Press Release | "Sentimental Mood"

Sentimental Mood

Join us this Friday, January 12th at 7pm for the opening reception of "Sentimental Mood" a group exhibition featuring 20 Bay Area artists at First Amendment Gallery.  The gallery is located at the intersection of 6th and Howard St. in Downtown San Francisco.  The exhibition is free and open to the public.  Exhibiting artists include:

Adam Caldwell - Anika Chasuk - Apexer - Casey Gray
Christoper Martin - Daryll Peirce - David Chong Lee - David Marc Grant
Ernest Doty - Gina Contreras - John Casey - Kellen Chasuk
Lena Gustafson - Marcos LaFarga - Oliver Hawk - Peter Adamyan
Rich Jacobs  - Robert Minvervini - Sean Newport - Yetunde Olagbaju

To receive a preview or if you have any questions about "Sentimental Mood" please contact info@firstamendmentgallery.com


Adam Caldwell
Bio - Adam was born and grew up in Massachusetts. He also lived in Maine, Tennessee, and in France. He began drawing at around 1 or two years old. His parents would place some paper in front of him and give him a pen and he would draw for hours. Throughout his childhood he never stopped drawing, started copying comic books, and then tried writing and drawing his own. After high school and an aborted attempt at a career as lead guitarist in a progressive metal band, he moved to Oakland CA. For years he worked many jobs: warehouse worker, bouncer, house painter, dishwasher, waiter, and cook. He spent most of his free time playing guitar, drawing and reading every book he could get his hands on. His main influence in art at this time was underground European comics, he drew his own short comics and tried a couple graphic novels. In the early 1990’s he decided it was probably a good idea to go to school. He studied art at Laney Community College, and then in 1994 received a scholarship to study at the California College of Art. Initially interested in drawing and writing graphic novels, Adam began to study oil painting which seemed like a better fit for his ideas and interests. After two years of study he took an illustration class with renowned artist and teacher Barron Storey, who inspired a passion for illustration and a more democratic view of art making than the elitist world of fine art. Adam then focused on a double major in Fine art and illustration. While a student he began working as a Teachers Assistant and taught several substitute classes on his own. He received a BFA in illustration and fine art in 1998. Post-graduation found Adam exploring various avenues in the arts. He tried illustration, storyboarding, and concept art, but was not really at home doing commercial work. In 2001 he began teaching at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Teaching full-time allowed him to work without any constraints and he experimented in various forms of drawing, collage, and multi-media work. In 2007 Adam realized that the art he had been making was not what he really wanted to do. He had been working in an isolated sphere. He slowly began painting in oils. He moved into a large warehouse studio with fellow teacher and Korean-born artist David Choong Lee. In a space that was constantly visited by gallery owners, art clients, and working artists, Adam began to develop quickly. He constructed collages out of drawings and found images that he used as the basis for painting. He soon began showing in small group shows in SF and then in LA. He moved studios several times and now has a small solo space in the Mission district in SF. He shows at White Walls gallery in SF, at Thinkspace in LA, and at Rook and Raven Gallery in London. He also sells prints and original work through the online galleries 5Pieces and 1XRun. In addition to painting Adam has been teaching and competing in Martial Arts since childhood. He was the 2001 USAWKF National san-shou champion and has competed in amateur thai-boxing. He is an instructor at EBM kung-fu in Oakland CA. He is still pursuing his dream of being a guitar legend.

