Stay Awhile: a Nathan Cordero Show

Nathan Cordero’s work is best understood in the context of San Francisco’s Mission School of artists—most notably Barry McGee, Chris Johanson, Alicia McCarthy and the late Margaret Kilgallen—that gained international acclaim in the 1990s for a kind of rough and tumble urban style. Cordero’s work, like theirs, has elements of graffiti and hobo art, frequently uses snippets of text, and is representational, offering pictures of the everyday world.

In addition, he uses the most mundane materials to make art—bits of torn plywood found on the street and household detritus, an aesthetic that is of the impoverished outsider in juxtaposition to American middle-class niceties. The Mission School artists were mostly associated with the San Francisco Art Institute, whereas Cordero did not attend art school, and was self-taught, except for a mentorship with the late Sacramento painter Troy Dalton for whom he was studio assistant.

Organized by Verge with the collaboration of three friends of Nathan Cordero – Renny Pritikin, Gioia Fonda, and Liv Moe – and the cooperation of his widow, Stacy McConnen, this exhibition is a memorial celebration of the late artist. A selection of some 100 highlights from almost twenty years of Cordero’s output will demonstrate his work using excised wood, cut paper, and painted objects, with an emphasis on his obsession with language and rebus-like imagery.

Image: Bottles (detail), carved door, 80 x 32″, 2011