Best Artist - 2008
Known ? and collected ? for punning relentlessly in the face of bigotry and despair, Michael Arcega is a very intelligent, very talented goofball. Among his works are a series of ?drawings? he made by gluing hair onto white paper. Each meticulous, detailed image is titled for maximum wordplay: Disast-hair, Hairly (a motorbike). Elsewhere he conflated cockroaches, military vehicles, and neon signage to create Tanks a Lot, 300-inch-long wooden tanks infesting a bathroom plus a sign reading ?This Toilet Is Occupied.? It was site-specific, for the bathroom at the Headlands Art Center, where he was an artist in residence; it was oddly beautiful. More typical is other work he did for the de Young, such as his Spam maps (get it?) or the tiny, intricate scale models of pleasure palaces he made and stacked on top of ax handles and table legs; as mock tribal artifacts, they look perfect. They are Dance Clubs, complete with colored lights and pulsing music inside their little walls. These are not his most exciting works, though: That honor goes to El Conquistadork, a Spanish-galleon?style ship Arcega built out of manila folders, complete with twine rigging and cloth sails. It was sized so that one man could get in it, sail it in a triangular route that symbolized the trade routes between Manila, Mexico City, and California until 1815, and make it out alive. Naturally, he hit the ground punning.