August 23, 2015
Alert: about to sound old! When starting to apply to artist opportunities, it was through the mail. A packet of twenty slides would slowly venture into the world. Then digital images arrived. An ancient scanner sits in my closet that converted slides digitally. A pile of discs hide in an office drawer. Today a clean website is preferred and welcomed. Oh how technology has changed everything quickly. I look forward to the future and its change.
With my current website provider no longer offering technical advice or response, had to find a solution. Numerous emails and calls have resulted in a quiet nothing. Maybe an extended vacation for the last 6 months, a bankruptcy, or jail is to blame? Not sure but time to move on.
Overall, 2015 has been the year of research and regrowth. A new website would be the solution that is user friendly and easy to learn. Asking someone to update a website every week can be costly. In addition, knowledge is power. I wanted to understand how a website works and didn’t want to rely on others.
My final decision was a company named Squarespace. Their website templates are wonderful and elegant but still needed something more custom to fit my needs. As a result, researched their recommended designers. One name stood out.
I discovered a company named Lovably Grey. The name reminded me of the late artist Susan O’Malley. It was fun, quirky, smart, and effortlessly cool. From their website: “Lovably Grey, Inc. is a New York-based creative studio focused on spreading long-lasting ideas using thoughtful, functional, and lovable design. Founded in 2014 with the goal of making high-end design services more accessible, we’ve helped turn dozens of great ideas into beautiful realities.”
The universe had answered my call. Currently, Lovably Grey has agreed to work on my project. I’m surprisingly relaxed and reassured that everything is going to be ok. Yes, it will be. Onwards!
August 16, 2015
With my 64-year-old mother visiting, I provided an art tour from Murphys to Los Angeles. Her expedition witnessed the life of an artist. She was game and part of the adventure. My goal was to make the voyage thoughtful and engaging across California. Creating great memory photos is the best!
Being a Richmond Arts & Culture Commissioner, events were scattered throughout my mother’s visit. This includes meetings and lending support to artists. There is a happening almost every night. On Friday August 6th, took my mother to see artist Lana Husser’s Merging Cultures through Art documentary. She received a Richmond Neighborhood Public Art Mini-Grant to promote the arts to young English as second language students.
Then we were off to Murphys, California to visit a good friend and take inspirational photos. We stayed in Stanislaus National Forest with tall and majestic trees. The drought has taken its toll and fire danger is high. A walk around White Pines Lake showcased the low water levels nestled in a dry environment.
When back in the San Francisco Bay Area, we visited an art supply store, a panel maker, scenic vistas, and much more. Ready for a new experience, my mother shared her unique perspective. The schedule ebbed and flowed with the day’s aesthetic needs.
A short trip to Los Angeles was part of the itinerary. Part of the agenda included a reception at bG Gallery at the Bergamot Station in Santa Monica. Three little paintings were on display in the Spectrum-Gestalt 2 exhibit. In addition, dropped off an acrylic installation for the upcoming An Odyssey: 10 Years of the Torrance Art Museum event.
Overall, our travels uncovered new destinations while revisiting old ones. Was grateful for the time with my mother. She gave birth to this artist and made my life possible. Here’s to art, nature, love, and acceptance. Wherever it takes us, we will try to be there.
August 9, 2015
Forward creative progress can be slow and feel torturous. This is normally a positive sign for my art practice. Over the years, the process remains the same. Despite the known and unknown roadblocks, the art must go on.
Six months ago, I decided that large-scale pen and ink drawings were needed in my art practice. As a result, started to research companies that created oversized paper. Made calls and emails from New York City to a small factory in Mississippi. Paid and received free paper samples for testing my pens, erasing, and pencil marks. Wanted to make sure that the paper could handle time’s abuse, wouldn’t easily tear, be archival, and have a surface that avoided smears.
If I finished this large drawing, then how would it be displayed?
After a discussion with City Picture Frame in San Francisco, most framing materials max out at 10 feet. In addition, some extra space would be needed for incidentals. Not every piece of molding, plexiglass, and foamcore is perfect from start to finish.
