The George Adams Gallery presents a selection of paintings and drawings by Bay Area artist Craig Calderwood at FOG Design+Art 2024.
Calderwood’s versatile practice includes drawings, paintings, and sculptures, often featuring intricate patterns and “lowbrow” materials. Their work is deeply autobiographical, offering a reflection on their childhood experiences and their identity as a queer and trans person. Calderwood delves into concepts of gender fluidity, desire, biodiversity, and otherness through their portrayal of androgynous figures and body parts that possess unfamiliar qualities. This effect is amplified by elaborate and highly detailed patterning, effectively concealing any discernible secondary sex characteristics and encouraging what Calderwood describes as a sense of “genderlessness.”
Calderwood’s distinct vocabulary of symbols and patterns seen throughout their work is rooted in the coded languages historically used by queer and trans communities, and is informed by extensive historical research, personal narratives, and pop-cultural moments. Materiality is also a significant aspect in their work, both conceptually and autobiographically, as their use of textiles recalls their father, a professional upholsterer during their childhood. Calderwood’s paintings, which they refer to as tapestries, begin with a patchwork of upholstery fabrics, and the tactile surface becomes an integral part of the work. Combining textiles with fabric paint, polymer clay, and pipe cleaners offers a commentary on the perception of these materials as mere craft supplies. By subverting the intended use of these materials, Calderwood blurs the binary of art and craft.
Included in the presentation are recent paintings Bad Panacea, Bassoon Song for a Sad Baguette, and Silver Water Turns Her Blue (2023) which depict still lives after models Calderwood created with fruits and vegetables while working at a grocery store. The tapestries are coded with comic-like narratives imbued with personal meaning throughout the intricate borders. Also included are recent drawings, all pen and ink, which portray specific events and figures from Calderwood’s childhood in highly detailed compositions.
Calderwood’s work made its debut at George Adams Gallery in Shapeshifters, an exhibition of four artists from the Bay Area in 2021, and in 2023 they received their first solo exibition with the gallery in Ambrosia Salad, Bad Panacea and Other Works. In 2022, Calderwood was honored as the Eureka Fellowship Grantee, and served as the Art+Process+Ideas (API) artist in residence at Mills College, Oakland, where their work was exhibited at the Mills College Art Museum. Calderwood was featured in Figure Telling at the di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art in Napa in 2022, Fight and Flight at the Museum of Craft and Design, San Francisco, and Bay Area Now at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, both in 2023. Calderwood was selected by the San Francisco Arts Commission to create artwork for the three-story atrium of the Harvey Milk Terminal at the San Francisco International Airport, and their mural is set to be unveiled in 2024. Currently, Calderwood is an artist in residence at Recology, San Francisco.
Craig Calderwood (b. 1987, Bakersville, CA) was raised in California’s San Joaquin Valley. From a young age, Calderwood found drawing to be an outlet and tool for self-expression, which later led to their interest in pursuing art. After taking classes at Fresno City College, they relocated to San Francisco, CA in 2011, where they currently live and work.