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Robt. Williams: Slang Aesthetics and New Imagists in the Southwest

Wednesday Oct 12, 2016

Additional Dates:

1050 Old Pecos Trail
Santa Fe, NM

Phone: (505) 982-1338

Renowned artist Robert Williams showcases over 60 drawings and paintings alongside thirteen painters working in the pop-surrealist, lowbrow, street art style. Runs through 11/27.

The Center for Contemporary Arts (CCA) is pleased to announce the presentation of the exhibition Robt. Williams: Slang Aesthetics! opening on Friday, September 23, 2016 with a CCA Members’ Preview 5-6pm followed by a public reception 6-8pm. The exhibition is on view September 23 through November 27, 2016. This exhibition is guest curated by Meg Linton and made possible by The Gale Family Foundation.

SLANG AESTHETICS! is the first-ever solo exhibition in New Mexico of Albuquerque-born and raised artist Robert Williams (b. 1943) and features over 60 drawings and paintings from 1995-present, and highlights from his days at Zap Comix. As well as being a painter, Williams is the founder ofJuxtapoz Art & Culture Magazine, one of the highest circulating art magazines in the country. As a young man in the 1950s, he started drawing, designing, and customizing hotrods and was an active member of the Rickshaws Car Club in Albuquerque. Williams pursued a career as a fine arts painter years before joining the art studio of Ed “Big Daddy” Roth in the mid-1960s. And as his position as the famous custom car builder’s art director, he also worked in the rebellious, anti-war circles of early underground comix.

In 1979, Williams was the artist who brought the term “lowbrow” into the fine arts lexicon with his ground breaking publication, The Lowbrow Art of Robt. Williams. From this point on, he has been known as the seminal figure of West Coast Outlaw culture with his provocative image-laden, irreverent, and humorous narrative paintings about greed, vanity, and all manner of human and societal frailty and perversion.

Williams has an impressive career and his paintings and drawings have caused much controversy over the years. His work was protested when it was included in the landmark exhibition Helter Skelter: L.A. Art in the 1990s (1992) at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles organized by Paul Schimmel. Most recently, Williams’ work was included in the 2010 Whitney Biennial; he had a solo-exhibition at Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery in 2015; and Slang Aesthetics! is traveling to the Fort Wayne Museum of Art

in 2017. Williams is also the subject of the documentary Robt. Williams: Mr. Bitchin’ that premiered in 2010 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), in 2011 at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and is going to screen in CCA’s Cinematheque on Sunday, September 25, 1pm followed by a Q&A session with the artist and director.


About the Exhibition

New Imagists in the Southwest features the work of thirteen artists, who were selected from an open call to artists residing in the Southwest and who paint and draw in the pop-surrealist, lowbrow, street art style fostered by publications like Juxtapoz, High Fructose, and Beautiful Decay. Jurors Meg Linton and Angie Rizzo agreed that, “These types of open calls are always a wonderful way to learn about new artists and it was a pleasure to see so much challenging and provocative imagery.” The artists included in the exhibition are: Alejandro Augustine Padilla, Carly Veronica, Chad Danger Lindsay, Gaspar Salazar-Mendez, Israel Haros, JL Johnson, Jodie Herrera, Joerael Julian Elliot, Max Neutra, Melissa Parra Morrow, Petro, Roxana Tuff, and Zane White. Rizzo goes on to say: “While it is always an enjoyable process to see a such a remarkable cache of new work, it is difficult to narrow down a selection.” This exhibition is organized in conjunction with Robt. Williams: Slang Aesthestics! in the CCA Munoz Waxman Gallery, September 23-November 27, 2016. 

About the Jurors

Meg Linton is a curator and innovative thinker in the field of contemporary visual art whose career has spanned more than two decades working with emerging and established artists, curators, and institutions. She has organized hundreds of exhibitions, public programs, and edited/published dozens of catalogs. She was most recently the Director of Galleries and Exhibitions for the Ben Maltz Gallery at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles (2003-14). The breadth of Linton’s institutional vision has taken her into working within an extremely wide spectrum of artists and media. Her projects have ranged from historical investigations such as Doin’ It in Public: Feminism and Art at the Woman’s Building (part of the Getty’s initiative Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980), The Los Angeles School: Karl Benjamin, Lorser Feitelson, Frederick Hammersley, June Harwood, Helen Lundeberg, John McLaughlin, and In the Land of Retinal Delights: The Juxtapoz Factor to showcasing the work of single artists as stylistically different but as important as Alison Saar, Shahzia Sikander, and Joan Tanner, to organizing large thematic exhibitions such as Meticulosity, Do It Now: Live Green!, and Tapping the Third Realm.

Angie Rizzo is CCA’s Visual Arts Curator. She has a diverse background in the arts includes administration, education, conservation and an active personal practice. Angie has participated in the Getty Multicultural Internship Program, the Babayan Cultural Art Residency program (Cappadocia, Turkey) and Art Conservation de Rigueur (San Francisco, CA). Rizzo’s professional experience includes Saint Elmo Village, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE), The Community Arts Partnership, and Machine Project. In 2012, Angie co-founded SuperLow Gallery, an alternative artist space and gallery in San Francisco that promoted freedom of artistic experimentation. Angie is a passionate supporter of the arts and dedicated to the growth of contemporary arts in the Santa Fe community. Angie holds a BFA from CalArts (California Institute of the Arts).