Selected Press

KQED ARTS, Seeking SFMOMA’s SECA AWARDS, Christian Frock, September 16, 2013

On par with his earlier work, Herschend’s film blends fact and fiction in a documentary-style narrative, revealing “back of the house” stories about the move through interviews with museum staff. These stories, interwoven with fictionalized drama, blur our perceptions of reality and fantasy, seriousness and humor — all while offering exquisitely framed images of the museum’s architecture, collection and stewards.

SF Chronicle, SFMOMA Displays Artwork in Diverse Settings, Kenneth Baker, September 13, 2013

Stories from the Evacuation is… a wry vision of public imagination losing its way during the museum’s closure

Art in America, More Real: Art in the Age of Truthiness, Jennie Hirsh, Dec. 17, 2012

LA Times, Disorientation Video Sets Stage for Truthiness at Site Santa Fe, Jori Finkel, June 20, 2012

Known for subverting corporate logic and group-speak in other artwork, such as unruly PowerPoint presentations, Herschend dates his interest in exposing the artifice of entertainment back to his childhood. He spent summers working at a family-owned amusement park…

SF Chronicle, SF Quarterly Melds Function, Words, Access, Regan McMahon, Jan 29, 2012

KQED, Review of The Book You Said I Never Returned, by Jeremiah Barber, Nov 27, 2011

Herschend’s The Book You Said I Never Returned, plus three to five pastorals is an intricately constructed meta-narrative, albeit with humor as its course. Herschend leads his characters to stumble around the narrative of a missing book while revealing their own greed, self-interest, and ineptitude.


Art Practical, Feature Interview, by Bad at Sports (Brian Andrews, Patricia Maloney, Tess Thackara), issue 2.14 April, 2011

Brian and Patricia are joined by Tess Thackara in a rollicking conversation with artist Jonn Herschend. They discuss amusement parks, rugby, the art world’s need for humor, THE THING Quarterly, and of course Jonn’s diverse studio practice.


ARTFORUM, “Obscure Objects,” by Andrew Hultkrans, Feb. 2010

For an elusive object that appears as different things at different times and whose meaning shifts depending on who’s looking at it, the name is well chosen, carrying metaphoric weight that implies specificity but remains indeterminate.

Such is the case with The Thing Quarterly, a “periodical in the form of an object,” edited—or, better, curated—by Bay Area artists Jonn Herschend and Will Rogan, with each “issue” commissioned from a different artist, writer, musician, filmmaker, or designer and mailed to subscribers through the US Post in oddly shaped brown cardboard boxes


Art Practical, ” Nomads and Residents,” by Renny Pritkin, November 2009

By far the most original and successful of the commissioned works is by Jonn Herschend. His video, Another Fine Mess (part 2–Embrace of the Irrational, Lessons from the Romantic Movement), shot with state-of-the-art crispness, documents a fictional art lecture that quickly descends into chaos engendered by incompetence, egomania, pretension, and assorted other entropic catastrophes. It is hilarious, produced and directed with a confidence and clarity very rare in art video.


Brooklyn Rail, “Bay Area Now 5,” by Tessa DeCarlo,  September 2008

One of my favorite works is Jonn Herschend’s installation in the form of an infomercial-cum-training-session about ambiguity, shoes, and adultery with a tennis instructor. It’s pitch perfect, from the earnest but cheery tone of the video’s actors to the fake fern on the table next to the coffee carafe—and I didn’t have to wait for Herschend’s September 13 bus tour of “locations of public and private emotional crisis” to enjoy it.

San Francisco Chronicle, “Bay Area’s Best New Art Now,” by Kenneth Baker, July 22, 2008

But in the energy and hilarity of its performance and design, nothing in “BAN5″ comes close to John Herschend’s “Everything is Better Now; a presentation, chart, refreshment station and bus tour to help make clear the importance of ambiguity in life” (2007-08).

As part of the “Ground Scores” component of “BAN5,” on Sept. 13 Herschend will give a motorized cable car tour of “several sites of public trauma for San Franciscans,” complete with re-enactments.

Meanwhile his satirical video infomercial, coaching us on the enjoyment of uncertainty and the slipperiness of “evidence,” plays continually. Alongside it, an explanatory chart deconstructs any confidence in charts that the viewer may bring to it. Post-modernism at its finest.

Globe and Mail | Saturday, September 15, 2007, by Gary Michael Dault

There is some smart painting here too – by Jim Gaylord, Alex Clausen and Jonn Herschend. For me, though, the highlight of the exhibition is a 41⁄2-minute PowerPoint presentation called Why This Is not Going to Work so Well, in which Herschend projects a proposal for an artist’s project – a project so hopelessly, adorably confused and unworkable it makes your teeth ache.

Herschend’s “presentation” is one long progressively worsening video stammer in which the hopeful but hapless artist begins to say irrelevant things such as “how a tornado will take some things and leave others untouched” and how one part of the proposal will be about “the romantic poets” (not many of whose names he can remember). “Someone will say Ozymandias,” read the words on the screen, “and bump his head on a tree in the woods.” We’ve all heard proposals like this, have we not?

New York Times T Magazine, “The Next Big Thing,”  The Remix, Holiday 2008, Dec. 7, 2008, by Jamie Gross

For an experimental periodical that has been printed on beer coasters and rubber doorstops, The Thing is aptly named.  Founded last year by the Bay Area artists John Herschend and Will Rogan, this quarterly journal takes the form of a text-driven object designed by a different artist each edition and goes out (in a cardboard box) to more than 1,000 subscribers who pay $140 annually.  Issue 1 was a cryptically inscribed window blind by Miranda July; Issue 6 (available through Jan. 31; thethingquarterly.com) is a book with blank pages and a shoelace bookmark laced into an actual shoe by Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla.

Additional press

LA Times, Oct 20, 2008, Mindy Farabee  “The Thing, Magazine or a work of art?”

Frieze Magazine, Oct 2007, Julian Myers, THE THING