Weekend 1: Saturday, October 4 Private Preview Gala, Sunday, October 5 Exhibition Opening
All Weekend 2-5 events: 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Weekend 2: October 11-12 Western SF
Weekend 3: October 18-19 Central SF
Weekend 4: October 25-26 Eastern SF
Weekend 5: November 1-2 Hunters Point Shipyard
The crisp scent of fall in the air doesn't just mean that the Cal Bears' football season has begun; that redolence of promise also indicates that it's time for ArtSpan's 33rd annual Open Studios. The event takes place over the next four weekends, beginning October 4 with the Private Preview Gala, and concluding November 1 & 2 with the crowd favorite, Hunters Point Shipyard artist colony. This is your chance to emulate a modern day de Medici and become the patron of a working local artist.
Click here for the full story: www.thestarkguide.com/artjournalism
If the unseasonably warm weather hasn’t lured you to the beach, would the juicy carrot of the oddest public art exhibit to hit the Bay Area in years do the trick? Part-19th century re-enactment, part still life painting, and part outdoor art installation, Thom Ross’s “Buffalo Bill and The Indians on the Beach” is a bizarre blend of history and high camp set against the dramatic backdrop of Seal Rock, Ocean Beach, and the Pacific Ocean.Check out the full article at www.thestarkguide.com/artjournalism
Numerologists have yet to opine but there must have been something auspicious about 1616 16th Street when Gallery 16 and Urban Digital Color opened there in 1993. Back then, the neighborhood was so isolated (before California College of the Arts established its Potrero campus and the blocks around the Design Center were built up) that principal Griff Williams thought for sure they'd be shuttered within a year.
Griff Williams founded Gallery 16 at a time when the outlook for publicly funded art in America was dim. Williams was intimately familiar with the political drama playing out in D.C., not only because he was a newly minted San Francisco Art Institute MFA grad but because his father, Senator Pat Williams (D Montana), was leading the fight against Senator Jesse Helms’s crusade to eviscerate the National Endowment for the Arts.Click here for the full story: www.thestarkguide.com/artjournalism
Click here for images: http://www.marxzav.com/artist.php?artistID=52
Wondering why artists seem to be silent on the topic of the United States' hegemonic hubris? Or why there is no contemporary version of Picasso's Guernica, especially from artists in San Francisco, a city with a long history of policial activisim?
Andrew Schoultz is doing his part. That last "s" in the title of Schoultz's new show at Marx & Zavattero, "One Nation Under Gods," is not a typo, it's a statement. Schoultz's images of Armaggedon are inspired by our government's track record of arrogance, especially when dealing with countries shaped by religions other than Christianity. His outrage over the state of our environment is palpable as well. Schoultz's expression developed in the antiestablishment arena of graffiti murals, in itself an act of defiance.
Click here for the full story: www.thestarkguide.com/artjournalism
I think CAMP is probably the greatest gift to the city of San Francisco that one family has ever offered. The Fishers' art is the most important private collection of modern and contemporary art in the world. Its quality, breadth and depth rivals that of most major museums. When it is completed we will be a destination city for international visitors interested in art and culture.
The proposed location at the top of the parade ground at the Main Post is befitting. We would be lucky to have Richard Gluckman's beautifully designed building as-is.
The Stark Guide
We received your letter of support. Thank you so much for supporting the Contemporary Art Museum of the Presidio. Your support brings us one step closer to accomplishing our goal- to give the public access to an internationally renowned art collection, hands-on art studios, and educational arts programming.
We are collecting 1,000 letters of support for CAMP, and every letter counts. Could you ask five people in your network to send me a letter a similar letter of support? A sample letter is pasted below. Public comment on this issue ends on September, 10th 2008.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at 415 – 291 – 9501.
Thank you again,
Community Outreach Coordinator
PARAGRAPH OF SUPPORT
To the Presidio Trust:
I'm writing in support of the Contemporary Art Museum of the Presidio(CAMP)at the Main Post. The CAMP proposal presents a rare opportunity to simultaneously revitalize and honor one of San Francisco's most important historical landmarks. As a privately funded gift to the city, CAMP would serve as an important educational and cultural resource accessible to families, students, and residents from every part of the city and the greater Bay Area without depleting city budgets. This project is an incredibly valuable addition to the Presidio and entire SF community. Please don't deprive the city of this opportunity - if CAMP is approved, the Presidio will become an inviting place that we cherish not only for its history, but also for its future.
Mini Market through August 30, 2008; Silverman Gallery; 804 Sutter Street at Jones; San Francisco; 415.255.9508; Tuesday–Saturday, 11am–6pm; http://www.silverman-gallery.com/; email@example.com
Click here for images: http://look-boutique.blogspot.com/
This is a great time to visit Silverman Gallery. "Mini Market," on view through the end of the month, brings “the art of shopping and shopping for art” under one roof. It follows in the summer tradition of a group show, which is timed to give the gallery and its loyal collectors a respite after a spring season of solo exhibitions, as well as to take advantage of a city-tripping audience.
A plywood booth dominates the gallery floor, crammed with hard-to-find items: canvas totes branded with the word “shoplifter” by exhibition collaborator CITIZEN:Citizen ($27); lace jewelry from Airya Rockefeller’s May in December line ($40–$60); and ceramic butt plugs by California College of the Arts MFA and MA grad Eric Scollon ($100), whose work is also featured in Yerba Buena Center for the Art’s Bay Area Now—if you have to ask, you don’t need one. Acrylic on panel cereal boxes by '08 CCA MFA grad, Luke Butler, are a steal at $800 each. Mini Market was co-curated by Carolina Aramis, Silverman’s partner on this project and in life.
Jessica Silverman is serious about curating. She has had art on her mind since she was a kid hanging out with her grandparents, renowned Fluxus collectors Gilbert and Lila Silverman. Her exposure to the most important private collection of Fluxus art in the world gave her a big head-start among her art-world peers.
The Fluxus movement is advanced stuff—not found in Art History 101 like Impressionism or Cubism. This arcane yet influential conceptual art movement was active from 1962–1978. Fluxus artists often blended different artistic media including music and literature, in fact, the name implies movement and a flow of ideas. Fluxus work is simple, short, and often humorous. Note to civilians: Yoko Ono, John Cage, and Joseph Bueys are identified with this movement.
Silverman’s exhibition program is unique in that she often borrows important works from private collections and encourages her artists to create new work for their Silverman Gallery shows based on the influence of these pieces. New work is then displayed side by side with the inspiration piece, an art history lesson for the viewer, and for the artist it's a chance to grow from the exposure to important historical work. Silverman also has relationships with galleries abroad and sponsors an exchange program of sorts, introducing emerging international artists to
When Silverman moved her gallery from edgy Dogpatch to the border of
Silverman’s c.v. proves that she’s been using her time wisely since entering L.A’s
She arrived in
In her own gallery, Silverman works with a few queer artists exploring queer themes, but this is a coincidence. As a professionally successful, queer, female gallery owner, she is often approached by artists who may not feel welcomed by more conservative curators. Silverman artists include critically acclaimed Bay Area based artists, including Desiree Holman who won this year’s SFMOMA SECA award; and Mary Elizabeth Yarbrough, ‘08 SECA finalist.
Silverman’s mix is a dynamic, intellectually challenging program—
This summer I have been hard at work preparing for the fall launch of http://www.thestarkguide.com/, a comprehensive resource for collecting art in San Francisco. More details on that soon!
This week I am introducing a new Stark Guide feature: my picks for the week. When merited, I’ll let you know of great art events taking place around town.
My selections will consist of artist talks, curator lectures, and open houses: great ways to learn more about art while socializing with artists, art professionals, and fellow enthusiasts.
If you’re looking for information on regular gallery openings and listings, I recommend the San Francisco Chronicle’s 96 Hours, available as an insert in the paper every Thursday.
