I <3 SF (I Love SF), Driftwood Salon

The show I <3 SF (where “<3” is the the common emoticon for heart that may or may not appear properly in this print) is closing today at Driftwood Salon, but we take a little time today to look back on my visit to the opening of the show. It would have hard to not attend a show that features on the compact but diverse city we call home. It was scheduled to coincide with the 155th anniversary of the founding of the City and County of San Francisco on June 11, 1856, and features several artists’ interpretations of life in the city as a general concept but details and subject matter unique to San Francisco. There are street scenes, architectural details, references to cultural history, and some that are simply “tributes”.

The “centerpiece” of the exhibition was a large painted cardboard origami piece by Joe Spear with the show title “I <3 SF” emblazoned on the side, about where the US emblem might go on a fighter jet.

[Joe Spear’s metal origami in foreground. Rebecca Kerlin in background.]

On the wall behind the origami one can see several pieces by Rebecca Kerlin, whose works featuring the highways and other infrastructure of our region and my own neighborhood in particular have often been featured on this site. The three selections on the wall are from her “Constructions” series, with the large “Underpass Under Construction in Blue” pieces and the smaller “Underpass Under Construction in Orange” depicting the freeway approaching the Bay Bridge over 4th Street.

[Detail of Rebecca Kerlin’s Underpass Under Construction in Orange.]

Driftwood Salon is itself in an interesting location on a side street in SOMA near the Central Freeway, so it seems appropriate that Kerlin’s work has been featured in multiple shows here.

Jun Han Kim’s pieces, including the photorealistic A View of Sunset, SF #4 also take on the literal sights and neighborhoods of the city.

[Jun Han Kim]

Here we see the edge of the quieter and often grayer Sunset District from the Great Highway on the Pacific coast. It is an interesting part of the city that feels quite distant from the downtown. It was placed in the exhibition next to a very contrasting painting by Mei-Ying Dell’Aquila.

[Mei-Ying Dell’Aquila.]

Here we see a more surreal image of the downtown financial district, with a figure who is at once the Statue of Liberty, a cartoon superhero and a fashionably dressed urban denizen crossing the street.

Two very different pieces by Greg PNUT Galinsky reference music and architecture of the city without specific locations.

[Greg PNUT Galinsky]

This first piece suggests jazz and brings to mind the frequent jam sessions around the city – but the image also has a very iconic and industrial quality with its sparse clean lines. The clean black lines are used quite differently in this piece which is painted on glass. The reference to the city here is a bit less clear, though the use of weathered wood in the frame reflects the older architecture in the city and a recent trend in local art.

[Greg PNUT Galinsky]

The direct reference in these pieces by Lady Millard are also a bit more obscure, except for the title “Fog City”.

[Lady Millard.]

But they do pay homage to street art, and to the cartoon-like elements that seem be part of international urban art and culture. Such images could be at home in a gallery in large cities in Asia as there are in San Francisco, and perhaps represent the city’s place in a larger “Pacific urban” cultural landscape.

Indeed, part of what made this exhibition interesting is that the collection of different views on the city reflect my own interests in infrastrcture, urban landscape, music, fashion, etc – but each taken in more specialized ways by the individual artists.

The exhibition will remain on display for today (July 9) at Driftwood Salon (39 Isis Street) with a closing reception this evening.

Art of Illusion, Driftwood Salon

On April 1, I attended the opening for the Art of Illusion exhibition at Driftwood Salon. The exhibition took it’s title from the date of the opening and its reference to illusion and trickery. “As artists, we strive to create aesthetically pleasing works of art, but sometimes we like to use that ability to trick the mind, and play with shapes, images and dept of field by pushing boundaries and defying gravity.”

Beyond that initial statement, the works in this show were quite diverse in terms of style and subject matter.

Along the wall, second from the left, is a piece by Rebecca Kerlin. I have seen (and reviewed) Rebecca Kerlin’s work before at Open Studios. Her work often involves highways, a frequent subject here at CatSynth, as well as other elements of the urban landscape and infrastructure. She takes familiar scenes, such as the freeway overpass near 4th Street and Bryant Street in San Francisco, and distorts the image through collage.

[Rebecca Kerlin, Underpass Under Construction In Blue #1.
Image courtesy of the artist.  Click to enlarge.]

One on hand, we see the whole image of the overpass and intersection, but at the same it is a series of separate images that are adjacent, overlapping or slightly out of alignment. Similar processes can be seen at work in Blossom Hill Road, San Jose, CA #2. It took me a moment to recognize the highway 85 freeway entrance sign.

Closeup of Untitled by Evan Nesbit. Image courtesy of Driftwood Salon. Click to enlarge.

While Kerlin’s pieces begin with familiar elements such as highways, Evan Nesbit’s contributions seemed based on pure abstract geometry, and primarily on straight lines and angles. In his large piece “the god effect”, lines are arranged in crossing diagonal patterns that lead to the illusion of curvature. This was an effect I learned myself as a young adult and repeated many times in images. In “Untitled”, the crisscrossing lines are used to mark out areas of solid color, which in turn form geometric shapes such as the central hexagon of the piece. However, these geometric elements can be seen to represent a door leading inside from a patio or walkway, an illusion heightened by the grass in the lower corner. Without the grass, one might not see the other shapes as a house at all.

Among the other work that caught my attention was Jose Daniel Rojales’ Ulua.

[Jose Daniel Rojales, Ulua.  Click to enlarge.]

It is on one level a representation in metal of an ulua, a popular Hawai’ian game fish. But the metal rectangles and geometric elements are quite distinct, particularly around the head, and in some ways stand out by themselves.

You can see more images from the show at the gallery website. The show will remain on display until May 2.