san-francisco

Jerome Caja

Force Nordstrom Gallery

This show of 150 miniatures by Jerome Caja (all works 1988) had more spunk and eloquence per square yard than any local exhibition in recent memory. Caja’s work is usually described in terms of outsider or folk art, terms that always remind me of what Big Bill Broonzy said when asked if what he did was “folk music”: “I guess all songs is folk songs,” he said,“I never heard no horse sing ’em.”

These “Cosmetic Miracles,” as the artist calls them, are painted on small change trays, saucers, squares of black flocked paper, sandpaper, wood, and Masonite. They are mounted on lace, crushed cans, scrap chrome, torch-cut lead sheets, thrift-store frames, and other urban debris. The artist’s favorite media include nail polish, eyeliner, mascara, and white-out, as well as enamel paints and inks. The painted surfaces are built up, burned, cracked, scraped, and varnished—Caja’s is an art of excess.

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