Untitled, found paper collage by Matt Gonzalez, 2011. Collection of Cynthia Popper.
ART EXHIBITIONS & REVIEWS
Park Life, San Francisco (forthcoming solo show)
a.Muse Gallery, Lux and Textura: Explorations Beyond the Surface, San Francisco (group show)
Smith Andersen Editions, The Hogarth Project, Palo Alto (group show)
a.Muse Gallery, Fictions: The Worlds Writers and Artists Create, San Francisco (group show)
Meridian Gallery, Regarding Configurations, San Francisco (two-person show with Dennis Parlante)
Guerrero Gallery, December Group Show, San Francisco (group show)
Fecal Face Dot Gallery, Winter Group Show, San Francisco (group show)
The Bold Italic, Bold Rush Los Angeles!, Los Angeles (group show)
International Museum of Collage, Assemblage and Construction, Collage/Assemblage Centennial 1912-2012, Pagosa Springs, Colorado (group show)
The Emerald Tablet, Passages: The Art of Sandro Sardella & Friends, San Francisco (group show)
The Graduate Theological Union, UC Berkeley, Art For Change, Berkeley (group show)
Focus Gallery, Abstract / Large, San Francisco (group show)
Jack Fischer Gallery, The Collage Show, San Francisco (group show)
Carl E. Smith Fine Arts, Slash / An International Survey of Contemporary Collage, Laguna Beach (group show)
Luggage Store Gallery, In The Moment, San Francisco (group show)
Guerrero Gallery, Building Context, San Francisco (group show)
B. Sakata Garo, Codices Urbanos, Sacramento (two-person show with Gustavo Ramos Rivera)
Bryant Street Gallery, Paper, Scissors, Glue / Bay Area Collage, Palo Alto (group show)
a.Muse Gallery, Scissors vs. Brush, San Francisco (two-person show with Tom Schultz)
George Krevsky Gallery, The Fine Art of Baseball, San Francisco (group show)
Triple Base Gallery, Out of the Flat Files, San Francisco (group show)
Suite Five Salon, New Works, San Francisco (two-person show with Ben Irvine)
George Krevsky Gallery, Affordable Treasures, San Francisco (group show)
Smith Andersen Editions, Five From Folsom Street, Palo Alto (group show)
Lola, Mixed Media Collage, Berkeley (solo show)
111 Minna Gallery, The Novemberists, San Francisco (group show)
Market Street Gallery, Skate This Art, San Francisco (group show)
The Breakfast Group, For Every Passer-by, Berkeley (solo show)
Gallery Extraña, Defiant Optimism, Berkeley (group show)
In vitro Gallery, I Put It Back In Order For You, Chicago, IL (solo show)
Johansson Projects, Crossing the Delaware, Oakland (group show)
Soap Gallery, Pull Here to Get Everything You Want, San Francisco (solo show)
Art House, Before My Rushing Heart, McAllen, TX (group show)
Adobe Books Backroom Gallery, Let Her Make A Speech for Me, San Francisco (solo show)
The Hive Art Salon, New Works, San Francisco (group show)
Hayes Valley Art Market, Flood, San Francisco (three-person show with Felix Macnee & Paul Spencer)
Lincart Gallery, Walking in the Street, San Francisco (two-person show with Omar Chacon)
Live Worms, Eight at the Gate, San Francisco (group show)
a.Muse Gallery, Waxwing & Kite, San Francisco (two-person show with Felix Macnee)
ART Panels, Lectures, & Discussions
Talking Art: Snipping, Clipping, Pasting. Conversation with artists who use a variety of collage techniques in photomontage, printmaking, three-dimensional forms, and video art. Artist Panel: Val Britton, Matt Gonzalez, Robynn Smith, and Vanessa Wood. San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, 04/25/13.
Panel Discussion: Travis Somerville. Panel discussion coinciding with Travis Somerville’s solo exhibition A Great Cloud of Witnesses, moderated by Diana Daniels, Associate Curator, Contemporary Art at the Crocker Art Museum. Panelists include Travis Somerville, Matt Gonzalez, Chris Johnson, and Jeff Dauber. Catharine Clark Gallery, San Francisco, 03/02/13.
