October 19, 2014
Thursday evening was a big night in the city. Bernie Sanders the Independent United States Senator spoke at the Richmond Memorial Auditorium. He led a discussion with Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and City Council Members. Topics included money in politics, global warming, Medicare-for-All, Veteran care, and ending inequality.
It’s election season with many important races locally and nationally. I’m a regular listener of The Thom Hartmann Program, which is the most listened progressive radio talk show. Every Friday, he features an hour-long segment called Brunch with Bernie in which the Senator discusses current issues. I’m hooked to his unwavering determination to fight for what’s right and remarkable work ethic.
Sanders: “While the middle class disappears and more Americans fall into poverty, the wealthiest people in our country are using their wealth and political power to protect their privileged status at everyone else’s expense.” During his speech, the Senator went into depth about the billionaire Koch family and its devastating influence in politics. Thanks to a horrible Supreme Court decision, buying elections is currently on steroids. Companies like Chevron in Richmond, are flexing their monetary muscle.
It was a crowded event but well worth the time and effort. There were familiar faces from the arts, neighborhood councils, and local activists. As the Senator was speaking, I was monitoring the San Francisco Giants baseball game on my iphone. Just as Mr. Sanders was rallying the crowd, Travis Ishikawa hit a walk-off home run to catapult the Giants to the World Series.
Overall, the evening was a win-win for everyone. Couldn’t fall asleep due to the excitement. It was inspiring to see the community together and work as a team for the greater good. Go Bernie and go Giants!
October 12, 2014
Tuesday was a beautiful and sunny day. Spent the afternoon investigating the site of an upcoming public art project in South San Francisco. It also included an orientation meeting with a cultural arts specialist from the city. The purpose was to go over the do’s and don’ts of an upcoming public art project and other expectations.
According to the city’s website: “This public art mural program celebrates local artwork and encourages regional artists to share their creativity throughout the City of South San Francisco. Vibrant artwork helps deter unsightly graffiti and creates pleasant spaces for residents and visitors alike. We invite artists to participate in this unique program designed to transform common utility boxes into works of art, which will add beauty to the City of South San Francisco streetscape for years to come.”
The utility box that I’ll be painting is on the corner of Sister Cities Blvd. and Hillside Blvd. There are three large trees that shade the area and a commemorative bench sitting on a small walkway. The location is hugged on both sides by large hills or small mountains that open to the expansive sky.
My proposed design incorporates the history of South San Francisco while investigating its natural and manmade environments. I wanted my artwork to link the Ohlone people, Spanish settlers, Pacific Live Stock Company, and current infrastructure. The main color will be green/blue to reflect the area’s natural barrier to fog. The black lines branch out like a tree paying homage to the city’s history of being the birthplace of biotechnology while celebrating its future. Overall, I hope the viewer employs the history of South San Francisco as a template to discover their own path.
The next step in the process is to obtain certification and proper permits. When approved and if weather permits, the painting will begin. Can’t help but be excited and hopeful for this project. It’s something new, a challenge, and an honor to be given this opportunity. Ready, set, and go!
October 5, 2014
I waited in line for over an hour last Monday evening not including the time driving through the commute. My hope was to see Maya Lin present a lecture at the David Brower Center in Berkeley. When receiving an email in early September about the talk, replied immediately to secure a RSVP. Unfortunately, the free event was sold out. Called the venue and they indicated that an early arrival would guarantee admittance. In addition, the RSVP was only used to see if the event would be popular. Think again!
Maya Lin is a famous artist whose practice includes sculpture, installations, and public art. She designed the moving and elegant Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. A few years ago, my husband and I had the opportunity to spend a few hours at the site. It’s thin, stoic, and an appropriate marker for a challenging historical moment.
Being an artist, I’m interested in the intention of one’s practice. Currently at the David Brower Center is Maya Lin’s What is Missing? project dedicated to vanishing life on planet Earth along with sculptures showcasing water’s fragility. Maya Lin: “My work is in part trying to mimic natural formations in the earth, a complex but seemingly very simple phenomena. It is something I seek out in everything.”
Unable to get a seat at the lecture, persons in the “No RSVP” line were allowed to view Lin’s artworks in the lobby while listening to her lecture via a loud audio system. Not a dynamic speaker, she is deliberate and direct in a monotone voice. As a result, opted to listen to Lin clearly via YouTube without the distraction.
My quest to hear a great artist failed. However, knowledge arrives in many forms and not on a special list. Could have left angry being told one thing and experiencing another. The process of seeking information has many twists and turns. In the end, time is my friend and worth the reply.
September 28, 2014
Artists don’t get many chances to display work in world-class venues. The odds are normally slim to none. For some of my Academy of Art graduate students last spring, they experienced a once in a lifetime opportunity at the de Young in San Francisco. Every year, the museum opens it doors for college and university students offering a chance to showcase art for a long weekend exhibition.