My paper final choice was a Lenox 100 roll that was 60 inches by 20 yards long. Thanks to the advice from New York Central Art Supply, this would be my best bet to avoid less stress now and into the future. As a result, ordered it from a well-known art supply company.
When the paper arrived, it was damaged. In fact, it took three shipments over seven weeks to send the product with minimal defect. The third try would have to do. After having someone cut the paper roll into pieces, the sheets seemed amiss. When mounting one onto the wall, the rectangle appeared slightly lopsided. The cuts were a touch uneven.
What to do?
With the sheets rolled up like a large magic carpet, off to City Picture Frame to have them cut correctly. The wait will have to be little longer. Art and life operate on independent timelines. As Susan O’Malley would say: “This is all part of the process.” Yes, indeed.
August 2, 2015
*This is the second of two writings documenting a trip down south to Los Angeles. Visiting old friends, making new ones, admiring art, and embracing its culture, L.A. delivered. Home is and can be many places…
With 24 hours left in my visit, didn’t want to waste anytime. Culver City Art District, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Hammer Museum were on the agenda. From political to minimalist artworks, L.A.’s flavor and style were oh so California cool.
A rare thunderstorm greeted while visiting Culver City. Some galleries were new and closed while others flourish. My favorite art gallery was Cherry and Martin. One location displayed the meticulous and elegant works of Matt Paweski. While its sister space presented the luminous and exciting art of T. Kelly Mason.
Pontus Willfors’ Homeland exhibit at Edward Cella Art & Architecture provoked discussion with intense conceptual craftsmanship. It wasn’t contrived, annoying, or unorganized. It was refreshingly thoughtful and provocative. At Samuel Freeman, Clarissa Tossin’s How does it travel? left the same impression. According to the gallery’s website, Tossin explores how “…sameness over distance highlights difference.” Brilliant!
Next stop was busy LACMA with innovative programming and positive energy. The museum spans multiple buildings with open air spaces guiding visitors. The Islamic Art Now: Contemporary Art of the Middle East, Ed Moses: Drawings form the 1960s and 70s, and Noah Purlfoy: Junk Dada exhibits were dynamic and demanded attention. Loved every minute!
The next morning arrived at the Hammer Museum. It’s part of UCLA with free admission, only $3 dollar parking, and fantastic artwork. Heaven does exist. Mark Bradford’s pieces in Scorched Earth revealed numerous layers and intricate patterns. In the lobby, his United States map represents how many adults out of 100,000 people were diagnosed with AIDS in 2009. Leaves one asking: what is the current status of the syndrome today?
Heading back home, I’m recharged and renewed with new love and respect for this big territory called California. A piece of me will always admire SoCal and its offerings. It makes our art and world whole.
July 26, 2015
*This is the first of two writings documenting a trip down south to Los Angeles. Visiting old friends, making new ones, admiring art, and embracing its culture, L.A. delivered. Home is and can be many places…
Waking up early in Richmond’s fog, travels today include a Los Angeles adventure. It had been over a year since my last visit. I was curious what stayed the same and changed mixed with new surprises. This would be my tenth trip to the sunny destination.
My first excursion to L.A. was a spring break vacation during my Wisconsin undergraduate years. That was almost 20 years ago. When thinking of that time, surprised to make it back alive. My friends and I were oh so naïve. There were no cell phones, GPS, or any other modern devices. Luckily, I survived for another visit!
First stop was the Bergamot Station in Santa Monica. Met with former Academy of Art Student, friend, and artist: Emily Clawson. She was part of the Factor XX exhibit at the Art Museum of Los Gatos. Accompanying her was an artist who just finished an artist residency at Joshua Tree National Park. Three female artists on the loose, watch out world!
Highlights included John Chiara at ROSEGALLERY. His amazing photographs are taken with a unique camera and innovative production processes. The colors and content become luminous layers of ghost like impressions of our landscape. The work was beautiful and haunting.
Hints of Pop Art could be found in Todd Gray’s work at Skidmore Contemporary Art. Abstract expression mixed with Julie Mehretu’s layers influenced the art of Laura Fayer at Ruth Bachofner Gallery. Katherine Rohrbacher’s floral crown politely demanded my attention at Korman Gallery. Joe Pinkelman’s porcelain plates at TAG gallery created delicate patterns that broke from the traditional. Overall, it was a fine aesthetic day.
