I am THRILLED to co-present along with An Xiao Mina and Ben Valentine at the Dissident Futures Art and Ideas Festival. Please RSVP through YBCA’s site here. It will be good times and lots of great conversation. It’s been a great year thus far. Although it’s been extremely challenging to balance work, school, and freelance work, I’ve been handling it without my head completely rolling off and away from my body! Please consider checking out the festival and paying our panel a visit and talking to us. 🙂

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Dissident Futures Art and Ideas Festival
Sat, Nov 23, Noon–9 PM
Grand Lobby, Screening Room, Third Street Courtyard, Youth Arts Lounge

YBCA invites you to participate in a one-day interactive festival in conjunction with the Dissident Futures visual arts exhibit in our Downstairs Gallery. The festival will bring our communities together to explore and investigate possible futures envisioned by artists, urban planners, environmentalists, scientists, robotic experts, designers, programmers, and food activists through dynamic workshops, lectures, performances, interactive media, music, and more.

In the Bay Area, there are a wealth of future-facing projects, involving practical innovations in technology and science. Some of these creative yet pragmatic endeavors are informed by utopian dreams and fueled by a local culture that looks to the future with hope and a predominant strain of optimism at what may come. The worldwide effort to consider and shape the future is being conducted by diverse actors including artists, scientists, teachers, and activists. The breadth of ideas and emergent forms ranges vastly, and given the scope and rising pace of these activities, ideas, and aspirations around the future, it is an exciting time for us to look critically at the participants and the outsiders in this conversation.

We want to bring people together in dialogue with members of our Bay Area community who have the tools to envision a future that expands on the best of our aspirations and builds on our technological advances, but keeps in check negative vectors such as climate change, rising income inequalities, and gaps that exist for power distribution and influence. We want to look at the entire ecology and foster discussions that move us forward.

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Noon: Opening Remarks by YBCA Executive Director Deborah M. Cullinan and Talks by Ray Gilstrap and Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR), Grand Lobby

Noon–8 PM: Artist booths by Fantastic Futures, Takehito Etani, Peter Foucault, Young Gifted and Black, GAFFTA, and Institute for the Future, Grand Lobby

Throughout the Day: Food, Music, Performances, and Mini Maker Faire, Third Street Courtyard

1–8 PM: Artist Presentations

1–2:30 PM: Future Cities Lab: Work of Future Cities Lab, Screening Room; Walidah Imarisha: Workshop on Sci-Fi and Social Movements, Youth Arts Lounge

2:30–4 PM: Code for America: Discussion on Open Government, Screening Room; Long Now Foundation: Manual for Civilization and GAFFTA: Creative Technology for Social Good and Urban Prototyping, Youth Arts Lounge

4–5:30 PM: Institute for the Future Fellows: Creating a Future for Good, Screening Room; Green House Project: Urban Agriculture—Rethinking Urban Density, Youth Arts Lounge

5:30–7 PM: InsTED Talks with Jaime Cortez, L. M. Bogad, Bill Hsu, and Jenifer Wofford, Screening Room; Kal Spelletich: Research and Survival in the Arts, Youth Arts Lounge

8–9:15 PM: Video Game Monologues, Screening Room; Dorothy Santos, An Xiao Mina, Ben Valentine: The Honeymoon’s Over—Arts and Culture Criticism in the Age of Networked Power, Youth Arts Lounge

2–4 PM: Performance by Michael Zheng, Grand Lobby; Performances and music by Brontez Purnell, Majo, Pangea F.C., Third Street Courtyard

7–8 PM: Performance by Jenifer Wofford and Kyle Herbert, Grand Lobby; Music performances, Third Street Courtyard

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Dorothy Santos is a freelance art writer, blogger, curator, and visual and critical studies geek. Born and raised in San Francisco, she holds bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and psychology from the University of San Francisco. As arts editor and curator of Asterisk San Francisco Magazine + Gallery, and blogger for ZERO1 and Gray Area Foundation for the Arts (GAFFTA), she enjoys writing about artists and engaging with the community. Her work appears in ArtPractical,StretcherCreative Applications NetworkDaily ServingHyperallergicArt21, and Planting Rice. She serves as a board member for the SOMArts Cultural Center and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in visual and critical studies from the California College of the Arts. Her research emphasis is on computational aesthetics, programming, coding, and open source culture and their effects on contemporary art.

