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Monday, June 21st, 2010

Amusing Ourselves To Death :: McGee + Rojas Together at Bolinas Museum

(Image: Bolinas Museum)

Barry McGee doesn’t watch TV.  “These are all things that Americans do, they sit at home and watch television, they go into work the next day and everyone talks about what happened on Taxi—that’s one of the last shows I watched on television, sorry.”

Mcgee is known for overwhelming his audience with an inundation of mind numbing geometric clusters that visualize the psychological and social effects of media bombardment. Like the troubled characters found in them, looking at these works can leave the brain both exhausted and confused in a cognitive haze that Jerry Mander predicted would ultimatley lead to the expansion of power by dominant controllers in society.

Have we been manipulated, or are we to blame? As Neil Postman later distinguished, Orwell’s vision of the future and Huxley’s Brave New World were not one in the same. One warned that we will be overcome by externally imposed domination. The other prophesized something far more unsettling – that we will come to love our oppression, freely trading in our capacities to think for the technologies and entertainment we cherish.

(Image: Bolinas Museum)

Mander urged us to be radical – to “kill our televisions” and dismantle technological civilization. Postman warned it was getting too late – we had already willingly given up and “amused ourselves to death.” Lately, McGee seems caught in the middle. His chaotic wall static has been disrupted, yielding to dense blocks of solid red, with only broken, fragmented shards of pattern remaining. These have given way to simpler forms – a few small floating cubes, a single triangle or an octagon. There are even recognizable objects like detergent bottles – the ultimate sign of the never ending mindless consumer choices that have replaced actual freedom of thought. If the pessimism of his work from the last few years rendered us helplessly adrift in a violent media frenzy, these newer installations show McGee pushing back against the noise, urging us to break through the clutter, recognize our own complicity, and regain control.

(Image: Gamma888)

Partner in life and art Clare Rojas explores similar new territory. The empty interiors of her recent paintings suggest spaces to be filled. Stripped of their belongings, we are pressed to find any identity in what remains in these barren rooms. In one painting a figure lays in bed staring at a TV on a nightstand. Another shows a simple house suspended against a white background. One sad looking woman sits at an empty table, while another  reaches out her hand towards a garden of flowers. In an alcove, a woman’s face is partially covered by window blinds. In the same area, walls are cleverly paneled in central air vents and light switch or outlet covers that take on the look of morse code dots and dashes. But what does it all mean? While McGee reveals the brainwashing of our collective conscience, Rojas projects the effects of this dumbing down onto the trappings of domestic living, where we’ve cashed in our free will for freedom at the checkout line.

(Image: Bolinas Museum)

It is interesting that the Bolinas exhibition is being presented with two separate titles. While this isn’t the first time the artist couple has shown together, the two have joined here to deliver what is there most seamless presentation to date. When asked by fellow artist Andrew Jeffrey Wright where he’d like to be in five years, McGee said he “[hoped] to be entirely removed from society by that time. Off the map. Checked out.” With Leave it Alone we can understand why, and with Rojas’ Together at Last it’s clear that if the time comes, the two will disappear hand in hand.

Lots more images over on TAC member Gamma888’s flickr

Barry McGee – Leave it Alone / Clare Rojas – Together at Last
June 19 – August 1
Bolinas Museum
Hours: Fridays – Sundays, 1 – 5 pm
48 Wharf Road
Bolinas, CA 94924
phone: 415.868.0330


Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Thing Quarterly Collaborates with Chris Johanson + James Franco

Chris Johanson (Image via The Thing)

THE THING is gearing up to release the first installment of their new subscription cycle. Each year, the quarterly “periodical” collaborates with four artists to create limited art objects that each incorporates text. Issues 11-14 kick off with Chris Johanson, followed by fashion design team Doo.ri, artist Matthew Higgs, and will wrap up with actor/artist James Franco, who has shifted his recent focus to intellectual and artistic endeavors outside of acting.

To celebrate the launch of issue 11, Chris Johanson will host an event June 17 at SFMOMA, including video and musical performances. The event is free to Thing subscribers, or with museum admission. We’re not sure what Johanson has come up with for his issue yet, but have been promised that “guests can purchase Johanson’s…issue and put it to use while watching video projections of moonrises…”

Get your one year subscriptions here


Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Keep the Fire Burning: SFMOCA to House Fisher Collection for Next Century

Gerhard Richter, Two Candles, 1982. (Image © Doris and Donald Fisher Collection/Gerhard Richter, courtesy SFMOMA via Chez Namastenancy)

This past September SFMOMA announced it had reached an initial agreement to house the collection of GAP founders, Doris and Donald Fisher (Mr. Fisher past away days after the announcement). While early reports speculated a 25 year arangement, exact terms were not revealed until late last week.

