san francisco art magazine

Breakfast with Girlfriends

Sculpture work by Keith Boadwee's SFAI Students
November 30 - December 2, 2007
Oakland, California

Including work by: Jake Rose, Jordan Bogash, Rebecca Parks-Ramage, Linze Luna, Natasha Agrama, Alex Heilbron, Michelle Morby, Abi Kelly, David Zuttermeister, Richard Duangsawat-Rasamee, and Kathy Nguyen

Fuck You Glove - Alex Heilbron

Fuck You Glove
Alex Heilbron

     There are few local artists that can polarize art enthusiasts as much as Keith Boadwee. In San Francisco Art Magazine's May 2001 edition, Christopher Stout covered Boadwee's exhibit at San Francisco's long-since laid to rest Lair of the Minotaur. Since our site went on sabbatical in 2002, Boadwee has received extensive coverage in print and been in Bay Area Now 3, had a solo show at Peres Projects Los Angeles, been in Into me/Out of Me at PS 1 New York, been in a show curated by John Waters, and has been included in a number of group shows including Keith Mayerson's well-received Neo-Integrity show at Derek Eller Gallery, Nicole Eisenman's Redykeulous, as well as shows at LightBox Los Angeles (where he'll be showing later this year) and in Glasgow and Athens.

     Stuff like Keith Boadwee is exactly what I like to eat for breakfast. Feasting my eyes on innovative conceptual art gets me geared up for a day of deliciously uneasy digestion, so imagine my delight when I happened upon the announcement for Girlfriends, a three day conceptual sculpture show featuring work by Keith Boadwee's San Francisco Art Institute students. No sooner could you say, "Sweet salivation!" than I had the kids packed in the car and we were headed over the Bay Bridge to Blankspace in Oakland.

Untitled - Rebecca Parks-Ramage

Rebecca Parks-Ramage

     The parking valet was on break when we arrived, so we found a spot at a nearby parking meter. We then entered the gallery, ready to enjoy the smörgåsbord of art inside. Immediately confronted by what may be regarded as the maître de of the show, we were face to hand with Alex Heilbron's Fuck You Glove. It felt as if we were being both welcomed and rejected with a singular gesture. The Fuck You Glove was, of all things, a glove displayed on the wall by way of having a nail driven through the tip of its middle finger. Ouch! Not exactly the white glove service we expected, it seems Heilbron was more concerned with economy and fast delivery than niceties. "The nail was [a] really important part of the piece because it was the biggest nail I could find in the wood shop at school. It was really strong apposed to the glove which was flimsy and the opposite of what this big nail stood for," Heilbron told me. "When I made it I was really frustrated with everything, especially painting. It felt really nice to create a concise quick thing that was so immediate ... ."

      A table with art offered up buffet-style was placed along a diagonal axis across one half of the room. There we could enjoy Abi Kelly's organically evocative, untitled mixed media sculpture consisting of sponges, cardboard, glass, and plastic. The centerpiece on the table was Richard Duangsawat-Rasamee's "... But You Just Can't Keep up with these Fashionistas", composed of a plastic rat, styrofoam, and plastic chalices. Still a bit hungry, I dined on David Zuttermeister's Rapidly Vapid found objects piece, whose hearty ingredients included a towel, sugar cubes, poster tube, bowling ball, fluorescent light, and, of course, ceramic bunnies. Yum.

     Not to go unnoticed were the sculptures on the wall. I became a bit skeptical because my eyes were drawn to two very large digital prints which I initially recognized as photography. On closer inspection of these self-portraits by Rebecca Parks-Ramage I was reminded of the conceptual sculpture theme. I then considered the creative issues that could possibly come up for an artist in the process of making sculptures like these, such as not being able to look through the viewfinder when taking the final shot. It seemed to be a blind taste test of sorts, yielding interesting and unexpected results. Contained in these images were seemingly unrelated three-dimensional and two-dimensional objects, juxtaposed and defying gravity on various planes. The colors, light, shadows, textures, and depth of field provided a lot of variety within each slice.

Untitled - Rebecca Parks-Ramage

Rebecca Parks-Ramage

     We were now ready for dessert, and the kids and I started to gravitate towards two brightly colored mixed media sculptures by Alex Heilbron. One sculpture consisted of cardboard, red paint, string, and a dash of glitter. A modest presentation of two large red ovals painted onto rectangular pieces of cardboard and strung together with a piece of red string somehow became, in my mind's eye, the adorable face of an animal. The string did not complete the outline of the face, but it strongly suggested two pointed ears. I learned that the "painting ghost" that follows artist Heilbron everywhere helped inspire this piece. I checked over my shoulder. It was Heilbron's other brightly colored mixed media sculpture. The sculpture seemed to hang on the wall and stand on the floor simultaneously. Simple placement of two blue dots on the wall above a big red square registered as a face to me before I read the name of the piece, Becky. I asked Heilbron who Becky represented and she informed me that Becky was actually a portrait of Rebecca Parks-Ramage. She explained the title of the show by telling me, "We were all 'girlfriends' in the class, all creating and helping each other out."

      There was even more to relish at Girlfriends than what I've described here, including work by Natasha Agrama, Linze Luna, Michelle Morby, Kathy Nguyen, Jake Rose, and collaborative sports cards sculpture by Alex Heilbron and Jordan Bogash. My only disappointment was that this menu was available for just three days.

      In retrospect, what could be more appropriate than Keith Boadwee guiding a team of emerging girlfriend-artists of today? Someone who could break the rules of art and beyond just to see what we would think about it, without catering to our preconceptions, would be exactly the person I'd want for my teacher. Alex Heilbron has taken two previous classes with Boadwee and still came back for more. She insisted, "He is an amazing teacher and I always learn something from him. He doesn't take shit but he is a really nice person to work with." I can only imagine that having students who can put together a show like this must make a mentor like Boadwee want to keep coming back to class. I know that I want to come back and see what Alex Heilbron, Rebecca Parks-Ramage, and all their girlfriends prepare for us in the future.

-- Sheilah Boothby
Sheilah Boothby is the publisher of San Francisco Art Magazine.

6608 San Pablo Avenue
Oakland, CA 94608

Images courtesy of Blankspace, Alex Heilbron, and Rebecca Parks-Ramage.