By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
By Dennis Romero
"It's really bad form to show up late for the meal and take credit."
Not long after that initial conversation, Rose called Roberts and they set up a meeting. "I thought he'd have some slides, maybe a page of words," Roberts smiles. "But instead, Aaron presented Julie [Roberts' wife and partner] and I with two full-on proposals. Bound pages of images and text. I mean, we're talking about an extremely thorough package."
Rose said that after they decided on a painting show over a graphics presentation, Scribble & Scripture sprang to life. "Things began to come together in the way they do when things are supposed to happen. Pieces fall into place," Rose recalls. "As opposed to when you're trying to force things and nothing's coming together."
The show, combining elements of painting, architecture and design, zines, silk-screen editions, and art multiples, much created specifically for this show, provides plenty for an audience to sample. For starters, the Otto Design Group reconstructed the actual gallery itself. Incorporating common materials like plywood and 2-by-4's, Phil Otto and his team have done what he calls a kind of "visual sampling." It's Otto's belief that "by using ordinary materials and placing them in an atypical environment, the experience becomes extraordinary."
That may be true, but it didn't stop one of the painters, San Francisco's Barry McGee, from requesting a van be flipped over in the parking lot so that he could fill it with drawings, bottles, detailed VCRs and the aforementioned videos.
"For one thing, the space just felt a little small for the three of us," McGee says. "And then I walked out into the parking lot and saw all these Lexus SUVs all lined up and this big gray art complex, and I just felt like it might be more interesting to do something out there."
Currently taking up an entire wall of MOMA's "Drawing Now" show as well as appearing at 2001's Venice Biennale, not to mention being featured in the not-too-distant past at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and UCLA's Hammer Museum, McGee is the most art world-approved of the three painters featured in S&S. McGee's world-weary faces and fallen hobos serve to remind us that life, in the modern sense, can be a real fucking cross to bear. Characters crawl, and pray, and scratch their bellies across massive Guernica-like murals as well as on clusters of discarded pint bottles that McGee buys from down-and-out neighbors for a dollar a pop.
For the soft-spoken McGee, known in global graffiti circles as "Twist," S&S is mostly about having a good time with old friends, especially coming off a year during which he had shows in London, Paris, San Francisco and Milan. If that wasn't tiring enough, he's a recently minted father. "I'd like to be able to say that [after becoming a father] I'm less angry and more gentle, but that's not the case. I'm still really angry about things I'm seeing in the world right now, and that kind of response is something I tend to think of as a kind of youthful-rebellion response. It's just that now more than ever, I want to dig a cave that me and my daughter can crawl into and hide, so I can protect her." (McGee's wife, the artist Margaret Kilgallen, died of cancer in 2001 during the pregnancy.)
In Rose's words, Thomas Campbell is the soul surfer of the bunch. A modern-day vagabond, Campbell can be found on any given day just about anywhere in the world as long as there's good surf. He works in many mediums: drawing, painting, photography, film, music. Campbell's flowing murals and painting clusters are filled with a mélange of abstraction and otherworldly beings — part animal, part alien, part prehistoric creature — and often contain cryptic affirmations like "Be Here Now" or "Come Home to Your Fucking Self." They'd be just as at home on a gallery wall as they would be on the underside of the old Santa Monica pier. To do the show, Campbell came back from Sri Lanka where he was shooting footage for his latest cinematic effort, a follow-up to The Seedling, Campbell's 1999 full-length surfari film, which is a gleefully art-damaged companion to the surf classic Endless Summer.
Not long off a well-received show at Colette in Paris, Campbell enjoys a chance to drop in on different cities and their respective scenes. "I live up in Santa Cruz. It's a pretty quiet beach town, and I don't really need all that much on a cultural level to get excited and work, it just kind of happens. Then I come to places like this and it's kind of overwhelming. I generally go to bed around 12 and wake up around 7 or 8. So, when I come to something like this, I might be working until like 6 or so in the morning. It's just such a whole different kind of thing than what I'm used to . . . But being in a show with all of these guys, after all these years, including Aaron and Brendan [Fowler, Rose's longtime sidekick], it's all come full circle in a really nice way."