Junk Pirate Rocks

Yesterday, during a dialog at Sight School, Julia Hamilton mentioned the pleasure she found in familiar objects.

I experienced this delight, over and over, when I visited Junk Pirate, Pete Glover‘s solo show at The Compound Gallery. Glover works at a junk store (when he’s not co-directing Rowan Morrison Gallery with Narangkar Glover).

Over the years, he’s amassed an impressive collection of objects. He’s lovingly composed these objects into shadow boxes, picture frames and vitrines. The show is a collection of collections, filtered through an unabashed love of popular culture and humor. It’s like the garage sale of a fabulous window display artist.

Junk Pirate exhibition view, detail

The objects are nostalgic, curious, and insouciant. Some are truly visually arresting, particularly a composition of fluorescent orange water guns in a black shadow box. Art history buffs might enjoy a chuckle as they recall Claes Oldenburg’s Ray Gun Mfg. Co. in relation to this work.

Pete Glover's assemblage of orange water guns

A few works suggest glimmers of the transgressive or anti-social, such as a found photograph of a man with one eye, or a class photograph in which every kid’s portrait has an “x” drawn over it. But despite his participation in street/skate culture, Glover rarely indulges in cred-proving, candid “how effed is that” photos. His eye for the peculiar is more amusement-arcade than in-your-face.

In yesterday’s dialog, featured guest Glen Helfand suggested the idea of “added value.” That is, an artist might start with something cheap and through the investment of labor, creativity and display, the object gains value, both monetarily, visually, and perhaps psychologically. In contrast with the whimsy of oddities in Wunderkammers, Pete displays a fanboy’s attention to Complete Sets. This unabashed embrace of sentiment and nostalgic 80s amusements reveals itself in his devotion to tokens, cards, video game controllers and jokily branded popcorn bags. Kitsch, promotional collateral and residue of material life collide.

The show is largely about appropriation, popular memory, composition and display. Scented stickers, for example, are framed without glass to encourage interaction. The most successful works include vitrines of board game characters and “nipples” sorted by color. The results are graphic, striking, miniature and absorbing. These offer more to read, infer and return to.

What I love about Junk Pirate is that not all the cases are art. They are all clearly re-configurations of recognizable things. A few objects transcend their humble origins to become a dynamic hybrid of art/collections/decoration/keepsakes. In a brilliant stroke, Glover extended the gaming theme to the pricing of the works, so that a roll of a die determines the price to be paid. This reinforces the objects/collections non-art identities, and refers back to the chance in Glover’s procurement process of discovering and identifying treasures in mounds of detritus.

Junk Pirate is the Compound Gallery’s first show at its beautiful new location on 65th Street. The gallery is housed in a grand foyer complemented by lots of windows and two side bays: one holds a tiny gallery for drawings; the other houses Professor Squirrel Shop, an adorably appointed indie mart with properly twee décor and accessories for sale. Fittingly, Junk Pirate is sited perfectly between a commercial (albeit indie) venture, and an exhibit of fine art.

Art & Development

First Friday Openings

Lots of art-fun on Friday to look forward to! Just a matter of picking sides of the Bay; or being super ambitious and light of foot.


Groundswell opening at Kala Gallery
2990 San Pablo, Berkeley, CA
6-8 pm
A juried exhibition featuring Elliot Anderson, Mitra Fabian, Nathan Hodges, Suzanne Husky, Joan Margolies-Kiernan, Rebecca Najdowski, Jennifer Parker and Barney Haynes, and Emily Payne

Oakland Art Murmur
Various Galleries in and around downtown Oakland
6-9 pm
Krowswork is usually pretty interesting.

Junk Pirate at the Compound Gallery
1167 65th Street, Oakland, CA
7-10 pm
A solo show of reconfigured junk store items by Oakland artist, art impresario and zinester Pete Glover.

(Shameless self-promotion alert!)
Irrational Exuberance (Asst. Colors) at Sight School
5651 San Pablo (at Stanford), Oakland, CA
My solo show of new installation, sculpture and works on paper inspired by discount stores, the decorative impulse and positive psychology.

Here and Now kicks off with the first night of Elaine Buckholtz’ Out of the Blue (Mills Hall Reconsidered)
Mills Hall (c.1871), Mills College, Oakland, CA
Sunset to 10:00 pm
Admittedly, I’m presenting a project on June 5th in this series as well, but I think Elaine’s work is killer too.

The Oakland Museum of California is also open til 8pm. But it is every Friday and Saturday, would you believe?

The Residents perform at the Berkeley Art Museum
2575 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, CA
The galleries will also be open til 9pm.


Now and When opening reception at SFAC Gallery
Main Gallery and Grove Street, SF
6-8 pm
Newly-commissioned projects along the theme of time capsules by The Bureau of Urban Secrets, Joseph del Pesco, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Packard Jennings, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Ken Lo, Gay Outlaw & Bob Schmitz, Paul Schiek and Margaret Tedesco & Matt Borruso and Taro Hattori. Curated by Meg Shiffler.

Rehistoricizing Abstract Expressionism in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1950s-1960s, opening at the Luggage Store Gallery
1007 Market Street, San Francisco, CA
This show sounds killer. I love it when programming is ambitious. Villa, venerable SF artist and teacher, aims nothing less than to set the record straight on the presence of women and people of color in AbEx, largely seen as a field for macho cowboys.

Curated by CARLOS VILLA. This large scale exhibition creates and contextualizes an archive of women artists and artists of color who were undervalued because of the public and personal hegemonic social and aesthetic scrutiny at that time. Featuring 33 artists.