Interview with Mercury Twenty Artist Charlie Milgrim

Artist Charlie Milgrim is one of five M20 members who have been with the Gallery since nearly its’ inception in 2007

Here’s an interview with Kathleen King from 2008.

We encourage you to check out her newer work at her recently relaunched website .

She is also selling reasonably priced prints online in our store

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with Kathleen King

Portrait by Peter Honig

March 6, 2008

 

http://charliemilgrim.com

Tell me where you’re from and something about your childhood.
I was born and grew up in New York City. My father was a concert pianist, who stayed home and practiced every day, and my mother was a college professor.

Did the fact that your father was a musician and your mother an educator influence you? How did you come to be an artist?
I did study music, took private violin lessons and played clarinet in the junior high school band (laughs) but I knew I didn’t want to be a musician. I realized early on there was a calling for me that had to do with art. Even when I was about five years old, I felt that things that I drew were really important.

So you got into art through drawing?
I wasn’t sure why, but my drawings were the most meaningful things for me when I was growing up. They are what sparked me, but I didn’t really find my way with art until my teens.

You came out to the west coast for college?
I went to The California College of Arts and Crafts, where I focused on glassblowing and metalwork. I loved the fire arts! I studied with Marvin Lipofsky and Dennis Leon. This was when I first got interested in sculpture. The techniques and processes really fascinated me. It was all new and wonderfully challenging.

Then you went to UC Berkeley for graduate school?
I did. But in between the two, there were a number of years where I did window display, and installations for New Wave clubs. This was a very formative period. I loved the immediacy of putting up a display and getting feedback. It’s very much like doing installation—many artists cut their teeth on window display—Johns, Rauschenberg, Warhol. It was good groundwork for what I do now, which is working with space and visuals.

Growing up in New York I saw fantastic window display all the time—and a lot of art. My mother had a membership to the MOMA and we went often. I liked all the art at the MOMA when I was young, but my biggest, early influences were Duchamp and Cornell.

So through Duchamp you became interested in conceptual sculpture, which is a big part of your work now.
Papa Duchamp was also the patron saint of many artists here in the Bay Area. I was also influenced by the work of David Ireland, Paul Kos, Ann Hamilton and Rebecca Horn.

I see an affinity with your work and that of Paul Kos. The simplicity; the way you both hone it down to the symbols, objects, space, and let them all play together.
I studied a fair amount in the time between art school and graduate school. I basically educated myself during that period. I also traveled extensively, hung around and attended a lot of lectures the SF Art Institute. It’s interesting how all that developed in my own work. I don’t always see all the influences but I guess that they are there.

My work comes from another place I can’t really identify. Images often come through a glimpse. I don’t deeply meditate about them. Often the objects I find inform me of the direction of the work.

How did you get into using found objects in your work?
That came out of the window display, because I was constantly collecting objects and putting them together, so my dialog with “things” grew out of that. The task of attracting attention to sell products became another dilemma for me. I felt it was really important to communicate what I was passionate about. I realized that instead of selling products I could sell ideas, environmental and political action. I understood that because people were so influenced by advertising, that this form gave me a way in, a way to communicate or “advertise” my ideas to people. That was my original impetus for it.

Early on I did a piece called Pretty Hands and Feet, which I made in a wooden box that contained bottles of this product called Pretty Hands and Feet.

Oh, I know that product. (laughs)
I put this cheesy Renoir-like print with dainty hands and feet in as a backdrop, next to several bottles of pickled pig’s feet, I liked the ironic interplay between these commercial products.

I traveled to Egypt in 1987, it was an amazing experience. I was really moved by the power of the scale of the monuments. When I came back, I wanted to bring that narrative in, so I did a few pieces using pyramid forms. I did a whole series called Secrets of the Pyramids. One day I was driving up San Pablo Ave. and I ran across about a hundred huge machine nuts, they must have fallen off a truck, so I parked, and collected them all and I made a pyramid piece out of them. There was also a stuffed iguana in that piece. I found weird relationships between the pyramids and stuff I found in my everyday environment.

