participatory wall installation by Indhira RojasSean Monaghan Sean Monaghan, Flag of Pit Stains, 2007Sean Monaghan, Flag of Pit Stains, 2007Sam Snowden, Nervous Breakdown (top), Point Break (bottom), 2007Sam Snowden, small drawings, 2008Kristina Grindle, The State of Being Mooned, 2008Justin Olerud, Carl (right), Searched (left), 2008Sean Monaghan + Lain Kay, 2008OpeningSchlitz Claiborne performanceSchlitz Claiborne performanceSchlitz Claiborne performance
Justin Olerud
Sam Snowden
Kristina Grindle
Sean Monaghan

July 25, 2008 – August 15, 2008

387 17TH STREET NO. 204

"Monkey see monkey do (I don't know why) rather be dead than cool"
(Lyrics from 'Stay Away' from Nirvana's 1991 Nevermind album)

MANIAC presents Rather Be Dead than Cool, a program presenting the early work of four emerging artists from the San Francisco Bay Area. Working in diverse, yet traditional (by contemporary measure) mediums ranging from painting, drawing, and installation, the development of these four young artists from the Bay Area offer an illumination and specific message of personal interiority to the overly abundant flash and brass of the current contemporary art world as the public has come to know it over the most recent years.

With 2007 hosting the largest numbers of art fairs in history, the notion of the contemporary art world has taken on a new definition in terms of being the most assessable (physically and visually) and the most inaccessible (origin and context) at the same time. The current-contemporary art world's strong linage to themes of instantaneous visual gratification (design friendly, fashion savvy) has lent a particular 'gloss' or 'glitter' to the contemporary art world that has multiplied quantity over quality in certain circumstances, and presented quandaries regarding the definition and relevance of fine art in the 21st Century. Compounding the message of the contemporary art world reaching a breaking point of saturation is the noticeable move away from the celebrity of the current contemporary art world by early-emerging artists for a further internalization working with conscious and personal content matter.

Using pop cultural icons of a near nature to represent a darker personal interiority, Justin Olerud and Sam Snowden both revive stills from early 80s punk concerts and late 70s cult videos through painting and large scale ink drawings to infer the development of memory and obscured cultural symbolism in the Western world through the eyes of emerging artists working from a post-Generation X point of view (otherwise classified as Generation Y), reclaiming elements of grunge, alluding to the cultural hallmark of the past thirty years.

Justin Olerud presents a body of work based primarily from captured VHS stills of the 1979 movie Over the Edge depicting suburban teenagers using excessive drugs and alcohol in rebellion over losing a recreational center in their desolate, quiet suburban town to suggest the culture of gender-crossing in the late 70s. Sam Snowden's paintings and various drawings feature concert scenes from the seminal political punk underground band Black Flag, portraitures of Vanilla Ice, and mug shots of OJ Simpson during his 1995 high profile court proceedings. Kristina Grindle's large scale ink drawings create concurrent worlds for the personal emblematic and the natural by redeveloping images of herself in reverse gender roles, garnished with elements of mannerist styled amphibians and flora, embossed peace signs, and associated embellishments. Sean Monaghan's 'Flag of Pit Stains' installation/performance piece is a flag comprised of armpit stained T-Shirts worn obsessively by participants over a long period of time. Monaghan's work is informed by a grunge aesthetic and his bio is stolen from early Nirvana press kits.

The opening night for Rather Be Dead than Cool will host a participatory wall installation designed by Indhira Rojas. Participants will be encouraged to reformat the title of the exhibition title on paper with their take on the current contemporary art world and add it to the wall.

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