A San Francisco art gallery just completed a successful and welcomed exhibit featuring the work of several artists from Merced.
For the An.ä.log Gallery (also known as “an.ä.log SF”) in the heart of the city’s Mission District, the nearly two-month-long exhibit — titled “Far Out” — was a chance to offer Bay Area dwellers some provocative perspectives from the rural Central Valley, and its own culturally diverse communities.
The S.F. gallery is located at the bottom of a beautiful, peach-colored Victorian home at 886 Capp Street. The garage doors — painted a rich chocolate brown and decorated with jagged colorful triangles — serve as the main entrance and set the studio apart from the main house. At the entrance, visitors will find a carved “ä” that confirms your arrival. Once inside, they will discover the “underground, community exhibits” that the An.ä.log Gallery prides itself on.
Since 2019, Guy Campbell, home and gallery owner, and Don Ross, exhibition curator, have showcased a wide variety of Bay Area artists in the intimate space. Apart from the gallery, the studio also houses a small coffee bar and an outdoor patio area to enjoy.
“Our exhibition space was created with an emphasis on openness and accessibility,” Campbell and Ross said in a statement. “Especially to artists who may have had little exposure within the traditional “culture industry.”
The “Far Out” exhibit was born by chance. Local Merced artists, Eddie Rodriguez and Goku Mcafee, had been traveling to San Francisco, in and out of galleries, trying to make connections with owners and artists in hopes of bringing Central Valley artwork to the city scene.
“We met up with a couple other friends on the Mission and took them to some of the galleries we’ve been to,” Goku said. “It just so happened that anälog was open. It was one of the galleries we haven’t been to enough — although it was one of the first galleries we saw just before the pandemic. We’ve become great friends since then. Guy opened up his home to me, my friends, and family. The talks we have had about life and art are always awesome. Both Guy and Don Ross are awesome people, the fact that Guy gutted the bottom half of his building to have a gallery for artists is just so dope. I love the energy of that gallery and how they’re more open to diverse up-and-coming artists.”
The connection with an.ä.log was made by chance, but oh has it blossomed into something beautiful. After their first meeting, Rodriguez and Goku invited Campbell and Ross back to Merced to introduce the two to the work and talent the Central Valley has to offer.
“From the moment Don got to Merced to the moment he left, we were visiting different shows and studios — and running into artists, which for me was a dream come true,” Rodriguez happily explained. “He was amazed. He could not believe the art community we had here. …
“I was so happy. So happy. It felt like our work was finally paying off.”
Campbell and Ross both explained: “Eddie Rodriguez and Goku Mcafee were instrumental in helping us visualize this exhibition. As we visited artists studios in the Central Valley and brought back timely and compelling works. It represents only part of the fertile, Merced-area artist community.”
They described “FAR OUT” as: “A show that takes its name not only from the geographical distance to the San Joaquin Valley and surrounding areas where these artists and this particular work hails from, but also from the collective surreal or dream-like nature of the work itself.”
The exhibit featured 11 Central Valley artists that hail from different backgrounds and work with different mediums. They represented a variety of age groups and different levels of experience, and they all were proud to showcase their artwork together under the same roof, in the big city.
For this edition of Free Times, each local artist has taken the time to write a statement about their contribution to “FAR OUT,” and what they hope this step forward means for the art community in Merced.
People say the grass is greener on the other side, but that is not the case for Merced’s Art Community! Due to the efforts of Eddie Rodriguez, a fair amount of Merced artists were shown in a San Francisco art gallery. Over the years, living in the art community of Merced, I have seen strives in the development of local art. This is due to the great teachers and art professors in Merceds high schools, Merced College, and UC Merced. We have a great change in the development and improvement in our local community. The beautiful murals inside and outside of buildings, the electrical boxes, and now- a great group of local artists are being shown in the city of San Francisco! Our beautiful artwork has been exhibited and many of them have sold! I am humble to be part of that art group and am very proud of my fellow artists. A good part of the artists are also from the art group, CHAA, the Contemporary Humanitarian Artists Association. I feel that Valley artists are just as confident and talented as any artist in the state, the country, and the world. I truly believe that! The grass is very green here in Merced County!
