The power of color to shock, soothe and inform is on full display at SFMOMA, where works by the 2019 SECA Art Award recipients is currently on view through April 2020. Starting in a kind of small parlor room, an understated assemblage from each artist hints at what awaits around the corner.

Marlon Mullen’s paintings use magazines, currently art titles, as source imagery, and the impact is much like the treasures enclosed in a glossy package of pages, yet he is able to encase the panoptic possibilities on a single canvas. Perhaps, by virtue of his autism spectrum disorder and expressive aphasia, Mullen expresses the potential of color in each piece.  Letters and words dissolve into language as universal as a box of crayolas.

Step into Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle’s space, and it’s like  “Like a Heat Wave,” her pieces arranged around walls of searing cadmium red that scorch a path through elements that she calls “the unspeakable, the unsayable.” With ink washes, acrylic paint, glitter, and collage, she transforms old images into what she calls the Historical Present. The result of almost anthropological research, she offers an arresting new lens on the romantic notion of Gone With The Wind or the exotica of National Geographic.

Color is a spice that heats slowly till it infuses Sahar Khoury’s work. A chunk of change  warms to copper and black, and while found objects stay true to their modest selves, she  arranges and embellishes them to bring a new light, a new appreciation.  In Untitled, the Cage Topiary (look up the word, then look at the art) pauses to ask, cage or condo? The piece’s placement in the room casts a shadow of a encroaching light, or is it darkness or development.   

The SECA awards established in 1967 as the Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art, showcases developing artists, in this case, artists in their 30s, 40s and 50s, because art is about constantly making and perceiving in a new way, in a new light. Visit the second floor California galleries at SFMOMA this Winter AND Spring.