April 20, 2014
Over 900 entries were received for the Sanchez Art Center’s Left Coast Annual Juried Exhibition. The juror Jenny Gheith, SFMOMA assistant curator of painting and sculpture, picked 47 pieces for view. This is an annual exhibit that supports a wonderful local organization. Fortunately, one of my acrylic installation pieces made the final selection.
On Sunday April 13th, there was a juror talk and awards presentation. As a result, my husband, 6-month-old puppy, and I made the short trip to Pacifica, California. It was a perfect spring day to hear an interesting art talk and take Tule to the ocean for the first time.
Unfortunately, arrived 15 minutes tardy for the talk. I witnessed a vehicle driven by an elderly man hit a woman crossing the street at the Eureka Square Shopping Center in Pacifica. My husband had gone into Dinosaurs Vietnamese Sandwiches to order lunch while I was standing outside. After seeing the incident ran across the street to make sure that the man wasn’t going to flee and if the woman was alive. She was breathing but had no feeling in her legs. The police, fireman, and ambulance arrived. Shortly afterwards, made a statement and gave authorities my contact information.
To be honest, didn’t know if I was in the mood for anything after witnessing the accident. However, had made the journey and didn’t want to waste time. When arriving, Jenny Gheith has just started discussing the reasoning behind her choices. She was a blind juror with no access to artist statements or information when viewing the images via a computer screen. Gheith: “I picked pieces I selfishly wanted to see in person.”
After the juror’s talk, four awards were presented: two of merit and two of exhibition opportunity. Then a surprising announcement! All juried artists in the audience were asked to stand in front of their pieces and share concepts. This was unplanned and interesting. So happy I brushed my teeth and hair earlier (eye roll). Didn’t expect to converse about my work. But today was going to be an adventure. Overall, it was interesting to hear the diverse motivation behind the artist’s work from the ten commandments, the Vietnam War, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Midwest thunderstorms, global warming, the Pacific Ocean, items around the house, IKEA bookshelves, nothing, and much more.
Highlights from the exhibit:
I learned much from that Sunday: slow down and enjoy every opportunity planned or unplanned. It is cliché but life is too short. As a follow-up, I called the Police department to check the status of the accident victim. They weren’t allowed to share any information. However, more artist talks and trips to the ocean with my puppy are planned. What about you?
April 13, 2014
Last Friday night, I felt like a mother to a new art generation. When my students succeed, a part of me can’t help but feel proud. It’s a difficult world for creatives and opportunities are a challenge to capture in such a competitive climate. However, when a special exhibit includes my Academy of Art University graduate students- I feel the need to brag.
Three of my students were accepted into the de Young Museum 18th Annual New Generations: Student Showcase titled EXPAND. Artwork is to be featured for the weekend of April 11-13th only. According to the description: “The de Young New Generations Student and Faculty Advisory Committee invites you–college and university students–to submit proposals of all forms of art inspired by artworks at the de Young. Explore beyond the boundaries of the creative arts. What have you learned from artists of the past and present? What can you add to the expanding landscapes of creativity today and tomorrow?”
This is a wonderful opportunity to experience an exhibit at a world-class venue and told the students to enjoy every moment of it. Applying for the showcase was part of a Group Directed Study class assignment. My goal was to get them used to communicating clearly, following the rules, and experiencing an artist’s life. Not everyone that entered received an acceptance, in fact it was their first rejection, and was difficult to process. As a result, I brought four large binders full of rejections to class, a resume, and stated: “As of today’s date, I’ve sent out almost 1300 proposals. It took all this to build my resume…If you’re not receiving rejections, you’re not working.”
Speaking of working, the exhibit was a big feat to coordinate. With over 220 submissions, 82 pieces were selected. There were over 40 jurors from diverse backgrounds. The curators did a masterfully job displaying the various works in the Piazzoni Murals Room. Here’s a look:
It was wonderful to be part of an exhibit that supports students. Most importantly, I enjoyed seeing hope in their expressions for the future. From this experience, they learned a valuable lesson. Rejection and acceptance are positive aspects of being an artist. Rejection makes us want to be better, and is the next step closer to an opportunity. Acceptance adds fuel to the fire to continue moving forward. Without the two, critical thinking in art would be missing. Questions expand, improve, and enrich our lives. John F. Kennedy: “Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly.”
