The idea of solitary artistic creation is engrained, but it’s misleading: Nothing grows from nothing, and artists “borrow” from each other all the time; Picasso was proud of his thefts. Of course, when contemporaries collaborate, “pass[ing] some paper back and forth,” in Derek Weisberg‘s words, the odds are evened and credit is shared equally, even with “alpha males.” Svea Lin Vezzone asked fourteen gallery artists to think outside the box of selfhood and to develop projects with artists they admire. The results, collected in Things Are Expanding, explore two-headed drawing, painting, sculpture, video, and mixed media. Oh, and chocolate sculpture, too.
Notable pieces: “Untitled” by Andy Vogt + Bert Bergen, a gray-and-brown painting (made with printing techniques and available as a screen print) on shaped wood that explores painterly illusionism; “Thistles and Daisies” by John Casey + Derek Weisberg, a conjoined-twin Janus double bust; “The Ballad of Ronnie Lee (Gardner),” featuring drawings by Jake Watling and a music CD by Mahtab Habibian and other professional musicians about the Mormon prisoner, convicted of murder and executed by a Utah firing squad after 25 years’ incarceration and, earlier, a horrific childhood; “3x3x3” by Mayumi Hamanaka + Hiroyo Kaneko + Satoshi Nakashima, a series of poetic texts (“our mitochondrial DNA / handed down through maternal lineage / a package of prayer & affection”; “My stale everyday things / look like my own relics … I smile like a baby”) illustrated (obliquely) by photos; “Collision” and “Illogic” by Erik Friedman + Ema Harris-Sintamarian, an illogical but satisfying collision of the artists’ semi-abstract motifs; “Bird Pool” by Casey Jex Smith + Frank Magnotta, an enigmatic magic-realism drawing; and “Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground” by Ethan Worden + Gina Tuzzi, a sound sculpture employing speakers decorated with painted night skies.
Showing in the Project Room is Tamara Albaitis‘ sound installation, “Honey,” both enchanting and alarming, in a sci-fi fairy-tale way. Amid walls and ceiling covered with wiry black “drawing” a bit reminiscent of sprayed spiderweb hangs a large black spindle-shaped structure, somewhat resembling a wrapped insect meal, vibrating and humming and buzzing through clusters of small speaker cones. Look busy. Things Are Expanding runs through January 16 at Swarm Gallery (560 2nd St., Oakland). 510-939-2787 or SwarmGallery.com