When visiting a blockbuster art exhibition, it's not unusual to inevitably exit through a gift shop featuring mugs and junk commercially printed with the art you've just seen. A new pop-up store at SFMOMA, however, isn't your average museum shop. It's a Shadowshop dreamed up by local artist Stephanie Syjuco and it sells handmade inventory created by a large, hand-selected group of Bay Area artists. The shop is not tied directly to any of the museum's current exhibitions. It is an art piece in itself. It's a DIY revolution where artists keep 100% of their profits; this novel idea has finally made it to the top (literally, the top floor of the museum).
If you're a fan of local art, Shadowshop is the candy store of your dreams, especially if you're not an independently wealthy collector. The shop offers limited edition objects mostly priced under $100, which is a sweet deal for any quality, handmade thing you find yourself attracted to. You may not be able to fit Liz Hickok's expansive San Francisco cityscape made of Jell-o in your living room, but you can certainly spare a spot for her jiggly, stand-alone rendition of SFMOMA (a museum souvenir more interesting than a tote bag). Michael Arcega's sculptures with word play titles may not be easy to get your hands on, but Shadowshop offers a letterpress card made by the artist that reads, "To be ambidextrous, I'd give my right arm!" Cards are aplenty in the shop, there's even a set made specifically for artists to express gratitude to their gallerists, collectors and critics (e.g., "Thanks for the nice review!") Other kind-hearted objects include Susan O'Malley's affirmational $1 buttons, which gently remind you to "Listen to your heart," and that, "You are exactly where you need to be."
Many artists featured in Shadowshop could be labeled as conceptual. Most attended CCA or other local MFA programs like the one at Mills College, where Gallery Crawl met Annie Vought in 2009. Vought creates cut paper text pieces of impressive size, thereby elevating long lost anonymous letters and messages. For Shadowshop, she carefully forged famous artists' signatures (Chagall, Van Gogh, and Rivera among them) in colored paper, pinning the cut-out letters perfectly inside plexi-glass boxes like precious butterflies, a fitting home for her delicate work.
If you're curious about an historical influence on some of the Shadowshop artists, the "I Heart Beuys" t-shirt is a dead giveaway and would make a great gift for the art lover on your holiday shopping list. Trying to impress a new man or lady friend? Why not give them a non-functional ceramic padlock by Rebecca Bollinger to represent your loyalty? Or a card by Libby Black picturing a bottle of Chanel No. 5 and the compliment, "Damn, You Smell Good." For the librarians in your life, there are art books by Hank Willis Thomas, Brion Nuda Rosch, Heather Smith, and Tucker Nichols, and copies of locally founded Color & Color Magazine.
Shadowshop encourages holiday shoppers to help keep corporate America in the red this holiday season. Wherever you shop, you should buy local, and buy handmade. And Santa, if you're out there, Byung Joon Shin's miniature replicas of Damien Hirst's animal-in-formaldehyde sculptures (Damien Hirst To-Go) are number one on my list.
Shadowshop at SFMOMA is open for business through April 28, 2011.