You must have felt the strangeness of the ancient place of Egypt and the modern place you came back to live in.
It was really emotional and dramatic for me to see the cradle of civilization and all the art which has been preserved for thousands of years. It was important to me to see the immense value this art had to its civilization. It made me more driven and determined as an artist after witnessing the power of Egyptian art in its context.

So you went from this pyramid shape which is elemental, to being well-known for working with the sphere, more specifically, the bowling ball. How did that come about?
That came out of a trip as well. I took a drive across country with Ray Beldner—an artist who was a big influence, a collaborator, and my husband at the time. We were making a hand-held film we called The Magical Misery Tour. We went to various environmentally toxic hotspots like coal-fired electric plants which were blamed for acid rain, Nevada silver mines where birds were being killed by cyanide gases just by flying over them, that kind of thing.  It was amazing that we got access to a lot of places, being young, innocent-looking student types, they let us in and talked to us very frankly sometimes, and sometimes not so frankly.

One of the places we went on this trip was Carlsbad, New Mexico. Near there, the US Government planned to bury nuclear waste, which would be trucked in from all over the US. So here I had gone to the desert of Egypt and now I was in the American desert, which seemed to me like a very sacred place, but they were planning to defile it and basically create an environmental disaster. My first bowling ball piece, Carlsbad Lanes, getting back to that (laughs) was an installation sponsored by Haines Gallery at 49 Geary. There was a huge unused space in that building which had been a Western Union Telegram station. Cheryl Haines got about 10 artists together to do installations in this raw space before it was re-fashioned into upscale art galleries. I went in and saw a black stripe of linoleum on the floor that cut through the space, and I immediately envisioned the piece. I decided to make a bowling alley and use it as a metaphor for the burying of nuclear waste. I used 50 gallon drums as bowling pins so the scale was extreme. I got real bowling balls and sandblasted the words Earth, Air, Water and Fire on them. I covered the drums with salt, because that’s what they were planning to do, bury the drums of nuclear waste in salt! I was so disturbed about this after that trip; I did this first bowling ball piece in response.

Did you then just get entranced with the bowling balls?
By that time I was in graduate school and about eight months after I did the first piece, I finally did fall in love with the balls. I did a piece with two music stands. I put them up against the wall, and I put two bowling balls on them and they held; they just balanced by gravity up against the wall! It just amazed me, that these very heavy, perfectly round objects could be held by almost nothing at all. After that they were all I could think about. It was the beginning of a love affair that lasted a number of years.

You’ve explored so many aspects of the bowling balls whether it was the weight, their spherical/planetary nature, their likeness to human heads, the fiery patterns that they often have on the surface… 
I use them as metaphors for a lot of different things. I have about 600 of them. I did a piece that the DiRosa Preserve in Napa has where I used 80 black bowling balls. They tend to work best when you use all one color. In Department of Appropriations, I hung 25 bright red balls from the ceiling at Gallery 16. Sometimes I just need a lot at once. (Laughs)

For DiRosa, you did a piece with bowling balls in a bathtub.
Originally I visualized the All For Me piece after my friend David Raymond offered me a gaudy spa to do an installation at the Trident Hotel Art Expo in San Francisco. All the bowling balls were sandblasted with the word “ME”, it was a piece about ridiculous opulence. This is where Rene saw the work. When it was first installed at the Preserve it was staged in a claw foot tub and put in an outdoor area. I discovered a huge marble spa in Rene’s former home at the DiRosa Preserve, where he let me move it, so now its site is much closer to my original idea of the piece as a metaphor for decadence.

You also did one where the tub is upended and all the balls are spilling out.

That’s called Spill and it’s about water issues.

That’s great. I love what you do and how you are not heavy-handed with your politics. You use humor very subtly, and I wonder how you feel about humor in art and the way you approach that?
Growing up in New York, everything had to be funny, and if it wasn’t funny it didn’t exist! It’s culturally part of the way my brain got wired. Humor is a key – a way to get people to follow what you’re saying. Like art, humor is what separates us from lower life forms.

