475 25th Street, Oakland CA 94612 \ 510-701-4620

Friday + Saturday: 12-5pm and by appt.



January, 2018


What are we to make of artistic self-portraits in the age of the selfie? The once rare self-portrait has become commonplace. Is there any special significance left in making self-portraits? This exhibition explores these questions and others through painting, sculpture, installation and photography.

Jo Ann Biagini
Nick Dong
Carlo Fantin
P.K. Frizzell
Andrew Miguel Fuller
Pantea Karimi
Kathleen King
Sara Lisch
Jill McLennan
Charlie Milgrim
Johanna Poethig
Mary Curtis Ratcliff
Fernando Reyes
Neo Serafimidis
Elizabeth Sher, in collaboration with:

 – Carol Benioff
– Brooke Holve
 – Marilyn Levin
 – Linda MacDonald
– Bonnie Neumann
 – Jeannie O’Connor
– Vickie Jo Sowell
–  M. Louise Stanley
– Ruth Tabancay
– Leah Virsik

Some of the works included in the exhibition:

In 1978, Mary Curtis Ratcliff   began making photo-portraits of herself as a shadow.  Included in the exhibition are several photographic prints culled from this ongoing series, taken in disparate locations  such as Cambodia, France, the East Coast and California. The artist was playing with the textures of sand, water, rocks, cement and bark experimenting to see how the shadow looked on the different surfaces.
Johanna Poethig’s life sized self-portrait is the first of a new series Force Field where mathematical patterns of plant growth algorithms are fashioned into shields to prevent recognition by the social algorithms that entrap us. The artist is outfitted in medieval armor embellished with the plant growth algorithmic crest holding a Parastichy Shield to protect her from being screwed by Fascism and other evils of the Forked Tongue. Sunflowers stand and wilt around her. She wears bracelets as armor and her feet are bare. She holds a screwdriver in her fist. Vulnerable in steel, an out of place Joan of Arc, sitting high on the horse of Global North privilege in the Resistance Crusade for Climate Truth in the Empire of late stage Capitalism on the brink.

In today’s age of selfies we now take pictures of ourselves, rather than have someone else take our picture. We can adjust, edit, fix, smooth, glamorize and fantasize our presentation to the world. Forgotten in this paradigm is how others see us. Presented here are portraits of Elizabeth Sher created by a group of her artist friends. Says Sher, “Seeing their differing interpretations is informative, endearing and humbling. But we are still friends!”

Pantea Karimi’s Augmented Selfie (2018) is a reflection of a viewer in a mirror, evoking introspection of an individual, who sees his/her selfie augmented by the images of healing plants. The mirror reflection is aimed to remind one of healing properties of nature and the importance of connectivity with the natural world.

Leah Virsik’s Loveworn (2017), is a fabric sculpture made from a favorite sweater of the artist. Over time this well-worn object became threadbare. Now reknit, the material still holds personal comfort in its state of continual decay.

Jill McLennan’s The 40 Year Book, was begun before the artist turned 40 in 2014. That same year many of her childhood friends also turned 40, so she also made books for them to fill up. She began going through family photos, as she cleaned out and sold the house she grew up in, in Providence, Rhode Island, in 2013. The book has one page for each year of her life with a memorable photo drawn with pencil, some with color. Some years have several memorable moments so she added a second transparent leaf with vellum. The self-portrait show offered Jill an opportunity to push herself to finish the book as she approaches 45 and looks forward to making more memories to record.

Photographer Neo Serafimidis writes that one’s knowledge of oneself, one’s self-image, is constructed in part by reflected images, fleeting self-portraits created each time one approaches the mirror. He considers that these images do not reveal to a person how others see him, and explores whether self-portraiture can capture broader contexts and uncover facts below the surface reflections, allowing the artist to learn something about himself.

Mercury 20 Gallery

475 25th Street, Oakland CA 94612
Tel: 510-701-4620

Gallery hours: Friday + Saturday: 12-5pm and by appt