Dennis Parlante & Matt Gonzalez in Conversation in conjunction with their opening “Regarding Configurations”. Discussing the practice, theory, concept, history, and materials of collage in a casual conversation. Meridian Gallery, San Francisco, 01/17/13.
Andrew Schoultz interviewed by Matt Gonzalez in conjunction with Schoultz’s opening “Fall Out” at Mark Moore Gallery, Los Angeles, 01/12/13.
“Art For Change”, Graduate Theological Union Library, curated by Nicholas Ukrainiec and made possible by the Jane Dillenberger Fine Arts Endowment Fund. The exhibition features prints, paintings, posters, and mixed media created to inspire or promote social, political, and economic change. Selections from the social justice collections of the GTU Archives are shown together with works by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Shephard Fairey, Matt Gonzalez, Joel Isaacson, Richard Kamler, Corita Kent, Earl Newman, Rigo, Lizabeth Eva Rossof, Favianna Rodriguez and others. A lecture by Matt Gonzalez, a San Francisco politician, attorney, and artist, takes place at the opening reception. The Graduate Theological Union, UC Berkeley, 03/15/12.
“Kurt Schwitters: Make Art with Matt Gonzalez” in conjunction with the exhibition “Kurt Schwitters: Color and Collage”. Immediately preceding the collage making, Gonzalez will comment informally in the exhibition galleries about some of his favorite Schwitters pieces. UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, 08/14/11.
A panel on “Collecting Art, Curating Your Collection” with Whitney Chadwick PhD, Charles Campbell, Matt Gonzalez and Jeremy Stone at the West Coast Art Collectors Conference at the San Francisco Fine Art Fair, Festival Pavilion, Fort Mason Center, 05/20/11.
“Rendering the Male Nude: Tradition or Provocation?” in conjunction with the exhibit “Theophilus Brown: Five Decades of Rendering the Male Nude” at the McAllen Art House. Theophilus Brown in conversation with Dr. Esteban Ortega Brown and Anthony Torres. Introductory remarks by Matt Gonzalez and María Elena Macías, Assistant Professor of Art, UTPA. Fine Arts Auditorium, University of Texas-Pan American, Edinburg, Texas, 04/30/09
Catharine Clark & Matt Gonzalez interview, Frank Prattle with Zefrey Throwell radio. Interview at the SF Arts Commission Gallery 03/01/08, aired 04/04/08.
Institute of Contemporary Art, London. “Figures of Speech USA”, a program inviting presentations on an object having personal significance by artist and gallerist Aaron Rose, media-art pioneer Lynn Hershman Leeson, SF Chronicle art critic Kenneth Baker, NY magazine mogul Jack Rabid, surf entrepreneur Keir J Beadling and local politician Matt Gonzalez. October 2007.
SECA: Victory Gardens. Amy Franceschini, artist & Matt Gonzalez, former president, San Francisco Board of Supervisors in conversation. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Phyllis Wattis Theater, 02/15/07.
Art + Politics: Matt Gonzalez in conversation with photographer Michael Rauner. Bazaar Cafe, San Francisco, 07/03/06.
Art + Politics: Matt Gonzalez in conversation with Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Bazaar Cafe, San Francisco, 06/05/06.
Art + Politics: Matt Gonzalez in conversation with painter Felix Macnee. Bazaar Cafe, San Francisco, 11/07/05.
“Art & Politics”, undergraduate course taught by guest lecturer Matt Gonzalez at the San Francisco Art Institute, 2004.
REVIEWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
NY ARTS Magazine, March 15, 2013
Matt Gonzalez at Meridian Gallery, San Francisco
As part of a two-person exhibition at Meridian Gallery with collagist Dennis Parlante entitled “Regarding Configurations”, Matt Gonzalez has created works with both paper and found, wood objects. On view, congested layers of materials visually intersperse in both color and medium. Intricate layering of paper shapes rise up to form an actual shallow space that incorporates shadow and relief. The mystery of how each of these forms could possibly create a unified composition remains undisclosed. Gonzalez appears to rely on intuitive methods.
