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May 12, 2017

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Ken Fandell
Weekly Recommendations
Ken Fandell
Traywick Contemporary
Gisela Colon
Alex Weinstein
Leslie Sacks
Rick Bartow
Marcus Zúñiga
NO LAND (Strangers Collective)
Andrea Longacre-White
and Jessie Homer French
Various Small Fires

Left: Ken Fandell, "Blowout 457, 461, 480, 542, 548, 551, 552, 555, 556, 557, 641, 642, 648, 649, 651, 652, 653, 659, 660, 679, 680, 682, 687, 707, 708, 711, 712, 713, 727, 728, 735–741, 760, 763, 764, 767, 769, 770, 772, 785," 2017, unique archival inkjet print/multiple exposure color photograph, 75 x 60"

Ken Fandell
Traywick Contemporary, Berkeley, California
by Bill Lasarow

Continuing through May 27, 2017

The first pair of large works on paper flanking either side of the gallery entry are images of rough gestural circles with sprays of fine lines and splatters of what is probably charcoal with strategic use of acrylic. Once you notice the patterns the association with tire tread becomes apparent and everything begins  to change. Ken Fandell is, after all, a photographer, and these tires, one of three small series of "Blowouts Bricks Lines," are in fact obsessively integrated layers and details of numerous shots taken of a decimated truck tire retrieved from the side of a freeway. It's the ethos of traditional junk assemblage… READ MORE

Editors' Roundtable
by DeWitt Cheng

"… realism doesn't merely include what one immediately sees with the eye at a given moment. One also relates it to past experience, … to feelings, ideas and … the totality of the awareness of it … By realism I don't mean realism in any photographic sense. Certainly not." — Stuart Davis

San Francisco is fortunate this summer to host three exemplary museum shows: the young Claude Monet at the Legion of Honor; and, less heralded but no less important or inspiring, or revelatory, Stuart Davis at the de Young. Davis may be less well known than the others, but his dazzling work deserves the red carpet treatment, too. Donald Judd, not someone who might be suspected of maximalist tendencies, after seeing a Davis show, suggested that an appropriate reaction might be applause: "Stuart Davis has more to do with what the United States is like than Hopper."

"In Full Swing" features some seventy-five of the artist's works, mostly oils on canvas, but also preparatory drawings and smaller paintings in gouache and casein. The show originated at the Whitney Museum last year, and is accompanied by an excellent short film tracing Davis's evolution from Ashcan-school street realism; through Cubism, which the artist encountered as an exhibiting young watercolorist at the famous 1913 Armory show, and in more concentrated form on a 1928 yearlong stay in Paris; to his mature style, dating from the 1930s, which derived from American-scene observation but transformed it utterly into joyous, electrifying visual music.  Davis's ebullient syncopations of bright colors and interlocking shapes are uniquely his own (despite occasional resemblances to Picasso, Matisse, Léger, and Miró). Peter Schjeldahl characterized Davis as "a polemicist and a happy warrior for modernity as the heart's blood of what he called, invoking the nation's definitive poet, the thing Whitman felt — and I too will express it in pictures — America — the wonderful place we live in."

Occupying several meandering galleries on the museum's second floor, the works are hung for the most part chronologically (although the careful viewer will need to look at dates, as the direction of pedestrian traffic flow is not always clear). Deviating from this progression are several groupings of paintings and drawings showing Davis brilliantly reworking themes, sometimes from decades past, like a musician riffing on old standards. Jazz was one of Davis' longtime passions, beginning in his youth, when, "hep to the jive," he frequented  the rough bars of Newark, and he continued to do so throughout his life. 

A playful but telling inscription from Duke Ellington in "American Painting" (1932/1942-54) makes this clear: "It Don't Mean a Thing if It Ain't Got That Swing." The painting also features stylized renderings of Davis and Federal Arts Project colleagues Willem deKooning, John Graham and Arshile Gorky. Gorky's cavalier attitude toward politics ended his friendship with Davis, who for a time abandoned painting for organizing, before becoming disgusted with lefty kowtowing to Stalin. Davis: "I took the business as seriously as the serious situation demanded and devoted much time to the organizational work. Gorky was less intense about it and still wanted to play."  Gorky, who killed himself in 1946, when the painting was yet unfinished, may be the figure who has been canceled out.

If Davis' paintings are timeless, they are also historic windows into the art of the early twentieth century, combining aspects of Cubism, Abstract Expressionism, and, with their playful deployment of the everyday imagery of commercial America, Pop. To follow Davis' career is to recapitulate the phylogeny of American painting (except for Surrealism, which had no appeal to this son of artists, high-school dropout and student of real life). Davis died in 1964 at the age of seventy-one, of a stroke. His final, unfinished painting is here, still bearing the masking tape that he used to achieve the crisp lines that contrast so well with his pastry-chef paint surfaces. Its title, "Fin," or End, inspired by a French movie's final frame, is the last thing Davis painted. 