Art for Obama
Tuesday, July 29, 2008; 6:30 - 9:00 pm
77 Geary between Kearny and Grant
The gang at 77 Geary is collaborating to host a unique fundraising event for our next President: “Art for Obama.” All galleries are participating: Adler & Co, Rena Bransten, George Krevsky, Marx & Zavaterro, Patricia Sweetow, and Togonon. $5 minimum donation & a percent of art sold that evening will go to Obama's campaign.
For more information contact contact Lori Sottile firstname.lastname@example.org (415) 397-9748
Rene de Guzman in conversation with Mark Tribe
Friday, August 1, 2008; 6:30 pm
James Moore Theatre, Oakland Museum
Directions from San Francisco: http://www.museumca.org/visit/map.html
Join Rene de Guzman, Sr. Curator, Oakland Museum, for a preview of the film Chicago 10 (6:30 pm) followed by a discussion with Mark Tribe about his Port Huron Project, a series of reenactments of protest speeches from the New Left movements of the 1960s and '70s (7:30 pm)
Event details: http://www.museumca.org/cal-public/calendar.cgi?month=08
More on the Port Huron Project: http://www.nothing.org/porthuronproject/index.html
What is Bay Area Art Now?
Saturday, August 2, 2008; 2:00 pm
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
701 Mission Street btw 3rd and 4th Streets
For 15 years, YBCA has been championing the work of emerging artists of the Bay Area, in a triennial showcase that has launched many careers, but is the concept of a regional exhibition outmoded? What does it mean to be a Bay Area artist in a world that is both local and global? Moderated by YBCA Executive Director Kenneth Foster, this conversation brings together YBCA’s multidisciplinary offering of BAN 5 artists including Todd Brown, Co-Director of the Red Poppy Art House; performance artist, Dohee Lee; Madeleine Lim, Executive Director of the Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project (QWOCMAP); visual artist Lauren Woods; and a surprise guest. (Free.)
Event Details: http://www.ybca.org/tickets/production/view.aspx?id=6001
Eleanor Harwood Closing Reception and Artist Talk
Saturday, August 2, 2008; 4:00-6:00 pm
1632 C Market Street (btw Franklin and Gough near Zuni)
Join Eleanor Harwood in conversation about her paintings on view at Lincart. Enjoy cake baked by the artist at this closing reception.
(Take the historic Market Street F-line trolley door to door.)
Event Details: http://www.lincart.com/
(415) 503-1981; Tue - Sat 12 to 6; http://www.lincart.com/; contact email@example.com
Click here to see images: http://lincart.com/artists/album04/InvisiblePyramid
Eleanor Harwood is like that popular girl who you admired in High School: pretty, funny, friends with all the cliques, varsity athlete, class valedictorian … and she can paint, too. (Harwood claims she was not popular in High School, but will admit to being voted “most unique.”) Harwood’s career is the true story of a talented artist who found herself in the right place at the right time and took advantage of every opportunity presented to her. These days she is known for her eponymous gallery in that alternative-chic neighborhood where the Outer Mission blends with Potrero Hill, but she didn’t start out intending to be a dealer.
Her collage paintings at Lincart are magical and mysterious, with a sprinkling of retro contact paper so artfully applied that the printed laminate patterns blend seamlessly with her brushstrokes. (The effect is partly due to her use of thick acrylic polymer that she molds into the texture of wood grain.) This show is a mini-retrospective of her work, including pieces painted over the past three years.
“Invisible Pyramid Above Three Women” ($4,200) was painted in 2005 and was exhibited in her MFA show, though it looked like a different painting and has been reincarnated for this show. This is a large scale piece (48” x 48”) of fantasy sci-fi. An enormous, dead, wood grain-contact paper tree rises up in the foreground and divides the barren, apocalyptic landscape in two. Anonymous figures, completely shrouded by voluminous robes, expectantly face a sheltered cove framed by glaciers.
“A Path of Garnets Sometimes Leads You To Diamonds” ($2,000) was painted in 2008. Eye-chart detail is packed into this small 16”x 20” canvas. “Garnets” is the ultimate Easter egg hunt: jewels spill out in plain sight across a steep, fairyland cliff, tumbling into the ocean.
Harwood is influenced by the magical realism of Peter Doig’s tranquil yet eerie landscapes and by the distorted, unglamorous portraits painted during the fecund Weimar Republic in Germany, right before WWII. You can also see the impact that environmental journalist Elizabeth Kolbert has had on Harwood’s work, namely her Cassandra-like articles written for The New Yorker. Both artists draw our attention to the slow death of our planet.
Early on, film and video were an important part of Harwood’s body of work. In fact, storytelling is a strong element throughout her oeuvre. From 2000-2002 she participated in BAVC, the Bay Area Video Coalition (video art collecting pioneer Dick Kramlich is a board member), and before that was recognized by one of Art Forum’s contributing writers as "top ten" talent in 2001.
Part of Harwood’s cult status comes from being one of the first young curators to mold the program at Adobe Books Backroom Gallery. With used books stacked to the ceiling and the scent of patchouli redolent in the air, Adobe perpetuates the mythic 60s counter culture atmosphere. The gallery in the back is no more than 88 square feet but the volunteer curators have a track record for showing raw emerging talent- artists who often go on to greater acclaim quickly after their Adobe experience.
Early exhibitions of Harwood’s own work in the Bay Area include a 2003 group show at alternative project space a.o.v. gallery (now defunct), then co-curated by a rising star talent in her own right, Julie Casemore (who is now an integral part of the staff at Stephen Wirtz Gallery), and Jonathan Fogel, editor of Tribal Arts magazine.
In 2004 Harwood received the Murphy-Cadogan Fellowship, granted to MFA candidates of exceptional promise who were nominated by their teachers. She continued to curate Adobe with artist pals Misako Inaoka and Sarah Bostwick until 2006.
In 2005 she was invited to participate in Miami’s Aqua Art Fair and decided that she should follow the calling. She attended the first fair under the name of Adobe Books Backroom Gallery and then as Eleanor Harwood Gallery in ’06 and ’07.
Nine months after that first fair, Harwood raised the funding required to launch her gallery space and has since continued to impress the art community with her keen eye for choosing artists who are both strong technicians and dedicated to their craft. One of her artists, Paul Wackers, recently won the Tournesol Award, granted by Headlands Center for the Arts to one promising Bay Area emerging painter each year.
If Harwood is the popular girl-next-door, Charles Linder is The Fonz, the cool lone wolf who all the girls wanted to date and all the boys envied. His Lincart Gallery is geographically and figuratively at the crossroads between Hayes Valley and the Mission, showing artists who don’t fit neatly into any category, like Tucker Nichols (minimalist doodles with wise literary captions) and Matt Gonzales, former SF Supervisor who makes collages with found objects. Like Harwood, Linder is also an artist-dealer who trained locally. Linder attended the San Francisco Art Institute and shows his found metal sculpture at Gallery 16.
Harwood hasn’t had much time to paint in the last few years, but the Lincart show allowed her to rearrange her priorities. She’s hiring gallery interns right now so she can devote more time to painting – perhaps a great opportunity for an aspiring artist to get swept up in her whirl. Those bound by tradition need not apply.
Click here for images: http://www.jancarjones.com/current/sean-talley/
The Jancar Jones Gallery itself deserves an award for its supporting performance in Sean Talley’s first solo show. The art and the exhibition space happen to be complementary exhibitions in restraint.
Talley’s silkscreen prints on paper (in editions of two and five) are distant cousins to Ellsworth Kelly’s primary colored shaped canvasses and Kazimir Malevich’s stark colored graphic shapes on white background from his Suprematist period.
The clean backgrounds of these prints are startlingly pure. Printed geometric shapes like “Yellow Triangle” and “Orange Rectangle” make their white paper vibrate with energy. Stand outs in the show include: “White Rectangle” (delicate white on white) and her companion, “Black Rectangle.” “Green Curve,” is an exquisite tease. Framed, $250-$550, floating mount.
Talley's resume and blog list primarily video work. This is the artist's first experience with printmaking and traditional visual art, though the influence of his nine-to-five job as a graphic designer shows through. Talley honed his printmaking skills after receiving his BFA at the San Francisco Art Institute by taking classes at the Mission Cultural Center.
