Sunday, June 18, 2017

Back to the 70s with Mike Mandel at SFMOMA

Last month SFMOMA opened an exhibit dedicated to the recently deceased photographer Larry Sultan, and this month an exhibit dedicated to his friend and artistic collaborator, the very much living Mike Mandel, opened in an adjoining gallery.

The two Los Angeles artists met in the early 1970s at the San Francisco Art Institute, and embarked on a number of conceptual pranks together, including actual billboards that advertised nothing and an influential book assemblage of photographs called Evidence "sourced from scientific, industrial, police, military and other archives."

While the Sultan exhibit takes us through California from the 1970s to the present time, Mandel's exhibit takes you down a wormhole squarely into the 1970s, Bay Area art school subdivision. Most of the work consists of black and white photographs featuring the goofy-looking young Mandel posing Zelig-like with various individuals and groups of people.

One amusing series has Mandel photobombing the San Francisco Giants of the mid-1970s, with pitcher John Montefusco sporting the hairy chest in the clubhouse.

For the summer months, SFMOMA has extended their Saturday hours to 8 PM, which must be hell on overworked security guards who are holding down multiple jobs, but nice for museumgoers who work Monday through Friday.

I bought a membership a couple of months ago and have been learning how to navigate the huge, maze-like structure of the expanded seven-story building. After experiencing the scruffy B&W 1970s of Mandel, I walked down to the 2nd floor permanent collection to get back some color in my life...

...and indulge in some world-class people-watching.

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