Mark A. Rodriguez is known for an uncanny approach to sculpture, where quotidian objects take on enchanted qualities that both conceal and reveal a certain liveliness. This exhibition serves as an accounting or inventory of previously made artworks as well as the opening up of new domains with the introduction of his latest works. The artist’s output is concerned with the symbolic meaning of cultural relics and how their power is affected or altered when they are reproduced as artworks. In this respect, his exhibition functions as an inventory of these systems of belief. Rodriguez relies on two decisive moments in a relic’s lifespan: when it becomes a significant cultural object, and later its procession into obscurity.
Rodriguez appropriates vernacular elements of Americana, utilizing traditional media such as woodworking and bronze to recreate objects of domesticity: lamps, napkin holders, TV dinner trays, dining tables, and cassette racks. In addition, he has produced a series of sign paintings of giant flowers. Persisting in the seemingly wholesome, hobby-like pursuits of his practice, Rodriguez continues to amass and produce his ever-expanding collections of Grateful Dead bootlegs. The signage display and the audiocassette racks operate as containers of positivity, existing as physical nodes tasked to produce feelings of immediate glee in the visual economy of the world. Once reproduced and displayed as artwork, those feelings of exhilaration are only amplified, shattering the work’s understanding into countless directions.
New works inAccount include a series of large-scale, freestanding paintings that the artist calls Pushons. The Pushons are abstract forms with faces of joy and ecstasy, painted in mostly blue and white. According to the artist, they are imagined as “bursts of light or pure energy that glide through space”, and exaggerated symbols of vitality. Their bodies are amoeba-like, expanding in all directions. The Pushons are related to the flowers in their euphoric expressions, but in their formlessness they exist apart from any content that might figuratively moor them.
A number of teal window shutters hang in a long row along the walls of the gallery, shaping a visual rhythm by wrapping the space. This new series of oil on redwood paintings, a single work by Rodriguez, were produced in the likeness of a pair of shutters the artist acquired from a Bay Area historian and Grateful Dead fanatic, who rescued them from the Winterland Arena in San Francisco before its demolition in 1985. The Winterland Arena played host to ice hockey games, boxing matches, political rallies, and finally Rock n’ Roll concerts throughout its lifespan. The Grateful Dead played the Winterland’s final show on New Year’s Eve in 1978. The venue sat in decay and dereliction for another six years before its demolition. The shutters reference this meaningful piece of West Coast cultural history and its eventual evaporation into a literal heap of garbage.