Barry McGee is one of the most celebrated California artists of the past 25 years, extending his graffiti aesthetic to some of the best galleries and museums worldwide. Perhaps that is what has made his work so appealing and sought-after; after all the accolades and presentations in a gallery setting, McGee has kept that DIY, zine culture and street-centric work at the heart of his paintings and installations. You can count on one hand, perhaps on just one finger, an artist who calls out his graffiti crews in paintings that will adorn museum collections and the highest-end collectors. It is Barry McGee.
From July 1—October 14, 2018, the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara will host Barry McGee: SB Mid Summer Intensive, a "sprawling" installation of paintings, drawings, and sculptural objects by the San Francisco based artist, McGee. The works in the show, as we have seen more and more in recent years with McGee, showcase his signature, folk patterns interspersed with familiar characters and occasional sign-painting styled works. But McGee has been focusing more and more on space, with pattern and faces almost dropped into thin air on a canvas, floating as if their backgrounds have been aged and buffed after years on the streets. Remnants of spray paint mist are covered by elegant colors and shapes. As with many of his shows, SB Mid Summer Intensive will feature McGee's collections of found objects and items, intertwined within the exhibition, like a well-curated hoarder. That the show is hosted in Santa Barbara, a beautiful West Coast town with surf culture and its epicenter, fits the McGee motif as an originator of a particular brand of surf art. Mostly, SB Mid Summer Intensive will demonstrate just that; Barry McGee is an original spirit, and his art should be treated as such. —Evan Pricco
SB Mid Summer Intensive will be on view from July 1—October 14, 2018