Secondly, their drawing styles were improvised, fugitive, rejecting of the abilities of a traditional skilled hand, and came soaked in arcane social histories, whether of surfing, skating, hoboing, or folk music, typography and design. When figurative, the work was influenced by comix, and it reflected the grittiest parts of urban life lived in post-student poverty. They were the same age, lived the same way, in the same neighborhoods, liked or studied with the same artists, were aware of each other, and were inspired to try to top each other as their work became known. Many second-generation Mission School-inspired artists came along or were publically associated with them or might have been, until international travelling shows like Beautiful Losers solidified their reputation, and curators in New York like Ann Philbin, then of the Drawing Center, and Jeffrey Deitch, gave many of them exposure there.
lines—one of the highlights of the show—is a “before” to Johanson’s “after” painting referred to above, in which her carefully composed lines are exploding into shrapnels of color. Another highlight, Ruby Neri’s grid of nine framed drawings—Such Thing Countless Wondrs, 1995 —includes handwritten textual fragments that reflect not only Raymond Pettibon but Chris Johanson’s more familiar musings. Her dinosaurs, Indians, horses and elephants could pass for Kilgallen’s work if the label were changed. Clearly these young artists were impressing, challenging, influencing and stealing from each other.