November 23, 2014
The saga must continue in NYC! After visiting great galleries in Chelsea, the High Line, and the Apollo Theater, could my recent trip get any better? Yes, indeed. The city had much to offer and the people were very welcoming. Now it was time for business and more investigation.
The main reason behind the excursion was my induction ceremony into the National Association of Women Artists. According to their website, NAWA “…is the first professional women’s fine art organization in the United States…” and recently celebrated its 125th anniversary. Notable members include Louise Nevelson, Malvina Hoffman, Minna Citron, Cleo Hartwig, Alice Neel, and many others. The event was held at the Rubin Museum of Art which included an induction of current officers, a presentation of new member’s work, and an awards ceremony.
After the induction, took the subway to Brooklyn to visit the Sculptor’s Guild gallery. On the trip, I received an email that my application was accepted to become a member. As a result, wanted to see the space in person and make an introduction. The 111 Front Street Galleries complex in which the Sculptors Guild is located features many impressive artworks. At the Brooklyn Arts Council, artist Traci Talasco recreated an interior made out of sandpaper. My favorite gallery by far was Minus Space and every artist represented was fantastic. Very impressed!
Take a look:
Stopped at Grimaldi’s for pizza under the Brooklyn Bridge. Afterwards, my husband and I decided to walk back over the bridge back to NYC. It was different perspective of the city in this post 9/11 world. It was packed with tourists and locals in transit. According to the Department of Transportation: “More than 120,000 vehicles, 4,000 pedestrians and 3,100 bicyclists cross the Brooklyn Bridge every day.”
Once arriving in NYC, our next stop was the National Association of Women Artists New Members’ Exhibition at 80 Fifth Avenue. On display was one piece from each new member. During the opening, every artist was asked to talk about her practice. Meeting women who dedicated their lives to promoting creativity was truly inspiring.
With time to spare, we visited the San Francisco based sports bar called Finnerty’s in the East Village for a $4 beer afterwards. It felt like we were at home with Giants baseball fans. However, the last destination of the day was the New Museum featuring the works of Chris Ofili. The exhibition included paintings, drawings, and sculptures spanning many decades of the artist’s life.
Just when I thought my trip to NYC couldn’t get better, just wait…it did! More to share and be inspired by next week…
November 16, 2014
Recently was in NYC for art related business. A few years have passed since my last visit. I was curious to see what had changed and stayed the same. As for every excursion, the daily itinerary is packed from early dawn to late night. My philosophy is to make the most of every experience, because no trip should be taken for granted.
Flying in late Tuesday evening, my husband and I took a cab from the airport to a hotel near Carnegie Hall. After unpacking it was time for NYC style pizza at Angelo’s and to finalize the schedule. I knew it was going to be a good trip when we ran into San Francisco Giants fans at the restaurant. Pizza, wine, and baseball equal the perfect combination!
Wednesday was filled with amazing art in the Chelsea neighborhood. There are over 500 galleries in NYC and impossible to see all in a short time. As a result, decided to pick quality over quantity. An East Coast aesthetic sensibility is different from the West Coast. As a result, love the exploration and investigation.
Next stop was a visit to the High Line which is the newly renovated railroad trestle looking over Chelsea. It’s like a park above the busy streets with benches, walkways, and beautiful vistas of the city. From the Friends of the High Line website: “The High Line’s planting design is inspired by the self-seeded landscape that grew on the out-of-use elevated rail tracks during the 25 years after trains stopped running. The species of perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees were chosen for their hardiness, sustainability, and textural and color variation, with a focus on native species. Many of the species that originally grew on the High Line’s rail bed are incorporated into the park’s landscape.” It’s a lovely oasis to a busy urban environment.
We spent the evening at The Apollo Theater in Harlem! It was the Amateur Night Show Off in which recent talent show winners compete for a chance to move to the semi-finals then a possibility to win the title of Super Top Dog. There are rules at The Apollo: if you like a performer cheer loudly, if you don’t boo loudly. The audience was engaged and the talent amazing. This beats any reality television competition hands down. I met people from the neighborhood, Japan, and India. Harlem really does rock!
Because my trip to NYC was the best ever, additional blog posts are needed to cover all the goodness of the city. There’s just too much to share in a short writing. My creative tank has been recharged and ready to go. The bar has been raised and the possibilities are endless. Yes, this is a good place to be!
November 9, 2014
Knowledge is power, right? In my opinion, yes it is! Monday evening was an interesting talk titled Creative Interventions and Social Activation with Cheryl Haines at the David Brower Center. She is the executive director of the FOR-SITE Foundation, Haines Gallery principal, and curator for the @Large: Ai WeiWei on Alcatraz. It was organized by the Arts Research Center at UC Berkeley. My habit is to attend as many lectures possible in hopes that something will stick to my brain.