April 6, 2014
A few weeks ago, I wore a dress. A white and grey lace number that a friend bought me from the White Elephant Sale benefiting the Oakland Museum of California. That might not be a big deal to many but it’s a rare occasion for me. Visiting student studios and creating art can be very messy. So on March 27th, it took a special event to get cleaned up. The Students Rising Above gala at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel was the reason why.
This is a worthy and special organization. How many “causes” can actually show results? Well, this one does masterfully. 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.”
CBS journalist and SRA co-founder Wendy Tokuda hosted the gala along with SRA Executive Director Lynne Martin. The event included inspiring videos and student speeches. There was a silent and live auction featuring items from fine bottles of wine to San Francisco Giants Luxury Box tickets. In addition, I donated a framed painting on canvas paper to help with the cause. When I win the POWERBALL lottery, a bigger gift will be delivered.
Lynne Martin graciously invited my husband and I to the gala. It was our first time at the Ritz Carlton. At our table sat two students who had challenging backgrounds but were proudly college bound. My advice to them: “…a person can lose everything but an education will be with you forever.” It was wonderful to see hope in such inspiring youth.
There are many good causes and organizations to support. However, Students Rising Above holds a special place in my heart. 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 only ticket to a positive life path with opportunities. SRA has a devoted and superhero staff that truly cares. It shows and now I’m hooked forever.
March 30, 2014
After a doctor’s appointment last December, a poster advertising mammograms caught my attention. As a result, maneuvered my way to the department for a test. Unfortunately, was told the wait would be one month. The scan is available once a person turns forty. Because that birthday came and went in January, knew it was overdue.
A few weeks ago at the Kaiser Oakland Medical Center decided to give it another try. Signs of walk-in mammograms are scattered throughout the facility. Followed them all the way down to the basement. Couldn’t help think that of course, women’s health would be tucked away in a cold and dark dungeon (eye roll).
The process was quite easy with a board saying it would be 15-20 minute wait. Wanted this to be a quick in and out procedure because the day’s agenda was busy with work. Just as I was thinking this could be done another day, a woman rushed in obviously occupied and disturbed. She waved down the receptionist and made the comment “I got a call that they found something and I’m back for a follow-up.” Her comments hit me like a ton of bricks. She sat down and closed her eyes with her head towards the ground. Everyone in the room could feel the weight of her uneasiness: it could be anyone of us- we just don’t know yet.
Expecting my appointment soon, two individuals walked out after their tests: a transgender female and male. It didn’t even enter my mind that mammogram screening is for everyone. The majority of the Kaiser ads display middle-aged women (like myself) in the background of their “Thrive” posters encouraging the test. How could I be so short-sided, unaware, and insensitive? Has culture and commercialization infiltrated and narrowed my perspective subconsciously?
A technician entered the waiting room with a clipboard and called my name. Walking with the young woman, told her that this was my first test and declared: “I’m a mammogram virgin!” She asked if I put on deodorant and if so, it would have to be wiped off. After asking why, the chemicals can result in false positives. Took off my shirt and replaced it with a “fashionable” open front blue medical top.
I was then asked to lean my chest against the machine where my breast was smashed between two plastic plates like a sandwich. It didn’t hurt but it was awkward. Each breast gets two views: straight on and to the side. I commented to the technician that it must be fascinating maneuvering individuals of all shapes, sizes, ages, and personalities. She replied with a smile and said “Yes, I touch boobs all day and meet interesting people.”
After the test was completed, got dressed and asked to see my scan on the large computer screens. It was amazing, beautiful, and scary the wonders of technology. The images:
Fortunately, my scan showed no cancer. Hopefully, the above images will inspire one person to schedule an appointment. What are you waiting for? Life is short and make no excuses. Don’t waste the time and encourage love ones to get tested. Let’s conquer the world together, one mammary gland at a time.
March 23, 2014
When San Francisco’s Hang Art asked me to explore the gallery and select artists for an exhibition, I was up for the challenge. According to its mission: “Inventory Pick invites Hang Art artists to explore the inventory and create dialogues with their favorite artists and artworks. Each month, Hang Art will select one artist to peruse our inventory and gather a coveted collection. From the collection, Hang Art will curate and install a show in the exhibition space for the second half of the month and feature it online. We are interested to learn which Hang Art artists and works are grabbing your attention, whether it is in correlation to your own work, your personal interests, or just because.”