Smallest Gallery in San Francisco
Jancar Jones Gallery is a diminutive 75 square feet of exhibition space that feels like a perfect reproduction of a whitewashed Chelsea warehouse space in miniature.
965 Mission Street is a funky building that time forgot between downtrodden Sixth and burgeoning Fifth Streets. Designed in 1909 by “starchitect” Albert Pissis for the California Casket Company, you’ll feel like you’re entering a Dashiell Hammett novel as you wait for JJ to buzz you in. (Other famous Pissis- rhymes with crisis- buildings are The White House department store on Sutter and Grant, now Banana Republic, and The Emporium, now Bloomingdale’s.) Once you’re inside, follow the reassuring signs through labyrinthine hallways to the gallery suite. A half flight of stairs services only this petite space, and makes it bigger by doubling as a foyer.
Ava Jancar is the daughter of Tom Jancar of Jancar Gallery in Los Angeles, who showed such artists as Richard Prince in the 70s and has a new space that launched in late ’06 (Richard Prince is the guy who made the Marlboro Man into a work of art). Young Jancar received her BA in Art History from UCLA and completed one year of her MFA in Curatorial Studies from SFAI before they cut the program (Curatorial Studies was later reinvented as Exhibition and Museum Studies). She splits her time between her new business and her job as an assistant at Jack Hanley Gallery on Valencia and 14th.
Jancar met her business partner, Eric Jones, through the SFAI network after graduation. Jones received his BFA in the SFAI New Genres program. In addition to being responsible for the pristine look of the Jancar Jones Gallery, he is the Store Graphic Artist at Whole Foods.
Artists who have shown at JJG since its opening include Lucas DeGiulio (group show in March), whose work was included in the 2006 Whitney Biennial and was a finalist for the 2008 SFMOMA SECA Award.
Jancar and Jones describe their aesthetic as clean and precise, not too flashy, and leaning towards non-representational: decidedly post-Mission School and perfectly in keeping with their jewel-box of a gallery.
Headlands Center for the Arts, 944 Fort Barry, Sausalito, CA 94965, (415) 331-2787
Check the website for upcoming public programs: www.headlands.org
What is Headlands Center for the Arts?
Clever collectors scan artists’ resumes for mention of Headlands Center for the Arts. The Center’s “alumni news” celebrates former residents who’ve participated in cutting edge exhibitions like the Venice Biennial, the Whitney Biennial, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts “Bay Area Now,” and at influential SF, NY, & LA galleries. Just being named as a finalist for the Headlands’ residency program is so prestigious that artists proudly list the Headlands Center’s annual January “Close Calls” exhibition on their CV’s.
Founded in 1987, Headlands has just entered her 20s. But what differentiates her from her older non-profit siblings (Intersection for the Arts founded 1965, New Langton Arts and Southern Exposure founded 1975), is not just the artist-in-residence program but the international roster of participants and the exquisite natural setting.
Headlands’s greatest strength, its location in a national park, is also its Achilles’ Heel: it’s not walking distance from 49 Geary. The facility itself is a cluster of whitewashed, 100-year old rustic military buildings in the quiet and foggy Marin Headlands. Because of its aspirational mission and other-worldly venue, Headlands is a hive of creativity where artists of every discipline come to cross-pollinate during their stays, while in their adjoining studios, or during meal times in the community mess hall, or on hikes in the irresistible coastal terrain that surrounds them.
There are other international residency programs for artists, but none sit in a bucolic national park minutes away from the most beautiful city in the world. Remarkably, artists are invited to explore their talent without making a commitment to a finished product. Headlands provides emerging and established artists with the valuable resources of time (usually three months) and studio space for open-ended investigation, experimentation, and collaboration - free from the usual imperative to create finished artistic “product.”
Additional inspiration comes from the facility itself, a living artwork in its own right, made up of four installations: the Ann Hamilton designed dining room; the David Ireland Conference Room and Lecture Hall; and the Bruce Tomb and John Randolph Latrine (yes, latrine). And the first site-specific commission in twenty years is being installed right now- a large scale planter box (which will grow herbs for the community kitchen) by Michael Swaine and Amy Franceschini, who received the SFMOMA SECA Award in 2006 for her conceptual art project reviving the Victory Garden from WWII.
Focus on Gary Sangster
Gary Sangster is the third Executive Director in the organization’s history. In the first two decades of its existence, Headlands established itself as an important incubator of local talent. Since Sangster’s arrival in 2005, Headlands has become more visible on both the local and international scenes. Walking through the pre-eminent North American art fair, The Armory Show, in New York last March, Sangster was continually recognized and greeted with cheer by international art world colleagues.
Beyond being well-known, what makes Sangster unique? In addition to decades of curating and teaching experience, Sangster participates. Gary can be found at happenings, fundraising events, and intimate gatherings all over town, usually wearing his disarming, trademark windbreaker and baseball cap. Despite his formal “Executive Director” title, he is engaging and gregarious with all, yet can always be counted on to lob in a trademark “tough question,” shaking up a dull art lecture during the Q&A session. Invariably his endearing Aussie accent warms his audience and he often ends up revealing a worthwhile art truth through his participation.
Steven Wolf of Steven Wolf Fine Arts explains Sangster’s universal appeal: “Gary's an intellectual. He's thoughtful and he’s an iconoclast… he's intellectually independent and open minded… about most of what goes on in the art world.”
Catching headwinds from efforts put in place before Sangster’s arrival, applications for the 2008 residency program jumped by 50% to a record 900+ applications. Due to funding and space limitations, only 50 were invited to participate- just 5% of total applicants. There are work/live accommodations for just over a dozen artists each season. These few resources are distributed each year to artists of every discipline: visual, literary, dance/performance, music, film video, even arts professionals.
Sangster’s 14-page CV lists experiences from over 30 years in the art world. The first half of his career was spent at Newcastle University, near Sydney, Australia. Sangster began as Assistant Professor of Art Education and ended up chairing the department of Art History and Theory, which may explain his signature “tough question” during art talk Q&A’s. After four years as director of Artspace in Sydney, followed by two years as chief curator of the National Gallery of New Zealand, Sangster came to the US.
Sangster gained valuable experience in the East before coming to Marin County: Curator of the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York; Chief Curator of the Jersey City Museum; Executive Director of the Cleveland Center of Contemporary Art; Executive Director of the Contemporary Museum in Baltimore; Director and Dean of the Art Institute of Boston.
After all of those years at specialized institutions, Sangster came to Headlands with tremendously honed skills and has implemented innovative programs (like a recent panel discussion called “Uncharted Waters: Understanding the Emerging Art Market”), and reinvigorated favorites, like the three “open house” days each year when visitors can meet artists in their studio space.
Sangster is acutely aware that in this changing economy, non-profits can no longer rely exclusively on grants and private donations, and he is intent on associating Headlands with the for-profit community, to both expand its audience and develop new revenue streams.
Owen Seitel, Chair of Headlands’s board of directors, lists some of Sangster’s contributions since arriving: “…attracting and developing a dynamic and well-respected staff, better integrating Headlands into the San Francisco Bay Area community, and placing an emphasis on documenting our programs and getting the word out to the community at large.” High praise coming from founding partner of Idell & Seitel, LLP, a San Francisco firm that specializes in intellectual property law.
Under Sangster’s leadership, the newsletter has become more robust and detailed, packed with entertaining and accessible writing about the artists-in-residence. The website has also been beefed up to include an alumni database, a full-year calendar of events, and tons of information about how Headlands inspires its visiting artists.
Recent additions to the staff include Director of Development sharon maidenberg (legally spelled all lower case), whose resume includes development positions at New Langton Arts, Southern Exposure, and YBCA. Program Director Anuradha Vikram was in the first graduating class of the California College of the Arts’ Masters in Curatorial Studies program and one of her first jobs was Curatorial Assistant & Studio Manager of the Claes Oldenburg- Coosie van Bruggen Studio. Vikram has since established herself as a respected local curator, writer, and teacher.
