March 5 – April 20, 2022
The Roll Up Project is pleased to present sculptures by Tom Franco and Alan Chin. Franco and Chin grew up in the Bay Area and met while studying at California College of the Arts in Oakland. They both use found and collected objects in their work, and respond to the materials in the moment, creating records of specific places and times during their frequent travels through California. Their ongoing collaborations include documentaries, exhibitions, and community engagement projects.
The window on Harrison Street features five sculptures. Franco’s Medicine Healer (2022), The Great In Between – Comets From the Sky, Volcanoes From Below (2022), and Star Planets Flying (2022) are vibrant mixed media works that combine a wide variety of found objects with brightly painted details. The resulting sculptures bring to mind folk art practices from around the world, and the vital role art plays in storytelling and mythmaking. In The Great In Between – Comets From the Sky, Volcanoes From Below (2022), a microwave transforms into a diorama base, depicting a mountain from its topmost peak to its volcanic base. Flaming comets rain down on the scene, adding a sense of movement and energy.
Chin presents two circular sculptures in the window: Union (2020) and Phase 1, 2, 3, 4 (2020). Union (2020) is comprised of trucker’s hats, stacked by color and squeezed into a hoop of metal that was originally part of a Model T car wheel. Chin collected the hats from the streets of Oakland over a span of ten years. Union may act as a reminder of all the things left behind – the cultural signals and personal effects that fall by the wayside – or they could be an homage to the trucks that pour out of the nearby Port of Oakland daily, on their way to myriad destinations across the American West.
Franco’s Smoking Mom (2022) and Chin’s Father I have sinned, I haven’t practiced tennis in a long time (2018) are sited in the Third Street windows. In Smoking Mom (2022), a repurposed Ouzo bottle shaped like a woman towers benevolently over small figures seated around an ashtray. The small figures reach their arms out to the cigarettes in the ashtray, perhaps warming themselves like a campfire.
Father I have sinned, I haven’t practiced tennis in a long time (2019) is an assemblage featuring paintbrushes, solo cups, and palettes dangling from an old tennis racket, with additional brushes studded through the racket’s nylon strings. The strings holding the brushes and palettes bear a similar tension to the tennis racket strings, perfectly taut and ready to reflect any incoming volleys. The title implies a creative practice that has overtaken a perceived obligation.
Seen together, Franco and Chin present two unique perspectives on working with found materials. They take remnants of our world and re-envision them as raw materials for pattern and form. The chosen objects retain some cultural meaning, and in reflecting on them, we can think about the past, the present, and the potential for the future of our shared world.
About the Artists
Tom’s main profession is as a fine art sculptor and painter. His work is described as a mixture of found objects sculpture, folk-art, collaborative in nature, California funk art, and ceramics.
Tom is the founder and director of the Firehouse Art Collective (est. 2004), which is a constellation of 6 community art spaces providing art studios, communal housing, and event spaces in the cities of Berkeley, Oakland, Richmond, Reno, and Paradise. The Firehouse mission reads: Empowering the practice of artistry for the benefit of personal and community well-being. The main function is to provide physical spaces for artists to co-create a culture of interdisciplinary collaboration.
With a group of 6 core members, Tom thinks of his main art collaborators as functioning more like a musical band that tour around the United States and visit other countries to put on shows, art activations, and teach. They make short films of these art adventures to highlight and encourage the live nature of art-in-community as an essential life-style practice.
Studio interviews with outstanding artists in their field make up a second series of short content films.
In 2019, Tom co-founded the nonprofit Makers Paradise to provide programming for artists with disabilities, Veterans, and seniors. Together with his wife, and film producer, Iris Torres Franco, they formed Firehouse Films in 2015 to develop and create narrative movies, short content series, and documentaries. They live with their four dogs in Oakland and Los Angeles, California.
Alan Chin (b. 1987 Berkeley, CA) lives and maintains a studio in Hawthorne, California. He attended Academie Minerva in the Netherlands and earned his BFA in ceramics and painting from California College of the Arts in 2011. For six years, Chin was the studio assistant to the American artist Raymond Saunders.
Alan’s work has been shown in cities around the world and at institutions such as the Berkeley Art Museum, California College of the Arts, The Canton Museum of Art, The Kaneko, Richmond Art Center, Sam and Alfreda Maloof Museum, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum.
In 2017, Alan was selected to represent the USA at the first International Ecological Sculpture Biennale in Wuhan, China.