George McCalman Talks About Art in the Wake of the BLM Movement

"Tell Me Three Things" by George McCalman

Graphic designer, artist, professor and S.F. Chronicle columnist George McCalman doesn’t need you to query him about how to handle yourself in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement. He wants you to take the time and do the work yourself.

Three days after the murder of George Floyd, George McCalman, who is a Black man living in San Francisco, started receiving calls from white friends asking for help with “healing.” This led him to write an opinion column for the San Francisco Chronicle called “The Temerity of Whiteness,” and eventually to the gallery show that the title of the piece shown here is taken from. The show title is a snide remark that refers to the kinds of questions he was getting from his white friends — questions he didn’t feel it was his responsibility to answer.

“Myself and all the Black people around me have been deluged by the same form of craziness, which is this extreme way the white community has been responding to us with their awareness,” McCalman says. “I have personally received a lot of crazy, infuriating and triggering responses.

“This is the stuff that really settles under the skin and gives people cancer,” he adds. “This is a terrible situation and I don’t want to hold on to any form of it — I want to return it to sender.”

McCalman says the show is a collection of “all the crazy phrases that white people have said to me.” He felt he needed to paint these phrases and put them up for people to see, judge, discuss and then come to their own conclusions about. Ultimately, he says, “It felt like a very therapeutic way to deal with it.”

See the Show

See his show “Tell Me Three Things I Can Do” at the Perish Trust starting in mid-August. 728 Divisadero Street, San Francisco

McCalman and his painting (photo by Georgia Hodges)
George McCalman (photo by Daniel Dent)

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