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…
August 10, 2014
We are being followed. Everything exposed to light on this planet is being followed without even realizing its existence. No, I am not paranoid or delusional. Shadows are an extension of our experience. They accompany us on daily routines with little acknowledgement or investigation. As an artist, they fascinate me.
The Merrian-Webster defines a shadow as a dark shape that appears on a surface when someone or something moves between the surface and a source of light. In psychology, a shadow can represent gloom and doom. However, my definition is quite different. Shadows represent everything in subject without the burden of material.
My interest started many years ago in undergraduate school. While creating sculptures and ugly paintings with various glued objects, I noticed how light can transform surfaces. My age and inexperience didn’t have the capacity and know-how to truly explore. Graduation and life’s growing pains got in the way.
Moving to San Francisco for graduate school changed everything! Light and shadows in an urban environment is dramatic and undeniable. How to showcase this observation proved difficult and wouldn’t be top priority while trying to obtain my degree. As a result, the investigation would have to wait.
After graduation, the explorer never faded. The new time and older self allowed for research to find the proper material to showcase light. Through trial and error, my acrylic installations were born. I needed a material that could be molded to mimic patterns while using light to extend its identity.
When the acrylic installations were displayed at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, it was a rare opportunity to see the magic of proper lighting. The shadows created were better than expected. That exhibit became the blueprint for the de Young museum artist in residence and beyond.
While currently researching for a public art opportunity at Guy Place Mini Park in San Francisco, the shadows of the neighborhood played an integral part in my design. Somehow, I think this interest and commitment will never fade. The love of shadows has always followed me despite the inconsistent admiration and two-timing. They are faithful for life.
August 3, 2014
Lately, my daily routine has encountered the unexpected. In addition, I’ve found myself becoming more aware and engaged. Can beauty be discovered by accident or by making a conscious effort to “see”? Well, yes it can! Art can be found outside a gallery or museum’s wall and in nature.
On my walks lately, I’ve been investigating shadows. Love how light can create patterns that extend and dance off of objects. A few months ago on a shadow expedition, I noticed a middle-aged man throwing rocks and ocean trash into a pile on the edge of the Bay. At first, became hesitant that perhaps this individual was mentally unstable. As a result, I continued without acknowledgment or any additional thought.
The next day the rocks and trash were arraigned into compositions. Some were small and minimalistic while others mimicked the environment in scale. Over the next few weeks, additional pieces were created or altered by the artist, nature, or admirers. The outdoor exhibit remains consistent yet changes with time.
Speaking of unknowns, the individual who produced these artworks is a mystery. After researching the internet, nothing could be found. I don’t know the name, background, concept, or anything about the creator. The artist sneaks in, produces a footprint, and exists like a shadow.
Using the environment as a medium is nothing new. Famous artists like Andy Goldsworthy and James Turrell transform nature and light. Goldsworthy: “We often forget that WE ARE NATURE. Nature is not something separate from us. So when we say that we have lost our connection to nature, we’ve lost our connection to ourselves.” A day of searching led to discovering an unknown artist. The experience made me stop, see, breathe, and reconnect.
July 27, 2014
Starting to feel like the old saying of having my ducks in a row. After many hard and long weeks of organizing tasks, it’s positive yet strange to see a finish line. Unfortunately, cannot predict the future and know if my work will be acknowledged immediately or later. However, I understand that rewards come to those that understand the principle of patience.
Last week, I submitted my Guy Place Mini Park Proposal Narrative and board for a possible public art opportunity. The board is created for the Rincon Hill neighborhood in San Francisco for view and comment. I love that the community is involved and given the opportunity to be part of the process. That makes the art the best possible to the meet the area’s needs.
A minor issue occurred while prepping the image for printing for the public display board. My favorite font in the world is Futura and the printing company didn’t have its file. It has a clean and elegant look to it. As a result, I’ve used it many times for exhibition booklets, postcards, and other marketing material. Paul Renner, a German born graphic artist and author, designed the font. One of my favorite feminist artists Barbara Kruger uses the Futura text in her images. According to The Guardian it can be found in Hewlett Packard’s logo, NASA’s plaque on the moon, Volkswagen past advertisements, the cartoon series Futurama, IKEA’s former logo and in the late film director Stanley Kubrick’s movies. Any other font just wouldn’t do and aesthetically I wanted the public board to be perfect!
Speaking of trying to make everything just right, my design was purposely broken into four parts: history, patterns, lines, and light. Rincon Hill’s history includes that it is one of the original seven hills in San Francisco and Rincón in Spanish mean corner. Patterns include vertical shapes, clean straight edges, active streets, shadows created by filtered light, and amazing sweeping views. My design’s color choice of metallic grey mimics the urban environment and columns in the park. The lines in the artwork echoes the “X” shapes throughout the Bay Bridge, the front façade of the nearby Sailors’ Union of the Pacific, the windowless PG&E substation, the trees on Guy Place, and park’s features. Finally, light and shadows are an important concept and medium in the design. The lines are condensed at the bottom to gradually open to the sky similar to the nearby trees and buildings. This will create shadows that will change throughout the day, extending the artwork beyond its two-dimensional surface.
