Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Wedding, A Backroom Deal, and An Art Show

One of the most charming aspects of the outrageously ornate San Francisco City Hall is how the space is used by impromptu wedding parties.

Possibly because they aren't overplanned, engineered affairs, the wedding parties tend to have a glow about them, of pleasure and happiness that's unfeigned.

I was at City Hall to check out Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin's back-room deals (that's his silhoutte in a literal back room) with the Government Oversight and Audit Committee, who were asking trivial questions of various city departments as they entered into new "Memorandums of Understanding" with the various municipal unions, including a last-minute deal with the Police Officers Association which Peskin was trying to sneak in under the radar.

Unfortunately, the committee consists of Sean Elsbernd and Michela Alioto-Pier, the two most repulsive supervisors on the 11-member board both politically and personally (I'm including Ed Jew in that roundup), and I didn't have the stomach to stay long.

So I went to the basement of City Hall, where the San Francisco Arts Commission installs rotating shows with ugly lighting in a desultory fashion. Nonetheless, these basement shows are usually fascinating.

The current exhibition of three photographers, entitled "Lens on Life," is no exception. Ananias Leki Dago is showing a whole series of arty black-and-white photos from Bamako, Mali...

...which is balanced by Lewis Watts, a UC Santa Cruz professor, with his photos of scenes from Oakland.

They're extraordinary.

The third photographer, San Francisco's Bayete Ross Smith, offers a tricked-up show called "Our Kind of People"...

...that's a fascinating look at stereotypes, both racial and sartorial.

It's worth a trip to the City Hall basement to check out the exhibit, plus there's a U.S. Postal Service stamp machine that works and deluxe marble bathrooms in case you need to powder your nose before tying the knot.


shuna fish lydon said...

SF Mike!

This art show is hidden and wondrous indeed. thanks for the introduction.

ps. I wrote about you today and there are some nice comments about you. check 'em out. (sorry, I don't have your email.)

Jackson West said...

Thanks for writing about Bayete's show -- he's an old friend of mine from back in the day. He's got a new series of doctored passports that similarly explores the context of identity.

Civic Center said...

Dear Jackson: The doctored passports series is also part of this exhibition, I just didn't happen to include it.

And shuna, thanks for the link. It was fun to actually meet you at Sam's party. And that article in SF Weekly about the evil California Culinary Academy really was good, wasn't it?

janinsanfran said...

Love those bathrooms!