My dictionary's first entry for the term "hustler" is an enterprising person determined to succeed. White Walls Gallery's current show, All-Star Hustlaz, features a smattering of artists who bust their collective ass but have not yet received the recognition they deserve. It's a sampling of work by genuine hustlers on the treacherous road to artistic success.
Adam5100 was one of the artists who drew me to the show. I'd only been inside the gallery a few minutes when I overheard a conversation about his impressive painting technique involving fourteen or fifteen layers of hand-cut stencils. A gallery staff member said "I don't know why he hasn't blown up yet," and I felt that the same sentiment could also be applied to some of the other artists.
I recently read a great interview with AJ Fosik in Juxtapoz and was happy to see some of his art in person. With a past history of graffiti, guerilla public art, and illustration, Fosik creates mixed media works. Many are sculptures of bears complexly formed from colorful wood scraps. Fosik's work seems to have an acquaintance with history; his images feel simultaneously familiar and foreign. Four of Fosik's works are on display. The two that stuck in my mind were oddly similar. One was a three-dimensional bust of a pink and green bear, the other a painting on wood panel of a green bear with a mass of pink intestines spilling from his split gut. Though the colors and animal subject were shared, it might be hard to tell that the two pieces were created by the same artist. In the Juxtapoz interview, Fosik mentioned the importance of trying to "do something new every time." To me, his constantly evolving style and prolificacy were apparent, even in these few samples of his work.
It's my last post of 2007, which means it's time for a list. Here are my top five (or six) favorite pieces from the show:
Adam5100's Quinche, a stenciled painting of an electrical power station.
AJ Fosik's Bifurcated Bear
Diet's Toy Machine, a friendly pink bubblegum machine filled with tiny golden baseball bats on chains.
Mitsy's Dos de Tres Caidas, a precious yet biting mixed media wall piece shaped like a tiny boxing ring. It was decorated with a Pacifico beer label, a furry Sasquatch, and glitter. I freaking love glitter!
Damon Soule's Cephalopod Stockpiling Solids, a painting of a transparent jellyfish filled with geometric forms.
Maxwell Loren Holyoke-Hirsch's Universal Construct, part of a collection of resin-coated folksy paintings on wood.
This is a time of transition, saying goodbye to a seasoned year, and hello to a new one -- a time when you say to yourself, "I should (blank) more often." Right now, make a promise to yourself to fill in that blank. Catching up with some talented artists who've flown under your radar this year is a good way to do so. You should go to art shows more often. Start with this one.
All-Star Hustlaz runs through January 6, 2008 at White Walls Gallery in San Francisco.