In the third week of July, Lawrence Rinder returned from vacation to find a full-size van in the Berkeley Art Museum galleries. “I have no idea how this happened,” says Rinder, the museum’s director and the co-curator of its upcoming show. Last he heard, no vehicle that big would fit through any of the museum doors. “But I’m glad it did,” he says. The van will be installed to look as if it crashed over one of the museum’s parapets and landed on its nose in the main atrium gallery. Standing on the back of the overturned van will be a tower of four animatronic taggers—standing on each others’ shoulders to reach up and spray paint an upper balcony. There will also be a life-size replica of a bodega, some early prints and drawings, and a number of older and newer wall-hanging works, like McGee’s “radically colorful clusters of paintings that boil and bump, extruding from the wall like a life form,” Rinder describes. All this is part of the soon-to-open Barry McGee retrospective, for which Citizens of Humanity is a presenting sponsor.Even though Rinder was working in the Bay Area in the 1980s, when McGee began making art in the streets of San Francisco, McGee didn’t grab his attention until years later. In 2001, Rinder had moved from the Bay Area to New York to work for the Whitney and was curating the museum’s 2002 biennial exhibition of new American art. He planned to include Margaret Kilgallen, a “Mission School” artist like McGee—McGee, Kilgallen and a few others acquired that name because they worked on walls and buildings on and around San Francisco’s Mission Street. Kilgallen had been McGee’s wife until her death from cancer just months earlier. So it was McGee who arrived to rebuild and install her work, which meant he and Rinder worked closely together. Seven years later, after Rinder returned to the museum world after a brief hiatus and become the director of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, he began planning the McGee retrospective. Rinder doesn’t curate many of the shows at the museum—his role as director keeps him busy with fundraising, building and programming concerns—but the Barry McGee exhibition is different. It’s a project he’s dreamed of doing for years with an artist who, like Rinder, sees no clear division between art and daily life. McGee comes to the galleries nearly every day and, in the run-up to the show’s opening, Rinder and his co-curator Dena Beard, are keeping a careful balance between intervening and letting McGee be. It’s more like McGee is remaking himself for this exhibition than re-presenting past work. When the Barry McGee retrospective opens on August 24, it will begin with intricate, careful drawings. McGee began his career making such drawings and prints, and his remarkable draftsmanship might surprise viewers who associate him with a “street” aesthetic but have never really looked at his handwork up-close. The first galleries will also include some cluster pieces. In these, McGee’s small paintings of elongated, cartoonish heads or loose lettering are framed and hung close together so that together they look like a single, awkward body. Then, in subsequent galleries, you will see McGee’s mid-career work, ambitious sculptures, like the bodega and tower of taggers.But at the end, the show will come full circle. You will encounter McGee’s most recent renderings, gorgeous patterns and figures surprisingly similar to those he drafted decades ago. These will be installed alongside drawings by McGee’s own father on napkins, which the the artist kept all these years for inspiration, and you will likely leave thinking about how baffling yet beautiful it is that life can have so much continuity despite all the detours and discoveries that shape it.This is an edited version of an article, by Catherine Wagley, that appeared in the first issue of the Citizens of Humanity magazine. Photo of Larry Rinder by Stefan Kocev for Citizens of Humanity. Photo of Barry McGee art by Elon Schoenholz. Untitled, 2012; acrylic on panels; dimensions variable; Barry McGee, May 11–June 30, 2012; Prism Gallery, Los Angeles; courtesy a private collection and Prism Gallery, Los Angeles.