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New SFMoMA Aims to Be Not Just Giant, but Global

...One surprise is Brad Kahlhamer’s 2014 hanging wire sculpture “Super Catcher,” which looks like dream catchers caught in an archaic fisherman’s net, studded with small bells. “The rattling makes me think of native dance rituals,” said Mr. Garrels, who placed the work in a new gallery exploring “issues of cultural identity.”

Brad Kahlhamer: 2016 Richard Diebenkorn Teaching Fellow

San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) and Headlands Center for the Arts are pleased to announce artist Brad Kahlhamer as the recipient of the 2016 Richard Diebenkorn Teaching Fellowship. Established in 1998 by the family of renowned painter Richard Diebenkorn, who studied and taught at SFAI beginning in the 1940s, this fellowship makes it possible for a contemporary artist to both teach at SFAI and pursue independent studio work as an Artist in Residence at Headlands Center for the Arts.

Kahlhamer will teach two courses during Fall 2016 semester, give a public lecture in the Visiting Artists and Scholars lecture series, and engage with the SFAI community through individual student critiques and other academic activities, concurrent with a fully sponsored residency with studio and living accommodations at Headlands among a diverse community of other artistic practitioners.

Kahlhamer comments: “I am honored to be selected for the Diebenkorn Teaching Fellowship. SFAI’s rich history in contemporary art, along with the diversity and vibrancy of San Francisco, is very compelling. I am thrilled to be among such an accomplished group and look forward to this opportunity.”

Kahlhamer lives and works in New York City. His work has been collected by institutions such as the Denver Art Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Milwaukee Art Museum, Seattle Art Museum, Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. He is represented by Jack Shainman Gallery in New York City and Andréhn-Schiptjenko in Stockholm.

According to Hesse McGraw, SFAI vice president for exhibitions and public programs, “SFAI is very pleased to welcome Brad Kahlhamer as the 2016 Diebenkorn Fellow. Brad’s exuberant, animated paintings fuse visionary traditions of Native American art with expressionistic painting, and blend monumental American landscapes with an interest in downtown New York street culture. His singular vision of realms both real and illusory will provide an exciting platform for student artists at SFAI to expand their own practices. Brad is the ideal Diebenkorn Fellow, in that his generosity to students is amplified by the searching quality of his own practice. We expect his challenging nature will infect the ambition of our students.

Native American Folk Art Meets Punk In One Artist’s Search For Identity

Traditionally, katsina dolls, essential to Hopi and Zuni Native American traditions, serve as messengers between the earthly and spiritual realms, often imparting moral lessons to young children. Representing the spirits of deities, animals, natural growths and deceased ancestors, the dolls are often made from cottonwood root, featuring crescent-shaped mouths, beaks or snouts, as well as bird wings, feathers, and animal horns.

Artist Brad Kahlhamer riffs of the katsina tradition with his wiry assemblage sculptures, weaving the spirit of Native American folk art through the impetuousness of abstract expressionism and the rebellious fever of New York punk. The raggedy talismans, made from canvas and nails and shirts and hair, resemble the abject cousins of the traditional totems, not so much imparting moral lessons but busking through gritty New York streets imparting frenzied and sometimes wildly intuitive tidbits.

Kahlhamer is Native American. However, he was adopted by a German-American family in infancy and does not know his biological parents nor his tribal affiliation. As such, his art is pumped with a certain ravenous hunger, with multiple influences both cultural and personal surgically attached at a quick pace.

“I grew up in Tucson and at 14 moved with the family outside a small Wisconsin town,” Kahlhamer explained to The Huffington Post Arts. “I had tremendous freedom as a kid. Lots of desert adventures — a childhood filled with only-come-home-when-hungry treks and nature encounters in the Sonoran Desert. I think that instilled me with some nomadic impulses. The Midwest was about personal growth, developing my curiosities and early encounters with the ‘other.’”

In 1982, Kahlhamer moved to New York City, specifically the Lower East Side in the midst of its cultural rebirth. “I witnessed Glenn Branca’s apocalyptic guitar symphony. I was also playing in a band — I recall one gig at Danceteria that was on the same bill as the Cro-mags’ beer-can-throwing crowd.  At the time, I worked at Topps chewing gum as an art director and met some of the underground cartoon heavies. Art Spiegelman brought in the first copy of Raw, and he showed the first chapters of Maus. I was attracted to the whole movement’s sense of mission.”

