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New White Walls & Shooting Gallery Opening
    Wednesday, 13 February 2013 /// Written by Rachel Ralph

New Shooting Gallery & White Walls

White Walls and the Shooting Gallery opened their new space with a bang this last Saturday night. After going through a boarded-up doorway with the names of the galleries and their new address of 868 Geary St tagged on it, you can no longer believe you are in the Tenderloin. 5,000 square feet of pristine gallery space, complete with cathedral ceilings made of reclaimed wood, open up to a truly amazing exhibition space, and it just keeps going. You're now going through White Walls, into the Shooting Gallery, and then into several separate project galleries and the multi-million dollar renovation was definitely spent wisely.

For this show, White Walls opened with the grizzly paintings of Chad Hasegawa. I've been a fan of this local artist since I saw his bear in Clarion alley, and he used this opportunity to bring his bears to the space of fine art, titling them appropriately for the role. Several paintings are titled with the names of modernist masters and their styles are replicated in the bears themselves. While Motherwell has thick, black brushstrokes, Rothko has a washed background and a fluid texture.

Moving further back brought visitors into Charmaine Olivia's Muses. This girl can paint with incredible detail and the works are undeniably beautiful, but this display was repetitive, they all kind of look the same. Her Muses are girly and pretty, which was seen in the audience attending, but they don't leave much room for anything but sexual femininity. But, that's ok. Sold individually, I can see any one of these works hanging in a girl's apartment anywhere in the city and it was great to see so much space devoted to a local artist.

Moving further back brought visitors into two project galleries, one by Sickboy and one by Word to Mother. Sickboy's installation, complete with a working coffin toy train, was my personal favorite of the night. The paintings are colorful and detailed, and I only wish that I would have been able to see them better. Moving around the train, it was really difficult to get to the paintings themselves, and I kind of wish they would have switched his gallery with Word to Mother, because that one is a little bigger. Word to Mother opened Fuck You Pay Me, a Giants-themed installation complete with baseball bats, foam fingers, and astro turf. Since there was only one painting, I popped in and out, but managed to score some cracker jacks and bazooka bubble gum before I left.

Saturday night really was more of an event than an exhibition, this is a new upscale version of the galleries, and I should but an emphasis on the plural, this place just keeps going and going. It was a suit and dress kind of night, fancy for any Tenderloin event, but frankly, the space is fancy and deserves if not your Sunday best, then at least Thursday's finest. These galleries have really transformed themselves in this move and I cannot wait to see what they do next.

Words & Photos: Rachel Ralph - rachel(at)fecalface.com

Chad Hasegawa, Motherwell, House-paint on canvas, 108x72"

Charmaine Olivia, Anya/Queen B, Oil on panel, 30x40"

Word to Mother

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Sickboy Studio Visit
    Friday, 16 March 2012 /// Written by David Shillinglaw

On a sunny February afternoon, I visited the studio of London based artist Sickboy, as he prepares for his solo exhibition at White Walls Gallery in San Francisco (opening Sat, Mar 17th). Famed for his street art throughout the world, this is Sickboy's debut solo exhibition in the United States. As he continues to paint one of the three canvases currently pinned to the wall, I ask him how he's getting on in the lead up to the show, about his history in street art, and his progression into galleries.

Interview by David Shillinglaw

Your show is called 'Wonder Club'. What is the Wonder Club?

It's a few different things to me. I have a lot of crazy dreams, and I wanted to base the work around these dreams, as a personal surrealism. It's given me more room for freestyle. A lot of the content is based on childhood memories and fairytales. There's quite a whimsical theme running throughout.

So do you feel the work for this show is more personal than before?

Definitely. As you move through life you shouldn't lose track of what is important to you. I want to highlight the fun element in my work. A lot of the pieces are made up of drawings from sketch books that I make while having fun; hanging out, eating and drinking with friends.

You told me earlier that you're working seven days a week. With so much preparation to do for the show, how do you balance working between the studio and the street?

I try to make it all roll into one. Painting outside is like an exercise for me. I stay true to my graffiti roots and allow those experiences to fuel the paintings. I'm not knocking the kinds of artists who replicate what they do on canvas in the street, but I'm just kind of more lazy when I paint outside. I do it for the fun. I do it for the experience of hopping over hedges.

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