In a move the Gen Y set can appreciate, Sangster struck up an innovative partnership with Timbuk2, the local manufacturer of chic messenger bags. Headlands artists will design a limited-edition line of bags, marketed internationally, and proceeds will support the Center.
How You Can Participate
Headlands’s range of programs open to the public have always included seasonal “open houses,” where fans can visit artists working in their studios and then join them for dinner, family-style, and then do the dishes together, too.
The Headlands auction takes place off-campus at parking-friendly Herbst International Exhibition Hall in the Presidio on Thursday, June 12. Buying art through the auction is a great way to begin or augment a fine art collection, thanks to the donations of many bold-faced-named Headlands alums. Introduce yourself to Gary and before you know it you’ll have signed up to be a member of the Center. Plan to sit next to him at the next Dinner Program.
Click here for images: http://www.fecalface.com/gallery/kottie.html
If you can’t make it to FFDG by May 7th, check out Booklyn Artist Alliance:
People familiar with Kottie Paloma's work know that it is geared for, um, an adult audience. With titles like “Everybody F*cks” and “Drunk Tiger,” his book art could be described as "South Park unmuzzled." But while this show is safely rated PG, it sacrifices none of the artist's trademark edginesss.
“Kottie Paloma and the Daily Strangers” documents the people you see on a regular basis but never meet formally: the corner store clerk; the muni driver who always skips your stop; neighbors in your rent-controlled apartment building; urban campers who bed down in front of your office building.
This is the third exhibition to hang in brand new Fecal Face Dot Gallery. Though the gallery is new, the FF brand name is a stalwart of the local emerging artists scene. http://www.fecalface.com/ is a vibrant online magazine founded in 2000 that covers street, lowbrow and Mission School styles in depth.
In the bricks and mortar space, over 250 five by seven graphite portraits hang together densely like a fraternity composite. According to the artist, installation was a puzzle. It was hard to decide which of the strangers should hang next to each other.
You’re not imagining it- Paloma’s strangers do look alike. As you gaze at the funny looking people, the same patterns begin to emerge on the men and the women: straight bangs, dated-looking square framed glasses, 5 o’clock shadows, shiny bald pates. But it’s the awkward, grimaced expression on each individual that makes them all look related in this wacky family portrait. ($100 each.)
Paloma drew a few portraits a day between assigments while working for Russian Hill framing shop, Frame-O-Rama. Each canvas started out as a discarded, archival, matte board that the artist cut down in the course of the work day and would have otherwise been thrown away.
Paloma’s purposefully naïve style of drawing belies his formal training. Because he didn’t officially graduate from California College of the Arts, Paloma modestly leaves his nearly completed MFA in painting and drawing off his resume. (Scholarship money fell through with just four credits to complete.) Influences include Twombly, Bacon, Warhol, Guston, and Pettibon.
Since art school, Paloma has caught the eye of quite a few young curators who have a talent for spotting emerging talent, including Eleanor Harwood, Joyce Grimm of Triple Base Gallery, and Kerry Johnston of Blankspace Gallery.
Paloma was raised in Huntington Beach but rejected “beach culture” and came to San Francisco in 1996 for the punk rock music scene. But he had begun drawing long before that. His talent was revealed as a kid while pen-paling with his family’s Swedish exchange student. Despite the house guest’s long visit, the friends were unable to correspond in Swedish or English so they drew pictures instead.
Paloma is prolific and multi-faceted, working on multiple projects and series at once. In addition to “The Daily Strangers,” there is “Soft Sculpture” and “Flag Project,” to name just two.
The original soft sculpture guy, Claes Oldenburg, made the seminal “Soft Bathtub” in 1966. Paloma puts his trademark edgy spin on the concept, depicting subject matter that reflects the perils of his Sixth and Market address, including guns, cigarettes, a sack lunch, and whiskey bottle. (Robert Crumb’s brother happens to live next door.)
“Flag Project” gently mocks the Market Street Beautification Project. Artists and non-artists alike are invited to sew a flag and hang it from the pvc flagpole mounted outside Paloma’s third floor windowsill. No theme is required and there are no rules. Brian Pederson's contribution was "Tighty-Whities"; Joan Zamora’s composition featured familiar Sixth Street icons, including a pigeon and a chicken leg.
But book art is how this versatile artist is making his mark on the art world.
Different chapters from Paloma’s ribald, audio-accompanied “Books on Tape Series Vol. 2” were recently aquired by three prestigous institutions including UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library, Stanford University Library, and most recently the Library of the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, Austria.
Marshall Weber, Director of Collection Development at Booklyn Artist Alliance (Brooklyn, NY), describes Paloma’s appeal to curators and collectors: “Kottie tells it like it is – really heartfelt work, with no pulled punches, real stories about poverty, violence, shitty romance, the crappy artworld and its dorky myths, he’s the bomb.”
Learn more about book art by attending a panel discussion this 4pm this Saturday, May 3, at New Langton Arts: http://www.newlangtonarts.org/view_event.php?category=Gallery&archive=&&eventId=408
When Shanna McBurney founded HANG ART 10 years ago, the idea of posting price tags next to the art was considered gauche by other gallerists, but the customers loved it.
Over the past 10 years, HANG ART has evolved to play an important role in the community as a “starter” gallery for collectors, artists, and arts professionals alike. Man-on-the-street reviews posted on yelp.com are effusive: “low-key, unpretentious, nice.” For some collecting virgins, HANG is the only gallery that they can recall by name. Many a HANG artist sells enough work to paint full time.
The appeal to new collectors is obvious: a comfortable atmosphere created by friendly, down-to-earth customer service, eggshell colored walls (because that’s the color your walls are at home), a rent-to-own program, and a thirty-day full refund return policy. The average price point is $1500 with plenty of choices under four figures.
As many as 60 artists are represented by the gallery, all from the Bay Area, all painters and sculptors, all ages (currently 21-74). HANG's practice of displaying one example of each of its artists' work at all times is unique and is a great way for a rookie collector to decide what styles of art she likes. Customers are cheerfully beckoned to the enormous stock room to see more if they express interest in an artist on display.
350 artists submit their portfolios every year. Staff scour ArtSpan’s annual “Open Studios” and the local BFA and MFA shows. Each artist is reviewed by the entire staff, many of whom are artists themselves. Senior staff serve on jury panels; future participation includes Director DJ Harmon helping out at an Academy of Art show and Manager Denise Ruiz at the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery.
HANG benefits from heavy foot traffic on its busy block of Sutter between Powell and Mason: tourists sent over by the Sir Francis Drake concierge; students filtering in and out of the Academy of Art campus buildings; ladies-who-lunch teetering up the hill on their way to the Francisca and Metropolitan clubs; and of course the masses of regular folk going in and out of 450 Suffer all day.
Tobias B. Wolff, former professor of law at UC Davis, now with UPenn, credits HANG with getting him into collecting. “It was HANG that introduced me to the idea of collecting artwork. The staff are uniformly knowledgeable, friendly and enthusiastic, and they talk about their artists like family. I feel very fortunate to have found them.” Wolff has gone on to purchase 12 more pieces for his collection since his initiation in 2003 with “Kristin: Homage to Chuck Close,” by Kevin Moore. After "Kristin," nine came from HANG and four more Moores from Hespe Gallery.
Many an artist who got his first break at HANG has gone on to galleries that also feature the work of mid-career and established artists. Alums whose work will be on display at the June 10th anniversary show include Kevin Moore, who graduated to Hespe in 2004, Anna Conti, now with Newmark, and Saundra McPherson, now with Andrea Schwarz.
Nick Coley is a typical example of an artist who is hoping to join the ranks at HANG. This Beaux Arts-trained 37 year-old has been featured in group shows around town over the years but hasn't yet been able to reach the brass ring of gallery representation. His vibrant oil paintings of urban landscapes are the intimate vistas only the locals know: a look up the north flank of Divisadero; the Richardson Bay overpass; the wide expanse of asphalt parade ground at the Presidio Main Post. He’s built up a following that pays the bills from meeting collectors while out and about painting plein air. However, Coley would prefer to split his profit with HANG in the hopes of finding an even wider audience.
