April 26, 2015
This weekend is the de Young 19th Annual New Generations Student Showcase. Friday night the museum is open late and like a proud mother hen, wanted to support students and witness the beginnings of a bright future. Being an avid San Francisco Giants fan, attending the exhibition meant missing a game. In the end, my team lost to play another day but my students won big!
Putting together a three-day temporary exhibition in a major museum is an amazing feat. There are many logistics for the institution to consider. For example, certain materials are not allowed like fur, skins, preserved insects, old wood, dried fruit, seedpods, and others that could possibly damage its collection. Artists aren’t allowed to display posters or signs anywhere on the premises. Imagine if the museum became a billboard for anyone with no rule or order. It would lose its sanctuary status and feel.
The de Young 19th Annual New Generations Student Showcase is located in the Piazzoni Murals Room. Gottardo Piazzoni lived from 1872-1945, he was an American landscape painter born in Switzerland known for his serene, beautiful, and stylized California landscapes. According to ARTINFO, Piazzoni was asked about his religion and responded “I think it is California.”
The exhibit was meticulously organized like bringing order to chaos and putting together a puzzle without prior knowledge of its parts. Curating is a delicate skill and displaying 41 pieces from 27 artists could present a challenge. However, the museum didn’t disappoint and it looked flawless.
This is a wonderful and rare opportunity for local art students. The only other museum with a similar exhibition theme is the Getty in Los Angeles. BTW, they got the idea from the de Young. If we need to improve critical, independent, and creative thinking then supporting a new generation with hope and encouragement is a start. Community outreach and art has the power to make us better. That’s a win for us all.
DIVERGENCE: EMERGING LEGACIES, 19th Annual New Generations Student Showcase, April 24-26th, Piazzoni Murals Room, de Young Museum.
April 19, 2015
On Saturday April 11th, I presented a talk to the participants of the de Young 19th Annual New Generations Student Showcase. It was an opportunity to share my artistic experiences and the important role of legacy into one’s practice. The goal was to stress the significance and rarity of the event. I wanted the students to embrace and enjoy every minute of it.
This year’s exhibit features 27 student artists from local university and college programs. The artworks are based on the theme of DIVERGENCE: EMERGING LEGACIES. From the de Young’s description: “What legacies are you inspired by, and how does your artistic practice emerge from these inspirations? Or do you diverge from traditions that you wish to change? How does your legacy connect to the de Young’s collections and exhibitions?”
The talk discussed my background, the current status of the art world, Susan O’Malley’s life, rejections, future legacies, and at the end opened the discussion for student comments/questions. Highlights included trying to demystify the gallery system in a new economy. In addition, shared that rejections are great and one step closer to an acceptance! I stressed to have no fear of participating on planet Earth. As Susan O’Malley would say: “THIS IS ALL PART OF THE PROCESS.”
Afterwards, several students shared their backgrounds, fears, and hopes for the future. I recalled that same time in my life. All the questions about the unknowns and how to create a place in the world plague one’s mind. Getting older, the unfamiliar becomes more certain and the excitement of new possibilities grows. How does one tell a younger self this?
I wanted to talk to Susan O’Malley in person about the experience. She would have genuinely loved hearing all about it. Part of her practice was listening and editing information to the highest forms of wisdom. It was what made her a master. To me, legacy is an interesting concept. Does one realize what their legacy is while living? Or is legacy left for friends, loved ones, and admirers to remember, cope, and emulate? We might not ever know. But if I can help others define their legacy, hopefully that is part of mine. Susan O’Malley taught me.
DIVERGENCE: EMERGING LEGACIES, 19th Annual New Generations Student Showcase, April 24-26th, Piazzoni Murals Room, de Young Museum.
April 12, 2015
As a Richmond Arts and Culture Commissioner, had the opportunity to visit Ai Weiwei’s Alcatraz exhibit for the second time thanks to the RYSE organization. Brought my Academy of Art University class to meet community activists, artists, and to view an amazing show before it leaves San Francisco. Thanks to their generosity, the trip was free of any charges. However the experience was invaluable for all.
According to their website: “RYSE was born out of a youth organizing movement initiated in 2000 in response to a string of homicides amongst youth near Richmond High School that galvanized students to take action to address the violence and lack of safety at school and in the community. Students organized vigils and community forums with over 1,500 youth and community members, met and worked with local officials and stakeholders on a comprehensive assessment of youth-identified priorities and solutions, culminating in the RYSE Youth Center (RYSE), which opened its doors on October 18, 2008.” Born out of injustice, RYSE and Ai Weiwei advocate for positive societal change. The connection is stunning.
Ai Weiwei is a Chinese artist whose work is beautiful, powerful, and political in nature. He has been arrested, detained, and currently works out of his studio in Beijing with no passport to leave. Weiwei co-designed the Serpentine Pavilion for the Summer 2012 Olympics, was commissioned for the Beijing National Stadium, received honorary degrees from many prestigious institutions, and won numerous impressive awards. His Alcatraz exhibit investigates its troubled history through artwork installations that shed insight on past, current, and future human injustices.
California has been experiencing an epic and historic drought. The trip to Alcatraz was positively welcomed by dramatic storm clouds and a challenging commute. Weather didn’t wreck the visit. Overall, the day was spent with creative instigators and individuals. Ultimately, the sun and exhibit prevailed despite the weather and political predictions.
This visit delivered clarity and questions. Starting and continuing a conversation is the beginning of change. Many people have died, been punished, or are currently imprisoned for “freedom” of speech, protecting human dignity, and living an honest and authentic experience. Hopefully, the pieces will find a permanent home. Peace, security, and freedom of expression can be found in organizations like RYSE and globally through Ai Weiwei’s artistic endeavors. Hope continues to be more powerful than hate.
@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz on view from September 27, 2014 – April 26, 2015.
April 5, 2015
For the last 12 years, I’ve been a full-time artist. That time has been spent with two close family members of the furry variety. Trout and Tule have been my partners in artistic crime, routine instigators, warrior walkers, and prancing protectors. How lucky I’ve been to have them part of my art practice and life!
This vegetarian and animal loving artist couldn’t imagine a day without a four-legged companion. Honestly, I’ve met only a handful of people that display the same sincerity, honesty, and dependability. That unconditional love makes me want to be better creatively and most importantly as a human.
According to Flavorwire.com, artists David Hockney, Jackson Pollock, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Frida Kahlo, Norman Rockwell, Georgia O’Keeffe, Rene Magritte, Emily Carr, and many others had beloved pets. An anomaly in the art world order, I don’t think so. Working in the studio is a solo adventure and a pet offers the perfect amount of honest companionship without being annoying or vindictive.
Trout was an 110 lbs studio companion for almost 10 years starting in West Oakland and ending in Richmond. Taught him “no zones” where he learned quickly: paint doesn’t taste that great. He perfected a bark that scared off intruders and created a healthy barrier from trouble. Driving to work, he would lean out my truck window and playfully stare down people. Trout was always ready for an adventure and loved his job.
When Trout passed in August of 2013, the pain was deep and the thought of another was unbearable. No one or anything could ever replace him. When the holidays arrived, I missed that regal presence and energy. As a result, my husband and I drove over 10 hours to Portland to get Tule. Would this pup live up to Trout’s legend?
Yes and no.
Tule is a different personality at a different time in my life. It is a perfect fit. He’s currently only 1-½ years-old, still in training, but has adjusted well to the routine. He’s faster, sweeter, and more sensitive than stoic Trout. Tule loves nuzzling while Trout demanded love. A loud discussion scars Tule’s soul while Trout loved being judge and jury. However, both deemed reliable at any moment with the guarantee to steal your heart.
Not a particularly religious individual. However, do consider myself “spiritual optimistic.” On this Easter Sunday, can’t help wonder why dog spelled backwards is god. Maybe it’s a silly notion or an accident. Not sure. But what I know is that Trout and Tule have provided forever love and acceptance of my flaws. Mark Twain: “Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.” Agreed.
