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…
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!