As we become further inundated with computing, it has become increasingly fashionable for artists to juxtapose the digital aesthetic with the homey feel of folk art, often merging the two in some cutely incongruous way. For example, a cross-stitch of an “emoji” or an oil painting of a “selfie” would fall into this category. The works in Material Data, Samantha Bittman’s current solo show at Johansson Projects (2300 Telegraph Ave., Oakland), could be placed within that intersection as well. Upon closer inspection, though, they make a more interesting inquiry into the construction of imagery, and the emergence of patterns. Bittman designs and executes weave drafts on a basic floor loom, then spans them over stretcher bars to form a woven canvas. Then, she paints over the yarn work with bold patterns, treating each stitch as it were a pixel in a digital painting, only able to represent one solid swatch of color. The mostly two-toned maze-like compositions resemble both computer hardware chips and old-school optical illusions. Bittman highlights the materiality of weaving by abstracting it, but leaves a border of bare yarn around the painted area, or sometimes swatches throughout. In that way, she forms a pairing that still feels subtle and clever.
For years, Dan Borenstein, an influential columnist and editorial page writer for the Oakland Tribune and the Contra Costa Times, has claimed that public employee pensions are strangling local governments. The problem is: He's wrong.