San Francisco Bay Guardian – September 5 2007

"In the Time It Takes"

Oh, sweet obsession — what better way to channel one's OCD than to make such deliriously detailed work as Olivia Park's? The native San Franciscan's delicate marks and careful stitches spiral into patterns that allude to topographical maps, quilting bees, nervous systems, and ... outright nervousness. On exhibit alongside Park's pieces are those of Nancy Chan, a Hot and Cold zine collaborator who graduated with high distinction from California College of the Arts last year. Her sumi-ink pieces on paper find their eloquent wit in the empty spaces surrounding mundane gestures and everyday figures. (Kimberly Chun)

Artweek - Nov. 2007 - Vol. 38 Issue 9, Northern CA

Nancy Chan and Olivia Park at Receiver Gallery

San Francisco's Mission District has long attracted some of the Bay Area's most interesting art and art galleries. This was most evident in the tech-boom-fueled 1990s, when established nonprofits such as Galeria de la Raza, Cell Space, The Lab, Intersection for the Arts and Southern Exposure provided a foundation for more experimental venues - Four Walls, ESP and others - in which to thrive. The early 2000s did away with the quirkier players, but a recent revitalization of the arts community and a new wave of artists are invigorating the region once again. A recently published Mission Gallery Guide lists no less than thirty galleries, boutiques, publications and design studios within a half-mile radius of Dolores park, each displaying art, proving that creative culture has come alive again in the district. Amazing what a cooling economy can do to heat up the arts.

One of the brightest stars rising on the scene is Receiver, a postage stamp-sized gallery that relocated to the Mission fifteen months ago from the Inner Sunset. Fronting a design business and capitalizing on the demand for Asian-influenced, urban folk and rough-edged illustrative art, Receiver would nicely fill out any arts program in any neighborhood; here, now, in the Mission, it's icing on a delicious cake.

A recent exhibition, In the Time It Takes, exemplified Receiver's well-chosen program. The works of two Asian-American artists, Nancy Chan and Olivia Park, each occupied one wall of the gallery, offering a total of fifteen pieces in various media. (One of Chan's filled the floor of Receiver's Valencia Street window.) The show comprised a lovely black-white, yin-yang balance of techniques, textures and emotions; it felt like an extravagant opportunity to breathe deeply. (The elegant George Nelson bench bisecting the space was a nice touch, too - a great resting place from which to view the work.)

Chan's suite of sumi-e drawings on Arches watercolor paper, Annie & Michael V (1-5), feature two figures - a young woman in blouse and jeans and a young man in shirt and black trousers - who lie together in various poses. Using only black ink and white page, Chan employed negative space to create bright and airy compositions whose simplicity belied the difficulty of their execution. Each pattern - her stripes and denim, his white shirt was elegantly captured. Light and lifelike, the two seemed to dance along the wall; what was more marvelous, however, was the fresh life the artist breathed into the wash paintings of ancient Asia, connecting contemporary symbols and attitudes - his goatee, her cheetah-print slippers; the pair's casual intimacy with techniques and structures developed in the Tang Dynasty.

Opposite, Park's works were as introverted as Chan's were expansive: Executed in tiny, repetitive gestures, the pieces, made of stitched thread, dried glue, heads of Q-Tips and Lilliputian pen strokes, were deliciously obsessive - the scribblings of a madwoman. That is to say: Wonderful. writing over numbers (the days' i've been alive [9,281] in 1084 minutes) was comprised of numerals written consecutively from left to right, top to bottom, on a space no bigger than a paperback novel; to die averagely (in 22,307 days) looked like the walls of a life-sentenced prisoner. Far from grim, the effect of Park's portfolio was congenial, intimate, fascinating; the pairing of the two was perfect.
Somewhere between the two artists' works lay calligraphy - its repetitive, free-form elegance, its maddening exactness. Everything about the exhibition and the experience felt neat, simple, clean and inspired. If this is the direction (and the aptitude) of the new wave of Mission galleries, its success is all but assured.

*Colin Berry*