Saturday, March 3, 2012

Ladies Night

Last Saturday San Francisco's RGB Gallery hosted the opening reception for "One or Two Things I Know About Her," a group show of drawings and photographs about women that featured contributions from cartoonists Trevor Alixopulos, Vanessa Davis, and Roman Muradov. I snuck away from the festivities at Image Expo to go across the bay and see their new work.

RGB is nestled in a crook on Fillmore just off of Union in the Cow Hollow neighborhood in San Francisco. It's more of a women's fashion boutique than an art gallery, but the owners showed good taste in their mix of cartoonists and photographers. I showed up around 9, and joined a busy local crowd, and was soon joined by comics peers Jeff Roysden, Francois Vigneault, editor of the Elf World anthology, and Floating World proprietor Jason Leivian.

The work on view was good, and consisted primarily of small original drawings and medium-sized prints of photographs. I'm gonna focus on the cartoonists, because they're who I showed up for.

I didn't know Roman Muradov's work before I got to the show, but I liked his ability to convey delicate forms with bold pools of color and the wispiest of lines. Here's a piece from the show I ganked from his blog followed by two crappy pictures I shot, and whose quality I apologize for in advance:




There's a fragile quality to these pieces. The colors are very soft, and they make the scenes ethereal. It was a pleasure to see them.

Vanessa Davis I met ten or so years ago on a visit to New York. I think I met her through Joan Reilly and Jon Lewis at one of the Artists With Problems drawing nights. It's been a lot of fun to watch her work develop from the uncertain diary comics she was making in the early 2000s to the accomplished and joyful color pieces that characterized her breakout graphic novel Make Me A Woman. The two pieces below were my favorites in the entire show:



I adore the joyful body language in these drawings. The victory dance of the first drawing is so convincingly rendered I can almost hear the lady singing. And the floating satisfaction on the face of the lady in the second drawing evokes the sublime satisfaction of something like a first kiss. Davis just keeps getting better: in her use of color, in her characters' acting, and in her ability to convey credible beauty. There's a palpable sense of pleasure that comes from her work, and it's intoxicating.

Trevor Alixopulos I met just over ten years ago at the SPX-iles event at Kristine Anstine and Mike Patchen's house in Oakland where a bunch of local comics folks congregated to swap comics and talk about what the fuck the events of a few days back, September 11, 2001, meant. Trevor was a prototypical punk rock kid then with a few issues of his comix zine Quagga out on the table. I don't remember what we talked about that night, but I know we talked for a long time, and that's a tradition that continues to this day. Trevor's an incredibly smart man. My obsessions flicker all over the place and wherever they go, when I bring them up with Trevor, he has an informed and intelligent opinion to share. At the gallery last Saturday we talked about the homogenizing effects of wealth on cities, and his new book Paper Mask, which is really damn good and I hope lands at a publisher soon.

If Vanessa's work radiates joy, Trevor's tends to radiate anxiety. They both embrace a sensuous, curvy line, but Trevor's lines reflect the motions of a nervous person twisting himself into knots. He also embraces the surreal and bizarre in a captivating way. I was especially interested in how he started using some strange abstract angular perspectives in some of the illustrations appearing in this show. Like this one, which I adore:


And this one:

I'm an unabashed fan of Trevor's work, so here's a few more pieces that were in the show, just because I like them:




I totally have a crush on this lady:


Finally, this drawing is a bold piece of storytelling that evokes a Southern Gothic bender:

The scene radiates sultry decadence, and reminds me a great deal of New Orleans. I could stare at this piece all day.

"One Or Two Things I Know About Her" is on view until April 7. RGB Gallery is located at 3024 Fillmore Street in San Francisco.

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All the good pictures in this post were ganked from each cartoonist's blog. All the bad ones are my fault.

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