HANG has been good for Addie Shevlin’s business. McBurney discovered Shevlin in the continuing education program at CCAC (now CCA) in 1998. Shevlin paints abstract landscapes with an Asian influence. Over the years she has sold hundreds of pieces through HANG and has caught the eye of many local collectors, including Rick Turley and Brendan Koon, and Kim Swig. Knowing that she had a solid customer base at HANG has allowed her take risks and as a result her work continues to evolve and grow.
Unsurprisingly, Shanna McBurney, who excelled in her undergraduate elective art history classes at Pomona, was an art world outsider when she launched HANG. As a newly minted Stanford MBA with a background in marketing medical devices she decided to apply her sales know-how to selling art. At one point in the earl 00’s, HANG had four locations: 556 and 567 Sutter, University Avenue in Palo Alto (closed 2003 during the last recession), and a partnership with Canvas Café Gallery at 9th and Lincoln (shuttered 2007).
McBurney has always had confidence in her staff, and for a long time now has been completely hands-off. Current and former employees speak highly of McBurney’s empowering leadership, and many go on to positions of increased responsibility in the art world following her tutelage.
Michelle Townsend was director of the Sutter Street location from 1998-2004. She’s currently the director of Portola Valley’s SPUR Projects but soon will be managing the international exhibition of “The Missing Peace” full time and returning part-time to the consulting business she founded in 2004 called Art Scout. “Shanna McBurney gave me tremendous freedom to recruit artists and create the exhibition program. This freedom went hand-in-hand with the need to test HANG as a [place] to have a first-rate customer experience.”
Lea Feinstein, a former studio arts professor at prestigious east coast institutions before her tenure at HANG, is now a full-time artist and widely published writer in high profile art publications such as ARTnews. She was the director of the Palo Alto location from 2001-2003. Feinstein is proud of HANG’s pioneering mission and felt a great deal of freedom under McBurney to shape the programming: “I wanted the gallery to be a place where people could learn about art, and where artists could grow and develop while they sold their works...a place where any question was an OK question.”
Christian Frock, now Associate Director at Catharine Clark Gallery and also curating her own venture, invisiblevenue.com, was Associate Director of the Palo Alto branch from 2001-2003. Frock sees McBurney as an important mentor in her career. “When I first was accepted to the curatorial program at Goldsmith’s, I called Shanna to let her know that I would be moving to London and, to my thinking, moving on.” But McBurney said, ”Well, that’s great Christian! But how are you going to continue your responsibilities at HANG?” Frock continued to work for the gallery long-distance for some time after that.
HANG’s business model has evolved to include a healthy rental and corporate art business and has tapped into a new corporate trend: companies abandoning their indoor landscaping programs and redirecting that money to art leasing. Some use Hang's leasing program as a reward, allowing select employees to pick the pieces that will be on display. When these employees visit HANG to make their selections, it is usually their first time inside a gallery… and often they become customers.
MM Galleries, 101 Townsend St. @ 2nd Street, Suite 207, San Francisco
Hours: Tuesday - Friday: 11am - 5pm, Saturday, 12pm- 4pm, phone: 415.543.1550
email: firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.mmgalleries.com/
Click here to see images from the show: http://www.mmgalleries.com/artists/buckingham.html
It’s hard to tell you’re in San Francisco when you arrive at “How to Talk Dirty and Influence People” and are welcomed from across the room by David Buckingham’s assemblage sculpture made of welded found metal, ”English, Motherf*cker!” No, this is not angry commentary against illegal immigration; this is an homage to the movie Pulp Fiction.
Kit Schulte, co-director of MM Galleries, thought that she’d found an out-of-town buyer for “English,” the most expensive piece in the exhibition. But, on the day that Buckingham’s show opened, she received a call from the potential British buyer who sheepishly backed out of the deal. According to Schulte, “his wife wouldn’t let him buy it.” Chicken.
“Blam!” transcends the adolescent humor of mere recitation of movie lines and is a great example of Buckingham perfecting his metalworking craft. “Blam!” (lettered the Marvel Comics way) is framed by two layers of spiky explosion behind it, a triple layer cake of joyful kidstuff. (Someone please tell Berkeley comics-loving writer Michael Chabon that this piece is calling his name.)
"(Star)f*cker", a 10-foot vertical lamppost of a piece, and "Lisp", letters spelling out the sound gag "homothexual," were crafted with an L.A. audience in mind. Not all of Buckingham's work relies on incendiary wordplay. There are some more restful G-rated pieces, such as polka-dotted color studies of candy colored metal laced with rust streaks that look like futuristic board games.
‘How to Talk Dirty and Influence People” is the perfect name for the exhibition of the work of this jaded former ad man. It’s a direct lift from obscene, 50s satirist Lenny Bruce’s autobiography, which itself is a riff on the 1937 best-seller self-help book by sales guru Dale Carnegie, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”
Surprisingly, Buckingham is not a native of Los Angeles, although his life sounds like a Hollywood story.
Buckingham’s art is made more compelling by his personal history, which is marked by cycles of nadir and rebirth. Originally from New Orleans, for years he was a peripatetic advertising creative director hooked on heroin before planting roots in L.A. He learned the craft of welding from Ray Kelly, founder of New York City’s Rivington School, a loose association of free spirits who hung out in the early 90s and believed that anyone could be an artist and anything could be art.
Buckingham hit rock bottom in ’99 doing time in a California jail. He’s been clean ever since. He speaks with a jittery, jumpy cadence that comes from too much coffee and too many cigarettes. He doesn’t disagree that his art saved his life.
The artist’s studio in downtown Los Angeles is a corrugated steel shack that is stiflingly hot and smells of stale cigarette smoke. A rotating standing fan offers no relief but instead stirs up metal shavings every few seconds. Sheared, colored metal dusts the floor, the aftermath of his blowtorch.
When he requires new raw materials for his art, he jumps into his rusty pickup truck and sputters off into the L.A. desert, collecting old car doors and road signs that litter the desert floor, and a few that are still tacked up. In describing this process, Buckingham hints at Deliverance-style danger as he risks his personal safety poaching metal in the lawless desert. "What I look for are old, battered, colorful metal things that have had a previous life and have the scars to prove it. I want to make art from things that have a story to tell," says Buckingham.
Buckingham was featured last year in a group show at the Riverside Art Museum called “Greetings From the American Dream,” a show examining the de-mystification of American consumerism. His piece “Holy Triptych”, three near-identical two-dimensional dollar signs fashioned from No-Trespassing signs from the California Aqueduct, was labeled as “neo-Warholian pop art.”
The word art sculpture grew up late last year when he was tapped to do the illustration for William Safire’s annual mea culpa-themed “On Language” column in the New York Times on December 23, 2007. A piece that normally would take a week or two to make was rushed to completion in three days for photographing:
Buckingham will have additional dealer representation in L.A. this summer when he joins the ranks of Peter Mendenhall’s new gallery on Wilshire Boulevard (and hangs side by side with Oakland’s Squeak Carnwath). The artist accepts commissions if you want to see your favorite movie quote in repurposed road signs. This is his first solo show with MM Galleries.
Looking at political art doesn’t have to be the cultural equivalent of eating your vegetables. “Women on War” is a satisfyingly varied show featuring works of art that have great range in scale, tone, and craft. The prescient show organizers chose the theme for this year’s 21st annual “Solo Mujeres” (only women) show at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts long before the Republican candidate for President shared his vision for a 100 year sleepover in Iraq.
This year the Mission Cultural Center invited the Northern California Women’s Caucus for Art to participate in their annual "Solo Mujeres" show. Both these groups have a long history of activism. The MCCLA was established in 1977 in San Francisco’s Mission District in order to preserve and develop the Latino cultural arts. The art gallery is just one aspect of their programming which also includes contemporary and folkloric dance, music, printmaking, and youth programs. Themes for “Solo Mujeres” in recent years have been “Tactics & Strategy” and “Visionary Women.”