Well, humor is an art. It’s one of the classic arts but people don’t think of it that way so much anymore. It’s not easy to make people laugh, or think. Humor is connecting disparate things and surprising people.
It’s a way to make a connection. I did a couple of pieces called Nice Jugs and Nice Set. Those started when I was in a junk store called Economy Corner. Actually, it’s where Rock, Paper, Scissors Gallery is now. I saw this jug when I was in there and I said to myself, “Ooh, nice jug.” (Laughs)

(Laughs) And you cracked yourself up.
Yeah, I cracked myself up and I thought, oh my god, this is slang that I heard when I was growing up. So of course I got two of them and hung them on a wall in conjunction with some movie marquee letters and pawed out letters. That was in the SF Art Institute’s Nine Bay Area Women show.

Gender is another theme that your work often touches on?
It’s there. I let the work go in a lot of directions. At the root though, I need to make something formally interesting out of it. All the elements need to come together.

A technical question: you sandblast words on to the objects you use. How do you do that?
I cut a vinyl mask, form it to the object, then I use a sandblaster, which is a high -pressure air gun that shoots sand, and slowly erodes the material. You do it in a sealed box so that the sand doesn’t fly all over, or get in or on you. It’s like a paint sprayer but at a much higher velocity.

What are you working on for your April show at Mercury 20?
I’m drawn to aggression—missiles and guns—it’s in the zeitgeist, so I’m doing some work with that. Of course we are a country at war right now, which is being swept under the rug and hidden behind a veil of technology and economic prosperity…

Lack of journalism?
Yeah, grey journalism and everything deceptive. The latest work is about war and peace, aggression and dissent. The show will be called Homeland. So we are working with all those issues. It’s going to be clear in intent, but poetic. People won’t be clubbed over the head when they enter the gallery. But that’s what I’m after—to work politically, and poetically, and always with irony.

 

view Charlie Milgrim’s website


Artists Staying Active

Mercury 20 Gallery artists Mary Curtis Ratcliff and Elizabeth Sher have been included in the newly published Bay Area Women Artists’ Legacy Project Book.

The Bay Area Women Artists (BAWA) Legacy Project aims to both safeguard and highlight women’s contribution to Bay Area art. They believe that an understanding of the local art scene in the past 50 years requires a full examination of women’s contributions and that this possibility will be lost unless art institutions, curators, and historians join in an effort to preserve the legacy of Bay Area women artists.

The statistics are alarming. As the Guerrilla Girls and others have clearly shown, women continue to be under-represented in museum shows and collections and undervalued at art auctions. One consequence is that few women are able to afford the creation of a foundation to oversee their legacy. Institutional support is needed. BAWA has opened a dialogue on this issue. Their members have been practicing art for more than 20 years and have shown extensively. In addition, many have been active in feminist art groups since the 1970s, helping to increase the visibility of women artists throughout the Bay Area.

 

California Sunset, a 52 x 42 inch painting by Mercury 20 Gallery member Tara Esperanza is included in the 10th annual group show California Dreaming: Finding Beauty in My Own Backyard. The exhibition will run September 16 – December 11, 2020 at The Village Theatre Art Gallery in Danville California. The show was juried by Shelley Barry, principal at Slate Contemporary Gallery, Oakland. Initially this exhibit was planned for in-person viewing, but due to Covid 19 and the Contra Costa County health guidelines, it is now online until further notice.

Tara says…. “I am deeply drawn to succulents. I love their character. How they change throughout the seasons. The abundant varieties of texture, color, and shape. I paint large canvases of small succulents. I find interesting compositions and celebrate the beauty of the plants. I love how the succulents share space. Lean on each other, or hold each other up. Succulents bring me joy and I see them as divine in nature.

 

Mercury 20 Gallery member Andrea Brewster has had three sculptures accepted for the Headford Lace Project’s show in Ireland, The Space Between. The exhibition will taking place in October and will take the form of an art trail around the town with lace/artwork exhibited in various locations and curated window displays.

