Super Awesome: Art and Giant Robot at the Oakland Museum of California

Super Awesome: Art and Giant Robot, the recent exhibition at the Oakland Museum of California is exactly why I moved to San Francisco. I (like thousands of others across the country) lived in middle America, completely separate from the worlds of art and expression happening on either coast. Also, like thousands of others, I turned to sources like Giant Robot (and of course Fecal Face and Juxtapoz) as my contemporary art history textbooks.  Through their pages, Giant Robot gave me a direct connection to artists in Calfornia – artists working on skateboards, on toys, on zines, on sculptures; on work I could relate to and simply enjoy.

Yet, nothing kills the enjoyment of art quite like art graduate school (which provided me the ability to actually move to SF). Surrounded by alienating mediums like performance and heavy political implications, I wasn’t sure that I was actually supposed to take pleasure in art any more. However, this exhibition renewed my faith that I’m allowed to like art. And so are the other visitors to it, which is exactly what I experienced there. People were smiling, laughing at the comics, discussing the work with each other, and really genuinely enjoying it. And what’s not to like? There are unique murals by some of the most famous contemporary artists, contemporary toys and some straight out of childhood, and comics you could read for days.

Mural by David Choe

Mural by David Choe

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This exhibition really speaks to art in California, and therefore art in the Bay Area. We’re not New York and we don’t have to be. Freeing ourselves from established systems and generational traditions allowed people on the west coast to adopt a new relation to art, one which allows for pleasure and fun. Giant Robot, through two decades of publication, embraces this ethos and spreads it across the world. Not only filled with quality images but indicating a duration that should be admired in the worlds of both art and publishing, the magazine and the exhibition are prime examples of an attitude in contemporary art. After all, it’s just for the fun of it.

Words & Photos: Rachel Ralph - rachel(at)fecalface.com

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