As I like to do once in a while, I have invited a guest writer to pen a piece discussing the visual arts, and this time SF's Jennie Rose comes in with a terrific discussion on one of the Bay area's most influential art venues.
Jennie Rose on Southern Exposure at SF
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, San Francisco galleries and non-profit arts support centers like Southern Exposure (SOEX) were filled with work by “state of the art bohemian poets, underground music heroes, revolutionary skaters, and graffiti kings and queens,” wrote Aaron Rose, co-curator of Beautiful Losers: Contemporary Art and Street Culture.
Beautiful Losers, an exhibit first shown in San Francisco in 2004, encapsulates that period twenty years ago when those at the edges of society were thought to be key to the forward movement of the culture in general.
Jo Jackson, Margaret Kilgallen and Barry McGee, Josh Lazcano, Alicia McCarthy, Clare Rojas, Thomas Campbell, Dan Flanagan, Symantha Gates, Nell Gould, and Chris Johanson; these artists’ work showed that they shook off the parsing and packaging of the traditional art world.
The work attracted skaters, freaks and geeks, youth who made no distinction between a performance art piece by an industrial noise band and any other creative endeavor.
Though a few came to this through MFA prestige, Chris Johanson, a skateboarder with no formal art training, began by hanging up some drawings at Adobe Books, a bookshop in San Francisco’s Mission district.
Acting as a kind of ballast for the seismic seizures of the California arts scene, Southern Exposure has stayed true to its founding principles for the past 35 years: to provide artists - whether they are exhibiting, curating, teaching, or learning - an opportunity to realize ideas for projects that may not otherwise find support.