San Francisco

San Francisco Artists

San Francisco

Clayton Pinkerton, exhibiting recent paintings in acrylic on masonite at the Arleigh Gallery, pursues the same themes of political and social comment which provided the content of his exhibits in the San Francisco Museum’s “Arts of San Francisco” survey of two years ago, with some modifications of style and approach. The slapdash cartoon style of his earlier phase has been supplanted with a variety of more restrained and painterly methods, while blatancy of statement has been superseded by irony—sometimes in the form of the anecdotal picture with delayed-action visual-charade “punch line” not obvious without reflection.

Chicago ’68 depicts a typical exuberant convention throng with placards, streamers and balloons—in a circular field quartered by fine, crossing hairlines. In Man of the Cloth a complacent, heavy-jowled face is framed by a military cap and shirt bearing an Army chaplain’s insignia and dissolving into a leopard-spot on olive-drab jungle camouflage pattern extending to the edges of the canvas.

Unique in the exhibition for being without political implications was a series of four paintings entitled The Seasons. These are variations in which one or more Olympia Beer cans are depicted in each painting as if discarded on the ground. Appropriate differences in ground color handled with painterly nuance readily distinguish the corresponding spring, summer, fall and winter variants.

Recent paintings by Paul Pernish seen at the Bolles Gallery in its new location on Gold Street reveal this artist to have considerably added to the techniques and possibilities of the highly dynamic style of portraiture established in his work of two years ago, without modifying its essential characteristics. Pernish continues to employ an economical, quasi-psychedelic palette stressing optically dynamic (the so-called “hallucinatory”) juxtapositions of yellow and phosphorescent violet, orange, blue and black modeling, leaning heavily upon devices traditional to caricature. He has, however, simplified and condensed his statements, searching out the most relevant and characteristic physiognomical features of his subjects and the most evocative hyperboles of draftsmanship to interpret them.

Like most portrait caricaturists Pernish has a predilection for characteristic action poses relating to his subjects’ careers, as well as for those subjects whose facial features are in some way pronounced or for whom image-projecting gestures and accessories—distinctive combinations of hair style, cigarette or cigar smoking, moustaches, sunglasses, hats and the like—offer dramatic possibilities.

Other artists, as well as rock musicians, are a favorite source of inspiration for Pernish. A study in which an ingenious stylistic simulation of reflection-patterns on very large, very dark sunglasses dominates the canvas, with a squashed-down, soft felt hat, above, and heavy black moustaches over lips clamped on a stubby cigar, below, is entitled Blue Monday and evokes recollections of cinematic stereotypes of tenderloin gangsters. A striking study captioned Bay Area Gothic respectfully paraphrases in composition and content, as it does in title, Grant Wood’s best-known painting. The interpretive nuance and care with which the standing figures are portrayed, and the thought obviously lavished on this work suggest that it is intended as a homage to Wood.

Youthful neo-Dada slapstick continued to be the fare at the newly opened Reese Palley Cellar in a group show subtitled “Bay Area Conceptual Show” in which Dan Hunter’s Fan Box—a small desk model electric fan plugged into a wall socket and whirring away under a glass display case—seemed merely a “conceptual” variant of Wayne Campbell’s blackened lightbulb charade seen here last month, while Phil Weidman’s wall plaque of brown wrapping paper strips entitled Painting Under Wraps, Dan Hunter’s Water Box, a large galvanized sheet-iron vat filled with water, and Jim Storey’s lead brick displaying the word “ageing” in raised letters (and entitled Ageing) set the preponderant tone and calibre of the exhibition’s tediously extensive inventory in this vein.

Palmer D. French