Gonzalez undermines his formal arrangements with a sense of play. Simultaneously, he brings in San Francisco’s visual culture through his use of locally found materials. The copy-cut-paste cycles that are incorporated into collage make his work not only a reflection of our time or place, but also a reflection of a personal culture that is unique to Gonzalez. He employs materials that have been scouted from the streets of his hometown San Francisco. A sense of identification arises upon viewing his series of collages in yellow containing textual information that point to the San Francisco MOMA, the Meridian Gallery, the Art Institute, the De Young Museum and to local businesses.
Not all of the collages contain text, however. There is a room donned with all-white compositions with titles such as Beauty, Paleness and Minima Moralia. These pieces essentially reflect Robert Ryman’s interest in whites and Louis Nevelson’s white wood works, such as Dawn’s Wedding Chapel IV. However, Gonzalez’s works function as small-nested paper pieces that are rectilinearly formatted in composition. The interplay of white upon white brings the viewer’s perceptions into tight focus with the use of subtle colorations that incite intrigue. The tonal qualities and brightness variations are masterful in their expression.
Another room filled with all black collages display titles such as November, Fresh and Cult of Beauty. The viewer is immersed into these miniaturized, intimate fields with multiple variants of black. The works containing text draw one in to examine typographical features. They become a reference and a marker of our visual culture, while concurrently creating them. Most edges are clean and crisply defined with geometric shapes coalescing into a grid. This is quite fitting, as the found paper pieces that flood the collage are from an urban setting.
The multiple small paper works hold their fragments tightly in the center at times. To differentiate, other collages spread across the entire page to create a nominal sense of boundarylessness. Are these avenues employed to create meaning or are they instead a meandering of experimentation—or are they both? The question remains unresolved.
Not all of the works in this exhibition are monochromatic. Small sets of multi-colored paper collages engage us near the entry—exhibiting bright blues, lime greens, yellows, oranges, reds and more. The exciting stimulation of color with various interactions is found within tiny, enclosed spaces. The synthesis of color and varying intensities are just another avenue Gonzalez explores. This is mirrored in a number of his wood collages, such as in the simply titled #2. Strips of colored wood present a grid-like framework that overlays collaged paper—this time with torn paper pieces. Organic meets mechanic in this particular all-over composition—a synthesis of disparate parts.
It will be of interest to follow future, formal explorations of Matt Gonzalez. His work is connected to artistic traditions of the past and future. Gonzalez makes collage a new and experimental medium, as he references visual culture and the identity of a specific place whether seen in found materials or layered typography. The formal approach he engages is endless, yet non-repetitive. Gonzalez is sure to continue producing surprising results.
MISSION LOC@L, Art Review, December 26, 2010
Matt Gonzalez at Triple Base Gallery
Triple Base Gallery on 24th Street recently unveiled its new artists in a flat-file project that allows a standing exhibit of hundreds of works on paper from 16 artists. The show ended December 19, but the pieces are still at the gallery in files.
Among some of the most interesting work presented was that of Matt Gonzalez, the progressive leader who shaped much of the political landscape in San Francisco from 2000 to 2004.
What has always been striking about Gonzalez — politically, socially and otherwise — has been his staunch refusal to separate art from life. As a small but significant measure of this impact, Gonzalez was the first elected official in San Francisco to open his office to artists to put on monthly art shows.
The practice he initiated of opening City Hall to art and artists — merging art and politics — has become so popular that it is now common for many officials to host art shows in their offices. This victory of non-separation represents a reappraisal of the political landscape that needs to grow.
With relatively little attention and a host of small successful gallery showings at Adobe Books, Lincart and Johansson Projects, Gonzalez has produced more than 500 intimate small-scale collages over the last six years. Many are in the spirit of Kurt Schwitters, using only found materials collected on his walks through the city or poached from invitations he receives by mail.
