December 8, 2013
Had the opportunity to visit the ARRAY exhibit at the Berkeley Art Center, which is tucked away in a small grove of tall trees. It was packed on opening night and well supported by an eclectic community. The annual member non-juried show is never a disappointment and this year’s theme had a different twist. Artist and Curator Weston Teruya will select artists from ARRAY to be displayed in a follow-up exhibit titled FEATURE. This added to the traffic jam of the evening making the art very difficult to view. After squeezing my way through the masses and waiting patiently to view works: pieces emerged and peaked interest.
There’s something comforting about glowing and intricate objects. Artist Yana Goldfine’s Lumen made of woven steel and porcelain shined.
Bruce Cockrill’s Gnomen 1 steel sculpture proudly guards the electrical socket. From his Etsy website: “I have won numerous awards throughout the greater San Francisco Bay Area my work has been exhibited in the renowned Oakland museum, Richmond art center, Alameda County Fair and has been seen on KTVU channel 2 television and in newspapers and magazines.”
Liz Maxell’s Sisters comprised of oil, ink and resin on wood panel exerts a quiet confidence.
Jane Norling’s In Relation to Chance 13 is an oil on panel and inkjet on aluminum. From her website: “Jane Norling is a California artist whose paintings and digital artworks express the power of nature to connect the individual to the universal.”
Brad Steiner’s The Muggel Tower (from the series Golden Age), a digital print intrigued and demanded investigation. Unfortunately, it was displayed high and a crowded venue made lingering difficult. The image resonated and information about the artist via web research is nonexistent.
My piece JBI.9.13.19109, an acrylic installation casts shadows with its fellow compadres including artist Klari Reis to the right.
Taking photos of art attracted some interesting attention. One person asked if I was a buyer, another inquired if my occupation included being a writer, and an individual requested a studio visit. Some artists want advice, exposure, and fame for free lacking the please or thank you. The mission of BAC is to “…serve the diverse and creative citizens of this unique regional area, through the presentation of visual art exhibitions and related programs that are relevant, engaging, and inspiring.” Despite the mania, the quality of art delivers. Making the visit worthwhile year after year.
ARRAY is on display from Dec. 5th- Jan. 5th, 2014 at the Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut Street, Berkeley, CA.
December 1, 2013
A shift is occurring as the New Year quickly approaches. This seems perfectly natural and normal since my fortieth Birthday is approaching in January. How do I want to spend the next forty years (whatever higher being willing) and what path should be followed? Might seem like big questions but maintaining clarity and moving forward positively seems like the best course of action.
In September 2013, I was the artist in residence at the de Young Museum. After spending 3+ years working on the exhibit, it changed me forever. Loved every moment of the experience from researching, creating, engaging with the public, and debating with artists. As a result, I’m left searching for a more meaningful experience within my art practice and life on planet Earth.
Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken poem comes to mind:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
What’s the next step? After taking time to reflect, I want to focus time and energy by researching and creating meaningful art. Bottom line: love education, learning, and proud to say that “nerd” would be an appropriate label. As a result, I would like to produce future bodies of work inspired by museums, universities, and other notable institutions. Part of the creative process would include the investigation of collections, architecture, academics, and the uncovering of patterns that binds together an organization with its surrounding communities. My art would become an abstraction and interruption of these findings. The possibilities are endless and would last beyond my lifetime.
Albert Szent-Gyorgyi: “Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought.” In 1937, Mr. Szent-Gyorgyi won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the ability to isolate Vitamin C and the importance of the citric acid cycle. His meticulous ability to review data allowed him to find new discoveries.
If my art could discover or produce new patterns of thinking or creation, it would be a success. My hope is that an opportunity to explore this path will emerge. If not, I’ll create my own. That is what is wonderful and exciting about the future. It can’t be predicted but with a little prodding and poking it can be shaped.
