About the Show
Imagined weight can be heavier than real weight, sometimes to the point where our perceptions apply more pressure and gravity than what can actually be accounted for. How does this happen? In today’s world, where environmental disasters of tragic magnitude have practically become the norm, where ongoing wars are being fought simultaneously on multiple fronts, and where we’re in the midst of the worst economic catastrophe since the great depression, it’s apparent that we are living in “heavy times”. In some way or another, each of us carries the weight of our times, if not in a physically tangible way, at the very least in the mind. How are we dealing with all of this? What is the current state of contemplation surrounding it? Where does the resulting energy find a resting place? Can bad things actually be transformed into good?
It is not the intent of this exhibition to address any of these issues directly, as much as it is to address the individual’s unconscious and conscious responses to the current state of affairs that dominates our political and social landscape. Oftentimes, we attempt to escape the heaviness, through expressions of laughter, serenity, or even music. Sometimes, we attack the weight head-on, using pent up energy that inevitably needs to find its release somewhere. In this exhibition, eleven artists address this placement, both definitively and abstractly, and in the two-dimensional and the sculptural.
Ben Venom, Casey Jex Smith, Glen Baldridge, Harley Lafarrah Eaves, Kevin Taylor, Kyle Ranson, Laurie Steelink, N.Dash, Shelter Serra, Thomas Øvlisen, Vanessa Blaikie
Curated by Andrew Schoultz
I’m interested in juxtaposing traditional handmade crafts with one of the more extreme musical genres, Heavy Metal. My work can be described as a collision of Iron Maiden Metal ballads with the outrageous stage antics of Ozzy Osbourne. Serious, yet attempting to take on a B movie Horror film style where even the beasts of Metal need a warm blanket to sleep with. The question remains…Can I play with madness?
Casey Jex Smith
My current body of work deals with personal identity and finding meaning in between three seemingly disparate worlds; religion, sci-fi/fantasy, and “high-art”. My work blends appropriated imagery and ideas from illustrated Bibles, Dungeons & Dragons manuals, Durer etchings, Agnes Martin paintings, Mormon architecture, NASA photos, The Lord of the Rings, and Sunday School flannel-board cut-outs into semi-cohesive narratives. This work attempts to legitimize how I spend my time by visually placing art, religion, and high-geekdom on the same hierarchical strata. This blending and prioritizing is a reflection of how I function in the world. Frodo’s ring is a metaphor for my spiritual weakness, a temple becomes a repository for wooden Frank Stellas, Big Foot is the Bible’s Cain, and a James Turrell installation is a meditation on the Holy Ghost. I primarily draw because the process of mark making feels natural, immediate, and allows me to make art anywhere at anytime.
In his work Baldridge utilizes a diverse set of visual and material cues drawn from sources as diverse as found coffin catalogues, losing lottery tickets, trompe l’oeil bullet holes, and knife infomercials to convey a gravely ambivalent approach toward consumerism and mortality. Through his use of various media, Baldridge offers us several scenarios through which to view a future somehow at rest right on the edge of physical violence or destruction, or alternating between success and failure, all the while maintaining a humor that belies the severity and darkness of his themes.
Harley Lafarrah Eaves
Art is a meditation process that I’m obsessed with. Similar to the effects that Lysergic acid has on the brain I create patterns out of meticulous line work to build a universe based off my own imagination. Within this universe I’ve made for myself, Animals, geometrical patterns, relics of dark magic, astrological space and temples all come together to interact in a dialog of psychedelic proportions. By using these themes I’ve allowed myself to sift in and out of consciousness of my own reality and make work that is largely autobiographical but work that opens itself up for the viewer to interpret the piece through their own eyes. That way the interaction between the public and my art becomes something sacred to them based off their own assumptions of what the work is about.
I attempt to expose the animal within. Much of that which is assumed to be chaotic and incomprehensible within the human paradigm can be clarified through the observation that we, like all organisms are bound first and foremost by natural law. Over time, civil responsibility has ordered a physical detachment from nature, however a deeper mental architecture remains intact. It is this power play with which we struggle internally. I take interest in formulating a parody, amplifying an analysis, and offering visual depiction of this all at once grotesque, lovely, and hilarious production.
The human condition is my total obsession. I am fascinated by the archetypes of human nature and often choose religious themes to express this. The image of Jesus compels me in as much as he may represent the God Figure within all of us. I am in love with the idea that we are all gods who hide this fact from ourselves. Coming close to this truth often results in extreme violence. These savage human moments are exciting to me. Uncontrolled emotions, reveling in the flesh, being addicted to the physical, these are the images I try to capture, but always with the reminder of something else, something hidden just out of sight. The unknowable.
Born and raised in Arizona, Laurie Steelink is the daughter of an organic chemist, and she developed a fascination with molecular structure as a child. Trained at the San Francisco Art Institute, this interest can be detected in work from her early years, and it has expanded and deepened over the years. Currently based in Los Angeles, Steelink began producing a series of large abstractions in 2009 that could be described as explorations in consciousness. Unashamedly psychedelic, and pulsating with an ecstatic, throbbing beauty, they map the microcosm and the macrocosm, and stand alone among the art being produced today. Steelink is a fearless and assured artist, alive to the pleasure principle, and it’s not surprising that she cites Yayoi Kusama, Harry Smith, and Sun Ra as key influences; as was the case with those singular figures, Steelink creates art that’s impervious to trend or commercial concerns. Her paintings are highly personal — each piece is produced as a kind of response to events in her life — but their ambitions stretch far beyond autobiography, and are much more generous. This is art about infinity, and above all else, it is an invitation to play.
In an increasingly dynamic world filled with over-consumption, starvation, debt, terrorism, and a laundry list of other issues, art stands as a reminder that the communication and understanding of our surroundings through the objects we encounter defines our experiences and creates the reality we live in.
Almost every mark is visible though hardly any are left. Appropriating the process from the auto body shop, the actual surface of my sculptures and paintings are sanded with the finest grain possible, eliminating any actual marks or at least trying to eliminate them. I try to make things right. I try to make them perfect, but I can’t. I fail. The inherent quality of the materials promise perfection, but I can’t deliver. My hands-on artsy approach messes up the integrity of the materials. I know that will never reach the level of perfection inherent to my chosen materials; I know that I will fail. I keep on going, but then I stop, and sometimes begin again, though eventually I stop and I am done.
Born in Montreal and based in San Francisco, Vanessa Blaikie is an artist, curator and gallerist whose interdisciplinary practice is inspired by space – space as it is both occupied and emptied. Blaikie works through the mediums of painting, sculpture, and installation, adopting a multi-faceted approach in portraying the world at its visible limit. Along with her husband Joey Piziali, the two founded Ping Pong Gallery in 2005, a contemporary gallery in the Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco featuring the work of emerging national and international artists. Recent curatorial projects include “Front + Center: Weather Streams,” an exhibition at the Headlands Center for the Arts, co-curated with Jess Brier and Joey Piziali. Blaikie’s work has been exhibited at Lisa Dent Gallery, Build Gallery and Gallery 16 in San Francisco and with a forthcoming show in the spring of 2011 at Collectors Contemporary in Singapore. Blaikie received her MFA in 2004 from the San Francisco Art Institute and her BFA in 1999 from Columbia University in New York. She was an artist in residence at the Banff Center for the Arts.