Before her third solo show at I-20 Gallery, which has just kicked off at the veteran space's new season, Sherry Wong, sick of the tensions and high anxieties of Brooklyn life, moved to San Francisco to become resident artist at a vast nonprofit called Cellspace. She quickly interfaced with all strata of San Francisco society, joining a Double Dutch jump-rope group, inviting legendary SF dragsters the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to perform at her Cellspace debut, DJing on the wharf before crowds of 15,000 and sipping cocktails with local upperclass libertarian gun nuts.
Sherry also constructed a huge working Boom Box along with a cohort of collaborators, who raised the funds to drive it to Burning Man, where she blasted sounds across the desert and set fire to the giant audio leviathan before returning to New York to open her show last Thursday night. The show is a significant rendering of every group she experienced on the coast. The members are portrayed in wild colors and distinct draftsmanship, which gives them the joyous flavor of Mardi Gras Indians and the wry expressions of situation comedy players thrown together for The Addams Family or The Brady Bunch.
Wong surrounds with the portents of nature and Sufi spirituality, which have informed her familiar self-portraits in the past. This time her effervescent personality inhabits the gazes of her new friends, who look back at her. Her dealer, Paul Judelson, hopes to market the series back to a San Francisco institution, where, as one of the subjects of the show, Absinthe: History in a Bottle scribe Barnaby Conrad, writes, "Sherry can come back to San Francisco at age 70 and be happy that she has captured the tribes of a particular place and time."
"Sherry Wong: Play All San Francisco," Sept. 17-Oct. 24, 2009, at I-20, 557 West 23rd Street, New York, N.Y. 10011.
CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).