A work of art is the unique results of a unique temperament.

– Oscar Wilde, Writer

The Best Friend reading one of Ms. Ottinger's Books

At the beginning of the month, I posted a few photos I took at the Oakland Art Murmur. Jennie Ottinger’s show, Due By: Book show by Jennie Ottinger, at the Johansson Projects (JP) Art Gallery was my introduction to her work. Since JP is one of my favorite galleries in the Easy Bay, I usually prolong my visit and make multiple trips back to the space during the Art Murmur. Due By was one of those shows I couldn’t get enough of. I found it rather difficult to leave. As you can see from the photo, patrons were allowed to open the books. Interestingly enough, there were no signs or persons encouraging or discouraging the participation but it just made sense. What do you do when you see a book? You open it. Whether or not it has pretty pictures, that’s the nature of book – to be opened. Then, to illuminate or share a story. Jennie Ottinger, certainly, did just that with her work.

I wanted to take some time to write and let you know that I’ve got something in the works regarding Ms. Ottinger’s work and art practice. Her witty and clever take on literature classics is not only an innovative approach at engagement with the viewer, it is a meshing of many art practices into one that is worth the inquiry and the discovery (if you are new to her work). I’ll explain later…I promise.

First impression: Clever, witty, fantastic and engaging story-teller, well read (literally), prolific, lover of words and language

Lasting impression: Worth the time but wondering where she will go next…I’m hoping to find out!

Books and Paintings make an amazing combination!

Art Practical, Online Art Magazine

On the heels of reading Christine Wong Yap’s Art Practical feature, I figured it was time to create a new page on my blog – Shotgun Reviews Archive! Shotgun Reviews via Art Practical has been an incredible way for me to interact with the Bay Area Arts Community and take part in the conversation. My hope is to bring more people into the Art Scene and World and engage all types of individuals in the dialogue because art is everywhere and it speaks to so many universal concepts and ideas but, sometimes, the conversation, to people outside of the art world, seems to be within a close knit esoteric circle. Not true. Not true at all.

Here’s hoping you engage with me and feel free to offer up comments and/or constructive criticism.

All the best,

E/IC Art Writer

“Most of us deep down believe that a person who is creative will prevail regardless of the environment,” Csikszentmihalyi wrote. “But the reality appears to be different…. No matter how gifted a person is, he or she has no chance to achieve anything creative unless the right conditions are provided by the field.” Csikszentmihalyi identifies “seven major elements in the social milieu that help make creative contributions possible: training, expectations, resources, recognition, hope, opportunity, and reward. Some of these are direct responsibilities of the field, others depend on the broader social system.”

In the latest issue of Art Practical, Christine Wong Yap, artist and regular contributor to the online art magazine wrote a feature titled Should I Stay or Should I go? I know, I know. If you’re into The Clash (yes, I am), you probably have the song stuck in your head right about now but how aptly related to the topic at hand. Her piece addresses the physical moves Bay Area artists (San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley) have made to advance their art practices and career (to places such as New York and Prague). She provides the reader a greater understanding when it comes to the transient nature of the artist. Trust me, the majority of artists love travel and experiencing different places but it’s safe to assume that there’s a desire for stability in such a fast paced, evolving, and globalized economy. However, as clearly stated by the artists interviewed for Ms. Wong Yap’s piece, they must move where the opportunities are present.

Being a San Francisco native, I was particularly interested in reading about artists who have such a profound connection and foundation in the Bay Area. Their thoughts on making it in the art world as well as their particular reasons to move away from a place they call home forces me to explore my own aspirations. As much as I don’t want to label myself, I am an outsider when it comes to the art world. An independent scholar. I’m fervently dedicated to personal studies in Art and it goes without saying, being in San Francisco, the community is quite nurturing for the endeavors I hope to take in the next year or two (i.e., graduate studies) but I can’t help but think some opportunity in the future is somewhere else, which scares me a bit. Overall, the feature certainly has me thinking much more optimistically but realisitically about the Bay Area Art scene.