The raucous pace of 1980s New York is tangible in Kahlhamer’s sculptural works — part subway graffiti, part performative nightlife, part post-punk DIY. And a hefty dose of that New York transplant angst, opting to search for a home and an identity somewhere between the future and the past. A whimsical darkness runs throughout. Holland Cotter described the vision as “morbid, death-haunted, a circus risen from the grave.”
“Native American history has long been central to my ‘yonderings,’” Kahlhamer continued. “By that I mean the treks and explorations I take through urban street culture, music, cinema, Native American art and the American West. The Arizona landscape of my childhood was so powerful to me, as were the tribal objects that originated there.”
Specifically, Kahlhamer was inspired by the Barry Goldwater collection of katsina dolls at the Heard Museum, which he first visited in the 1970s. “I’ve always marveled at the collection’s power and the interconnectedness of its cosmology. It’s an entire universe.” The artist’s “Bowery Nation,” featuring over 100 figures, is an ode to this obsession, as is his newest sculptural series, “Super Catcher,” which shifts from katsina dolls to dream catchers.

Aside from crafting sculptures, Kahlhamer also plays guitar, a practice he sees as a natural extension of his visual work. “The sounds I play are like the forms in my work — skeletal, jangly, wirey,” he said. “I prefer the raw and immediate. A music video I made, ‘Dark Hair,’ has lyrics that have ended up in paintings.

“There’s a perpetual sonic loop between the painting studio and my musical interests. This translates to writing, too. I recently wrote an essay on the painter Fritz Scholder for the Denver Art Museum, and approached the text with a songwriter’s attitude.  I always travel with a sketchbook so I can jam out visually in the same way I would with a guitar. The sketches then live on as entries on my Instagram, which I keep as visual diary. It’s all a lyrical loop.”

There is a loop-like feel to Kahlhamer’s entire handmade practice as well; perhaps, that is, if loops could be jagged. Authentic obsessions, whether artistic influences or personal quests, drive the time-travelling sculptures with ferocious intensity. Traditional Native American folk art is stitched together with a hint of Paul Klee’s diminutive monsters, a whiff of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s calligraffiti, some of Alexander Calder’s delicate mobiles, a bit of Robert Rauschenberg’s scrap storytelling. It’s a search for identity that doesn’t just look backwards, but forwards, sideways, inside, and upside down as well.

Brad Kahlhamer: Fritz Scholder and Contemporary Art, Denver Art Museum

SUPR NDN: An Essay by Brad Kahlhamer on the Work of Fritz Scholder

Super Indian will be on view at the Denver Art Museum Oct. 4, 2015, through Jan. 17, 2016. Following its Denver debut, the exhibition will travel to the Phoenix Art Museum (Feb. 26, 2016–June 5, 2016) and the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art in Overland Park, Kansas (June 23, 2016–Sept. 18, 2016).

Rauschenberg Residency: Artists In Residence

The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation fosters the legacy of the artist’s life, work, and philosophy that art can change the world. We increase access to Rauschenberg’s art, offer a residency program for artists of all disciplines, and support initiatives at the intersection of arts + issues.

The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky
Metropolitan Museum of Art

Artists on Artworks — Brad Kahlhamer
Friday, March 13, 6:30–7:30 p.m.
Gallery 534 (Vélez Blanco Patio)

See the Met's collection through artists' eyes. Each artist discusses works of art in the collection that have influenced his or her own work. Note: Limited to 45 people; stickers are distributed 20 minutes prior to the talk in Gallery 534, Vélez Blanco Patio, first floor.

Brad Kahlhamer works in a variety of media including painting, sculpture, and performance. His work explores what he refers to as the "third place"—where two opposing personal histories intersect. Explore his work currently on view in the exhibition The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky.

This event is part of MetFridays: New York's Night Out.

NY Times: Brad Kahlhamer: 'A Fist Full of Feathers'

VIDEO: Brad Kahlhamer, A Fist Full of Feathers

Brad Kahlhamer, Bowery Nation - July 15, 2012, to February 24, 2013
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum

"Brad Kahlhamer's gallery-filling installation, Bowery Nation, brings together 100 small, figurative sculptures that speak not only of the artist's Native American roots, but also to his time spent with the vibrant creative community on New York City's Lower East Side..."

Brad Kahlhamer: A Fist Full of Feathers, October 18 – November 16, 2013

Brad Kahlhamer: A Fist Full of Feathers
October 18 – November 16, 2013
Opening reception for the exhibition: Friday, October 18, 6 – 8 PM
524 West 24th Street

Jack Shainman Gallery is pleased to announce A Fist Full of Feathers, Brad Kahlhamer's first exhibition with the gallery which will include new paintings, sculpture and his installation, Bowery Nation, 1985-2012.