Afterwards navigated through robust traffic for dinner with my best friend. The same individual who I had made my first L.A. trip with. We were now older and hopefully wiser. Oh to remember “when we were young” and today we reminisce. Thank you City of Angels.
July 19, 2015
Officially in SFMOMA withdrawal. The museum is closed for renovation till 2016. I took it for granted when it was open. Access and exposure to inspiring and innovative works at one’s convenience is a gift. Part of me has been lost and disoriented despite the institution’s off-site programs. However, the new spaces will provide more opportunities and strengthen the San Francisco Bay Area’s aesthetic culture.
Patience is in order.
I’ve been watching the construction time-lapse movie of its progress. It’s fascinating because the website is updated every 15 minutes since June of 2013. Been geeking out due to the fabulous lines of Snøhetta. Each day shows new light, shadows, and growth.
See for yourself:
From the SFMOMA’s website: “The architecture firm Snøhetta is collaborating with SFMOMA to develop an expansion that will not only create compelling new spaces, but also enhance the museum’s contributions to the community. In the words of Craig Dykers, one of Snøhetta’s principals, the extension of the SFMOMA building will ‘become the tissue that merges building and community, supports the museum’s role as an educational and civic catalyst, and opens up the museum to the diverse audiences it serves.’”
Yes, indeed. In my art practice, I’m inspired by natural and manmade environments. This relationship is the foundation for my love of lines. How one mark can be extended through intention, speed, width, and invention is truly inspiring. As a result, wanted to see Snøhetta’s vision in person.
First parked at the garage closest to the museum. Checked each floor to see any glimpse of the masterpiece. No luck. Security was suspicious by my behavior and concluded a walkabout of the massive block limits any innocent incident potential.
Street level walking around the construction site provides blocked views. No complaints here. I was happy for the opportunity and time to see such beauty. Turning the corner, an Academy of Art University building appeared. Asked the security guard if viewing SFMOMA’s construction was an option. She looked me over while examining my ID and said with a smile: “Wait here. Sure!”
From the roof, I sketched and took photos. Feeling alone, neighbors in adjacent buildings observed my actions. One individual waved and smiled. I sat down and watched the fog sauntered in. Lucky me to have this opportunity and vantage point. Only a bird gliding across its surface would have a better perspective.
Inspired by its patterns, lines rolled out of my pens like the city’s energy. This was only the beginning. The art that would be waiting inside for future visitors was an exciting notion. The wait will and has been well worth it.
July 12, 2015
On June 26th Pride celebrations were underway, the Grateful Dead performing their last local concert, Nascar Jeff Gordon’s final career start, and two major league baseball games. I was at a Richmond Arts & Culture Commission Retreat. The meeting was held at commissioner Kit Pappenheimer’s Square One public space overlooking the Bay. Art in the public realm just doesn’t appear, it takes work even on a beautiful and sunny Sunday.
The morning started with commissioners sharing an unknown piece of their background. From one being born on a Native American Reservation, a childhood at Joshua Tree National Park, and Shakespeare acting experience, the commission shares diverse qualifications. Since 1988, individuals have worked on Cultural Plans, Revitalization Plans, Percentage for the Arts, and many other projects for the city of Richmond.
In 1995, the first Neighborhood Arts Mini-Gant Program was implemented. In fact, Richmond won a NeighborhoodUSA First Place Award for this innovative practice. Individuals, groups, and organizations apply for monies to engage the arts in local neighborhoods. This includes artworks, performances, murals, classes, and exhibits.
In the afternoon, we discussed strategies moving forward. This includes finding support staff or interns to aid with an artist registry. Budget cuts slow progress. Michele Seville, Arts & Culture Manager, desperately needs help. Our job was trying to figure how to provide that assistance.
According to the city of Richmond’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.”
People exist that will not allow the arts to die. Each commissioner is passionate about Richmond. The old proverb “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” comes to mind. In this case, good intentions will do good. The commission won’t accept any other outcome.
