoked a playfulness and childlike quality and sense of wry humor—Valecillos, Vought, Petrachi. Artists could be from anywhere, Oakland or Venezuela or Italy. Charlie James even brough fetish figurines from his gallery in Los Angeles. Richard Ankrom puts zippered leather hoods on Dopey, Winnie the Pooh, a white French poodle, pigs. They’re cookie jars.
Likewise, this urban, friendly and chatty event kept the guests as relaxed as they would be at a pool party with the sponsor Drambuie shaking up strawberry cocktails. The third annual Art Pad SF would greet not only press but VIPs and 10,000 guests which produced art sales and introductions over three days, the largest show since it began.
Conley chatted as the sun began to set over the pool party, noting affably and graciously his Phoenix was frequented by hookers and then rock bands. Conley says casually after he bought the Phoenix, a hooker hotel, in the 1980s, his relationship with Bill Graham led to room bookings by rock bands due to the room for free massages he installed in the furthest corner. Bands would linger by the pool. Opening night of Art Pad meant a Tsunami performance, a synchronized swim by San Francisco’s gay/bisexual/transgender straight friendly swim club. A cool breeze rippled the pool’s surface as the setting sun created shade over the patio and the swimmers huddled together and embraced for pictures if not warmth. If anything the enthusiastic audience standing all around the pool applauded warmly.
Food for Thought sold Surf Pops with popsicle sticks made of little surfboards, the creators being students from California College of the Arts in San Francisco or CCA.
Repurposing trash into something elegant
The McLoughlin Gallery on Geary featured a stand-out artist who captured the spirit of the show perfectly, giving a second life to used materials, basically trash. Cristobal Valecillos’ created a show of photographs with his creations of actual cardboard and paper couture gowns, sets, a life-size bicycle, skateboard, mailbox and security camera. He comes to the Tenderloin from a country where citizens really do live in sturdy cardboard homes. Shacks with tin appear commonly in South America, particularly Brazil, since the material lasts. The mailbox by Valecillos shows his real first house address in the United States, “846”.
Valecillos, who works in fashion photography, conceived of couture gowns and elegant sets of cardboard and paper. Some photos show a must-have Trader Joe’s dress with the bag’s logo on the bodice, worn by a statuesque model right out of the pages of Vogue. Does it have a matching handbag? You can get these at any Trader Joe’s for ten cents, a bargain.
His models are a real ethnic blend family, the tall blond mother from Iowa, the more ethnic father from Chicago with their real children. Valecillos however, in his early forties, graduated from the Sorbonne in 1992 and works as an art director and does music videos. His work shows a sense of the elite and he has adopted the look of another time, of Salvador Dali.
“Family Room” sells for $4,600, an archival digital print on metallic paper. “Under Surveillance” goes for $5,400. “Olga”, $5,400. The life-size bicycle of cardboard, paper and glue complete with a beautifully woven basket, $1,800. The security camera $600, the mailbox $400. The mailbox probably works just as a life-size armchair did.
Often the homeless so to speak choose this life due to an aversion to the stress and responsibility of having. The implication is that the Tenderloin is actually a conscious choice, a refuge village. Art Pad SF organizer and director Maria Jensen goes further with her vision of the Phoenix fostering art and elegance out of the slum, a new twist on slumming.
The McLouglin gallery even hung a Valecillos in the real, working bathroom.
“In the Air with my Arms Spread Wide Like a Bird Inside my Local Costco Store”
Luke Good with New Image Art in the Fillmore of San Francisco, in his sparkly blue rock star suit assisted at the gallery in the prime room. Each year New Image scores the happy corner over the entrance and the pool. His disposition seemed to reflect the ambiance of the event and his room full of sunlight with poolside greenery outside the picture windows and the Phoenix sign outside the exterior window. He chatted about an aviation-inspired piece on hand-cut paper by Oakland’s Annie Vought. It’s a metaphor for what’s possible, aviation, explains Luke. Vought is the decendant of an aviation pioneer, her grandfather a protégé of the Wright Brothers, Luke says. Vought became an artist by documenting dreams and how one fails. Flying through Costco is the dream, on one of her paper cuts.
Buzzmeeks, Otto, In-Secto robots by Italian Andrea Petrachi
A fun display of robots came from Andrea Petrachi of Italy through the new Temple Gallery south of Market. This cyber artist born in 1975 works out of Milan and was born in Lecce. Petrachi created 1950s style table-top robots by piecing together a electronic items others would have discarded such as a camera, VCR, audio connectors, lamp socketsand headphones (“Otto” 2011 for $2200); headphones, a camera and hardware (“Buzzmeeks” 2008); and a big spider made of an electric shaver with umbrella frame (“In-Secto” 2009 for $1100).
Paul Hemming the gallery director says fittingly, “I found him on the internet”. Hemming said next year he wants Petrachi to create a life-size exhibit with parts from Hemming’s electronic disk jockey business: Speakers, keyboards, turntables. Hemming plays electronic dance music at his nightclub Temple with the adjacent art gallery, Mirus.
Related: Mirus Gallery hosts art show by women
For more information: www.ArtPadSF.com
Muni riders and students get a $5 discount at the door
General admission was $15/one day, $20 at the door
$40/three day pass, $35 at the door
VIP preview was $150/party $50
For more stories by this writer check out CBS San Francisco’s website under Eye on the Bay, San Francisco arts & culture “Best Of”; and San Francisco Arts & Culture on usedview.com. Subscribe by hittng the SUBSCRIBE button at the top of this article.
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