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Oliver Halsman Rosenberg @ Backroom Gallery at Adobe Books

The Solo Work of Community Arts Champion

Conceived and built by artist/curator Amanda Eichner in 2000, the Backroom Gallery at Adobe Books is exactly that -- a tiny, contemplative space well suited to the work of Oliver Halsman Rosenberg, in residence there until July 15th. Organized by Adobe's current curator, Eleanor Harwood, Karmageddon features a suite of Rosenberg's drawings; the show opened this past Friday night, and most pieces have already sold.

Occupying all four walls of the tidy room, Rosenberg's highly rendered drawings function as individual vortices, their fine details demanding closer inspection in the same way an early copperplate engraving or Mughal miniature painting may. Meticulously executed in gouache, ink and pencil, his bulbously organic shapes cluster together in reef-like formations. Four small drawings -- North, South, East, and West-- are situated within a large, dark circle painted directly onto the wall in "You are Looking into a Cosmic Pothole". Each drawing forms its own sub-universe; forms churn and bubble as do the gaseous clouds surrounding Jupiter and Saturn, though this display is much less noxious in color and more gleeful in animation. In Rosenberg's "Quarchitecture" series (2005), galactic clouds break to reveal earthly visions of grass, sky, and the sea, while "You are the Original Seed" (2005) maps a DNA sequence, animating the genome with excruciating specificity. These works draw us in optically, nearly forcing us to meditate on their multiple dimensions and dreamy states.

In a statement posted to the gallery wall, Rosenberg discusses the idea of "Sphereism", or a cyclical return to nature, humility and the most basic of human needs. Underneath this, his freely associative list of inspirational sources mentions Buddhist philosophy, quantum physics, the work of Design Science pioneer Buckminster Fuller, Hans Arp's experiments with chance, and his own observation of phenomena-produced patterns. Ray and Charles Eames' 1977 film, Powers of Ten, explored the relative size of things, from the microscopic to the cosmic. In nine minutes, this film illustrated both continuous and transient aspects of the universe -- Powers of Ten tops Rosenberg's list, unsurprisingly, as his work clearly searches for an orderly sort of peace amidst chaos.

His quest continues at Triple Base Gallery, a Mission upstart founded by Rosenberg and Clint Taniguchi, artists who exhibit individually and collectively under the names Crust and Dirt. Their collective identity began to take shape while writing poems and making drawings together based on their writings. Devoted to the local art community, Triple Base hosts various events and projects such as Free Portrait Day, during which passers-by may have their portrait drawn for free within the gallery. Most recently, Triple Base has developed the Instant Drawing Machine, a work using computer technology to engage with the larger community.

A collaborative effort with Tokyo-based sister space Nakaochi Gallery, the Instant Drawing Machine allows passers-by to engage with Crust and Dirt via webcam. After answering the duo's questions regarding their dreams, the pedestrian is presented with an illustration based on their descriptions, broadcast live from Triple Base Studios, San Francisco. Crust, Dirt, and their ingenious contraption are slated for a 2006 exhibition at the Drawing Center in New York City, a fine opportunity to find the sort of audience participation required for the project's success. This creative communion of ideas forms the crux of Rosenberg's mission, uniting the imaginations of citizens here and beyond.

Oliver Karlsman Rosenberg
Exhibition runs through July 15th in the Backroom Gallery