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“I’m embarrassed I haven’t been a good ally” Gouache and colored pencil on paper, 22” x 30” unframed 2020
“Don’t make it a thing” Gouache and colored pencil on paper, 22” x 30” unframed 2020
Angered by a number of inquiries and responses he received via conversations, emails and texts, McCalman creat- ed a series of type paintings highlighting the white fragility around him. Phrases such as “Tell Me Three Things I Can Do,” “Here If You Ever Want to Talk,” and “I’m Embarrassed I Haven’t Been A Good Ally” illustrate the disparity between the Black and white community in their perception of the social uprising swirling around and redefining American life. Using gouache, watercolor and colored pencil, he uses the structure of type to create visual personalities in the language—declarations of a community looking to be racially policed.
“I came up with the idea for this show in the wake of George Floyd’s murder,” said McCalman, “while trying to un- derstand the complexities of how white people talk about race—with the Black community and with themselves.”
McCalman has been gaining prominence as a critical Black voice and artist in San Francisco, and this show is a direct response to the heightened moment. All fourteen pieces for the show were created in McCalman’s Ocean Beach studio and reflect the lived experience of a Black San Francisco artist and activist dedicated to his work.
More about George McCalman
George McCalman is an artist and creative director based in San Francisco. He is a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. His illustrated monthly culture column OBSERVED documents the evolution of Bay Area life. His first book, Illustrated Black History, will be published by HarperCollins next summer 2021. He runs a design studio called McCalman.Co which serves primarily art, lifestyle and food clients. Born on the Caribbean island of Grenada and raised in Brooklyn, he credits his Caribbean background for his unique ability to both embrace and rebel against traditional modes of design