Varnish Fine Art‘s current group exhibition, “Mind Spring” with artists Chuck Sperry, Chris Shaw, and Ron Donovan re-assign meaning and re-contextualize images into and within the pop-art culture. Giving rock music and popular culture visual expression in sync with their urban settings, the art works, primarily their subjects are used to purposely transform events and experiences into a vocabulary of a contemporary visual culture.
The artists in “Mind Spring” have an impressive history and standing within the genre. Artist Ron Donovan moved to California from his native Hawaii to attend California College of Arts. He began his professional art career as co-founder of We Are Not Gentlemen (WANG), headquartered at the campus. Ron Donovan opened The Firehouse Kustom Rockart Company together with Chuck Sperry in the late ’90’s, a Warholian-type factory at a firehouse on Polk Street. After they were asked to vacate in the 90s, they set up shop in West Oakland, where they currently reside.
Chris Shaw became well-known in the Bay Area for his immense black-light murals found in San Francisco’s nightclubs in the 80s. By the early 1990s, he was working with Bill Graham Presents making posters for their impressive line-up of performers and shows. Shaw’s recent paintings precariously combine visual geometry typically found in Renaissance art, classic iconographic techniques and contemporary cultural cues and images.
Originally from Ohio, Chuck Sperry lives in Haight-Ashbury where for over 15 years he has been designing and hand-screening prints. He is recognized throughout the world as one of the foremost rock poster artists. He has been featured in documentaries in film and television in the US, Europe and Australia. His use of a beautiful woman as icon in “Mind Spring” reveals Sperry’s interest in Beauty being the major impetus in his art, while also expressing an important message of the Worldwide Occupy Movement and it’s antecedent in the Arab Spring; Says Sperry, “The figure wreathed in blooming spring flowers is a representation of the surprising enlightened humanism, the opening mind, the broadened socio-political possibilities which has swept the world in 2011.”
“Mind Spring” is at Varnish Fine Art until February 18, 2012.
Varnish Opening for Mind Spring
Chuck Sperry, Chaos
Chris Shaw, Gorgon I
Chris Shaw, Madonna of the 40 oz.
Ron Donovan, Keeper of the Gate, and Chris Shaw, Madonna of the 40 oz.
Chris Shaw, Elvis Illuminati
Chuck Sperry, Mind Spring
Ron Donovan, Bring Me the Head of Elvis