Archive for December, 2008

The Unexpected in Travel, Wonderful and Otherwise

Posted by erin on December 22nd, 2008

Road Trip,
San Jose Museum of Art
By Julia Bradshaw

Fifty years after the publication of Robert Frank’s The Americans – the seminal book of photographs of the American road trip – curator Kristen Evangelista has assembled a most remarkable collection of artworks about this quintessential American experience at the San Jose Museum of Art.

Road Trip, which is on view at the museum until Sunday, January 25, 2009, is a grouping of photographs, paintings, installations, videos, mixed-media pieces and sculptures by a number of different artists who use the American road trip and it’s geography as the motivation for their artwork in some form.

Evangelista includes a photograph by Robert Frank at the beginning of the exhibition – a quiet and lesser known photograph of Butte, Montana taken in 1956 – and this is the touchstone for the exhibition’s meandering observations of the American view of travel and tourism. Fifty years ago, Robert Frank’s book The Americans broke away from the notion that photography had to show America’s best side. In his selection of photographs, Frank was unafraid to expose America’s overt racism as well as the dull stare of the elevator girl. Frank advocated the concept of travel as an adventure into the unknown, where you opened yourself up to new experiences and allowed places and people to wreak their effect on you.

Likewise, Road Trip at the San Jose Museum of Art shows travel as it really is. Artworks express the boring and the frustrating aspects of travel alongside the political, the comical and the perilous.

Jeff Brouws
Gas Station, Groom, Texas, 2008
Archival pigment print
18 x 18 in. image on 20 x 24 in. paper
Courtesy of Jeff Brouws and Robert Koch Gallery, San Francisco


New SJSU Art Majors Excell in Rare Opportunity to Show

Posted by erin on December 17th, 2008

Students in Art 26, Representational Drawing produce careful renderings.

Foundations Exhibition Informs New Students and Art School Visitors
By Pantea Karimi

For the first time, a juried exhibition of Pictorial foundation courses was held in Gallery Three in San Jose State University’s Art Building from December 1st through December 5th, 2008.

The exhibition was the brainchild of Gale Antokal, Pictorial Department professor, the curator, and the foundation coordinator at San Jose State University, who set out to highlight works by first year undergraduate art students.

The types of assignments new students can expect are revealed in the Foundations Exhibition.

Colorful panels that evoked the compositions of Mondrian enhanced the wall displays of over 100 artworks, highlighting work from four different classes: 2D Concepts, Color Theory, Beginning Drawing, and Representational Drawing. The Foundation exhibition promoted the importance of the Pictorial Foundation courses and in particular informed and inspired freshmen art students who had the opportunity to preview the range of instructor assignments and the scope of these fundamental art courses that they will take in the near future.

The student work represented the classes taught by Jason Adkins, Marlene Angeja, Pernilla Anderson, Theta Belcher, Christine Canepa, Terry Cunniff, Don Feasel, Erik Friedman, Brenda Jamrus, Pantea Karimi, Gina Pearlin, Lucy Sargeant and Ema Harris-Sintamarian.


Posted by erin on December 9th, 2008

Renee Billingslea’s Emotion-Packed Show at Michael Rosenthal Contemporary Art
By Erin Goodwin-Guerrero

Michael Rosenthal’s Gallery on Valencia Street in San Francisco has the chic no-nonsense rawness of florescent lights, concrete floors and unpainted plywood walls. Renee Billingslea’s exhibition, Rooted in America, has the same quality of getting us right to the point. It is specifically about racial violence and lynching. It is also about the people on both sides of this miserable memory that won’t go away, and the importance of remembering that we all are capable of the unspeakable.

In her work with photography, fabric and mixed media, Billingslea’s installations are full of impact. Focus is on the experiences of the perpetrators and witnesses to lynchings in a series of carefully executed paper mach√© men’s hats in a fashion from the early 20th Century. They are discolored and made to look like fossilized museum pieces. Each hat is constructed of innumerable slips of paper that bear one repeated sentence, ostensibly from someone in the crowd. “I stoked the fire.” “I tore off his clothes.” “I tied his hands.” “They used my chain.” “I hear him screaming.” “Daddy let me watch from his shoulders.” “I hear him pray.” “I smell his burning flesh.”

Renee Billingslea’s hats evoke the witnessing to lynching in the America.


Art, Craft and Irony at the Palo Alto Art Center

Posted by erin on December 8th, 2008

Bruce Metcalf’s Life among Mummies, 1997 (photo: John Wilson White)

The Miniature Worlds of Bruce Metcalf

by Erin Goodwin-Guerrero

The Miniature Worlds of Bruce Metcalf at the Palo Alto Art Center is a challenging view of the artist’s curious mixture of jewelry, cartooning and small-scale sculpture. Metcalf is an artist with high credentials as a precise metal-smith and delicate woodcarver. He creates small scenarios in which his tragicomic everyman (who doubles as an oversize brooch) wrestles with existential moments in life. The exhibition work comes mostly from the nineties and is accompanied by a catalogue with essays by the artist, Dr. Vicky A. Clark and Curator, Signe Mayfield.

The best works in the show are a series that utilize a simple stage with a perfectly crafted architectural form on it that involves an arch, scenery painted at the back and a very few objects supporting each encounter of his figures. The stages on which we view the drama of these ironic confrontations, as in every theater, are every bit as integral to the play as the actor himself.

Metcalf’s figures are seemingly more developed in form as they proceed from their feet upward. The hands are often big inflated Micky Mouse glove shapes in contrast to feet that are simple hooks at the end of spindly little legs (if legs exist at all). The oversize head takes the shape of an upside down pear, often sporting two completely different and widely spaced eyes. In spite of the gesture of the lower body, most of Metcalf’s characters are experiencing emotions and events in the realm of the head. Peanut pock marks, swollen and wall-eyed bewilderment, lumps, bandages and a determined frown convey a hapless yet undeterred forward march in life, buffeted by many indignities but encountering a few epiphanies along the way. (more…)

2 Shows at Palo Alto Art Center: Technique and Much More

Posted by erin on December 7th, 2008

Sublime and Subliminal
By Andy Muonio

Currently the Palo Alto Art Center at 1313 Newell has two dramatically different solo shows on exhibition until December 21st. Each of these artists brings their sense of humanity and its relationship to the world.

In bold lettering, the entrance to the Art Center’s galleries introduces us to the first exhibition: In the Bigger Picture: Richard Misrach.

Richard Misrach‚Äôs photography is a sublime representation of the art form. It is filled with the remarkable texture and rich detail that comes from his use of the large format camera. They are unapologetically uncompromising in their form, having an intense casualness to them. They are so carefully composed but retain a sense of the travel snap-shot. Misrach did not crop his image in the production of the print but was meticulous with his composition through the lens of his camera. The breadth and scale of his landscapes comes across in each print but the viewer’s scale is not lost.

Stranded Rowboat, Salton Sea, 1983-1994, Richard Misrach (American, b 1949-) Coll. Museum of Contemporary Photography, Cilumbia College, Photo: Courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco