Critics’ Picks

Chris Johanson, Focus Your Energy Away from There to Here Where It Is Better, 2010, acrylic and house paint on found wood, 32 x 21”.

Chris Johanson, Focus Your Energy Away from There to Here Where It Is Better, 2010, acrylic and house paint on found wood, 32 x 21”.

San Francisco

“Group Show”

Jack Hanley Gallery
395/389 Valencia Street
April 3–April 28, 2010

For the past two decades, dealer Jack Hanley has perhaps been the Bay Area’s unofficial goodwill art emissary. He has not only brought important contemporary artists to San Francisco—back in the early 1990s he introduced Jack Pierson, Karen Kilimnik, Zoe Leonard, and others––but he has also done much to activate and to popularize, particularly at art fairs, a funky brand of Conceptualism emerging from the studios near his Mission District gallery. The fact that Hanley is shuttering his West Coast operations to focus on his Watts Street space in New York is cause for reflection. Fittingly, the final exhibition in the San Francisco gallery focuses on recent works by nine artists who currently live and work in the neighborhood, or got their start in Hanley’s northern-California outpost.

The group show is a modest but aesthetically cohesive expression of Hanley’s adventuresome inclinations and hippie-utopian roots, which add a hearty rock-’n’-roll spirit and penchant for easily obtainable materials. Highlights include pleasing geometric abstractions on found wood by Alicia McCarthy; a robotic tree sculpture by Kal Spelletich; an earthy, rust-hued Tauba Auerbach painting; and a collage depicting stalactites by Leslie Shows. Other standouts include digital prints by Shaun O’Dell and the palimpsest of a magazine-appropriated home interior by Carter.

Chris Johanson, though, sums up the show’s spirit best in one half of a diptych that includes a circular cutout, within which he has scrawled the title: Focus Your Energy Away from There to Here Where It Is Better, 2010. Possibly made for the show, the piece, which also includes a second panel with an exploding burst of color, makes a fitting sendoff to a city witnessing the departure of a dealer with similarly youthful verve.