The history of lace is a fascinating story and one which is full of contradictions. It was and still is used to make christening gowns to welcome new born babies, but is also used to make coffin cloths and mourning veils at the end of life. Making lace was considered an appropriate pastime for ladies of high moral stature but also used to ‘reform’ women of low moral values. From a visual perspective, lace is made up of both open and solid spaces where equal importance is placed on that which does not exist, as is placed on the threads that holds it all together. Lace provided a sense of independence as women could earn a living from selling their work. However, lace is also associated with the forced labor of women living in state run institutions who worked without remuneration. Lacemaking is a traditional practice which has been embedded into the social and economic history of countries worldwide for generations. Yet lace is still used as a source of inspiration by contemporary makers who continue to innovate and progress our understanding of what lace is and what lace is considered to be. The Space Between will explore these ambiguities.

Andrea says… “I began tatting because I had seen it discussed in some old handicrafts books and I was intrigued by the process; seduced by its delicate fineness of line. I later discovered that my grandmother was an avid tatter. I began to see tatting as drawing in space with thread and knots and I questioned why tatting is, seen as a fussy, handicraft from a bygone era? Why has it, as (often) anonymous “women’s work”, become so undervalued, so unappreciated? My explorations have primarily led me to investigate three-dimensional forms in tatting. I am particularly intrigued by the underlying mathematical order found in nature, especially among corals and marine invertebrates. Although my work is improvisational, I have used these types of repeating patterns, hyperbolic geometry and logarithmic scales, as a foundation to “grow” forms out of a predictable order. I feel that tatting is experiencing something of a renaissance, brought back from the brink of extinction by the Internet, which has facilitated connection and sharing of patterns and techniques on a global scale. But, despite this renewed interest, tatting remains an under-recognized technique, and still labors under the heavy weight of its cultural reference of old ladies making useless domestic bric-a-brac. However, I feel that the time is ripe for expansion both technically and conceptually; for pushing boundaries and exploring new, uncharted territories across the entire map of tatting possibilities.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

These likenesses from photographer Peter Honig are available for purchase online at Mercury 20 Gallery

There are all types of people. I love spending time with some of them, like my niece Lola, who loves to inline skate…

Lola Rollerblading, archival giclée print on watercolor stock, 2017

Others one admires from afar, like the elegant Lady d’Arbanville, for their alluring aloofness

Lady D’Arbanville, archival giclée print on watercolor stock, 2013

Some have incredible fashion sense, like this person testifying under oath, with over-sized bangle…

Oath (woman w/ over-sized bangle), archival giclée print on watercolor stock, 2015

Some characters I don’t admire so much, as much as I wish they’d put their pants back on…

Sentry, archival pigment print, 2014

Some friends of mine are philosophical in nature, like my college roommate, who skulks around with all sorts of excuses…he’s a lovable, verbose loser. He’s still fun to hang around with…

Principles of Failure, archival pigment print, 2017

As much as I find these folks fascinating on their own, when you put two people together, things get interesting.

Portrait of the Artist and His Wife, archival giclée print on watercolor stock, 2015

The Embrace, archival pigment print, 2017

Three Pieces of Metal, archival pigment print, 2017

Yes, I think Stephen Stills said it best –Love the one you’re with!

New Members at Mercury 20

 

Christine at her exhibit Aug 2020
Christine Meuris joined Mercury 20 Gallery in October 2019. In her recent work, Christine focuses on translating traditional home based arts executed in fabric and fiber into works on paper. In so doing she distills the elements of pattern, color, geometry and symmetry. The intent of this work is to shed a light on and to consider the power of humble things in a time of political upheaval: the pattern behind the needlepoint; the power a line segment not even half and inch long; and the meditative practice of hours spent painting that line segment over and over again.

Christine’s series Biomorphic Bargello (2018-19) is inspired by Bargello needlepoint patterns, which are built by repeating and offsetting a line segment.  These works recall the minimalist movement but are based in the warmth of the decorative arts.

Christine Meuris lives and works in Berkeley, California. She has a B.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has participated in juried shows throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and the country and has been invited to participate in groups shows at the Berkeley Art Center, Berkeley Civic Center, The Mosser Hotel, Berkeley Wealth Management and the Roll Up Gallery. She has also had solo shows at Farley’s Café, Hello Stitch Quilting and Sewing Studio, and The Totally Rad Gallery.

