The Shooting Gallery, in San Francisco,  just wrapped up a dual exhibition featuring works from artists, Akira Beard and James Charles, titled, American Iconomics. The curatorial theme dealt with American icons of our contemporary culture. Here is an excerpt on James Charles’ clever popular culture monetary mash-ups from the Shooting Gallery press release:

As of last year, artist James Charles has been engrossed in an interesting new project; small in scale…but large in depth. He began drawing on dollar bills, for the sake of his own amusement; crudely altering the presidents’ faces to become monsters, celebrities, etc. After accidentally spending a few of his early pieces, James decided to stop carrying them in his wallet, and started putting them inside of a magazine for safe-keeping. The magazine folder eventually became a large scrapbook, showcasing bills of all denominations. He found ink and materials to match perfectly what the U.S. Mint uses on the bank notes, and began to experiment with ways to alter the font and script along the bottom of the bills. It became the perfect way for James to inject an additional layer of wit.

Altering currency in this way also poses questions regarding the true value of paper bills, something made with seemingly insignificant materials – that somehow fuels our country’s ever­ shifting economy, and ultimately impacts living conditions around the globe. James has put a wrench in the recirculation process by claiming his role as an artist, and declaring these specific bills are not currency, but art objects.

Born in 1963, in Tacoma, Washington, San Francisco-based artist James Charles grew up in San Diego, CA, before moving to the Bay Area to pursue a BFA in Painting from the San Francisco Art Institute. Working commercially as a sculptor, he helped co-found Gentle Giant Studios, creating toy prototypes for the likes of Disney, Mattel, and Hasbro. In 2002, while refocusing his talents back towards the creation of his own art, he also completed an apprenticeship in tattooing, and became one of the founding members of the Oyster Pirate Collaborative Workshop.


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