Justin Giarla closes galleries, moves to Portland, allegedly screws over his artists

Justin Giarla. Photo by Lynn Friedman.
Justin Giarla. Photo by Lynn Friedman.

There was a time not to long ago when Justin Giarla loomed large over the street art/graffiti/low-brow art scene in San Fransisco. He owned three galleries simultaneously: White Walls Gallery, Shooting Gallery, and 941 Geary. All three closed quietly earlier this year, with their final shows opening in February. The building was sold. Last month, Giarla and his girlfriend Helen Bayly packed up their things, apparently abandoned his truck on the side of the road, and skipped town for Portland. That’s when the truth finally became public: Giarla hadn’t been paying his artists.

In a Facebook post that went viral, Ken Harman (owner of Hashimoto Contemporary and Spoke Art) claimed, “For years, Justin Giarla stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from artists who consigned works to Giarla’s gallery, White Walls / Shooting Gallery…  I don’t know if karma is a real thing (though I like to believe it is) but I do believe that [Giarla and Bayly] are sociopaths and criminals who prey on those who can’t defend themselves. If karma is real, you won’t hear me complaining.”

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Weekend link-o-rama

Kid Acne
Kid Acne at Village Underground in London

Sorry for the late link-o-rama. Caroline came to visit on Thursday, so I’ve been trying to stay offline.

Photo by HowAboutNo!

Pedro Matos at Shooting Gallery

The work that I’ve seen from this show has got to be Pedro Matos‘ best yet. On Saturday, Pedro’s solo show opens at Shooting Gallery in San Fransisco (7-11pm). The paintings for Ephemera tick a lot boxes for me: The portraits are interesting and well painted, Pedro has pulled off the faux-décollage style that is so difficult to do well and there’s of an influence from Specter‘s sign and fabric paintings. I’m very jealous of all of you in San Fransisco who will be able to check out Ephemera in person (and if you miss the opening, it runs through September 24th), but for the rest of us, here’s a taste:

Photos courtesy of Pedro Matos

Hush at The Shooting Gallery

The Shooting Gallery‘s have a solo show from Hush planned for next month. Hush is a skilled designer who can paint some very beautiful canvases. Maybe the content isn’t groundbreaking (not much art is), and isn’t the sort of thing that I am looking to hang on my walls, but I’m not about to dis Hush or the people who like collect his art. After all, it’s very-well executed and nice to look at. Should be cool to see his new direction. Plus, his stenciled geisha at the first Cans Festival was one of the highlights of the free-for-all stencil area.

The Shooting Gallery says:

The Shooting Gallery is proud to present Passing Through: New works by Hush. This exhibit honors the empowered modern women while celebrating the creative expression of street art. Please join us for the opening reception on Saturday, May 1st 2010, from 7-11 pm.

Hush uses a collision of Eastern and Western imagery to celebrate the modern woman. His manga inspired female forms speak of the strength and power that present day women own, confronting the viewer with a contemporary take on traditional figure painting. These anime women overlay a graffiti style background that references Western imagery in appreciation of cross-cultural influences of Asian culture and Western values.

Passing Through is a darker body of work visiting the concept of life and death.This progression on the part of Hush reveals deeper, more mature paintings. Following in suit with themes of the ephemeral, these works are inspired by Hush’s frequent travels and the graffiti he documents along the way. Each transient mark is evidence of one action and one creative expression, despite its gradual degradation over time.

Hush has developed a process of layering and defacing his canvases to mimic years of tags and wheat paste on a city wall. To begin, Hush covers the canvas with paint, graffiti tags, and collaged photocopies from graphic novels and old comics. He then uses blown up hand drawings of manga girls and screen prints them onto the canvas, embracing the medium’s imperfections by masking off specific parts to be hand painted in later. Hush paints and tags between screens to achieve a complex multilayered texture, defacing the work to reference the weathered, transient quality of street art.

Hush lives and works in the United Kingdom where he has shown extensively with Urban Angel (London) and Opus Art (London and Newcastle). His international repertoire extends to Scope Miami, Art Basel Switzerland, Fifty24SF Gallery (San Francisco), and Carmichael Gallery (Los Angeles).

Please join us for the opening reception of Passing Through: New Works by Hush on Saturday, May 1st, 2010, from 7-11pm. The exhibit will be on view through June 5th, 2010, and is open to the public.

Hush has also made a screenprint for this show. Looking West (above) is a 4 color screenprint on top of a giclee and has been printed as an edition of 50. It’s might be available for pre-order now at The Shooting Gallery for $400.

Interviews with Jonathan LeVine and Justin Giarla

There have been two very interesting interviews with gallery owners to go online in the last week.

First, Juxtapoz post a three-part profile/interview with Jonathan LeVine (of Jonathan LeVine Gallery). Here’s part one, and links to parts two and three are at the bottom of each post in the series. Before reading these, I knew that LeVine had been in the art game for a while and had to taste, but the Juxtapoz profile explains exactly how that all came together, which is pretty interesting.

And on Wednesday, The Shooting Gallery blog posted a Q&A with gallery owner Justin Giarla. Okay, yeah, that’s going to be a bit of a puff piece, but so is just about every art or music-related interview ever. With three galleries now, Justin has his own little empire in San Fransisco, but somehow he still manages to sell great art and be cool guy.