Jail Bait (1991-2002), Acrylic/Canvas, 24 x 30"

Berkeley gadfly John Sheridan's "Gravity" paintings put a postmodern spin on art history and pop culture using recycled images from the freewheeling '50s as their point of departure. Even as the confrontational tondo, Circus Queen Descending, quotes everything from Botticelli's Birth of Venus to Manet's Olympia, Sheridan lifts his leggy models and titillating titles (Jail Bait, Juvenile Jungle, Easy to Pickup, Girls in Prison) from pulpy paperbacks, campy comics, and teenage trash-film promo posters of the period. Like Peggy Sue, Sheridan's harem of bodacious bitchin' babes in tight skirts and sensible shoes are caught in that "We Like Ike" timewarp when sex was a four-letter word and good girls didn't. Like seismic sediment mirroring the pent-up passions rumbling beneath pre-Peyton Place America, kaleidosocpic waves of liquid acrylic rock and roll across Sheridan's canvases and swirl around his statuesque figures like psychedelic sandstorms. Though these stormy and steamy gravity paintings routinely elicit shrieks accusing them of sexploitation, they remain uplifting.

-- Harry Roche, SF Bay Guardian