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Mission (School) Control

Two gallery shows from Mission School artists you don't want to miss.

 Los Angeles Painting Number 1 of 2015, Chris Johanson. 


Times have changed since the ’90s, when Mission School artists reigned in the streets of San Francisco, but the godfathers of the movement haven’t slowed down. This month, both Chris Johanson and Barry McGee have a solo show in the city—McGee’s at Ratio 3 and Johanson’s at Altman Siegel. Here, the two artists talk about their newest projects.

Street materials
Neither McGee nor Johanson has strayed far from his urban roots: Each used materials foraged from the streets—in McGee’s case, San Francisco’s. What kinds of materials, exactly? “I have some tarps from the old Toyota trucks that collect cardboard around the city, a cement blob that is sitting hopelessly near the bay’s edge, and a very large pile of papier-mâché objects,” says McGee.

Not-so-grand aspirations
This is McGee’s first solo exhibition in three years, but he’s not trying to prove anything—he just wants to do a bit of show-and-tell: “I would like to share some of my favorite things in San Francisco and the Bay Area through these visual objects.” Johanson is even more modest: “These are just life paintings,” he says.

Untitled, Barry McGee.

Photo: Courtesy of Barry McGee, Ratio 3.

Hope for the next generation
Both McGee and Johanson are ready for a new wave of artists to hit the scene. “I want the art scene to challenge every little notion I have about art,” says McGee. “I want it to come from a young, robust, diverse community.” Johanson sees no excuses: “I lived in a walk-in closet, had a bed above a workshop with no heat,” he says. “It’s no problem. As an artist, it’s not a choice—it’s what they’re meant to be doing.”

Barry McGee: China Boo, Nov. 6–Dec. 19; Chris Johanson, Nov. 5–Dec. 19.

Originally publisned in the November issue of
San Francisco

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