The Stunning Art of Tom Betthauser

Tom-Betthauser-1Warren has this to say about the intricately detailed and stunning art of Tom Betthauser, a soon to be graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute.

The particular point of view that Tom Betthauser employs in his recent drawings and paintings, known as isometric perspective, is an indispensible tool for architects and engineers. And his work so closely mimics architectural drawings that architects are asking for him. Borrowing from their visual repertoire, Betthauser’s drawings propose a critical distance from which to observe a scene with scientifically objective neutrality. Isometric perspective aims to expose what’s hidden inside. The “See Inside” children’s book series, for example, takes both new and old buildings and literally breaks them apart into easily readable diagrams. However, the tenderness of the renderings coats his scientific observation with a layer of sentimentality. The drawings are his microscope and the architectural junk around us—the bay windows, roof tiles, diving boards, tents, Winnebagos, Toyotas, barbeques, lawn chairs and beer coolers—well, that is his butterfly collection.


Tom’s vocabulary of source material draws on the vernacular architecture of the contemporary landscape. His practice involves driving around San Francisco’s Sunset District, Daly City and Marin County in his Buick taking pictures of the precise ways that light falls on boring-as-hell buildings. It is not quite Edward Hopper’s Anytown, USA, but might as well be. However, I am not content to write off his work as another nagging warning about suburbia’s ills. It’s ironic that in order to break apart space shuttles to show their interiors he had to show them in states of ruin. But NASA knows and we know that our space shuttles, cars, and electronic devices will soon become outdated, crash and die. The planned obsolescence is built in. It’s part of the process of making way for the next generation. It’s a memento mori, one of the oldest themes in art history.



Tom Betthauser’s works are currently being exhibited at the The Peanut Gallery (NSFW) in San Francisco.

(Thanks, Warren)