Statement - My paintings and drawings juxtapose elements of abstract expressionism and classical figuration. During my training at the California College of Arts and Crafts, I began to create collage drawings that layered disparate images on top of one another; I now use oil paint in a similar way. Starting with sketches as inspiration, I construct collages of photos, and use them as a basis for classical oil paintings. The resulting palimpsest of figures and abstract shapes represents the conflicted and paradoxical emotions that underlie my work. My paintings evoke the tensions between mind and body, self and other, present and past. They also raise questions about the nature of identity, particularly concerning issues of gender and sexuality. I am deeply concerned about the world around me, and my work reflects my reactions to social issues such as war and consumerism by contrasting images from American advertisements and popular culture with figures trapped and defined by that environment. The eclectic nature of my work reflects my wide range of interests and influences. My figurative painting and drawing has been influenced by the realistic yet expressive work of Odd Nerdrum, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Antonio López García, Jenny Saville, and Barron Storey, whom I studied under at CCAC. I am inspired by my grandfather, author Erskine Caldwell, and his commitment to representing the unseen and marginalized members of our society. I am also heavily influenced by music, movies, and comics, all of which have shaped my identity.


Anika Chasuk
Bio
- Anika Chasuk (b.1989, Mountain View, CA) raised in Napa, she has grown to appreciate many sides of the creative adventure. She believes in community-based work, and the relationship between culture and nature. Focussing mainly on lettering structure, mingled with the use of found object, the work explores the versatile nature of neon and the many ways it has been utilized. Bouncing from the lab, to SFAI where she is currently studying sound and cinematography, Chasuk has recently been combining her modes of making to explore the tactile experience of installing ceramics alongside neon sculpture. While remaining enthralled with letter structure and the traditional practice of sign making, she actively seeks new methods of making within the physical limits her mediums demand. Chasuk has exhibited work at Book and Job Gallery, First Amendment Gallery SF, and is returning to Oakland’s Good Mother Gallery for an upcoming show in 2018.

Statement - I love so many materials and crafts, but the yin around the yang has me focussed on audio, signage, and ceramic sculpture. My commitment to them rests on their ability to incorporate many interests within themselves. Some being; illustration, typography, construction and joinery, editing, mastering illusions, precision, and mad science. Coming from a background in wood-based craftsmanship, and glass flame working, I strive to uphold the power of tradition comprised within the art of sign fabrication. My favorite result of this lifestyle is sharing it with the community I hail from. Neon is an active and wild source of power that only grows greater when coupled with the familiarity of clay, and the sensory mind-fuck of the audio realm. I intend to dedicate my existence to better understanding all the avenues of my urban existence. My goal is to allow neon to serve the community- to have something stable, something alive, lit up for generations.
*Bay Area Mad Scientist, hyphy wizard 2017


Apexer 

Bio - APEXER (b. 1978, San Francisco, CA), also known as Ricardo Richey, is a street artist who creates colorful abstract patterns through the use of spray paint. Part of the Gestalt Collective that engages in collaborative murals in San Francisco, Apexer curated mural projects on Bluxome Alley, other districts of San Francisco, and the SFMOMA display windows in association with St. Johns Community Center (San Francisco, 2002). His work has been shown extensively both in the Bay Area and abroad. Recent group exhibitions include Calligraffiti: Writing in Contemporary Chinese and Latino Art, Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, CA (2009); Bay Area Now 4, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco (2005), White Walls, and the Luggage Store Gallery. He was the artist in residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts (2007), and was featured in documentaries and publications regarding the Mission District in San Francisco.


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Casey Gray

Bio - Casey Gray (b. 1983, Palo Alto, CA) is an contemporary artist working primarily in painting and occasionally in printmaking, illustration and site-specific murals. His work explores our relationship to common objects and symbols, and their ability to hold meaning, tell stories and create identity. Through a filter informed by historical painting, past experience and a hopeful albeit dystopic future, he composes disparate subject matter into visually complex still life arrangements. His work is characterized by his commitment to aerosol paints and laborious, hand cut masking techniques, resulting in a type of skewed hyper-realism. 


Christoper Martin
Bio
- Christopher Martin is a southern raised artist from North Carolina who is currently based in San Francisco. The art created recently are tapestry peaces that display the experience of the African Diaspora displayed from cotton. His work continues in this medium alongside graphic design and photography.

Statement - My banners tell a surreal story of religion, slavery and freedom. I take the initial reason of Africans role in America for the cultivation of cotton and use that same material to display my graphic designs on hand cut and sew banners. The process I use is categorized as appliqué. A lot of my images are inspired from past references but yet are still relevant to today’s culture and conversation.


