The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is proud to present the 2004 SECA Art Award and exhibition. On view from January 22 through May 15, 2005, the exhibition features work by Bay Area artists Rosana Castrillo Diaz, Simon Evans, Shaun O’Dell, and Josephine Taylor. Administered by the Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art (SECA), one of the Museum’s seven auxiliaries, the biennial award honors local artists of exceptional promise with an exhibition at SFMOMA, an accompanying catalogue, and a modest cash prize.
The SECA Art Award distinguishes artists working independently at a high level of artistic maturity and whose work has not yet received substantial recognition. This year, jurists considered nearly two hundred artists, working in a broad range of media, nominated by Bay Area art professionals, including museum and alternative-space curators, art school instructors, gallerists, critics, SECA members, and former recipients of the SECA award. The winners were selected by Janet Bishop, SFMOMA curator of painting and sculpture and Tara McDowell, SFMOMA curatorial associate, in dialogue SECA members.
Of this year’s award process, Bishop states, “As we reviewed our findings at the conclusion of the studio visits, we were struck by the strength of drawing, in particular, among artists currently working in the Bay Area—a situation that parallels contemporary art production in general right now. All four of these artists work in drawing as a primary medium, using ephemeral materials with great sensitivity to capture something of the complex and tenuous nature of contemporary experience, whether personal or collective.”
Rosana Castrillo Diaz’s 30-foot “drawing” made entirely of loops of cellophane tape spans the gallery wall like a delicate veil. Simon Evans looks at the idiosyncrasies of everyday life through intricate charts and diagrams whose intimacy evokes the voyeurism of encountering a found diary. Shaun O’Dell’s figurative images consider our relationship to nature and the resonance of various American myths within contemporary culture. And Josephine Taylor’s exquisite ink-and-colored pencil drawings address the psychological residue of childhood. While each artist takes drawing in an independent direction, their combined output reveals a directness of approach and modesty of means prevalent in contemporary art at the moment.
Since 1967, SECA has honored more than fifty Bay Area artists with its award program. Recent award recipients include John Bankston, Chris Johanson, Andrea Higgins, and Will Rogan (2002); Rachael Neubauer and Kathryn Van Dyke (2000); Chris Finley, Gay Outlaw, Laurie Reid, and Rigo 98 (1998); and D-L Alvarez, Anne Appleby, and Barry McGee (1996).
Rosana Castrillo Diaz
In her latest body of work, which includes large-scale, labor-intensive “drawings” made entirely of Magic or white graphic tape, Diaz explores “the breakdown of visual familiarity and comprehension.” Barely visible against the gallery wall, these web-like veils reveal themselves slowly, occupying a place between nonexistence and being. Diaz also makes traditional works on paper—drawings that explore fragments of visual images derived from recognizable objects, such as the printed page or the spiral edge of a notebook. In addition to a 30-foot wide cellophane-tape sculpture created specifically for the Museum’s third-floor landing, Diaz’s SFMOMA presentation will include a selection of recent drawings (graphite on paper) that feature representational still lifes of envelopes and index cards, or stacks of paper and folders shown in side view and close to actual scale.
A native of Spain, Rosana Castrillo Diaz received a B.F.A. from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1996 and an M.F.A. from Mills College in 2003.
A self-taught artist, Evans began his creative life as a writer before pursuing visual art. Inspired by his reading of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Evans was intrigued by the idea of approaching art as an explorer of the everyday; as such, he incorporates everyday materials such as paper, tape, ballpoint pens, and liquid paper in his works. His collage and assemblage pieces often take the form of lists, diagrams, or maps that reveal an archival impulse to sort and classify the chaos of human experience. The resulting works are often poetic, diaristic, humorous, and sometimes heartbreaking. Born in London in 1972, Simon Evans has lived and worked in San Francisco since 1994.
For the SFMOMA presentation, Evans will exhibit a selection of new works in a range of scale and media, including a work on paper covered with a constellation of holes from cigarette burns, each one meticulously labeled with handwritten text.
San Francisco-based artist Shaun O’Dell creates intricate, highly coded drawings, the elements of which recall the mythology of the American frontier and the spirit of conquest evoked by the nineteenth-century expansionist doctrine of Manifest Destiny. Such grand, sweeping themes have been distilled into a tightly honed iconography of crisply rendered glyph-like forms. The motifs in O’Dell’s vocabulary include log cabins, three-masted ships, peregrine falcons, and the heads of Puritan pilgrims or Daniel Boone-esque frontiersmen. These elements tend to suggest either the migratory movements of people and creatures or the staked claims of early homesteaders. Above all, O’Dell explores mankind’s longstanding fascination with nature—the desire to claim and master it—and the deep-seated effects of such drives on the collective psyche. O’Dell explains: “From early Puritanical sermon narratives to today’s SUV advertising, the American ideal of ‘self’ is enmeshed with our relationship to nature.”
The SECA Art Award exhibition will present a selection of O’Dell’s drawings that continue the artist’s elaborate excavation of national myths.
O’Dell was born in 1968 in Beeville, Texas, and received his M.F.A. from Stanford University in 2004.
Taylor’s work consists of large-scale, exquisitely rendered figurative drawings that, as she explains, “examine the emotional and psychological residue of childhood and adolescence.” Using diluted colored ink, colored pencil, and gouache, Taylor depicts a haunting personal history—a childhood fraught with physical and psychological trauma—with elements of self-portraiture and narration. Taylor’s work is deeply attuned to human relationships and the dynamics of tenderness, power, control, and the vulnerability that defines them. A native of Colorado, Josephine Taylor received a B.A. in religious studies and Hindi-Sanskrit from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and an M.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2003.
In conjunction with the exhibition, SFMOMA’s Education Department will present a free program featuring the 2004 SECA Art Award winners in conversation on Tuesday, February 1, noon to 1 p.m. in the Phyllis Wattis Theater. The event will be followed by a book signing at 1:30 p.m. in the MuseumStore where the SECA awardees will be signing copies of the exhibition catalogue, available in softcover for $7.95.
The SECA Art Award is funded by SECA, an auxiliary of SFMOMA. The cash prize is made possible by the Robert Huston Memorial Fund.