Eclipsing initial estimates, SFMOMA will become the official home of the Fisher collection for the next  100 years. The museum also announced that an additional $250 million in endowment funds have been raised (largely a result of donations from the Fisher family, trustees and museum chairman, Charles Schwab), and that a new wing would be built to house the 1,100+ piece collection which currently resides in GAP corporate headquarters.

Donald Fisher at Gap headquarters (Image: Mike Kane/The San Francisco Chronicle)

The century long partnership will kick off June 25, when the museum opens Calder to Warhol: Introducing the Fisher Collection. The exhibit, part of SFMOMA’s ongoing 75th anniversary celebration, is slated to feature some 160 pieces from the Fisher’s astounding contemporary art collection, including works by Ellsworth Kelly, Gerhard Richter, Roy Lichtenstein, Richard Serra, Dan Flavin, Philip Guston, Lee Krasner, Joan Mitchell, Frank Stella, Cy Twombly, Willem de Kooning, Richard Diebenkorn, and Brice Marden to name a few.

David Hockney – Interior With Sun and Dog. (Image © David Hockney/Doris And Donald Fisher Collection, via SFGate)

Brice Marden – The Sisters, 1991-93. (Image © Brice Marden/Artists Rights Society/Doris & Donald Fisher Collection, via MuseumViews)

More at the Wall Street Journal, SF Gate and LA Times


Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Tomokazu Matsuyama at Frey Norris, San Francisco

(All Images via Frey Norris Gallery)

Around the turn of the century 20th century, the U.S. embarked down a road of increasingly restrictive immigration policies, including the Chinese Exclusion (1882) and Emergency Quota Acts (1921, 1924). Such foreign policy effectively stifled the influx of immigrants, while appeasing growing nativist concerns. Included here was the Gentleman’s Agreement (1907), a mutual arrangement whereby the U.S. would not extend such restrictions to Japan, as long as the island empire agreed to cut off all further emigration to the U.S.  And while the goal was partly to cool relations between the two nations, competing imperialistic hungers eventually reignited tensions that sparked the Pacific front of the Second World War. By 1942 FDR had signed Executive Order 9066, forcibly relocating over 100,000 Japanese-Americans to internment camps. It was only in 1988 that the federal government acknowledged the prejudice of its past policy, paying over $1.5 billion in reparations.

With In Case You’re Lost, Tomokazu Matsuyama not only works towards reconciling the cultural tensions of his own Japanese-American identity, but addresses larger issues of nationalism and global relations. Here is a complex mix of autobiographical and socio-political commentary.

Surrounded by new paintings are the show’s centerpieces – two large-scale sculptures that contemplate notions of cultural heritage and nationalism, flip-flopping symbols of American and Asian identity. Wherever I Am, a life-size reworking of Frederick Remington’s Bronco Buster, recasts the famed late 19th century American sculpture with a Japanese-pop sensibility, replacing the iconic cowboy rider with a Playmobil character. Chogen, based off the original 13th century Japanese treasure,  substitutes the praying monk’s prayer beads for beer cans and cigarette butts, and his original meditative state, for a glazed-over drunken one.

Speaking of the new sculpture, Matsu notes, “I wanted to keep that rigourous, very expressionistic feature but flip to an American context, so what I did was I made him an alchoholic – like a drunk man in a sports bar…From a distance, he looks somewhat fanatic like its original. Close up, you’ll see his eye focus is gone and he’s just drunk. The eyes are actual glass eyes, made of gold leaf inside with the addition of my painting color scheme of neon pink and dark brown. The sculpture looks aged and few centuries old but the material used to paint it looks like 70s auto paint…[colliding] aged with the contemporary art material.”

Tomokazu Matsuyama – In Case You’re Lost
Frey Norris Gallery
56 Geary Street
San Francisco, CA 94102


Monday, October 12th, 2009

Wild Things Arrives

maurice- sendak-wild-things
Final Drawing for Where the Wild Things Are. (Image: © Maurice Sendak, 1963. All rights reserved.)

There’s lots going on in anticipation of this week’s theatrical release of Spike Jonze’s adaptation of the children’s classic, Where the Wild Things Are. While much of the spotlight is on MoMA’s survey of Jonze’s accomplishments in film, several other events focus on Maurice Sendak, the story’s creator.

The Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco is hosting There’s a Mystery There: Sendak on Sendak, on view now through Jan. 19, 2010. The exhibit features watercolors, preliminary sketches, drawings, and dummy books from more than 40 of Sendak’s books. All works are on loan from the Rosenbach Museum & Library in Philadelphia, which holds the world’s largest collection of Sendak’s art, including some ten thousand items including drawings and manuscripts for over one hundred books, as well as prints, paintings, hand-made books, and a wide range of other ephemera.

Bruno, 1979. Concept Drawing for Where the Wild Things Are Opera (Image: via Animazing Gallery, © Maurice Sendak. All rights reserved.

The Rosenbach Museum has aslo lent twelve drawings and two manuscript pages for Where the Wild Things Are: Original Drawings by Maurice Sendak, taking place at the Morgan Library in New York.

Coinciding with these exhibits is Sendak in Soho, the largest ever sale of original art directly from the artist’s collection, including over 200 works, as well as a limited edition bronze sculpture. The show is currently on view at Animazing Gallery and runs till Nov. 8.

Lastly, The Rosenbach is currently holding two of their own Sendak exhibits. While And It’s Still Hot: Where The Wild Things Are focuses on the popular book, Too Many Thoughts to Chew: A Sendak Stew presents a refreshing curatorial approach that does not focus on Wild Things, and instead explores the reoccurring themes of food, eating, and being eaten in Sendak’s books.


Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

Modern Tradition :: Tony Curanaj at John Pence Gallery


For the past decade Tony Curanaj, better know in graffiti cirlces as SUB, has been diligently dedicating himself to a mastery of realist painting that has more in common with Renaissance humanism than popular street aesthetics. After earning his BFA from the School of Visual Arts in 1995, Curanaj honed his craft at the prestigious Water Street Atelier, a highly selective four year studio program steeped in the tradition of realism.  From there, Curanaj became a founding member and core teacher at the Grand Central Academy, which evolved from the original the WSA.  Curanaj’s paintings reflect the disciplined hand of a classical painter thrust into a modern world, and are on view now through Oct. 10 in a new solo exhibit at John Pence Gallery (San Francisco). Not to be missed.




Tony Curanaj – Recent Paintings
Sept. 11 – Oct. 10
John Pence Gallery
750 Post Street
San Francisco, CA 94109


Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

Walrus TV Artist Feature – Henry Lewis Tattoos Sylvia Ji

Upper Playground has been producing viral videos via Walrus TV in ’09 aimed at capturing the zeitgeist as the decade draws to a close. In this installment, San Francisco artists Henry Lewis and Sylvia Ji share the unique experience of acquiring a tattoo…

Posted by pirovino | Filed in Artist Talk, San Fransisco | Comment now »


Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

Preview :: Shawn Barber at the Shooting Gallery

(All Images: © Shawn Barber/The Shooting Gallery SF)

Shawn Barber opens a new solo show this Sturday, August 15 at The Shooting Gallery SF, continuing his deeply personal and human series of Tattooed Portraits. As you can see from our preview of some of the new paintings that will be on view, this one’s well worth your time.

Video © Fecal Face

Shawn Barber – Tattooed Portraits: Snapshots
August 15 – Sept.  8
The Shooting Gallery SF
839 Larkin St.
San Francisco, CA

Posted by ATARMS | Filed in Artist Talk, Galleries, Openings, San Fransisco | 3 Comments »


Monday, July 20th, 2009

Barry McGee Monograph Coming Soon

Image: Alleged Press

Does anyone know how to fast forward time? Not too much, just a few months is all we’re asking. Waiting for this is going to be a tough one.

Barry McGee by McGee, Barry
Publisher: Damiani / Alleged Press
SBN: 9788862080965
Publish Date: 10/31/2009

Image: Alleged Press


Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Andrew Schoultz Coming to Roberts + Tilton, LA

Image: Detail of painting on paper  on view with Morgan Lehman at Pulse Miami, 2009.

San Francisco based artist Andrew Schoultz is gearing up for a new solo show at Roberts and Tilton in Los Angeles.  Schoultz’s work is strongest on a grand scale, when space permits his seamless incorporation of individual paintings and drawings into larger murals and sculptural installations. With full reign over R+T’s sizable main gallery, expect to see the artist at his best. Keep an eye on this one.

Andrew Schoultz – White Noise and Silence: New Paintings and Drawings 
June 13 – August 1
Opening reception: June 13, 6-8pm
Roberts + Tilton
5801 Washington Boulevard 
Culver City, California 90232