From the font choice on the display board to the shadows in Rincon Hill, patterns emerge. Details do matter at least to me. They represent the history of my artwork, the community, its people, and our existence. The Futura font is more than just another communication tool. It’s apropos to life!
July 20, 2014
Is there something wrong with me? I love investigating and researching patterns. When given the opportunity to do so at new venues and places- it makes this artist very happy! Last week Friday evening was my opening at the Maude Kerns Art Center in Eugene, Oregon. The exhibit also featured artists Ned Block and Ann Chadwick Reid.
Michael Fisher, the Exhibits Coordinator, titled the exhibit Natural Interplay. According to the Center’s press release: “The exhibit explores the different ways these three artists relate to the natural world. Balisle employs gestures, lines, and marks to observe the environment both up close and far away. Block’ sculptures of birds and organic forms emphasize balance and motion. And Chadwick’s intricately cut silhouette pieces are influenced by the plants, animals, and birds of the Pacific Northwest.” It’s always interesting to see the curator’s vision on display. Mr. Fisher did a masterful job:
Works were created based on the history and patterns of the Maude Kerns Art Center. When visiting last December, the architectural features, worn wooden deck, and trees caught my attention by how light and time had made its mark. Here are some examples:
Maude Kerns Art Center’s namesake represents a woman who was ahead of her time. She painted bold and colorful abstract paintings not commonly found in California during the 1920s through 1940s. Maude Kern was a pioneer in art but also in the classroom by urging students to paint to music. Mini Bells in the Center’s publication about Maude Kerns states: “During her twenty-six years as head of the Normal Arts Department she had been appointed assistant professor and then associate professor, but never a full professor. She attributed this to her sex, and she deplored the lack of progress in the lives of women.” Maude Kerns was born in 1876 and died in 1965.
Maude Kerns: “It is time in life to really see and reflect on life and affairs of past, present, and future. Time to get ready for the next adventure…”
Natural Interplay at the Maude Kerns Art Center, July 18 – August 29, 2014.
July 13, 2014
In November 2009, I started the Factor XX blog. It was conceived in part of chronicling my experience with organizing, curating, and participating in an exhibit at the Art Museum of Los Gatos. 4 ½ years later, today I reached the milestone of writing my 300th post. It’s hard to believe how much life has changed in such a short time.
My writings have generated threats from art scammers to remove posts exposing their “real” intentions to sparking political debate. I’ve shared exhibits at museums, philanthropic activities, my first mammogram, and turning forty. Travels from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles have been part of the journey. Oh the highs and lows of being an artist!
Grieving the loss of my beloved studio mate and biggest golden retriever on the planet Trout was a popular post. Even today reading it again makes me tear up. It’s amazing how one creature and soul made such an impact in a life. It reminds me that each one of us has that potential. Here’s the link: http://factorxx.wordpress.com/2013/08/11/goodnight-good-friend/
One entry described a visit to the Oakland Art Museum to artist Hung Liu’s Summoning Ghosts retrospective of amazing paintings. After a failed attempt to view the exhibit, I thought it would be just another day at the museum. That was wrong! Leaving to go home, the artist herself was standing in the shadows texting. Visitors were walking by critiquing the artist’s work without the knowledge of her presence. It was quite interesting. Here’s the link: http://factorxx.wordpress.com/2013/05/26/summoning-ghosts/
Can’t forget the pictures of my dog’s poop for a scam exhibition opportunity! Of course the venue accepted them and wanted to display them for my money. Every time seeing the photos, it makes me smile. Some venues have no standards at all. Spoiler alert: don’t trust everything to be art because it’s hanging on a wall for sale. Here’s the link: http://factorxx.wordpress.com/2013/06/23/hot-mess-exihibtion-that-will-make-you-famous-part-3/
Can’t predict the future but do know that the posts will continue until mentally or physically unable to do so. Here’s hoping to many more years of celebrations, aggravations, investigations, and ___________ (fill in the blank). That is the goal!
July 6, 2014
The last three weeks has included intense research, formulating ideas, and creating sketches for the Guy Place Mini Park public art proposal. This heightened level of work reminds me of the time preparing and prepping for the de Young Museum artist-in-residency last September. I want to make sure that there will be no regrets and that everything was done possible to make the best design possible.
Being new to the “finalist” status process, my learning curve has been high. However, I love the challenge. It makes me a better artist, educator, writer, and advocate. The San Francisco Arts Commission is streamlined and well-organized. Every question has been answered with a positive and helpful attitude. While other public art programs in the United States are barely surviving, this San Francisco program is the crème de la crème.
