Steve DeFrank used some 80,000 Lite-Brite colored pegs in a light box to make an ultra-'70s portrait of his parents in the nude -- tan lines, shagged hair, medallions, and all. Rob Conger created a sinister (what other kind is there?) portrait of Alan Greenspan using woven acrylic yarn in classic hooked-rug style. Take it home and you can walk on the Fed Chairman. And for Bay Area artist Jason Mecier, the only way to picture The Twilight Zone host Rod Serling was with vintage household items and office supplies glued on paper. Other times, he's used macaroni.
Clearly, these guys have a lot of time to waste. But the toy-loving, celebrity-struck art of DeFrank and Conger (both New Yorkers) and Mecier is pretty near irresistible on a wall in an art gallery, which is where you'll find it beginning Saturday at Lizabeth Oliveria in downtown Oakland (942 Clay St., 510-625-1350, www.lizabetholiveria.com).
Oliveria calls the group show "You Ought'a Be in Pictures," a nod to all three artists' publicity-driven sensibility. DeFrank is probably the most personal, although he's used his hand-dyed Hasbro Lite-Brite pegs (creating literally thousands of shades from the original eight colors) to capture Mark Spitz, an "S-M guy" named Fritz, and a toy cowboy character called Hank. "I especially want to introduce Steve to the Bay Area," says Oliveria. "I think people here would love his outlook." DeFrank's pièce de résistance, aside from Mom & Dad, is a gigantic self-portrait made entirely of painted, glittered Little People toys. DeFrank was recently commissioned by FAO Schwarz to create a Lite-Brite American flag, now on display in New York City.
"These pieces are tremendously different in person," swears Oliveria. "They're very intricate." All of Conger's rugs in the show deal with Greenspan, in keeping with Conger's fascination with the financial world. Meanwhile, San Francisco resident Mecier riffs on everyone from Linda Blair to "The Rock," executed in Q-Tips, wallpaper, and found objects. DeFrank and Mecier will appear in person at an artists' reception Saturday, from 6 to 8 p.m. "You Ought'a Be in Pictures" runs through February 2 at Lizabeth Oliveria Gallery.
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