James Chronister – Better Bowls, More Crackers

16 May - 27 June 2015

May 11th, 2015 (San Francisco, CA) – Eleanor Harwood Gallery is pleased to present James Chronister’s new solo show “Better Bowls, More Crackers”. In a studied departure from Chronister’s previous work he presents a series of paintings focused on formalism, gesture and repetition. Since his first solo show with the gallery in 2009, Chronister has been painting with a dot technique. The first body of work was loose and had a painterly feel with a sense of play in

the works. The next body of work in 2011’s Now We Lustre tightened and also used a small amount of color in the backgrounds of the paintings. By the third body of work, Bitterroot exhibited in 2014 there was a discernible angle to all of the tiny brush-marks mimicking a ben day dot pattern. These paintings had a palpable self-imposed rigidity. Chronister felt this five- year investigation of creating extremely intensive paintings from a found image via various means of reproduction had reached its conclusion. Chronister had to consider what was next.

In the intervening year he painted in many directions in order to restore some liberty to his creative process and studio practice. Better Bowls, More Crackers is the culmination of a new direction and freedom in his work.

The new paintings have a thread of reproduction in the sense that every painting in the show is duplicated or quadrupled and then presented as a diptychs or tetraptychs. However, the manner and feel of the paintings is entirely different than his previous works.

The content of the paintings in Better Bowls, More Crackers is primarily concerned with Chronister’s personal experience of the banal and everyday in his life. These painting act like palimpsests: like sheets of note-paper capturing the brief moments of the everyday, jotted down, erased and then rewritten. They present a biography of sorts. The scribbles and marks are legible and recognizable. They are the shorthand of everyday art handling and relay various cautions and information about a packed artwork. Chronister is almost presenting the packaging for an artwork vs. the actual thing.

While each painting feels incredibly gestural and quick, he is painting two to four paintings side by side simultaneously. Chronister repeats the impulsive action that makes the mark on the first painting and then copies it on the subsequent canvases. The act of taking notes and recognizing his world is then multiplied while he investigates another mode of reproduction. In coping himself over and over he’s presenting both a structure for his own studio practice but also a consideration of just how different even an “identical” painting is. Chronister also upends the concept of an original work created by a lone artist in the studio by making copies of his own painting.

Artist Statement

“Better Bowls, More Crackers” Eleanor Harwood Gallery 2015, San Francisco, CA Most painters seem to paint some combination of things they see and things they feel and I probably do the same thing. I started a new body of paintings about a year ago
not really knowing how to go forward. The paintings I ended up making seem to reflect the environment in which my wife and I live in San Franciscoʼs Mission District. A city and neighborhood in change, reinvention and tumult.

This kind of easy and topical summation first struck me as too convenient. But the city we live in, with its constant opening and closing, construction and deconstruction, seems to be what the paintings are about, what came out naturally. I think about that shitty old wall thatʼs been tagged, scribbled on and painted over 300 times.

The title Better Bowls, More Crackers refers to something I heard on Kunstcapades, a radio show Joshua Pieper and Tim Sullivan do about the art world. I thought it was
funny so wrote it down. Thinking about it later, Better Bowls, More Crackers seemed
like a good catch phrase for the way the older businesses and restaurants in San

Francisco have had to give themselves a facelift or be forced out of business by the young, discerning crowds of today. I can see Better Bowls, More Crackers written on a sandwich board outside an old, family run restaurant that isnʼt shiny enough anymore.

About the Artist

James Chronister was born 1978 in Montana, and lives and works in San Francisco. He received his B.F.A. with High Honors from the University of Montana and his M.F.A. from California College of the Arts. His recent solo exhibitions include a survey show at Lux Art Institute, Encinitas, CA; with group exhibitions at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA and the Holter Museum of Art, Helena, MT, among others. His work is held in numerous private and public collections including the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.