Holland Cotter wrote:  "What Davis got right was belief: the belief that he was doing the one sure, positive thing he could do, and that he would keep doing it, no matter what, in failure or success, in sickness or in health. That's the lesson young artists can take away from his show ..." In our faithless, feckless times, governed by academic learned helplessness and commercially induced moral slackness, these are lessons worth learning or relearning.  

[The Editor's Roundtable is a column of commentary by our own editors and guest columnists from around the region. Their opinions do not necessarily reflect that of Visual Art Source or its affiliates.]

Stuart Davis

Stuart Davis, "American Painting," 1932, 1942-54, oil on canvas, 40 x 50 1/4"
See DeWitt Cheng's column, left

Gisela Colon

Gisela Colon, "Oblate Ellipse (Silver)," 2017, blow-molded acrylic,
57 1/2 x 41 1/2 x 11". Image courtesy of McClain Gallery

Gisela Colon
McClain Gallery, Houston, Texas
by Donna Tennant

Continuing through June 17, 2017

Gisela Colon's aptly named show, "Atmospheres," is a collection of ten sublime sculptures that resonate with color and light. Mysterious and magical, they defy a simple explanation of how they were produced. After Colon immersed herself in the work and theories of such color and light artists as Donald Judd, Robert Irwin, James Turrell and Larry Bell, she sought to create something new and organic — "almost alive," in her words. Wall pieces such as "Ultra Spheroid Glo-Pod (Iridescent Lilac)" and "Mega Rectanglopoid (Gold)" began as rectangles but evolved into asymmetrical biomorphic forms that… READ MORE

Alex Weinstein

Alex Weinstein, "The Next Thing You Know" from the "Burst" series of paintings, 2016

Alex Weinstein
Leslie Sacks Gallery, Santa Monica, California
by Jeanne Willette

Continuing through June 10, 2017

Stand under the sun and close your eyes to see the light dancing on your closed lids. Dive under the waves, hold your breath, look up and see the sun droplets darting above your head. Go to the desert, beyond the reach of city lights, tilt your head towards the stars and watch them puncture the covering of night. Imagine almost, but not quite dying. See the light at the end of the tunnel. Do these things and you will understand the art of Alex Weinstein. It's an art of ambiguity, of the in-between, of the liminal where the threshold separating representation from… READ MORE

Rick Bartow

Rick Bartow
Froelick Gallery, Portland, Oregon
by Richard Speer

Continuing through May 27, 2017

Rick Bartow (1946-2016) was widely known in the Northwest for his neo-Expressionist depictions of mystical animal/human/spirit hybrids, informed by the heritage of the Wiyot Tribe of Northern California from which he sprang. Although there are no animals changing into human form or becoming spirits in the exhibition "Tot Blumen," there's still plenty of metamorphosis. In a selection of mixed-media drawings and paintings on paper spanning 1994 to 2015, Bartow returns… READ MORE

Left: Rick Bartow, "#5 Old Rose Blossom (from the Shinpukuji Portfolio)," 2007, graphite, gouache, ink on paper, 33 1/2 x 23 1/2"

Marcus Zúñiga

Marcus Zúñiga
NO LAND (Strangers Collective), Santa Fe,
New Mexico
by Kelly Skeen

Continuing through June 11, 2017

"Ya Veo," meaning "I see" in Spanish, is emerging New Mexico artist Marcus Zúñiga's first solo exhibition, highlighting two years of work and a lifetime of cosmic exploration. New media projections and sculptures represent the artist's perception of the universe contextualized through the filter of his Mexican-American heritage. While the vision is specific to Zúñiga's ancestral roots, it's also an accessible… READ MORE

Left: Marcus Zúñiga, "El Imán," 2016, acrylic, magnets, iron filling, LED panels, 43 x 33 x 33"

Jessie Homer French

Andrea Longacre-White and Jessie Homer French
Various Small Fires, Hollywood, California
by Michael Shaw

Continuing through May 27, 2017

Andrea Longacre-White overfills the main gallery with Shibari rings, rope and miscellaneous sculptural hardware on both wall and floor. They're part Cady Noland, part shaman and part pet store ephemera. The strongest works, however, are featured more prominently in the smaller gallery. Made from "controlled burn" pieces of wood which hang in receptacle-like arcs on the wall and are piled with gold… READ MORE

Left: Jessie Homer French, "Pender Island Cemetery," 2014, oil on canvas,
30 x 40"

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