An Xiao Mina is an artist, designer, writer, and a technologist. In her research and practice, she explores the intersection of networked, creative communities and civic life. Calling memes the “street art of the internet,” she looks at the growing role of internet culture and humor in addressing social and political issues in countries like China, Uganda, and the United States. Her writing and commentary have appeared in publications such as The AtlanticFast Company,Wired and others, and she has lectured at conferences such as the Personal Democracy Forum, the Microsoft Social Computing Symposium, and Creative Mornings. She is a 2013 USC Annenberg / Getty Arts Journalism Fellow and is co-founding The Civic Beat, a global research group and publishing platform focused on internet culture and civic life around the world.

Ben Valentine is a strategist and contributing author for the Civic Beat as well as a freelance cultural critic, curator, and creator based in Oakland. He recently organized Global Space, a groundbreaking exhibition for the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art on the changing face of the individual in a neoliberal and networked world. Valentine also co-curated the world’s first Tumblr Art Symposium, which included commissioned essays, panelists, and an exhibition on the visual networked culture emerging all over the world, especially on Tumblr. His writing has appeared on publications like HyperallergicSalon, and Medium. He is currently preparing for a residency at the Internet Archive in San Francisco and working on building a Spanish and English Twitter translation platform for citizen journalism across linguistic and geographic borders.

Getting Lucky at SOMArts Cultural Center

We create a community of multi-disciplinary artists who fuse eastern philosophies and practices in their work. This new community engages musicians, architects, visual artists, sculptors, videographers, and others in a conversation and exchange that evokes the spirit of John Cage and his impact on avant-garde art that permeates and vibrates throughout the bay area. ~ Hanna Ragev, Co-Curator

Mathematicians, scientists, and artists are all driven by uncertainty. Chance operations might entail risk but it also lends itself well towards calculated steps. All of these factors drive innovation. As difficult as it may be to relinquish control in anything we do, chance is what helps create substantive work. This is particularly true for artists. But the belief that chance will deliver success is futile. Yet, with these elements, any favorable outcome from chance offers a catharsis from unproductive habits and stagnancy. One of the most notable iconic art figures, John Cage, best known for his experimental methods and approaches to music and art creation takes center stage as the inspiration for current exhibition Get Lucky: The Culture of Chance now showing at the SOMArts Cultural Center in San Francisco, CA. Curators, Hanna Regev and Justin Hoover, gathered a wide array of talented artists working in a wide range of media paying homage to Cage’s legacy.

Chance operation, which was so boldly undertaken by John Cage as a structural tool for fine art production is often misunderstood as haphazard. It is quite the opposite. John Cage developed exact structures with precise timing, scoring, and rule sets in order to re-frame the relationship between chance and choice in the western tradition. He used a proscenium setting to realize his pieces and yet his influence expanded to all aspects of contemporary and modern art. He largely looked to Chinese and Japanese traditional cultures for influence in how to determine his chance structures and opened the door for a precise indeterminacy. We are much in debt to his playfulness and precision. ~ Justin Hoover, Co-Curator

