Berkeley Art Center debuts a daring take on its juried exhibition theme, Soapbox. Guest jurors Steven Wolf of Steven Wolf Fine Arts in San Francisco and musician and artist, Boots Riley of Oakland selected work and public presentations by Sarah Barnard, Michael Barrett, Amber Crabbe, Ryan Carrington, Eva Enriquez, Rebecca Foster, Martinez Gabriel, Nicki Green, Robbin Henderson, Maru Hoeber, Isaac Lopez, Ethan Rafal, Nick Randhawa, Katherine Rhoades, Sanaz Sarabi, WIGband: Johanna Poethig and Barbara Golden.
Steven Wolf commented, “The artists in Soapbox are rhetorically crafty hand grenade throwers who don't shrink from the politics in aesthetics.”
Soapbox: A Berkeley Art Center Juried Exhibition, is a remarkable survey of Bay Area art making today. The original call for entries challenged artists to submit work that represented social and political issues that incited change, movement and upheaval and much of the included work does just that, but as a whole, the exhibition goes much farther.
Artists are fiercely aware of local and international events that are rapidly affecting our daily lives, but the artists included in this exhibition are also deeply immersed in questions of identity.
How can we assert our own voices as well as actively listen to others in the midst of such upheavals? Much of the included work seeks to answer this question in sophisticated ways.
Through performance, video, music, painting, photography and sculpture, the artists in Soapbox are wisely using diverse media to challenge not just what our voices are saying but how we are using our voices in the first place. In addition to the gallery exhibition, Soapbox will present web-based projects, live music, performances and more, as ways to break apart old models of activation and to challenge viewers to participate in building new models for this uncertain future.
The staff and board of Berkeley Art Center would also like to extend our gratitude to our jurors, Boots Riley and Steven Wolf. They have created a robust program and we are grateful for their thoughtful and honest contributions to this exhibition.
About the Jurors:
Raymond Lawrence Riley, better known by his stage name Boots Riley, is an American poet, rapper, songwriter, producer, screenwriter, humorist, political organizer, community activist, lecturer, and public speaker- best known as the lead vocalist of The Coup and Street Sweeper Social Club. Riley is known for his energetic, charismatic, "punk"-like presence on-stage, combined with dancing.
Boots Riley's work is known for its heartfelt, humorous, witty, optimistic lyrics with stylistically literary leanings. Most of his works, although often about a subjective experience (love, sex, broken-down cars, getting drunk, etc.), are tied to a radical class analysis of the current system and or situation. Some of his songs call for the overthrow of the ruling class by the working class.
Riley is the only known musical artist whose surveillance by intelligence agents has been exposed due to Wikileaks documents.
Steven Wolf was a newspaper reporter and a private dealer specializing in 20th century art before opening Steven Wolf Fine Arts in 2004. The gallery exhibits post war and contemporary art in all media, publishes catalogues and artist books. Steven Wolf occasionally writes a blog called The Off Brand, which chronicles overlooked aspects of visual culture and documents the junk he finds at the flea market.