Friday, May 22, 2009

Alice Shaw in the news

Alice Shaw's new show (Auto) Biography was on the cover of the
SF Chronicles 96 Hours section on Thursday. Here is the story about
Alices project as it appeared.

'(Auto)Biography': The delicate art of identity

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Palm readers and makeup artists, style-hopping dilettantes and spiritual mediums - San Francisco artist Alice Shaw is interested in constructing an identity from the information these know-it-all strangers have to offer in her new show at Gallery 16, "(Auto)Biography."

She's hired a handwriting analyst to dissect her show statement and then commented on that analysis with a work of her own. She's gotten a makeover and then made an imprint of this painted face. And she's had her name taken apart by a synesthete before photographing herself in her moniker's hot pink hues. In the process, last week, the Mission District denizen appeared to be putting together the perfectly imperfect portrait of an artist as a skeptic - unwilling to settle on a medium or any one medium's intuitive/off-the-cuff interpretation.

"This is something I've had in my head for a long time," Shaw, 43, said. She was still putting together the pieces for the upcoming show. Works-in-progress were gathered on a small card table and settees around her Victorian parlor, which was also strewn with antiques and stuffed animals. "Showing with (gallery owner) Griff (Williams) at Gallery 16 is great because he gives you complete freedom - he doesn't know what I'm going to be doing at all! That's the best way."

Shaw appreciates this creative freedom. Coming from a family of artists - her father and mother are ceramicist Richard Shaw and painter-printmaker Martha Shaw, her grandfather was a Disney cartoonist, and her brother is singer-songwriter Virgil Shaw - she's a maker who has "dabbled in a lot of different things."

Wordplay and teasing out the real from the unreal are factors she's toying with, as well as ideas revolving around doubled or mirrored selves - notions that popped up in her book, "People Who Look Like Me," and her 2007 solo exhibit, "Alice Shaw: A Group Show," also at Gallery 16.

The San Francisco Art Institute instructor was also provoked by those complicated yet all-too-easy fabrications facilitated by digital media. "I think a lot about how digital photography has created this society of skeptics," Shaw observed, "because you look at things and think, 'Well, I don't know if that's been changed or not.' " But rather than bemoaning the switch, the artist is taking notes from digital media's fake-book, making, say, faux salt prints and punning on the form visually by depicting "positive" and "negative" salt shaker images. "Sometimes," she said with a chortle, "I take things way too literally."

Reception today. Through July 3. Gallery 16, 501 Third St., S.F. (415) 626-7495. - Kimberly Chun,

This article appeared on page F - 12 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Monday, May 18, 2009

Alice Shaw at G16

Opening Reception before Memorial Day Weekend.
MUSIC by Joel Murach

Gallery 16 is pleased to welcome back Alice Shaw for her third solo exhibition at the gallery.

Alice Shaw is back at G16 for her third solo show at the gallery! As anyone familiar with Alice's work can attest, she never disappoints.

In her upcoming exhibition entitled (Auto)biography, Alice Shaw has employed others, such as a handwriting analyst and a psychic, to tell her information about herself that she may not have been aware of. She has taken what she has learned from these sessions and made artwork in response to this new knowledge.

For this show, Shaw, primarily known as a photographer, has also used painting, printmaking, drawing, and other media to illustrate her responses. Shaw looks at the theory that 'digital photography is more closely akin to painting than traditional photographic techniques because of its malleability.' She also believes that the digital arts has created a 'society of skeptics.' Auto(biography) sets out to satisfy these skeptics, and suggests 'we should not always believe what we see.'

As many already know, G16 is in love the whole Shaw clan. Alice is the daughter of renown bay area sculptor Richard Shaw and brother to musician Virgil Shaw. If you don't own a copy of Virgil's "Still Falling", go buy it!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Baker vs. Killian

One of my favorite aspects of artmaking is the discourse that inevitably follows the artworks completion. Yes, I know that much of what gets created never makes so much as a ripple of critical attention. But, Bruno Fazzolari's recent show at Gallery 16 yielded two very different view points. The first was the noted SF Chronicle critic Kenneth Baker's review in the Saturday May 2 edition of the newspaper. The other was penned for SFMOMA's Open Space blog by Kevin Killian, noted playwright and novelist. While these two reviews are very different in intent and tone, it started me longing for more real-time battles of opinion in art criticism.