According to the promotional email: “Cheryl Haines has curated numerous exhibitions for both local and internationally-renowned artists. Haines will share details of the behind-the-scenes process of curating and assembling an exhibition, spotlighting her current work, @Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz, for which Ai Weiwei has created sculpture, sound and mixed-media installations for the infamous former prison. Haines will look at how exhibitions can ‘intervene’ in a space to provoke thought, stimulate the sense, and incite social action.”
Ms. Haines started the presentation reading the definition of activism: “the policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change.” It was her way of introducing the artist Ai Weiwei. The well-known Chinese political artist has been under house arrest, imprisoned, designed the 2008 Olympic Beijing National Stadium, won numerous awards, and had exhibitions all over the world.
She picked Alcatraz to showcase Ai Weiwei’s art because it is “…a site of protest and a complicated environment.” In addition, the National Park Service popular tourist destination attracts 1.6 million visitors annually with an average cost of $30 for the ferry. This is prohibitive for many and my students. A teacher in the audience asked Ms. Haines about this fee. She replied that the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy has 4000 visitor vouchers for students and educators.
As a result, I called the next day to inquire about the discount. To pay $30 each for every student in class, it becomes quite the expense. This is a once in a lifetime exhibit and money shouldn’t be a factor to experience it or not. Ai Weiwei’s art practice embraces the importance of freedom and inclusiveness. Should art be accessible to everyone?
One must apply for a discounted ticket by providing information and answering application questions. These include: Why would you/your group like to visit Alcatraz and/or the @Large exhibit? How will you share your experience with your larger community (i.e. participants who weren’t able to attend the fieldtrip)? Would you be interested in submitting creative responses about the exhibit (written, spoken word, movement-based, etc.), in order to showcase them on our program’s blog? If so, what do you have in mind?
After my application is submitted, it will take 5 weeks for an acceptance or rejection to arrive. Until then, I will keep encouraging everyone to view as much art as possible to help inform and improve the collective discussion. To me, that is the talk and discussion worth having without the fee.
Ai Weiwei is on display at Alcatraz from September 27, 2014 – April 26, 2015.
November 2, 2014
Ever wonder how public murals, artworks, or projects become a part of a community? As of lately, it has been a good busy in Richmond. It’s Neighborhood Public Art Mini-Grant time! Being a freshman Arts and Culture Commissioner, the experience is a brand new one. Because no city is alike, understanding the process has been a learning curve but very meaningful.
The last two Thursdays have consisted of marathon evenings of interesting presentations. I printed the proposals in advance, organized them in a jumbo-sized binder, read them, and took notes. Wanted to be prepared! Commissioners sit around a large wooden table in a conference room while prospective grantees present ideas. Every applicant is allowed to stay in the room and listen to their competition!
There were 15 presentations spread over two evenings. Each concept is scored by a rubric broken into six different sections from its impact on Richmond’s community to the feasibility of the project. Applicants have 10 minutes to present followed by a quick 5 minute Q&A by commissioners.
This year’s candidates included Molly Raynor’s When Daughters Rise, Cirstal Banagan’s Richmond’s Little Free Libraries, Desi Mundo’s Cycles of Creation, Steve Hurst’s Richmond Rainbow, Keiko Nelson’s Pray for World Peace, Michele Wells’ The War at Home, Lana Husser’s Merging Cultures and Understanding, Toody Maher’s 9th Street Entry Totems, Jordan Simmons’ Iron Voices, Josue Hernandez’s Photo Cyclist Project, Fred Franklin’s The 24-Carrott Kid Comes to Life, Raymond Haywood’s Cycle Richmond Box Art, Parke Ballantine’s Media Arts Project, Laydee Kaye’s Evoke the Goddess, and Tana Montero’s I Am Richmond.
Scores will be organized and tabulated at a later date. The commissioners will meet to discuss the top presentations, look at requested grant amounts, and try to match a limited budget with applicant needs. Unfortunately, there’s not enough money to fund each deserving project. The arts have to fight for every dollar in local governments and beyond.
While the results are unknown at this point, it will be a difficult to edit the group to the final selections. Looking forward to seeing what new projects are approved. While some will be disappointed, acceptance and rejection are part of the process. There are factors that can’t be controlled like resources. Some art is better than no art. However, individuals like myself will be fighting for more.
October 26, 2014
The weather has been on my side. No rain has interfered with work on a public art project in South San Francisco. It’s been sunny and beautiful to be painting outdoors. Not being familiar with the area’s microclimate was unsure of what to expect. Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday were all beautiful and sunny days. Overall, I spent 36 hours painting not including the commute.
