Jean-Michel Basquiat, Fallen Angel, 1981

Genius Child

This is a song for the genius child.
Sing it softly, for the song is wild.
Sing it softly as ever you can –
Lest the song get out of hand.

Nobody loves a genius child.

Can you love an eagle,
Tame or wild?
Can you love an eagle,
Wild or tame?
Can you love a monster
Of frightening name?

Nobody loves a genius child.

Kill him – and let his soul run wild.

~ Langston Hughes

Growing up, art kept me busy. My mother knew this deep seeded passion within me yet insisted on telling me that artists don’t make money until they’re dead. If only she knew, making money was never a concern. She probably knows that now but making art, writing about it, and discussing it was all I ever wanted to do. Yet, my mother’s sentiments are shared by many parents.

Being an artist (any kind of artist), during one’s lifetime is challenging and burdensome. However, for the contemporary artists that brave the criticism, are precocious or highly experienced, and most importantly, believe (not think) they are the art star the world needs to know must probably learned something from Jean-Michel Basquiat’s through cultural osmosis.

After watching Jean-Michel Basquiat‘s documentary, The Radiant Child, directed and written by Tamra Davis, I found myeslf intrigued and seduced by Basquiat’s motivation, work ethic, and audaciousness. Having studied his work in contemporary art history class coupled with Google musings during slow work days, I was pretty eager to watch the film and acquired a greater sense of why anyone makes art (not just Basquiat).

The physicality involved in his work, the contour lines, bright and bold colors, and various mediums he worked with along with his use of language made for an eye opening look into what happens to he human soul when it’s allowed to roam aimlessly with paints and pens. His sensitive, impulsive, free, non-committal, bold, confident, and addictive nature come out in the film but my favorite parts of the film were of him painting and drawing. He could have said anything he wanted to in his interviews but it was watching him unfurl child like bold strokes on his canvases that made me believe he had a lot more to say than what he actually said.

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What is the best way to understand artists?

For me, it’s, actually, going through the art making process. To experience what the artist experiences. Everyone is unique and completely different but the commonality is the struggle all artists have to create something and be heard, seen, and understood. The above slide show includes pictures I took of my work currently at the UC Berkeley Extension Art and Design campus in Downtown San Francisco. I did a series of drawings for my ‘Working in Series’ class. Having never shown work before, it was an eye-opening experience. Although a student show, it reminded me of all the components integral in staging an actual exhibition.

Likes:

  • The camaraderie
  • Seeing my classmates again
  • Witnessing how we’re all different and how our unique experiences are reflected in our work
  • Teamwork amongst artists to showcase work appropriately
  • An amazing professor – Pam Lanza!

 Dislikes:

  • Measuring and hanging
  • The Security Guard gave me the stink eye as I entered the building with my drawings as if I wasn’t supposed to be there
  • Hanging up the art work and looking at it a million times to see if it’s straight
  • Feeling sad when seeing my classmates’ frustrated after having to hang and re-hang their pieces
  • Wondering if people will understand or care…then again, it doesn’t matter (I guess)

Overall, being an art maker has definitely helped me with my writing skills. Allowing myself to being an artist (outside of classes and writing) gives me insight into the overall process. Another epiphany, I don’t want to be a curator or gallery owner! They have ridiculously difficult jobs!!

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Renovated Reputations: Paintings and Fiction inspired by Vintage Portrait Photographs

With touch screen technology, social media, and high definition television, the traditional artist must find ways to captivate an audience in a digital age. Kenney Mencher‘s, Renovated Reputations: Paintings and Fiction inspired by Vintage Portrait Photographs, forthcoming exhibition at the ArtHaus gallery is, certainly, a show that piques my interest.

In reviewing his work, there is definitely a progression in both style and content. The Renovated Reputations should be a treat to individuals not familiar with his work and impressive to those that have followed him over the years. Much of my excitement is seeing him take his strengths (storytelling and fine art painting) and creating compositions that are engaging with a striking energy that is difficult to deny. I’ll post more after seeing the show, which opens on Friday, April 8th.

You Gotta Piece, 2011 (Pen, Marker, Watercolor, rubber stamps) by Dorothy Santos

Ah, the day of heart shaped chocolates, conversation hearts, disdainful people that despise Valentine’s day, and an exchange of love notes…

Truthfully, I absolutely love the day (YES, EVEN when I was single). I just never (ever) really thought of it as a day for couples. The history itself and all the believed legends of what makes Valentine’s Day, well, Valentine’s day has very little to do with romantic love between two people (but I can see and understand where and how romantic love plays an integral role in understanding its history). Again, I’m not going to go through the litany of Heart’s Day history BUT if you insist, you can start here.

This year, I wanted to do something a little different. I wanted to create something based on social networking. There were several pre-selected folks but I wanted to see who would respond to my Twitter and Facebook posting of the following:

Want to receive something special (handwritten with hearts and a memory)? Send your mailing address to dorothy.r.santos@gmail.com ♥

Honestly, I was NOT expecting anyone to respond. As I mentioned to someone else, I thought, if lucky, maybe 2-3 people. Seriously, even though I have Twitter and Facebook friends, I wasn’t expecting to receive a slew of home mailing addresses. I had the idea brewing in my head and crossed my fingers. Pleasantly surprised, there were 17 willing participants out of 24 total recipients. I proceeded to cut 4×6 cards, piece them together, draw the human heart, and draw! I worked on this for a few days and had different drawing methods (i.e., drawing randomly on cards, patterns based on my mood, images that had something to do with where I’m from – San Francisco, CA). The result: A blue and red heart made with, well, a lot of lovingly made doodles. Yes, when I was a kid, I was a doodler/scribbler extraordinaire and wanted to re-visit those days to remind people that they’re loved and cared for.

See, art can pump some much needed love in the world…yes, I’m a die hard optimist. Do YOU have a problem with THAT? Didn’t think so. 😉

Happy Valentine’s Day, family, friends, and the rest of the world. 🙂

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An incredible weekend to do an urban hike through the San Francisco streets! Today was one of the best days and our hiking group worked up a sweat walking up and down the hills surrounding Koit Tower. Fortunately, we didn’t ascend the stairs that would bring us to the landmark but we were able to catch glimpses of the urban landscape walking along the downtown San Francisco streets.

Now, since it is Valentine’s day weekend, I wanted to focus on yet another aspect of what makes art such an integral part of a community – the muralist. Some time ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Johanna Poethig during one of her group exhibitions curated by artist, Jenifer Wofford. One of my dear friends suggested I look up from our hike to see the i-Hotel mural. I was astonished by its vibrancy and depiction of Filipino history in San Francisco.

Naturally, being Filipino American, it’s near and dear to my heart. It was Poethig’s tribute to the long fight for low-income housing to the Asian community (predominantly Filipino) via the i-Hotel. Yet, again, another reason and method of how art can capture an individual’s attention (no matter what color, culture, sexual orientation, whatever) and help disseminate a message to the masses. Cheers to, another art crush and hero, Johanna Poethig!!