The works can be found on the walls of other artists, including two that he’s worked with, Bay Area figurative legend Theophilus Brown and the well-known Mexican painter Gustavo Ramos Rivera.
Gonzalez’s primary palette is stuff that other people throw away. The works themselves are meditations on value, meaning and social norms. As a body, the work recalls the Phillip K. Dick saying, “Divinity is found in the trash substratum.”
The visual impact and gravity of his work is such that Gonzalez should not be denied a second career as an artist, and may be remembered someday more in that vein rather than as a politician.
The work is composed of images and discarded packaging, the disambiguation of old meanings through minor resurrections of color, compositions and forays into textures and curiosity.
The innocence of many of the pieces is striking and noticeable, inviting the spectator to see something with new eyes — similar to the way a child might be fascinated by a color or an object it instinctively reaches out for on the sidewalk, only to have an adult quickly shoo it away to enforce the conceptual reality of what is “allowed.”
Gonzalez’s work reinvigorates this moment, but stops the hand of authority before it can get a complete stranglehold on our innate sense of wonder.
Gonzalez’s reappraisal of this moment and his willingness to pick up the forgotten, unseen and rejected is a meditation on compassion. It displays an intimacy with things other people don’t want to be reminded of, as if to say, “But look how great this is if you only get rid of your idea about it!” In this way the pieces are balanced by a sense of humor and the inherent questions that they pose about late capitalism, status and prescribed values.
Some of the pieces belong in the philosophical company of Asger Jorn and Guy Debord, two of the most famous members of the Situationist International, and possibly as a continuation of their famous critique “The Society of the Spectacle.”
The pieces are a playful critique of modern society and throwaway culture. Gonzalez pays attention to ideas and things left in the margins, and rescues them from oblivion and unconsciousness in such a way as to show us the ghost of modern living that lurks outside our doors.
Gonzalez goes further than Jorn and Debord when he appropriates the Situationist concept of the “Drift” — a deliberately poetic and uncalculated exploration of the city — and catalogues it by creating artifacts of experience, an archaeology of everyday life created from discarded images and messages that he juxtaposes into small works of art.
The perspective is one that might be welcomed in a zen tea house — getting rid of the concepts of the past by presenting them without the garbage of conditioned thinking.
One notes that Gonzalez’s work in every field has always retained a trace of the outsider. In some sense he has made a career of representing people without a voice.
WHITEHOT MAGAZINE OF CONTEMPORARY ART, October 2008
Matt Gonzalez @ In vitro Gallery
Matt Gonzalez’s focus on the construction of small-scale collages may, at first glance, seem modest and naïve. However, on closer scrutiny, the choice of collage as an aesthetic strategy is deceptive in its art historic familiarity, and is dense with art historical allusions conjured by collage as a technique.
The choice of collage resurrects Cubism’s formal disruptions of a tradition in Western painterly representation of spatial and symbolic fundamentals essential to the creation of an illusion of three-dimensionality on a two dimensional surface; a Dadaist transformation of debris from the street, through the juxtaposition of fragmented images, into a means of cultural intervention aimed at disrupting settled notions of art; and Surrealist aesthetic appropriations of popular and commercial sources to create incongruous visual mixtures that probed unconscious fears and desires, aesthetic pleasures, and irrational contemplation.
The invocation of these inherited aesthetic traditions through the use of collage operates subtly in Gonzalez’s work — formed from acts of selecting, collecting, manipulating, and re-presenting evidentiary residues of everyday commodities gleaned from a contemporary landscape — in the expression of the artist’s individual subjectivity, creating material condensations that speak to our societal interconnectedness via allusions to economic and social structures that bind us.
This cultural politics, referenced by a contemporary utilization of collage, speaks to a politics of representation — both then and now — through the use of images, texts, and aesthetic strategies drawn from an international reservoir of sources and signifying practices that reference the diverse histories that inform Gonzalez’s social being and consciousness, and thus his work.