Once aware of the project, the research began. This is normal for my art practice. However, the design must respect and reflect the feel of the community. As a result, made many trips to the area at different times of the day to see how the light filters throughout the neighborhood. In addition, investigated the history and colorful past of its people.
Then the sketches started from small scratches in a book to large, clean, and meticulous finished drawings. Finding patterns is my forte and the Rincon Hill neighborhood in which Guy Place Mini Park will reside is full of inspiration. Here are some possible ideas for the front fence design:
Once a design is picked, a rendering will be created placing it in the context of the space. A proposal narrative board is needed detailing the inspiration and explaining the proposed artwork. That board will be displayed for the public and presented in early August to the commission. They will listen to three different artist presentations, deliberate, and make their final selection/recommendation.
No matter the outcome and results, it’s an honor to be picked and I gave it my best. That is what really counts. My hope is that this opportunity opens the doors to new “challenges” and engages different modes of thinking. That sounds like a good plan to me!
June 29, 2014
Betty Reid Soskin is 92-years-old young. A milestone to make it to that age and have more energy than most of the human race. Yesterday, I had the pleasure to hear Ms. Soskin talk at the Rosie the Riveter National Historic Park in Richmond, California. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to be inspired.
Soskin is the oldest National Parks Ranger in the United States and amazing role model. She’s lived a colorful life and willing to share each moment in vivid detail. Rosie’s Daughters organized the event and according to their website: “We started Rosie’s Daughters as a way to create a comfortable space in which to share our own stories and to listen to the experiences of other incredible women. The name ‘Rosie’s Daughters’ was inspired by the iconic Rosie the Riveter – a symbol that originated in the Bay Area – and is a reminder to all of us to try new things, test our limits, and believe in ourselves.”
Richmond was the wartime shipbuilding capital in World War II. Different races and sexes united to produce ships to help win the war. The city experienced a surge of diversity and a major increase in population searching for opportunities. Despite the racial tensions and discrimination, work was completed together to build a foundation for future generations. Minorities were slowly given the “chance” at jobs not allowed to them in the past. Women proved that they could do work considered only suitable for their male counterparts. A time of crisis broke many racial and gender barriers. The battle for equality continues today and Ms. Soskin declared that her job is “…helping to guard the authenticity of our truth.”
From NBC Bay Area news: “But Soskin is more than just a tour guide. She is living history, and considers herself a ‘primary source’ of information for the exhibit. During World War II, Soskin worked as a clerk for the all-black Boilermakers A-36. In the true sense of the word, she is not a ‘Rosie,’ because that title is typically held for female wartime shipyard workers who were white. Still, Soskin feels her views — and experiences as an African-American woman during World War II — are invaluable to the country’s collective wartime memory.” She displayed no fear informing visitors of our nation’s truth.
Soskin is our history and her legacy will continue to flourish in the future. Her presence defines how the human spirit can push past adversity and succeed. Thank you Ms. Soskin for a wonderful Saturday to remember. Her tenacity and courage provides hope for us all.
June 22, 2014
Former Speaker of the House Thomas O’Neill, Jr., coined the phrase that “all politics is local.” The same sentiment applies to the art world. A creative’s location greatly impacts opportunity, inspiration, and innovation. I witnessed this first hand in my career and in others. Artists that “succeed” are normally involved locally and not necessarily defined by money but a drive to improve community.
Frequently artists dream of being “discovered” resulting in all financial problems disappearing. Unfortunately, most unsolicited opportunities include having to pay a fee to exhibit or be included in a publication that is “prestigious.” Most of these so-called “big breaks” arrive to a large number of undisclosed recipients. The artist isn’t special or unique. A smaller bank account is the award via a predator behind a computer screen.
As a result, I encourage artists to spend their dollars locally. Instead of falling for baseless scams, what if creatives banded together and made a pledge to invest in institutions that directly affect their neighborhood? Then artists wouldn’t have to look outside to unfamiliar territories to build resumes or gain “experience.” This would strengthen existing organizations with proven track records by supporting their existence.
The Richmond Art Center, Berkeley Art Center, and Pro Arts Gallery are three examples of trustworthy institutions that have consistently and truthfully supported the arts. Each one offers exhibition opportunities, intelligent programming, artist talks, community building, and much more for a nominal membership fee. A fraction of the cost compared to the overwhelming vanity tricks that spam an artist’s email inbox daily.
Here’s the proof and one example: currently on display at the Richmond Art Center is the Annual Members Show till August 22nd. Take a look at the highlights:
Money talks but can have a stronger, louder, and more powerful voice when collectively put together to support a positive good. Thinking locally can spread globally. Working together to respect communities can transcend borders. Attention: artists, galleries, patrons, and art lovers! Let’s take the little money we have and send a clear message to scammers: no more!