Nicholas Bohac, a seasoned artist living and working in San Francisco, plays with the structural elements of fractal geometry, architecture, and the concept of time travel in order to present his audience with an alternative view of the world we inhabit. He primarily works with printmaking methods and acrylic based media to create two-dimensional paintings & drawings that suggest a surrealistic escape and z hint of nostalgia.
Bohac is interested in the complexities found in our universe; in his artist statement he writes about how the idea that everything came from nothing is extremely influential on the work that he makes today.
His painting and drawings are meant to be read as “very ethereal, just like a hallucinatory dream.”
This post is second in Art@Bay’s Best of 2012 series – check out the introduction and pick for Best Museum Exhibit here.
I initially felt some reluctance releasing this installment because I felt a tad guilty for not having attended some exhibits (thus, I couldn’t appropriately include them). After some consideration though, I’ve mustered some gumption: Likely I’ve attended more local art exhibits than anyone (save perhaps for Luis from Art Taco). Anyhow, if you disagree with my pick, let me know in the comments section below – I’ll tell you why it didn’t make my cut.
Best Gallery Exhibit
Neil Bender: Purple Nurple – Tempus Projects
Perhaps its natural a solo exhibit came out strongest – they have fewer variables than a group show. Regardless, last February’s Neil Bender solo show at Tempus Projects impressed me most.
The exhibit was dominated by relatively large-scale paintings visually tied together by medium (oil on canvas) and a subtly similar palette. The centerpiece of the show – the 88 x 120 in. My Daughter’s Overturned Bedroom – hung alone on the gallery’s west wall.
Bender’s composition and style reflect an awareness of the contemporary dialogue on art and painting’s place in it. With the field of relevant painting (presumably) shrinking, good work is all the more exciting. His choice of medium wasn’t a trivial one – the use of oil was ideal for the subject matter. The somewhat painterly fleshy masses of the pieces recalled Rubenesque figures through a contemporary lens, a sort of baroque R. Crumb.
However, I’m not saying that his work was in any way frivolous. Rather, Bender was able to convey the moral muddiness of some pretty heavy issues – objectification, sexual politics, gender roles. His paintings resist being heavy-handed politically, instead according an appropriate complexity to the concepts they touch on.
Bender also managed to resist being heavy-handed with the shock and awe. When dealing with issues such as sexuality, artists can get as adolescent as the rest of us. It’s easier to take a lazy pointlessly raunchy route. The nudity in Bender’s paintings is relatively understated and effective. The pieces encourage a slow look in contrast with the facile shock and instant impression (then consequent forgetting) of immature work.
Really, Bender’s work in Purple Nurple had a conceptual depth that is not seen often enough in the Bay area. Further, it was executed with a balanced hand both aesthetically and in process.
Parallel Movements: Justin Nelson and Daniel Mrgan – C. Emerson Fine Arts
This past October CEFA presented a dual exhibit of work from two popular Bay area artists: Justin Nelson and Daniel Mrgan. Both had exhibited a few times locally throughout the year. However, this exhibit featured new work from both artists. More importantly, it signaled a subtle but positive shift in each artist’s style.
Nelson and Mrgan both use an approach to their work that is easily liked. While popular art can run the risk of becoming populist art, this exhibit caught the work of both artists maturing. In their own ways, the new work from Nelson as well as Mrgan abstracted itself further from earlier pieces. The art investigated similar concepts and processes, but definitely deeper and more effectively in Parallel Movements.
Alright, I’m sorry. I haven’t been doing the best job of keeping you apprised of art happenings in Tampa. Not to worry, though: I’m getting my head back in the game and you back up to date. Here’s the best going on in Tampa right now.
The Elephant in the Room
There’s only one thing I don’t like about the CL Space and I understand it’s unavoidable: exhibits don’t hang around for very long there. Generally if you missed the opening reception to a show, such as the current The Elephant in the Room, you missed the show entirely. Not so today! The art deities have considered you’re plight and shown you favor – you’ve given a closing reception! Seriously, with its brick walls and floating dry wall, the CL Space is a beautiful art venue. The Elephant in the Room is a politically charged juried exhibit. You’ve likely seen several of these types of shows recently as a result of the RNC. This show is especially worthy of your attendance because of its more subtle but well thought-out work, and its interactive Silverfish Revolution. Read more about that here. – The closing reception is Friday 8/31, 7pm-9pm at CL Space.
Taking Place: Drawings by Josette Urso
Gallery 221 at HCC is now presenting work from New York based (and Tampa native) artist Josette Urso. Urso produces intricate ink drawings that are at once claustrophobic like the cityscapes they depict but also playful in a way. A number of these drawings are currently being exhibited. However, Urso’s enormous (7.5 x 20 feet) site specific installation, a vinyl rendering of a drawing, and a six-minute video work titled Taking Place really make the show worth a visit. She plays effectively with ideas of place and information, giving the viewer a bit to untangle mentally and visually. – Gallery 221@HCC will be hosting an artist talk and presentation Wed 9/05, 3pm and an opening reception the following evening at 5pm-7pm.
The Importance of Being Photographed
It was a cross-medium mash-up waiting to happen: Andy Warhol and Oscar Wilde. The playwright and the pop artist expressed some eerily contemporary and similar concerns in their work such as celebrity, sexuality, beauty, and wealth. The exhibit doesn’t actually feature the work of either artist, but rather takes its cue from the Polaroids in the exhibit down the hall, The Andy Warhol Legacy Project. This is a photography show about being photographed. Many of the subjects are entirely aware they are standing in front of a camera. It’s this self-awareness that’s really fascinating and give many of the pieces a voyeuristic feel. I would love to know what Oscar Wilde would think about this show. The exhibit includes artists Tina Barney, Dawoud Bey, Katy Grannan, Jason Lazarus, Malerie Marder, Ryan McGinley, Catherine Opie, and Alec Soth. – The Importance of Being Photographed is open at the USF Contemporary Art Museum through 12/15/13.
The RNC and a hurricane: it feels like Tampa Bay is writing the Daily Show’s material for them. All we need is one more weird event to complete the trifecta. Maybe a python invasion or something. But take heart! Conservatives, tempests, and serpents can’t keep good art down! There are plenty of exhibits to check out this weekend. However, make sure this one lands near the top of your to-see list.
CL Space – The Elephant in the Room Sat 8/25 7pm
Creative Loafing is opening its beautiful space to exhibit politically themed work this weekend. Organized by Tempus Projects, this juried exhibition promises a high-quality showing. Political art exhibits always run the risk of tumbling down the easy path: displaying work high on shock-and-awe aesthetics, but lacking any actual substance. I’m pretty confident The Elephant in the Roomwill take the aesthetic high road favoring art that encourages critical thought over a “that’s neat” reaction. For example, consider the drawings of Roger Palmer. His blog, Feral Ink, has had me mesmerized for some time. On Feral Ink, prominent characters of conservative politics are rendered as colorful drawings. The artwork is accompanied by text that reads like the unfolding of a surreal tragedy but in reality narrates the day-to-day political landscape.
The Elephantin the Room will also feature collage work from the Silverfish Revolution. Artists were encouraged to mail in collages which were then featured at Tempus Projects last week. There visitors could add to the collages with materials provided by the Bluebird Books Bus. The resulting collages will be on hand at The Elephant in the Room with another opportunity for visitors to participate in this collective collage. Following the exhibit the collection of collages will be made into signs to protest/support the convention. Really, expect to see a heavy show and lend an artistic hand.