Dewey Crumpler notes, "the work I've been doing over the last 35 years really operates within a kind of fluidity. It oscillates, whenever it decides, between metacism, abstraction, and any particular dialogue that reinforces my intentions." The work showing at Sanchez Art Center represents both the Container Series that the artist has long been engaged with, and Language Works (dialogue or word series) that has also been a continuing theme, where the use of language is elevated as a very important part of this journey. Fluidity is an essential aspect of its development.
Crumpler (born 1949, Arkansas) grew up in the Fillmore, Hunters Point, and Bayview neighborhoods of San Francisco, attending Balboa High School, known as an arts magnate school, graduating in 1967. He received his BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1972, his MA from San Francisco State University, and an MFA from Mills College. He worked as an Associate Professor of painting at the San Francisco Art Institute.
Well known as an artist, muralist and educator, Crumpler drew all the time as a kid. He drew stories of war, tanks and superheroes. And, for an art contest, he drew on a large piece of butcher paper the story of Johnny Appleseed. This piece won the competition and was hung for everyone at school to see, and was possibly the precursor to his large scale visual storytelling that continues today.
In the late 1960s, when San Francisco's George Washington High School's mural "Life of Washington" was first challenged for removal, a twenty-something Crumpler was tapped to create new murals in response. Crumpler continues to stand against the destruction of the original Victor Arnautoff mural, noting, "All the conversations and emotions stirred up by a work of art are part of what that work of art means. My mural is part of the Arnautoff mural, part of its meaning, and its meaning is part of mine. If you destroy his work of art, you are destroying mine as well".
Fluidity includes several large scale mixed media works on canvas, along with a collection of smaller works on canvas and a collection of pieces made with liquid rubber on paper. The Container series, seeped with personal memory from years in the Bayview when the artist became interested in ports and would paint plein air, reflects decades of witnessing, contemplating and documenting shipping containers — the ubiquitous scenery of the East Bay that dominate the landscape.
In these works, Crumpler asks us to consider how goods transported globally via ships and ports might open up other histories of destruction and creation. Recognizing and documenting these monumental objects as a statement of globalization, capitalism and voracious consumerism, the shipping containers become metaphors for both the present and past. Crumpler has shared, "At the heart of these works is memory."
For additional insight into the artist and his work, come to the Artist/Curator Talk on closing Sunday, August 20 at 3:30 pm.
Special Event Sun, Aug 20
3:30 pm Artist/Curator Talk
Sanchez Art Center is located at 1220 Linda Mar Blvd in Pacifica, about a mile east of Highway 1. Following opening night, the galleries are open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 1–5 pm, and by appointment, through Aug 20.
The opening, talks, and gallery visits are free as part of the center's focus on "Creating Community through Art".