Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Bay Area Currents 2007 (Oakland)

Note: This exhibition is scheduled to close on 6/29/07.

The non-profit Oakland Art Gallery (OAG) is presenting nine Bay Area artists in the 2007 edition of its “Bay Area Currents” survey. The juror this year was Aimee Chang, curator of contemporary art at the Orange County Museum of Art. There is always some good work in this small annual show, but I think it would be stronger if it reached deeper into the local art community. I can think of numerous artists whose work ought to show up here. Are many artists simply not applying? I don't know.

This year, the highlights of the show are sculpture. A key factor is probably Aimee Chang's experience as co-curator of a widely noted exhibit in 2005 at the UCLA Hammer Museum: “THING: New Sculpture from Los Angeles.” I felt the placement and lighting of the sculptures in the OAG space did not show them to full advantage, but that didn't kill the intrigue.

Two of David O. Johnson's neon sculptures are included. One is a cube of bricks, on a pallet, with a green glow emanating from inside (photo at top). This incorporates four tropes of Minimalism—bricks, a cube, plexiglas, and neon light. The result looks like a Minimalist cube turned ratioactive. Or maybe it represents the over-heated California real estate market! The other work is “Gated Community III,” a neon gate that is askew and might be the entryway to hell. (Photo below.)

Zachary Royer Scholz continues to explore discarded pieces of foam presented as minimalist objects. I would call this Funk Minimalism. One work, installed on the wall, appears to be a pair of split cushions, which have been tarted up slightly with paint and ink. There is also a mismatched pair of tall mystery objects sagging against the wall. (Photos below.)

Xuchi Naungayan is represented by a couple of floor-standing sculptures that did not sustain my interest but also by a wall sculpture, “Polyhedron Drip,” that I thought was terrific. It's made of wax, graphite, and wire. It creates marvelous shadows (see below).

There were several works by Terry Mason, who appears to be a polymath in the materials arena. One smallish work showed a cockfight in metal—or should I say in bling. (Image below from the OAG website.) A much larger work was a device that translates light energy into the ultra-slow movement of a horizontal bar that, for some reason, has a twig extension. I didn't understand the work, but was impressed by its odd configuration and excellent craft. It could serve as a clock. I'll be keeping an eye out for Mason's work.

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