November 24, 2013
The holiday season is approaching quickly with retailers spamming consumers from emails to loud annoying TV commercials. With Thanksgiving being on Thursday, I wanted to take the time to examine the history and reflect. Who made this day possible and what happened in history to begin this celebratory practice? Investigating can uncover “facts” that some would like to forget or rewrite.
According to History.com: “In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.” The Pilgrims weren’t the first visitors to the “new” world. In fact, European sailors had visited the coast many times for fishing and trading.
A short time after the Plymouth colonists arrived and settled on land, a Pawtuxet Native American named Squanto approached the camp. He could speak the English language masterfully. In 1608, Squanto was forced into being a slave as a young child in Spain. He was then bought by monks and moved to England to work as a stablehand in 1612. However, other historians argue that Squanto moved to England to be a interpreter for a ship captain (http://historyofmassachusetts.org/squanto-the-former-slave/). Eventually, he went back home on a ship in 1618 to discover that his community was wiped out by disease courtesy via the settlers.
When the new residents arrived, his ability to communicate and teach survival skills saved lives. History.com: “Squanto taught the Pilgrims, weakened by malnutrition and illness, how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in the rivers and avoid poisonous plants. He also helped the settlers forge an alliance with the Wampanoag, a local tribe, which would endure for more than 50 years and tragically remains one of the sole examples of harmony between European colonists and Native Americans.” In 1622, Squanto died either of disease or under mysterious circumstances.
Overall, my investigation on Squanto revealed different accounts of his life. Historians disagree on how many times he traveled across the Atlantic, how he arrived in England, and the cause behind his death. In fact, http://www.biography.com states that “Squanto’s unique knowledge of the English language and English ways gave him power. He abused his power by threatening his people, telling them that he would have the Pilgrims ‘release the plague’ if they did not do what he wanted.” While a CNN story of Squanto glorified him as a Saint sent from god to help the settlers:
To complicate Squanto’s history even more, Disney made a cheesy and disrespectful movie titled Squanto: A Warrior’s Tale in 1984. Here’s the unbearable mess of a trailer:
Undoubtedly, the Disney version of Squanto is a romanticized and poorly written version of his history. Life is complicated and difficult. “Heroes” are people with different layers of experiences. For me, it’s a challenge to completely believe a recorded history created by a group of individuals that participated in the deplorable treatment of Native Americans. As a result, I’m thankful for today’s world that through technology multiple perspectives can be sourced, edited, and summarized by reputable historians (hopefully). The real challenge will be defending history’s “truth” in the future by making sure that it’s protected and not squandered.
November 17, 2013
Over the last 2 months, I’ve become more aware of the importance of sight. Obviously, knew the significance but took if for granted. Being an artist, what would happen if one day it were gone? Could I adjust to life without it? Vision is to be cherished and protected. However, it would be a personal challenge to function physically and mentally without it and adjust accordingly.
Last Saturday while shopping for shoes, a group of visually impaired individuals entered the store. Fascinated by how their experience differed from mine, I observed their behavior. One woman started to gently feel a wild pair of tall suede boots with multiple buckles and 4-inch high heels. She gleefully stated to her friend how these “shoes” would be great for dancing and hanging out. As a result, they must be tried on immediately. Many thoughts ran through my mind. I can “see” but because of my clumsiness, boots like these would result in broken limbs. However, here’s a woman letting nothing get in her way.
While working on a 42×360 inch pen and ink drawing inspired by Andy Goldsworthy’s Drawn Line and the architecture of Dominus Estate at the de Young Museum in September, a woman gazed at my drawing from up close to far away. As I started to engage conversation and curious by her behavior, the visitor shared that her eyesight was failing. As a result, the drawing reminded her of looking at a road map fading in and out at different convergent points. The entire month working on the drawing, I never once considered how my artwork would interact with a visually impaired individual. Wow: what a revelation. Realizing my short sightedness expanded my perspective and approach within my art practice.
