Wednesday, October 11, 2006

East Bay Sightings — August 2006

On visits to the East Bay in August, I came across some interesting work at both Kala Art Institute and Ego Park. At Kala, in Berkeley, a group show included Taro Hattori’s installation “Beaut Brute II.” Using consumer fetish aesthetics, the work featured machine gun components fashioned from mirrored plastic. These were neatly arrayed on a conveyor belt of fake white fur. The support structure was covered in white vinyl leather, and a silvery grape arbor hung in the background. The grapes were included, according to the artist, as a symbol of nature, sexuality, and the sacred. This work (photos at top and below) was later shown at The LAB, as noted in a previous post.

Also at Kala were several of Daniel Ross’s creepy variations on the type of souvenir for which a pretty nature scene is laminated onto a slice of tree (with bark). Ross’s versions are several feet across and half-a-foot thick. They combine digital printing, sculpture, painting, and varnish. The “noise” generated by the digital process is used to painterly effect. Ross ramps-up the sentimental aesthetic while incorporating spooky animal figures. One example included hovering white owls (photo below). Another depicted a pig head growing out of a pig head (second photo below, taken from the Kala website).

Over in Oakland, one of the most interesting galleries now is Ego Park. The regular hours are pitifully limited—can’t they find some interns? But you can call to set up an appointment more or less at your convenience. I happened to visit without appointment on a day the gallery was closed. A sizable group show beckoned from within. A neighbor-with-key with authorized by phone to let me in, but neither of us could find the light switches. Even in semi-darkness, I enjoyed many works in this show, more than I can mention here.
Ben Riesman offered one of his inventive large-format photos (that’s him in the box):

Another large photo, by Sophie Maher, captured the formal beauty of an ominous structure:

Finally, Matt Momchilov showed his drawing chops in works that brought to mind the German Expressionists:

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