As Hoover mentioned, the relationship between chance and choice inevitably creates structure as seen in the artworks shown in Get Lucky. From textiles to multimedia installations, the show offers the viewer an incredible look into Cage’s influence on contemporary art practitioners. Michelle Wilson’s edible paper explores creating from a variety of food and vegetable products that look at unpredictability. Michael Bartalos’s cardboard boxes mimic building blocks with words that can be rearranged to create words and phrases leaving it up to the viewer to decide what other viewers will read. Immediately to the left and right, Tony May’s and David Middlebrook’s boat pieces are inversions of the other. One suspended while the other seems held up precariously by what appears to be bamboo shoots. In the midst of all the activity, sounds of Garrett La Fever, David Molina, and Mickey Tachibana’s collective artwork, Memory Web, resonate from the screening room. On the other side of the gallery, Mauro ffortisimo plays impromptu pieces from his deconstructed piano. ZERO1 alumni, Scott Kildall and Tim Roseborough present the idea of chance as a game. Aspects of the opening event harked to the days of Happenings and the emergence of relational aesthetics. As the viewers became active participants in the creation of art, the interplay between creation and consumption between artist and viewer presents another variable in how the art objects evolve.

Exhibiting artists include:
Nick Agid, Kirkman Amyx, Michael Bartalos, Richard Berger, Antonio Cortez, EXCOR (led by Sherry Parker), Mauro ffortisimo, Nancy Genn, Bryan Hewitt, Vita Hewitt, Robin Hill, Janet Jones, Nolan Jones, Theodora Varnay Jones, Jonathon Keats, Scott Kildall, Naomie Kremer, Jon Kuzmich, Garrett La Fever, Tony May, Jim Melchert, David Middlebrook, David Molina, Luke Ogrydziak, Micky Tachibana, Sandra Ortiz Taylor, Zoe Prillinger, Renee Rhodes, Tim Roseborough, Micky Tachibana, Kenneth Wilkes, Michelle Wilson

Originally posted to ZERO1. Please view posting here

US = You + Me

Basically, relational aesthetics is when someone with an MFA wants to meet new people but because they spent all that time pursuing an MFA, they don’t know how to talk to people normally and they got really poor social skills. Umm, and they can’t find no other way to meet new people other than forcing them into odd activities at their own poorly attended art openings. Umm, relational aesthetics is also when a successful artist, who is too busy touring the globe going from biennial to biennial and they have no time to create physical objects anymore. So, the famous artist uses the attendees at the exhibition as the artwork, in some way, to explore the social relationships between people.

~ Hennessy Youngman, Artist/Thinker

US was a completely unexpected flurry of fun activity that involved the old fashioned way of social networking – introducing yourself and talking to people. Go figure. Yes, friends, this is art. A combination of theatrics, curiosity, social graces, and diverse individuals made this exhibition successful versus Youngman’s assertion that a famous globe trotting artist has the credibility to execute this type of performance art. Granted, Youngman’s point may be true for some MFA students but certainly not the MFA students I’ve met. US was a fantastic way for people to explore their understanding of roles and constructs within the art world. All I’ve got to say is, umm, that’s brilliant, yo.

Entering the US show, being greeted, and given a 'role' for the exhibition...

Prior to entering the main gallery, participants had to register. I was given the ‘role’ of Reporter along with a clipboard, pen, and questionnaires. The questions were different to allow for a multitude of thoughts and reactions to be documented. Personally, I wanted to be a Theorist but if Ian Colon and WE Space continue to create these opportunities, I may just get my wish! Who knows. Before I forget because I’m sure you’re wondering, the roles included…

* DJ * Artist * Reporter * Theorist * PR * Collaborator * Photographer *

The beginning of the evening and folks gradually working together according to their role

Reporter (Moi) interviewing artist (Jeremiah)

My first interview was with an artist. One of the most memorable answers from our conversation entailed his breadth of knowledge regarding performance art (i.e., Tom Marioni and Tino Sehgal – I was impressed). Obviously he was well aware of relational aesthetics. Art certainly is an intellectual interest but, admittedly, he came for his friend and thought it would be a great experience. Another interview with friend (Aimee Espiritu, real-life artist and educator) who took on the role as PR answered the questions as herself AND her role!! The ways in which her answers differed showcased her real life PR skills as she doled out the art world vernacular combined with personal reflection.