Over the course of his practice, Kahlhamer has worked within and between the mediums of painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, performance and music. This profusion of media builds layers of influence that are drawn from physical localities, daily surroundings, aesthetic experiences, collected ephemera and conjured histories that are both real and imagined. Through his paintings and sculpture new universes are built, simultaneously urban-rural and high-low with their own language of symbols drawn from such seemingly disparate sites as Topps Chewing Gum (his former employer), the Lakota Thrifty Mart in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, California skateboard culture, proliferative street art of Bushwick, Brooklyn and Kahlhamer's personal taxidermy collection, to name only a few. The work has often been described as existing in and representing a "third place" measured by complexity and contradiction, its most salient attributes. Kahlhamer's unruly methodology can serve as a mirror for a cross section of American cultures and their very consumption while also being a meditation on his own identity and his interest in the "re-wilding" of himself and the contemporary tribal male.

The individual elements of Bowery Nation were first born in 1985 after a visit nearly a decade earlier to the Heard Museum where Kahlhamer encountered their vast collection of Hopi katsina dolls. Signifying supernatural beings, katsina are traditionally used to represent and teach facets of Hopi cosmology. Over years of constructing these dolls using a host of found materials and living and working amongst them in the Lower East Side/Bowery neighborhood of New York, a sort of post-Smithsonian tribe had emerged in the studio. Richard Klein of the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum writes, "The decision to assemble them as a group and finally pursue their exhibition was partially governed by the series having reached the century mark, but also by the fact that, just like Kahlhamer's experience at the Heard three decades earlier, the power of the individual "dolls" is amplified by their gathering. Kahlhamer's personal mythology has been made manifest through the truism of strength in numbers." Kahlhamer is also exploring a correlative tradition, that of the tourist trade. He riffs on the copy of the copy of the copy which melts into ubiquitous symbols and tropes of representation, consumption and the rolling up of the complex and nuanced into a digested monolith. This romanticism is obliterated by what can be a harsh candor in his paintings and the carnivalesque celebration and public procession of Bowery Nation reflecting motley tensions but never defeat.

Brad Kahlhamer was born in Tucson, Arizona and currently lives in New York City. His work has been exhibited extensively in the United Sates as well as internationally. Bowery Nation was shown at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, Missouri, 2013 and the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Connecticut in 2012. It is currently on loan from Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA21), Vienna, Austria. Recent group exhibitions include One Must Know The Animals, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Wisconsin, 2012 and The Old, Weird America: Folk Themes in Contemporary Art, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, Texas, 2008. He was the recipient of the Joan Mitchell Award, 2006 and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award in painting, 2001.

Kahlhamer is included in numerous public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Seattle Art Museum, Washington; the Denver Art Museum, Colorado; the Weatherspoon Art Museum, North Carolina; the Milwaukee Art Museum, Wisconsin and the Hood Museum of Art, New Hampshire. He will be included in Musée du Quai Branly's exhibition The Art and Life of the Plains Indians opening in 2014 and traveling to the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, Missouri and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Concurrently on view at 513 West 20th Street is Odili Donald Odita: This, That, and the Other from October 18th through November 16th.

Upcoming exhibitions at the gallery include Susana Solano: A meitat de camí – Halfway there at both our 20th Street and 24th Street locations opening November 22, 2013 and remaining on view until January 11, 2014.

Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 6pm. For additional information and photographic material please contact the gallery at

via Jack Shainman Gallery

VOGUE, Six Degrees of Jay-Z: Meet the Artists Who Showed Up for the "Picasso Baby" Showdown

NEW YORK — On Wednesday, the Pace Gallery on Twenty-fifth Street was empty of art. Instead, the room contained just a low white rope, cordoning off a simple wooden bench and a white square stage. The set-up was an homage to Marina Abramović's MoMA retrospective "The Artist is Present," in preparation for the filming of Jay-Z's new music video, "Picasso Baby." (The upcoming single is from his latest album Magna Carta Holy Grail.) Directed by Mark Romanek, the final video will be edited from the six hours Jay-Z spent that day performing "Picasso Baby" over and over again in the white gallery space. And the crowd was not just any crowd, but an assemblage of hundreds of artists, actors, writers, designers, producers, and directors (along with their assistants, publicists, and children). Some were old friends of Jay-Z, such as Lyor Cohen and Rosie Perez. Others were artists whose work he and his wife Beyoncé collect, like Laurie Simmons, Aaron Young, and Marilyn Minter.