March 29, 2015
Waking up last week Tuesday at 5:30 am, I looked on my iPhone for the schedule. It read continue drawing, take food to Susan O’Malley (no mushrooms), and Mari Andrews’ studio visit for my Academy of Art University class. With Susan’s recent passing, that was no longer part of the plan. Loving order and routine, what would be the new schedule? What would I do that day to honor Susan?
At 4:15 pm, met my students at the West Oakland BART station promptly. We proceeded to go past my two old art studios in the neighborhood. The buildings were obnoxiously full of graffiti and weeds. It was like viewing a scene out of an Apocalypse movie. I wanted to demonstrate that sacrifices were made for my life as an artist.
Next stop was to visit the two Susan O’Malley murals on San Pablo Ave. “BE HERE” and “LESS INTERNET MORE LOVE” peaked their curiosity. Would my students some day see their art grace the public domain someday? Setting goals, dreaming, working hard, and believing was the message.
KALA Art Institute was next on the agenda. Upon arrival, the gallery appeared closed. As a result, rang the doorbell to be certain. Fortunately, we were allowed inside to view the exhibit and converse with welcoming staff. My class witnessed the labor behind the scenes and amazing prints from the masters. Andrea Voinot, Art Sales Manager, graciously talked to my class and personally invited them to the upcoming auction and Print Public events.
Time was of the essence and my group headed for a quick dinner at Panera in Emeryville. We were meeting Mari Andrews at 6:00 pm at her studio and didn’t want to be late. Upon arrival, Mari was waiting outside with open arms and a big smile. It was time to see more great art!
Mari Andrews’ studio is a laboratory of the earth’s finest specimens resulting in an inventory of endless creative inspiration. She proceeded to share her extensive background of exhibitions, residencies, and awards. Mari detailed her motivation, art practice, and favorite artists. Her contagious excitement of natural environments, mathematical patterns, and language script left the class empowered and in awe!
As we made our way back to BART, the day spent with a new generation of artists was a true tribute to Susan O’Malley.
Part of life is adjusting to a new routine or being flexible when one has no say or control. Tuesday was a day in which I fed students with new information, a warm meal, and most importantly hope for the future. As one tries to make sense of something that doesn’t make sense, I must try. Time will eventually carve a new routine. However, what we make of that time is what truly matters most. Onwards!
March 22, 2015
Last week, I recalled a conversation with the late and great artist Susan O’Malley prior to a meeting at the de Young museum. She expressed how it was interesting to be approaching an age where you’re considered to be an “expert.” Susan proceeded to be amazed and amused by that classification. She joked: “What is an expert?”
On April 11th, I will be talking at the de Young museum in a short lecture to the New Generations Student Showcase exhibitors. The goal is to share my background, discuss the current status of the art field, encourage students to think about an artistic legacy, and facilitate an open dialogue about future hopes and dreams. Inspiring a new generation of artists at the museum is a full circle moment.
After working out details at the meeting, I decided to view the Botticelli to Braque exhibit. From the de Young museum website: “Spanning more than 400 years of artistic production, this exhibition highlights works by many of the greatest painters from the Renaissance to the early 20th century. See this rare presentation of some of the most iconic images in the history of Western art as they travel to San Francisco from the National Galleries of Scotland. Paintings selected from the collection include masterpieces by Sandro Botticelli, Diego Velázquez, Johannes Vermeer, Rembrandt van Rijn, Sir Henry Raeburn, Frederic Edwin Church, Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin, Georges Seurat, Pablo Picasso, and Georges Braque.”
Continuing the quest for evidence of expertise, I ventured in the Shaping Abstraction exhibition. I couldn’t help but think did any of these artists consider themselves to be “experts”? What makes one an expert? Is it life experience? Is it hard work and determination? When has one crossed the threshold into expertise?