As individuals trickled into the gallery, I conducted a couple of other interviews and the answers ran the gamut from thought provoking (Pascal, another PR person stated, “The art is invisible” – That was quote of the evening for me!!) to engaging to silly (i.e., apparently, there was male artist present who identified best with the basket making community of San Francisco and burns every basket he makes). Yes, these types of answers are inevitable when you ask people to participate in art.

Ready for artwork

During my interview with Aimee, she raised an interesting point about the overall set up. Walking into US, neither of us knew what to expect. Learning that the participants’ experiences would dictate the evening and the community created that evening was a pleasant surprise. Participatory art has always involved a direct engagement with the artist and usually entails the artist explaining some aspect of their work. US relied more on the participants willingness to dive into their role and utilize or act out what they believed their role to be. Overall, it was a great experience and what a nice introduction to relational art for those that have never experienced it. Well done, Mr. Colon and WE Space!! 🙂

Artist (right) working with a Collaborator (left)

The Master's Tools (decay goes both ways), 2008

I’ll write a little something today but not very long due to yesterday’s post on my impressions of the current exhibition, It’s All a Blur, at the SomArts Cultural Center. THAT, my friends, was A LOT.

Instead, I’ll recommend reading my dear friend, L.J. Roberts, interview with the Social Media Management for Contemporary Art organization. It’s a fantastic interview. LJ discusses her art practice, a ‘love affair’ with New York, and her thoughts regarding censorship in the arts (specifically the work of David Wojnarowicz being removed from the Smithsonian)! 

Great interview!!! Please click here to read the full interview!


This week’s artist is Pete Ippel. Artist and Athlete. You may think to yourself, “Is that really possible?” Yes, it is folks. He’s also quite the prolific artist with art work that stimulates both the physical as well as the cerebral.

Let’s get to the fun stuff – his answers to the Art 10 questions…

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1. What is your favorite (art) word?

My favorite word to say is Huitzilopochtli. The word refers to an Aztec god of war and the sun, patron of Tenochtitlan, and is translated as “Left-Handed Hummingbird”.

Regarding (art) words, I spoke about their relationship with works of art on a “Mediation on Networks” with Stretcher.org back in 2004. http://vimeo.com/8445137 Starting at 3:59 I challenge artists to stop utilizing the standard (art) words to be more like sportscasters…coining new terms to describe new art.   I feel that (art) words are lacking in that they are staid and rarely get revised. It’s time to let those (art) words die and blaze some new trail.

2. What is your least favorite (art) words?

Juxtapose it is simply over-used.

3. What keeps you going when you’re in the studio?

I have a very disciplined practice that spans a variety of materials and locations.  I make something or learn something new every day.  I’m very good at “locking it down” when I need execute a task by a self-imposed deadline.  I’ve had great success drawing on my experiences as an athlete and a researcher.  I utilize methods of iteration so as an artist, I’m never bored.  My studio is free from distractions, I live quite simply.  I enjoy keeping the windows open and listening to music while I work.

4. When do you know you’re done in the studio?

I’m very sensitive to my body and often push it to the limit.  To regain focus I take a break every day at 1pm will take time for a walk or bike ride outside.  Often I can get a second wind by drinking green tea, taking a 20 min nap, and having a snack. I’m done in the studio when I lack efficiency, typically indicated by falling asleep at my desk.  If I need to keep working when I wake up, I will set multiple alarms and sleep for a few hours (typically in 3 hour cycles) and get back to the task at hand.  This has been my sleep schedule since I was 18.

5. What words do you love to hear at an art show (your show or any show)?

I enjoy hearing people discuss the work by talking about what they see and how it relates to them.  I especially enjoy hearing individuals explain context and intent to their friends when they are with someone who “isn’t an art person”. The occasional “WOW, I want that in my home.” is nice too.

