111 Minna Gallery proudly presents the latest solo show by master artist, James Charles. With his respects paid to a variety of known masters, Charles delivers a visual buffet, which highlights his vast understanding of mediums and technique. What is sure to be an oculus overload, this exhibition is sure to please.
James Charles is a diverse mixed-media artist working in the San Francisco Bay Area. Born in Seattle, Washington, in 1963 and raised in San Diego, California, he majored in painting at the San Francisco Art Institute in 1990, also earning the prestigious Sobel Memorial Scholarship in Printmaking.
Post-education, while residing in Los Angeles, he worked as a studio assistant to renowned artist, Lita Albuquerque, eventually assisting in helping to hang her retrospective show at the Santa Monica Museum of Art in 1990.
In the early 1990’s, working commercially as a sculptor, he co-founded Gentle Giant Studios, creating toy prototypes for Disney, Mattel, Hasbro, and many other toy industry leaders.
In 2003, while refocusing his talents back towards the creation of his own fine artwork, he began studying, and continues to practice, the ancient art of tattooing.
One of the founding members of the Oyster Pirate Collaborative Workshop in 2007 he now works and resides in Berkeley, CA. He presently exhibits work in galleries and museums across the country, as well as internationally.
“I draw inspiration from an eclectic background, where my direction has not only been shaped from studying at the San Francisco Art Institute, but also by working as a multi- instrumentalist musician, prop-maker and backdrop painter, a tattooist, and as a toy prototype sculptor for the likes of Disney, Mattel, Hasbro, among others. I’m excited by many art forms: Music, Drawing, Painting, Sculpture, etc., where styles, media, or genre can be mixed and/or crossed. I presently work in many styles, on large and small scale, mixed media paintings.
My paintings tend to reflect a lot of influences that I’ve soaked up through the years; they are steeped in pop culture, rock n roll, cartoons, tattoos, religion, mythology, and a bit of psychedelia, and possess what I guess I would call a sort of “sarcastic post-modern sense of humor;” with subject matter ranging from the serious and political, to the nonsensical and ridiculous.
A few years ago, I began a project; small in scale; but one which grew to be large in depth. I began drawing on dollar bills; altering presidents faces to become monsters, celebrities, etc. My first attempts were rough, but funny, and probably stemmed from my early childhood pastime of scribbling over people’s faces in magazines and newspapers.
I found ink and materials that accurately match what is used on the bank notes, and began to experiment with ways in which to alter the font and script along the bottom of the bills. It became the perfect way for me to title them; or to add or express my own commentary in a graffiti-like way. The more notes I worked on, the more I refined my techniques, and the more elaborate the pieces became. I became fixated on the way the President’s faces can be manipulated into almost any character, male or female, human or otherwise, while keeping the integrity and look of the banknote as intact as possible.
Each currency piece is a little piece of “artistic sleight of hand,” and the characters I choose to work with are iconic pop figures from all eras. Altering currency in this manner and transforming bank notes into works of marketable… “Art “, is purely satirical, and I really enjoy seeing viewers get intrigued, shocked, confused, and amused by the pieces. I also sometimes like to just recirculate altered pieces back into the local economy.
In the coming years, I plan to keep creating works both large and small, push myself to be as prolific as possible, keep exploring and developing new techniques, and most of all, keep having a lot of fun while doing it.” – James Charles