Sept. 18 2013 12:01 PM

From fast-food-inspired lowbrow pieces to Charles Bergquist's otherworldly creations, our round-up of current exhibitions


"Fastfood Paintings" @ Space 4 Art

John Kilduff is both a complete kook and a genius. Watch an episode of his wacky former public-access television show, Let's Paint TV, on YouTube. The Los Angeles artist does things like jog on a treadmill as he makes blended drinks and paints, all while fielding calls from a feisty public that mostly wants to shout out disses at rival gangs. Several works from the artist's "Fastfood Paintings" series are hanging at Space 4 Art (325 15th St. in East Village) through the end of September as part of a group show curated by San Diego artist Joshua Miller (interesting work by Joshua Callaghan and J Noland is also on view). Kilduff churned out the work quickly at a live performance during the opening, letting attendees order from a "menu" and pay fast-food-like prices for the end results, which depict literal knuckle sandwiches, fountain-drink still lifes and other relics from fast-food culture. The quality of the work ranges from superb to sucky. He's definitely painterly, but if you're looking for top-notch stuff, you're missing the point. Kilduff's work will make you smile, and Googling the man to see his live performances might even inspire a laugh. Injecting a sense of humor into the art world and commenting on the commodification of creativity without coming across as irrelevant is a worthy work of art in itself.

—Kinsee Morlan

Anónimo: Heroes & Performers @ jdc Fine Art

Walking into the small gallery space at jdc Fine Art (2400 Kettner Blvd. in Little Italy), I was immediately met by a wall of faces, all haunting in their own way— "haunting" being the best word to describe the images in Anónimo: Heroes & Performers, an exhibition of works by Guatemalan photographer Luis González Palma that runs through Nov. 30. The photographs on view represent themes found throughout Palma's work: life, death and the roles we play as performers in our respective worlds. Each melancholic photo focuses on a single figure and seems to tell a story. In "Anunciacion 11," a teary woman sits seemingly abandoned in a theater. A dark shadow looms behind her. "The Shadow of His Youth" features a gloomy yet handsome man sitting across from a skull wearing a dunce cap. The image, printed on gold leaf, glows orange-red, giving it an aged quality. You can imagine how this man felt about the life he lived. There are only seven images in the exhibition (curator Jennifer DeCarlo will pull out additional images on request), but that's all you need to walk away feeling moved. Late into the night, I could still see those tender, tragic eyes.

—Alex Zaragoza

‘well & Good @ Low Gallery

Mike Maxwell seems to be the guy whose art will only be appreciated after he dies. It's sad, really; he's a fantastic painter who's developed a unique style of pop-surrealist portraiture ("lowbrow" art, if you're nasty) and who ran around with Shepard Fairey back in the day, using San Diego as their canvas. Peers have come and gone, and Maxwell surely could have moved on to make a bigger name for himself, but he continues to live and work in eastern San Diego. His show ‘well & Good, running through Oct. 6 at the newly opened Low Gallery in North Park (3778 30th St.) won't give the viewer any sense of Maxwell's roots in the scene, but it can serve as a nice introduction to what's become his trademark acrylic portraits of generals and other old-timey gentlemen on wood canvases. However, it's his recent works using spray paint and acrylic to create blots of abstraction that are the most revelatory and welcome sight, especially when surrounded by his more straight-ahead portraits, as well as those of North Carolina-based, hyper-surrealist Alli Good. Either way, while the show is quaint in size and scope, it's a welcome breath of fresh air in what's been a rather hackneyed North Park art scene, from a guy who remembers a time when art ruled the streets.

—Seth Combs

Contemporary Expressionism: The Creative Spirit @ Lyceum Gallery

Quick refresher on expressionism: Originating in Germany in the late-19th and early-20th centuries, its manifestations are broad—a painting's deemed expressionist if it seeks to capture emotion and not reality (think Edvard Munch's The Scream). Contemporary Expressionism, organized by the San Diego Museum of Art Artists Guild and on view in the Lyceum Gallery (79 Horton Plaza) through Oct. 13, shows just how broadly the term can be defined—there's something for everyone here amid roughly three-dozen works, most significantly the chance to check out lesser-known or up-and-coming artists. Florida-based Jenny Wiener's "Patchwork of Planes" is a tongue-in-cheek geometric dissection of one of Cezanne's Mont Saint-Victoire paintings, while Georgia artist Caomin Xie's "The Portrait of an Unknown Heroine," from Caomin's haunting Group Photos series, takes inspiration from both The Scream and the Chinese government's practice of blacking out faces in photos during the Cultural Revolution. Stand-out locals include sculptor Maidy Morhous, whose mesmerizing "Freefall" features a woman's torso precariously—and gracefully—poised on the edge of its stand, and Kenda Francis, whose "Grace in the Waves" juxtaposes order and chaos, nature and urban life, with its focal-point nude woman lying complacent amid a thrashing ocean, surrounded by hints of stencil art.

—Kelly Davis

Anium @ Subtext Gallery

Earth. Wind. Fire. Water. Breasts. Surely we can all agree they're forces to be reckoned with. But Charles Bergquist has come prepared. With Anium, his first solo show running through Oct. 13 at Subtext Gallery (2479 Kettner Blvd. in Little Italy), the self-taught designer and photographer and native San Diegan is clearly in all of his elements. Experimenting with the combination of photography, graphic design and video, Bergquist has created a decidedly otherworldly, sci-fi experience for the viewer (spoiler alert: X-Files fanboys and girls won't be disappointed). And the result is highly entertaining. The black-and-gray print "Devil's Slide" is the most ominous in the collection; a rocky ledge juts into the frame, both daring you to enter the broken-down shack but also warning you that that may not be such a good idea after all. Several of Bergquist's pieces play with this push-pull. In "This Beast Also Rises," a serene mountainous landscape provides the backdrop for something much more dangerous: a topless woman. Her head is obscured, but the direction of her stare is unmistakable; it's as if we've interrupted her stroll through the fiery pits of hell. Carry on, then. It's obvious Bergquist is having fun here, and he wants us all to come along for the ride. In one strikingly bright print, a bikini-clad woman floats face down in a magenta-colored pool. The title? "Bummer Summer."

—Nina Sachdev Hoffmann


See all events on Wednesday, Dec 7