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Huffington Post: Jay-Z Dances With Artists And Curators In Chelsea For 'Picasso Baby' Video Shoot (PHOTOS)

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Brad Kahlhamer, Bowery Nation - July 15, 2012, to February 24, 2013
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum

"Brad Kahlhamer's gallery-filling installation, Bowery Nation, brings together 100 small, figurative sculptures that speak not only of the artist's Native American roots, but also to his time spent with the vibrant creative community on New York City's Lower East Side..."
Brad Kahlhamer: Bowery Nation on view at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum

ARTINFO, Jeff Koons and Rachel Feinstein Kick Up Their Heels at Art Production Fund's Urban Hoedown

NEW YORK — It looked a little country in the middle of the city last night as haystacks and a fiddler greeted guests in cowboy hats, bolo ties, and western dresses for the Art Production Fund’s Urban Hoedown. The most daring partygoers tested their riding skills on a mechanical bull, while the more cautious had their outfits judged by art performance group the Bumbys, got inked with a Scott Campbell temporary tattoo, snapped in a Poloaroid by Lucas Michael, or had their portrait sketched by Brad Kahlhamer.

Paste Magazine: The 50 Best Album Covers of 2011

#16: Man Man, Life Fantastic (feat. work of Brad Kahlhamer) via

New York Magazine "How To Make It In The Art World"


Yondering, The Stone NYC

Brad Kahlhamer: "Yondering" Path-minding vignettes and stories,
spirit meandering, signseeker-walkabouts (2/20/2011)

Laurie Anderson and Anna Brenner invite you to Stone Open House
From the practical to the theoretical, SOH will be a place to hang out, drink great coffee, read, listen to unusual presentations and invent alternative ways to live and work. Part think tank, part party, SOH will host a series of presentations that cover a wide range of topics- from the history of boilers to teaching music to dogs. SOH will present a library of must-read books for people interested in expanding in unpredictable ways.

Bates Museum of Art: Brad Kahlhamer and Kelsey Barrett: "Yondering"

Brad Kahlhamer: "Yondering" Path-minding vignettes and stories,
spirit meandering, signseeker-walkabouts (2/20/2011)


Friday, October 7 at 7:30 p.m. at the Olin Arts Center Concert Hall

Brad Kahlhamer and Kelsey Barrett’s performance work has been described as path-minding stories, spirit meandering, signseeker-walkabouts that combine voice, guitar, drums, and sound. Their performances include pointed stage visuals, sound effects supporting grass-fed stories and desert tales gathered from personal experience, with occasional music vignettes hawk-circling the rising narrative smoke…at times with a few shreds of the words of Diné (Navajo) poet Sherwin Bitsui poetry woven in…

City Arts

CityArts (excerpt on album artwork):
"I did a lot of roaming while working on Life Fantastic. I’m still not living anywhere. I’m still drifting, but it’s a more centered drifting. I was down in Texas visiting my dad and we went to the contemporary art museum. We saw a Weird America exhibit, the only thing that grabbed my eye were these paintings by this artist Brad Kahlhamer. I connected with them because they were chaotic, violent, and beautiful… The three sculptures in the album artwork are by him…They embody birth, life, and death. The guy on the cover is birth, it represent the playful side of the album."

Man Man, Life Fantastic Album Artwork
(Paste Magazine / Electric Wonder Creative / The Deli Magazine)

See more of Life Fantastic album design at Electric Wonder Creative

Paste Magazine: Catching Up With Man Man (excerpt on album artwork):
"When you look at the full album, it’s actually a triptych. During this whole period, I was down in Texas visiting my dad. We went to go see a concert in Houston (he lives in Austin) and had time to kill. So we went to the contemporary art museum. It had a Weird America exhibit, and Brad Kahlhamer…is this New York artist who’s been doing this for a really long time. I connected to it because I thought they were really beautiful, dark images. I was turned onto his totems, which there are hundreds of…I picked three that are kind of like birth, living and death. It translates when you see the whole thing—we wanted to have a stark, simple image."

Read about Man Man's Life Fantastic at The Deli Magazine

Sisley Art Project


Gazetteer /

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Black Rainbow Extraordinaire Magazine

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Very Magazine

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Beautiful Decay

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Vogue Italia

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Dazed and Confused

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Flash Art

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New York Times

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New Art Examiner

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Interview Magazine

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New York Times

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