Here's to hoping for more art critical lucha libre!
The two reviews for your indulgence.

Kenneth Baker (courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle),

Fazzolari at 16: Bruno Fazzolari's paintings and drawings at Gallery 16 present connected problems that I do not encounter often. His work leaves me equally unsure of how seriously to take it and of how to take it seriously.

Consider the painting "Griefly Thurible" (2009). Should we regard it as unfinished or as effectively unbegun? The forms and gestures in it seem both rehearsed and relaxed to the point of abandonment from lassitude. What might count as allusions - to Philip Guston's late manner, for instance - never quite congeal.

Yet nearly every piece on view evokes volleys of inner disputation that conclude with manifest decisions unintelligible to anyone else. Only a symptomatic trail of ambivalence remains.

To learn that Fazzolari has adapted certain forms and marks from comics and other vernacular illustration only makes us wonder whether we have mistaken his report of a cultural condition for peculiarities of his own temperament.

Fazzolari has given his ongoing series of ink drawings the title "Six Realms." It echoes the Buddhist notion of the six realms of being into which karma may cause a soul to be reborn, but even the Buddhist spiritual vision takes on a comic-book bizarreness from the perspective of contemporary pop culture's cynical materialism.

Fazzolari's work exemplifies the surprising and not necessarily likable forms that sophistication takes in contemporary art.

Opening and Closing by Kevin Killian

Over the weekend I finally got over to Gallery 16 to see the last week of Bruno Fazzolari’s exhibition Cold Turkey, a selection of drawings broken up by six recent paintings. This is the last week you can see it, so get down there if you can. As you probably know, the Gallery is only a few blocks from SF MOMA, at Bryant and Third, and if you haven’t been there it is one of the pleasantest places I know with always plenty to see. This time around Fazzolari‘s show is a winner indeed.

The drawings come from a series called “Six Realms” on which the artist has been working for many years; apparently there are dozens of them. I took the traditional gallery walk, with a map in my hand of what I was seeing, and proceeded from left to right, an arrangement that usually adds no meaning, only the comfort of habit. This time around however, I convinced myself I was catching something happening in those drawings, that I was seeing them progress from simple gestures towards more complex renditions of the social world. From the self — even the self of the young child — to perhaps the loss of that self within the increasingly organized and globalized state. I looked again — made the circle one more time — and by George, I was so pleased with myself!

Nowhere did I manage to agree with even a single word of Kenneth Baker’s review — but wait. I can imagine a few of my readers don’t know who Baker is, but he is the highly respected art writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. He’s been at his post so long that when I first came to San Francisco and I was gullible, someone told me, and I believed it for a time, that he was the man they named the phrase “a baker’s dozen” after. (Boy did I feel like a fool when I told someone that, and they proved that the phrase was established in, I don’t know, the era of Chaucer!) Cold Turkey seems to have flickered simultaneous off and on switches in Ken Baker. Like Gerald Manley Hopkins or someone, Baker is nearly impossible to summarize, but you can read for yourself the review that made me so curious. The particular picture that gives KB so much trouble, “Griefly Thurible” (2009) is, for my money, utterly convincing and never brought late Guston to my mind, but to get there I would really have to have more art training I suppose. If the work in the show is guilty of too much “sophistication,” I, suspiciously, tend to embrace it.

What does the title mean? I asked Fazzolari. “Cold Turkey,” he explains, “is a phrase which has been on my mind for awhile–I like phrases which slip away from their literal referents, but double back on them. Several other reasons why: It refers back to my food work (which I don’t do anymore); to the free-fall of the economy; to the fact that it’s my first show in 8 years; to a state of naked awareness–bracing perception without crutches–before you recognize/decide what you’re seeing. Then I asked him if he had heard about the new movie coming out by the makers of Borat. It’s called Bruno, and I suggested it would give his name new currency. His face grew dark with fear, then he lightened up. “Growing up in Tucson, Arizona, with a name like Bruno was a challenge,” he laughed. “And just when I’d outgrown the taunts now here comes Sacha Baron Cohen to finish me off.”

Friday, May 8, 2009

Rex Ray at MCA Denver

A new video prepared by the MCA Denver of his
current solo show! Watch out for the upcoming
PBS Documentary about Rex's work!