Back Door! and Romanowski at Fabric8

Two concurrent shows at Fabric8 in the Mission District of San Francisco touched upon topics that frequently come up here at CatSynth, highways/transportation and modern geometric design. They also followed two artistic styles that I associate with contemporary urban art: cartoonish humor and street art, and geometric architectural elements.

In Back Door! at Fabric8, artist Andy Stattmiller “visually expounds on the subject that San Franciscans love to hate: the MUNI transportation system”. And it is true, we do have a rather strained relationship with transit system we depend on in the city – there have been numerous times I have opted to walk because I felt is was more reliable. On the other hand, MUNI is a place where the colorful residents of the city cross paths and sometimes get squished together, and where one can observe the contrasts among neighborhoods and streets.

[Andy Stattmiller. 14 Mission.  Image courtesy of Fabric8.]

Stattmiller’s canvases featured individual lines from the MUNI system, mostly busses, which he populated brightly colored cartoon-like figures that simultaneously seem like real denizens of the city and creatures from other planets. The larger heads on the bus drivers were particularly fun. The busses themselves and the surrounding space take on different character of the lines and the neighborhoods that the serve. There is even a triangular canvas representing one of many steep inclines.

[Andy Stattmiller. 67 Bernal Heights.  Image courtesy of Fabric8.]

This was very much an show for locals, who could identify, and identify with, the individual busses and metro lines featured. People did seem to enjoy finding the piece that featured the lines they often use, whether part of their daily routine, or a particularly memorable misadventure. I did find a couple that I have frequented.

In contrast to the chaos and humor of Back Door!, Romanowski’s pieces in the concurrent show Bees and Things and Flowers had a very serious and ordered quality, and was quite calming.

[Romanowski. Le Roy. Image courtesy of Fabric8.]

Although several of the pieces are assemblages of found objects, they give the appearance of abstract sculpture or even painting. Indeed, one can see similarities in the patterns of the found-object pieces and his Installation of stencil on paper.

[Romanowski. Installation (stencil on paper, framed). Image courtesy of Fabric8.]


Some of the more intricate pieces, such as Le Roy, remind me a bit of Lousie Nevelson’s sculptures. However, while the abstract geometric designs feel modern, the use of mostly wooden found objects gives them an older feel. And as such, they seem to get in touch with the older architecture in many parts of the city.

Bees and Things and Flowers closed yesterday (September 5). However, Back Door! remains open at Fabric8 until September 12.