Santa Cruz

June 21 - July 30, 2016
Eric Firestone Loft, New York, NY 

Ms. White does not actually depict skaters and surfers. Instead, she channels the ethos of that scene and era with large blue-and-gray abstract paintings, sometimes draped with rainbow netting, and decals printed on the canvases and the wall. Pieces of black plastic cut into a heart with jagged edges and a cloud with three raindrops, both suspended from the ceiling by colored rope, conjure early computer icons and suggest an easy-to-use approach to art. By drawing on the ’80s Ms. White evokes a sense of nostalgia that is particular to her own experience but that translates well into the art realm. —Martha Schwendender, The New York Times

Eric Firestone Loft is pleased to present Santa Cruz, a solo exhibition of painting and sculpture by Wendy White. Referencing 1980s surf and skate culture, the exhibition explores a desire borne out of the artist's childhood longing for the sun-splashed lifestyle that the iconic skateboard brand, Santa Cruz, represents.

In her first solo exhibition in New York since 2012, White introduces a new series of atmospheric paintings and hanging sculptures inspired by this California fantasy. As is common in her work, White explores the boundaries between painting, sculpture, and installation, by employing nostalgic symbols in a way that lures the viewer into a pictorial haze to examine an unfolding story.

Just as the skaters and surfers of the 1980s had their specific vocabulary, White presents a lexicon of new iconography repeated throughout the exhibition. Her graphic stenciled rain clouds, hearts, and rainbows take on new meaning, acting as stickers that unify adolescent skateboard fantasies with a Lisa Frank-like pseudo-reality.

Teasing a relationship between teen aspirations and adult letdowns, a series of juxtapositions are laid out in these works. Cloudy grays are contrasted with rainbow hues: a colorful gradient emerges from misty layers of charcoal airbrush while polychrome netting veils ethereal picture planes. The imagery can conjure spitting sea spray or overcast skies that at times feel wholly synthetic, reading both as gritty graffiti or computer generated marks. Large, bold-colored canvases feel heroic yet subtle, while the crafted elements give a tactile effect. White also engages with the flip side of this utopia: her rainbows and hearts are countered by the proverbial black cloud and another repeated symbol, "pleasure!" takes on darker undertones when recognized as a cigarette advertisement. We become aware that the rainbows may be emerging from a fog but they also could be shrouded by darkness.

With this exhibition, White will transform the gallery's 4,000 square foot loft space into an immersive installation. We see her rainbow netting as a play on the grid; her atmospheric spray reads as monochrome from a distance, but is speckled and textured up close. Grosgrain straps both hang sculptures from the ceiling and wrap around canvases, winking at the frame while co-opting its structure, acting to extend rather than define.