Paloma, Kottie: Many Strangers Look Alike

“Kottie Paolma and the Daily Strangers”; April 24- May 7, 2008; Fecal Face Dot Gallery; 66 Gough St. @ Market, San Francisco, 94102; Wednesday 3-8pm and Sunday 12-6pm;

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If you can’t make it to FFDG by May 7th, check out Booklyn Artist Alliance:,%20San%20Francisco,%20CA%3C/h2%3E.php

People familiar with Kottie Paloma's work know that it is geared for, um, an adult audience. With titles like “Everybody F*cks” and “Drunk Tiger,” his book art could be described as "South Park unmuzzled." But while this show is safely rated PG, it sacrifices none of the artist's trademark edginesss.

“Kottie Paloma and the Daily Strangers” documents the people you see on a regular basis but never meet formally: the corner store clerk; the muni driver who always skips your stop; neighbors in your rent-controlled apartment building; urban campers who bed down in front of your office building.

This is the third exhibition to hang in brand new Fecal Face Dot Gallery. Though the gallery is new, the FF brand name is a stalwart of the local emerging artists scene. is a vibrant online magazine founded in 2000 that covers street, lowbrow and Mission School styles in depth.

In the bricks and mortar space, over 250 five by seven graphite portraits hang together densely like a fraternity composite. According to the artist, installation was a puzzle. It was hard to decide which of the strangers should hang next to each other.

You’re not imagining it- Paloma’s strangers do look alike. As you gaze at the funny looking people, the same patterns begin to emerge on the men and the women: straight bangs, dated-looking square framed glasses, 5 o’clock shadows, shiny bald pates. But it’s the awkward, grimaced expression on each individual that makes them all look related in this wacky family portrait. ($100 each.)

Paloma drew a few portraits a day between assigments while working for Russian Hill framing shop, Frame-O-Rama. Each canvas started out as a discarded, archival, matte board that the artist cut down in the course of the work day and would have otherwise been thrown away.

Paloma’s purposefully naïve style of drawing belies his formal training. Because he didn’t officially graduate from California College of the Arts, Paloma modestly leaves his nearly completed MFA in painting and drawing off his resume. (Scholarship money fell through with just four credits to complete.) Influences include Twombly, Bacon, Warhol, Guston, and Pettibon.

Since art school, Paloma has caught the eye of quite a few young curators who have a talent for spotting emerging talent, including Eleanor Harwood, Joyce Grimm of Triple Base Gallery, and Kerry Johnston of Blankspace Gallery.

Paloma was raised in Huntington Beach but rejected “beach culture” and came to San Francisco in 1996 for the punk rock music scene. But he had begun drawing long before that. His talent was revealed as a kid while pen-paling with his family’s Swedish exchange student. Despite the house guest’s long visit, the friends were unable to correspond in Swedish or English so they drew pictures instead.

Paloma is prolific and multi-faceted, working on multiple projects and series at once. In addition to “The Daily Strangers,” there is “Soft Sculpture” and “Flag Project,” to name just two.

The original soft sculpture guy, Claes Oldenburg, made the seminal “Soft Bathtub” in 1966. Paloma puts his trademark edgy spin on the concept, depicting subject matter that reflects the perils of his Sixth and Market address, including guns, cigarettes, a sack lunch, and whiskey bottle. (Robert Crumb’s brother happens to live next door.)

“Flag Project” gently mocks the Market Street Beautification Project. Artists and non-artists alike are invited to sew a flag and hang it from the pvc flagpole mounted outside Paloma’s third floor windowsill. No theme is required and there are no rules. Brian Pederson's contribution was "Tighty-Whities"; Joan Zamora’s composition featured familiar Sixth Street icons, including a pigeon and a chicken leg.

But book art is how this versatile artist is making his mark on the art world.

Different chapters from Paloma’s ribald, audio-accompanied “Books on Tape Series Vol. 2” were recently aquired by three prestigous institutions including UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library, Stanford University Library, and most recently the Library of the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, Austria.

Marshall Weber, Director of Collection Development at Booklyn Artist Alliance (Brooklyn, NY), describes Paloma’s appeal to curators and collectors: “Kottie tells it like it is – really heartfelt work, with no pulled punches, real stories about poverty, violence, shitty romance, the crappy artworld and its dorky myths, he’s the bomb.”

Learn more about book art by attending a panel discussion this 4pm this Saturday, May 3, at New Langton Arts: