It’s My World, a current group show at Baer Ridgeway Exhibitions in San Francisco, is compelling in its approach to a somewhat dated subject matter: the landscape. The show successfully combines the apparent solid thesis of the exhibition: “a strong emphasis on the use of unexpected materials, abstracted forms and the examination of time” in a bid to approach issues raised by humans’ complicated relationship with the ever changing environment. The group exhibition is comprised of ten artists working in a variety of mediums: painting, video, drawing, photography and sculpture and the cohesiveness that permeates from each artist’s contribution is fantastic.
Claude Zervas’ Skagit, 2005, a vibrant installation of Green CCFL lamps, wire, and inverters that is modeled after the Northwest’s Skagit River, and protrudes out of the wall alive and active. Zervas’ arranges the inverter cords to simulate the river’s many tributaries, allowing the installation to course through the gallery space. Christopher Taggart’s But Now You Know You’ve Seen the Worst, 2010, changes the term “process” to an entirely new level. The image is of a car’s driver side mirror that has been recreated, and pixilated, by small cut outs of UV laminated photographs glued to a board. To call this work a collage doesn’t seem to do it justice. The precision in which Taggart is able to assemble these small, seemingly picayune pieces while at the same time inferring the motion of a driver’s view of the landscape passing him by, is impressive.
If these eye- catching works draw you in, it is the more subtle pieces that will make you stay. David Wilson’s charcoal on paper drawings of public spaces serve as illustrations to his larger performance works of reinvigorating public spaces. Wilson arranges public events, or “gatherings”, within these depicted landscapes, as a way to serve as a conduit for others who have yet to figure out how to get back to nature. Sean McFarland’s series of Polaroid photographs, though small in size, are breathtaking. McFarland collages together a variety of mixed media – paint, image cutouts, etc., and then re-photographs these elements to create an entirely new image of an otherworldly landscape. These images are ethereal, elusive and affecting. Even if the image doesn’t stay with you for very long afterward, the mystical feeling it invokes within you of a lost world will.
In my opinion, to be an artist in these contemporary times is no small feat. At this point, it would seem that there is no topic that hasn’t been broached, no genre that hasn’t been explored, and no medium that hasn’t had its limits pushed. This is the second reason why It’s My World succeeds—the ability of the selected artists to take a theme that is almost as old as art history itself and to continue to innovate upon it. Here’s hoping that other artists heed their call.