 

Andrea installing her window exhibit July 2020
Andrea Brewster joined the gallery in January 2020. Her past work includes mixed media sculpture, drawings, digital media, and fiber sculptures. Her work is often comprised of otherworldly, organic, abstractions, which reference biological life and species. She has been particularly intrigued by the mathematical order underlying growth patterns and often utilizes similar algorithmic systems of repetition to create a predictable order of undulating waves and ripples or packed cell structures.

“I am excited to become a part of the Mercury 20 family and embrace the idea of creating a mutually supportive arts community that benefits both artists/members and patrons; an inclusive space for sharing and exchanging ideas. I highly value that Mercury 20 is providing a means for personal and professional development for artists, while promoting innovative art that can reach a broad audience.”

Andrea has a B.A. in Sculpture from Pomona College, Claremont, CA and an M.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute in New Genres. She was also fortunate to receive a National Endowment for the Arts grant for Works on Paper.  Andrea has exhibited her work throughout the Bay Area, including solo shows at the Lab, and Southern Exposure and in group shows at Chandra Cerrito Gallery, the Lacis Museum of Lace, The Oakland Museum of California, New Langton Arts, and the Peninsula Museum.

 

Tara with painting Purple and Green
Tara Esperanza joined Mercury 20 in May 2020. She is our newest member and she will be showing along side Andrea Brewster and Fernando Reyes October 22nd through November 28th 2020 at the gallery. Tara lives and works in Oakland California. She is currently working on a series of large paintings of succulents. She is interested in the plant personalities. The abundant varieties of texture, color, shape, and how succulents change with the seasons. Tara’s paintings look deep into the plants. She celebrates their diversity. How succulents share space, lean on each other, or hold each other up. They have so much character and Tara aims to bring the viewer in to offer a new perspective and her intimate viewpoint of succulents through her art.

Tara has a B.A. in Painting from University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. She has exhibited her paintings in galleries throughout the Bay Area, including Orangeland Gallery in S.F., Sanchez Contemporary Gallery in Oakland,  Marin Society of Artists in San Rafael, and Sun Gallery in Hayward. As well as Sturt Haaga Gallery in Los Angeles, Light Space and Time Gallery in Palm Springs, and the Museum of Northern California Art in Chico CA.

Kathleen King: Aided, Inspired, Multiplied

Mercury 20 artist/member Kathleen King presented a solo show at Oakland’s Pro Arts Gallery & Commons earlier this year and a catalog of the show was recently published. The catalog is 7 x 8.5 inches, full color, 36 pages with an introduction by Pro Arts director Natalia Ivanova Mount and interview by Leora Lutz. The catalog is available for purchase from Pro Arts at  proartscommons.org/store

Kathleen King interviews M20 artist Peter Honig about his exhibition STILL

KK: What does the romance—if that’s the right word—of the American West Coast mean to you as a person born and raised on the East Coast?

PH: I grew up outside of Boston…and I would have to say that we didn’t think about California that much.  Representations of California from my youth would be television shows like the Beverly Hillbillies, maybe the Brady Bunch? As I got older pop music like the Doors and the Grateful Dead started creeping in, and the literary California of Steinbeck, the Beats, and Ken Kesey (or Tom Wolf’s version of Kesey).

Cars had eight track tapes and they were so big and funds were limited. We didn’t have that many …and one of them was the Eagle’s Hotel California, which made a huge impression. Hotel California was probably the most memorable vision I had of California. “We are all just prisoners here of our own device.”  The fact that it was not a boosterish anthem escaped me. I don’t think I realized it was a sad song until I had lived here about 10 years. After it was the theme song at our wedding…mixed in with NIN’s Head Like a Hole…

When you were younger, did these impressions draw you to this place?

I can’t say that I was particularly drawn to California, I just ended up here on a trip with a friend who was moving to LA to pursue acting. But I had been exposed to the work of Californian artists John Baldessari, Ed Ruscha, and The New Topographic photographers, and in college had just read Rebecca Solnit’s Secret Exhibition: Six California Artists of the Cold War Era, so I was into the work of Wallace Berman. I had a vague notion that Duchamp had his first retrospective in Pasadena where he had infamously (and very frenchly) played topless chess with Eve, and that Warhol had also been first shown at the Ferus Gallery. That these luminaries had first gained acceptance here seemed important.