How would my final picks be made? After research and deliberation, a pattern emerged. There had to be a set criteria: limit the artists to seven, be gendered balanced, demonstrate a masterful art practice, display an intellectual curiosity, and engage in a multi-faceted career. I wanted to showcase individuals that have dedicated their lives to art on the canvas and beyond.
In addition, March is National Women’s History Month and being a female artist, I’ve encountered the challenges of sexism. HANG ART gallery is the exception to gender equality for representation. In fact, 23 of their 36 artists are females representing almost 65% of their roster. In respect and gratitude, my selections reflect the philosophy that quality art does not favor one sex over the other.
The featured Inventory Pick artists inform their practice outside the studio walls. Carolyn Meyer is director of the Graduate School of Fine Art-Painting at the Academy of Art University. Jeff Loehmann works for Autodesk with cutting edge CNC machinery, laser cutters, and 3D printers. Lisa Kairos teaches at Wax Works West in Santa Cruz County and volunteers at her local high school providing encaustic demos. Piero Spadaro is director and owner at HANG ART gallery. Rachel Sager helped open the first west coast branch of School of Rock in San Francisco. Phillip Hua is an Academy of Art University teacher and founder of AHA (Artists Helping Artists). Erin Mitchell participates in active community outreach through Norton Factory Studios in Oakland while employed as a graphic designer/illustrator for Whole Foods.
Inventory Pick highlights more than just artworks but extraordinary citizens of our community. The exposure of additional activities such as advocacy, education, and creative professions highlights an aesthetic commonality evidenced in the mark’s quality. My thanks to HANG ART for allowing the opportunity to reaffirm and be hopeful for the future of the arts.
Artist talk is Sunday March 23 from 2-3:00 pm and the exhibit dates are March 16-31, 2014.
March 16, 2014
What does FedEx envelopes, HAZMAT suits, building installation, protective CD sleeves, and Lea Feinstein’s art have in common? Tyvek. It’s an unusual but practical choice because it’s inexpensive, lightweight, durable, and ready for transit. According to DuPont: “Tyvek is formed by a fully integrated process using continuous and very fine fibers of 100 percent high-density polyethylene that are randomly distributed and nondirectional. These fibers are first flash spun, then laid as a web on a moving bed before being bonded together by heat and pressure – without the use of binders, sizers or fillers.”
I’ve discovered that the best treasures can be made with innovative materials and reside in the most unlikely places. Every semester, my goal is to expose students to an artist that has served their time in the creative world valiantly. Grey hair, wrinkles, and experience are a proud badge to bear. Don’t shy away young artists but embrace these qualities! It represents the gift of time and the ability to create consistently. As a result, my class made the journey during ridiculous urban traffic to learn the life lesson that artists must look for the future and not be shortsighted.
Located in the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood is artist Lea Feinstein’s studio. It’s not the richest part of San Francisco, a former naval base, but most artists can’t afford the rising costs due to the latest Tech boom. I’ve spent my time in “tough” neighborhoods including the Tenderloin and many years in West Oakland. That time built character and strength for this “bright-eyed and bushy-tailed” Midwestern girl.
My students walked into the studio and responded to the openness of the space. Could they envision themselves here one day? Feinstein’s work effortlessly floats leaving little wall visible while chronicling her process similar to recalling memories. Feinstein: “All my paintings are mediations on flow- a product of time and gravity.” The class assignment was to condense the artist statement to one sentence to recite during the visit. A task that takes years to master and Lea proved that point.
Ms. Feinstein shared her life’s story including teaching at the Rhode Island School of Design, Maryland Institute College of Art, and Georgetown University while raising three boys. In addition, she’s written for SF Weekly, ARTnews, and Art Practical. It was no surprise she asked students to pick their favorite piece. As a result, their choices reflected the diverse backgrounds.
Feinstein: “My work is about communicating something -a mental state- a state of the moment and I couldn’t say those things in words. I’ve always felt that art asks questions.” The studio visit inspired us all but I hope it prompts investigation and action. Whether on Tyvek, canvas, clay, plastic, paper, or any medium: what do you have to say?
