Swank, surreal socials revive city's passion
Thursday, February 17, 2005
By Jamie Windborne

CITYWIDE — Valentine events are best celebrated with anticipation for intimacy and the anxiety of passion, especially when hosting enticing socials in exciting spaces around the city. Among the noteworthy pre-Valentine gatherings I attended were a wine-tasting party at Fluid Ultra Lounge in the South of Market and a surrealism art show at The Shooting Gallery in the Tenderloin. After all, I required a little variety in my social escapades.

Next, I roughed passage through the Tenderloin to visit The Shooting Gallery for my dose of reality-bending artistic expression, otherwise known as the "Cine Delirio" surrealist show. Running through March 5, this experience in surrealism, according to the show's participants, makes "room in our minds for a new crop of artists to titillate our psyche and expand our dreamscapes with their own deliriums and visions." Enticingly enough, this would turn out to represent the other end of the Valentine's spectrum for me. After all, love is nothing if not surreal. And there is no greater love for me than ... art.

Justin Giarla, owner of The Shooting Gallery, said the surrealist exhibition, featuring the paramount work of Shawn Barber, Eric Joyner, Lee Harvey Roswell and Nathan Spoor, came together with a powerful unity in spirit and craftsmanship. "All four artists did an incredible job with their paintings for the show," he said. "I'm really pleased with the outcome."

Giarla said his gallery presents an eclectic variation of styles and mediums every month, including such works as photography, paintings, Pop art, lowbrow, erotica and more. "I change it every month to show you something that you can't see downtown," he said. "I simply show the artwork that I like, and that's why I opened the gallery."

Shawn Barber,, said the surrealism show is the first he's participated in where all the work has taken on a strong technical aspect toward painting. "This is one of the most unique shows I've seen here," the artist said. "Most of my works are self portraits and reflections of myself. They somewhat resemble how I am not always in control. I tend to show how the world is much more darker than what it was when I was a teenager."

Lee Harvey Roswell,, has been working with the gallery owner for three years, nurturing an intense Dali-esque presence at the space with such past exhibits as the "2nd Annual Erotic Show 2004", "Lee Harvey Roswell vs. Marco Almera" (New York Surrealist versus California Pop Artist), and "The Gun Show" (Weapon or Work of Art). Roswell's "The Rape of Psyche", oil on panel, is representative of a Dali-like discipline, but is distinguished by his own post-modern identity and direction. "I work mostly through spontaneous association, keeping myself open to random thoughts that might juxtapose such images as Dostoevsky's head with the Christ child and Madonna," he said. "The idea and image is blurry at first, but I become moved to solving this vision, making it clear. Ultimately the end result is something very personal."

Fellow surrealist Nathan Spoor,, takes a different approach to his imagery. In his acrylic on canvas creation "On Obligations, Whispers & the Like", he creates a paradox that is directed more toward the viewer than the artist. With tentacle-like limbs extending from a bewildering entity on his canvas, Spoor explains that the imagery coincides with the anxiety of his audience. "The painting represents a moment of anxiety where a decision must be made that will affect the rest of the viewer's life," he said while observing his work. "You're gonna make a decision that affects the rest of your life which is based on whether you enter or exit this character's world ... and her world is a little strange."

Yes, love is strange, whether it be for one's sweetheart or for the labor and dialogue invested into one's work of art. But the surrealism show became a most suitable study of growth and technical approach for us denizens of the city who attempt passionate expressions in intimate spaces.

The Shooting Gallery is located at 839 Larkin Street in the Tenderloin. Fluid, San Francisco's Ultra Lounge, is at 662 Mission Street.

"Cine Delirio" artist Nathan Spoor creates a paradox that is directed more toward the viewer than the artist in his acrylic on canvas creation "On Obligations, Whispers & the Like".