Rather than making overt political statements that directly address social issues, Gonzalez’s visual condensations seem to be concerned with engaging, stimulating ideas, and triggering associations from diverse histories through the multiple interpretations that reverberate in the works. Indeed, with this work he seems less concerned with affecting consciousness for social transformation, or creating a feeling of solidarity centered in sympathetic issue identification, or reinforcing ideologies that separate or demarcate art from politics in contemporary life, than with constructing objects that affirm the notion that art and everyday life are connected and open to multiple interpretations.
Here, a simplistic separation and fragmentation of art from society, which tends to relegate politics in art to legible content and to reduce cultural politics to declarative messages that communicate to an already initiated sympathetic audience, is undermined in favor of recognizing that the construction of art is integrally related to the making of meaning through interpretive viewing — a politics of cultural representation that implicates the both the maker and the viewer in discursive entanglements connected to various histories and cultural discourses.
These works are heir to avant-garde traditions centered in subverting hierarchies in the arts that were anchored in social divisions of labor and the compartmentalization of knowledge related to the rise of capitalism, which established a distinction between “high” and “low” cultural practices. These avant-garde strategies critically re-examined the visual conventions, traditions, premises, rules, concepts of order, canonic standards of beauty, and codes of art that had previously structured and constituted what is “art,” by re-signifying and blurring distinctions between media to formally render the nature and significance of the materials and the objects constructed as fluid.
However, here the nature and symbolic function of the congealed fragments, such as tickets, candy wrappers, printed packaging, and other ephemera collected in the course of the artist’s everyday life, are used to form a visual allegory for one man’s contemporary existence — articulated by cohering dislocated cultural particles through a practice of material appropriation, recycling, and a process of transmutation of common materials — and by extension for peoples’ lives in general, and this is governed by exposures, constraints, personal choices, experiences, and efforts to transform and arrange life as one finds it, into a meaningful and coherent whole.
It does seem symbolically appropriate that, in an age characterized by a multinational concentration and consolidation of global capital, which creates a reified social universe defined by an all-encompassing social alienation where people are estranged from themselves, from each other, and from nature, we find an aesthetic practice that re-configures fragments dislocated from their original states as a means of commenting on the nature of material, visual and social identities, and on the relationships of our relative autonomy, coexistence and interdependence.
In this context, the exhibition title I Put It Back In Order For You is significant and telling, particularly as Matt Gonzalez, former President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and Ralph Nader’s current Vice-Presidential running-mate, is considered a politically progressive social activist.
The binding of the societal fragments speaks to a transformative social practice, particularly as these works are amalgams of something else, something with quite identifiable overtones that suggests that these collaged elements have histories that bring with them associations of the consumer commodity culture and its array of social forces and relations of production, consumption, and distribution.
Matt Gonzalez’s collages speak to our existence as people living together in a world comprised of these elements and their associated objects, a world that we must deal with in our various ways; and, hopefully, if we are to create a qualitatively different future, we work to construct a better space than the one we live in and inherited from the past.
SAN FRANCISCO BAY GUARDIAN, Review, November 21, 2007
“Let Her Make a Speech for Me”
Collage by Matt Gonzalez captures a moment in time
REVIEW The simultaneously ramshackle and polished qualities of the back-room gallery of Adobe Books seem particularly apropos for the current exhibit of collages by former head of the Board of Supervisors and 2003 mayoral candidate Matt Gonzalez. The white walls of its small, finished gallery space rise only about halfway to the high ceilings of the bookstore, and traces of the building’s layered history — bits of cracking plaster and yellowing floral wallpaper, interspersed with wood beams and chicken wire — reveal an intrinsic assemblage. Gonzalez’s collages elevate detritus such as this to a more revered status, acknowledging not only its aesthetic worth but also its historical and social implications.
