Artists Panel April 14, 5-7pm

Closing Happy Hour April 27th 5-7pm
Show dates April 6-27th

SOMArts Gallery
934 Brannan Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

Art Review's 'The Power 100'

Okay, I’m just going to get on my soap box so please feel free to move on if you’re not interested, I totally understand and won’t be offended. To forewarn you, this is a rant. At least I’m my own number one fan, eh?

Here it goes…

Having committed myself to writing everyday, I’m finding the Bay Area art world rife with events and happenings worth writing about. There’s so much going on and all types of genres within the arts and so many different venues. I’d like to think the West Coast knows how to take a space the size of a modest one bedroom apartment bathroom and turn that into a gallery AND have performance art in the space. Or, turning a garage into a space that becomes fertile ground for cultures and sub-cultures to interface and question art – together. Only in San Francisco. There, I said it AND we’re (I’m talking about the Bay Area) is great at establishing a sense of community in the arts. I may feel differently if San Francisco suddenly became the prima ballerina on the world stage (yes, I watched Black Swan and it was wonderfully intense, thank you for humoring my metaphor) but here’s when I start to get a bit disheartened.  I start looking outside my environment…

Los Angeles. Chicago. New York. France. England. Italy. China (yes, they’ve got some crazy amazing art AND they make almost everything we wear or use – shouldn’t be much of a surprise that they are creating a lot of art).

Sigh. Big huge defeated sigh.

Aspiring to be a professor in the arts? Talk about swimming upstream! All the meditation in the world doesn’t ease the fact I have so far to go with my aspirations especially since I counted about 6 people of color in Art Review’s The Power 100. Also, the #1 spot, typically, doesn’t even go to an artist, historically, it has gone to a gallerist! Larry Gagosian was #1 for 2010 (I know he’s been #1 quite a few times). I need to do a bit more research but the Power 100 solidifies that art really has to be part of a market, a trade, and survive as a business. Joking aside, someone who grew up poor and struggling isn’t exactly going to go out of their way to find out who Marina Abramovic (#35 – love her work, by the way) or Okwui Enwezor (#42 – was a Dean at the San Francisco Art Institute) are. I guess that’s where I want to do my part. Somehow. As much as I hate going through that list, I have to do it. I have to. I wonder how many of those individuals did NOT come from affluent families or didn’t have much opposition to pursue their passions? I know, I know. In the arts, you can’t compare yourself and you just have to work hard (like anything else).

Art takes time. Being a part of that larger dialogue takes time. I’m starting to understand and be patient. 

My point: As much as I have a passion for the arts and would love to affect change through teaching it, I feel that I have to encourage people to go looking for the art that resonates with them. Engage people (friends, family, strangers, bloggers, artists, whoever) in the conversation. Most importantly, to not be afraid to write what’s on my mind and from the gut even if someone is offended, dismayed, disturbed, or in direct opposition with what I say. The conversation is what ends up being the most imperative part. 

After getting this off my chest, I’m feeling a lot better. I mean, Art Forum did start out in San Francisco! Many great things do come from this little (but mighty) City by the Bay. 🙂

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!

Enjoy!

Labour of Love Installation by Elyse Hochstadt, Eggshell halves on end 11’ x 9’ and wooden swing, Courtesy of the Artist

Eggshells.

Easily discarded but often associated with the idiom of not wanting to hurt one’s feelings (hence, walking on eggshells), Elyse Hochstadt’s Labour of Love installation of eggshells with a wooden swing hanging off to a corner of the piece provides the viewer with an identifiable reference – a carpet.  Yet, the thought of walking on this eggshell carpet makes actually walking on it an impossibility, which proves the point that most, if not all, colloquial phrases have a sense of absurdity. The cliché as art form proves to be a laborious task for the artist as well. According to Ms. Hochstadt, this piece must be assembled every time it is shown. The appeal, for me, has mostly to do with the process in that it is meditative in nature as well as a mental and physical exercise in creating order. Without seeing the assembled piece, I gather its similarity to Andy Golsdworthy due to the organic nature of the material and precise structure of laying each shell to create the perfect amount of tension for the entire piece to be held together. Its assembly and orientation differs every single time and no eggshell is ever put in the same exact place. In addition, to take such simple material and make a rather complex visual statement, there’s a sudden barrage of activity associated to the material that comes to mind. The act of cooking, cleaning, the notion of the home, of instability and the precarious nature of childhood with the swing. This imaginary being swinging atop eggshells must rely on a force other than their own body, perhaps, to gain momentum but with a resignation that something may break. As a viewer, you either want the setting to be serene and untouched or you want to run over the eggshells like a child running after birds on a sidewalk or through crispy fallen Autumn leaves.

There is something that stops you though. What exactly is it? Love has never been such a laborious or strenuous task to understand, which probably explains its intensity.

Book cover for Garage Biennale
The first show I attended at the Garage - "I Walked Through Seven Sad Forests"

Art is supposed to be an experience.

Don’t you think? Well, I do.

These days, it’s not enough for me to look at something on a canvas or a neatly stacked collection of combs (okay, so if it’s Sonya Clark, I know the combs are ridiculously magnificent looking and rife with cultural subtext and history. Yes, I love her work but I just digressed, big surprise).

In any case, I said it and I’ll say it again. It’s NOT enough to just look at something for sheer retinal pleasure. As much appreciation and adoration I have for traditional art, there is something incredibly valuable about contemporary art in the conceptual realm. In particular, art pieces that are fleeting and ephemeral involve this excitement and wonder. The temporality of the Garage performances and exhibitions asked only one thing of its patrons – to be present. For those that wonder, “What good would a book about events I never attended and/or will never happen again do for me?” The answer: It’s a part of history. The loss of the moment. The loss of the opportunity. The loss of the time spent watching. The loss of an experience.

“Being temporary is being human, but so is longing for permanence. However, impermanence is our nature, and once we embrace it we can forget about loss and failure. Decisions then come with clarity and alacrity. This is the beauty of temporality: you learn that, sometimes, through loss is the only way.” ~Justin Hoover

Being an avid supporter of alternative art spaces, Justin Hoover‘s book, Garage Biennale serves as a wonderful chronicle of a truly alternative and experimental art space in San Francisco. I remember first learning about the Garage and utterly fascinated how one went about creating a gallery space that was simultaneously public and private. The dichotomy alone intrigued me and I considered myself a patron when I viewed my first show, “I Walked Through Seven Sad Forests”. It was the first art show I ever wrote about, actually. I always wanted to write about art but I never thought that this Garage would have been the impetus for that aspiration.

I owe a lot to the Garage and Mr. Justin Hoover…thank you, my friend!

Went to the Art Murmur in Oakland, CA last Friday, September 3rd. Specifically, I went to the Other Other opening curated by curatorial collective, OFFSpace. It was a great show about, well, “otherness”. I won’t get into it right at this minute but since a few more people (yes, thank you, dear friends) are keeping up with the blog, I wanted to stay connected. For now, take a look at these artists…they comprised The Other Other show…

The show will be up for some time (another month or so, I believe). Visiting the artists’ sites is a great way to get an idea of the art work being made but there’s nothing like actually seeing the work. Again, I’ll be posting more on my impressions but I definitely encourage you to check out the show, if you’re able.

The Other Other Artists include JC LenochanEric SanchezLuther Thie, and Kathryn Williamson

Curatorial collective OFFSpace