Artists like Claude Monet and Edgar Degas experienced issues with their sight. According to Nicholas Bakalar of The New York Times: “The later years of both Claude Monet and Edgar Degas were marked by failing vision and corresponding changes in the style of their paintings, creating an ambivalence about their later work among both their contemporaries and today’s critics. Monet had cataracts that severely limited his color discrimination, which may help explain the increasingly muddied tone of his paintings from 1912 to 1923, when he had a cataract removed. After his surgery, he destroyed many later canvases.” Even with Monet and Degas’ deteriorating vision, they fought, innovated, and created artistic masterpieces while understanding their fate.
While researching artists for this blog entry, I discovered artist John Bramblitt who lost his vision due to epilepsy. He uses his fingertips to mix together paint colors knowing the subtle differences in textures and body of each color. Bramblitt then makes slightly raised ridges of thinly lined paint outlining the picture’s composition. After the lines dry, he fills in areas with paint to create finished art pieces. From Bramblitt’s website: “The blindness and epilepsy are parts of me that are considered disabilities, but they are just some of the characteristics that comprise me as a whole — they no more define me as a person or artist as does any other single characteristic such as my height or weight. It is easy to focus on limitations, the aspects of life that disabilities restrict, but you could just as easily say this about any of your defining characteristics.”
Visually impaired individuals have the capacity to see more than the “normal” viewing public. This has caused me to take the time to actually look, engage, and savor the beauty around me. Overall, sight appears in different forms and definitions. Claude Monet: “One can do something if one can see and understand it…”
November 10, 2013
My favorite sport is baseball and never been much of a football fan. Growing up in Wisconsin, three things ruled: beer, religion, and the Green Bay Packers. As per the culture and building community, I engaged in the weekly game day festivities. Moving to California, my exposure to football became limited and my interest faded. Recently, the story of Miami Dolphins player Richie Incognito harassing his fellow teammate Jonathan Martin disgusted and saddened me.
When is the glorifying culture of bullying in America going to stop?
Mr. Incognito harassed Martin with racial slurs, wanted to harm his family including raping his sister and a death threat. Understandably, Martin left his team and was concerned for his safety in an environment that rewards negative conduct. Unfortunately, he’s being victimized again by players throughout the league. According to USA TODAY, Giants safety Antrel Rolle said “Jonathan Martin is a 6’5 320 pound dude…I think he should be able to stand up for himself.” It doesn’t matter how big or small a person is, there is no place in society for this behavior.
Richie Incognito’s yearly salary is a disturbing $4 million according to spotrac and he’s no stranger to erratic mood swings. In fact, our culture seems to embrace and reward “winners” who will do whatever it takes to “win” no matter the cost to humanity. A NEW YORK POST article by Gary Buiso lists Incognito’s history including: voted NFL’S dirtiest player, dysfunctional family, suspended from college football, punching holes in walls, brawls, a league-high of seven personal fouls as a Rams player, and the list goes on and on and on…
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, defines incognito as “with your true identity kept secret (as by using a different name or a disguise)” or “with one’s identity concealed.” Richie Incognito is nothing like this namesake today. In fact, I wonder how he feels with the heighten media attention? Could the bully be experiencing how if feels to be bullied?
In order to survive Junior High to High School, I was bullied and bullied back. It was a survival mode of thinking in order to make it through the day. One distinct memory was transformative in terms of building the framework for my adult life. One day after school, I was walking with a group of “kids” including one who was an African American. Growing up in central Wisconsin, diversity was very hard to come by. A “jock” (for lack of better terms) started bullying my minority friend with racial slurs and taunting. I stepped in, yelled back, and stood firm. As a result, the jock backed off and went on his way. Recently, I found out that individual had committed suicide a few years back.
Overall, bullying is usually a sign of serious and underlining issues that haven’t been resolved. Unfortunately, these dysfunctional creatures hunt for persons they consider to be “weak” and create a gang like culture breeding and celebrating this sick “sport.” Jonathan Martin is a strong and brave man. He stood up and said that this type of behavior is unacceptable. The media and NFL should be using him as a positive role model. It took time to discover quality individuals who by example taught me the difference between right and wrong. Let’s hope the NFL doesn’t squander this opportunity by showing the world that bullying has no place in sports and beyond.
