This week I wrote about Aurobora Press for the San Francisco Bay Guardian. For the past fifteen years, the press, led by Michael Liener, has been a fun and sophisticated place for invited artists who don’t normally work in printmaking to come in and play with monotypes.
The Stephen De Staebler piece, left, is in lusty conversation with his sculptures. The Steve Roden prints, below, can be seen as self-consciously “printerly” takes on his video work. Really, everyone who’s been there has done wonderful, unexpected things. Now Aurobora has been forced to leave the studio they created. This is especially sad since printmaking seems to be on the up-and-up locally. Electric Works is still relatively new to SoMa; Arion Press has been doing stellar work, especially Kiki Smith’s Emily Dickinson project, Sampler; the second CODEX Book Fair is coming to Berkeley next month; and yesterday Glen Helfand highlighted the exquisite Tom Marioni exhibition at Crown Point Press, just around the corner from Aurobora.
It didn’t fit in the SFBG article, but Michael spoke about how they liked being in a back alley where people could “wander in” and be surprised. They didn’t set out to create a flashy space in a hip new spot, and in the end the area’s increasing hipness worked against them. Everytime I hear about a friend getting laid off or a magazine closing these days (ie. every day), it becomes clearer that a major problem with this whole financial crisis is not that it happened so quickly (it didn’t), but that we, from overwhelmed bosses to flustered congresspeople, are reacting too quickly. No amount of debate will save you when you’re moving too fast. I recently met with Peter Maravelis, editor of the forthcoming San Francisco Noir 2 (Akashic Books), and he spoke about how sometimes it takes an earthquake to level the playing field around here. Well, the earthquake is here, and, as Kate Braverman wrote in the first volume of San Francisco Noir, “There are no neutral zones.” A big part of San Francisco’s magic is that when times are tight, people actually get more involved in things; we are a culture of doers. We don’t just take our kids to the ballet, we get down and dirty in the Honeybee Ballet. We need to take matters into our own hands, and to remind each other that this is possible. Let’s not just talk about arts education and Obama’s campaign promises, let’s join the debate. Or else we’re going to come out of this feeling like the stunned folks in those crazy wedding photos from the earthquake in China last year: stumbling, towards someone else’s dream.
But don’t take it from me, choose your own adventure.