Hobo Filmmaker Bill Daniel’s Art Exhibit in SF


Photographer and scrappy experimental filmmaker Bill Daniel has been traveling the country in his sailvan. A 1965 Chevy with a fine set of schooner sails on top, the van is dramatic, strange, and gorgeous, like most of Daniel’s work — including the photographs in his new photography exhibit, “Sunset Scavenger.”

Four years ago, Daniel and partner Vanessa Renwick walked up Third Street toward an empty warehouse. They looked shell-shocked, angry, and afraid: It was March 2003, and the United States had just landed soldiers on Iraqi soil. The two artists were pissed-off and demoralized, but continued into the building to put the finishing touches on their massive art show, “Pretty Gritty.” The atmosphere at the art opening would be hazy with grief, and that night, the city would explode with noise, people, and helicopters. But “Pretty Gritty” was a success, allowing Daniel to finish his decades-old project, a film about railroad graffiti called Who Is Bozo Texino? The sailvan was there, too, with someone’s film screening on its proud canvas. Daniel’s current crop of large-scale photos appears in the same building, now a sleek photographic center, and the artist makes the point that we’re still in the war.

“Sunset Scavenger” includes some impressive prints, including 8-by-10s, some 2-foot, some 5-foot, and one 10-foot gelatin silver prints of black-and-white photographs, some from 35 mm, and some from monstrous 8-by-10 negatives. The main subjects are two weirdly related environments: the Sausalito rebel houseboat scene of the 1970s, and the post-Katrina wreckage of St. Bernard’s Parrish in New Orleans (“‘The federal flood’ as my friends there call it,” says Daniel). And yes, the sailvan will make an appearance.

An opening for “Sunset Scavenger” starts at 7 p.m. at RayKo Photo Center, 428 Third St. (at Harrison), S.F. Admission is free; call 495-3773 or visit www.billdaniel.net.

Hiya Swanhuyser for SFWeekly.com