March 9, 2014
I find comfort in convenience and routine despite life’s constant flux. It seems that the San Francisco gallery scene is changing due to the economy, an aging gallery model, rents being raised due to the tech boom, buildings being converted into condominiums, owners seeking retirement, and clients shifting to a digitalized world. Within the last two years, galleries are leaving the downtown for pastures with “lower” rent, consequences to the new economy, and/or a life outside of the art world game.
About a year ago, Brian Gross Gallery and Catharine Clark Gallery moved out of downtown area to the Potrero Hill neighborhood in San Francisco to the same building that resides recently relocated Hosfelt Gallery. Now, Rena Bransten Gallery, George Krevsky Gallery, and Patricia Sweetow Gallery are leaving the 77 Geary Street building due to the tech company Mulesoft’s ability to pay twice the rent. There is nothing wrong with making more money, it’s the American way. However, if or when this tech boom bubble bursts- will the community be left with empty offices? It’s hard to know.
When visiting the Los Angeles area, I visit the Bergamot Station in Santa Monica, Culver City Art District, and Gallery Row in Downtown to view art. While in New York City, stops include Chelsea, SoHo, Upper East Side, and Lower East Side to mention a few. In San Francisco proper, it leaves a visitor asking where does one start a gallery tour.
Bottom line: I believe gallery patrons enjoy a one stop approach. If many hours are devoured by driving, walking, biking, and/or riding public transportation to see less than 10 galleries- it’s hard to justify the time. When gallery clusters exist, more visitors (possibly buyers) will come. It’s got to be easy, accessible, and reliable. But when financial conditions and times change, what are galleries supposed to do? Exist virtually and not physically?
Galleries are just as important as museums and academic institutions because they are an additional layer of critical analysis, support artists, allow free access to the pubic, and enhance cultural depth to a community. They represent the middlemen for an artist’s career from graduation to death. If they fail to exist, it will reaffirm our current economic divide between the poorest poor and the 1%. A place must exist for living artists to aspire to be in or be inspired by that aides in their development and backing.
Currently, San Francisco is going through a transformation. There’s no way knowing what will happen to the gallery system. My hope is that they will be able to stay afloat during this unpredictable time. The arts are worth the fight even if they’re less profitable at first. In the long run, it’s an investment that lasts for generations.
March 2, 2014
A few months ago, I received an email for an individual in search of an artwork. The piece was created part of a fundraiser for a San Francisco foundation in 2004. Artists were paid a small stipend to paint on a large custom fabrication. The finished sculptures were displayed around San Francisco and auctioned off at a fancy event in which the creators were not allowed to attend.
But where are the pieces today?
The gentlemen who contacted me is looking for my sculpture. He wanted to take photos part of a family adventure. However, I had no idea of its location. One rumor indicated that it had ended up on the East Coast at an automotive paint store. But, that can’t be verified.
It’s not an uncommon practice for galleries, institutions, and philanthropic organizations to withhold client information when a piece sells. Luckily, I’ve worked with some galleries that share contact data. However, this isn’t the norm and this continued practice leaves artists in the dark.
Getting older, I want to know the locations of my art for inventory and record keeping. Unfortunately, venues fear that artists will spam “their client” with correspondence and try to make sales without their commission. According to Benjamin Franklin: “The rotten apple spoils his companions.” Well, one artist’s obnoxious behavior shouldn’t shut the doors of communication for everyone.
This thinking doesn’t mimic today’s shopping experience. For example, anything bought online results in retailers spying on consumer’s habits. If I purchase something at store X, that company’s advertisement will appear on a banner while on Facebook, Yahoo, and the list goes on. In addition, mailings will also appear in email and/or physical form. Privacy for consumers in every other market from purchasing a cup of coffee to a home is virtually nonexistent.
Bottom line: an artist is selling a product and like most companies nowadays has every right to client contact information.
When I emailed the foundation requesting information of the artwork’s location this was the response:
“Hi Jenny –
Unfortunately, your xxxx went to a private buyer in 2004.
We don’t track the locations of all the xxx once they are purchased.
The above answer is disingenuous and lazy. Every time a company sells a item, that client is informed of upcoming events ($$$) or put on a marketing list ($$$). Artists are expected to create pieces for organizations for little or no pay. In return, they’ll receive “exposure” that will lead to fame. Unfortunately, this isn’t true. Not sharing information but expecting quality donations destroys a transparent partnership. This hurts artists and a public that wants to share an experience.