I was part of this exhibition thanks to the support and insistence of my friend Eddie Rodriguez, who pushed me and other artists to submit artwork for this show in San Francisco. This wouldn’t have happened without the good relationships and contacts that Eddie has built through years of hard work and amazing communication skills. He’s an incredible human being.
My art piece was based on one of the many sleep paralysis experiences I had over the years.
The Fantasy of Existence.
Have you ever had the feeling of death crawling up your body while sleeping? It’s when you’re asleep and want to wake up, but you can’t move because there’s “someone” who won’t let you move. It has happened to me, and sometimes I wonder: What is life without death, and what is death without life? Why does life matter when people say death is life, that we live eternally? So, is existence death? And our dreams, where do they go?Where do they come from? Why do we dream? What do we dream for? Is life a dream? I want to wake up, but I can’t move. I’m paralyzed. I know death is playing with me. She whispers in my ear, “life is a fantasy.”
I feel that we here in the Merced area can compete with the artists that dwell in the big cities! We also have things to say and display. The art at the show is on par with other art in galleries within San Francisco. This is significant because Merced is thought to be a small conservative community that normally produces “diabetic” art! As for myself it is a definite milestone. I spent countless years never being given the opportunity to show my work. For me to have my art on display in San Francisco, and it being sold, is a definite coming of age.
This is a wonderful opportunity for some Merced area based artists to get some opportunity and acknowledgment from the Bay, the folks at Analog Gallery are excellent people. For many of us, it has been a long time coming. As you might have heard, some UCM reps visited to show and purchased multiple works. This is great, but it took some recognition from someone outside the Valley to give our work some legitimacy for the UC to take notice. It could have simply been timing, either way, all of us involved feel thankful and blessed to have been included.
Where do I start? First I just like to say that I’m so incredibly proud and absolutely Enjoy showing in the city with my friends and contemporaries. I’m hyped that all the artists are from the Central Valley with the majority being from my hometown Merced . Seeing my work up on the walls after just becoming an artist and dedicating myself in 2019 feels hella validating even if I don’t need it, it feels good. I feel so much closer to my goals of showing internationally and having exhibits in museums. This show at anälog means so much to me. I recall the first time I walked past anälog Gallery during the shutdown. I put a painting in front of it and made a fun video.
Anälog feels open minded to explore. I love that. Much thanks to the curation of Don Ross. He does have excellent taste.
Eddie Rodriguez, coming from the art world, knew how to make that connection with Guy & Don . The friendship we established made a show possible. So I know this is a big deal for him as well and I’m sure it’s just as validating for the efforts put forth in establishing a connection between the Bay Area and the Central Valley. I hope the fruits of friendship bear many more shows like this. I have a feeling things are just getting started.
I’m Happy to be a Merced Martian in the big city.
My artwork and craftsmanship are a cross between adolescent memories of my father and grandfather — who were sign painters and pinstripes– and nature, and with my grandmothers, who were soft and feminine. I enjoy deconstructing my thoughts and memories and rearranging them in a way that is both pleasing and vaguely familiar to my audience. I make paintings, illustrations and graphics using bold outlines, strokes and shapes.
This work is an interplay of space and simple repetition, always changing, framing the environment in small fleeting ways with the interplay of light.
My work explores my personal experiences with trauma, identity, gender and sexuality. I use art to say the things I have trouble speaking about. It is a way to affirm and manifest my thoughts into reality. My art is an attempt to sort out who I am and to process my own experiences. It is ultimately a visual library of myself.
Life is not a straight line. If it were, imagine the opportunities we’d miss. My artwork considers closely the relationship between line and space using color to illuminate
the exchange between the two. The wandering line work has come to represent pathways, life’s
journey, bridges we cross, the fluidity of life and the choices we make or are made for us.
People weave in and out of our lives. They walk beside us, carry us or just bump into us for a
season. This can be a most interesting and unexpected journey.
When I first moved to the Central Valley, I was recovering from a health condition that rendered me bedridden for over four years. My new health limitations and new environment lead me to try a new form of painting. I gave myself one rule: I could use anything that was not a brush. The portraits in this show are of four musicians whose music kept me company while I laid in bed. The fifth portrait is of my tia Tina, one of the few people I was in contact with toward the end of that period. Each holds its own personal story, both in approach and in relation to the subject.