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Low Gallery Benefit Show

A New Space for Bay Area Art

Fecal face dot com sounds like a poo fetish site, but for those in the know it’s the best place online to see new Bay Area art. Photographer, web designer, aspiring filmmaker John Trippe started the site in 2000 and has since gained a loyal following on the web and some really talented artist friends. A gallery space was the next logical step and on November 20th Low Gallery held a benefit show to help to raise funds to get the gallery off the ground at its small storefront in the Mission.

Many of the artists in the show straddle the fine and commercial art divide. Artists like Jeremy Fish and Matt Irving are well known for their design work in the skater community. Others like Jeff Soto have made dough doing commercial illustration. Fish in particular has shown himself to be the master of all media creating sculptures, paintings, and prints of hyper-stylized bunnies and skulls that balance humor with the macabre. Soto creates strange dense worlds of hybrid creatures against graffiti-inspired backgrounds. Irving’s silkscreen patterns are in the spirit of mid 20th century wallpaper and textile designs, a time when surface design was a serious artistic pursuit. Some may have criteria for what belongs on a gallery wall and what’s better suited for a t-shirt or the deck of a skateboard. Low Gallery doesn’t seem interested in drawing such lines in the sand.

Alongside talented heavy weights such as Fish, Soto and Irving are emerging artists that have yet to distinguish their work from their Bay Area peers. Though nice, the paintings contributed by Chris Duncan and Paul Urich are so similar they could have easily been mistaken for the work of one artist. None of the paintings in the show are flops but very few are more than mildly successful. Skilled renderings of people and animals in muted sun bleached colors, these paintings are pretty but safe. One wonders if the tight, supportive San Francisco area arts community has created this environment by giving pats on the back when it should be giving some a kick in the ass for motivation.

If you liked the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts “Beautiful Loser” show but thought it could be a little grungier and a lot less pretentious you’d probably find yourself right at home at Low. Get there soon (when a work is sold the buyer hauls it away and some really stellar pieces at the opening were gone a week later).

Exhibit runs: Nov 20 - Dec 20, 2004