Thomas Campbell's "Der"

Yar is a nautical term for “ready,” or “quick and agile.” Being so, Thomas Campbell’s current show, which bears the term as its title, is appropriately named. It’s of the now, and ready in abundance; there are almost thirty works on show. Not overfull, the quantity is in synch with the lively color and ebullient movement of these works. They’re fun, whimsical, and detailed. This show is quick and agile, moving deftly through a variety of materials and forms: bronze sculpture, acrylic, spray-paint, wood cut-out sculpture, sewn fabric, gouache, gourds, prints.
The maritime reference is also fitting; Campbell’s work comes out of surfer/skateboarder culture (he lives in the small coastal town of Bonny Doon, outside of Santa Cruz). He is aligned with fellow “Beautiful Looser” (referencing the groundbreaking exhibition and now documentary film) artists, such as Barry McGee, Chris Johanson, and Mike Mills. Comparisons can also be made to artist Mike Shine, who also resides in a rural coastal town, Bolinas. With them he shares a graphic, bold, illustrative aesthetic. Also common, giving a nod to the graffiti/urban art scene, as well as recalling the 1960s rock posters by Wes Wilson, is the incorporation of words featuring stylized lettering. And like all of these artists, this work moves beyond its initial hit of jubilance, hipster trendiness, and humor (some work of this genre fails to get past this).
The work here is precisely executed and demonstrates a confident and rich use of color, pattern, narrative, form and composition. What points best to this are the two works that stray the most, but are perhaps the best in show: the two bronzes, Charles and Der. ared down to the blue-black color of the metal, each presents a single character. They demonstrate Campbell’s ability to edit and engage formally, seriously, and retain voice and vision; it’s yar.

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