July 5, 2015
From a refuge in Mississippi to Facebook in California, my reality is experiencing whiplash from an accident called art. Both places were hot for inspiration despite the staggering differences. Are these two realities located in one United States of America?
As the artist in residency at the Choctaw and Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge, 48,000 acres of natural environment dominates the landscape. Facebook’s office designed by architect Frank Gehry spans 40,000 square miles topped with a 9-acre rooftop park. The social media’s campus “only” covers 57 acres compared to the refuge. However, both leave a visitor unable to see its borders and possibilities.
Dana Morrison graciously provided a tour of impressive site-specific artworks at Facebook. Most were created in conjunction with the company’s artist in residency program. Employees live aside museum quality pieces as part of their daily ritual. Similarly at the refuge, staff engages with gators, snakes, flying squirrels, and other creatures while performing tasks to protect habitat.
Facebook’s culture is positively shocking to me. Oil changes, bike repair, recreational areas, dental care, and other perks are available to employees. Meanwhile on the refuge, the government sequester took a staff of 35 and gutted it to 9 individuals. Comparing my work experience, there are no bonuses, benefits, or consistent raises. The “perk” is having the “freedom” to create.
On the refuge, sustenance fishing is normal and a daily occurrence for many local residents. No fish equals no meal. Residents would declare they’d eat what God delivered that day. On the other hand, Facebook is stocked with gourmet dining areas, snack stations, restaurants, and goodies. Options are plentiful and hunger is nonexistent.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg: “I think that people just have this core desire to express who they are. And I think that’s always existed.” This quote reminded me of a passage from H. B. Cushman in the History of the Choctaw, Chickasaw and Natchez Indian. Referring to the Choctaws: “They believed that the Great Spirit communicated his will to man in dreams, in thunder and lightning, eclipses, meteors, comets, in all the prodigies of nature, and the thousands of unexpected incidents that occur to man.”
How does the Great Spirit communicate to man today? Perhaps with a utopian Facebook experience of how labor and creativity should be treated with respect. A living wage isn’t too much to ask. Why do risky financial products produce ridiculous profits when protecting nature is “complicated”?
A bird can migrate thousands of miles and an Internet post can reach a global audience within minutes. The natural world and information technology have no boundaries. Each can protect or destroy at a moment’s notice. In the right hands, both reap rewards.
June 28, 2015
*This is the final in a series of four chronicling a journey of living outside one’s comfort zone and trying to discover a new path. An artist in residency at the Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee and Choctaw National Wildlife Refuge in Mississippi confronted and educated while teaching acceptance.
This is my red recording chair. It sits on the backyard deck of my Refuge home. The house resides near the water’s edge with large trees hiding its contents. Unaware of its creatures, they are fully aware of my presence.
For numerous days, I documented the sounds at 6 am, noon, 6 pm, and midnight. The recordings last for 6 minutes each. I sit still not reacting to the bugs resting on my face, arms, and legs. Sometimes a snake moves through the grass, a fox prances by, frogs chirp, birds gossip, or leaves wrestle. The audio can capture my breath, a belly rumble, and an occasional slap from a persistent critter. They are real, raw, and accessible like this world.
A passage replayed in my mind during the Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee and Choctaw National Wildlife Refuge artist residency. I used it as my guide for artwork inspiration. It was from a book by H.B. Cushman titled History of the Choctaw, Chickasaw and Natchez Indians. In 1820, Cushman lived in the Choctaw nation in Mississippi with missionary parents. His first hand accounts are an invaluable historical and respectful account.
Cushman describes a Choctaw philosophy about life and death: “They also believed that spirits of the dead, after their flight from the top of the pole to the unknown world, had to cross a fearful river which stretched its whirling waters athwart their way; that this foaming stream has but one crossing, at which a cleanly peeled sweet-gum log, perfectly round, smooth and slippery, reached from bank to bank; that the moment the spirit arrives at the log, it is attacked by two other spirits whose business is to keep any and all spirits from crossing thereon. But if a spirit is that of a good person, the guardians of the log have no power over it, and it safely walks over the log to the opposite shore, where it is welcomed by other spirits of friends gone before, and where contentment and happiness will forever be the lot of all.”
