music in the park san jose

.Doofology 101

Tim Sharman's Strange Oddities satirize life and art.

music in the park san jose

Artists these days are encouraged and expected to be professional
and businesslike, minus neuroses and drama queenery, but odd behavior
has always been associated with creativity and tolerated, since, well
prehistory. Rudolf and Margot Wittkower’s Born Under Saturn, for
example, describes one obsessive Italian Renaissance painter who never
left his work, subsisting on nothing but hardboiled eggs that he hauled
up to his studio in a basket.

Tim Sharman‘s huge installation is a mirthful meditation on
such inspired madness. His premise: the Doof, a Goofyish cartoon figure
— Doggie Diner’s canine chef crossed with Disney/Fleischer
critter-humans — has inspired and maddened artists throughout
history, and the artifacts produced by this inspiration are gathered in
the Doof Museum of Culture and History, temporarily located at
Studio Quercus. The faux-museum idea has been around for a
while, as Clayton Bailey fans who remember Dr. Gladstone’s Museum of
Wonders can attest, but Sharman makes this now-familiar concept work
drolly, mixing his work (Tim Sharman, American, 1959-   )
with that made by friends and family, their nationalities and birth
dates provided in the best museological fashion, and that of imaginary
artists, Faustian victims like Lovecraft’s or Poe’s doomed
intellectuals. A few examples of Doof-betrunkener menschen
(Doof-obsessed men): Tommaso Cavillero (Maltese 1590-1623), beheaded by
outraged Knights of Malta for his blasphemous painting, Adoration of
the Doof
; T.L. Douveres (1862-1942), who, struck by lightning,
began seeing “the Doof as fruit on the trees, birds in the air and
small woodland creatures who inhabited carefully painted California
inspired landscapes,” and desisted from his visionary painting only
after realizing that he was Napoleon, bent on conquering Europe; and
Clyde Darrow (American, 1902-1981), like Douveres, a patient at Arkham
(!) Asylum whose “hauntingly apocalyptic paintings … sometimes
frightened the staff doctors,” until 1961, that is, when the hospital
installed television sets and his visions faded; and the artist and
poet, T.S. Sharton, who thought the smiling faces he saw “mocked him
and drained him of his humanity” and left poems stacked to the ceiling
at his death. Nor should we forget, either, the genius-chimp artist,
Bananas (American 1920-1965), “the four-foot-tall Rembrandt,” who made
“drawing after drawing, extremely sophisticated for someone without
opposable thumbs.”

This show is as much about Onion-worthy writing as it is
objets d’art, so glancers and glimpsers will miss much of the
fun. (A catalogue with a mock-academic essay by Jamie Brunson is
available.) Strange Oddities: Selections from the Doof Museum of
Culture and History
runs through October 28 at Studio
Quercus
(385 26th St., Oakland). StudioQuercus.com or 510-452-4670

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