Leaving the museum with masterful images on my mind, I continued to replay Susan O’Malley’s thoughts. Stuck in horrible traffic on Highway 80, my vehicle moved onto the Ashby exit in Berkeley. Driving on San Pablo Ave., I parked near Bob’s Machinery. Its storefront showcases Susan’s wisdom: “LESS INTERNET MORE LOVE.” At my upcoming de Young talk, I will share her expertise. These words radiate the same power as a Velazquez painting: it lures, hypnotizes, and makes one think. My goal will be to pass that message on to a future generation. What a gift, what a legacy, and thanks to the masters for the continued guidance.
March 15, 2015
The Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco is a classy, elegant, and in my late grandmother’s words a “fancy shmancy” place. Last week Thursday, I volunteered for the 12th Annual Students Rising Above Gala in the upscale Nob Hill hotel. My job was to smile and greet patrons upon first arrival. Tasks included welcoming visitors prior to donating financial support, encouraging bidding on auction items and having fun in the spirit of supporting young adults.
My first encounter with the organization was in the fall of 2013. HANG ART gallery in San Francisco asked me to be part of the A Lot of Good exhibit. A portion of an artwork sale would be donated to a worthy cause. My choice was the Students Rising Above organization and since that moment I was hooked.
According to their website: “The Students Rising Above community is dedicated to impacting the future through the cultivation of extraordinary youth. SRA invests in low-income, first generation college students who have demonstrated a deep commitment to education and strength of character while 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.”
Last year, I edited student essays for SRA students. It was a fantastic experience helping high schoolers focus dreams into words for college applications. In January, was given the opportunity to mentor a fabulous student. The best gift is being able to give back to an individual who wants to succeed. At Thursday’s gala, it was another way to contribute meaningfully.
Bottom line: education has been key to my success. Without it, opportunities would have been little to none. For the next 18 years, my $454.20 monthly student loan is a badge of honor with no regrets. That is fine with me. I hope to live to see the day when the balance is zero. However, education is priceless. Organizations like Students Rising Above uplift and provide hope. It just doesn’t get much better than that.
March 8, 2015
The world truly lost one of its best. Not a fan of the human race but Susan O’Malley provided hope in a landscape of despair. Knowing her for many years, she truly was an amazing person, wife, friend, and artist. She was welcoming and friendly without an agenda. The reasons are too numerous but one must make an attempt. BTW, she saved me.
Susan and I were trying to start a family at the same time. We would share the experiences of infertility along with the physical and mental toll of starting a new medication cycle. When she learned that she was pregnant with twins, I discovered that having a baby was no longer a possibility. Her excitement and joy eased my extreme sadness. If anyone could be given the gift of motherhood, it would be sweet Susan O’Malley.
I wanted to crawl into a cave and withdraw from the world. Susan had a keen sense and would encourage us to meet for dinner, attend art lectures, or to connect. She forced me out when my first instinct was to hide from the pain. Susan gave me the ability to see the light and will to participate. Regardless if she knew or not the outcome of her positive actions, it was a part of her DNA to bring out the best in everyone she encountered.
Susan’s art and life reflected her true nature: generous with time and completely engaged in a moment. At a gathering (Susan called it FRIENDSGIVING), she gave each guest a print with the words:
“IT STARTS HERE MY FRIEND
YOU ME US HERE WE ARE
AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN
IT’S LIKE A HOLIDAY WITH
YOU NEAR THE SPACE LESS
SPACEY THE AIR MORE AIRY
THE THINGS MORE EVERY
THINGY SO ALL IS GOOD
YOU ARE HERE”
Over a year ago, my family made a small donation supporting MSA research in honor of her mother Lupita O’Malley. Susan sent a box of art cards shortly afterwards as a thank you. Last week Sunday, I broke the seal and opened the box for the first time. To my surprise, inside was a card from Susan with the words: “I am so grateful for your support and feel blessed to have you in my life…”
On February 25th, Susan passed with her baby girls: Lucy and Reyna. Her legacy will extend past my inadequate words. I took her positive presence for granted. I will work harder, be nicer, and try to be better. Susan will be missed but her kindness will linger in our hearts forever.