6. What words do you hate to hear at an art show (your show or any show)?

“My kid could do that.”  To me it is a cop out and a refusal to invest or to look at work more critically.  Rarely do the people who say those words consider intent or context – even if their child could execute the  same brush strokes etc.

7. What is your favorite curse word?

I made a project about taboo words as an undergraduate.  At the time I was exploring how there’s so many slang terms to describe something that is socially restricted.  If you think of your index finger, you’ve got a few options, digit or phalange…now if you take something like vomit or poo, you can think of ten euphemisms straight away.

As for a favorite curse word, I’m not particular and use what is appropriate for the situation…I am reminded of the influence of the Conan O’Brien show I saw when I was in high school.  He was trying to figure out how to dodge censors, so he opted for KRUNK as the new curse…This goes along with question 1.  See the video here  starting at 4:50 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YrzqaA3w0cA

8. What profession other than being an artist would you like to attempt?

I’m an aspiring philanthropist and I’ve set some of the financial wheels in motion for that to happen.

9. What profession would you not like to do?

I’ve not considered this too much, as I focus on what I like to do…I think it would be pretty tough to be the person who gives a lethal injection or flips the switch on the electric chair…

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

“Heya Pete, nice job down there.” *insert fist bump here*

You can learn more about Pete’s work by visiting his website AND blog.

Hello Dear Readers, Art Lovers, Art Makers, Art Writers…well, Everyone…Hello, Hello

I want to follow in the same vein as James Lipton and ask similar questions to artists. I figured it would be a great way for both Art Lovers and those interested in Art a peek into the Artist’s studio life and philosophy. In turn, I want to provide artists with more exposure as well. Making connections for everyone, essentially. It works both ways and I’m really happy talented and funny artist and recent San Francisco Art Institute MFA graduate, Megan Wynne, decided to be my first artist to answer the Art 10 – Inside the Artist’s Studio questions! Thanks again, Megan!

Questions and Comments are certainly welcome! Enjoy this first installment!

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Art 10

1. What is your favorite (art) word?

This may be a boring answer, but I like the word “aesthetic”. I like the sound, the way it rolls off the tongue, and the spelling of it, the “a-e” thing. I also love the word “visceral” even though its not technically an art word alone, I use it a lot when talking about the gut response to a piece of art. It relates to my present body of work, “viscera”.

2. What is your least favorite (art) word?

I’m going to have to go with two words on this one because it ruins one of my favorite words, “relational aesthetics”. I find the term irritating and too esoteric.

3. What keeps you going when you’re in the studio?

Its usually my interest in learning about the subject matter I’m addressing in the work, the research aspect to the process.

4. When do you know you’re done in the studio?

When I start to feel like I’m going to fall asleep or vomit. Its always a physical reaction/symptom that tells me I need a break. As far as completing a piece is concerned, I never really feel like my work is ever finished.

5. What words do you love to hear at an art show (your show or any show)?

Its not so much words, but I often like it the best when people laugh when they look at my work. My work isn’t only supposed to be funny but its nice when they get the joke.

6. What words do you hate to hear at an art show (your show or any show)?

Once I was at the SFMOMA and a father who was holding is little boy came up to Duchamp’s Fountain and loudly said “Now that’s art” as sarcastically as possible. He acted like he was addressing his son, like it was some absurd art lesson he was giving him, but the joke was really intended for me to overhear, as I was also looking at the piece at the same time. He thought he was so funny. I believe we are all entitled to our own opinions about artwork, but it was irritating that the guy presumed that anyone else within hearing range of his voice would obviously have the same opinion as he did.

7. What is your favorite curse word?

The present participle of the “F” word.

8. What profession other than being an artist would you like to attempt?


9. What profession would you not like to do?

Nurse – they seem to have to do all the hard stuff.

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

I’m not mad at you for being an atheist.

You can learn more about Megan’s work by visiting her website.