Seth Eisen’s ‘Stitching the Invisible Whole’

SethEisen&RemyCharlipBetter late than never, this past weekend I caught the closing of San Francisco conceptual artist Seth Isen’s impressive solo show, Stitching the Invisible Whole, at the Sanchez Art Center in Pacifica, just a hop and skip away down the coast, and how appropriate was the seaside setting.

Eisen’s work assembles and stitches togther travel pics from Thailand, driftwood and other sea-pummeled flotsam and jetsam, and a few powerful news images, all reflecting the fateful day when he and partner Keith Hennessy were trekking in the northern part of the Thailand when the tsunami struck, killing nearly 300,000 people across eight countries.

In his artistic response, Eisen writes: “Rather than show only the gruesome face of the disaster I have chosen to alter and juxtapose my photographs next to found objects and images from the media to explore the fragility of our existence and complexity of human life.”

Seth did a remarkable job, even stitching images with a machine, as though embroidering them, giving them a vibrant, colorful texture and resonance. His objects fairly drip with thread and string, almost crying, the spindles discarded and scattered as though part of the ocean debris. You see the tragedy reflected in remnants, reminiscent of ancient garments decayed nearly beyond recognition, hanging together by threads or the faint breath of a long-vanished prayer.

The reception drew such long-time, passionate admirers of Eisen as journalist/author Jim Provenzano and dance/children’s book legend Remy Charlip, along with newer admirer Kirk Read, San Francisco’s rising author/open-mic star/performance artist sensation, who has a keen nose for talent and who frequents the new CounterPULSE space at 9th & Mission in S.F. where Eisen and Hennessy are both involved in art-show/performance art organizing.

For those who couldn’t make it to Stitching the Invisible Whole, you can still catch Eisen at the Sanchez Art Center where he maintains a studio. He conducts art workshops there, including mask making with found art. The Sanchez Art Center always has great shows up in its three big galleries, so it’s worth a visit anytime.


Leather on parade 

On Sunday afternoon the Dore Alley Fair came off with high spirits and many smiles (at least while I was there) as merry men galore bared chests, butts and more adorned by leather gear ranging from minimal (boots, cockring & choker) to maximal (full body coverage including head & face mask with breathing holes). It was an adults-only scene in the closed-off block, and appropriately the proprietor of was there, checking out the beefcake. It was a great place to sin and be seen.


Birthday boy

That night came the lavish 30th birthday party for the adorable Cameron Eng, actor/director/producer, yogi, and loving partner of Terrance Alan, self-proclaimed Mayor of the happening Blue Cube nightclub at 34 Mason St. This tight, sweet couple occupy cool warehouse-like digs South of Market, where the huge wall are adorned with artistic greats including the fabulous Plasticfucker (L.A.’s Doug Murphy), the hot new artist collected by the stars. Cameron, with his perpetual big smile, glistening skin, twinkling eyes and long, silky black hair looked the star that he is. He shared his birthday cake with a host of glamaratti, including Sister Lolita Me Into Temptation, one of the most alluring of the Sisters I’ve encountered (also perhaps the youngest at 24) and the older-but-wiser Sister Uma Gawd, who patiently answered my questions about what it takes to enter the order (if anyone could initiate me, she could). Other revelers on hand to spank Cameron and taste his sweet, juicy pineapple-carrot cake included well-known party host and community benefactor Marty Kahn and faerie friends DolphPun and Baby; the devilishly handsome, gray-bearded, immensely erudite Wyn de Wally, garden designer and theater maven; Theatre Tableau Vivant set designer Dana van Porres; the cast of Whoop-Dee-Doo including Tom Orr, taking a spin to the kick-ass sounds of DJ PussPuss; scene photographer Dan Nicoletta (still looking for funds for that Harvey Milk bust in City Hall) and pal Jordy Jones (artist, writer, curator and community advocate); and so many others.


This article appeared in print in the Bay Area Reporter, August 4, 2005.