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The Twinkie Defense

New York Artist Sam Gordon Returns to San Francisco's Ratio 3 Gallery

Sam Gordon's personal collection of posters and ephemera are plastered to form a visual trail leading up the building's staircase and into his current installation, "The Twinkie Defense", at Ratio 3 gallery. Photographs (or telepathic "thoughtographs," as he calls them) are interspersed amongst the foldout, full-color gallery announcements, an aesthetic nod to the now-shuttered Epicenter Zone, a notoriously punk, San Franciscan record store where Gordon first showed in the early 90's. Whether depicting a specific piece or a certain place, each represents some notion of "art" as captured by Gordon.

An Ara Peterson projection flashes across one shot, while another documents the winding, wooded entrance to Maine's famed Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Those attuned to the fits and starts of the art world's gossip train might notice a connection or two between these broadsides, as they form an amalgamation of exhibitions past, loves lost, and moments-gone-by. Gordon's map could be read, or rather misread, as an artwork designed for other art world denizens -- those likely to have visited the shows memorialized here, or seen the works and sites alluded to in the photographs.

As one follows the trajectory into the main gallery space though, Gordon's project gains clarity. Over 400 pages from his personal sketchbooks, dated from 1995 to the present, make the backdrop for a series of uniformly square canvases. These paintings are built up from a cache of religious and cultural symbols; stars, crosses, and alphanumerical codes clash to weld mystical crests and shields. Patterns and spangles layer atop hand-dyed grounds while studio floor sweepings are mixed with a polymer, and the textured paste applied to canvas so that every piece is inextricably bound to its place of origin.

Gordon has brought his own sense of home into the gallery space, described by an intensely private language system that remains open to interpretation. He posits no over-arching story here, but rather constructs a loosely laid labyrinth of moments to be found and linked together into varying narratives. These imagined histories -- moments beyond Gordon's control -- form a very probable "Twinkie defense" for this show.

Sam Gordon: The Twinkie Defense
November 4th-December 11th
Ratio 3 Gallery
Gallery hours: Sundays 12-5pm and by appointment.
tel: 646.732.2767