Archive for January, 2009

One of the Great Masters of Northern California Art

Posted by erin on January 13th, 2009

Manuel Neri at San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art
By Erin Goodwin-Guerrero

If you have not yet seen the The Figure in Relief, Manuel Neri’s major exhibition at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, the show ends on Saturday, January 17th. Covered, are 25 years of Neri’s work with the figure. It is not to be missed. In any case, buy the catalogue.

Manuel Neri’s Mujer Pegada Series No. 3, Cast 2/4, 2006

When I was an artist in graduate school at San Jose State and later taught at the San Francisco Art Institute, the influence of Bay Area abstraction, funk and figurative abstraction was everything. It was an epoch of great distinction in Northern California Art that has yet to be equaled in contemporary trends and talents. A number or original and forcefully driven artists, among them Manuel Neri, were at the core of this era of artistic energy.

Gustavo Series No. 30, 1985, Oil paint stick, graphite, charcoal on paper

Courtesy of artist, and Hackett-Freedman Gallery



Posted by erin on January 9th, 2009

Heironymus Box, Bronze, 2008, by David Middlebrook

David Middlebrook Shows at MAC ART GROUP in Miami
By Erin Goodwin-Guerrero

David Middlebrook continues to develop the theme — the defiance of gravity — that has appeared in his work in recent years in his exhibition at the new MAC ART GROUP in the Wynwood Art District of Miami, in December 2008. His investigations become especially intriguing with the challenge of levitating materials as heavy as bronze or big plaster forms and objects radically off-balance.

David Middlebrook’s Point in Time is precariously perched.

In recognition of the feat of flying creatures, Middlebrook creates bird heads that are like great fossil finds. They are frozen in the middle of acts that suspend them in air and give them the posture of life. The scale of their prehistoric beaks suggests fearsome preditors, albeit with tiny skulls to house tiny brains. Indeed, Middlebrook’s exhibition title, Basal Instincts, is a playful take on the Basal Art Fair, Basic Instincts and fundamentals that do not seem to require much thought: they are such given truths. He defies the basic truths of gravity with his weighty forms, angularly poised, immobilized in space.


Figuration, from the Literal to the Abstract

Posted by erin on January 2nd, 2009

Figurative Artists: Chiarito, Souza, Muonio, Oblon, Louden, Wilson and Wilson show at North First ARTspace.

By Erin Goodwin-Guerrero

Joining a growing tradition in the South Bay, in the last year, the corporate lobby and hallways of Orchard Commercial have become a fashionable gallery of contemporary art. Without many private galleries or a commercial art scene in the South Bay, the “North First ARTspace” contribution to art-viewing is welcome in Silicon Valley.

Curator Carla Turturici, began with a program of art exhibitions showing work done by the faculty and students of San Jose State University’s School of Art and Design. Now, in Off State Street, she enlarges her view to include artists from around the Bay Area, presenting figurative show that is large in scale and nicely fills the open spaces of the expansive Orchard Commercial building. Turturici plays with the concept of figuration in painting and allows this show to manifest figures and portraits in many forms and media.

Robert Chiarito’s All of Me

Robert Chiarito has always used the figures in his paintings as a vehicle to mock the human condition and our overblown sense of self-importance. Intrigued by Art Brut and the Cobra school, he calls his most recent series in this direction “the serious pursuit of play”. A lot of the marks and indicators that eventually become figures in his current paintings are executed with his eyes closed. Chiarito allows textures, marks and lines to accumulate as part of the working process. Eventually a figure and context that lie close to the subconscious emerge, immune to over-intellectualization. He enjoys “the surprise and even preposterousness” of the results. After discovery of his nascent actors and an overall scenario, he directs the outcome from a more conscious level.

Float, by Robert Chiarito

Chiarito’s colors and hilarious characters are bold and childlike. With male musculature and full breasts they are often androgynous. Sometimes they are half man, half machine, perhaps a scary creature from a scary dream. Certainly their brightness, scale and playful antics enliven the entry of Orchard Commercial.