Galleries That I Visited Last Weekend
Written by Haley Kerrigan
Pictured: Amy Trachtenberg’s debut solo show at Catharine Clark Gallery, The Violet June Of Autumn
Galleries That I Visited Last Weekend
During the week, I am the Development and Membership Assistant for the ICA San Josè, so I am always surrounded by art, and it doesn’t stop there. On weekends, you will either find me at various art shows around the Bay Area, or in my own home-studio making work.
I started off my Saturday in Union Square at the Fraenkel Gallery, which showed German artists, Bernd and Hilla Becher, who capture black and white industrial landscapes. They are known for creating the term “anonymous sculpture,” which refers to architecture with unintentional artistic qualities. In this particular body of work, the Bechers photograph factories and water towers. By taking these photographs, the Bechers call attention to the aesthetic of these seemingly mundane buildings.
Next, I went to Dolby Chadwich Gallery, where there was a group show, Beyond the Line with artists Ann Gale, Alex Kanevsky, Edwige Fouvry, Emilio Villalba, Megan Seiter, Robyn Freedman, and J. Braman. The pieces in the show were mainly figurative drawings on paper. Anytime I see a work on paper, there always is an element of intimacy to it. For a lot of artists, creating a drawing is the first step to a larger painting, sculpture, or installation, but seeing drawings as a finished piece feels so much more personal.
Then I went to Potrero Hill to check out Catharine Clark Gallery where I saw Amy Trachtenberg’s debut solo show with the gallery, The Violet June of Autumn. In this series of works, Trachtenberg takes found materials which range from shoes, fabric, zippers, and juxtaposes those materials with glass, wood, and metal. The objects are deconstructed and then rebuilt, creating a sense of familiarity and hominess with all the pieces, but with dysfunction.
Directly upstairs from the Catharine Clark Gallery is Hosfelt Gallery, which was my next stop. On view was Patricia Piccinini’s A tangled path sustains us. Through a mixture of sculpture, film, and installation, I was taken into a seemingly sci-fi world of hybrid human/animal creatures which asked the question: How are we really treating animals that we cohabitate the planet with? When you first walk into the space, there are three beautiful colorful coral- like resin sculptures. As you walk into the next room, I was taken out of what would normally be a white walled gallery space and transported into a forest with uncanny humanlike creatures. It brings the viewer into a space where they feel like they become those creatures in the forest. In the last room, there was a video playing of a girl caring for these creatures. When you sit down to watch the video, there is a hyper realistic silicone sculpture of two children holding a laundry basket with a dead koala bear laying on top of a pile of clothes. Overall, the show was executed so well, and I left the gallery rethinking how humans inhabit the world.
Next, I went to Minnesota Street Projects, where I went to an opening at Eleanor Harwood: Lee Materazzi’s Nipples Pulled Through. Through a series of photographs, Materazzi creates images of fragmented female bodies. In the photos, the bodies are covered by cardboard, with holes showing fingers, tongues, nipples, arms, and more. They are composed in a way where the body parts become ambiguous, making it feel like an object. Nudity vs. nakedness is something that is often brought up in the context of art, due to John Berger’s writings from Ways of Seeing. Nudity is meant to be used to show sexual attraction while nakedness refers to showing your true self. In this body of work, Materazzi questions the line between the two.
As I was walking out of Minnesota Street Projects, I ran into our very own, Mildred Howard. It’s always very fun to run into familiar faces while bouncing around to different galleries. Mildred Howard has gallery representation with Anglim/Trimble.
Lastly, I drove across the Bay Bridge to pt. 2 Gallery in Oakland to see two solo show openings: Kellen Chasuk’s Today O’Clock and Brett Flanigan’s Life Paintings.
There was a lot of variety in Kellen Chasuk’s body of work presented in the show. Some of the pieces were graphic stylized food, some were more figurative, and then there were geometric layered paintings with text embedded into the patterns. There was something humorous about walking in and seeing a painting that read “No More Diets” next to a painting of a cake. All of the paintings had a really interesting narrative wonkiness to them that fed into themes of adulthood and maturity.
Next door was pt. 2’s brand new gallery space, which had Brett Flanigan’s stunning acrylic paintings. The pieces are all process based, with repeating patterns that grow from one decision made in the painting being replicated across the rest of the canvas. Brett Flanigan compares this process of painting to the process of evolution and genetic mutation. Within the repetition, there are slight variations within the patterns that he forms. Through this process, Flanigan creates beautiful paintings with saturated colors and organic shapes.
After an exciting day of seeing lots of great shows, I felt inspired to go home and work on my own art.
In my own practice, I have been making oil paintings which explore themes of fear, desire, interpersonal relationships, and continuity. Through layered imagery, broken text, and geometric compositions, I make decisions of which areas to render and which areas to simplify, selectively choosing which information to share with the viewer and what to withhold. Moments of tension juxtapose the softness of the blended areas. In this particular body of work, I use fire as a symbol for both passion and destruction. As I build up layers of oil paint, decisions from the beginning stages come through, and I adapt while still continuing to create a new narrative as I finish the piece.
I love being around art, whatever that looks like. Making art often feels like an obsession for me, and nothing makes me feel more alive than creating. My hope is to have as many people as possible experience that feeling whether that’s by looking at art or by making it. What art shows have you seen recently? How did they inspire you?