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Daryll Peirce
Bio / Statement - Internalizing all my interactions with the physical world, I find myself obsessively overanalyzing and examining the struggles, anxieties, and chimerical wars held within the individual mind–those formidable pressures we place upon ourselves and the imaginative journeys of escape we are capable of making without leaving our seat or opening our eyes. 

Outside examination of the immediate self, I’m especially curious of that unknown metaphysical connective magic that binds us all together as living beings. What unites us to our environment, to our world, our universe? What connects us to the past and future? Fascinating mysteries are these uncertain spaces between matter and energy, and the mysticism that travels betwixt the two.

I was born and raised in Reno, Nevada and have been a San Francisco/Bay Area dweller since 2005 by way of San Diego, California and Denver, Colorado. I received my BFA in Visual Communication from the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design in 2000 and have steadily continued my art education with select courses and instructors at the San Francisco Art Institute, the California College of the Arts, and more. 


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David Chong Lee
Bio
- was born in 1966 is Seoul, Korea and is currently based in San Francisco, California.  In 1993, he moved to the United States to pursue his education and received a BFA from the Academy of Art University (San Francisco) in 1997. He received an MFA from the same university in 2005. His work has been exhibited extensively in San Francisco and at galleries in New York, Oregon, Canada and the United Kingdom.  He’s self-published a number books– God Made Dirt and Dirt Don’t Hurt (2002), 4WORDS (2004), Convergence (2006) and Further (2010).

Statement - After 20 years of being a staple in the San Francisco art scene, David Choong Lee has perfected a signature style that merges figuration and abstraction. Influenced by diverse artistic sources, such as Vincent van Gogh, Rembrandt, graffiti and underground music, he skillfully incorporates bold graphics with organic elements, creating kaleidoscopic dreamscapes and subjects.

Lee’s early work focused on depicting societal concerns through realism, such as his first major project in the United States in which he painted portraits of San Francisco’s homeless community on found boxes. By 2010, his work transformed to a solely abstract aesthetic with nonfigurative, brightly colored compositions stemming from his imagination. The artist describes these paintings as “inner visions” of himself and elaborates, “When someone understands one of these paintings, it’s like they’re hugging me really deep from inside.”


David Marc Grant
Bio / Statement
- a 3rd generation San Francisco native, is a very rare bird indeed. He paints candy colored dystopian landscapes. Growing up in the Fog City in the 80s, he was happily exposed to genres of utopian science fiction and fantasy, the kind that inspired cautionary tales of environmental disaster and extreme spectacle. A student of the wild school of dichotomies and of the prestigious San Francisco Art Institute, Grant’s humor and his history influence his interest in fictitious world building. “It doesn’t do me much good to make unpleasant looking work even if I think the future may not be very pleasant.”MFA San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, CA


Ernest Doty
Bio / Statement: Ernest Doty grew up in New Mexico and is a member of the Oakland art community. While he is a member of several graffiti crews he is a muralist and not a writer. His murals enable him to tell a story and connect with the audience. He frequently paints stand alone birds or incorporates them into his murals like this one. In an interview he stated "they represent freedom and an ability to venture into the psychedelic realm. I definitely feel a connection to them as we are all one with nature whether we choose to accept and recognize it or not.”


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Gina Contreras
Bio
- Gina M. Contreras is a painter and printmaker from Fresno, California. In 2008 she received a BFA in Printmaking from the San Francisco Art Institute. She currently lives and works in San Francisco.

Statement - "I like penis but only dicks like me," is a funny thing to say out loud, but in reality it happens to a lot of us. We meet someone, we crush, we romance, we love, and then we bullshit. My paintings are a reflection of a night I had when something between crushing and bullshitting faded into layers of a lonely slumber.


