The head of a large stag, with enormous golden, rocket launcher-shaped horns, greets guests visiting White Walls gallery’s 10-year anniversary show.
The stag, Peter Gronquist’s “A History of Violence,” is one of more than 60 works on display in the group exhibition at White Walls at its new, 5,000-square-foot location in San Francisco’s Tenderloin.
“White Walls began from a need to do more things in the art community. I also wanted to start showing street art more frequently than I was before, so I expanded the space next door,” says Justin Giarla, who founded White Walls’ affiliate, Shooting Gallery, in 2003.
In February, Shooting Gallery, White Walls and fellow Giarla gallery 941 Geary moved into one large combined space at 886 Geary St.
Giarla says his conglomerate of galleries “has evolved into one of the most well-known street art galleries in the world,” and he points to progressive shows featuring world-class artists such as EINE, ROA, Hush, Blek Le Rat and Shepard Fairey.
The anniversary exhibition showcases the wide spectrum of artists with whom Giarla has worked — past, present and future, he hopes. It also includes a few favorite pieces from his personal collection.
Among the show’s most provocative and eye-catching pieces are Russell Young’s large “Kate Moss” screen prints, in which a scantily clad Kate Moss stands in front of a toilet, clutching a teddy bear over her bare chest.
Helen Bayly’s paintings “DMT Mary” and “Fountain of Decay” are joined with mounts of colored tissue paper made specially for the exhibit, and display her contemporary take on religious symbolism, juxtaposing imagery of modern and ancient cultures.
Miss Bugs’ popping, intricate “Missing Andy” pays a subtle homage to Jean-Michel Basquait and his disheveled hair, while Niels “Shoe” Meulman’s typographical paintings evoke a distinctly urban darkness.
The eclectic mix of art exemplifies Giarla’s sentiment that “urban art has become a part of everyone’s daily life, all over the world.”
Describing White Walls’ future, Giarla says, “The sky is the limit. There is no end to what we can achieve ... my vision is a secret.”