Just as in the unfinished walls of Adobe Books, there is an inherent beauty in these scraps of boxes and notes and bills that would otherwise have been discarded or overlooked. The textural quality of a dirtied receipt, the yellow crispness of a newspaper snippet, the gleam of a turquoise sliver of cardboard — the combination of all such items is nice. However, the act of placing these bits of so-called trash in jagged compositions is nothing new. The works bring to mind, most obviously, those of Dada artist Kurt Schwitters, whose collages, like Gonzalez’s, were created from materials culled from the city streets and daily life. As a rule, Schwitters’s art was apolitical, although each of his pieces couldn’t help but become a miniature capsule that preserved history as time elapsed. Similarly, Gonzalez’s collages capture a moment in San Francisco’s arts and culture scene, pointing to the trend of rough, street-inspired art. Unlike Schwitters’s, his work does not lack a political edge, and as the exhibit’s title, “Let Her Make a Speech for Me,” suggests, these collages are likely Gonzalez’s latest expressions of his interests.
ART LTD / WEST COAST ART + DESIGN, Reviews July 2007
Matt Gonzalez at LINCART
Here is the relevant information: In 2003, Matt Gonzalez was the president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and at that time he also made an insurgent, under-funded run for mayor as a Green Party candidate, coming alarmingly close to winning the office. Soon thereafter, he returned to private life, no doubt contenting himself with the fact that many of his innovative political ideas found some implementation in the city’s new and forward-looking government. Now Gonzalez is back in the public eye, but not because of his political activities. Instead, he returns as a self-taught artist who makes intimate, witty and charming collage works, 25 of which are on view in this exhibition. The temptation to read these works as imaginary records of the process of a “picking up the pieces” that we might assume comes along with the retreat from public life is all but irresistible.
But resist we shall, because these works are far too accomplished to be constrained by such a mono-dimensional reading. Although they tend to be quite small, they are quite sophisticated in their evocation of the collage works of the Beat era, as well as the more canonical precedents established by collage artists such as Kurt Schwitters and Robert Motherwell. Which is to say that most of the works are earmarked by their elegance and restraint, as well as their focused attention to the aesthetic subtleties of color and shape relationship.
Each of these works is also enriched by the qualities of specific encounter, and many sport the date of their creation as parts of their composition, suggesting that they are singular entries into a cryptic diary. The components that Gonzalez uses from one piece to the next suggest that they are extracted from a specific walk through a given neighborhood. When we look at one of the larger works, titled Number 4 is Getting Buried (all works are from 2007), we see a diagonal composition of various paper fragments, including package typography, cigar bands and crumpled receipts—much the same stuff as would be found in one of Schwitters’ Merzpictures from the 1920s and ’30s. The difference lies in Gonzalez’s elegant lyricism, which gives his work a more introspective character. This attribute is particularly evident in one of the smallest works—a particularly spare composition titled Is That It? No bigger than a postcard, this work’s precise arrangement of a very few visual incidents proves that a big experience can come in a very small package.
—Mark Van Proyen
BERKELEY ART MUSEUM, Announcement, August 2011
Kurt Schwitters: Make Art with Matt Gonzalez
Offering a hands-on experience in conjunction with Kurt Schwitters: Color and Collage, BAM/PFA presents a series collage-making events with local artists throughout the run of the exhibition. We invite you to pick up a pair of scissors and join the collage table in the museum’s exciting Gallery B space. Materials provided, but participants are encouraged to bring their own as well.
Our first guest artist in this series is Matt Gonzalez. Well known as a progressive politician who served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and as Ralph Nader’s 2008 vice-presidential running mate, Gonzalez is also an accomplished collage artist who has exhibited at numerous local venues; a recent review in the San Francisco Chronicle describes his work as “grid-like, woven geometric pieces incorporating found packaging, dappled with primary colors and riddled with frayed edges.” Gonzalez has an abiding interest in Schwitters, who, he asserts, is “important to anyone who takes up glue and scissors.”
Immediately preceding the collage making, Gonzalez will comment informally in the exhibition galleries about some of his favorite Schwitters pieces. Coming up in November and December: Make collages alongside guest artists William Theophilus Brown and Veronica de Jesus.
