Party time at Red Bull Curates: The Canvas Cooler Project SF Jose Lim/Red Bull Media House

Red Bull Curates kicked off a new season of Canvas Cooler Project exhibitions on January 31 in San Francisco.

The exhibition drew nearly 1,300 visitors to Public Works in the city's Mission District to view work by 20 Bay Area artists. The artists were given the assignment to interpret the clean surface of a Red Bull cooler according to the aesthetic of local San Francisco bars, lounges and restaurants.

Two of the artists were awarded for their standout, interpretive coolers: Akira Beard and Slvster. Each won the opportunity to exhibit and sell their work at the SCOPE Art Fair during 2013 Art Basel in Miami in December. For both artists, it will be their first time exhibiting at a major international art fair. 

nullJose Lim/Red Bull Media House

The panel of Red Bull Curates judges chose Beard’s cooler, which incorporates both text based symbolism and portraiture. Beard wrote “Samsara” on one side of the cooler and “Nirvana” on the other.

“The concept was to be vulnerable and honest,” he said. Artists created their coolers alongside each other over the course of one day. “I went in there intentionally with no plan.” Beard said he was listening to Buddhist discussions about the state of nirvana before the competition, which inspired his motif.

nullAkira Beard/Jose Lim/Red Bull Media House

Beard, a graduate of Academy of Art of San Francisco, focuses on social issues in his studio work. He works with seniors citizens at the non-profit Art with Elders.

“I'm a form follows function type of person,” he said. “Basically my process coordinates with life. I'm into nature and confronting fear of death. I go into the ocean once a week where it’s freezing and come back and express it through art.” Beard will show his work this summer at White Walls, a San Francisco gallery.

The prestigious panel of judges included Elisa Stephens, President the Academy of Art University, San Francisco Arts Commissioner Dorka Keehn City and Maria Jenson of ArtPadSF.

nullSlvstr/Jose Lim/Red Bull Media House

Slvstr, a 26-year old San Francisco-based artist, received the People’s Choice award, determined by a tally of Twitter hashtags from attendees at the opening. Slyvstr works closely with West Coast record labels as a graphic designer. His cooler is composed of cartoonish illustration that pops with vivid purple, baby blue, orange, and green in a dynamic work.

The coolers created by all 20 artists that participated in the inaugural show of the season will be permanently on display at venues throughout San Francisco. The opening of the show was transformed into an art party as DJs spun for the crowd across multiple floors in the exhibition space including DJs J Boogie, Shiny Objects, Fred Everything and Miguel Migs.


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