Last Tuesday evening, I was invited to be part of the Student Showcase committee at the de Young. The meeting was located on the 8th floor of the museum’s tower. Our goal was to set a theme and discuss ways to improve the event. Art historians, current students, recent graduates, professors from various colleges, and wonderful museum staff were in attendance.
A brainstorming session flourished. What would be the title and theme for next year’s event? Words like evolve, transform, legacy, and emergence were popular. The group started editing and arraigning thoughts. The title would have to link together three upcoming exhibits: Botticelli to Braque: Masterpieces from the national Galleries of Scotland, Embodiments: Masterworks of African Figurative Sculpture, and Janet Delaney: South of Market.
While no final decision was made, the process had narrowed down the ocean of possibilities to a few. Being an artist, creation is messy. When I think something is going to be easy, it’s not. Getting work done is a matter of organized chaos.
Overall, it was an honor to help set a framework for future artistic generations. I want my time and energy spent on substantive and meaningful change. To me, that’s what building a positive legacy consists of. The next student showcase will be April 24th- 26th, 2015. Stay tuned for a title but be ready to be inspired.
September 21, 2014
Last weekend, wasn’t my proudest moment on this planet. A large-scale drawing with a 60-hour time investment was obliterated in a matter of seconds. Watching the slow motion event captured my full attention. Who was behind the destruction?
Tule. The cutest 11-month golden retriever puppy ever.
I had placed the drawing on a bed in a spare bedroom one evening and closed the door. The next morning, while entering the room didn’t realize a 70 pound “shadow” behind me. Tule jumped on the bed and danced with his sharp nails all over the artwork.
Screamed and had a temper tantrum (TT). All that time gone in a moment. My hands were sore and cut up from working. It was too painful of a thought to have to start all over again. However, this is the life of being an artist. In case you didn’t read the fine print: always add extra time for unforeseen circumstances.
This isn’t the first event to result in unintentional artwork destruction. Imagine a framed artwork tied on top of a vehicle: my husband thought it would be a good idea (eye roll) to save money instead of hiring a service. Unfortunately, the 5×7 foot painting flew off into the road and exploded into pieces. Today, only professionals handle large-scaled artworks for safe delivery.
Always had a studio mate and/or family member of the four-legged variety. In my West Oakland studio, Trout (a.k.a. Trouble) scared off potential robbers, hunted up big rats, organized socks, and predicted earthquakes. I had trained him in my studio to “no” zones and he listened.
Looking back, I can’t help smile cautiously. This is part of the learning process. Lesson learned: don’t leave art on a surface in which any creature can jump on. In addition, laugh at one’s imperfections and breathe. Instead of future TT’s, I’ll work on creating an environment of tranquil temperament.
September 14, 2014
Saturday was a beautiful day in the San Francisco Bay area. The sun was glistening, sea lions sunbathing, and boats frolicking in the water. It was the best time to be sitting in a conference room at City Hall in Richmond.
A few months ago, I was appointed to be a Richmond Arts & Culture Commissioner. According to the city’s website: “The Richmond Arts & Culture Commission, in partnership with the Arts and Culture Division, is the lead organization for the development and advocacy of the arts and culture in Richmond. The Commission is respected and sought after for its broad and diverse knowledge of the arts. Members reflect the strength and diversity of the City and represent multiple fields of expertise.” It’s an honor and I’m blushing.
Currently, there’s an opportunity for artists to apply for a Neighborhood Public Art Mini-Grant. The purpose is to encourage positive activity within the community by working with professional artists. There’s only a $65,000 pool in which applicants will compete for small portions. I updated the application form and added questions comparable to other respected public art programs along with feedback from fellow commissioners. This will aid in getting the best outcome for the community.
As a result, volunteered time to help edit and look at application forms for interested artists. Met with 5 artists for 30 minutes each. The goal was to make sure that the applicants used proper grammar, followed guidelines, answered questions completely, and the grant must involve/impact the community.
Even though it was a gorgeous day outside, it was a transformative day inside. I’m a Weekend Word Warrior (W.W.W.). Meeting with a wonderful and diverse group of artists gave me hope. Art does transcend and strengthen communities. It’s not a frivolous expense or waste of time. It defines our culture and makes us want to be and do better.
September 7, 2014
Social media platforms like Facebook have been showcasing photos of students (all ages) and the first day of class lately. This is no surprise. It’s also back to the academic routine for teachers. I can’t remember a time in my life that wasn’t influenced by education.
School was my way out growing up in a small Midwestern town and family plagued with alcoholism. There was no doubt in my mind that education was key to any success. Without it, I would have not lived up to my potential and drowned in a sea of no opportunity.
As a teenager and throughout my undergraduate studies working at a trendy clothing store, marketing and work hours became intense starting in July. The goal was to make more sales (money) than the year before. The back to school season was more important than the holidays in the retail world. Time off for a death or birth wouldn’t qualify as an excused absence.
