"Eye (Red, White, Blue) by Andrew Schoultz

San Francisco artist Andrew Schoultz’s newest work (on show through October 23, 2010) comes at you like an explosion. It’s big, bold, and colorful. It’s also serious, playful, and chaotic. The show features collage and acrylic paintings, monotypes, and large-scale sculpture. Throughout, Schoultz utilizes graphic/illustrative imagery regularly featured in past work as well as his exquisitely detailed line work. In every piece there is more than a lot going on. They work on numerous levels, foremost hovering between representation and abstraction. They are a brightly twisted playground for the eye and the mind, a trip down the rabbit hole with serious social commentary.

Schoultz came out of the graffiti scene; he put up his first tag while he was still in grade school. This street experience is reflected in his gallery work, most obviously in his penchant for large scale. He counter-balances this with innumerable small elements. The play of scale gives the work a great deal of depth and movement.

He also reworks the same images over and over, in the same manner that tags are repeated again and again on the street. For Shoultz, this repetition serves two purposes. It’s a form of storytelling: “In stories,” Schoultz said in a 2006 interview with Fecal Face, “characters reoccur and build themselves. I like the idea of developing a character or an image.” He also notes that by painting the same subject year after year, it slowly changes and finds fresh meaning. Throughout this body of work, we see the medieval horse, the eye of Providence (a graphic eye as appears on the one-dollar bill), tornados, bricks, and buildings askew. They serve as powerful symbols of Schoultz’s explorations: issues of man versus nature, history (and its sad repetition), environmental concerns, and globalization.

Like that of any good storyteller, Schoultz’s narrative does evolve, often to address current events. Reclamation, Oil, Water, for instance, is a commentary on the Gulf oil spill. The tornado (loss of control to nature) and eye are present. Schoultz also throws in a few other not so subtle but well placed ideas: the rippling water creates a camouflage pattern (war for oil), and the shimmering silver paint on a structure being transported on the water looks a lot like an oil slick (the true cost of global commerce).

The final crossover from Schoultz’s street work is the audience he addresses: the public. It shows a capacity to appeal to a broad audience, from children to the well-versed art lover.

Not to be overlooked is Schoultz’s use of color, which plays out in several ways. Red, white, and blue figure prominently in several works (a flag reference). And the messages are clear. In the large wall sculpture Broken Wall (in Three Parts) the American colors are separated to suggest a country divided or breaking apart. And gold, on bricks no less, figures prominently, especially in the enormous (and self-explanatory) Brick Wall (Gold).

Color also contributes to the many ways any given piece can be experienced. Explosion, a work made of layer upon layer of collage and innumerable graphics and images, as well as pieces of dollar bills, features numerous accents of different neon colors. From far away, these punchy tones read like a fairly un-modulated color-field painting. Up close, the eye reads color frantically in this wonderfully active work.

In this exhibition we are also privy to two types of work either not before seen, or not common to Schoultz’s oeuvre. New are his acrylic-on-found-antique-metal-plate-print paintings. In these black-and-white pieces, mostly comprised of his “Revisiting Insignificant Moments in History” series, Schoultz paints his own intricately lined iconography over the intricately lined images of the original prints, deftly merging past and present. Schoultz also presents a number of prints, most notably the monotype series “Compound Eye.” Each print features a one solid color, the eye graphic subtly present in a slightly different hue. The eye looks like a fingerprint or the rings of a tree. The series together is a breakdown of all the primary colors present in the show.

"Pitch" by Timothy Nolan

In his solo exhibition at Marx & Zavattero (on view through August 21, 2010), Los Angeles-based artist Timothy Nolan delivers contemplative sculpture that is all clean geometric forms, a subtle palate of silver, black, gray, and white, and various surface treatments – mirrored, reflective, flat. Nolan continues his investigation of patterns, repetition, and systems, both made and natural. The work easily draws the viewer into the complexity encompassed, including the exploration of visual perception and construction of illusory versus real space.

Evident throughout is the influence of minimalism and cubism; the artist is also inspired by craft and op art. The exhibition features floor and wall sculpture as well as works of silver metallic paper on panel and other two-dimensional pieces. The centerpiece – both literally, as it takes up a large space within the gallery, and figuratively; it’s enchanting – is the twenty-foot-long Pitch. Comprising more than twenty triangular pieces of various sizes, with several of the surfaces mirrored and reflecting off of each other, the work evolves into endless shards and crystalline structures, elegantly getting to the heart of Nolan’s interests. In the wall sculpture, “Stack” – which is also made up of a series of over twenty non-identical hard-edged shapes, these composed of printed vinyl on aluminum – geometric shapes in five gray-scale hues also play with our comprehension of light and shadow and the shaping of space; the piece appears to be more three-dimensional than its flat surfaces really are.

While Nolan’s artwork overall is hard-edged and calculated in appearance, it’s not cold. This is meditative work that we not only see but experience.

"From Above" by Patrick Wilson

Since the point of this weekly selection is to pick one work of art to highlight, I forced myself to choose from the numerous outstanding paintings featured in Patrick Wilson’s solo exhibition, “The View From My Deck,” currently on view (but only until June 5, so get in to see it now!) at Marx & Zavattero. I’m always astonished by artists who can take something as simple as four-corner shapes and their outlines, and layers of color and, again and again, create exquisitely sublime art. I chose From Above for its subtle boldness, gentle resonance, and bravery (let’s face it: it’s an accomplishment to make sickly greenish yellow  and grey tones so appealing), but I’d happily rehang this entire show where I live; these are works that keep giving.