Art is plastic garbage from the beach scattered on a gallery floor. Art is also a forest of stuffed fabric trees and a drawing of Bigfoot tacked to the wall. After a recent lecture at a local university, gallerist Charles Linder invited the audience back to Lincart, his homey, Market Street art space for an opening reception, which featured the aforementioned art and more unconventionally pleasant surprises.
Linder usually curates the gallery himself, but handed the reigns over to Johanna St. Clair and Jay Nelson of Mollusk Surf Shop for a group show called Biome. Ten artists participated, and their work is worlds apart, but comes together nicely under the umbrella of landscape interpretations.
In the window of the gallery is Charlie Callahan’s huge sea urchin shell painted on contractor’s insulation foam. The same shell shows up again in a back-lit photo of a toy figure with a barnacle for a head. Callahan is also the artist who collected the colorful plastic junk from the beach and arranged it on the floor near a wall painted with a blue blob that backs a few framed collage paintings. The debris is at once attractive and sad with its shiny, bright colors. The sad part is the realization that it probably choked some cute, fuzzy sea creature at one point or another. Callahan also turned a rounded piece of driftwood into a video portal — if you kneel down on the floor and put your eye up to a small hole in the wood, you’ll see footage of rippling water, which I think is even more awesome than the Olafur Eliasson rippling water projection I saw at SFMOMA last month.
Eleanor Harwood, an artist who also owns a gallery in the Mission, painted a traditional scenic landscape of trees and mountains using non-traditional methods, with gorgeous results. I also enjoyed the Bigfoot watercolor drawing mentioned earlier, the work of Santa Cruz artist Kyle Field, who played music at the opening and was also showing a skewed graphic watercolor map of San Francisco. I have a postcard of that map hanging in my office, in case I get lost.
I definitely got a beach-friendly vibe from Biome. Maybe it was because I already knew the curators were associated with Mollusk, or maybe it was Charlie Callahan’s ocean-related work, or maybe it was the worn, driftwood-looking floor of the gallery, but I had a sense that after the opening, everyone probably headed down the Great Highway for a beach bonfire and some acoustic guitar. Not a bad ending to a successful, feel good opening reception. I hope that’s what they did.
Biome is on view through November 30, 2007 at Lincart.