A determined self-taught artist, Ernie Gehr began making films in the late 1960s, and has since made more than 24 films. "What makes Gehr's films interesting in the present context is their perceptual nature," wrote scholar Robert Becklen in a recent book. "His films are about visual experience, as a phenomenon in and of itself, to be appreciated and explored for its own sake. They are studies of how the perceptual process is directed, or massaged ... by appropriate visual stimulation."
Gehr's 1992 film Side/Walk/Shuttle was named one of the top 10 films of the year by three critics for The Village Voice (J. Hoberman, AmyTaubin and Manohla Dargis). His 1985 film Signal-Germany on the Air was acclaimed an "avant-garde masterpiece" by Fred Camper, who wrote in The Reader "Using none of the technical flashi ness of most previous 'city symphony' films, Gehr has nonetheless given us one of our greatest views of the city as mechanism, a maze of streets and buildings, vehicles and people, forever growing in the mind."
With Brother, Can You Spare Some Tlme, the 1995 Adaline Kent Award Exhibition, Gehr presents a series of reflections and meditations on cinema and changing technologies, as well as metamorphoses of memory and history. A catalog, featuring essays by art critic Bill Berkson and Village Voice film critic J. Hoberman, accompanies the exhibition. On Sunday, April 2, San Francisco Cinematheque presents a screening of Gehr's films Untitled Part One (1981), Signal-Germany on the Air (1982-85) and Rear Window (1986/91).
Gehr's work has been shown internationally, including retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, San Francisco Cinematheque, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, and the Musee du Cinema in Brussels. He has been a participant in three Whitney Biennials. Gehr has won numerous awards, including grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a John Simon Guggenheim fellowship, and the Maya Deren Award from the American Film Institute. A member of the film faculty at the Art Institute since 1988, Gehr has taught and lectured at institutions internationally, including the University of California, Berkeley, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst in Berlin.
Established in 1959 in recognition of the support given to the San Francisco Art Institute by sculptor Adaline Kent and her husband Robert B. Howard, the Adaline Kent Award is bestowed annually on a talented, promising and deserving California artist. Recipients receive an honorarium of $2,500 and a solo exhibition in the Art Institute's Walter/McBean Gallery. Previous awardees include Armando Rascon, David Cannon Dashiell, Carrie Mae Weems, Mildred Howard, Mike Henderson, Terry Allen, Joan Brown, Bruce Conner, Jay DeFeo, Roy De Forest, Robert Hudson, David Ireland and Manuel Neri. Gehr was selected by Linda Gibson, Linda Goodman and Rigo 95, the 1995 Adaline Kent Award Committee of the San Francisco Art Institute Artists Committee.