California was (and remains) an exciting locus for art, music and literary activity. But upon moving to Berkeley in 1991 I had trouble assimilating. My roommates kept babbling on about this geeky dial up message system. My neighbor had a start-up involving computers…it was really unclear to me what one would actually do with computers. One week in, the hills caught on fire and the sky went dark. I met my wife Sarah, who had just started her grad program at UCB. The following week Bill Graham’s helicopter crashed and there was a memorial concert in Golden Gate Park. The computer nerd next door took me there by motorcycle across the Bay Bridge and pulled us into a grove where the motorcycles were parked. We were surrounded by Hell’s Angels who had their tongues out to receive sacramental tabs of LSD. Things moved fast out here.

I lived on Oxford Street near Vine, and I had joined a temp agency in the city. One morning I got a call to report to an art gallery near Union Square. I was convinced that my resume, which had almost no job experience and no useful skills had, through some miracle, been chosen because of my art history degree. A chance for a breakthrough had presented itself.

I walked towards the BART station by going down Vine towards Shattuck. I would pass the original Peet’s Coffee. There was always this ragged crowd loitering around, relaxed and bearded. I was always rushing by, razor-burned. There I was off for my big break in the City, sweating through a cheap oxford shirt

I got into the city and went to the gallery. They handed me a sandwich board contraption with the Mona Lisa on one side with the face cut out. I put this thing onto my shoulders with my face sticking through and walked around outside for hours handing out coupons for discount framing. This went on for a few blissful weeks.

On my way home I would see the same folks still outside Peets. It occurred to me that this was an inverted order from Boston. There one derived their identity and prestige from how hard you labored and how serious you were…the Puritan work ethic. Here the status was conferred by how actively you resisted that ethic…and that means of self-definition.

California seemed like an interesting place with many different layers of reality…a web of sub-cultures.

Have your feelings changed about it after living here for three decades?

Well I don’t think that either coastal model of existence is superior. And having left Berkeley, I can see the argument that it is a privileged bubble. With time, much of the revolutionary gloss of technology has worn off. It was a gold rush. And business as usual.

Leaving Berkeley (for my wife’s job) has revealed a bigger, nuanced, less utopian reality. On one hand California is at the forefront of a class revolution. It is also a war zone.

I now live in a prosperous region — Santa Barbara.

“Such a lovely place,” like the Eagles sang.

That’s if you believe the realtors’ ad copy. But it is a fortress, an island built on capital. And that’s not a physical place, but a mental construct.

California is similar to Paris in that it is a screen on which people project images of themselves to be viewed by other people. It is a work of auto-fiction.

What it is to be Californian has been so well explored by Didion and Solnit, so much better than Kerouac, the Surf Industrial complex, and the PomWonderful lobby…

Poem “Where have we been?” wall text, installation view

The exhibit itself include two poems you’ve written. Is the writing of poetry a new art form for you, or have you been practicing it all along?

I have been writing on and off for all my life. But not well. I studied creative writing in college, but I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t ready to say anything. It was painful, but necessary, to come to the conclusion that while I could craft something, had turn of phrase, I wasn’t honest, and I didn’t know or respect my audience.

Writing for me is thinking. But not all thoughts are good, or should be in circulation.

The same goes for all the arts. There is a tension between the notion of “getting your work out there”/ “labor every day and go through the process” and basic economic principles of conservation of energy and resources. I try to free myself from ambition and self-definition through merely participating in a model of cultural production. But that’s not a task that is attainable.

It is, of course, internal contradictions like these that define us. They dominate our internal dialogue, vying for attention. For me the juggling of multiple realities and contradictions is the subject of my art.

This show “Still,” has you moving in a poetic–gentle, utopian, visionary–direction. The photos are intentionally unfocused and embedded in a layer of glossy resin. What are the artistic precedents that have inspired this work?  

This body of work has some qualities, that as you say, suggest something — gentle, utopian, visionary, poetic.