November 3, 2013
Last week Tuesday, had the pleasure of taking my Academy of Art University graduate class on a gallery tour. I truly believe that improving one’s practice includes seeing and immersing oneself in art, art, and more art. As a result, exposing my students to different modes of thinking helps guide them in clarity to graduation.
The day started with a generous talk of valuable information from HANG ART gallery owner/director Piero Spadaro. He shared his professional history and experience with my students. Piero discussed how emerging artists should approach galleries by following instructions and being polite. Unfortunately, two often and forgotten common sense points.
Highlights of the day also included Addie Sheviln at HANG ART Gallery, Dannielle Tegeder at Gregory Lind Gallery, Miya Ando at K. Imperial Fine Art, Paul Balmer at Caldwell Snyder Gallery, and Chuck Close at John Berggruen Gallery.
Addie Shevlin is a hidden San Francisco Bay Area treasure and a consistent favorite. According to HANG ART’S website: “Addie was born into an artistic family in Illinois, and family vacations included plenty of time for museum tours and sketching. From 1961 to 1963, the young artist took classes at the celebrated Art Students League in New York, and she later sought instruction from Bay Area artists including Jay DeFeo, Charles Farr, and Ralph Borge. While pursuing her study of visual art, Addie also earned a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in English literature.”
The presentation of Dannielle Tegeder’s exhibit was meticulous. Every aspect was carefully thought out and researched. I admired her obsessive system and art practice that includes paintings, drawings, and video installations. Her work mimics cities that create safe and new civilizations after a post-apocalyptic event.
Miya Ando’s work was an unexpected surprise. From her website: “Miya Ando’s metal canvases and sculpture articulate themes of contradiction and juxtaposition of ideas. The foundation of her practice is transformation of surfaces. Half Japanese & half Russian-American, Ando is a descendant of Bizen sword makers and was raised in a Buddhist temple in Japan and in coastal Northern California. She has continued her 16th generation Japanese sword smithing and Buddhist lineage by combining metals, reflectivity and light in her transcendent paintings and sculpture.” The gallery turned off the lights to show the class how the pieces glowed in the dark. It was a special and surprising experience.
The Paul Balmer exhibit is dominated by his brightly painted cityscapes at Caldwell Snyder Gallery. However, I was intrigued by the above “quiet” landscape. The colors and composition work in harmony while delivering a powerful painting without the drama.
Chuck Close is an artist whose talent and authentic personality has fueled his success consistently over the years. Despite a devastating spinal artery collapse that severely paralyzed Close in 1988, he’s continued to create and sell art. The exhibit at John Berggruen Gallery left no doubts.
Overall, visiting galleries in San Francisco rarely disappoints. It engages dialogue and discussion beyond the classroom. My goal was to build a framework or foundation for my students for life beyond academia. This won’t be the last class visit to inspire future artist generations and undoubtedly looking forward to it.
October 27, 2013
Frequently, I’m asked often to donate or exhibit my art to support many causes. Over the years, the requests have been traditional to strange. One “organization” requested a 5×7 foot painting and the thank you from the “committee” would be a bottle of Jack Daniels. Another wealthy company requested a specific painting for a fundraising auction/gala in which artists were not allowed to attend. When I informed the venue that the painting sold, they demanded that it be taken from the owner to sell at their auction. The answer was a polite no and the venue has never contacted me since. As a result, I’ve become very particular when donating or exhibiting my art.
When HANG ART gallery in San Francisco asked me to participate in A Lot of Good exhibit, it was a loud and booming yes! The overall theme is that a portion of the proceeds be donated to a non-profit organization of the artist’s choice. If my art in some way could be an agent or catalyst for positive influence in the community, it would exceed all expectations. As I started to research organizations that “deserve” support, many notable and outstanding ones came to mind. Therefore, it was a challenge to narrow the selection.
