My Hero! re-envisions the significance of the magic cape, lasso, or superhuman powers and the expectations that come with them. Organized by the Bedford Gallery, Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek, the exhibition has been seen all across the country and has made a strong impact at every museum on the tour. Bedford Curator Carrie Lederer says:
“For decades, artists have tapped the world of the superhero, eager to explore the alluring concept of what it means to have an avatar. We’re captivated by miraculous, superhuman strength, startling bravery, the enthralling adventures, and even their weaknesses.”
In their work, contemporary artists have challenged the traditional notions of what a superhero is or what they stand for. The exhibition explores a variety of interpretations in images ranging from comic to tragic, posing questions for the viewer about pop culture, patriotism, heroism, and the human experience.
Bay Area artist Mel Ramos anchors the My Hero! exhibition. A Pop-Art pioneer, Ramos has been using iconic superhero images in his work for over 50 years. One of his earlier works, an oil painting of Superman (1962), is currently on display at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. My Hero! includes a limited-edition woodcut based on that oil painting.
My Hero! also features art by nationally renowned artist Mark Newport (Keego Harbor, Michigan), who, for years, has been using superhero imagery to explore issues of identity and the definition of a “hero.” Newport says about his work: “Turning the superhero inside out is a way for me to present an understanding of masculinity. Superheroes suggest strength, but knitting them or covering them with embroidery provides a softness that is contradictory to their image.”
Dulce Pinzon’s (Brooklyn, NY) photographs depict immigrant individuals as society’s “real superheroes.” In them, Catwoman works as a nanny, and Superman delivers pizzas on his trusty bike. Other artists present the superhero as a pop culture god, an aging has-been, a film noir anti-hero, and a symbol of commercialism.
My Hero!’s international roster of artists includes a series of humorous, sardonic superhero paintings by Laurina Paperina (Rovereto, Italy) and a sultry rendering of Supergirl laying across Mount Taranaki by Graham Kirk (New Plymouth, New Zealand) – an image that is both dramatic and comic.
Mike Alcantara(Austin, TX), Robert Xavier Burden (San Francisco, CA), Enrique Chagoya (San Francisco, CA), Bill Concannon (Crockett, CA), Jeremy Fisher(Los Angeles, CA), Justin Hager(San Francisco, CA), Cheong-ah Hwang(Columbus, OH), Dave Laro (White River Junction, VT), Adam Lister (Beacon, NY), Mark Newport(Keego Harbor, MI), Aaron Noble(Los Angeles, CA), Jennie Ottinger (San Francisco, CA) Jenny Parks(Denver, CO),Dulce Pinzon(Brooklyn, NY), Peter and Madeline Powell(Maui, HI), Mel Ramos(Oakland, CA), Cheyenne Randall(Seattle, WA), Lizabeth Rossof (San Francisco, CA), Hannah Rothstein(San Francisco, CA), Samuel Rowlett (Western MA), Matt Ritchie(Castro Valley, CA), Steve Seeley (Chicago, IL), Rose Sellery (Santa Cruz, CA), Inez Storer (Inverness, CA), Mark Todd(Sierra Madre, CA), Frank Trankina(Chicago, IL), Winston Tseng(New York, NY), Linda Vallejo(Topanga, CA), Dan Willner(Charlotte, NC), William Wray (Sierra Madre, CA), Jason Yarmosky(Brooklyn, NY), Maurizio Zuluaga (Jersey City, NJ)
Sandra Chevrier (Montreal, Quebec), Marcus D’Alfonso (Markham, Ontario), Andreas Englund (Stockholm, Sweden), Ole Marius Joergensen(Oslo, Norway), Graham Kirk(New Plymouth, New Zealand), Jannis Markopoulos(Berlin, Germany), Foto Marvellini (Vercelli, Italy), Simon Monk(Essex, UK), Rémi Noël(Paris, France), Laurina Paperina (Rovereto, Italy), Alessandro Rabatti(Florence, Italy), Patricia Waller(Berlin, Germany)