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John Casey
Bio
- For most of his career, John Casey has been exploring open-ended narratives in his work. Using mostly a portrait format, he taps into his subconscious and psychological brain space, to conjure loose metaphors and symbols, and weave them into compelling characters. Some of these collages represent a kind of psychological self-portrait. Others represent people John has encountered throughout his lifetime, friends, neighbors, and generally everyday folks. These beings are not specific portraits, more like the impression of various people. The character's life-story is left open to interpretation, inviting the viewer into the story-telling process. The results are what appear to be damaged or vulnerable beings, but a second look reveals complex and sensitive spirits, more like enthusiastic upstarts, rather than rejects or troublemakers.

Statement - Born on Friday the 13th in 1964 in Salem, Massachusetts, John Casey started inventing creatures as soon as he was able to hold a crayon. Drawings that his mother saved from when he was only three years old reveal an obsession with the figure. The figures in these drawings show not only the distorted perceptions of a child, but a fascination with skulls, teeth, spirographic eyes, and invented body parts. This obsession with strange creatures continued throughout his youth. "Monster models, war dioramas, dinosaurs, and horror movies on the T.V. [this included Creature Double Feature; on Saturday afternoons, of course] occupied much of my time. John graduated from the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston in 1988 with a BFA in Painting. He currently lives in Oakland, California with his lovely wife Mary.


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Kellen Chasuk
Bio
- Kellen Chasuk’s studio practice is a humorous reflection of daily life explored through the manipulation of established painting genres. She continues to experiment with sculpture, printmaking, and clothing while pursuing her BFA from San Francisco Art Institute with a focus in Painting. Chasuk (b.1995) lives and works in Oakland, CA

Statement - I make art that aims to untangle my ever-changing view of the world as I move into adulthood through representation of everyday thoughts, objects, and textures. Most of the subject matter is derived from an accumulation of lived, observed or learned concepts related to anything from television, fabric patterns, tropes in art history, to relationships and grief. Creating a visual response to these collections of knowledge and anxieties allows me to hold on to my own tangled view of things. Each composition is approached with humor born out of the reflection of human circumstance. The output being, hopefully, a shared moment of reflection, a laugh, a relatable discomfort, or a newfound comfort. 


Lena Gustafson
Bio / Statement
- Lena's recent work uses bright colors and large female figures at the center of each image. She uses repeated visual symbolism such as flags, water, plant life, color, and repeated gestures to communicate different stories within the body. Often times the line that separates the figure from her environment are blurred. 

Traditionally the female form has been used as a symbol to indulge others' fantasies, dreams, and fascinations.  Lena is interested not in what can be projected onto it, but instead what lies to be awoken within the body itself. She is interested in the idea of body memory and aims to visualize what this would look like if we could see it. Rather than the figure itself it is the stored information within the figure as well as its surroundings that interests Lena. By engaging with the history of representation of the female form, Lena contemplates new narratives for which the female body can understand itself.


Marcos LaFarga
Bio / Statement
- With every letter crafted there is a story being told, and with only 26 of them to augment it takes a deft hand and a designer mind to make them distinct. Born in 1978 in Antioch, California, Marcos LaFarga has been developing his true west design aesthetic right in the epicenter of California creativity. His pedigree is one that runs from the wall and the freight, to a BFA in 2006 from California College of the Arts. It is this diverse background that provides him with the depth to move and merge between otherwise separate visual languages. Marcos focuses his artistry on the intersection of three fundamentals of visual expression, graphic design, typography, and photo realistic renderings, all three which he seamlessly melds to create a united reflection of our contemporary life. With an abundant sense of color value and contrast, a sublime sense of humor, and a sensitivity for the balance our eyes naturally seek; Marcos is creating honest work that effortlessly represents contemporary design and composition.


Oliver Hawk

b. Portland, ME

Oliver Hawk Holden currently lives and works in the Bay Area. Holden’s practice intertwines video, sculpture, painting and printmaking to explore the anxieties and vulnerabilities of day to day life with humor. He is fascinated by comedy’s crude ability to address failure, always waiting for the inevitable truth to be exposed. Within his simplified forms and texts, he creates a space for the viewer to insert their personal experiences into his visual narratives; simply trying to talk to people about people.

