That backdrop indirectly surveys the role of graduate schools when they were affordable and in this case, laid-back and apart from the limelight and marketplace.
Nauman has always seemed to operate as a lone cowboy and has long resided in New Mexico, far from art world centers. He's notoriously reticent about attending openings, though he surprised everyone by showing up in Berkeley for this one. The exhibit's catalog pinpoints Nauman's onetime studio at 144 27th St. in the Mission District, a neighborhood still attractive to artists. But "Rose" doesn't so much suggest a Bay Area aesthetic as use location as a framing device.
In a 1970 interview Nauman said that his work was initially confused with funk art, a 1950s-born movement that had a strong Bay Area presence in the early work of Bruce Conner and others. "It looked like it in a way," he said, "but really I was just trying to present things in a straightforward way without bothering to shine them and clean them up." Scruffy still works around here, and in that spirit the show generates a frisson of hometown pride that feels anything but sentimental. It's heartening to see what amazing things emerge from under the radar. *
A ROSE HAS NO TEETH: BRUCE NAUMAN IN THE 1960S
Through April 15
Wed. and Fri.Sun., 11 a.m.5 p.m.; Thurs., 11 a.m.7 p.m., $4$8 (free first Thurs.)
Berkeley Art Museum
2626 Bancroft Way, Berk.