Sure, you know Dave Eggers as the celebrated author and founder of McSweeney's, that plucky independent book-publishing house in San Francisco, but were you aware that back in the day he was on track to be an art curator? While it’s been a long time since he’s organized an exhibit, he’s in town now to put together a show at apexart that explores, in Eggers's words, “a very small and specific type of artmaking exemplified by contemporary people like David Shrigley, Raymond Pettibon, Nedko Solakov, and Tucker Nichols. This kind of art, which we refuse to name, is somewhat crude, usually irreverent, and always funny. It exists somewhere between one-panel cartoons and text-based art.” Over 100 works will be on view, including pieces by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Leonard Cohen, R. Crumb, Henry Darger, Kurt Vonnegut and many more. The opening reception is tomorrow night from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., with the work on view through May 10th.
You’ve got so much on your plate; what is motivating you to organize this exhibit at apexart? About a year ago Kerri Schlottman at apex just wrote to me saying, “Do you want to curate show?” And I did that in college; I ran a gallery when I was in school and I worked at galleries over the summers in Chicago. I studied art, you know? That was my background. I guess it just pulled on something that I hadn’t done in many years and it also sort of coincided with an idea we had had at McSweeney’s, which was to collect a certain kind of unclassifiable art that combined image and text and humor, and there wasn’t really a name for it. We were thinking about putting it in an issue of the magazine; she wrote to me in the same week we were discussing it and we figured since we were doing it anyway that we might as well combine the two.
Your introduction to the exhibit describes the common ground shared by the work in the show and you say they "could be described as cartoons." Do you think the word cartoon makes something less significant? Well, I think there’s a really wide range of style and quality, I guess. It could mean some of the not so great things that are syndicated these days. And there are some good things in the newspaper.
What do you like in the newspaper? Oh, I don’t know. Whenever I try to think of stuff off the top of my head like that I always regret not naming something else. But you know I’ve been a comics reader since I could read and I still read the comics every day. It was what I wanted to do since I was a young kid. So I’ve always had a soft spot for the form and I also thought it wasn’t a sin for art to have a narrative purpose to it. And all of us organizing this appreciate a little levity in the art world because in the past there’s been a little bit too much self-seriousness in the world of visual art.