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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Art ltd. Review

There's a review from the January 2009 issue of Art ltd.

John Yoyogi Fortes and Linda Raynsford at Pamela Skinner/Gwenna Howard Contemporary Art 
by David M. Roth


Hip deep in the appropriationist methods that took hold in the 1980s and that continue to fuel lowbrow production as it inches toward highbrow respectability, John Yoyogi Fortes stands out for his ability to seamlessly integrate many different styles. His canvases, which roam from large to monumental, begin with an under girding of marks and color swatches and then build out into quasi-expressionist statements that hint at oblique political and personal conundrums.

In league with current trends in street art, Fortes practices a loose method of icon and symbol deployment that keeps viewers intrigued and suitably off-balance. His thinly painted characters, pulled from American and Asian comics and from ‘50s clip art, are united pictorially by brushed, spray-painted and stenciled graphic shapes that when combined, allude to narratives that may or may not exist. It’s a trickster’s game, and a good one at that. To wit: It’s easy to be amused by the telepathic “communion” between Superman and Jesus (Exercise in Mindfulness); the vaporization of ‘50s television characters (Christonite/Unsuspecting Impure Halo); and the apparent satirization of the Chinese pharmaceutical industry (Gift/Immaculate Misconception). Still, for all the fun, Fortes knows how to sling a broadside. His largest (120 x 96 inches) canvas, Immaculate Rendition, shows an Asian cartoon character bound in chains whose face appears to be that of Little Black Sambo. Outlined by a white shape that is equal parts Swastika and human figure, the picture makes a searing and unambiguous statement about American foreign policy.

Sculptor Linda Raynsford seems like an odd partner in this context; but she activates the room’s considerable space with works that challenge conventional notions of how steel should behave. I’m thinking in particular of Connected, a piece derived from metal doors that were cut up and “woven” into forms that dangle like seed pods from the ceiling, and of Swollen, a similarly crafted pedestal piece that looks like a big, gleaming donut. I Left My Wife, a large, floor-mounted stainless steel disk pounded into irregular surface shapes and inscribed with text, also confounds perception: the bottom is flat, like a deflated tire.

In art and life, things are rarely what they seem, and in this show, which is essentially a conjuring act, both artists succeed at upending expectations.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

My kids come to see the show in Sac

This was shot when my son Willie came up from Fullerton for a visit during Thanksgiving weekend and we took him to see the show in Sacramento.

Friday, December 12, 2008

ART ltd. Video

Today is my first day back into the studio after some time off. Getting itchy to make something!!

Art ltd. Magazine put my video on their website last month. It's the same one I have posted on YouTube. I'm doing a test and will upload a Flash version to see if the quality changes since YouTube now can handle HD. Click here to check it out on ART ltd.'s website.

Friday, December 5, 2008

January 2009 Review

Was talking with Gwenna at Skinner/Howard Contemporary Art and she mentioned that the show at their gallery will be reviewed in the January issue of ART Ltd. magazine.

Midtown Monthly Article - November Issue

I met Tim, who wrote the article, the Thursday before the opening and had a nice conversation. Thanks Tim.

A few years ago I stumbled across John Yoyogi Fortes’ work in a side room at the Skinner / Howard Gallery while there to see another show. My immediate reaction was, “Why isn’t this guy’s show up right now?” I should be careful what I wish for, because Fortes has had so many shows in Sac recently that I can scarcely fit them all on my calendar. I like Fortes’ work a lot; he serves up hamfisted cartoon imagery- sort of Phil Guston meets Skip Williamson- with a street art twist, and then tops it off with a hint of Squeak Carnwath. The colors are always good and his graphic sensibilities are right on.
I’m greatly looking forward to this show if for no other reason than to see how Fortes resolves Immaculate Rendition, an immense canvas that he’s been wrestling with for thirty-five days, all meticulously documented on his blog. -TF