SECRET STATE | Opening Reception

Solo Exhibition by Kelly Tunstall | Opening Reception: Thursday, September 8 | 5PM-late |

The art of Kelly Tunstall has recently been chosen for the interior of Alcazar Palm Springs.

The Secret State examines civilization’s long romance with the examination of the space that we inhabit and our scale within it; the exhibition itself is aimed not at providing any comprehension of our universe’s truths, but instead, at celebrating the joy of discovering new clues to their elaborate puzzles and the spaces between.  Large and small works present a think tank of characters; a seer, a scientist/naturualist, an astronomer, and a doctor/engineer all bravely led by Alexander the Great and a shape-shifting machine.  This solo exhibition includes the largest works of Tunstall’s career, some archaic drawing methods, some site-specific installations, and a reinterpretation of the Eames’ classic power of 10.  Join us at 111 Minna in exploring our greatest human powers: curiosity and imagination; where freckles become entire star systems and seemingly empty spaces become maps to constellations of atoms.

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Kelly Tunstall (born 1979) received her BA from California College of Arts and Crafts, San Francisco.

Coded languages, the adaptive nature of the human psyche and unsettled optimism are the driving forces behind Kelly Tunstall’s body of work.

Working in acrylic, collage, spraypaint, pencil, pen and ink, gold leaf and some secret sauce, the experimental, yet classically grounded works live somewhat comfortably in a space between graphic expression, stylized representation, surrealism, and sketch. The patina of age and calligraphic drawing methods lend further depth to her story-filled worlds.

The simplicity of the messages are enhanced by the underlying vitality and complex layering within the work. In her portraits, Tunstall renders stylized female figures and their pets, prey, powers, dreams and whims in symbolic environments: nests built of painted boards held together by drawn nails or far off planets. The physical form and its accompanying exterior become a mirror for internal thought processes and turmoil.

For instance, frequent themes such as mermaids, twins, or extra limbs concede a desire, a reliance, an adaptation, or more simply, an aspiration to something greater than being in a painting they inhabit.

Also working in illustration, installation, and multimedia projects, Tunstall plays with the contrast between a compositional formality and a more casual revelation of method.

Tunstall has shown nationally and internationally, often in collaboration with her husband, Ferris Plock. Her work is on permanent view at the restaurants a16 and Bar Crudo, both in San Francisco.

Common themes reflect the contrasting dualities of Tunstall’s imagined ladies: interior and exterior realms; concrete reality and the dreamscapes of the supernatural. The resulting body of work is a comprehensive study of the modern and sometimes not so modern woman.

The Long Story

I’m not sure I set out to contemplate the very nature of matter and the universe itself, but it seems that is where I’ve ended up.  The blame lies squarely on a series of Fresh Air discussions on NPR.

First, there was the report on single cell organisms and their astonishing ability to thrive in utterly impossible environments. Like deep within sub-arctic ice. Or volcano vents.  Even falling to earth in meteors from space.

The second discussion followed particle collision experiments using Switzerland’s Large Hadron Collider, which have resulted in the potential discovery of a force different and perhaps more powerful than nuclear.  Pondering a force beyond nuclear only underscored how little ground it feels we’ve conquered in our campaign to understand the forces around us.

The last report focused on Alexander the Great, and revealed his reliance on a think tank of advisors to succeed in building the Macedonian Empire.  The feature was a step removed from the first two Popular Science stories, but led me to wonder: How much more do we actually know than Alexander the Great knew way back then (or really not so long ago)?  The notion of a think tank created the perfect context for exploring the nature of what we know and what we are yet to learn in this world. So I cast Alexander the Great with a think tank (along the lines of the team that was originally assembled, minus anything extraneous or unnecessary; warriors and accountants need not apply): a seer, a scientist/naturalist, an astronomer, a doctor/engineer, and a scale warp machine and set them out to see what they might, hoping my theory of the universe might work itself out along the way, and fully expecting it to be rather offbeat.  Join me in celebrating our greatest human powers: curiosity and imagination… where freckles become star systems, and cells are planets.


Selected Solo and Duo Exhibitions

2010 Out and About | Giant Robot | New York, NY

2010 Untitled | FTC | Tokyo, Japan*

2009 Sea of Love | 111 Minna Gallery | San Francisco, CA

2008 Reconstruction | Limited Addiction Gallery | Denver, CO*

2008 Circus | 111 Minna Gallery | San Francisco, CA*

2007 Subterranea | Fuse Gallery New York, NY*

2006 Saints and Sinners | 111 Minna Gallery | San Francisco, CA*

2005 Pet Show | Compound Gallery | Portland, OR*

2005 Old Soul | Future Primitive Sound San Francisco, CA

2004 Fragile | Robert Casterline Gallery New York, NY

2004 Remedios | 111 Minna Gallery | San Francisco, CA

2003 Little Seekers | J&M Davidson | London, UK

2002 Princesses, ballerinas, Strippers | 111 Minna Gallery | San Francisco, CA

2002 Handbag Girls | Gallry 5b | Hackney, UK

2002 Edo| San Francisco, CA

*= With Ferris Plock

Selected Group Exibhitions

2011 | Bitches Brew | Park Life
With Aiyana Udesen, Marci Washington, Hellen Jo and Rebecca Ebeling. Co-Curated by Marci Washington and Kelly Tunstall

2009 | Kokeshi | Japanese American National Museum

2009 | Trace Elements | San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery

2006 Hopscotch | Giant Robot 2 | Los Angeles