Megan Wilson
Writings > 10 Squared

10 Squared
Catharine Clark Gallery
Through March 17

Catharine Clark Gallery began in 1991 as Morphos Gallery and Performance Space, located in Hayes Valley. In 1995 the gallery moved to 49 Geary Street and in 1996 it took the name of its proprietor and became the Catharine Clark Gallery. While this relocation and eponymous gesture would seem to suggest a conservative reinvention, the space has continued to represent emerging artists (many from the Bay Area) whose work is often provocative and unlikely to be found in a downtown, commercial venue. In recent years, the program has expanded to include more established artists from New York, Seattle, Chicago and Los Angeles. The current show, 10 10 is the gallery's tenth anniversary exhibition and reflects the range of artists shown by Catharine Clark. Twenty artists are featured here and their work denotes a cross section of genres that include: new media, conceptual art, painting, sculpture, photography and video installation. Walking through the space, I was struck by the elegance of the show's design and choice to present ten large-scale projects and ten within a 10x10(x10) format. Standouts include Masami Teraoka's installation of small oil paintings framed in gold ovals that reference western Medieval stylized works. The recurring image is that of a young, blond woman, naked (in one painting she appears pregnant) and sexually victimized by a cast of clergy and masked figures in a bacchanal of hypocrisy and moral corruption. On the adjacent wall, Sandow Birk's painting “The Wreck of the Hollywood” uses an old master sensibility to illustrate a large vessel, the L.A.S. Hollywood that resembles the Titanic, resting at the bottom of the sea. The dismal scene nods to the industry's sinking of standards and saturation of excess. Further into the space, Angela Lim's ‘delicate' embroidery sampler challenges the traditional notion of domesticity. Originally these Exeplum's (the Latin word for “an example to be followed”) were seen as an important part of a young girl's curriculum to prepare herself for the role of wife. However, the text on Lim's sample reads: “I implore on thy merciless grounds: Exposed trunks pounded by tightly woven rules.” Also putting a contemporary spin on ‘women's work' is Lisa Kokin's haunting piece, “Best Wishes.” Comprised of a multitude of black and white and sepia-toned photographs from the forties and fifties, the individual portraits are sewn together to create a collective memory, not unlike the combined experiences of the Gallery reflected in this memorable exhibition.

Catharine Clark Gallery
49 Geary Street, Second Floor, San Francisco
Tues. – Fri. 10:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., Sat. 11:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
(415) 399-1439,, (Megan Wilson)