Inner-city Expression at the Museum: Barry McGee Midcareer Retrospective @ BAM!
Today, as I rode a bike path through People's Park and reeled through characters not unlike those painted on Barry's now famous liquor bottles, I thought "What the hell am I still doing in Berkeley?" Cutting through Telegraph Avenue and UC Berkeley's campus, as I was nearing home on Oxford St., I stumbled upon another character, a different kind of character – an activist dressed as a bee shouting through a loudspeaker "Do you like food?! If we kill the bees we won't have any! Save the bees!" And I snapped back to my love of Berkeley. "Oh yeah, most of the rest of the world could care less about that!"
Berkeley is most recognized for the Freedom of Speech Movement, for its protest behavior that reacts to the injustices of the world, and for being an incubator for forward diverse thought. From forward diverse thought comes positive change. And what does that have to do with anything? Well, to that it is no surprise that diverse forward influences – from activist protest and public expression, to urban surf culture and vintage sign art, to the multi-cultural density of the Bay Area – gave way to the exciting mixed-matched signature expression of the highly influential contemporary artist from San Francisco Barry McGee. Who has for a while viewed the city itself as a living space for art and activism by tagging on discarded public spaces, and who is now bringing the urban condition into the space of the gallery. Of course!
ART & FOUND OBJECTS (before)
ART INSTALLATION (after)