Northern California picks from Vanessa Perez Winder

Cliff Notes

Each week, our regional Cliff Notes columnists Mariah Green, Vanessa Perez Winder, Jas Keimig, and Sam Wrigglesworth pick the most exciting events and exhibitions on the West Coast.

Liz Hernández and Argelia Rebollo: “En el país de la memoria” 
pt. 2, Oakland, CA
October 28, 2023 to December 2, 2023 
Walkthroughs with the artist November 11 & 18 

In her latest show at pt. 2, Oakland-based artist Liz Hernández presents new sculptural works alongside and in response to a collection of linen paintings made by her late great-aunt Argelia Rebollo, a skilled and passionate amateur artist and translator who migrated to California from Mexico in the 1950s.

In the texts accompanying the show, Hernández describes the complex feelings of discovering the memory of Rebollo and the artist’s exploration of her aunt’s ephemeral archive of personal items, relics, and artworks. She writes tenderly about her newfound relationship with someone part of her lineage, in whom she can see herself reflected but will never get to meet, pondering its limits and asking, “how far can you recover a memory that is not yours?”

Hernández’s meditative, delicate relief etchings in rusted metal and stone, as well as the installation works, find a natural home in Rebollo’s surrealist and symbolic painted scenes of self-reflection, domesticity, and femininity. In dialogue, they transcend temporal boundaries, bridging gaps between a speculative past and present within the emotional terrain “in the country of memory,” as the title suggests. Hernández is an incredible and intriguing artist and I appreciate her generosity in sharing this part of her inheritance with us. 

Reflection: Who are you in dialogue with from your past? What role do they play in your future?

Charles Lee: sweat + dirt 
Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture, San Francisco, CA 
Presented by SF Camerawork 
November 10, 2023 to February 3, 2024

In his first solo exhibition, sweat + dirt, artist Charles Lee presents a new collection of black and white photographs and mixed media works exploring contemporary Black rodeo culture. Photographed between Louisiana, the South and Central valleys of California, and the Bay Area, Lee’s images of Black cowfolk and ranch workers not only deconstructs myths around who “belongs” in rural U.S. but also affirms the longstanding role of Black communities as developers and guardians of culture. 

Evoking meditations on country life and its evolution through geography and time, Lee’s work goes beyond representational equity and inclusion. There’s a level of care embedded within his portrayals that is invested in the futures of his subjects and attends to their self-determining power. 

Reflection: How do you practice unlearning myths? What obscured histories do you feel compelled to unearth? 

Duane Linklater: mymothersside
Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, CA
October 7, 2023 to February 25, 2024

Mymothersside, Duane Linklater’s (b. Omaskêko Cree, Treaty 9 territory) first major survey currently on view at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, presents a series of sculptural, textile, and video works that draw upon his ancestral traditions alongside the complexities and tensions inherent in contemporary Indigenous life “within and beyond settler systems of knowledge, representation, and value.” 

This idea is foregrounded in the materiality of his works, their curation, and direct intervention into the architecture of the gallery space, a literal and metaphoric excavation of memory. His gorgeous linen works and large accompanying tepee structures fill most of the space, printed on digitally but hand-dyed with culturally significant organic materials. Meanwhile, his 3D print translations of tribal objects and video work of hunting, gathering, and fur-trading practices are paired with mundane objects and references to his youth in the 80s. 

The show is aesthetically kind of brilliant. Linklater explores institutional critique, ancestral reverence, visual histories, and autoethnography through a fusion of beautiful shapes, textures, colors, heights, and symbolic gestures in a way I think everyone should sit with for a little bit. 

Reflection: How do you carry out your own aesthetic of insurgency against the logics of settler colonialism?

Final note from Vanessa:

As I write this, it is Day 32 of Israel’s U.S. funded genocidal attacks on the people of Gaza with no ceasefire in sight. I encourage everyone reading this to continue calling, agitating, organizing, boycotting, reading, listening, and amplifying. The struggle for Palestinian liberation is not something that is now, it is enduring. Our struggles as oppressed people are deeply interconnected and I sincerely hope that we can continue to harness our love and collective rage in political solidarity with one another. 

We’re here because of you.

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