Tony Bennett might have left his heart in San Francisco but where is mine?
February 23, 2014
This is the lovely time of year for tabulating and organizing taxes. For artists, it’s an honest look into the “real” cost of their endeavors. For the outside world, the financial burden to produce “beauty” destroys the romance. However, smart creatives need to be keenly aware of the bottom line.
Let’s analyze the above painting. Costs include the wood panel, oil paints, mediums, studio space, labor, delivery, and student loans to mention a few. By the time a gallery “possibly” sells a piece of work, an artist normally receives 50% of the sale. BTW, the gallery earns its piece of pie because they have to recoup the price of rent, employees, electricity, and etc…
I’m shouting and screaming this: a successful artist is one that makes enough money to be able to continue making their art! There is nothing sexy or exciting about this revelation. Reality isn’t glamorous but hard work. Perhaps a reread of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species is needed, it’s survival of the fittest stupid (eye roll).
Suze Orman would like this tip: artists need their own capital to stay afloat. Got bad credit? Time to fix that or you’ll run into some big problems. Because sales and rentals can’t be predicted, flexibility in credit and saving is essential. Without a financial plan, creatives won’t survive. Usually, any profit is put right back into the art for supplies. Thinking of going out to dinner and having that $12 dollar glass of wine in the latest San Francisco hipster pop-up restaurant? Think again! That money must go right back into the business.
But why do artists continue to be delusional?
Artists have a dream, inspired by a bad romance novel, that they will be swept away and saved by a rich individual who grooms them to be famous by paying for a studio and lavishing them with endless buckets of resources. Seriously, I’m not making this shit up (pardon my use of language and eye roll again). This isn’t a joke or fantasy. In fact, it seems to becoming more outrageous and elaborate as time passes.
As an educator, I sometimes feel like no matter how honest my pleas of reality are- denial, hysteria, or the student loan due date works best for some. The true cost doesn’t include the personal sacrifices. Being an artist is not a logical profession but a commitment one makes to their practice. Bottom line: sometimes natural selection prevails and sometimes the “best” will only survive.
Charles Darwin: “The very essence of instinct is that it’s followed independently of reason.”
February 16, 2014
If I don’t become a rockstar artist making big money, then I’ll teach. Artists and my students consistently voice this sentiment. However, what was once thought to be the “fallback plan” for creatives, reality is a different story. Evidence to back this claim is growing.
On February 6th, PBS NEWSHOUR aired the television story Is academia suffering from “adjunctivitis”? Low-paid adjunct professors struggle to make ends meets. Reporter Paul Solman interviewed educators Nicole Beth Wallenbrok, Arik Greenberg, Rob Balla, and Joe Fruscione who currently have no medical benefits/sick time/family leave, and some have required food assistance.
Student’s learning suffers from the mistreatment of educators. Mr. Solman: “And you have now met barely a handful few examples of what might be called the adjunctivitis epidemic, adding these part-timers, who are half of all faculty, to full-time professors without tenure and much lower pay. More than 70 percent of America’s college teachers are so-called contingent. Many are unavailable to their myriad students, given their necessarily shorter office hours, says longtime adjunct Joe Fruscione, less energy in the classroom, fewer comments when grading papers or tests.”
Unfortunately, this is the standard corporate model in this “new” economy. The epidemic has spread from Wall Street to public and private education. Part-time employment equals full-time work without benefits. Companies don’t want to pay for healthcare, sick time, mandatory meetings, or prep time. Athletics, car collections, and parties are sexier and more exciting. Just tell educators: “I know that you don’t get paid well but we (fill in corporate company name) need you (fill in your name) to do x, y, and z (additional work for no pay but more accountability) starting yesterday. Have a great semester!”
This isn’t “new” news. However, why do the people working closest to students get paid so little compared to the ones at the top of the ladder?
I tell my students to diversify and to not rely on art, teaching, and family. If you want to be an artist, learn how to hustle and survive. Define your “success” beyond the paycheck and learn to set healthy boundaries with time and energy. One of my favorite San Francisco bay area artists (name withheld to protect some dignity), whose work is in art museum collections, made less than $18,000 last year working full-time through teaching, art sales, and odd jobs. Is this “success”?
The current education system based on profits represents our future. This legacy doesn’t represent the dedicated professors teaching and mentoring students. However, not saying anything is being complacent. My conscious is calling…