Maryam Yousif • The Pit

 Maryam Yousif - Puabi Live! // Download a PDF of the preview here

The Pit - Calculating Infinity // Download a PDF of the preview here

Opening Reception: Saturday July 20th, 6 - 9 pm

Exhibition Dates: July 20th - August 17th, 2019

Maryam Yousif

Puabi Live!

 Opening Reception: Saturday July 20th, 6 – 9pm

Exhibition Dates: July 20th – August 17th, 2019

 Alongside the more well known Sumerian Royal Cemetery at Ur which yielded such incredible art and artifacts relating to the great Queen Puabi, a lesser known ancient tomb was recently uncovered on the wind-swept plains of Southern Iraq. Instead of elaborate gold and lapis jewelry, musical instruments and ancient works of art, this latest archaeological site seems to have contained what could only be described as party supplies once owned by Queen Puabi and intended for the throwing of elaborate festivities. Ceramic predominates the collection housed within the walls of Guerrero Gallery, from tall sculptural pots with searing sets of eyes, a large bust of the queen, party crowns, and even oversized ceramic cassette covers which seem to hint at yet another invention that had its origins in ancient Sumerian culture.  It quickly becomes clear that Puabi was in fact an intense lover of music, and seems to herself have been a popular singer at the time.

 On one wall we’re met with an arrangement of what seems for lack of a better term to be ceramic handbags–a form that persists throughout ancient Assyrian and Sumerian art, and reappears within the artwork created by early American and Mesoamerican cultures. The largest of the group, covered in a rich jade glaze surrounding the mirrored visage of a royal figure, returns a confused gaze as if to wonder what strange forces have coalesced to find such royalty meeting eye to eye with an equally confused contemporary viewer. Around the corner we find a large hanging pot, suspended by an intricate macrame weaving hung from the gallery’s beams, a flat relief with a cartoony portrait of the queen pasted to the front of the pot. Surrounding the viewer are a myriad of forms populated by representations of Puabi–whether it be her watching eyes, or posters of her live concerts and events depicting this strong and celebrated heroine.

 Conflating time, aesthetic sensibilities, cultures and materials, Baghdad-born and San Francisco-based artist Maryam Yousif plumbs the depths of the many cultures that have shaped her, prompting as many questions as are answered. Finding a grounding affinity with the powerful women of the artist’s Middle-Eastern culture, be it Yousif’s mother and grandmother, the Pan Arab pop stars of her childhood or the Sumerian queen Puabi who lived almost 3000 years prior and from whom this show draws great inspiration. Ceramic has unsurprisingly become the primary material utilized by Yousif, a material that speaks both to the ancient Iraqi cultures that inspire Yousif, as well as a connection to the present and historic Bay Area in the many lineages of great clay artists that have shaped our contemporary concept of the medium. Combining the irreverent gesturality of the Bay Area Funk Art movement, with the myth and artifacts of ancient Iraq, Yousif elegantly connects old and new in wholly unique ways. 

Calculating Infinity

Curated by Adam D. Miller of the The Pit

 Opening Reception: Saturday July 20th, 6 – 9pm
Exhibition Dates: July 20th – August 17th, 2019

 Artists: Devendra Banhart, Keith Boadwee, Seth Bogart, Elana Bowsher, Aaron Curry, John DeFazio, Adam D. Miller, Jennifer Rochlin, Mindy Shapero.

 Guerrero gallery is pleased to present Calculating Infinity, a group exhibition curated by Adam D. Miller of the artist-ran LA gallery The Pit. The exhibition will run from July 20 - August 17, 2019 with an opening reception on Saturday July 20th. The exhibition, installed in Guerrero Gallery’s mezzanine project space, will consist of a selection of ceramic objects, drawings, collage, painting, and a mixed media wall relief.  The exhibition brings together a group of artists who’s disparate practices share a common focus based on repetition, both in terms of a singular focus on specific materials or repeating subject matters. The work finds shared territory with that of a number of self taught artists who often continually germinate on a selected medium or theme in their practices continuing to expand or refine their work within these limited parameters over the course of their careers.

 Artists such as Seth Bogart, Keith Boadwee, and Aaron Curry have spent much of their practice working with the same or similar subject matters revisiting the same iconography again and again. Seth Bogart’s small scale ceramics have produced a vast array of humorous tooth brushes, and match books (for this exhibition the match books feature San Francisco gay bars).  Sexualized male frogs have been rendered again and again with thick gestural moves by Keith Boadwee. The collage works of Aaron Curry continually include found cartoon imagery often of aliens and monsters as a means for setting up his didactic juxtapositions.

 The other half of the artists included in the show use repetition in a more formal way through specific repeated gestures or a singular focus on specific materials. Mindy Shapero’s wall bound sculptural relief was constructed of shaped wood and the repeating gesture of gluing small strips of felt over and over again to create a swirling portal. This focus on the repetition of small gestures to create large affect is found again and again through her practice. As is the repeating hatch marks found throughout the drawings of Adam D. Miller, who’s colorful and energetic graphite drawings are then meticulously filled in with a repeating gesture. Jennifer Rocklin’s practice centers on her ongoing series of blobby and roughly formed ceramic pots, which are then used as a ground for the artist to paint with underglazes repeating motifs, at times personal narratives, in other works repeating patterns.