Look at Me

This art show is about more than sex. Really.

San Francisco band the Nervous Breakdowns will be the live entertainment at the opening reception for Pinned: Recent Work by Laurenn McCubbin this Friday, and McCubbin couldn’t be happier with that. “They’re the perfect music for me right now,” she says. “I’m a little bit freaking out — it’s my first solo show! And they’re awesome. Gay boys singing Peaches, that’s all I’m saying. “

Thematically, sex is written all over the Oakland resident’s oeuvre. Sometimes it’s overt — like the ladies of her Xeric Foundation grant-winning graphic novel (with Nikki Coffman), XXX LiveNudeGirls, who spend a lot of time tumbling into and out of various sacks — and sometimes it’s just that the women are damn sexy, like the heroine of Harvest Gypsy (a Web-exclusive story on Artbomb.net). The work in “Pinned,” mostly pieces that have grown out of the creation of Rent Girl, her forthcoming collaboration with Michelle Tea, is no exception.

“I’m working with this idea of the new pinup,” McCubbin says. “Like, what is the difference between the way that you would look at this woman displayed in a definitely sexual manner, and the way you would if she’s looking back at you? She’s not there just to be watched — she’s watching back.”

But the Santa Cruz-born, School of the Art Institute of Chicago-educated McCubbin is much more than big boots and nasty thoughts. Her illustrations are watery, heavy-lined, creating the illusion of looking through water or tempered glass. Or when they’re in full color, as in Harvest Gypsy, they seem as if they’re etched into stained-glass church windows. She is a big fan of Junko Mizuno, whose “Japanese cutie horror porn” and fairy-tale stuff is, like McCubbin’s work, tremendously artful yet confidently naughty. As she puts it: “I like the girl to eye-fuck the viewer.”

The show runs February 20 through March 26 at Mama Buzz Gallery (next to Mama Buzz Cafe), 2316 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. The opening reception is Friday night between 7 and 10 p.m. and will also feature clothing designs by Megan Fenske. There’s no cover, but donations will be happily accepted for the band. Info: MamaBuzzCafe.com, LaurennMcCubbin.com, or 510-465-4073.

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