WCA was founded in 1972 in San Francisco during the 61st College Arts Association conference, to protest the lack of women in the ranks of that national professional organization for visuals arts teachers. The Northern California chapter, one of the oldest, was formed later that year. That was long before the masked performance art troupe “Guerilla Girls” were beating their chests in frustration over male domination of the art world.
Karen Tsujimoto, Senior Curator of Art at the Oakland Museum, juried the show and picked an array of work by 25 artists, culled down from over 200 submissions. Tsujimoto is a 25+ year veteran of the Bay Area art world, and an expert on California art. She has published books on Wayne Thiebaud, Joan Brown and Peter Voulkos, to name a few. She made her selections based on the artistic merit of each work in combination with the artist’s statement about how each piece relates to the theme of war.
Tsujimoto says she was impressed by the variety of war-related subject matter represented including WWII Japan, manifest destiny, women in the military, and the desaparecidos (the term for people kidnapped and murdered at the hands of various South American military dictatorships, never to be found by their loved ones). Each artist’s words are posted next to her piece to provide context and insight for the viewer.
Nuala Creed’s “Babes in Arms” ($1,600) are sweet ceramic babies outfitted with machine guns, helmets, and gas masks. Creed started this series after the irony of her participation in the 2002 White House Christmas Tree project struck her: three months after she took part in that innocent tradition we invaded Iraq. (The first babe in the series was sold to famous, droll, conceptual/message artist Jenny Holzer, whose most widely recognized work employs scrolling LED message signs as her canvas.)
Claudia Chapline of the eponymous Stinson Beach gallery (celebrating its 20th anniversary this year), did a wall installation of dozens of small crosses made of found materials ($150-$1,500). The dense aggregation of homespun devotional objects looks like those spontaneous shrines that show up at the site of tragic car accidents, gang killings, even the one for Diana that piled up outside Buckingham Palace in the immediate days after her death.
"Nightmare 1,2,3,4" ($600) by Eileen Zevallos, is called out by the show’s organizers as a seminal piece in this artist’s maturing career. This hauntingly beautiful mixed media piece has a dreamlike quality; collaged photographed figures wander ghost-like through a watercolor crimson fog.
Also going on at the Mission Cultural Center is a retrospective of the work of Yolanda Lopez, an American Chicana, painter, printmaker, and filmmaker. Lopez was a student at S.F. State in the early 60s and the morals of the civil rights movement affected her deeply. Her work varies from the strong stuff of United Farm Workers strike propaganda to a loving celebration of her own family’s blue collar matriarchy. The connection between this exhibition and "Women on War" is that Lopez is the 2008 recipient of the Women’s Caucus for Art lifetime achievement award.
Museum of Craft and Folk Art: A Niche Arts Non-Profit That the Tourists Can Find but the Locals Can’t
Not sure where Yerba Buena Lane is? Ask Jennifer McCabe, the new Executive Director, who’s had her eye on the Museum of Craft and Folk Art for a long time. Late last year, McCabe chose to make the professional leap from well-respected experimental non-profit New Langton Arts to jewel-box niche non-profit MOCFA, the only folk art museum in Northern California.
The new show on display is The Fabric of Cultures: Fashion, Identity, Globalization. McCabe was able to put her stamp on this long-planned show that is traveling from the Godwin-Ternback Museum at Queens College. For MOCFA’s intimate space, she reorganized the installation of over 30 garments and textiles from the original chronological order to one constrasting silhouettes and styles, all the better to show the links between cultures across time. Additionally, she’s also infused the exhibition with the work of contemporary textile designers to show where the medium is going. Garments from ancient cultures sit next to pieces by the house of Chanel, scrunch queen Mary McFadden, Pucci and the fashions of Carla Fernandez, a contemporary Mexico City based designer who uses sewing techniques from indigenous Mexican cultures.
In December 2005, the Museum of Craft and Folk Art moved from its 20-year home in Fort Mason to a petite storefront on Yerba Buena Lane. The Museum of Craft and Folk Art is tucked along the newly minted pedestrian alley (master-planned by the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency in the ‘80s), and is patiently waiting for blockbuster big sis, the new Contemporary Jewish Museum, to open directly across the way in Fall 2008.
When you go, be aware that the museum is small, about 1500 sq ft, but your $5 admission is well worth it. The MOCFA is a carefully curated jewel box, making the most of every inch of space. The price of your ticket also funds the museum’s education program for elementary school students, which is designed to integrate the arts with cultural studies and social sciences.
McCabe is going to shake things up while still honoring the museum’s existing tradition of strong scholarship. She’ll bring in more contemporary artists and build on her community ties by bringing in the work of local artists. Benevolent landlord Millenium Partners is allowing McCabe to take advantage of the (for now) empty storefronts along the lane and showcase the work of CCA (California College of the Arts) students and grads. (CCA used to have the word craft in its name-California College of Arts and Crafts- and its undergraduate programming still has a heavy emphasis on craft with majors including Ceramics, Fashion Design, Furniture, Glass, Jewelry/Metal Arts, and Textiles.)
The retail store, an important revenue-generator for the museum, will remerchandise its assortment to feature more work from Bay Area artisans. The new Buyer, Heather Griggs, hails from SF based specialty retailer Williams-Sonoma Inc. She’s in search of more local jewelry designers and craft artists like Olivia Competente, Corinne Okada, and one-namer “Maja.”
Curating is all in the family for this newlywed. McCabe's husband Julio Cesar Morales is an artist, curator, gallery director (Queen’s Nails Annex) and professor (San Francisco Art Institute). He will participate in a panel discussion about the current MOCFA show on Saturday March 15 at 2:00 pm titled Cross Reference: fashion, music and film. McCabe and Morales met when he was commissioned to produce a new work by New Langton Arts in 2005.
Beginning in 2004, McCabe spent three years with New Langton Arts, leapfrogging from Program Manager to Assistant Director. Shortly after arriving at N.L.A. she organized the first retrospective of the career of Tony Labat, a conceptual and performance artist and teacher at San Francisco Art Institute. She also regularly teaches classes in contemporary art history at Mills, SF State and City College.
History of the Museum
The Museum of Craft & Folk Art was founded in 1983 by Gertrud and Harold Parker (no relation to the former director of the San Francisco Fine Arts Museums, Harry S. Parker III). Gertrud is an accomplished fiber artist who began her training in the textile arts as a child in Vienna. A resident of the Bay Area since 1939, she studied and experimented further with textile arts through the 1970s. She was inspired to start the museum in 1981 after visiting the Contemporary Craft Museum in New York, whose permanent collection was dominated by Bay Area artists.
Back in SF, friends who learned of Gertrud Parker’s new mission introduced her to Margery Annenberg, a gold and silversmith who had started a gallery in 1966. The two women joined forces and a modest space was secured at 626 Balboa Street. Then, with infusions of cash first from The San Francisco Foundation then from the James Irvine Foundation, the museum was able to secure a proper gallery space at Fort Mason where it thrived for the next 20 years.
The Quilts of Gee’s Bend at the de Young Museum last year was a terrific show but contemporary quilts have been covered by a museum in this town before. In 1988 MCFA held their groundbreaking show, “Who’d a Thought It,” featuring the work of Bay Area African-American women. This was the first MOCFA show to be underwritten by the National Endowment for the Arts, and it traveled to the Smithsonian in Washington D.C., the American Craft Museum in New York and the Field Museum in Chicago.
1991 was another pivotal year for MOCFA. A consultant from the American Association of Museums recommended that the board de-accession the permanent collection in order to free up valuable resources (money and staff time) that were required to house catalog records and the collection in a climate controlled environment. The proceeds from the sale of the collection were reinvested in an endowment fund and the staff were then able to concentrate on education through exhibitions and publications.
Fast forward to today. MOCFA resides in a stunning flagship location on pedestrian-only Yerba Buena Lane and the Parkers are still active members of the board on a first name basis with the staff.
