Sept. 18 2013 12:01 PM

From fast-food-inspired lowbrow pieces to Charles Bergquists 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, Lets 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 artists 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. Hes definitely painterly, but if youre looking for top-notch stuff, youre missing the point. Kilduffs 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 Palmas 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 thats 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. Its sad, really; hes a fantastic painter whos developed a unique style of pop-surrealist portraiture (lowbrow art, if youre 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.) wont give the viewer any sense of Maxwells roots in the scene, but it can serve as a nice introduction to whats become his trademark acrylic portraits of generals and other old-timey gentlemen on wood canvases. However, its 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, its a welcome breath of fresh air in whats 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 paintings deemed expressionist if it seeks to capture emotion and not reality (think Edvard Munchs 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—theres 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 Wieners Patchwork of Planes is a tongue-in-cheek geometric dissection of one of Cezannes Mont Saint-Victoire paintings, while Georgia artist Caomin Xies The Portrait of an Unknown Heroine, from Caomins haunting Group Photos series, takes inspiration from both The Scream and the Chinese governments practice of blacking out faces in photos during the Cultural Revolution. Stand-out locals include sculptor Maidy Morhous, whose mesmerizing Freefall features a womans 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 theyre 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 wont be disappointed). And the result is highly entertaining. The black-and-gray print Devils 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 Bergquists 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; its as if weve interrupted her stroll through the fiery pits of hell. Carry on, then. Its 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 Monday, Oct 12