Works Gallery
Artist Information

Ben Venom

“Piece of Mind”

Project Room: Lucien Shapiro “Vessel”

Opening Reception: Saturday, September 14, 2013 7:00pm – 10:00pm

Exhibition Dates: September 14, 2013 – September 29, 2013




Ben Venom “Piece Of Mind”

Guerrero Gallery is proud to present Piece of Mind, an exhibition of new works by Ben Venom.  Piece of Mind is the artist’s second solo exhibition at the gallery.  Working with repurposed materials to create textile-based pieces, Venom contrasts the often menacing and aggressive counterculture elements of biker gangs, metal music and the occult with the comforts of domesticity.  His collision of traditional quilting techniques with textiles tied to the fringes of society re-envisions the story of the material through a softer lens.

Made within the past year, the roughly fifteen works exhibited in Piece of Mind feature both the introduction of new materials into Venom’s process as well as greater intricacy in his designs.  Denim and Leather are brought together in large-scale quilts and motorcycle jackets. Referencing the acid wash trends of the 1980’s, Venom hand bleached nearly all of the denim used in the show.  Used leather jackets and Harley Davidson apparel appear alongside his staple of heavy metal t-shirts.  The viewer is assaulted with imagery of soaring eagles, charging tigers, whips and chains.  All bets are off wherever you may roam.

Ben Venom graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2007 with a Master of Fine Arts degree.  His work was included in the November 2011 issue of ARTFORUM Magazine, and he was selected for Bay Area Now 6 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.  Venom was recently interviewed on NPR: All Things Considered and by Nessa Reifsnyder on Creative Mojo.  His work has been shown both nationally and internationally at Charlotte Fogh Gallery in Denmark, Circle Culture Gallery in Germany, Wolverhampton Gallery in England, RVCA San Francisco, Get This! Gallery in Atlanta, the Honolulu Museum of Art, and at the International Quilting Festival of Ireland. He will be exhibiting in the Affordable Art Fair in Hamburg as well as the Aqua Art Miami fair.  Venom has lectured at the California College of Arts, BURNAWAY, and the Frist Center for the Visual Arts.  He is a member of the San Francisco Quilter’s Guild and currently teaches Printmaking at the Kala Art Institute and Workshop SF.

Lucien Shapiro “Vessel”

Guerrero Gallery proudly presents Vessel, a collection of new works by Lucien Shapiro. This body of works, composed of masks and corresponding vessels, coincides with specific rituals personal to Shapiro’s experiences and reflections in life. Presented are themes related to the daily hustle, the seeking of light, confronting fears, realizing strength, the longing for a partner, and dealings with rejection. The masks provide a personal shield from realities; the vessels are representative of discovered or learned antidotes; and the rituals express an examination, acknowledgement, and passage of inner struggles. Through personal rituals, we’re able to experience reflective and intoxicating healing and cleansings of the soul.

By way of the Sinking Boats Belly Ritual, which is performed after one has recently been rejected or heart-broken, the mask-wearer is able to release pain and find solace. The ritual entails a dance under which the mask wearer’s head spasms and limp limb motions mimic beating oneself over the head or against something. Progressively, like an ungraceful beast, a hurling flurry of pin-wheeling and undulating arms ensues. Filled with ice water and positioned on the floor below the mask wearer, the Rusting Red Vessel, is emptied upon oneself, cleansing and rejuvenating.

Another ritual presented by Shapiro in the exhibition is a take on the modern man’s hustle. The Hustler’s Hooded Cloud Mask, adorned with what the wearer must push in order to carry on, is a showcase of the hustler’s supply. The Green Encompassed Vessel represents the mask wearer’s bank; It has no bottom, showing how currency seems to be continually spent immediately after it is made. The Purple Piece Cloud Vessel, a ceremonial pipe, represents the consumption of goods and evidences the expected nuances associated with the hustler-client relationship.

Lucien Shapiro’s art is rife with found objects, textures, casted forms, manipulations, raw substances, oddities and multiple personalities. Treating forgotten objects and memories as treasure, he creates a kingdom under which new life is born through sculpture. His Urban Obsessions explore perceptions of identity, addiction, and time, and tangibly relate the past’s and present’s ritualistic escape from stress, pain and love. Shapiro’s work, a laborious craft and meditative consumption of time, transforms forgotten objects into nostalgically interesting and beautiful relics that compel viewers to re-evaluate what our everyday possessions represent and mean to us. Shapiro obtained a BFA from San Francisco’s Academy of Art University in 2003.