San Francisco Examiner, February 3, 2011
Understand a smile at Bay to Basel show
By: Julia Chan
Imagine a full circle. That’s the shape curator Justin Kerson’s “Bay to Basel” show has taken.
Fresh off its December stint at Art Basel in Miami and a quick jaunt through Atlanta, Kerson’s colorful mix of contemporary and conceptual art is headed to The City for a homecoming show at RVCA-VASF Gallery bound to be as energetic as the pieces themselves.
“This is a time for excitement and reward, a long overdue process of hard work finally coming around, coming home,” Kerson says.
Choosing to work only with artists that best reflect his company, Tools of the Trade, Kerson finds himself constantly driven to uncover those who have best implemented their views of the world through their art — with artists including Ron English, Mike Giant and Vaughn Bode at the head of the flock.
Kerson describes TOTT as an artistically driven company garnering global presence while based in San Francisco. Together with the world’s top contemporary artists, he fuses classic games and novelties — such as dice, dominoes, jigsaw puzzles and playing cards — with a pop aesthetic.
Founded with the simple belief that “everyone in the world can understand a smile,” he aims to make art accessible and interactive for everybody. And it is with these philosophies in hand that Kerson presents “Bay to Basel” — a show created for the prestigious annual international show Art Basel in Miami.
Featuring artists Donny Miller, Anthony Ausgang, Claw Money, Tara McPherson, Nate Van Dyke, Greg Mike, Mark Bode and Oliver Black, Kerson looks to these men and women “to lead the conceptual path of TOTT Global.”
Kerson seems awed by the pieces he’s chosen, getting lost as he describes favorite works in the show.
“I’m a big fan of the Tara McPherson piece,” he says. “It’s done so well. It’s like an optical illusion.”
Kerson calls a work by Anthony Ausgang, which depicts cats in a provocative position while a bomb sails beneath them, “such a great piece of our time, providing social commentary on where society’s at and how little people really care about what’s going on around us, above us, beneath us, describing what’s going on in the world and what people truly think.”
“The Mike Giant and Pabst Blue Ribbon collaboration piece — not only was the piece designed for breast cancer awareness, but it helps to convey the relic that PBR is and always will be: a blue-collar, iron workhorse,” Kerson says.
Slated to collaborate with Shepard Fairey and Camilla d’Errico later this year, Kerson proves that life can be all fun and games.