March 1, 2015
How does an exhibit come to life? For an upcoming solo show at HANG ART gallery in San Francisco, it’s a complex process starting from inspiration to installation. It’s not about what is available or finished in the studio. It’s about creating works that commemorate a specific moment of time. A piece can’t be mass-produced or recreated. Art is unique and one-of-a-kind whether loved or hated.
Once given the opportunity, a clear focus related to my current concept and motivation emerged. The mission statement: “Transit was derived from the observation of movement patterns in the San Francisco Bay Area. Working ambidextrously, I’m fascinated by the research of binary relationships such as the simple and complex, beautiful and grotesque, micro and macro perspectives, and natural and manmade environments. Some works were inspired from the reflections of The Bay Lights on the water, the speed of information technology, a cluster of coastal redwood trees, the city’s skyline, and the new Eastern span of the Bay Bridge. My goal is to capture a moment or visualize an abstract concept through the use of lines, marks, and forms.”
Acrylic installations and drawings will dominate the space. The acrylic pieces range from 12x8x7 inches to a large freestanding sculpture that is 75x64x25 inches. The sizable artwork investigates how the San Francisco skyline rises from the Pacific Ocean’s waters. Light reflects off the surfaces of its skyscrapers showcasing shadows that change throughout the day. JBI.3.15.1647525 recreates this experience by encouraging a sense of place and peace within an urban environment.
The drawings range from 19×24 inches to 44×60 inches framed. One pen and ink explores how the San Francisco Bay Area rests on a series of fault lines resulting in seismic activity between the Pacific and North American plates. I wanted to visualize the pattern of this natural occurrence. JBD.3.15.22435 maps this movement through the use of linear repetition and aesthetic illusion.
Folded neatly in an envelope, a short writing that details inspiration accompanies each piece. It’s the final step of a ritual before releasing the artwork into the world. Descriptions won’t be displayed but given to its final owner if sold. If not, the words stay with me forever. It builds the framework for the future and beyond…
Transit, HANG ART Gallery, 567 Sutter Street, San Francisco, March 1-15th 2015.
February 22, 2015
Other parts of the country are experiencing unthinkable cold weather while the San Francisco Bay Area has been the hottest ever recorded. Taking advantage of global warming while wishing for rain, decided to visit the SS Red Oak Victory in Richmond. The ship is now a museum and located in the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park.
The drive to the SS Red Oak Victory is an odd but familiar one. Passing a large parking lot of new vehicles in a desolate port seems somewhat strange in a busy urban setting. However, the backdrop of the glistening Bay against a tall skyline makes up for the mass marketing.
The story behind the SS Red Oak Victory is quite amazing. According to the National Park Service website: “The Victory ship SS Red Oak Victory was built in Richmond Kaiser Shipyard # 1, and launched on November 9, 1944. It was one of 414 Victories built during World War II, but one of only a few of these ships to be transferred from the Merchant Marine to the U.S. Navy. The Red Oak Victory served as an ammunition ship in the South Pacific during WWII. The ship was named for the town of Red Oak, Iowa, which suffered the highest per capita casualty rate of any American community during World War II.”
Upon arrival, a tour guide was ready to share facts and details for a nominal fee. All proceeds go to ongoing restoration and maintenance. Well worth every dollar! I was able to see different sections including the kitchen, medical, engine, cargo, captain’s quarters, and much more. In addition, was shown historical maps and photos of its location during World War II.
Women and minorities were given the opportunity to work and proved that the job could be equally done. For example, some were referred to as Rosie the Riveter and Wendy the Welder to encourage recruitment. The tour guide shared that females were better at physical detailed work than the males.
A visitor feels transported into a different time and experience. It must have been hot and miserable as it moved through turbulent waters and war. Imagine the SS Red Oak Victory rocking back and forth across the ocean during World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam War. A slice of history is always worth revisiting. It helps one respect the sacrifice of others and that freedom and peace are worth fighting for.