Today the Artpace blog welcomes a guest post from Artpace Board of Directors member Lara W. Luce.
I visited the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art for a member preview of Mark Bradford and was treated to an energizing display of the artist’s posters, mixed media, and videos. Bradford has pioneered the use of permanent papers (inspired by growing up in his mother’s hair salon in South Central Los Angeles) in his artwork, and uses them to add depth to his 2D pieces while commenting on racial and identity issues. His three-minute video, Niagara, an homage of sorts to Marilyn Monroe’s three-minute saunter in the 1953 film of the same name, captures his neighbor’s confident homosexual strut down a trash-riddled street in LA and leaves you mesmerized while you grapple with identity in an urban landscape.
Bradford’s posters are beautiful grand images that draw you near to reveal (a personal favorite) FUCK STRAIGT PEOPLE [sic] in bold capital letters. Pinocchio is on Fire is an experience inspired by Teddy Pendergrass, the hyper-straight-sexual soul singer from the ’70s and his cataclysmic fall from grace after being found with a transsexual model. Bradford’s velvet black room features beautiful soul music. His message is harsh and brazen, but even more so because it is subtle and visually stunning.
I met Bradford in 2008 at his Artpace residency opening and was captivated by his gregarious and engaging personality. I followed his career as he won a MacArthur fellowship, participated in Prospect.1 New Orleans, exhibited at the Wexner Center for the Arts, and was featured in numerous Artforum articles. This experience at SFMOMA furthers my dedicated fan-hood and excitement to see what is to come.
Recommended reading: current issue of Parkett 89, and Mark Bradford (Wexner Center for the Arts) by Christopher Bedford
Recommended viewing: Mark Bradford, Art21, PBS
Image credit: Mark Bradford, James Brown is Dead, 2007. Photo by Wendi Kimura