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San Francisco
SFMOMA - San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
151 3rd St., San Francisco, CA 94103
November 20, 2010 - November 6, 2011

A Conversation with a Mark Bradford “Monster,” 2006
by Christina Catherine Martinez

Hello you big ugly thing.

I didn’t mean that. I just mean that you remind me of those collages in the McDonald’s near my parent’s house. All you need is a fluorescent tube running across your face.

That came out wrong, I’m sorry. You’re bigger than those. Way bigger. That’s what’s important, I think. I think. I asked Andrew once--

I asked him why everyone loves Mark Rothko paintings. We were in a gallery full of Rothko paintings and he told me that they were probably worth more than my life. I wanted to know why. I think he was joking but I took it really personally. I think.

Anyway he said that staring at a Rothko painting tends to make people very emotional, and the bigness has a lot to do with that. I found a red one and I stared at it for a long time, wanting to be made very emotional. I picked up a nice throbbing sensation, but I can’t say I got emotional. Which really bummed me out, you know? Because I like to think I’m engineered for this kind of stuff.

I don’t know why I’m still talking to you. I just got here so I don’t really know anyone.  Serious. I’m from Los Angeles and I’ve never lived anywhere else, and I’ve always been kind of sensitive about it. I just got here yesterday, thought I might go out and meet some new things, you know? I miss everything. Family and friends of course but…there’s a texture there I always took for granted and now it’s gone and I can’t even articulate what it was. It’s really imperative, though.  To know how.

It’s like...the opposite of that thing. That giant photograph of a landscape. Wendover, UT by Victoria Samburnaris from 2007. It’s all orange dirt and little blue dot-houses, and what is that? That’s Utah. It’s flat and I can see it. Home is black polka-dotted sidewalks because no one throws their gum away properly. And those bright neon signs that just show a date and an address and a phone number and you’re supposed to show up, dressed for what? It’s like... that thing. That big rug. Smoke Knows by Pae White. At first I thought it was a painting of some smoke, but I got close and I saw that it’s all woven, all heavy thread and deep thought and not all at what it seems from far away. Well, I’m far away now, far enough, and I don’t know what it is, but it’s something like your stucco-looking face. Raked-over confetti and mud, that’s what you look like. Maybe that’s why I feel like I can talk to you. I have a very confessional nature, so--

You probably have no idea what I’m talking about. Let’s move on. Let me check your credentials here. These things always crack me up, how you and you and you get a paragraph on the wall but that guy over there just gets a title.

“…incorporates ephemera from urban neighborhoods……signage and other materials collected most frequently from…South Central Los Angeles…pulsing city lights…collapsed…distant perspective.”


You’re crying.

I know, I know, but you can take it. You’re so big you could take anything.  I don’t want to talk anymore.


Christina C Martinez


Top image: Mark Bradford, Monster, 2006. Courtesy of the artist and SFMOMA.

Posted by Christina Catherine Martinez on 4/18/11 | tags: mixed-media

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