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"The Lost Isle of Neptune"
Featuring artists Renee Castro and Ken Davis

December 10, 2010 – January 28 2011
Free Public Opening Reception: December 10, 2010 / 7-10 p.m.
Suggested donation: $5-$10
Evening includes light hors d'oeuvres, music and entertainment

The Neptune Beach Amusement Park was located on the island of Alameda at Crab Cove. The Park was served by the Southern Pacific Transportation Company and ferries from San Francisco and it operated from 1917 until it closed in 1939. Admission to the Park was only a dime and it was described as a place for private picnics, with a clubhouse for dancing, and barbecue pits. The Cottage Baths were vacation cottages, available for rent, but more frequently let out to the carnival employees and freak show characters. Its two outdoor pools hosted swimming races and exhibitions by swimmers such as Olympian Johnny Weismuller, who later starred as the original Tarzan, and Jack LaLanne who started a chain of health clubs. The Park also featured a hand-carved carousel from the Dentzel Company and a Ferris wheel. Although the Neptune Beach Amusement Park no longer exists, some of the housing has been relocated within Alameda and the memory of the Park lingers romantically for the old veterans of the naval base in Alameda and also for the newer inhabitants and visitors to the island which includes the featured artists in this exhibition, Ken Davis and Rene Castro.

Ken Davis, in particular, is interested in the intersection of linguistics and aesthetics that become the focus of his artwork based on the historiography of signage. All of his signs/images/artworks are meticulously hand-lettered, using the fonts and materials (Ken is a master of "One-Shot," sign enamel) associated with the traditional craft of signage. However, Ken Davis takes the work beyond this realm by grouping disparate phrases within complex installations that sweep across walls and through rooms. Particularly fascinated with Victoriana and the darker underbelly of the Romantic age in Alameda, Ken Davis' world is meant to be read on a variety of different levels.

Autobody Fine Art has occupied a pivotal position in the resurgence of cultural identity and belief on the island of Alameda and we were particularly curious to revisit a monument that seemed central to the islands' previous identity. Rene Castro's beautiful, finely detailed art work has always dealt with the way in which women, in particular, occupy a space that is both magical and terrifying, but can also be a conduit for understanding the emergence and incorporation of oral and visual traditions within communities. Rene frequently pictures the "feminine" through a variety of proscribed identities: Aviator, Matador, Mythical Creature, Whore, to name a few. With the history of the Neptune Beach Amusement Park awash with character types, Rene Castro's imagination will be free to transform and elevate the freak show into something startlingly beautiful.

The opening evening of the exhibition will feature music, food and vaudeville/burlesque style entertainment as the artists lead you through a magical journey into the past, yet framed through the critical lens of contemporary art. Tickets for the opening event will be on a sliding scale of $5.00 - $10.00, please come and celebrate the work of three tremendously talented artists whose work has already received significant critical acclaim and forms the backbone of several contemporary collections.

For more information and images, please contact Amy George, Gallery and Events Director, Autobody Fine Art Gallery at, or call the gallery at 510.865.2608.

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James Shefik
Renee Castro
James Shefik
Renee Castro