After much deliberation, Students Rising Above touched my heart personally because my art studio for many years was located in San Francisco’s Tenderloin and then West Oakland. I saw firsthand how poverty, crime, and adversity produced challenges to wonderful and creative youth. According to their website: “Students Rising Above invests in low-income, first generation college students who have demonstrated a deep commitment to education and strength of character in overcoming tremendous odds of poverty, homelessness, and neglect. We help each student to realize his or her potential by guiding and supporting them through college graduation, and into the workforce. Our graduates are breaking the cycle of poverty within their own families, serving their communities, providing a new generation of employees and leaders from diverse backgrounds, and accelerating positive change. The SRA Community is dedicated to impacting the future through the cultivation of extraordinary youth.”
I grew up in a lower middle class family faced with challenges like alcoholism and job layoffs in a small Midwest college town. Education and setting goals was my ticket to a positive life path with opportunities. As a result, my hope is that art can be part of that change for talented and motivated youth. With proper encouragement and guidance from the Students Rising Above organization, future generations will be able to proudly shine.
A Lot of Good exhibition dates are November1-15th with an artists reception on Thursday November 7th from 6-8:00 pm.
October 20, 2013
A manufactured battle in Washington D.C. recently “ended” and I’m still trying to understand why it started in the first place. After all the drama and pain, was it worth the time and effort? Yes. President Obama couldn’t accept this type of negotiation as a new way of running government. No. The shutdown lasted for 16 days and cost our anemic economy $24 billion. Maybe the politicians have been drinking and smoking more than Tea.
The last time America defaulted was in 1812 when the English burned down the White House and in 1979 due to a computer glitch. According to The Huffington Post: “The Treasury Department blamed the mishap on a crush of paperwork partly caused by lawmakers who — this will sound familiar — bickered too long before raising the nation’s debt limit.”
The Merriam-Webster definition of default is: “failure to do something required by duty or law; a failure to pay financial debts; a failure to appear at the required time in a legal proceeding; failure to compete in or to finish an appointed contest; a selection made usually automatically or without active consideration due to lack of a viable alternative.” Defaulting would have been a failure to meet our obligations and avoidance to excellence.
What if my family decided to not pay our debts? Is that the new “American” way of thinking if one disagrees with a policy? I’m mad at the government for ___________ (fill in the blank and choose your custom disgust). As a result, I refuse to pay ___________, ____________, ____________, ___________, and ____________. Would the federal government allow for this? No chance in ________ (pick your favorite swear word) hell.
George Washington, the first President from 1789-1797: “Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.” Does that include your nutjob relatives or as Senator John McCain stated “wacko birds” like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz? Even Mr. Washington, would agree that you can’t change crazy.
My hope is that voters in the upcoming midterm elections don’t forget this debacle and circus. I have a feeling this last stunt is engraved in the people’s mind. There will be many more full moons till the next political battle. Undoubtedly, it will be a challenge for Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner to keep the insanity contained. For some reason, can’t get The Judd’s song Mama He’s Crazy out of my mind…:
October 13, 2013
The last few months have been a whirlwind. As my routine starts to settle back to “normal,” it feels different this new reality. Tying up loose ends and building the framework for fresh beginnings, another chapter in life has emerged. I feel positive and open to the acceptance of its challenges and rewards in whatever form it appears. Will a “new” pattern become visible or soon be realized? Have no doubt it will.
