Pancho Jimenez, Impressions & Revelations, Jenkins Johnson Gallery, San Francisco, June 4-July 2, 2022 (published by, 6/11/22)

Pancho Jiménez, "Impressions & Revelations"
by DeWitt Cheng
Pancho Jiménez, “Progression #1-5," ceramic, 8" diameter;10" diameter; 10" diameter; (l. to 4.) 12 x 10 x 10"; 10 x 14 x 11"
Jenkins Johnson Gallery, San Francisco, California
Continuing through July 2, 2022
With a seemingly endless supply of reports of catastrophes assailing us — freak weather, gun massacres, corporate corruption, and fascist putsches — nervous doomscrolling has become a fact of current American life — at least for those with a strong enough gut not to tune out in defeat. Remember when post-apocalyptic fantasies were innocent fun? I remember seeing the “Warheads” ceramic sculptures of Robert Arneson during the militaristic Reagan 1980s and admiring their combination of politics and aesthetics, Jonathan Swift’s saeva indignatio (fierce indignation) expressed with over-the-top, take-no-prisoners comic ferocity. Tell us what you really think, Bob.
Pancho Jiménez, “Fulfilled,” 2019, ceramic, 23 x 10 x 9”
The ceramic sculptures of Pancho Jiménez in “Impressions & Revelations” continue the Bay Area tradition of ceramic satire, but in a subtler vein, minus Arneson’s larger-than-life polemical brio, but no less meaningfully or effectively. The neutral presentation of Jiménez’s pseudo-artifacts — featuring cute mass-market imagery jumbled together as if caught by fire, flood, earthquake, or lava flow, and covered with a glaze that suggests amber-trapped insects — lets us do the interpretive work rather than accede passively to the artist’s dictates. Post-apocalypse now, if you want it.
The ten free-standing pieces placed on pedestals and the nine wall-mounted reliefs in the show could easily be taken by a cursory viewer as brilliantly colored archaeological artifacts. Jiménez uses massive, compressed forms to contain his cultural plasmas, made from commercial molds used for what used to be deemed kitsch — figurines and tchotchkes — at least before A-list artists embraced low-class motifs for high-class patrons. Easy irony is not the point of Jiménez’s cultural critique, however. He conflates the past in the form of tripods, plaques and other ceremonial artifacts; the present with his mass-market decorations; and a hypothetical future in which these transtemporal works (or ruins of works) can be surveyed by a perhaps wiser, gentler race of survivors.
The artist depicts America’s current mass culture of easy fun, historical amnesia, and incessant distraction in the wider context of history: sub specie aeternitatis, under the guise of eternity, in the “eternal present” of art, especially the ancient pre-Columbian art that has long fascinated the artist.
The idea of geometric wholes, broken or eroded to reveal their innards, was employed by the Italian sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro. Jiménez revives it — with a pop-culture dimension — to good and timely effect. “Cenotes” is a three-legged glazed ocher sculpture that suggests the bronze tripods of ancient cultures, as well as a giant’s molar, yellowed by time. Where the tooth’s nerves should be, encased in dentine, are deep cavities in which we discern composite mechanical parts thrown together, like rubble encased in Roman concrete. Cenotes are sinkholes in limestone that have been flooded with fresh water that are found in the Yucatán peninsula. A circle of them surrounds the Chicxulub meteor crater. 
Pancho Jiménez, “Nucleus," 2017, ceramic, 26" diameter
Pancho Jiménez, “Gaze," 2022, ceramic, 13 x 13 x 3 1/2"
“Gaze” is a purplish-gray glazed circular wall plaque in low relief, covered by faces cast from molds, their eyes closed, with the boundary between the faces suggestive of a stylized closed eye. The totality resembles the ommatidia-faceted eyes of flies and dragonflies. “Nucleus” is a large reddish-orange sphere covered by impacted tchotchkes that suggests a world overtaken by trash and trivia, while its formal obverse, the five smaller “Progression” sculptures, suggest a sequence of explosions from within as a delicately textured spherical cell sacrifices itself in order to replicate. Jiménez's five bleached-white plaques of internet company logos — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat — posit an archaeology of the ephemeral, and would make for wonderful tiles in some future corporate temple done à la Frank Lloyd Wright.

Gale Antokal "Intensity of Silence" at Sanchez Art Center, Pacifica, June 3-26, 2022

Gale Antokal's body of work, on view in the Main Gallery, is aptly titled Intensity of Silence. Intensity is defined as extreme degree of strength, force, energy or feeling. The drawings made with graphite, flour, ash and pastel on paper are forceful in their quietude. The medium addresses the artist's personal iconography, with ash the finite end of all material, while flour is the sustenance of life. Antokal shares that the vulnerability of her materials "serves as a metaphor for the human condition that has potential of being erased and can vanish in a brief moment”.

Her images on the paper appear in a space that is undefined evoking a sense of mystery that invites the viewer to linger trying to discern what's beyond the edges. In Place 6, a solitary rower is centered on the paper in such a way that you think you can hear the quiet gentle rhythm of the oars in the water. One wonders is the background clouds or trees on the shore? Where has the individual come from and where they are going? Are there others?

Inspiration is taken from photographic collections in books and online archives, with figures and transportation conveyances seemingly from another time and a place that once was, though the artist has noted that recent works are motivated by stories of recent war, trauma migration and loss.

Gale Antokal was born in New York, New York, and received her BFA (1980) and MFA from the California College of the Arts in 1984. In 1992 Antokal received a Visual Arts Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She is a Professor Emeritus at San Jose State University in the Department of Art and Art History. Antokal held several visiting artist positions and teaching positions including the San Francisco Art Institute, Instructor of Art History at the Lehrhaus Institute, and the American College in Jerusalem. She was an affiliate faculty member in the JSSItaly program in Civita Castellana, Italy in 2015.

The public is invited to enjoy a conversation between Gale Antokal and Richard Whittaker (founder, Works & Conversations) on Sunday, June 26, 3:30 pm. This talk is presented through Sanchez Art Center's free art education and engagement programming.

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, through June 26. For more information, email, or call 650.355.1894.