This is an effect crafted through composition, color harmony, scale, juxtaposition, surface. And its placement within the gallery, with a price tag affixed. Lodged in a system of critical discourse intersecting with a mean economy…in a really awkward way.

I am a story teller. I have a story. I am the author who presents this story, this vision. And while there is a character, who has my name, it is a work of fiction, a parable. They say identity is the story we tell ourselves about ourselves…and I am doing it right now. Certain people have a compulsion to communicate this facet of their identity dialogue. In doing so, I am creating a work of fiction whose details and whose aim are not necessarily sympathetic to the reader/ viewer’s expectation or agenda.

Honig

Table for Two, 24″ x 36″, archival pigment print encased in resin, 2020

How did you choose the images and iconography of the photos in “Still”?

The images in the show almost look like something you might put over the couch. If you had a different couch.  Or a different life. Or the artist was more likeable. Or you were told they were worth something by someone with cufflinks. Or the artist had a more cultivated resume, better teeth, a staff of six. Was not so verbose. Knew how to focus his camera.

What is the soft detachment of your work saying about Modernism and its heroic journeys as we hit the cold, hard reality of the year 2020?

It’s the chromatically elegant, soft focus story of an artist with poor eyesight, in his backyard, with his blurry wife, over an ill-defined kitchen sink, rhetorically asking “where have we been?” and answering his own questions – basically talking to himself, asserting something to the effect of “… thinking about stuff, feeling conflicted.”

I paint a picture of …of something less than reassuring.

OK, one more Eagles’ lyric, “What a nice surprise, bring your alibis.”

Well…the lies we tell ourselves…those are the best ones!

Yeah, life is less than reassuring, we can’t quite get behind the gloss, pull it in focus. Even at our best, in times of prosperity, in beautiful places, we remain a nervous system. My vision of paradise…is a sad song…with a beautiful chorus.

 


Barbara Morris reviews Accretion/Erosion

Charlie Milgrim presents Accretion/Erosion at Oakland’s Mercury 20 Gallery.

Milgrim, who references her longstanding body of installation work with a single, elegant tripod-mounted bowling ball, has in recent years begun exploring new media, particularly digital photography. Her beguiling images may suggest biological or chemical processes, but are in fact the result of digital manipulations of mundane photos, taken by the artist, of the residue of paint on a sink (accretion) or the abraded surface of an aging floor (erosion). Her keen eye and sharp wit combine to create a collection of images that draw the viewer into a mysterious realm, the ethereal accretions balanced by the earthier erosions. Through May 4.

— Barbara Morris


Stop by Mercury 20 Gallery for Slow Art Day!

Slow Art Day is a worldwide movement that you can experience at Mercury 20 Gallery on Saturday April 6, 2019 from 12-4pm. A gallery facilitator will help you slowly explore selected works from our two photo exhibitions, Peter Honig’s Wire Hum and Accretion/Erosion from Charlie Milgrim. Visitors will spend about 10 minutes looking, followed by a discussion about their discoveries. Find out what happens when you are invited to look slowly at the artwork.

Refreshments will be served. Free Admission.

Let us know you are coming. Email your RSVP to: mercurytwenty@gmail.com

Other Oakland Galleries participating in Slow Art Day:
– Ashara Ekundayo Gallery
– GearBox Gallery
– Gray Loft Gallery
– Warehouse 416


Ruth Tabancay at SJ Museum of Quilt & Textiles, Root Division, Shoh Gallery

Ruth Tabancay is exhibiting in 3 group exhibitions in the San Francisco Bay Area: at the International TECHstyle Biennial IV, San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles, through April 14; Feast for Eyes, at Root Division, San Francisco, April 3-19; and Material of Form, Shoh Gallery, Berkeley, April 11-May 11


Julianne Sterling Semi-finalist for National Portrait Gallery Competition

Julianne Sterling’s painting “Specialist Murphy” has been selected from 2,675 entries from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico for the semifinalist round of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, 2019.


