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Saturday, April 26, 2008

One Step Ahead of Grief

Here's the painting I've been working on the last few days. I think I finally have it close to being finished. Just need some time to sit with it. It's called "One Step Ahead of Grief." The dimensions are 6 feet wide by 7 feet tall.

Tomorrow I'll be building stretcher bars for some paintings for my show in November at Pamela Skinner/Gwenna Howard Contemporary Art in Sac. I'm thinking about starting a 10 foot tall painting, but haven't yet decided on the width. I know I can fit a 7.5 footer in a Budget truck, but at 8 feet, I'd have to ship it tilted at an angle to make it fit. I don't even know if it'll make it through the door. Might have to ship it partially off the stretchers. We'll see.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Art Train Update

Just heard from Bob Lee, director at the Asian American Art Center in New York, that two paintings I submitted to him for the Artrain's national touring exhibition on American Diversity have been selected.

Bob writes, "I was joined in the process by curators, Halima Taha, Benito Huerta, and chief curator Blake Bradford, as well as the staff of Artrain who did extensive work. I chose nearly twenty artists and advocated for each of you in writing and at meetings in Ann Arbor, Michigan. You are one of the ten that made the final cut."

I don't know what the dates are other than the train will be traveling to hundreds of cities for about three years. I'll fill you in as I hear more news.

Here are the two paintings.

Tangent, 2000

The Offering, 2000

End of Vacation

Well after a month or so off from painting, I'm in the studio again trying to get back in the groove for a June group show at Pamela Skinner/Gwenna Howard Contemporary Art. Also need to crank out some new work for my November exhibit in Sac. Here's one that's in the works. Reminds me of Sweaty Pickle. Got to give Juan Carlos Quintana credit for inspiring me to paint clod hoppers (remember Lil' Abner). They do remind me of my father's military boots and the ones I had to spit shine while employed by Uncle Sam working on these choppers. (See last photo).

More art updates to come!

Sikorsky HH-3C. This photo was shot in Greenland.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Second Saturday in Sac

Went to Pamela Skinner/Gwenna Howard Contemporary Art and saw the work of bay area abstract painter Paule Duboise Dupuis. Here are some pictures with Coco and the artist, Pamela and Gwenna and Scott Shields, curator at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento. Later we went to Pacific Western Traders in Folsom to see Jack Alvarez's show. Very cool to see his work next to Native American works. Whiskey tasting at Mel's later in the evening.What can I say!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Bag'o/Neo @ Micaela Gallery

The show I'm in with six other artists opened on Friday at Micaela Gallery on Hayes in SF. The show was curated by Rico Reyes. As usual Coco was talking it up with the artists and a papparazzi managed to steal this shot with one of the artists, Eliza Barrios of Mail Order Brides fame. Another Mail Order Bride, Jenifer Wofford was in the house, but managed to escaped the papparazzi. Heather and I were bummed we forgot our camera. Also spotted were Maria Medua, Dir. of SFMOMA's Artist Gallery. More pics to come.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Reno Gazette Journal - Review

Edgy, surrealistic paintings showcase artist's funny, bittersweet side

By Leah Ruby, Special to the Reno Gazette Journal, March 30, 2008

"Bliong", "Splatch", "Relp", "!@$@%#" is what these paintings would say if they could talk.

The John Yoyogi Fortes collection of works at Grayspace Gallery is a slight departure from his older works, but this humorous collection will not disappoint those familiar with his acrylic-collage paintings. For those unfamiliar, a quick description: As a relatively well known West Coast pop surrealist, his painting technique brings collage, gestural painting marks combined with tightly rendered layering of popular symbols, and underground "cartoony" figures floating around the canvas together resulting in richly layered, amusing paintings with biting social criticism. A style of painting made popular by Manual Ocampo and Enrique Chogoya, West Coast pop surrealism has been sought by collectors and continues to be a force because of its painterly attributes, vibrant colors, humor and sting.

There is an old-time 1940s America charm to this kind of work, the same way hand-painted signs are beautiful -- care is taken in the craft of the caricatures and formation of the layers, but the topics of the paintings, carefully constructed social narratives and personal concerns ranging on topics from racism, to the environment, leave the viewer with a bittersweet taste, laughing at the joke, albeit saddened and reflective.

Or, as in the Fortes show, mostly just laughing at the jokes. In these works, Fortes is almost all comedian. The pen and ink drawing "Text" consists of the word "text" written in a heavy metal font above a skeleton-faced monster with a baseball cap. The painting "Sweaty Pickle" shows a grotesque pickle guy with veiny eyeballs popping way out of his head. These paintings and drawings are crazy cartoons and are funny like a Carl Stalling "Looney Tunes" soundtrack.

In the artist statement, Fortes says he wanted to make fun artwork, go where the drawing took him, lose himself in art making once again. Typically pulling symbols from a variety of scientific, historical and cultural sources, the drawings in this show rely heavily on Southern California car culture without the cars and underground comics. If these works are about the artist getting back to his roots, it is easy to see where his roots are buried; the three pen and ink drawings -- "When Thirst Overtakes," "Fire" and "Purging Pack Rat" -- look as though they were ripped straight from Big Daddy Roth's fifth period algebra notebook. .

It is rare that an artist of this reputation and edge would be showing here in Reno, so collectors take now. Grayspace, shepherded by namesake Sara Gray, is the only independent contemporary nonprofit art gallery in Northern Nevada. The gallery is having a fundraiser from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Friday. Top local artists, as well as Fortes, have donated work for a silent auction. If you have never been, it's a good time to check out what promises to be Reno's innovative artspace.

Leah Ruby works as a freelance exhibit fabricator and arts educator. She holds a degree in museum science, specializing in exhibitions and public programs.

Coco Goes Gallery Hopping

Went to Reed Danziger's reception at Hosfelt Gallery in SF and Coco had fun hanging out with the Reed, Todd Hosfelt and his daughter Helen. Great show Reed! Heading next door to Braunstein/Quay Gallery, Coco got the latest art scoop from Ruth Braunstein . . . Coco's new friend!