By Victoria Dalkey, Bee Art Correspondent, The Sacramento Bee
A wry sense of humor and acomplex graphic energy characterize the works in a 20-year survey of Dan Snyder's work at b. sakata garo . Snyder, who taught theater arts at the University of California, Davis, for many years, has earned a quite underground reputation for his intriguing images of contemporay life.
The works in his show range from simple, crisply observed watercolors of rowers to savage satires of stockbrokers. "Stockbroker: Taste the Bull" is a caricature of a corpulent broker with an intricaely detailed ink drawing stigging like a mask on a figure in flattened space. The images of cuts of meat below the figure echo the bloody mass in the man's open mouth. Formally, the piece, which pits flat areas of sublte color with intensely worked line drawings, might be a collaboration between David Levine and David Hockney.
Its companion, "Stockbroker: Taste the Bear," is similarly compelling, as is an image titled "Professor Hanging on to Reality." In this bit of absurdity that comments on the professorial personality, a man with closed eyes grins while a string tied to his jacket zipper is anchored by an office chair that seems to be the only thing holding him to the ground.
Also fascinating are a series of what seems to be set designs for absurdist plays, such as "Out Our way," in which Snyder collaborated with artist and fellow UC Davis faculty member William Wiley. These images of ships sinking and lost at sea are quixotic, enigmatic works that remind one of Wiley's eccentric narratives.
The show is a bit uneven. Some of the pieces in the exhibition -- "Dinner for one," for example, and "Life in the Kitchen" -- have the bold, whimsical flair of New York magazine covers. Others are weak and do a disservice to the overall quality of Snyder's efforts -- among them "Cnnoisseur," a painting of a man with a bottle and a vase, and "Hero of a Thousand Faces," which resembles a psychedelic drawing done on speed.