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San Francisco
Group Exhibition
1485 Haight St., San Francisco, CA 94117
March 20, 2008 - May 28, 2008

New Image Art on Haight
by Natalie Hegert

You may remember when the Gap on Haight and Ashbury closed and for a few weeks a giant yellow "Amaze" graffiti throw-up graced the windows of the building--now that storefront hosts the RVCA clothing store with the VASF gallery in their back room. The current exhibition at the VASF is curated by Marsea Goldberg of New Image Art in Los Angeles, and brings together a wide variety of New Image artists from LA, New York and San Francisco. The thread of curation is difficult to find in this exhibit, putting the emphasis on the artists and artworks themselves, rather than some thematic structure. This format holds true to the VASF's free art magazine, Artists' Network Program (ANP) Quarterly's mission to "bring forward people and phenomena that deserve acknowledgement and coverage regardless of their place in time," rather than focusing on "who's hot."

Nevertheless, thematic similarities run through many of the artists' pieces in the show: the Date Farmer's emulation of old hand-painted corrugated signs in Mexican neighborhoods bearing logos interpreted by amateurs, combined with Spanish text and their signature characters, an amalgamation of references to a culture which is in itself an amalgamation of many. Jeff Soto's acrylic and ink paintings, particularly the one entitled Telephone poles - Abu Ghraib (bottom left in the following photo), also present an amalgamation of cultural references, depicted here in a state of impending explosion or of supernova in progress, his images bursting from the center of the frame, a dream-like palimpsest of imagery. In Megan Whitmarsh's End of the World on the other hand, she shows us the aftermath of the explosion, as colorful children's book-like characters grab for what they can, tiny bags of popcorn, candy, cigarette butts, McDonald's wrappers, and other debris, as yeti-like monsters chase after them. The show-stopper however is a giant collaborative piece from Swoon, Faile and David Ellis, from the Burning House exhibition at New Image Art in January 2007, a huge pop-art poster that looks like it's been left outside for a few years, accumulating the dust and weather of the street.

Don't miss the videos by Cheryl Dunn by the entrance to the gallery, particularly Back Worlds for Words, featuring the now legendary stunt by artist Mark Gonzalez where he fulfills the dream of skateboarding through a museum at the behest of artist Johannes Wohnseifer at the Städtisches Museum in Mönchengladbach, Germany in 1998.

--Natalie Stanchfield

(*Images, from top to bottom: Fairfax + Haight, March 20 - May 28, 2008; VASF, Megan Whitmarsh, installation view, 2007, dimensions variable, photo by Sara Pavao. Fairfax + Haight, March 20 - May 28, 2008; VASF, Date Farmers, installation view, 2007-08, dimensions variable, photo by Sara Pavao. Fairfax + Haight, March 20 - May 28, 2008; VASF, Jeff Soto, installation view, 2008, 12 x 16" each, photo by Sara Pavao. Fairfax + Haight, March 20 - May 28, 2008; VASF, Swoon, Faile, David Ellis, 2007, from The Burning House exhibition, 2007, paint, paper, collage on two wood panels, 8 x 8', photo by Sara Pavao.)

Posted by Natalie Hegert on 3/30/08

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