The utility box is located between two hillsides on the intersection of Hillside Blvd. and Sister Cities Blvd. in South San Francisco. The area is a diverse community with an eclectic mix of houses: one side charming bungalows and the other new developments. While working, the neighborhood was welcoming and positive. Drivers in their cars honked their horns, gave a thumb’s up, shouted praise, and waived. Gave out business cards to perspective new clients and talked Giants baseball mixed with art with passersby.
Prior to painting, the utility box was primed by the city. The first step was to paint three base coats of my primary color. After each layer, I would wipe down the surface from bugs or debris from the above trees. The goal was to make sure contamination would be kept to a minimum.
My design had to be modified to fit the unique shape. It wasn’t a perfect shape. As a result, made additional sketches to make sure the pattern wrapped around the corners and edges to create a seamless look. Set up the work area with drop cloths, cones with caution tape, a ladder, and radio to listen to World Series mania. In addition, a bucket of water was nearby due to no water source.
Sketching main compositional lines on the surface was the next step. Then adding supporting ones and filling out the design followed. Once satisfied with the final layout, the tedious work began. With various sized brushes, I would carefully paint the layer three times to make sure the edges appeared clean and paint application cohesive.
My last day included final touches to the surface. Painted over splashes, removed the blue painter’s tape, and signed/titled/dated the artwork. My goal was to create a piece inspired by the history of South San Francisco while investigating its natural and manmade environments. The branch like pattern and color mimics the location and its shadows.
On the last day of painting, a gentleman in a stopped vehicle waiting for a traffic light yelled: “Thank you! Thank you! This looks so much better!” I turned around and acknowledged his compliment with a large smile. Making a community a better place, one utility box at a time is time well spent!
October 19, 2014
Thursday evening was a big night in the city. Bernie Sanders the Independent United States Senator spoke at the Richmond Memorial Auditorium. He led a discussion with Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and City Council Members. Topics included money in politics, global warming, Medicare-for-All, Veteran care, and ending inequality.
It’s election season with many important races locally and nationally. I’m a regular listener of The Thom Hartmann Program, which is the most listened progressive radio talk show. Every Friday, he features an hour-long segment called Brunch with Bernie in which the Senator discusses current issues. I’m hooked to his unwavering determination to fight for what’s right and remarkable work ethic.
Sanders: “While the middle class disappears and more Americans fall into poverty, the wealthiest people in our country are using their wealth and political power to protect their privileged status at everyone else’s expense.” During his speech, the Senator went into depth about the billionaire Koch family and its devastating influence in politics. Thanks to a horrible Supreme Court decision, buying elections is currently on steroids. Companies like Chevron in Richmond, are flexing their monetary muscle.
It was a crowded event but well worth the time and effort. There were familiar faces from the arts, neighborhood councils, and local activists. As the Senator was speaking, I was monitoring the San Francisco Giants baseball game on my iphone. Just as Mr. Sanders was rallying the crowd, Travis Ishikawa hit a walk-off home run to catapult the Giants to the World Series.
Overall, the evening was a win-win for everyone. Couldn’t fall asleep due to the excitement. It was inspiring to see the community together and work as a team for the greater good. Go Bernie and go Giants!
October 12, 2014
Tuesday was a beautiful and sunny day. Spent the afternoon investigating the site of an upcoming public art project in South San Francisco. It also included an orientation meeting with a cultural arts specialist from the city. The purpose was to go over the do’s and don’ts of an upcoming public art project and other expectations.
According to the city’s website: “This public art mural program celebrates local artwork and encourages regional artists to share their creativity throughout the City of South San Francisco. Vibrant artwork helps deter unsightly graffiti and creates pleasant spaces for residents and visitors alike. We invite artists to participate in this unique program designed to transform common utility boxes into works of art, which will add beauty to the City of South San Francisco streetscape for years to come.”
The utility box that I’ll be painting is on the corner of Sister Cities Blvd. and Hillside Blvd. There are three large trees that shade the area and a commemorative bench sitting on a small walkway. The location is hugged on both sides by large hills or small mountains that open to the expansive sky.
My proposed design incorporates the history of South San Francisco while investigating its natural and manmade environments. I wanted my artwork to link the Ohlone people, Spanish settlers, Pacific Live Stock Company, and current infrastructure. The main color will be green/blue to reflect the area’s natural barrier to fog. The black lines branch out like a tree paying homage to the city’s history of being the birthplace of biotechnology while celebrating its future. Overall, I hope the viewer employs the history of South San Francisco as a template to discover their own path.
