"Son of Pop: Ron English"
Varnish Fine Art, 77 Natoma (at Second Street), S.F.
The opening reception begins on Thursday, June 2, at 7 p.m. (the exhibit runs through July 2)
Admission is free
But this billboard bandit is more than just a hero to budding culture jammers; in fact, his star is rising in the art world (both Slash and Pavarotti own paintings by English). His latest exhibit, "Son of Pop: Ron English," begins a monthlong residency this week at Varnish Fine Art. From a half-human "cowgirl" to a topless Marilyn Monroe with breasts made of Mickey Mouse heads (the Disney character's shiny nose acts as the nipple), English's wild pastel images, like his billboards, involve an "improvement" on someone else's work -- in this case Andy Warhol's silk-screen series. With the help of Warhol cohort Alexander Henrici, English silk-screened these images over and over again in several garish colors, resulting in his own pop art.
But just because English is playing in the art establishment's big-boy sandbox doesn't mean he's lost his edge. Though I'm not at liberty to divulge any details, I recommend you look more closely than usual at the billboards around town this week.