Friday, January 25th brought San Francisco a rain storm of biblical proportion. The incessant downpour superseded “dogs and cats” within the first few hours of daylight and went straight for much larger mammals – blue whales and pre-historic beavers? Believe me, it was bad.
Given that Californians aren’t known for their hardiness in torrential rains, it was a pleasant surprise – perhaps even an artistic triumph over nature – to find San Francisco’s sleek and urban Space Gallery packed that night with art connoisseurs, Amoeba employees, and friends for the Amoeba Music's Second Annual Art Show’s reception.
It’s apparent to anyone who has perused the stacks at any of Amoeba Music’s three locations that it’s much more than just a record shop. A friend of mine actually admitted that he refers to Amoeba as the “Wish Store” because he always finds whatever rarity it is that he’s been obsessing over. There is a magical aura of sonic wish fulfillment radiating from Amoeba, and the employees (from cashiers to managers and owners) are responsible for creating this musical wonderland on a daily basis.
It can be of no surprise that these same employees possess multiple talents beyond mastery of arcane musical knowledge. The 112 works on display at the Space Gallery from January 22nd through 26th proved that the staff is a formidably gifted team. The selection offered a wide range of formats, emotions, and influences, as well as levels of experience -- a variety befitting a cross section of the Amoeba crew.
The smell of wet paint still hung in the air as visitors enjoyed and discussed the often provocative works around them. Franklin Lei of Amoeba Berkeley’s classical department provided a sonic backdrop of classical guitar. It is rumored that he was asked to play “Free Bird,” but declined. Once Franklin completed his set and passed the entertainment duties on to DJ 4AM (a.k.a Jason Chavez of San Francisco), he mused that the show was “Absolutely terrific,” and noted that seeing the abundance of multimedia submissions from the staff was impressive.
Impressive indeed were “Bland” and “Gazers,” two oil on wood pieces submitted by San Francisco’s Michelle Guintu. Informed by both the fin-de-siècle Viennese art scene (i.e., Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt) and a post-modern feminine awareness, Michelle’s paintings challenge the audience to reconsider art’s rebels of the early 20th century in a new light.
San Francisco’s Chrissy Espinoza presented an untitled sculpture, which was an intriguing mixture of music box and curio-cabinet of oddities filled with bird feathers, a plastic ballerina, a mirror, and a working clock. Her two other pieces also incorporated bits of animals and toys of the past, suggesting darkly comic and haunting view of society’s detritus.
Zak Wilson of Berkeley bended traditional gallery expectations with his submission of four movie-inspired skateboard decks. The decks’ presence added a playful ambiance and – let’s face it – was really cool. Zak also designed this year’s postcard for the art show!
Tying the themes of the evening (and the Amoeba universe) together was Rebecca Bergen and Vince Horner’s video installation “Living Stereo Vol. 1,” which is a documentary “work in progress” that probes into the lives and homes of obsessive record collectors. According to Rebecca, this piece was directly inspired by her work with Amoeba Berkeley regulars. Just a few minutes of viewing convinced me that the filmmakers were striving to shed a realistic light on super-collectors, rather than perpetuate the stereo-types we often encounter in the media.
When asked why she chose to make this documentary, Rebecca said, “It takes one to know one. I can relate.”
Check out this article from Nylon magazine about the Amoeba Art Show!