From the September de Young museum exhibit and residency, I have the last writings from two interns sharing their perspective and definition of “patterns.” As a result, here are their interesting opinions from the next generation of young and impressionable artists:
Hello, my name is Josiah Mackey I currently attend Berkeley City College. I’m a 22 year-old aspiring Illustrator and Graphic Designer with plans of transferring to San Francisco State to complete my education. I currently reside in Berkeley, California. I was born and raised in Atlanta, GA. As an artist I haven’t found a certain kind of style labeling process for my art. As a student I’m constantly evolving my style from exposure to where I live, different artist, and through other passions of mine. Aside from my love of art I also share an equal interest with sound design and electronic music. My current goal as of this moment is to complete school. My future goals include working for a graphic design firm where I will most likely be doing visual and sound design, produce and write electronic music and support my love for painting through my love for graphic design.
Patterns are everything we see. They are the design of inorganic and organic forms. As an artist patterns are important because they evoke emotions and they hide the truth and as well as they reveal them. Patterns exist in sound they exist at a micro scale. In the words of Jason Silva a modern philosopher “ To understand is to perceive patterns”. Patterns all share an intermingled filamental structure. The awesome things about patterns are that they are not only found in nature but they are found in our phones, laptops, and computers.
My name is Eileen, and I am currently in the midst of my last year at San Francisco State University. Next spring I will graduate with my BA in Studio Art and Art History and a minor in English Literature. My fledgling practice revolves around painting, drawing, and textiles, although I am still honing in on the direction that I would like to take my art after graduation. I am honored to be an Artist Studio Intern with the de Young this semester. The chance to work with local artists and to help museum visitors connect with the process of creation is a wonderful opportunity.
The variety of ways in which Jenny utilizes patterns in her work certainly inspires deeper reflection on the presence of patterns in the world. In the broadest sense, pattern defines our existence. It is found in the rising of the sun every morning, and determines the combination of the smallest molecule. Conceptually, patterns can be related to repetition and rhythm, and together, these things are intrinsic to the world. In visual art, I am fascinated by the complex geometric abstractions that cover the surface of Islamic architecture. These designs are free of symbolic meaning, and are meant to evoke transcendent beauty and to free the intellect.
It’s been enlightening to read the intern writings. Overall, I believe patterns are the legend to the map called life. From the political gridlock in Washington D.C. to waves off the coast of Northern California, a blueprint emerges. The choice is to decide which path is worth the time investigating and keeping as part of a tradition to one that sucks energy or becomes useless. The key is to be able to identify and recognize positive or negative patterns and to learn from both. Here’s to the next chapter…
October 6, 2013
With the current government shutdown and sequester, visiting parks or historical sites is a challenge in America. Last week Friday, I was in Philadelphia for an art opening at Wexler Gallery. Part of the visit was to include visiting national landmarks but unfortunately “closed” was the common theme.
According to the Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia, William Penn envisioned Philadelphia to be the “City of Brotherly Love.” Mr. Penn’s democratic principles inspired the Untied States Constitution. What would he think of today’s government shutdown and political tactics? William Penn: “Right is right, even if everyone is against it, and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it.” If the shutdown results in securing healthcare for future generations, the inconvenience is worth it.
A visit to the Philadelphia Museum of Art filled the void beautifully. Doubled checked their website and in bold letters it read: The Museum is open during the federal government shutdown. On view included Cy Twombly sculptures and his mesmerizing elegant line. If the world could be summarized into one of his artworks, it would be a better place.
Highlights from the Philadelphia Museum of Art:
Highlights of the trip also included exhibiting with German artist Timothy Schreiber whose resume includes the 2008 Beijing Olympics’ Water Cube, London International Creative Competition Award, Red-Dot Design Award, and many other notable accomplishments. His art practice demonstrates clean and elegant lines that create voluminous shapes that hug the boundaries between the real and imagined. Wexler Gallery never disappoints with its thoughtful placement of pieces and vision.
Overall, the trip was the frosting on the cake after exhibiting at the de Young museum in September. William Penn: “We meet on the broad pathway of good faith and good will; no advantage shall be taken on either side, but all shall be openness and love.” While there might not be much love currently between politicians of all backgrounds, Philadelphia’s personality was welcoming despite the closures. The admiration is mutual and maybe art can be that bridge to compromise.