San Francisco

Max Bailey, Archie Gonzales, Rodney Briggs

San Francisco Art Center

In substituting white canvas for natural masonite as a support for his cloisonné style of painting, Bailey comes up with greater contrasts, and greater starkness, in his naturescapes. Though cold, these works are exhilarating in quality. He has severely abstracted his subject matter, yet seems to automatically work to a horizon line. Rock and shore elements are inevitable, and are further identified by his preference for a low-keyed palette of black, white, green and grey. Bailey obviously understands the bleak aspects of nature, interpreting them as an explorer rather than a documenter—seeing huge black silhouettes as signals while not unaware of their decorative qualities.

Archie Gonzales works towards solving the problem of white. In some few works he does it, in some he only compounds the problem. Where he changes textural direction from two non-matching centers the resulting eccentricity relieves the monotony of tone, making his little decorative splashes of gold or silver superfluous and distracting. Where he covers the two axis points with a cap of small texturings of reduced color, he comes closer to a congenial solution.

Briggs, more of an inventor than a painter, manages an intriguing combination of sight and sound, which may be the answer to the heightened response some artists now seek. Relating sound to color psychology, he makes astute social comments by way of canvases dealing with types, both individual and group. Wired for sound, some work on an automatic cycle, sounding off with maniacal cackles and monotonous beeps, without stimulation. Others must be approached from just the right angle before giving out with their guttural gibberish, prophetic whines or alkali rasps. These are definitely humorous, but truths are often spoken in terms of jest. With a dozen viewers in his show at one time it suddenly becomes a witches’ sabbath.

E. M. Polley