Opening Friday Jan 19th at Park Life Gallery / Ivan Uranga and Phil GoldwhiteJanuary 17th, 2018
Ivan Uranga and Phil Goldwhite
January 19th – February 18th, 2018
Park Life Gallery
220 Clement st
SF CA 94118
Toy soldier packs used to come with wounded figures. Some of them dead. Their
predicament locked in plastic perpetuity. As kids we incorporated these cruel, yet
honest, forms into our daily game. War is hell. Complex issues of good and evil
debated by nine-year-olds. Eventually, the fallen figures disappear from the
platoons at Walgreens, along with candy cigarettes and decent cap guns. The
hunger for magic remains.
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Further investigation. Reasonable obsession. A craving to be inside the figure we
hold in our hand. The desire to be dwarfed by the object. To experience the jewel.
Further. If we can’t get smaller, we’ll have to change our perspective. Embarking on
the fantastic voyage, we find a world of sculptural significance: folds and
expressions worthy of Rodin. Plastic figures with the soul and story of their bronze
counterparts. We document the trip. Come see the results.
The twist. Tracing the work of the unnamed hero. An attempt at recognizing the
creators of a million tiny sculptures. There would be no show if someone else
hadn’t made these figures in the first place. We don’t know the names behind the
majority of the art we interact with daily. A pleasant realization. We are surrounded.
Art everywhere. More great unknown artists than known. A change in perspective,
and their distinction emerges. Are we playing Gertrude? Marveling at the details?
Fearless art nerd meets returning immigrant. Good cop, bad cop. Not sure who’s
who. Phil knows thick book stuff and is willing to try anything. An MFA from RIT and
a garage full of tools testify. Ivan’s first commission was in fourth grade. Nude
figures in the bathroom stall of a South American private school. He made the
inevitable career choice and has the resulting sense of gentle urgency.
Their friendship: born in the splintered sunlight of UC Santa Cruz. Performing in a
local band destined to stay local (although one member did manage to slip out and
win a Grammy). Life as art. Owning nothing. Reveling in the cultural detritus of the
80’s. Phil and Ivan deepen their bond. A time of listening and exploring. A chicken
roasting contest cements the art partnership. The Yardbird Social, with its coveted
golden wishbone, catapults a flurry of silkscreens and found paint. Here begins a
common thread in their art: use what is available. The artistry of flow and nonconsumption.
Tom Gilmore, founder of LA’s Main Museum, is their first patron. He fuels
Downtown Art Night Los Angeles and gives the boys carte blanche. For months the
evenings fill with images of the Basin’s past and present. From basket weavers to
Jack in the Box, from saber teeth to Ponch, John, and beyond. Tom validates their
art and waters seeds of subsequent work. The pair are eternally grateful.
The partnership spills into a no-budget movie. “Brothers in the Wind” is made in
one day on an abandoned orchid farm. Dark biker pulp. Of Mice and Men on
wheels. Ivan plays the myopic director. Phil plays Lennie and mumbles about bad
people. A German woman will later approach Phil as he is selling merchandise
from the movie. She holds up a three-piece “Dream Stealer” outlaw patch kit. “Who
would think of such a thing?” she asks, aghast. The stealing of dreams. Phil agrees.
Ivan basks in the glow.
Phil lives in Los Angeles and teaches art at Mount Saint Mary’s University. Ivan
lives in San Francisco and just completed a public exhibition entitled “Summer of
Love – Trading Cards”, a poster series in collaboration with artist Kate Haug,
sponsored by the San Francisco Arts Commission. Living an hour by plane from
each other, Phil and Ivan continue their constant dialogue through custom van
pictures and coffee-driven conversation.
The art game is hard. They admire those who brave it without a partner. Like
raising children alone. Luckily, they have each other. Common bonds. Helpful
differences. Agreeing most of the time. Grateful when they don’t. Comrades in the
wilderness. Art the product.