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Monday, June 29, 2009

Caffe Museo Review by Melissa Wyss

John Yoyogi Fortes at SFMOMA Caffé Museoby Melissa Wyss
SFMOMA Caffé Museo
151 3rd Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
May 21, 2009 - June 30, 2009

Gestural, textured and asymmetrical, John Yoyogi Fortes' show at the SFMOMA Caffé Museo is a punk rock alternative to the American modernist legends Georgia O'Keeffe and Ansel Adams currently showing upstairs.  

While O'Keeffe's and Adams' work reflects the beauty of the outside world, Fortes' psychological landscapes strive to illustrate complexity of the self.  His canvases are layered with impulsive colors, patterns and shapes which accumulate to both expose and conceal.  Collaged images, often humorous and quizzical, are sprinkled within the picture plane, suggesting narrative themes.  His pleasing palate contains hues which vary from pink to olive.  This combination of elements makes the disjunctive scenes very appealing, and a stark contrast to the soothing landscapes exhibited upstairs.

Fortes' sense of humor is reflected in his piece "Pump it Up."  An off-center sculpted bodybuilder flexes as if in a Mister Universe competition.  Projecting from his rather small Speedo is a large thought bubble filled with a nebulous form.  This blob becomes a central ingredient which may serve to symbolize artistic genesis.  As gestural components loom large in his work, Fortes undoubtedly values corporeal mastery.  The bodybuilder is also haloed, perhaps as a commentary on society or Mr. Fortes' own body image issues. Either way, I smiled when viewing it.

The painting entitled "Sword of Damocles" tackles more cerebral issues.  This piece reveals another haloed figure, in contrast to "Pump it Up," only his head and shoulders are included.   Positioned at the bottom of the painting, a beam of light projects from his eyes, directing the viewer through a sea of elements positioned above him.  This composition includes several knotted masses and intricate mazes, repeated on the canvas.  These elements express a psychological terrain of unsolvable puzzles and opaque obstructions.  A dark dagger shape projects from the top and into the center of the composition as an ominous presence hanging above the figure.  The title suggests that artistic liberty can sometimes carry a strenuous mental burden.

Fortes' work addresses a wide spectrum of personal and political issues, particularly identity, family and memory. 

The influence that comic books have had on him reflects more strongly in his previous work, but the sly humor of the genre remains in the work exhibited in this show. John Yoyogi Fortes' work is on view at the SFMOMA Caffé Museo through June 30, 2009.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Art Pickup for July Show at Corridor 2122

My old friend Jim Heitzeberg and his son Quinn came by Saturday to pick up the work that will be showing in Fresno at Corridor 2122. I was invited last year by Jim to exhibit there and time has flown by. I hadn't seen Jim since the late 80's, but after chatting it only seemed like it had been a few weeks. The show is a selection of work produced from the 1980's to present. I didn't have anything from the 90's though. Most of the work from that time was destroyed by mold from being stored in a damp garage. Lesson learned!

I'm looking forward to seeing the work installed and seeing old friends. Here is a piece that was at Fort Mason. Added more to it.

Jim and Quinn

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Spring Cleanup Overdue

I've been cranking out work and have had NO TIME to do any cleaning. This is the mess ala Hockney!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Last Sunday I went to get some coffee at the Ferry Building and on the way to the car I felt something hit my head. It was like someone had scratched it. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a bird fly by. I was being attacked by a blackbird. Guess the nest was nearby. Very strange!

Works on Paper - In Progress


This one still needs some work!

Amputated Leg Descending a Staircase

Touch of Death

Worked on these tonight.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Works on Paper

These are some pieces I've been working on this past Sunday. Will add photos of the others soon.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Artwork at SFMOMA's Caffe Museo

This past weekend we went to see the work in the museum cafe. Renee de Cassio did a nice job selecting pieces from work I had at the Artists Gallery at Fort Mason. The installation looks really good with the work up high and out of the way. The biggest painting, "Pump It Up" is 6 x 7 feet. "Sword of Damocles," a recently finished painting is on the south wall and measures 40" x 50." The show will be up till June 23rd.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Painting and Drawings in Progress

Here's "Plung" in progress as well as a recently started painting on paper.

New Small Stuff!

These are a few 9 x 12 inch paintings that I did over the weekend. The first one is called "Get Busy." The rest are spin-offs the Kultural Gem painting.


"Kultural Gem/The Part Least Liked"

"One Tenth Black Sheep"

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Painting in Progress and Fakin Bacon

Heather took this photo a long time ago so I call it Fakin Bacon. Here's a shot of my trashed out studio before I get it cleaned up for a move. Francis Bacon would be proud!