Workshop | Make Art with Matt Gonzalez | August 14 | 2-5 p.m. | Berkeley Art Museum
A.MUSE GALLERY, Announcement, April 2011
Scissors vs. Brush: Collage by Matt Gonzalez/Paintings by Tom Schultz
a.Muse welcomes politician and artist Matt Gonzalez and veteran painter Tom Schultz for a two man show honoring their friendship and the relationship between their art. A public reception for the artists will be held on Thursday, April 28th, 2011 from 6:30 to 9:00 pm. Musical performance by Charles Gonzalez & the Stereo Glitter. Admission is free. The exhibition runs through May 30th.
Although Gonzalez creates in paper and Schultz with paint, the small, intimate pieces featured in this show will highlight their similar use of hard edges and bold colors. While Schultz’s pieces have a bold, colorful geometric consistency, Gonzalez is as versed in color as he is in subtle shades of white, resourcefully using every bend and turn of his found objects to “draw” his curves and lines. In the end, this show is about the harmony created within a visual conversation between two old friends.
While Schultz’s pieces have a bold, colorful geometric consistency, Gonzalez is as versed in color as he is in subtle shades of white, resourcefully using every bend and turn of his found objects to “draw” his curves and lines. Paul Occam has said that “Gonzalez’s primary palette is stuff that other people throw away. The works themselves are meditations on value, meaning and social norms. They are composed of images and discarded packaging, the disambiguation of old meanings through minor resurrections of color, compositions and forays into textures and curiosity.”
Schultz approaches his work as a relationship–hard edges meeting more gestural images. This creates a dynamic tension, evoking a casual sensuality and simple elegance. “I believe the final impact of a work of art should be a felt experience;” says Schultz, “that is to say, an emotional one, without which it is nothing more than an intellectual exercise.” Schultz was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1939. Basically a self-taught artist, he studied privately with Charles Bunnell in Colorado in the 1950s. He arrived in New York in 1959, at the height of the Abstract Expressionist movement, and met artists connected with the New York School of painting.
Gonzalez first showed at a.Muse in 2006 with friend and painter Felix Macnee. Since then, he has shown at numerous Bay Area galleries, including Lincart, the Backroom at Adobe Books, and Johansson Projects.
SUITE FIVE SALON, Announcement, November 2, 2010
New Works by Matt Gonzalez & Ben Irvine
About the art: the exhibition will feature Matt Gonzalez’s collages and Ben Irvine’s abstract folded-paper sculptures.
Gonzalez finds inspiration in recycling “cool little pieces of paper” he finds in cafes, at friends’ houses—anyway they appear. The works are small, intimate, inviting close viewing that reveals a wonderful sense of texture and structure. A primary influence is abstract painter Gustavo Rivera, who Gonzalez counts as friend and mentor. References, especially as regards color and composition, can be made to Piet Mondrian. Hints of Louise Nevelson are evident in his all-white and all-black works. One can also sees notes of cubism and Dadaism in the work.
Gonzalez’s lively pieces juxtapose nicely against Irvine’s clean, precise works. Like Gonzalez, Irvine is self taught, bringing a fresh naïveté and innovative approach to the work. This is especially true of Irvine. Each piece the artist creates is made of a single piece of pure white paper that is only folded, never torn, cut, or glued. The sculptures, while rooted in the tradition of Origami, are completely Irvine’s his own creation—the result of hours of trial and error—resulting in contemporary, innovative pieces. These sublime works lend themselves to long, peaceful contemplation. A recent high school graduate, Irvine is an incoming student at the San Francisco Art Institute in 2011.
Matt Gonzalez is co-founder of SF Collage Collective. For additional information about Ben Irvine and his work, visit benirvineart.com.
—Jenn Doyle Crane
ART BUSINESS, Review, April 5, 2008
Soap Gallery: Matt Gonzalez – Pull Here To Get Everything You Want.