Oliver Hawk Holden’s work is in numerous private collections and he has exhibited at Gallery y2k (Oakland, CA); Noroof Gallery (San Francisco, CA); Residence/SF (San Francisco, CA); and Incline Gallery (San Francisco, CA). He has guest curated for Adobe Books Backroom Gallery (San Francisco, CA) and Good Mother Gallery (Oakland, CA). Holden has developed murals for numerous institutions in California, Denver, Texas, Louisiana, and Maine.


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Peter Adamyan
Bio - Peter Adamyan was born and raised in the suburbs of Los Angeles. Growing up around the materialistic and superficial culture ingrained so heavily in the shadow of Hollywood, this served as perfect inspiration and fuel for his inherent aversion to such a consumer obsessed society. 

Early on, Adamyan utilized pop-culture imagery as a form of symbolism to comment on society through unlikely narratives. Highly critical of religion, mass consumerism and the general the darker side of human nature, Adamyan's early work strives to raise the questions that no one wants to ask. Displaying clear social critiques through layered imagery, his series touched on everything from the perversions of religion to the racism that has thrived to this day from the colonization of the Americas. Done in a relief style on wood, these works created a collage of imagery to create a larger discussion about our modern world.

After re-locating to an industrial area in Oakland, CA, he found a stark contrast to his suburban upbringing. He also noticed that people used his neighborhood as an illegal dump. Simultaneously at this time, he was spending more time in nature, backpacking, foraging and fishing. These two contrasting worlds inspired his current body of work. Using oil paint and found materials, Adamyan creates work that is nostalgic for a time when people lived more harmoniously with the earth. Through his critical lens, Adamyan’s new series is meant to provoke and prod at our cushy, consumer driven world while pulling inspiration from the natural one. Returning again to recognizable imagery, this work shifts to represent hunter gatherer societies, religious iconography and environmentalists of past and present, thus incorporating an environmental message as well.

Statement - Humanity has lost its connection with the natural world and have replaced tribal identity with brand identity. We are obsessed with brand names and the latest technologies that soon become antiquated and discarded. We create enough waste to form new continents that float on the ocean’s currents. I want to imagine a world where we have willingly and gone back to a hunter gatherer society. This series is meant to be a kind of vehicle in time to future generations that have become curious about the waste we as their ancestors have left behind, creating new traditions around these found objects of a consumerist past. 

My work is created using the discarded material of society in an attempt to elevate it out of the garbage heaps of city living. Pulling from religious iconography, art history and inspired by the environmentalists of the past, I strive to create a narrative throughout my work that aims for a simpler life, one more in tune with the natural world. At the same time, this series is meant to critique our rampant materialism and addiction to consumerism by using recognizable brands and imagery in unconventional ways.


Rich Jacobs
Bio / Statement
- Rich Jacobs (born 1972 in Long Beach, CA) is an American artist and curator who currently lives and works in Oakland, CA. Jacobs has exhibited in the United States,[1] Europe,[2] Australia, New Zealand and Japan. In 2008 his work Minor Threat Family Tree was featured prominently along with other works by Jacobs at the London Ontario Live Arts Festival in Canada.

Inspired by graffiti, psychedelic and folk art, Jacobs' raw, colorful work frequently appears on a broad range of materials such as magazines, books, CD and LP covers (including most of the albums for Salt Lake City-based group Iceburn), footwear, apparel (such as parkas, skirts and dresses), skateboards, buildings, pillows and so on.


Robert Minvervini
Bio - Robert Minervini (b. 1981, Secaucus, New Jersey, USA) Robert Minervini is an artist working in painting, drawing, printmaking, murals, and site-specific public art. His work examines spatial environments and notions of utopia in large-scale cityscapes, landscapes, and still-life arrangements.  

