Rio Yanez, Artist Profile

In the early 20th century, San Francisco felt the effects of disaster. The earthquake of 1906 left the city with crumbled buildings and widespread devastation throughout the downtown area, so art was probably not on the minds of civil servants and residents trying to recuperate and clean a city in disrepair. Artwork from this period in San Francisco history, such as works by Jules Page, showed a San Francisco landscape unharmed by natural disaster; Page’s work captured the vibrancy of the city. In such a digitally laden age, shows may not commonly feature serene paintings of the San Francisco cityscape. But there’s still a deep appreciation for artists who incorporate the city through an artistic lens that gives the viewer a strong sense of the city’s essence.

In searching for a contemporary San Francisco artist who uses San Francisco as a primary element within their work, we found Rio Yañez. At Muddy Waters Coffee House on San Francisco’s popular Valencia Street, a young man wearing a black, Star Wars–themed Dia de Los Muertos T-shirt approaches and kindly greets me. As a native San Franciscan, Yañez grew up on 26th Street to parents who were both visual artists. In the 1970s, his father was a collage artist and curator, while his mother was a painter. Rene Yañez, his father, remains highly active in the Bay Area arts community today. Father and son have co-curated shows and worked in tandem, most recently on a 3-D art project enticing viewers into a rich dialogue both visually and physically. In addition, Yañez created 3-D conversions of his father’s other work. As co-founders of art group The Great Tortilla Conspiracy, the duo silkscreen tortillas with chocolate ink and create edible works of art that serve as both interventions and experimental art.

One of the life-changing events for Yañez was turning to photography in high school. Soon after graduation in the late 1990s, he started the City College of San Francisco associate degree program in photography, marveling at two-megapixel cameras. He found something exciting and rewarding. He moved to Southern California to attend the prestigious California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), where he received his bachelor’s degree in photography. Upon returning to the Bay Area, he wanted to mesh his photography skills with his love and fascination for sequential art. The end results were dynamic artworks that coalesced photography, drawing and new media. His childhood obsession with comic books resurfaced and can be seen in some of his most current works. Yañez continues to work digitally but is exploring

ways that he can apply his knowledge to other formats. With a fascination of moving GIFs, or cinemagraphs, he continues to pay homage to the San Francisco cityscape and memories that shape his spirited and energetic work.

Even with significant differences in medium, the common thread between Page and Yañez is the desire to illustrate San Francisco in a way that captivates and piques the curiosity of the viewer. Both artists utilize San Francisco as a subject, but Yañez shows how the city has grown, developed and changed over the past century. He successfully aims to show his San Francisco in such a way that any viewer—whether newcomer, transplant or native—is more than welcome to join in on the dialogue.

Upcoming Shows: Counterproof: The Other Side of Print at Incline Gallery with The Great Tortilla Conspiracy ~ April 13. To learn more about Rio Yañez visit his website. RioYanez.com

Originally posted to Asterisk SF Magazine. Please view here.

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I asked a dear friend about her attention span. She was candid in sharing that if 200 characters don’t entice her, you’ve lost her. She is an intelligent woman and I completely trust her opinion. Now, that’s not a lot characters to lure someone in. Yet, it speaks to the culture we live in. Granted, this post (originally posted to zero1‘s blog) is pretty lengthy but the show resonated with me because words are important to me (duh!). Being a writer is difficult and challenging work. I constantly wonder who might care but as one of my great mentors shared with me…this is why you write…because you give someone something to care about. Okay, enough, enjoy the piece AND if you make it through the entire piece, I will send you something in the mail (promise). 😉

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Technology often conjures up images of mobile devices, machines, and programming. Yet, technology, according to Wikipedia, “…is the making, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems, or methods of organization in order to solve a problem or perform a specific function”. With all the taxonomies and ever evolving nature of art, new technologies present themselves everyday. Yet, the barrage of images in the media are not the only thing that inundate us. Language is ubiquitous. What limitations do we experience when we’re forced to use only 140 characters? What does this impact the way we communicate? Or how do we make sense of the words that make it into our vernacular in such a fast paced environment? In Other Words, showing at the Intersection for the Arts, showcases the work of contemporary artists interpreting our collective relationship and understanding of language. Kevin Chen, Intersection for the Arts program director, gathered artists looking at the written word to extrapolate human behavior and creativity, re-configurations and semantics of language, the tactile nature of typography and script, and the physical placement of text.

