Photos by Marshall Fisher
This article was written by Sasha Bates in 2019. We’ve decided to resurface the piece having recently re-fallen in love with his visual work.
This Sunday, Action Bronson gave the people of the Bay Area a glimpse of his original artwork and beautifully decadent lifestyle at a free pop up show titled “On The Road Again” at San Francisco’s Acquario Di Pesce gallery. In his first ever art show, the New York rapper displayed 12 watercolors he painted during his ongoing “White Bronco” tour, though the art was in some ways overshadowed by what felt more like a celebration of the larger than life character that is Bronsoliño. My roommate and I broke through our Sunday afternoon fog to check out the show that Action had posted about on Instagram and Twitter encouraging people to “JUST PULLL THE FUCK UP” [sic] to see his art and partake in the promised free weed, wine, and food.
The line circled around the block outside of an Italian restaurant-turned-gallery in the otherwise touristy North Beach. The scene looked like a thrift store fashion show as come-up clad Bay heads wondered aloud as to what awaited them at the gallery on the top of the hill. Passing outsiders awed by the sight of “what it really means to live in California” (one long line of young Californian hypebeasts smoking weed on the street) asked what we were all in line for; the response was a consistently mumbled “…art show.”
About 20 minutes before the doors opened excitement grew in the crowd as a couple men in chef’s toques came walking by taking videos of the ever-growing line. Perhaps we would be in for one of Action’s famous culinary experiences. A group of guys next to me smoking a backwood paused their conversation about whether or not it is legal to smoke in public after a couple cops passed and also asked what we were doing there… “art show.” The truth was most of us did not know much better than the passing police.
When the time came and the doors opened there was a palpable excitement and curiosity throughout the crowd. It is hard to imagine that any of those waiting in line were disappointed by the scene inside. The first sign that this event was specifically driven by Bronson’s carefully curated aesthetic came at the door. The event, while free, was 21+ and in a true rockstar throwback, Bronson enlisted the Hells Angels as security– an edgy move to say the least considering their history working shows in the Bay. A man with a mustache and patch covered leather jacket checked my ID and let me into a sort of foyer where a group of roadies with tall cans of Lagunitas Sumpin Easy, Anchor Steam, and Bohemia were playing a game of backgammon with hundreds of dollars in cash on the table – as if to prove that yes, their life is just how you might imagine it.
Passing through this room we entered the main gallery. Those of us who arrived in the first half hour were handed joints as we walked in and directed to the bar where wine and Lagunitas THC and CBD infused seltzer were given out to guests throughout the day. The spacious gallery rapidly grew thick with free weed smoke as strangers smiled and congratulated each other on their mutual good luck at getting into an event whose list seemingly should have been limited to insiders and backgammon players. Action, a surreal embodiment of the indulgent life that he portrays in his music, walked around the gallery with a bottle of rosé, consistently obliging the ever-present throng of people asking for selfies and signatures.
Bronson’s art was lined up along the back wall of the high ceilinged gallery– each of the twelve pieces an abstract portrait of somewhat disturbing non-human faces. Treading the boundary of scary and funny, the actual subjects of the untitled portraits were up to the interpretation of the viewer. I thought one particularly looked like Thomas Jefferson while my roommate postulated that the same piece was a self portrait. The paintings were for sale at $3,000 each and a few pieces were marked with scotch tape as having been sold.
While the art display was the stated reason for the event, it ended up being overshadowed by the food… of course. It is well known that Action Bronson, a former chef, cooks and eats good. Thus it should have come as no surprise that the show, catered by Zio Tony’s, was a culinary spectacle. The chefs, all sporting tall white hats and mustaches – some real, some fake – had a few tables set up where they passed out small bites. Adding to the crazy Bronson vibe was a band next to the chefs composed of the two oldest guys in the room, a guitarist and an accordion wielding singer. It impossibly felt as if we were in some backroom restaurant in New York as they played Volare by Dean Martin.
The chefs began by saucing out breaded chicken parm wings with provolone and marinara sauce, followed by miniature calzones with mushrooms and mortadella, and later seared octopus on flatbread. The peak of the eating experience, and in truth the event as a whole, came when the chefs brought out a whole roasted lamb. The absurd indulgence of the spectacle of this beast sitting on a table in front of hundreds of stoned eyes was only made greater when Bronsoliño gleefully hacked off one of the lambs legs with a cleaver and flung it into the crowd. Those of us not fortunate enough to savagely decimate the thrown meat were served slices of lamb with a yogurt dressing and a side of pickled radish, red onion, and cucumber in feta cheese. This shit was so beyond worthy of the title of Bronson’s Viceland show, Fuck That’s Delicious.
The event, which I would be remiss to not remind you was entirely free, was a very generous glimpse into the life of one of the rap game’s most compelling icons: a man who seemed very genuinely happy to share his delectable and decadent life with the Bay Area. The crowd was refreshingly free of pretension because very few of us were accustomed to anything like what we experienced and to front like we were would have been comical. If Mr. Bronson brings his show to a city near you it is not to be missed.
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