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To Friend and Foe
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September 09, 1999 — October 09, 1999
76 Grand Street, New York

Margaret Kilgallen was born in Washington, D.C. in 1967 and grew up in Maryland. She studied letterpress printing at Colorado College and moved to San Francisco in 1989 where she became part of an increasingly influential group of painters from San Francisco who have developed a fresh approach to the medium. The work has its roots in mural painting, street graffiti, tramp art, underground comics and beat poetry. Kilgallen often worked outdoors and was part of the community of graffiti writers, skateboarders and surfers who have created a unique San Francisco visual culture.
In her exhibition To Friend and Foe, Kilgallen painted the entire gallery from floor to ceiling with an assemblage of signs and iconic images. Kilgallen had a poet's approach to painting, collaging words and images into a rhythmic visual narrative. Her work has a very contemporary spirit but also has a nostalgic quality, evoking an America where things are experienced directly instead of being filtered through the electronic media. Her painting process involved no preparatory sketches and no “handles” such as masking tape and projections. Everything was rendered by hand giving her work a personal, hand-made quality. Margaret Kilgallen died in 2001 in San Francisco.

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