Making the Most of Your Visit to Yerba Buena Lane
If you're already downtown, the dead end of Grant Ave. at Market is directly across the street from Yerba Buena Lane. If you're driving, park at the Jessie Square Garage (enter from Stevenson which is off Third Street between Mission and Market). Upon exiting the garage, walk south to Mission and you’ll see Beard Papa, a Japanese chain of made-to-order cream puffs. You’ve arrived at the foot of the alley. While you’re eating your pastry, look directly east at St. Patrick’s Church, one of the few pre-war buildings that remains since the Redevelopment Agency began the nieghborhood’s facelift over 20 years ago.
After visiting the Museum’s exhibition space and gift shop, continue towards Market Street (it’s OK to take a moment in St. John Knits) and head to the 5th floor of the Four Seasons Hotel to see their permanent collection of the work of contemporary California artists.
Start at the concierge’s desk and ask fot the pamphlet, The Four Seasons Art Experience; A Walking Tour of the Hotel’s Art Collection Featuring Works of Bay Area Artists. They have a good combination of emerging and established artists like Jennifer Starkweather, Katherine Sherwood, Deboarh Orpallo and David Ireland. You can download the tour on your own ipod for free before you go or borrow one while you’re there: http://www.fourseasons.com/sanfrancisco/podcast/art/
Southern Exposure’s talented “audio lead” Tim Halbur interviewed the artsits for the podcast and produced the piece.
When the Jewish Museum opens its doors across the lane and when some of the high profile retailers fill the storefronts, Yerba Buena Lane should become the vibrant throughfare that it is meant to be. For now, even the postman is having trouble finding MOCFA.
Click here for images:
Seth Koen’s work has evolved dramatically from the knitted amoebic soft sculpture he had been carefully crocheting for years. His new pieces are delicate long stretches of unvarnished maple that seem to defy gravity as they soar in the air. If you’re searching for a way to classify this style of sculpture, Koen suggests “friendly minimalism.”
The spirits of Sol LeWitt’s conceptual line drawings, Alexander Calder’s playful mobiles and Constantine Brancusi’s graceful abstract birds are present in the gallery with Koen’s work. “Cardinal Point” looks like a flying lasso. “Sway” is two wishbones. “Simple Gift” is an empty vase waiting for Valentine’s Day flowers.
The special effects secret is tiny pins that secure the pieces to the wall or custom designed shelf (also called “display furniture”). Fortunately the display furniture comes with your purchase of the sculpture, in case you were wondering how you could set one up in your own home.
These sculptures are essentially line drawings in three dimensions. Carving wood and crocheting yarn turn out to be similar processes for Koen, each very methodical and incremental. In fact, Koen’s interest in line goes all the way back to the undergraduate thesis show he exhibited at Hampshire College, “Sculpture or Drawing?”
Since his days in the intimate MFA program at Mills College in ’01-’02, he has been knitting his signature whimsical organic shapes (many with sperm-like tails) in bright jellybean colors. The soft work is all done using the single crochet stitch, the most basic and simple one available to real-life knitters. Koen’s work got him noticed at Mills, where he won two prestigious awards as a student: the Murphy Cadogan Fellowship, awarded to Bay Area MFA students nominated by their teachers in between their first and second years, and the equally prestigious Jay DeFeo Prize.
The Jay DeFeo Prize is awarded annually by Mills College to a graduating Master of Fine Arts student in the Art Department whose work demonstrates excellence and great promise. It is unique in that it bestows a substantial gift of money, exactly what a newly minted MFA needs, intended to help the emerging artist make the transition from school to the real world. The funds for this endowed Prize were stipulated in the will of the artist Jay DeFeo (American, 1929-1989), who was a professor of painting at Mills College from 1981 until her death. Koen considers himself fortunate to have been able to apply the money to a couple years’ rent on a comfortable studio space.
Another opportunity that helped bridge the gap from student to working artist was the invitation to work as an assistant in the studio of his Mills teacher and mentor, sculptor Ron Nagle. While Nagle’s media and methods are very different from Koen’s, the sensibility and attention to detail are common factors. (Legendary California ceramicist Nagle is represented by the Rena Bransten Gallery.)
Right after graduating from Mills, Koen was asked to participate in a group show at the nascent Gregory Lind Gallery. Lind says that he took notice of Koen because the artist already had developed “his own vocabulary… his own language.” Lind began to officially represent Koen as his dealer in 2003. This is Koen’s third solo show with the Gregory Lind Gallery.
Gregory Lind is known for showing art with clean, colorful graphics plus an intellectual zing, usually a tie to art history or science. He has a track record of discovering emerging artists and propelling them to national and international recognition. Sarah Bostwick, Marti Cormand and Sarah Walker are all young artists whose work has been purchased by major U.S. museums since signing on with Lind.
Click here for images:http://www.varnishfineart.com/artwork/show.php?s=57
Jonesing for some tele-noir? You are if you’re an NPR junkie. All last year we listened to Fresh Air’s Terry Gross and her frequent guest, TV critic David Bianculli, first grieve the loss of The Sopranos, then beat the drum slowly for The Wire. As the Hollywood writers’ strike approaches its twelfth week, the networks have run out of fresh episodes of television serials and are resorting to reruns and late-night experiments. Fortunately, you can get your fix this month at Varnish Fine Art where Kenney Mencher’s campy pulp fiction-inspired oil paintings are on display.
With titles like “After School Special” (sold) and “Hotel/Motel,” Mencher’s work features heaving bosoms, blindfolds and grand gestures painted in a loose realist style. (Imagine an unbuttoned Edward Hopper.) Much like Jeff Wall’s artistic process, he stages his paintings first with live models in costume, then works from photographs. Often the models get into the act by suggesting storylines and poses, turning the photo shoot into a piece of performance art.
Mencher is a guy who’s gotta paint. He graduated with a BA (CUNY) and an MFA (UC Davis) in Art History, then completed his trifecta of advanced art degrees with an MA in painting from the University of Cincinnati. He has been an Associate Professor of Art & Art History since 1999 with Ohlone, a Junior College in Fremont. Influences include Duane Hanson, 20’s and 30’s pulp fiction illustrations and N.C. Wyeth, the early 20th Century illustrator who also worked from composed scenes.
Mencher has a little bit of a reputation. He was dismissed from Hang Art in 2003 by then gallery director Michelle Townsend (now with Portola Valley’s SPUR Projects), who, in an oft-repeated quote, said the gallery employees felt his work was too “wry and perverted.”
The following year, his work was pulled off the walls of a consultant-curated federal office in Sacramento. It probably was a little too ribald for the California State Teachers' Retirement System building. (He’s in good company, though; some nudes by North Beach notable Lawrence Ferlinghetti, represented by George Krevsky, were recently pulled down from the halls of the B of A building with no explanation.)
Perhaps Mencher, whose collectors include KQED’s quirky Josh Kornbluth, hasn’t found the right venue for his work. Hang prides itself on being highly accessible to rookie collectors who may not be ready for a guy whose thesis in grad school was "Vampires, the Audiences They Consume.” Varnish is more like it, with a track record of showing pop surrealism that veers closer to fine art than lowbrow art. Mencher’s next show after this is at Stanford Art Spaces beginning February 15.
The kitschy subject matter will be at home in this alternative space. Varnish Fine Art is different from other local art bars not because it extends its reach into fine art, or because it features artists who are decidedly mid-career. What distinguishes Varnish from most San Francisco art venues is that 30-40% of their exhibitions are dedicated to cast metal sculpture. (And they are also the only art bar that was an unwitting participant in the J.T. LeRoy hoax, the greatest literary scandal of the oughties.)
Business partners Jennifer Rogers and Kerri Stephens are both trained metal sculptors and became friends while working at Berkeley’s Artworks Foundry in the early nineties, which happened to be the same time that the work of famous sculptors like De Staebler, Voulkos, Asawa, Neri, and Oliviera was being cast there. They are still part of the close-knit cast metal sculpture community that centers around Artworks.
