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Brooklyn Street Art

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Barry McGee Mid-Career Retrospective at Berkeley Art Museum

Posted on August 28, 2012

“Barry McGee” Opens at UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

After witnessing Mr. McGee working on his vast installation of the “Street Market” last year for the LA MoCA “Arts in the Streets” exhibit, we can imagine him working steadily and quietly, half meander and half engineer, on this retrospective of his prolific career so far.

He likes a certain colorful eye-popping clutter, in an ordered way that makes sense and envelops even as it unfolds. Words, signage, objects, color, patterns, characters, odes to freight riding and garbage sifting, finding gold in a dumpster – part of the DIY ethos and graphic designer’s hand that took hold among the many Street Artists who followed his 1990s San Francisco forays from graffiti.

Barry McGee (photo © Gareth Gooch 2012)

“Throughout his career,” writes Alex Baker in the exhibition catalog, “Barry McGee has continued to surprise and contradict expectations.” Time passes, his tags and monikers cycled through, and this is now called “mid-career”, an exhibition of the timeline up until this splattered dot.  Bringing the street and the studio and the exhibitions under one large roof, the generous McGee gives us a huge attic of curiosities, a treasure-filled, salon-style, tag-burnished buffet.

We are happy to know that this exhibition will travel to ICA in Boston next spring. We will be there.

We want thank photographer Gareth Gooch for sending these exclusive images for BSA readers from his time spent with Barry as the artist worked throughout the museum galleries to install the show.

 ‘The huge dripping “SNITCH” tag on the exterior of the brutalist concrete Berkeley Art Museum exterior was my first sign that this was going to be a truly great exhibit. Among all the visual sensory stimulation, at our first introduction I was impressed with Barry’s attention to his guest. In the crunch of finalizing the installation to open in a few hours, Barry was calm and generous with his time allowing me to shoot without restrictions.

The beautiful concrete and glass galleries were filled with paintings, installations and collections of multiple works in such proliferation, I had to wonder if he ever slept! The scale of work from small ephemera collections to his signature large scale installations with life sized “taggers” and upended FONG TV delivery van and store fronts was awesome! His work is so unique and eclectic, I honestly felt I was in the presence of a modern master!” – Gareth Gooch

Barry McGee (photo © Gareth Gooch 2012)

Barry McGee (photo © Gareth Gooch 2012)

Barry McGee (photo © Gareth Gooch 2012)

Barry McGee installation. (photo © Gareth Gooch 2012)

Barry McGee (photo © Gareth Gooch 2012)

Barry McGee (photo © Gareth Gooch 2012)

Barry McGee (photo © Gareth Gooch 2012)

Barry McGee (photo © Gareth Gooch 2012)

Barry McGee (photo © Gareth Gooch 2012)

Barry McGee (photo © Gareth Gooch 2012)

Barry McGee (photo © Gareth Gooch 2012)

Barry McGee (photo © Gareth Gooch 2012)

Barry McGee (photo © Gareth Gooch 2012)

Barry McGee (photo © Gareth Gooch 2012)

Barry McGee (photo © Gareth Gooch 2012)

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Barry McGee at BAM/PFA is organized by Director Lawrence Rinder, with Assistant Curator Dena Beard and will run through December 9, 2012. http://bampfa.berkeley.edu/

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