San Francisco Bay Guardian Archives
Shinichi Iova-Koga's work is grotesque, beautiful, and funny. As a dancer he is never less than mesmerizing — ephemeral like smoke, limpid like a vernal pool. And yet he is an accidental dancer. The son of two painters, he was initially drawn to photography; at age 12 his bathroom doubled as a darkroom. Then, at San Francisco State University, he became a film major.
Wooden Shjips released their "Dance, California/Clouds over Earthquake" 7-inch single (Sick Thirst) last year in much the same way as they had their instigating, self-released Shrinking Moon for You 10-inch: packaged in an unassuming, clear plastic sleeve with hardly any information besides song titles. Beyond sending bloggers and journalists into a tizzy over their sexy, squalling grooves, this set confirmed Wooden Shjips as essential California.
Hey framer, don't try to frame Jenifer K. Wofford. She'll turn that frame into a threshold. Her creative identity ricochets from teacher to student to painter to performer to director to curator with a self-determining force that exposes the mutability of such labels.
In May, Point of Departure, Wofford's evolving series of postcard-size portraits of Filipina nurses, was a highlight (along with understated contributions by Bill Jenkins and Alicia McCarthy) of the UC Berkeley MFA show at the Berkeley Art Museum.
A casual observer might simply call Kerry Laitala a filmmaker and leave it at that. But anyone who's seen her spooky, intricate, delightfully creative works, including 2003's Out of the Ether, 2005's Torchlight Tango, and 2006's Muse of Cinema, would certainly disagree.
"Citizens. Wake Up. A new day is dawning in San Francisco and all over the world."
Keith Hennessy, "A Speech to the Poor Artists," San Francisco City Hall, Oct. 4, 2000
Keith Hennessy has made work in the Bay Area for more than 20 years, yet he has stayed at the margins all this time. Yes, his audiences are good, and they show up time after time to watch his latest work, but he hasn't gotten the grants that would allow him to do big tours or reach a more mainstream audience. Maybe he prefers it that way.
It's hard to be in a bad mood when you're watching the films of Samara Halperin. Take, for example, the minute-long Plastic Fantastic #1 (2006). Jaunty bleeps keep the beat as a pair of ketchup-and-mustard-bedecked hot dogs are shredded into meaty octopuses.
One of the first things to strike you about a foolsFURY production is its sheer kinetic energy and rigorous physical vocabulary. Hovering somewhere between modern dance and mime, or maybe the fashion runway and the circus, the movement of the actors onstage suggests tightly coiled regimentation and an unpredictable, acrobatic freedom. Bodies rewrite the most seemingly inconsequential gestures as larger than life or in an altogether different register, so that you might suddenly see and wonder at them.
But the next thing to strike you will surely be the words.
We wish they all could be California girls — or pure products of the Bay like the Finches' Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs. On the phone from New York City, where she's playing a series of CMJ-related shows, the singer-songwriter is as laid-back about scheduling an interview ("Whatever's clever!" she says merrily) as she is playfully lickety-split with a quirky quip, a roll-off-the-tongue rhyme, or an unguarded revelation (of a new Los Angeles job that requires the 26-year-old be on her feet all day, she says, "I wear a knee brace.