On May 1st, my new exhibition, FOUND: The Lost Art of Jerome Caja, had a soft opening at ANGLIM/TRIMBLE gallery. It was part of what’s called “First Saturday,” a monthly San Francisco gallery-crawl at Minnesota Street Project. The show is nestled inside a free-standing alcove in the main gallery. Shannon Trimble, the owner and director of the gallery, said that this intimate, walled-off space is what inspired him to include Jerome in this group show.
As the gallery started filling up on opening day, a family with a little boy came strolling around the corner. When they first saw the Jerome portion of the show, they had a delightful, wide-eyed look of excitement. They were fully engaged and intent on not missing a single piece of the 80+ works of Jerome’s art (paintings, photos, drag ephemera, etc.).
It was beautiful to watch this family take in Jerome’s art as a playful exploration together. I snapped a lovely photo of them huddled around the central display case enjoying everything. Just then, the boy who was about eight years old, asked his mother — “Mommy, why does this woman have a toaster plugged into her vagina?” The mother said she didn’t know, and told the boy to ask me. I told him that while I didn’t know exactly what the artist had in mind when he painted it, I encouraged him to look at the toaster in relation to the other objects in the painting. We then examined all the sunny-side-up eggs that were also popping out of the toaster and raining down on the woman, who stands naked in a shower. This led to a lovely conversation about fertility, ovulation, and women having eggs inside them for reproduction. The little boy took in everything I said, and, with a smile, shifted his gaze to the adjacent paintings. He had a blast discovering all the other eggs in numerous paintings and joyfully pointed them out to everyone else in the gallery.
I love that this boy intuitively understood Jerome. His playful curiosity was beautiful to observe. I also love that his parents were so comfortable exposing him to challenging art. Once the family was done looking at the exhibition, I pulled the mother aside and told her how moved I was by my interaction with her family and how my parents would have been very hesitant for me to see such provocative art at such a young age. Without missing a beat, she replied — “Oh yeah, we have a gynecologist in our household, and we have these kinds of conversation all the time.”
It is moments like this that confirm why I am doing what I am doing with Jerome Caja’s art and artistic legacy. I believe that Jerome wanted people to enjoy talking about uncomfortable, complex subjects that can easily be misunderstood or, even worse, dismissed.
by Jerome Caja, 10 x 7 x .5 inches, circa 1995
FOUND: The Lost Art of Jerome Caja
The show is up until June 26th and is by appointment only. You can use the link located at the bottom of the homepage on the ANGLIM/TIMBLE website to schedule a half hour time slot between noon and 4:00 PM on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. If you would like a personal walkthrough of the exhibit, just contact me through The Jerome Project website and I am happy to accompany you.
Lastly, please stay tuned for an announcement regarding a special Jerome Caja event for this exhibition — THANK YOU!