Ever Gold Gallery is please to announce the first solo exhibition of Yokonori Stone.
April 5th – 26th
“I hope I don’t piss off Barry McGee cause I really like his work and sometimes I wishI was him. There is a lot to like about San Francisco and I hope to pay tribute to themany wonderful people and places in the city. The majority of the work in this showwas made with that in mind. I am not all that smart so I try to keep things simple…if Ilike something I paint it and when I am done if I still like it then I show it. I like BarryMcGee, Ron Turner, Artbusiness.com and the San Francisco Giants. I hope no one getsangry when I paint a picture of them. Although my skills might not be world class mylove for all of them is.”
With all my love,
Born 1982 Okinawa, Japan at the U.S. Naval Hospital, Camp Lester
My father, Chief Warrant Officer Daniel Stone, is an American Marine. My
mother, Yuki, grew up in Naha, the capitol of the Okinawa Prefecture. I am told that they
met when my father asked her for directions to a local market. My mother was walking to
that very same market and so my father offered to give her a ride in his Jeep. My mother
recalls that he talked the whole time in Japanese thinking that she understood him even
though she was raised in a family that rejected anything Japanese and that she only spoke
the local dialect of Ryukyuan. Regardless of this miscommunication they started to see
one another beyond trips to the market. My mother said that she knew that she was in
love with my father but that she was reluctant to introduce him to her family because they would be unwilling to accept an outsider into the family.
Eventually after many months she introduced him to her family. My father
was instantly accepted when he managed to bow lower than anyone ever thought an
American capable of. My mother did not know that he practiced yoga daily, uncommon
for an American Marine. His exceptionally low bow meant that he had a great amount
of respect for his future father-in-law. They married in a traditional Okinawan ceremony
and I was born a year later.
From an early age everyone thought I was lazy and unwilling to learn the
fundamentals of reading and writing. It wasn’t until I was 12 that it was discovered that I
was dyslexic. I don’t blame my teachers and classmates for being so tough on me, they
only wanted me to succeed but the result of all this pressure and subsequent failure was
that I withdrew into myself and created a world I could live in that was free from name-
calling and public humiliation. I hated school and would often use class time to draw
comics and pictures of my favorite actors. This alternative world was safe for me and
also became a way for me to understand the real world.
Today I am quite literate and can do all the necessary math required for daily life
but I still use drawing and painting as a way for me to better understand my family and
the culture I come from. All the work I make I feel has to be made in order for me to live
a life that is free from crippling anxiety. I would not call my work therapy but it can be
therapeutic and as long as I enjoy making the work I will continue to do so.
Interview with the Artist:
Yokonori Stone may have started out as a “dumb kid,” who performed poorly on exams and was constantly chided for never paying attention, but today she’s attracting the attention of curators in Asia and Europe as a young feminist artist who has a cunning ability to distill images of raw debasement. This summer, she’ll have her American debut at Evergold Gallery with a suite of works that simultaneously embrace and ridicule her new hometown, San Francisco. This spring I visited “Nori,” as her friends call her, in her small apartment in the Western Addition neighborhood to talk about how she’s been settling in and what’s behind this new body of work. We sat on the floor of her living room and ate red bean mochi while we spoke.
CC: So how long have you been living in the Bay Area?
YS: I have been here for just over a year.
CC: Do you think the San Francisco scene has affected your work at all?
YS: Absolutely. The generosity of this city constantly surprises me and all the great artists working here is very inspiring.
CC: You’ve said that you think of your work as therapeutic. I think that’s very interesting since so many artists today are focusing on external concerns rather than internal ones. Often I see artists engaging with the politics of representation or using art to comment upon current systems of oppression, whether cultural, visual, or political. You seem to be moving in a totally different direction.
YS: I am not using art for anything except my own personal enjoyment and to gain a better understanding of myself. I wish I had the courage to tackle such important topics like sweatshop labor and gender equality but I am just a simple artist, and no one really cares what I think about such topics. They’d rather listen to Hilary Clinton or Reverend Al Sharpton.
CC: Another way that I see this—that your work is different from most of the art that’s being made and exhibited—is that you create small works on paper. You don’t do monumental works and you don’t make videos or take photos.
YS: I’d like to make monuments but they won’t fit in my apartment, so I am not sure how I would be able to work on such things. Videos require a lot of technical skill that I do not have. I can’t even figure out how to set up a facebook page. As for photos, there are just too many out in the world right now. I just don’t think I have anything to add in terms of taking pictures of things.
CC: Let’s go back to the question of the “therapeutic” part of your art. Is it the making of the work that is therapeutic? Or is it the kind of images you make that is therapeutic? You do produce some disturbing images. But the images are also funny. I wonder which part of your production is therapeutic for you.
YS: I take a lot of comfort from just working on things I like, but if I do not like the subject I can not enjoy the process. Like monkeys, I hate monkeys, especially baby monkeys. If someone told me that I had to make a picture of a baby monkey I would want to die. I try and only do what I enjoy, so I sit and make funny pictures all day except when I have to go to my job.
CC: Where do you work?
YS: You can find me working behind the scenes at the Trader Joe’s over on Masonic. I stock shelves and keep the back store room tidy. I get an apron and don’t have to wear those awful Hawaiian shirts.
CC: I’m surprised to hear you say that because so many of your works have a tropical or beach theme. But I agree, they are awful shirts. Although I love Trader Joe’s — so many great deals in their dairy case.
YS: Oh Yes! You should also try the frozen tamales, they are pretty good.
CC: Okay, but getting back to your work, Freud said that jokes can only serve two purposes. They are either hostile or obscene. Freud also said that smutty jokes “unfailingly produced a cheerful mood” among common people. In other words, are your paintings jokes?
YS: What is “smutty”?
CC: Well, it’s when you look at something dirty and it turns you on.
YS: I don’t think my work would ever turn anybody on, even in San Francisco, but I do think that they are kind of like jokes. It is fun to say things that aren’t polite, and I think it is fun to hear such things as well.