Obliterating the dollar

In these economic times, Andrew Schoultz's far-from-subtle "In Gods We Trust" is appropos

REVIEW Andrew Schoultz is prescient. A week or two before Wall Street and Washington were forced to admit they'd obliterated the US economy, he unveiled new work that literally slices and blows up the dollar bill. In his A Litany of Defense and a Liturgy of Power (Come) from the Palm of His Hand, shards of the pyramid, all-seeing eye, and other mint-y green fixtures slice through the air alongside similar fragments of currency from other countries. These literal markers of economic chaos add yet more kinetic distress signals to the meta-intersections of iconic bird flocks, medieval warhorses, and whirlpools in Schoultz's already claustrophobic vision. A hand-rendered George Washington stares blankly from the center of one relatively quiet piece, unaware that his image needs to be multiplied 700 billion times to begin to balance a different George's checkbook.

"In Gods We Trust" finds Schoultz adding flagrant emphasis to his political content — most of his titles are declarative mouthfuls. Conversely, he veers away from wall murals into mixed-media pieces that only might be more market friendly. He braids collage elements into drawings and paintings. He's also constructed a centerpiece installation that presents scales of justice set catastrophically awry. Subtlety isn't on the agenda, and maybe it shouldn't be. After all, Schoultz's timing couldn't be more right.

The visual impact of the work in Schoultz's first major SF solo show in four years is best experienced one piece at a time, and at close range. Obsessive-compulsive repetition is a chief facet of some of the best San Francisco paintings and drawings of the past decade, and Schoultz, who has lived here around that long, is a standout representative of the practice. But unlike OCD peers' veerings toward op art or pointillist tactics, his graffiti or mural aesthetic doesn't always fit into a frame — it can seem murky from afar. This isn't a matter of scale — in fact, my favorite pieces in "In God We Trust" are small ones — as much as perspective. I like Schoultz's art most when I'm close enough to stare into the eye of the storm, or, in Sinking Slaveship, the blue (as opposed to black) hole.

ANDREW SCHOULTZ: IN GODS WE TRUST Through Oct. 25. Tues.–Fri., 10:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m.; Sat., 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Marx and Zavaterro, 77 Geary, second floor, SF. (415) 627-9111, www.marxzav.com

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