Upon receiving my undergraduate degree, I worked in cable advertising cold calling, selling local television spots, and aiding in commercial creative content. Retailers would purchase sizable airtime to push goods prior to the new academic calendar. I developed no fear in rejection that has stayed with me today. Maybe the world would be a nicer place if everyone had to cold call for one day…
Quickly learned that in sales, it would never be enough for the corporate world despite high profits. In addition, my art had been neglected. As a result, applied to graduate schools, quit the advertising job, and eventually made the way to California. The year was 2000. The top song was Faith Hill’s Breathe and highest rated television show was Survivor: The Australian Outback.
Oh, how everything has changed but stayed the same since then.
Today, I’m a full time artist, writer, curator, advocate, and educator. My life still runs on an academic schedule. With each semester, a new adventure begins. I’m reminded everyday teaching how it felt going back to school. It’s a special time that can never be taken for granted. As the years pass by, the more I love this routine. Wouldn’t give it up for anything.
August 31, 2014
Before the busy fall semester begins, made a road trip north to check out the art scene in Sacramento. Would California’s state capital deliver? Yes and no. My work has been featured in group exhibits before in the area but wanted to see what has changed and stayed the same.
Researching places to stop in advance was interesting. I couldn’t find “professional” looking maps online that detailed the locations of galleries. Found only a few that peaked my interest and used that research as a reference point. In addition, contacted Andrew Rogers (artist extraordinaire living in Sacramento) for his expert advice. Morphed both lists together to let the adventure unfold.
It was hot, humid, and partly cloudy. The weather would forecast the day.
Wanted to experience lots of art but it was a challenge. Verge Center for the Arts and Jay Jay galleries were closed prepping for future installations while the Center for Contemporary Art was out of business. In addition, waited outside of Alex Bult Galley but no showed up to open the doors. Is this a sign of the “improving” economy?
Just when I thought all hope was lost, two galleries became beacons in a sea of despair. b. sakata garo gallery was my favorite in terms of art and atmosphere. The gallery owner (namesake) graciously talked to me for almost 30 minutes. He shared stories about famous artist William T. Wiley and described his life as an art dealer. It was unique and wonderful that Mr. Garo shared his time authentically with a stranger like myself.
Delta Workshop gallery was a quirky and wonderful space. Inventory of works is limited but each piece is thoughtfully picked and displayed. The gallery is an art center that offers classes and sells creative goods from the community. The young woman working was friendly and attentive. The gallery made me feel at home.
Overall, it’s quality over quantity. A sentiment often told to my students and it was now time to follow that advice. Despite the disappointments, two positive experiences occurred. That is what matters. Didn’t leave empty but enriched by the day’s events. Sacramento delivered what I was willing to accept.
August 24, 2014
I don’t know many things. Don’t even try to pretend. Have no clue how many of my artworks have been created and where they all reside. Since becoming a fulltime artist in 2001, unknowns become business as usual. Trying to find answers to everything would be a large task and overwhelming. As a result, I prefer a positive life balance.
When first starting out, the need to know the location of my artworks was a priority. However, not all galleries share that information. In fact, only a few venues provide contact information of a client when an artwork sells. Most galleries don’t share in fear of artist spam or to avoid sales made without their knowledge. As a result, holes exist in my inventory list.
It becomes a challenge when a venue or opportunity wants to know the collections my art can be found. The answer is incomplete. By accident, I’ve encountered my work in public spaces and places not knowing how it got there. Sometimes artworks are displayed in the incorrect orientation (upside down), have witnessed strangers touching the painting’s surface, or vandalism on my public art heart sculpture.
I have no control!
Once the art has left, it’s in the world’s hands.
Knowing that unknowns exist is the gift of knowledge and power. However, accepting this notion isn’t easy. My response is to do the very best natural abilities allow. Sometimes that falls short and other times it succeeds. Knowing to move forward is key…
August 17, 2014
Last week, I had an important presentation for an art opportunity. Couldn’t help but reminisce about all the “opportunities” applied to over the years. Some were big (that weren’t) and others dismissed not understanding their importance. Oh, how time and grey hair makes judgment more meaningful!
As a result, wanted to take a trip down memory lane through my rejection letter binders. Some might think this is twisted, weird, or strange but I considered it an exercise in building character. Life is built on layers of “good” and “bad” experiences. Acceptance of this premise helps me stay rooted in reality.
In 2007, I received a phone call from Ivan C. Karp from OK Harris Works of Art in New York City. He had received my submission, told me to invite him to my first solo show in NYC, and to keep sending out packets. Mr. Karp had called at a time when I felt like giving up. He gave me the push to keep on. Unfortunately, he died in 2012 and his gallery recently closed. In November, I’ll be inducted as a new member in the National Association of Women Artists at the Rubin Museum in New York City. I’ll be thinking of that phone call that day.
As of today, 1,311 submissions have been applied to since 2002. More than just a number, it represents the time, sacrifice, and commitment being an artist. It’s quite amazing to think what the next 1,311 submissions will look like. How old will I be then? What will be different and the same? Answers that only time can answer. No rejection is negative; it’s a sign of forward progress…