These days, Rogers dedicates herself 100% to being Varnish gallery director. Stephens still practices her art in her spare time and has her own furnace for casting in her Point Richmond backyard. You can see their formal training in the patinaed cast steel of the Varnish bar, stairs and loft balcony railing, all of which Stephens designed herself.
Rogers and Stephens opened their space in 2003 and plan to close in 2009. Not because they want to but because they have to. After lovingly restoring the old shell of a warehouse space, they got word that the city would exercise eminent domain and take possession of the property as part of the Transbay Terminal project. The neighborhood association’s “Friends of Second Street” wasn’t successful fighting City Hall.
Wherever the women end up relocating Varnish after they leave Natoma Street, they’ll continue to be a venue for San Francisco institution Litquake and happenings like “Green Drinks,” a monthly happy hour where people who work in the environmental field meet up for socializing and networking.
The four site-specific installations that are on view right now at Southern Exposure employ the gallery’s bare four walls to deliver their message and rely on the viewer’s imagination for that secret ingredient to bring the work to life. It’s fitting that this exhibition puts the walls to work; this is the first show planned for the venerable non-profit’s new space since the 34 year old, envelope-pushing institution moved to 14th & Valencia from its old home in the Mission/Potrero flats. Busy nine-to-fivers will be happy to hear that the best time of day to see this show is at after work when it’s dusk, about 5:45 PM.
But before you go you’ll have to recalibrate. Looking at art like this requires a slower pace and more introspection. There’s no Oprah “ah-hah” moment. The story arc is much flatter, like an open-ended character study instead of a juicy piece of plot-laden fiction. Conceptual installation art like this is a distant cousin of the Mad Lib- you supply the punch line.
Chris Bell’s “Slow Pan Interior” is installed in the first room of the gallery. Close the door behind you because this is a video piece and the room has to be dark. Bell has dressed up this plain room with a rotating video piece. The projector pans around the room and plays back an image of the room itself, recognizable from the signature bead board. First there’s an image of a ladder as if its there in the room leaning up against the wall. Then when the projector hits the windows, you see an escapist panoramic view of the beach, as if the gallery’s address is the Great Highway instead of 14th Street.
Bell was an established artist in his home country of Australia before coming to the Bay Area for the MFA program at Stanford. He just completed a three month residency with the Headlands Center for the Arts. Industrial design and electro-mechanics, his first focus of study before becoming an artist, is the dominant theme in his work.
Jennifer Wofford’s Phillipino heritage influences much of her work, including this piece for SOEX, “Unseen Forces.” (One of her many expressions is as a member of the provocatively named, tongue-in-cheek, performance art group called Mail Order Brides.) But before you can walk into the jungle fantasy of her muraled space you are reminded of the unavoidable ritual of travel: dreaded metal detectors. Although they are made of particle board, they do have the intended effect of conjuring an airport and transporting us out of the Mission district. The mojo was so strong on the night of the exhibit’s opening Friday, January 11, that party guests were purposefully walking around the fake detectors. Wofford has her BFA from San Francisco Art Institute and just received her master’s in 2007 from Cal. She teaches at CCA, USF and DVC.
It’s about 6:00 PM now and the gallery is closing, a perfect time to leave because Elaine Buckholz’s light installation piece is turning on. “Scenes for a Box Carnival” projects dappled kaleidoscope broken light onto the storefront. It’s a happy wintery scene and a friendly announcement to the neighbors that SOEX has moved in. Buckholz has worked as a lighting and visual designer in the Bay Area for 20 years and is a teacher in Stanford’s Art and Art History Department. She received her MFA from Stanford in 2006.
For the last piece, you’ll have to leave the gallery and hop on the Number 26 bus and travel to 1240 Valencia between 23rd and 24th. This is a conceptual piece and the co-collaborator is the entire population of the Mission District. Bruce Tomb bought the former police station about a decade ago and turned the property into his residence. Shortly after moving in, Tomb learned that the former police station was a target for taggers. Tomb decided to go with the flow. The (de) Appropriation Archive (http://www.deappropriationproject.net/) documents the layers upon layers of graffiti and posters that have been coated on week after week, year after year. On January 30th there will be a public meeting about the wall at SOEX where the neighbors are invited to speak their minds. Tomb is an architect by trade and has been teaching since 1989. He is an adjunct professor at CCA in the architecture and sculpture program.
Mark your calendar for the annual Monster Drawing Rally at SOEX on January 22, 2008. It’s a live drawing and fundraising event with over 100 artists participating. As the drawings are completed they are hung on the wall and can be purchased for $50 each.
Alerting all closet Sci-Fi fans! Maria Park’s recent work on view at Toomey Tourell, “Crystal Leisure,” is inspired by the quintessential science fiction movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. Here, Park has meticulously recreated closing scenes from the classic Stanley Kubrick film. Roger Ebert, who was present in the theater on the night of the 1968 premier, summed it up: “The closing sequences, with the astronaut inexplicably finding himself in a bedroom somewhere beyond Jupiter, were baffling.” Park’s paintings should allow an outlet for those who still want to talk about Kubrick’s intentionally opaque treatment of Arthur C. Clarke’s novel.
Park has been interested in science fiction- and this movie in particular- since she was a child. The overarching theme in the body of her work is the impact of science and digital technology on society. As the daughter of a physicist and sibling of computer scientists, expressing scientific concepts through her art seems like a natural course for this artist.
The first paintings in “Crystal Leisure” are faithful reproductions of that enigmatic bedroom somewhere near Jupiter. Park explains: “This current body of work arose out of a former series titled “Stasis” (2005), which was inspired by the final scenes of 2001… these scenes depict a man secluded in a strangely pristine interior where the only evidence of human culture and history resides in furnishings and art, perhaps most strikingly in the series of rococo-like paintings depicting people at play.”
In this series, Park appropriates images from the work of Nicolas Lancret (1690-1743), which is similar to the paintings in the 2001 bedroom. Lancret was a second-rate peer of Watteau, whose work, along with that of Bouchet and Fragonard, is synonymous with French Rococo. That style of painting can be described as frivolous, excessive and confectionary, with an element of PG-13 scandal thrown in for good measure.
The majority of the pieces in the show leaves the 2001 bedroom behind and riffs on three of Lancret’s paintings that feature the Rococo sport of banqueting. The figures that are alternatively preening or posing are, in Park’s words, “frozen forever in a state of mirth… revealing the weight of guilt and pain often hidden under displays of wealth and certitude”.
The Lancret characters are painted in reverse underneath a sheet of polycarbonate and the surface is covered with swirls of thickly applied paint. Transfers and letraset lines on mylar depict the mechanics and gears behind the figures, like a blue print.
Finally, thick opaque acrylic paint is applied to the outside of the clear plastic frame and coats it like shaving cream, billowing off the surface and swallowing up that last evidence of human culture from the bedroom walls in Kubrick’s film.
Park’s exhibition is noteworthy because this is a homecoming of sorts for her. Though Park is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art at Cornell University, she started her career as an artist here in San Francisco.
Park graduated with her BFA from San Francisco Art Institute in ’95, showed her work in group shows for a few years, and then directed her efforts toward graduate work. She was awarded a scholarship to study painting at the MFA program in Painting at Washington University in St. Louis in 2000. In 2002 she came back to San Francisco to enroll in the SFAI MFA Painting program. After her first year of studies she was awarded the prestigious Murphy-Cadogan Fellowship, given to Bay Area MFA students who are nominated by their teachers.
Toomey Tourell Gallery discovered her work in 2003. “We found her at the SFAI Vernissage,” says Nancy Toomey. Vernissage is the name of the annual opening reception for the SFAI Master of Fine Arts Graduate exhibition. When asked what quality most distinguishes Park, Toomey pays her a high compliment: “her concepts are as strong as her execution.”
After graduating from SFAI, she left California and returned to Missouri to teach art at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and then in 2006 joined the teaching staff at Cornell. Park has exhibited her works nationally and internationally. “Strange Passages,” an installation at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas, in 2005, was her first solo museum show. This is her third show with Toomey Tourell.