I know, wherever I find myself in the future, I would take San Francisco with me. It would be pretty impossible to leave it behind.

If you enjoy this topic, you may also be interested in Michael Zheng’s work, The Profession Project.

Oh, and, well, I couldn’t resist!

La Pocha Nostra has been traveling the world, using performance as their primary method of conveying the current political, societal, and cultural nuances of the Unites States and its relationship with the rest of the world. In Corpo/Ilicito, statuesque performers, some on platforms and some on the same level as the audience, interact with viewers. Their unapologetic narratives address the displacement and marginalization that occur in this globalized world, with special attention paid to the illicit and corruptible body. From gas-masked figures who request passports from visitors to machine gun-wielding women in burkas, performers effectively break the fourth and fifth walls as they engage viewers in the visual and experiential landscape. Indeed, with Guerillmo Gómez-Peña at the helm, the conscientious and methodical approach to viewer engagement not only breaks but shatters the wall between audience and performers.

When patrons of Corpo/Ilicito participate in becoming a part of an act, the self and the Other become intertwined in the performance space. As the subjects broke through the imaginary walls, patrons took this engagement even further by taking on the role of documentarian. Participating in and recording that participation as a part of the show helped both to create and perpetuate the performance. Additionally, creating documentation for future viewers ensured an ongoing conversation about the performance, as the recorded performance will continue to inspire inquiry with time. Whether recorded, witnessed, or participated in, Corpo/Ilicito demands the viewer’s intellectual development and construction, deconstruction, and reconciliation of events. The viewer engages on levels that cannot be felt or experienced two-dimensionally.

This intersection of perception and cognitive processing in Corpo/Ilicito and the larger exhibition It’s All a Blur, which includes work by Gómez-Peña and La Pocha Nostra, encourages viewers to intellectually, perceptually, and physically engage with the taboo and the foreign, all within the space of the performance.

Corpo/Ilicito: The Post Human Society 6.9, 2011; premier performance in It’s All A Blur exhibition, January 15, 2011. Courtesy of the Artist and SOMArts, San Francisco. Photo: Dorothy Santos.

Originally published to Art Practical for Shotgun Reviews January 2011

Writing is easy:  All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.  ~Gene Fowler

As we near the end of January 2011, the WordPress postaday challenge has me wondering what I want to accomplish. This blog isn’t just a blog. It’s an art diary. An online journal where I can say whatever I want and post whatever I want about something I’m extremely passionate about – Art.

Artists. Art history. Art theory. Art movements. Art making. Well, you understand.

Ah, nothing like a good comic to sum up a feeling, eh?

This morning, my girlfriend asked me what my intent was regarding this particular challenge, which made me think of what I want this to inevitably become. Originally, I was trying to imagine myself being contracted to write about art for an entire year (everyday). Of course, excluding the one liner posts (i.e., links to the Art Statement Generator 2000, etc.). Those, admittedly, are filler but can you blame me [insert cheeky grin here]? In any case, she brought up an excellent point about what is realistic. If I were an actual art writer, I probably wouldn’t be writing everyday (more like weekly, monthly, or on a quarterly basis). I, certainly, agree with her. I mean, let’s face it, I’m not going to publish something on a completely polished and esoteric EVERYDAY.

However, I can post something everyday that gives readers a glimpse into the person I am. The art writer I want to become as well as the thought process when it comes to looking and experiencing art.

I love the fact she’s worried about me putting extreme pressure on myself and I worry too because writing should come naturally and without restraint (well, maybe a little bit for good writing measure). No blood dripping involved. I read a lot of other art critics and writers and I notice that some of my favorites writers write much more sparingly about the deep stuff. Duly noted. January is almost up and after a month of doing this everyday, I can tell you that I will definitely push through 2011 and show as much dedication as I possibly can to my independent studies of Art (everyday).

Lastly and most importantly, if I haven’t thanked you, dear reader, I wanted to take the time to say thank you for witnessing my growth. Here’s hoping all this effort in 2011 will throw some amazing opportunities my way.

Yours truly,

E/IC Art Writer