(Excerpts from the San Francisco Chronicle's Datebook "Pink Section")
by Kenneth Baker
Reading the artists' statements in "Criti-
cal Mass," I recalled some of the buoyancy I
felt when artists I knew were organizing in
Boston almost 25 years ago.
It seems that another group of artists
here has rediscovered that cooperation
feels better than competition (admittedly
not a self-evident truth in the money jungle
of corporate capitalist society). However,
the convention-bound rituals of art produc-
tion and presentation do not seem to be the
best way to transmit this awakening.
Two painters almost steal the show: Rik
V. Livingston and Jeffrey Bernstein.
Livingston makes pictures that find
common ground among motel art, greeting-
card humor and the noble traditions of
One diptych has Adam and Eve tossing
an apple back and forth in a sunny Eden, as
a smiling phallic flying fish floats overhead.
A tiny three-dimensional apple appears in
the real gap between the mythic original
Grafitti-painter-gone-legit Kenny Scharf
comes to mind when I look at some of
Livingston's goofy pictures. Livingston's
skill is hard to reckon, for he paints in the
manner of someone who has learned it
from correspondence courses, but has
bigger ideas. I take this to be a burlesque of
artistry (like Scharf's), but I could be wrong.
Livingston's most ambitious piece is
"The Dream Screen" (1992), a three-panel
folding screen on which he has painted a
fantasy merger of his living room and
Henri Rousseau's jungle picture, "The
Dream." Livingston (or his surrogate) ap-
pears, raising a glass, seated berobed
alongside Rousseau's nude on a couch.
Another "dream screen," a TV, com-
pletes the laborious, funny pun on Freud-
ian terms of art.