Matt Gonzalez’s color-rich collages, set on white backgrounds, are composed of collected materials such as playing cards, fabric, cardboard boxes, and more. With titles like “The Hurrying There Along The Wall” and “In Somber Wonders The Music,” the viewer takes another look to see how Matt expresses these movements. They allude more to Cubism than Surrealism, as in a single collage, the images and colors seem to work with each other as opposed to providing contradiction or surprise.
SAN FRANCISCO WEEKLY, April 16, 2007
Torn cardboard and witty phrases are threads that run through the visual art of Matt Gonzalez. Yes, that Matt Gonzalez, whose riveting life as a Green Party-er and near-swiper of the Mayor’s Office has just now given way to a new chapter. Some might say that repurposed recyclables and sharp observations were hallmarks of his shoestring mayoral campaign — it’s safe to say he’s good at getting things done using his giant brain and whatever else is at hand. But the Georges Braque-inspired collage work he presents in this eponymous exhibition proves that his visual skills are right up there with his political ones. The pieces are delicate and colorful paste-ups of common street trash Gonzalez picks up himself, and he gives them names like “With the Throat of a Silver Vale.” Columbian painter Omar Chacon exhibits as well.
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, Galleries, August 27, 2011
Collage, culture and mulching at Guerrero Gallery
Collage has begun to look like 20th century artists’ decisive bequest
to the 21st. Not even kinetic media materialize so well our sense of
culture as mulching, of the world as unstoppable implosion and
disposal. The Kurt Schwitters retrospective at the Berkeley Art Museum
and the de Young Museum’s Picasso survey take us to the roots of the
practice. But some exhibition of contemporary collage will almost
certainly appear on the local art calendar in any given month.
Guerrero Gallery’s “Building Context” offers an exceptional example.
Collage in Picasso’s and Schwitters’ hands grew out of painting and
relief sculpture, subversive play with representational tradition. The
artists in “Building Context” have no need to reassert the legitimacy
of their means. Adam Feibelman’s hand-cut stencils stitched together
at their edges count as collage every bit as much as Leigh Wells’ more
traditional cut-and-paste exercises. Feibelman’s intricate cutouts
have an abstract look at first, but their details gradually sort
themselves into images of water, vessels and shorelines. I have seen
nothing else quite like them.
Guerrero has arranged the seven represented artists’ works in its
space so that they read like a cluster of small solo shows. No one
benefits from this arrangement more than Wells. Her work requires the
breathing space it gets here because each piece appears to contain few
enough constructive decisions that they stand dramatically exposed.
She frequently works on pages that appear water-stained – whether by
her or by chance we cannot tell – and those subtle intrusions demand
Wells frequently uses bits of photographs chosen and cut so as to keep
us guessing what they describe: flesh, fabric, stone, metal, shadows?
Her framed pieces recall the belligerent aesthetics of early Dada and
Surrealist collage, but they wear their allusiveness lightly. One
untitled example incorporates stacked red squares that bring Russian
Suprematism to mind, abutted sideways to a mountainous shape that
recalls Man Ray’s 1920 “Enigma of Isidore Ducasse.”
Wells has set up a table in the gallery to display little
three-dimensional somethings in a Calderesque spirit. This move might
have stolen the thunder of her collages. Instead, it makes us see even
more clearly how well judged they are.
“Building Context” includes an ensemble of white-on-white
constructions by Matt Gonzalez, an artist known to dabble in politics.
But a couple of black-on-black pieces by him upstage them all for a
simple and obvious reason. The black coated paper he uses exposes a
white edge at every cut. The resulting tracery of fine white lines
gives these compositions the energetic circuitry the white-on-white
pieces generally lack.
Boris Tellegen takes up little space in “Building Context,” but his
relief constructions in cut, slotted paper seize the imagination
without warning through their evocation of cityscapes – either ruined
or idealized – seen from above. Ray Beldner lightens the tone of the
show and owns its topicality, in an editorial-cartoonish way, with
“Money Bags” made of sewn-together dollar bills. If nothing else,
these pieces dramatize the difference between the value of their raw
materials and the prices that their use and sale command.