First Street Gallery Presents 'Just Cause: Donovan Clark and Jeremy Hara'

The First Street Gallery presents "Just Cause," a two-person exhibition of sculpture, paintings, drawings and mixed-media works by the artists Donovan Clark and Jeremy Hara, through March 6. Their art is a mélange of pop, conceptual, and graffiti approaches that showcase the artists' craft while gleefully playing with and subverting a variety of popular tropes within our culture.

Clark and Hara met over 15 years ago at College of the Redwoods in Eureka. Afterward, they both attended Humboldt State, studying in the Art Department, where they became founding members the art collective, Empire Squared, a seminal, visual arts collective that spun out a number of young, ambitious artists from California’s North Coast. Both artists have contributed to hundreds of art exhibitions in California’s North Coast region. This exhibition is the culmination of years of collaborative art exchanges between this dynamic, artistic duo.

Why are these two artists exhibiting at HSU First Street Gallery? They answer with the exhibition’s title, “Just Cause …” Clark and Hara are embracing the flip and compulsive qualities of “Just Cause.” Why do they make art? Just Cause … they have to. At the same time, these artists are taking up the noble fight of the just cause. Their work is inherently political, satirical, and yet accessible and playful. The work is political without being heavy-handed. Justice, crime and pop culture are blended into a mash-up of humor and artful expression.

In Hara’s 2015 series, “Just Cause,” he has created 20 vivid graffiti-style abstract paintings. For the series, Hara created three fictitious taggers (graffiti artists) whose stylized tags (signatures) appear in each painting. These fictitious tags are, “Over & Over”, “IIII” and “XOXOXO.” “Over & Over” represents the repetitive nature of writing graffiti and the act of writing things obsessively over and over. It is also about the accumulation of layers, or the act of one artist “going over” another. “IIII” is a symbol of counting, numerical annotation and the passage of time. “XOXOXO” represents encoded language, love or just hugs and kisses. These three characters help construct and propel a narrative within Hara’s works.

Much of Clark’s work is self-reflective, similar to a visual journal. His art often deals with personal issues and interests or documenting important moments in his life. He is a contemporary artist who works in several different styles. Clark’s work reflects his interest in underground art, graffiti, and skateboard culture. He also works with more traditional concepts in art, which reflect his interest in pop art, pop culture, comic books, and ’80s toys. Clark has been a comic book collector and a toy collector since his youth. His obsession with collecting toys and comics has been a huge influence on his art.

The exhibition, “Just Cause,” will also feature an installation by the two artists who will build an artist’s studio within the First Street Gallery confines.

HSU First Street Gallery is open Tuesday through Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. and is located at 422 First Street in Eureka, California. Admission is free. Those planning group tours are encouraged to call ahead. For more information call 707-443-6363 or visit the gallery’s website.