“This is a guy who should be on the cover of Art America,” says muralist Brad Alder (Room 211).
At 32, Brian Barneclo is recognized by his peers as one of the local greats. Growing up as a skateboard kid in Indiana, his art took the form of photography, video and homemade magazines. After graduating with a Fine Arts degree from Indiana University he moved to Phoenix, where a high school friend was selling his own art in galleries. It occurred to Barneclo then that he too could make his living as an artist.
And he has, for four years running, made his living solely as an artist – a creative victory that few Bay Area painters can claim. But Barneclo is the first to admit that the choice to paint full-time has involved tremendous sacrifice and risk. Even after completing the leap to “artist-with-a-capital-‘A,’” he has occasionally felt overwhelmed by the business aspect of that career choice. (Stumping to land shows can interfere with an artist’s ability to do what he really wants to do.)
And what other people want him to do. Barneclo enjoys a near-constant, positive response to his distinctive cityscapes. Viewers see jazz, Beatniks and “The Jetsons” in his work, which he describes as “Picasso with a graffiti ethic.” (Though true to his Midwestern brand of humility, the artist quickly points out that he would not deign to compare himself with Picasso.)
Barneclo absorbs the billboards, the buildings, and the people of San Francisco, then translates all these things and “puts it out there.” The result is an accessible yet sophisticated cubic aesthetic that appeals to a wide range of people. It has also earned him gigs with a high cool quotient, including a commission for an upcoming series of performances in Paris by hip-hop group The Roots, and a solo show at Future Primitive in early 2005.
Having established himself as a credible artistic voice in a city teeming with talent, Barneclo is sure to expand his reach in new ways in the future.
“I have a feeling that I’m at the end of the beginning,” he says.