Christian Maychack's work

Practice Makes Perfect
Bay Area Conceptual Craft @ SoEx

By Maureen Hanratty
October 2005

Well-crafted, thoughtfully conceived Bay Area art gets its due at a diverse, cross-generational show at Southern Exposure Gallery. Practice Makes Perfect: Bay Area Conceptual Craft trades style for substance, youth for experience, and faux naivety for real chops. It restores the faith of those who wondered if the San Francisco art community had fizzled into a one-horse town.

Christian Maychack is a builder. Under their refined surfaces, the artist says, his site-specific sculptures are every bit as jerry-rigged as Lubell's machines. Continuing his series of architectural growths Maychack creates the illusion that the red bricks of the gallery's upper wall have expanded like a tumor and are tumbling down and colliding with the gallery's white walls below. Maychack's work pokes fun at the austerity of the gallery space and makes a good case for the fantastic and silly as tools for institutional critique. Cutting holes in the wall separating the gallery's office from its exhibition space, Scott Oliver too draws attention to the role of the gallery in directing what art we see and how we see it. I found it pretty, but generic. Oliver's critique of art vs. the business of art is staid and his piece looks more like a home makeover solution than dynamic, cutting-edge art.

This is far and away the best show the nonprofit space has put up in awhile. It raises the bar for the area's others art venues. Let's hope they take notice.