American Iconomics at Shooting Gallery

    Shooting Gallery is pleased to present American Iconomics, a dual exhibition of works by Akira Beard and James Charles. The show will be James Charles’ first project at Shooting Gallery, and Akira’s third. The two bodies of work presented are intertwined in their subject matter – with
    both artists fixating on the idea of the “contemporary American icon.” The opening reception was Saturday, May 14, and the exhibition is free and open to the public for viewing through June 4.

    As of last year, artist James Charles has been engrossed in an interesting new project; small in scale...but large in depth. He began drawing on dollar bills, for the sake of his own amusement; crudely altering the presidents’ faces to become monsters, celebrities, etc. After accidentally
    spending a few of his early pieces, James decided to stop carrying them in his wallet, and started putting them inside of a magazine for safe-keeping. The magazine folder eventually became a large scrapbook, showcasing bills of all denominations. He found ink and materials to match perfectly what the U.S. Mint uses on the bank notes, and began to experiment with ways to alter the font and script along the bottom of the bills. It became the perfect way for James to inject an additional layer of wit.

    Born in 1963, in Tacoma, Washington, San Francisco-based artist James Charles grew up in San Diego, CA, before moving to the Bay Area to pursue a BFA in Painting from the San Francisco Art Institute. Working commercially as a sculptor, he helped co-found Gentle Giant Studios, creating toy prototypes for the likes of Disney, Mattel, and Hasbro. In 2002, while refocusing his talents back towards the creation of his own art, he also completed an apprenticeship in tattooing, and became one of the founding members of the Oyster Pirate Collaborative Workshop.

    Akira Beard, a Tenderloin-district staple, and California native, is a graduate of the Academy of Art, San Francisco, where he currently teaches Fine Art Anatomy and Fashion Figure Drawing. He has also worked as a teacher with the Bay Area nonprofit Art With Elders for the last 3.5 years. Having shown his work at spaces all over the greater Bay Area, Akira has racked up six exhibitions at Shooting Gallery’s sister space, White Walls, as well as press nods from Fecal Face, Urban Outfitters, and The World’s Best Ever.

    The Shooting Gallery opened its doors in 2003 to the historic Tenderloin district of San Francisco; known for its lively street culture. Growing up in Southern California gave owner and curator Justin Giarla a love for everything lowbrow: pop art, street art, outsider art, punk rock album art, comic book art, surf/skate art and hot rod culture. Giarla recognizes how important it is to provide lowbrow artists with a platform for their work, which is exactly what Shooting Gallery has done for nearly a decade.

    Event Information:
    American Iconomics, Work by Akira Beard and James Charles
    Opening Reception – May 14, 2011, 7-11 pm
    On View Through June 4, 2011,
    @ Shooting Gallery (
    839 Larkin St,
    San Francisco, CA

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