The Mission School (of Painting)

I was asked to respond to the question, "Was there ever a Mission School?" for an upcoming catalogue accompanying Barry McGee's retrospective at Brooklyn Art Museum. When I told a few friends about my attempt to document some other Mission 'schools' it seemed that most of them were not aware of any aesthetic or market phenomenon called The Mission School, which was first named by art writer Glen Helfand to identify a certain 'neo-folk' 'urban rustic' hybrid under the influence of graffiti, comics, mural traditions, skate and zine cultures, recycled wood, sign painting, and SFAI art school painting concerns, that emerged in the mid-90s as a kind of Bay Area style, centered in the Mission neighborhood...

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Kirk Read performance at Too Much! (Jan 2010)

Chicken Shit (meditation is supposed to make you less crazy)
Performance by Kirk Read

Kirk Read walked on stage carrying two milk crates. He was wearing a short white shirt-dress or choir robe that read ceremonial. The robe was closed at the throat but open to the torso, revealing gold lame bikini pants. A voice over of Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield’s trance inducing monotone introduced us to some kind of meditation practice. A wall-sized video projection of someone, someone white, touched and then later licked a small brown-skinned doll. The effect of the close-up fondling was creepy but almost camp, especially in contrast with what we hear...

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ONLY IN SAN FRANCISCO? Homegrown trends and traditions (2005)

Observations and projections by Keith Hennessy, guest performance curator Bay Area Now 2005.
Written for the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts’ Bay Area Now 2005 catalogue

• Burlesque, sideshow, circus, fire arts and a return to artists who entertain.

For the past decade there’s been a steady increase in aerial acrobats, fire spinning and sculpting, nostalgic & campy burlesque, and the word circus being used to describe just about everything from the entire genre of Tom Waits meets gypsy/Roma music to the Schwartznegger election. After years of deconstructing the spectacle, entertainment is back. For a few years anyone who could spin fire or climb 25 feet of fabric earned respect but that moment is over and for a few dancers, aerialists, contortionists, fire sculptors and spinners, and even hula-hoopists, it’s all about quality now, pushing craft and performance and obsessive training to the next level...

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