He received his MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute, and his BFA from Tyler School of Art. His work has been exhibited nationally, including solo shows with Edward Cella Gallery, Rena Bransten Projects, Marine Contemporary, Electric Works, Eleanor Harwood Gallery, as well as group and two-person exhibitions with the Torrance Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, the diRosa, Palo Alto Art Center, Waterhouse and Dodd, Schneider Museum of Art, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery. He is a recipient of the Murphy and Cadogan Fellowship by the San Francisco Foundation, and the Carmela Corso Scholarship by Tyler School of Art. He has completed multiple murals and public art commissions nationally including through the San Francisco Arts Commission, The Alameda County Arts Commission, and  the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. He has been a resident artist at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, the Headlands Center of the Arts, the Vermont Studio Center.  His art has been published in New American Paintings (No. 91 and No. 109), Beautiful Decay, and Mural Art: Large Scale Art from Walls around the World. Minervini’s work has been  reviewed in the LA Times,  Modern Painters, San Francisco Chronicle, Art ltd., and featured in ArtWeek LA, 7x7 Magazine, and The Huffington Post. He currently lives and works in Oakland, California.

Statement - My work examines spatial environments and notions of utopia in large-scale, multi-layered paintings, drawings, murals, and public artworks. Through cityscapes, landscapes, and floral still-life arrangements, I address the impact of humanity on the landscape. I use tropes from art history, science fiction, and my surroundings in California to to create real and imagined places. I build my paintings through an intricate process of layering painting by hand painting, airbrushing, spray painting, and complex stenciling. I’m interested in the multitude of ways acrylic paint can be applied to create an image. The varied materiality in my paintings function as contradictions to the often “natural" or “architectural” subject matter. I’m interested in alluding to reality and nature through highly artificial and

constructed means. My works are invented spaces that revel in artificiality even when they are taken from the every day. I am interested in growth, decay, and extinction and how we grapple with those concepts in daily life. Are we living in a new natural? What is our contemporary idea of the sublime?


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Sean Newport
Statement - Newport’s wood sculptures conceptually challenge the perceived notions of reality while investigating the idea of creating a digital aesthetic through an analogue process. 

Fascinated by the way perception and consciousness behaves when creating and confronted with optical controversy, Newport has created hand manipulated wood wall sculptures in an array of colors inviting the viewer to escape. Each sculpture is designed to act as an individual portal that pierces the veil between the real and imagined. Newport captures the viewers mind and eye while traveling through mazes of shifting shapes and color patterns. Cognizant of the fact that one is only given three seconds of being in the present moment, Newport ultimately wants to take the viewer on a vacation from the present.

Bio - Sean Newport is a San Francisco based artist hailing from Southern California. Newport’s works are in several international collections and is was an original creator of Engine Works, an artist collective founded in 2010 in San Francisco’s historic Mission district where he currently has his studio.


Yetunde Olagbaju
Bio / Statement - Yetunde Olagbaju is a multidisciplinary artist and collaborator currently residing in Oakland, CA. Through her work, she concerns herself with time travel, space, source, vulnerability, ancestry, and the human relationship to the Blackness of the universe.   

Through video, installation, performance, archival documents, sound, and ritual she aims to illuminate paths of deep emotional kinship within the human experience. This is with the distinct desire to reimagine past, present, and future. 

To manifest and highlight the seen and unseen bridges for that exchange.

Having received a BFA from Beloit College in Studio Art and Museum Studies, Olagbaju’s praxis is deeply rooted in the exploration of self, radical vulnerability, storytelling, and utilizing lineage as the basis for true time travel.

Her most recent solo show “give it to her when she’s decided she knew herself…,” celebrates Black family, honors Black matriarch, rites of passage, and explores the making of “holy” and “transcendent” space. 

She has displayed work in spaces like Oakland Museum of California, Betti Ono, SOMArts, Luggage Store, and The New School and has worked with institutions such as San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Museum of the African Diaspora, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.