Imagine the networks and visual spaces we visit. What would those lines, images, and words look like meshed together? Emanuela Harris-Sintamarian answers this question through her visual metaphors of social media. Her work forces the viewer to realize that it doesn’t really matter where you look because it is all within the same space. The habit-forming behavior of constantly checking our e-mail, looking for new tweets, and compulsively looking at peoples’ photo albums online is the basis for this work. She shows how we open ourselves up to a world hoping to find something new but it is all the same material. The same people in different places. Harris-Sintamarian’s work is a testament to how our minds might synthesize and re-appropriate the world.

Christine Wong Yap’s work looks at Optimism and Pessimism in human behavior. Inspired by the work of psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Yap’s drawings are interpretations of his notable sayings and statistical analyses. The replication of scientific text through drawing and handwriting solidifies good habits in the viewer as well. Yet they serve as meditations for the artist. Her well curated info-graphics and carefully written text are worth the attention. In this digital age, people will find Yap’s work refreshing because it serves to remind us of our capacity to create.

Katie Gilmartin Queer Words re-contextualizes the relationship between words and images. Although seemingly mundane and innocuous, words such as ‘bear’ may conjure a wild animal, yet take on a completely different meaning within the queer lexicon. The vernacular and pictures Gilmartin employs are humorous and overt. She plays into both our collective consciousness and gender constructs.

Speech and language take on a physical form in Alex Potts work while Cassie Thornton re-interprets the television as a form of purely textual communication. Past the main entrance, visitors see a spiral staircase with multiple white waxed cornucopias inviting the viewer to engage and experience space, form, and sound. Potts work with audio and feedback based on the participants’ engagement with the work is integral to comprehension of what language may sound like from one person to another. He creates the forms but relies on the active listener and participant to bring the piece to life. In Education Delivers People (2011), Cassie Thornton re-interprets Richard Serra and Carlota Fay Schoolman’s work, Television Delivers People (1973). Thornton’s piece seems to translate, to a certain degree, a similar message but tailored to a contemporary audience. Simultaneously, the work reflects history and how it relates to the current state of the economy. Through stand alone text, without all the images and superfluous media, the viewer becomes enlightened.

Textile work, “She wrote love letters in 1971”, by Julia Goodman, the viewer is left to imagine love letters. Goodman layered and folded memories together to create a simulacra of memories in a piece with very little text. The piece serves as a testament to how the imagination creates the stories, words, phrases, and tales perhaps much richer in the mind devoid of spell check. “Wear your biggest smile. (2012), by Annie Vought, is based on a collection of dreams culled from the Internet. She visualizes a particular order by precisely cutting away to reveal a translation of virtual to physical.

Lastly, physical engagement with text in space is seen in the work of Meryl Pataky. Your Company (2012) and Say It Out Loud (2012) made with steel, brass, and computer parts displays our digital waste and re-configures the refuse into physical three-dimensional language. The shapes and bends of the material simulate how we may perceive the world in which we work and find ourselves confined to. Pataky creates a bit of mysticism in his deconstruction. We see the words but don’t necessarily have to understand the etymology. We see them in space and that is all that matters. In contrast, Susan O’Malley sprinkles plaques throughout the venue coupled with larger sandwich boards adorning the center of the gallery space. O’Malley wants to lead the viewer to an experience of art through a playful hide and seek of text which serves as a metaphor to the hidden meanings of language we encounter on a daily basis. Overall, our relationship to language is multi-faceted and constantly evolving as seen in these works. Chen’s selection of artists not only illuminate the complexity of language but evoke our senses and reactions to them.

Originally posted to the zero1 blog

Untitled (2008), Rotating matka (earthen pot), motorized rotational mechanism | Artist: Sudarshan Shetty

Over the weekend, I visited the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and saw The Matter Within: New Contemporary Art of India exhibition. I found myself making my way back to Sudarshan Shetty’s installation work. Both Untitled pieces (the above from his ‘Saving Skin’ series and the one below from his ‘Stab’ series) intrigued me. Although the mechanism tipped the pot back and forth with a constant, even rhythm that mimicked human movement, the piece presented tension and discomfort. The overall work presents the duality of new and old technologies

As noted on the exhibition placard for his work, the pot is a part of a series that ,

…recalls the loss of connection with earth and body, represented by the traditional earthen pot, in an increasingly mechanized universe.

~Source: YBCA exhibition placard

Untitled (2010), Wooden Chair, paint on fiberglass, neon | Artist: Sudarshan Shetty

Similarly, the intricately wooden chair coupled with something modern and contrasts with tradition. The relationship of the old and modern world presents the strain between tradition in a rapidly evolving world.

