The Luggage Store gallery can be found off just off the beaten streets of 6th and Market in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco, hidden within a stickered entrance it is cultural gem in this rough and tumble neighborhood. In their latest show entitled ‘Me and My _____’ artists Rye Purvis, Erlin Geffrard, Henry Gunderson, Chad Hasegawa, and Spencer Keeton Cunningham transformed The Luggage Store into a set of five site specific installations.

Assembled by Gallery Director and Curator Daryl Smith, ‘Me and My _____’ highlights five top emerging artists in San Francisco art scene all under one roof. The Luggage Store, also known as The 509 Cultural Center is a non profit artist run multidisciplinary organization which organizes the community through the art exhibitions, educational experiences, and programs. It has become widely known for it’s commitment to creating culture, and offering a voice to artists within the Tenderloin area.

Chad Hasegawa is well known for his bears adorning mural walls throughout the city. The artist continues to receive recognition for his work, recently participating in both shows at White Walls and 941 Geary galleries. In his unique abstract manner, Hasegawa creates animals that breath color and life – often on a extreme scale. The artist created two wonderfully beautiful works for ‘Me and My ____’, as well as a bear “cave” in which patrons were invited to enter. Inside they were greeted with 4 wooden stools and a burning fire, a obvious retreat from the gallery conditions outside.

Erlin Geffrard has an energy to his work that not even paint seems to control. His paintings are oftentimes frantic, with imagery exploding off the walls, sometimes in simple and childlike manner. Upon closer inspection stories are revealed, and symbology takes center stage. In his site specific installation, Geffrard focused on creating a chapel that pays homage to figures from his own identity and within the rap community. His “saints” are tattooed, carry firearms, and drive lamborghinis while centered around the walls of his faux stained glass room.

Henry Gunderson continues to be an artist that is gaining recognition for his work, and many well known established artists and gallery owners mention his name regularly in conversation. Gunderson’s style is always highly conceptual, and can be best described as a visual puzzle that can be read in many ways. For ‘Me and My ____’ the artist brought in a number of his paper works and tacked them to corkboards hung within the gallery space. As if they were no more than notes on the wall, the works were allowed to simply stand on their own – a simple yet powerful concept. For his installation in the show, Gunderson covered a television with a “ramp” of dirt in which a bike can be seen embedded in the wall just over Hasegawa’s bear cave.

While continuing to build a body of mural collaborations ranging from Miami to San Francisco, Spencer Keeton Cunningham is finding acceptance in both street and fine art settings for his work. Cunningham produced an amazing painting for ‘Me and My ____’ which touches on native american aesthetics, while at the same time making it something completely new and original. Upon entering the a large wood frame box on which the painting hangs, one finds a video installation streaming clips of vintage war footage sitting next to a book with an upside down cross. Cunningham’s work continues to speak volumes about an individual’s place in society, and where culture fits within the mix of influences and emotions.

Rye Purvis blends iconography and celebrity into a mishmash of images that startle and intrique the viewer. For her installation, a cat clad in a bikini and a individual made of junk food (complete with cheeseburger head) sit on a set of swings. A painting of a woman (appearing to emerge from a floral wallpaper pattern) was hung within the pair, offering a playfulness to the commentary about what we ingest mentally and physically from our world.

‘Me and My ____’ at The Luggage Story is an impressive exhibition of talent, concepts, and styles from a set of artists that seem to be forging a clear path in the contemporary art scene. We highly recommend checking out The Luggage Store, and future exhibitions at this inspiring location.

- written and photographed by Michael Cuffe for Warholian

For more on The Luggage Store visit: http://www.luggagestoregallery.org/

For more on any of the artists in this story visit their respective sites:

Chad Hasegawa: http://chadhasegawa.com/

Erlin Geffrard: http://www.bitchipaint.com/

Henry Gunderson: http://henrygunderson.tumblr.com/

Spencer Keeton Cunningham: http://spencercunningham.com/

Rye Purvis: http://www.ryepurvis.com/

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