Artful Dodger: Visual Art Happenings for the Cruelest Month

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Neon signs in the window of a medical cannabis club on Haight Street in San Francisco. (Thomas Hawk)

It’s spring. If you’re not succumbing to the miasma of pollen and other allergens flitting through the Bay Area’s air supply (like me), you might want some guidance in terms of where to go and what to see this month.

In April's biggest news, the 59th San Francisco International Film Festival opens on April 21, with tickets on sale to the general public starting April 1. We already have a few recommendations that might get you frantically clicking the “Buy Tickets” link on SFIFF’s website come April Fools' Day. (And you’d be a fool not to.)

See what I did there? Okay, on with April’s visual art happenings.

Contemporary Color Screening

PROXY, San Francisco
April 29, 8pm

The SFIFF teams up with Hayes Valley outdoor cinema venue PROXY for a screening of Contemporary Color a movie that documents zany collaborations between contemporary musicians (David Byrne, Nelly Furtado, How to Dress Well, Devonté Hynes, Money Mark + Ad-Rock, Zola Jesus, Lucius, Nico Muhly + Ira Glass, St. Vincent and tUnE-yArDs) and 10 high school color guard troupes from the U.S. and Canada. The SFIFF promo language bills the performance as “a really artistic halftime show,” full of colorful flags, rifle twirls, faux marble set pieces and teenagers making fierce facial expressions as they enact routines closer to modern dance than battle drills. FREE!

Doug Padgett, 'Untitled (double light switch I),' 2013.
Doug Padgett, 'Untitled (double light switch I),' 2013. (Courtesy of FraenkelLAB)

Home Improvements

FraenkelLAB, San Francisco
April 14 - June 4

Fraenkel Gallery, still housed within 49 Geary, has launched an off-site project space at 1632 Market Street as a “new venue for adventurous artwork.” The first full exhibition in the space, curated by John Waters himself, includes work by Martin Creed, Vincent Fecteau and Gedi Sibony. The work is united by an interest in low-tech “remodeling,” in which humble materials and subject matter are elevated to the level of fine art. FREE!

A protester holds up a sign at San Diego Gay Pride in 2012.
A protester holds up a sign at San Diego Gay Pride in 2012. (Photo: Nathan Rupert)

Altered State: Marijuana in California

Oakland Museum of California, Oakland
April 16 - Sep. 25

Bravo to OMCA for continually tackling some of the toughest and most relevant cultural issues in their exhibition programming. (Stay tuned for their July exhibition Oakland: I Want You to Know…, a project designed to foster conversation between long-time and new West Oakland residents about the changing demographics of the community.) Altered State presents the facts and differing opinions surrounding marijuana through scientific, cultural, legal, medical and historical perspectives. And it’s not all serious -- on April 20, the museum offers admission for just $4.20, welcoming “high-minded conversation about how marijuana impacts your world.”

Laura Owens, 'Untitled,' 2015.
Laura Owens, 'Untitled,' 2015. (Courtesy the artist / Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York / Sadie Coles HQ, London / Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne. Photography © 2015, Jorit Aust)

Laura Owens

Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco
April 28 - July 23

I can hear you now: painting show, schmainting show. But these are no ordinary paintings. Los Angeles-based artist Laura Owens shows new work, books, sounds and hand-printed wallpaper at the Wattis Institute. Often monumental in scale, Owens’ paintings are strange, unexpected and always totally their own. This show is a treat for San Francisco. FREE!

James Turrell

Pace Palo Alto, Palo Alto
April 28 - July 30

With Pace’s Menlo Park location slated for demolition in 2017, the Pace Gallery team found a more permanent space in nearby Palo Alto, opening with an inaugural exhibition from the master of light and space, James Turrell. Details are scarce, but according to a New York Times story on the new gallery, we should expect to see some holograms and a new light installation. Start practicing your "Hotline Bling" moves now.

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