Elizabeth Sher at Codex VII and Kim Cole

Elizabeth Sher was selected to exhibit her artist books at the Codex Foundation’s 7th Biennial Book Fair, February, 2019, in Richmond, California. A solo show Spring Comes Every Year will be at Kim Cole, 222 Broadway St. #101, Oakland, though April 30th


Neo Serafimidis at Gray Loft Gallery and Element 79

Neo Serafimidis is showing “Blue Seville” (above) at Gray Loft Gallery, Oakland, in their annual photo show. Through March 23.

His photographs are featured at Element 79 Gallery, a public art exhibition space at Shattuck and Cedar Avenues, in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto. Through March 9.


Leah Virsik at Marin MOCA, Feather River Art Camp

Leah Virsik is exhibiting in Marin MOCA’s 10th Annual Altered Book Exhibit and Fundraiser, April 27 – June 1, 2019, Opening Reception: April 27, 5-7pm, Live Auction and Closing Party: June 1, 5-8pm

Leah is teaching at Feather River Art Camp this June 9–16. Her class is titled Exploring Material and Metaphor in the Artist Book. Early registration discount ends March 9. Sign up at Feather River Art Camp


Mary Curtis Ratcliff at Berkeley Civic Center

Mary Curtis Ratcliff was selected for the Civic Center Art Exhibition 2019/2020, Martin Luther King, Jr. Civic Center Building, Berkeley. Each year the City of Berkeley celebrates the richness of artistic production within the Berkeley community with the Civic Center Art Exhibition. This exhibition offers visitors to the Civic Center building an opportunity to see the diversity and richness of the visual arts being produced by artists of all ages and stages in their artistic careers who either live or work in Berkeley.


Sarah Lisch Inaugurates New Gallery in Berkeley

Mercury 20 artist Sara Lisch has inaugurated a new street-level art gallery, Element 79, at the corner of Shattuck and Cedar in the heart of the Gourmet Ghetto in Berkeley, California. Sara noticed three unused display boxes on that well-traveled corner and visualized them being filled with exhibitions by local artists. After renovation, a new art venue was born!

Lisch says, “We hope to support artists, engage the public, spark curiosity, beautify the street and show some really cool art.”


Fernando Reyes at Jennifer Perlmutter Gallery

An exhibition of the work of Fernando Reyes opens in April at Jennifer Perlmutter Gallery in Lafayette, featuring new abstract handprinted paper cutouts on panel. Fernando creates one of a kind monoprints with interesting designs and patterns, cuts them and reconstructs them into colorful abstract works. Fernando will be showing with abstract collage artist Ray Beldner.  3620 Mt Diablo Blvd, Lafayette, California, April 11 – May 11, Artist reception April 11 6-8pm.

Fernando was also accepted into stARTup Art Fair San Francisco, April 26-28th.


Pantea Karimi at Minnesota Street Projects

Pantea Karimi’s installation, Folding Gardens, A Stained Memory (2017-2019) is included in the exhibition Once at Present, an exhibition of contemporary Iranian diaspora art from the Bay Area, on view March 29 – April 30 at the Minnesota Street Projects, San Francisco.

Curated by Kevin B. Chen and Taraneh Hemami
Reception: Saturday March 30: 6 – 9 pm


Johanna Poethig Performs with Chris Brown in Germany and Completes Mosaic Commission for City of Oakland

Johanna Poethig recently presented and performed with composer Chris Brown at the Atelier Siegele in Darmstadt, Germany. They showed their video “Music of the Lost Cities” and did an electronic music and performative reading of the High Stakes Divination Cards.

Johanna recently completed a 9′ x 65′ glass mosaic commissioned by the City of Oakland Public Art Program at Rainbow Recreation Center on International Blvd. which will be dedicated this spring.


Nick Dong at Chinese American Museum, Los Angeles

The work of Mercury 20 Taiwanese-American artist Nick Dong is featured in an exhibition at the Chinese American Museum Los Angeles: Lightscapes, Re-envisioning the Shanshuihua. Re-imagining the philosophies of Chinese landscape paintings, the exhibition brings forward new media works and immersive light-based installations that are not often explored within this genre. February 7 – November 10, 2019

Click here for a link to Voice of America News on YouTube, featuring an interview with Nick and a peek at the exhibition.