Welcome to ‘Vermont’

Viewing the portfolio of Tucker Nichols can sometimes feel as if one has stumbled upon the shoddy, albeit sincere, drawings of a toddler, rather than that of a well-respected artist who has earned degrees from Yale and Brown universities.

Simple, childlike, Nichols’ brand of drawing is the kind that causes critics of modern art to loathe the genre even more, question its credibility and even feel as if they are the butt of some conspiratorial joke.

The Bay Area artist’s first solo exhibition titled “Postcards from Vermont” doesn’t make the debate between art and farce any easier.

In his new series, Tucker unveils 50 framed drawings the artist has completed over the past year and records what he says is a log, so to speak, of his daily observations on life.

Rudimentary at best, Nichols’ series of drawings, technically speaking, delve no deeper than the sketchbook of a preschool student.

For instance, an unevenly drawn pie chart with a circle drawn into one piece of the pie is tender, yet nonsensical. What meaning is to be drawn of this “concept” art is very below the radar. Yet, does it cause us to take a second look, or to stare vacuously at these simpler things in life as the artist intends, absolutely.

Nichols isn’t concerned with audiences ogling his technique or process, everything is conceptual; everything is a symbol. If you are to get anything out of the exhibit, you must suspend reality and put on your thinking caps.

Visit ‘Utopia’

Sketch into your date books as well the Thursday opening of “Utopia” at the 111 Minna gallery.

To enjoy this exhibition, it is important to review the definition of what it means to be in a state of Utopia, which depending on your point of view can be interpreted an idea of optimism or a cornerstone of pessimism.

According to the folks at 111 Minna it “refers to efforts to create a better or even perfect society,” but when co-opted by those of a negative bent, Utopia can be used to “discredit ideas as too advanced, too optimist, or unrealistic and impossible to realize. Boo!

Ten artists have come together to say what Utopia means to them and in the process offers scathing commentary on the current state of political affairs governing the United States.

State of the Arts

» Tucker Nichols shows through Dec. 12 at Gallery 16, 501 Third St., San Francisco. For more information, call (415) 626-7495 or visit www.gallery16.com.

» “Utopia” runs through Dec. 2 at 111 Minna gallery, 111 Minna St., San Francisco. For more information, call (415) 974-1719 or visit www.111minnagallery.com.

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