Jack Hanley Gallery is very pleased to open the fall season with an exhibition of mixed-media works on panel by Bay Area artist, Alicia McCarthy (featured in our April 2015 issue). For her sixth solo show with the gallery, the artist has imagined a decidedly reductive and focused exhibition, presenting larger works, an extended color palette and new motifs, while pursuing her well-established vocabulary to new ends.
Alicia engages with the immediate world around her. Although visually abstract, the motifs are deeply personal and her works often include an indication of physical presence. These markings can be literal–such as the ring left by a coffee cup, print from a boot or a note written by the artist. They can also be referential, like the weave and rainbow, two of the more predominant symbols in her work which reference the LGBT community in San Francisco and Oakland.
Materials used in her process are often found, abandoned or donated wood (i.e. a drawer or desk top) and recycled or shared house-paint, crayons, spray paint and colored pencils. Sincere and intense but also playful, McCarthy transforms found wood surfaces into bursts, geometric blocks of color and woven patterns that are often emphasized by text and spray paint. These “paintings” bear a sculptural weight that is juxtaposed by their deceptively simple mark and image making. The precise patterns and delicate balance of her compositions are meticulous, quirky and profoundly specific, integrating non-traditional folk and punk influences in what Roberta Smith calls “a matchbox full of color.”
McCarthy’s compositions are frequently complimented by text that alludes to her long history in the street art community and her central role in the Mission School, a group of artists working in the Mission District of San Francisco in the early 1990’s. Coming up in the Bay Area pre-Dot com boom, McCarthy alongside Chris Johanson, Margaret Kilgallen, Ruby Neri, and Barry McGee embody the urban street and graffiti culture with its rustic aesthetic.
The show runs through October 11, 2015.