A few years ago, when CityBeat wrote about Neil Shigley and his "Invisible People" series of large-scale prints and drawings of local homeless folks, the artist and professor told us that the seven-year-long project would continue. He wasn't kidding.
"I'm just so compelled to keep doing it," he says, standing in his modest Golden Hill studio, which is packed with stark, black-and-white images of the hardened faces of people living on the streets. "I can't stop. I do all kinds of other art, but this one keeps continuing, and this is the one that gets the most traction. And there's certainly no lack of subjects."
This year's been a good one for Shigley and his series. Galleries and exhibitions across the country have shown the work, and homeless service providers like PATH and the United Way have expressed interest in collaborating with the artist, enlisting his help putting faces on the persistent problem.
More than a dozen of Shigley's "Invisible People" works are on view at the Oceanside Museum of Art. His show, which opened Nov. 1 and will run through Feb. 15, will be celebrated in a "Mega Exhibition Reception" from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6, along with four other recently opened exhibitions: California Dreaming, Naked, My Sister's Voice and Omar Lopex: Relámpago.
Shigley says that what began as an art project has since become more of a social practice.
"I know that by continuing to present this work big and often, it can focus attention on this," he says. "And who knows what can happen? Maybe some good things . My hope is that someone a lot smarter than me will eventually see the work and maybe figure some things out."