Clare Rojas Reviews


Art Review: Clare Rojas: P.S. Hurray!!

KQED, September 20, 2007

By Chris Cobb

In case you don't know already, Clare Rojas has grown to be one of the Bay Area's most prolific and well-known painters. But like other artists in the scene here, Rojas plays music too. Under the pseudonym Peggy Honeywell she has released two CDs of her own bluegrass/country music on the Galaxia label.

It comes as no surprise then to see that she has devoted an entire wall of her show at Gallery Paule Anglim to various painted musical instruments. On the surfaces of the banjos and tambourines are quaint little painted figures and geometrical patterns. While the show is fun to look at, some of the paintings appear to mean something and others seem, well, decorative. Along with the instruments are numerous other painted panels and objects. It is quite possible that for Rojas, folk art is a style as much as it is a genre. In these days of post-modernism, when an artist works in a style, it may have little or nothing to do with the genre to which it belongs. For example, it is unlikely that the religiously pious Quaker or Shaker artists (whose work Rojas references stylistically) would have painted a picture of a naked man (Untitled) looking at his own hairy ass in a mirror while videotaping it.

But Rojas does allude to the more mystical origins of the primitive style in which she works. For example, there is a painting (Untitled) of a woman whose heart appears to be radiating beams of light or energy towards a tree. The tree has pointy leaves all over it, but some of the leaves are shaped like hearts too. That painting is related to another one (Untitled) in which a red haired woman with wings stands before a huge, flowering plant. On the oversized leaves are two fox-like animals with hair as red as hers. Does it mean anything in particular? Does it matter? Stylistically it resembles the work of untrained visionary and outsider artists. Rojas, however, went to the Rhode Island School of Design and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Still, Rojas' blending of folksy music with a folksy painting style makes a lot of sense. These days art schools are churning out more and more young artists who are big on ideas yet produce very little. Her show at Paule Anglim is a good demonstration of what happens when someone is good at something and sticks with it. Such a work ethic has gotten her exhibitions at the legendary Deitch Projects in New York and a place in the critically acclaimed Beautiful Losers show that traveled to several international venues. Rojas' P.S. Hurray!! is an uncommonly good show and definitely won't disappoint.

The New York Times, Art in Review: Clare Rojas

December 10, 2004

by Roberta Smith

December 10, 2004

In her New York debut, Clare Rojas extends San Francisco's short-lived but deep-rooted tradition of folkish visionary street art, defined by artists like Barry McGee, Chris Johanson, Ed Templeton and Margaret Kilgallen. She brings to it a distinctive penchant for tightly stitched drawing, peasant art patterns and crystalline, hard-edged shapes as well as an affection for quilting, old wallpaper and cartooning.

Ms. Rojas works both big and small and in two and three dimensions, depicting relations between the sexes and the species with a touching, comedic sense. There are obvious charms in a large painted-room installation that includes a big, friendly horse being stretched through a real wall and the enormous, scarf-covered head of a woman that evokes Russian nesting dolls.

But the parched, pink farmscape painted on the horse's chest signals that Ms. Rojas works best small. This appealing little vista repeats in the scores of tiny ex-voto-like paintings that line the gallery, suspended from painted molding.

A musician with two CD's, Ms. Rojas also excels at video. One piece, accompanied by her song "Humms," posits Gumby-like male nudes as dubious objects of the gaze. Another uses the turning pages and gender-specific spreads of fashion magazines as the basis for a mutating, oozing, hand-drawn animation whose incriminating humor and relentless incursions bring to mind the Monty Python credits. The video may be the best thing here, but this show generally brims with promise.


Monday, June 07, 2004

San Francisco Art Institute

The San Francisco Art Institute is proud to present concurrent award exhibitions by two important Bay Area artists: Clare Rojas, the inaugural winner of the Headlands Center for the Arts Tournesol Award, and esteemed faculty member Richard Berger ( more > ), the 2004 recipient of the prestigious Adaline Kent Award. Clare Rojas will present an on-site installation of gouache murals, paintings framed by hand-made quilts, and a stage set on which the artist performs her own country western and folk-inspired songs in her alternate persona, Peggy Honeywell. On view respectively in the McBean Project Space and the Walter Galleries June 18 - July 31, both exhibitions will open with a special preview reception Thursday, June 17, from 5:30 – 7:30 pm.

Painter, filmmaker and musician Clare E. Rojas is interested primarily in landscapes. Throughout her work she develops a personal, esoteric folklore with repeating characters that interact and travel through landscapes and environments. These whimsical, dreamlike panel paintings and drawings at first appear innocent, yet possess a fairy tale-like darkness lurking just beneath the surface. In Rojas's world, unexpected meetings between little girls and androgynous characters, monsters, and personified animals occur in surreal lands dotted with misplaced trees and flowers. The songs that Peggy Honeywell writes and performs are inextricably linked to the paintings: the rambling lyrics are sweet and melodic, yet melancholic, a corollary text and soundtrack that complement Rojas' unique visual vocabulary.

Rojas is the first recipient of the Headlands Center for the Arts Tournesol Award. Established by an anonymous donor to recognize one emerging painter each year, and to support him/her in taking the first major steps towards establishing a career in the Bay Area, the Tournesol Award provides the artist with financial and community support to assist his or her artistic development in the critical first years after school. The award is designed to support a full year of artistic work and development. The award provides the chosen artist with a $10,000 cash stipend, a studio residency for one year at Headlands Center for the Arts (HCA), and a solo exhibition at a Bay Area venue.

Clare E. Rojas, was born in Columbus, Ohio. She received her BFA, in Printmaking at the Rhode Island School of Design in 1998 and her MFA, at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2002, and now lives in San Francisco. Rojas has exhibited her work at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; The Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; Deitch Projects, New York; and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and The Luggage Store in San Francisco. Her recent Clare Rojas, untitled, (detail), 2004 and The Luggage Store in San Francisco. Her recent exhibitions include the Beautiful Losers exhibition at the Cincinnati Center for Contemporary Art and Will Poor Will at the Belkin Satellite at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. In 2003 Rojas also received the prestigious Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award.