The next step in the process is to obtain certification and proper permits. When approved and if weather permits, the painting will begin. Can’t help but be excited and hopeful for this project. It’s something new, a challenge, and an honor to be given this opportunity. Ready, set, and go!
October 5, 2014
I waited in line for over an hour last Monday evening not including the time driving through the commute. My hope was to see Maya Lin present a lecture at the David Brower Center in Berkeley. When receiving an email in early September about the talk, replied immediately to secure a RSVP. Unfortunately, the free event was sold out. Called the venue and they indicated that an early arrival would guarantee admittance. In addition, the RSVP was only used to see if the event would be popular. Think again!
Maya Lin is a famous artist whose practice includes sculpture, installations, and public art. She designed the moving and elegant Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. A few years ago, my husband and I had the opportunity to spend a few hours at the site. It’s thin, stoic, and an appropriate marker for a challenging historical moment.
Being an artist, I’m interested in the intention of one’s practice. Currently at the David Brower Center is Maya Lin’s What is Missing? project dedicated to vanishing life on planet Earth along with sculptures showcasing water’s fragility. Maya Lin: “My work is in part trying to mimic natural formations in the earth, a complex but seemingly very simple phenomena. It is something I seek out in everything.”
Unable to get a seat at the lecture, persons in the “No RSVP” line were allowed to view Lin’s artworks in the lobby while listening to her lecture via a loud audio system. Not a dynamic speaker, she is deliberate and direct in a monotone voice. As a result, opted to listen to Lin clearly via YouTube without the distraction.
My quest to hear a great artist failed. However, knowledge arrives in many forms and not on a special list. Could have left angry being told one thing and experiencing another. The process of seeking information has many twists and turns. In the end, time is my friend and worth the reply.
September 28, 2014
Artists don’t get many chances to display work in world-class venues. The odds are normally slim to none. For some of my Academy of Art graduate students last spring, they experienced a once in a lifetime opportunity at the de Young in San Francisco. Every year, the museum opens it doors for college and university students offering a chance to showcase art for a long weekend exhibition.
Last Tuesday evening, I was invited to be part of the Student Showcase committee at the de Young. The meeting was located on the 8th floor of the museum’s tower. Our goal was to set a theme and discuss ways to improve the event. Art historians, current students, recent graduates, professors from various colleges, and wonderful museum staff were in attendance.
A brainstorming session flourished. What would be the title and theme for next year’s event? Words like evolve, transform, legacy, and emergence were popular. The group started editing and arraigning thoughts. The title would have to link together three upcoming exhibits: Botticelli to Braque: Masterpieces from the national Galleries of Scotland, Embodiments: Masterworks of African Figurative Sculpture, and Janet Delaney: South of Market.
While no final decision was made, the process had narrowed down the ocean of possibilities to a few. Being an artist, creation is messy. When I think something is going to be easy, it’s not. Getting work done is a matter of organized chaos.
Overall, it was an honor to help set a framework for future artistic generations. I want my time and energy spent on substantive and meaningful change. To me, that’s what building a positive legacy consists of. The next student showcase will be April 24th- 26th, 2015. Stay tuned for a title but be ready to be inspired.
September 21, 2014
Last weekend, wasn’t my proudest moment on this planet. A large-scale drawing with a 60-hour time investment was obliterated in a matter of seconds. Watching the slow motion event captured my full attention. Who was behind the destruction?
Tule. The cutest 11-month golden retriever puppy ever.
I had placed the drawing on a bed in a spare bedroom one evening and closed the door. The next morning, while entering the room didn’t realize a 70 pound “shadow” behind me. Tule jumped on the bed and danced with his sharp nails all over the artwork.
Screamed and had a temper tantrum (TT). All that time gone in a moment. My hands were sore and cut up from working. It was too painful of a thought to have to start all over again. However, this is the life of being an artist. In case you didn’t read the fine print: always add extra time for unforeseen circumstances.
This isn’t the first event to result in unintentional artwork destruction. Imagine a framed artwork tied on top of a vehicle: my husband thought it would be a good idea (eye roll) to save money instead of hiring a service. Unfortunately, the 5×7 foot painting flew off into the road and exploded into pieces. Today, only professionals handle large-scaled artworks for safe delivery.
Always had a studio mate and/or family member of the four-legged variety. In my West Oakland studio, Trout (a.k.a. Trouble) scared off potential robbers, hunted up big rats, organized socks, and predicted earthquakes. I had trained him in my studio to “no” zones and he listened.
Looking back, I can’t help smile cautiously. This is part of the learning process. Lesson learned: don’t leave art on a surface in which any creature can jump on. In addition, laugh at one’s imperfections and breathe. Instead of future TT’s, I’ll work on creating an environment of tranquil temperament.