From Oakland, With Art
My band Midday Veil just got home from a west coast mini-tour that took us through several stops in the Bay Area, including a set last Friday night at an incredibly fun party at ABCo Artspace, organized by our friend Janina Angel Bath. The next morning, Janina took us on a walk around her neighborhood and we stopped at several galleries clustered in the up-and-coming art hub around 23rd and Telegraph.
The first highlight was Unearth, a group show of work by gallery artists at recession-friendly prices at the always excellent Johansson Projects, where I was especially excited to discover the light-emblazoned landscapes of Barry Underwood. Other standouts included the acid-colored abstractions of Jessalyn Haggenjos, the obsessive images of Scott Greenwalt and the digital video collages of Ellen Black. Also installed at Johansson Projects is an exhibition of literarily-inspired paintings by Jennie Ottinger, whose style seems a little precious overall but nonetheless has its moments of gravitas, particularly in the matter-of-fact treatment of tragic scenes from literary works such as Death of a Salesman, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Evelyn Waugh’s short novel The Loved One, a satire of the funeral business in Los Angeles.
At nearby Chandra Cerrito Contemporary, an exhibition called Stratigraphic explores the work of a group of artists using paint three-dimensionally in a way that reminds me of some of Margie Livingston‘s recent investigations. Some of the works are downright obsessive—which is to say, right up my alley. My favorite pieces in the show were some small carved-out paint excavations by David Allan Peters and a pair of absolutely gorgeous abstractions by Columbian-born artist Omar Chácon, whose canvases coated with dried and hand-collaged squirts of juicy acrylic paint are far more satisfying in person than can be conveyed in a photograph.
Finally, we stumbled upon the newish video and photography gallery Krowswork, whose unusual exhibition space includes a large garage-like room filled with antique church pews for the presentation of video art. The current telephone-themed exhibition Where I’m Calling From includes Dale Hoyt’s Who Shot MM, an early-80s survey of southern accents recorded over the telephone and set to a video feedback experiment in the shape of Texas, as well as the endearing one-sided telephone conversation of Regina Clarkinia’s Hello, Hunter, which thankfully appears in all its deadpan hilarity on YouTube:
San Francisco is, of course, a major destination for art audiences, however if you’re planning to be in the Bay Area anytime soon, I recommend a side trip to all the great new galleries cropping up in Oakland. I’m sure we barely made a dent in all the stuff there is to see in the East Bay, and I’m already looking forward to the next trip.