Artificial Strawberry Flavor-1 (2008), Corian cabinet, fiberglass bottles, oil, acrylic | Artists: Thukral & Tagra

I’m not sure if it’s the abundance of red coupled with the quantity of highly rendered oil and acrylic paintings on each bottle (some easily identified as Hershey’s Cocoa Powder and syrup containers) but this piece worked extremely well. It provided commentary on the nature of consumerism and vibrancy of pop culture imagery in Punjabi society.

Representations of death often tend toward the trite: holograms, star clusters, or gilded gates leading to puffy buoyant clouds, for example. None of these conventional methods of representing death are currently on view at the Chapel of the Chimes, the Julia Morgan–designed crematorium in Oakland, though. Instead, viewers will find more unorthodox artifacts—pop-up children’s books and Shakespeare, a pair of Dixie cups, a reproduction of a Buddhist stupa, or a spider weaving her web–among the more customary flowers and well wishes.

The placement of art in this non-traditional space defies convention but adheres to definition; after all, a museum is “a building in which objects of historical, scientific, artistic, or cultural interest are stored and exhibited.”1 Architect Julia Morgan, best known for building the extravagant Hearst Castle, created an elaborate but discernibly more subdued place of repose in the Chapel of the Chimes. The Chapel was a proud recipient of the 2009 Best of the East Bay award, “Best Place to Spend Eternity.” Levity aside, the curatorial collective OFFSpace believed the Chapel was the perfect venue for art that engaged a living public with examinations of the hereafter, and spent months persuading the establishment’s administration to allow art to be installed in vacant niches. They succeeded, and Ever After became the first official art exhibition for the Chapel of the Chimes.

Since each work is limited to a niche, the works tend toward two extremes: minimalist or sensationalist. Luther Thie’s piece, The Count (2011), humorously depicts a pair of battling sock puppets. The playful skirmish is a duel to the death (pun intended) that counters and rivals the romanticized view of a peaceful, regret-free death. Although some artworks appear as part of the environment, others, like Thie’s puppets, are clearly meant to stand out, and become further magnified by their unlikely surroundings.

Luther Thie's, The Count
Luther Thie. The Count, 2011; mixed media; 18.5 x 24.5 x 11.5 in. Courtesy of the Artist. Photo: Dorothy Santos.

Although art in a crematorium may seem unlikely and, to some, a discourteous or flippant look at loss, Ever After seeks to flesh out our collective presuppositions and neuroses surrounding eternal rest. OFFSpace prevails in testing the boundaries of exhibiting art in alternative spaces, and consistently creates well-curated, provocative exhibitions. The bottom line: a show without controversy is a show that’s probably not worth seeing.

Originally posted to Shotgun Reviews on Art Practical, please click here to view.

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NOTES:

1. From the New Oxford American Dictionary, Third Edition.

Artists include: Adam Katseff, Eric Larson, Angela Willetts and Todd Anderson, Kevin Seaman, Scott Kildall, Ashley Lauren Saks, Nicole Fein, Surabhi Saraf, Brice Bischoff, Michael Namkung, Yuki Maruyama, Jennifer Campbell, and Leeza Doreian.

Curated by: Gail Dawson, Mary Anne Kluth, and Jesse Houlding

The Lab is pleased to present Time, a group exhibition addressing the fourth dimension. Sparked by Jennifer Campbell’s contemplative, wry video works, artists working across a range of genres, including painting, sculpture, photography, video, and performance, mark the passage of time, and attempt to alternately thwart, trap or transcend its inexorable flow. At turns absurd, meditative and sublime, these works present viewers with a range of human responses to a force that shapes our every conscious experience[]

Opening reception: Friday, October 7, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Exhibition runs through Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Lab | 2948 16th Street | San Francisco, CA | 415.864.8855 tel

* Source for post: The Lab

Artists to look out for: Scott Kildall and Brice Bischoff

Ever After, an exhibition curated by curatorial collective, OFFSpace, is one of the most memorable art openings I’ve experienced (ever). The show resides in what most individuals would consider a rather unorthodox and unusual place for an art exhibition – a columbarium. Yes, you read that correctly. This show is in a columbarium. Currently in the process of revising and editing pieces for publication and rest assured (no pun intended), my review of Ever After is in the works. For now, please view some of the photos from the opening.

Visitors looking at Andrew Witrak's piece, Dixie Cup Phone (2011), Paper, silk thread, gouache paint, dimensions variable
Exploring Julia Morgan's architecture work while searching for the artwork spread throughout the columbarium
Walking around and getting lost
In Blessed (name of the room), searching for Marya Krogstad and Emmanuelle Namont Kouznetsov's work. Found Krogstad but learned Kouznetsov's work had to be moved.
Elyse Hochstadt's work, Untitled (Reliquary) (2011), Ash, 36" x 12" x 4"
Chimes Chapel entrance