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February 18th – March 19th, 2022

PERFORMANCE: SOUND SURFACING, Chris Brown and Laetitia Sonami: March 13, 4-5 pm
SUBMARINE: sound by Chris Brown, elements by Peter Richards, passengers by Joyce Hsu  

Death in life, human/nature, entanglements, facts and frictions are the stream of consciousness that produced this work by Johanna Poethig. In the last weeks of her father’s life, he hovered in between states of sharply conscious and revelatory subconscious. How many hideouts do you have? Where are the escape hatches? One afternoon he drifted up out of sleep on a submarine.

Poethig’s paintings and drawings are portals or escape hatches into the cosmopolitan Terrestrial. Mychorrhizal networks, interspecies transmissions, mathematically precise patterns and mutualism inspire this work. Algorithmic plant patterns float in abstracted compositions. Landscapes mix plants out of season and geographic location. Acacia thorns provide protection. Fire, water and air compose a split screen. Plants, fungi and lichen perform the metabolic songs of networks through wired telephones, old cans, and vintage microphones. Large drawings of phytomorphs or people in plant forms suggest a fabulist future. These works surround a submarine along the center of the floor, a whale from the human subconscious forming a rubble pile of archeological tile forms, art objects, passenger dolls and periscopes that survey the vista through mammalian senses. A current of sound runs through the Submarine of war, of work, of stealth, of humor, submerged, sub-colonial, subliminal, sublime, surging, streaming, sinking and surfacing from our dark waters.

Escape Hatch Portal
Johanna Poethig Photo

Johanna Poethig

Johanna Poethig is a contemporary artist known for her monumentally scaled murals and architecturally integrated public art, socially engaged collaborations, painting, multi media installations and performance. Her work is conceptually driven using image, text, symbol, and narrative to address critical social, cultural, and political themes. In contrast she explores nature, science, perception and the mystical, drawing visual ideas from predictive practices and mathematics. She grew up in the Philippines and has been active in Filipino-American arts community since the 1980’s. She is currently Lead Artist on a major public art project for 34 AC transit Stations along a 9-mile transit corridor from downtown Oakland to San Leandro. She just completed a large-scale mosaic for Rainbow Recreation Center and mural for the new College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences building at CSU, Monterey Bay. Her recent shows include the 40 year anniversary exhibit and performance for The Hole at SOMArts Gallery, Way Bay Artist Postcard collection of the Berkeley Art Museum, “Songs for Women Living With War” memorial project at Pro Arts Gallery, “Making our Mark” at Richmond Art Center, “Glamorgeddon: The Spectacle” at SOMArts Gallery in San Francisco, Manila Trans(ie)nt in the Philippines.  Poethig received her MFA at Mills College and is Professor Emeritus of Painting and Public Art at the Visual and Public Art department at California State University, Monterey Bay.

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Mercury 20 Gallery

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

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