After reading the above passage, I started to visualize how this would appear. I could see and hear his words in the Refuge’s trees, water, air, and light. This natural environment carried the energy and remnants of this history.
What would the “flight from the top of the pole” look like?:
Before leaving Mississippi, I visited the Trading Post. According to the Historical Sketches of Oktibbeha County, it was called a Choctaw Agency “…for the purpose of doing business with and keeping in touch with the Choctaws.” Steve Reagan, Noxubee Project Leader and local Larry Box provided an amazing tour. Florence Box provided photocopies of Choctaw writings ranging from a 1925 educator guide to detailed descriptions of tales and legends.
Mr. Box escorted us in an all terrain vehicle through untouched and dense forest to our location. Stepping out, we maneuvered through thorns, pine needles, crowded timber and crossed a small dam. Persistent thunder and mosquitos kept pace. We arrived at a clearing on higher ground with a large and elderly tree. This was a place of significance for the Choctaws and held secrets. At that moment, Mr. Box gave me three arrowheads from this land.
I was shocked and grateful. Experiencing this history was the gift. However, to be given physical remnants was overwhelming. This generosity was stunning.
That evening, I rigged a black plastic spoon purchased at the Dollar General during my Choctaw visit to a long stick. Raced back to the Bluff Lake Boardwalk to see if Susan O’Malley’s pin would appear in the muddy waters. This was the last attempt of several unsuccessful retrievals before leaving.
To my surprise, its metal glowed with the setting sun. Scooped it out after the third vicarious try. It had lost its bright red and green color. Now it was purple and pink with a spot in the middle. It peered like an eye similar to the energy here. Even when it appears calm, there’s an undertone of unsettled business. This was my Mississippi.
June 21, 2015
*This is the third in a series of four chronicling a journey of living outside one’s comfort zone and trying to discover a new path. An artist in residency at the Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee and Choctaw National Wildlife Refuge in Mississippi confronted and educated while teaching acceptance.
Finally settling in. Routine is important. Now “know” which trails work best for my skill set. How can I avoid an incident? First start at Morgan Hill Overlook and Prairie Trail, Loaktoma Lake lilies, Bluff Lake Boardwalk, Cypress Cove Recreational Boardwalk, Goose Overlook, and Woodpecker Trail if the heat allows.
A dawn and dusk walk is part of my daily prayer. It’s the best time to see the changing of the guard and nature’s drama. My “job” is to offer respect to Mother Earth for its inspiration. Irritated, I proudly picked up litter at each location. Highlights of waste on beauty becomes unacceptable and as visitor, will leave this refuge nicer upon departure.
With a cleaner canvas, I can cautiously and curiously proceed. Subtle changes in weather, temperature, light, and sound become magnified when visiting familiar destinations. A Mississippi thunderstorm resulting from a hot and humid day, sweats the imagination. These variations electrify like BB King’s guitar named Lucille.
I’m sensitive to noise and associate colors to sounds. The Blues are warm navys, rusts, olive greens, and honey yellow drop highlights. Techno music throbs with silver blues, lavender spots, bright orange bursts, and beams of white. Talking color with my husband is speaking in tongues. Why isn’t there an app for this?
Broke the routine to visit the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. Numerous attempts trying to connect with liaisons resulted in no response. Venturing from California, indifference wasn’t going to ruin a positive opportunity. Time to listen to my gut and go.
The Chahta Immi Cultural Center is wedged between a Piggly Wiggly and Dollar General. Sitting behind a tall desk, an elderly woman politely requested my admission fee. Then an enthusiastic young woman named Kassie Cox declared she was my tour guide. Her aunt is Phyliss J. Anderson, the first female Tribal Chief of the Choctaws.
Driving back to the Refuge, dusk was slowly approaching. Two dogs were barking and running aside my rental car while turning back into the Southern jungle. Today was the start of truly listening and recording these vibrations. This isn’t just noise, it’s a gift and art.