Artist Feature on Jonathan Barcan in Asterisk SF Magazine

At Workspace Studios off Folsom Street, visitors can expect a breathy climb up brick-colored stairs to a maze of artist studios. One of those studios belongs to artist Jonathan Barcan, who during a studio visit shared insights on his printmaking, drawing and painting practice. In looking at his work, it is easy to see the precision that goes into his etchings and prints as well as the experimentation and the unpredictability of materials in his drawings and paintings. Organic materials such as wine, spices, sand and metal form beautifully articulated lines and figures. Although his Master of Fine Arts from the State University of New York at Buffalo afforded him opportunities to exhibit work in Philadelphia, Beijing, Montreal, Toronto, and Florence, San Francisco is home.

Using physics, science, the natural world, and the notion of the human soul as inspirations for his art, Barcan has a highly meditative quality to his work. His prints serve as observations of and responses to our contemporary world, combining older technologies such as printmaking with more modern sciences and digital advances, all in an effort to identify people’s relationships to society and culture. As a longtime printmaker, Barcan works diligently toward understanding the unexpected nature of the craft and its medium. Working with acids and metal surfaces is no simple task, yet his works comprise natural lines, organic forms, and fluid motions that seem impossible to replicate. From colorful to monochromatic pieces, his work envelops the viewer in an imaginary space where words are unable to express the breadth of the human experience.

“We are clearly becoming other types of people because of the rapid rate of technological progression. We understand information and the substance of a person so much differently than we did 100 years ago,” says Barcan.

His specific visual language includes erratic, bold, non-tentative lines that aim at investigating human intricacies and understanding humanity at the intersections of art, technology, and science. Despite the depth of content, his images become familiar and accessible to the viewer. “It’s seductive,” he says of drawing. “It is so important for me to show the artist’s hand in my work. I like the messiness. When fingerprints and dirt on the paper show, there is a history. There’s also a tension in the drawings. I also like to observe people. For me, the drawings are the easiest way for me to communicate my observations. It’s immediate, in some ways. But the seductive quality comes from convincing people the work is immediate, but that’s not true. There is a lot of work and rework that takes time. The seductive part also comes from how people project how I make these things and me knowing the actuality of the creation.” His work is dynamic, connected and provocative. It inspires introspection in its dealings with the separation, integration and presence of the soul or the self within society and culture. With the swarm of interactive devices, data streams and codes that riddle our transactions, books, magazines and billboards, the artist and his physical work are rare but imperative. Despite the multiplicity of subjects in Barcan’s work, each is unique, much like the smudges and fingerprints of the artist’s hand. His work serves as a meditation, both on how we live and what we choose to leave behind.

Originally published and posted to Asterisk SF Magazine, please click here to view

EDICOLA
OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE

This March 15th, 2012, marks the opening of a reinvention of the traditional newsstand.

Colpa Press will partner with the Central Market Street Revitalization Program to create a venue for artist books, prints, and albums, on the corner of Market and 6th Street.

Edicola is dedicated to providing a platform for emerging artists to reach their community through support from the public and by repurposing a kiosk that would otherwise be vacant. The stand will feature artists and musicians, both local and international, who work with the print format. It will focus on work that pushes the independent publishing envelope, through creative strategies of printing paired with high concept work.

As funds are made available, Colpa Press, will choose a local artist every month, to publish, and his or her work will be featured at the kiosk. Colpa will also choose an artist to design a poster for Edicola, every month, and this poster will be made available exclusively at the kiosk.

Additionally, Colpa Press, will publish a monthly newspaper featuring artists that are new to the kiosk, art and music reviews, including new music features from Aquarius records, as well as market street news and local events. Edicola is set on challenging the current state of publishing and suggesting that we are far from the death of print. Through this program, independent press can receive the stimulus it needs to be revitalized and flourish.

Edicola’s hours are Tuesday through Saturday 10:00 am – 6:00 pm beginning March 15th.
To learn more, you can click here

Hope to see you there!
Luca and Carissa of Colpa Press

Anais Nin once said that the role of the writer is to not to say what we can but to say what we cannot. The sentiment certainly translates well into the visual arts. Often, dishonesty abounds in everyday pleasantries, which is why the artist strives to reveal the truths of human interaction. To detect the context and sub-context. The artist mines the crevices of everyday exchanges and finds the raw, unpolished, sometimes tarnished, kernels of mundane gesture and speech to create something undeniable about the human condition. The artist is often brave enough to produce work that shows what one may conceal and obscure. Meet Carissa Potter. Her utilization of simple materials to express complex emotions is a clever depiction of the intensity and gravity of love in an authentic way.

Potter’s drawings are created from various materials such as pen, ink, marker, and textiles. Using techniques such as printmaking and installation, Potter’s multi-faceted work takes on dimensions that fit the ideas she is trying to convey. At the SOMArts Cultural Center’s Spread group exhibition earlier this year, she included a print piece, “You Love Me”. The work consists of an accordion folded paper piece that declares the words, “You love me” followed by images of commonly liked things (i.e., ice cream, sweaters, Harrison Ford, and unicorns, to name a few). Potter’s use of everyday objects in her art creates a strong bond and connection with her viewer.

At first glance, Potter’s drawings and sketches seem simple and straightforward. There’s an accessibility and resonance to the work. Her fondness for turning the multitude of everyday actions and thoughts into fine art has a tremendous effect on what the viewer is willing to experience and how they will do that. People understand authenticity. Love, loss, frustration, anger, happiness, sadness, and elation are all emotions people can correlate to their own experiences. In Potter’s work, there is something for everyone regardless of whatever culture, sub-culture or ethnicity someone identifies with. There is something about the individual viewer in the work.

Although some of the works may produce feelings of uneasiness or conjure one’s insecurities and fears, they give the viewer permission to engage, feel, and re-act. For individuals that crave art that is witty and complex, yet simple and straightforward, Carissa Potter is the artist to view. With bits of humor nestled between the lines of images and text, one is welcome to simply enjoy the quips. The intention of the artist is also left to the viewer. Whether the art is a cathartic expression or musings on unanswered questions of lost love, the artist welcomes whatever perception and understanding you have of what you see. Another aspect of her work deconstructs the moments we may forbid ourselves to experience or reactions to situations that we may normally suppress. One may ask, seeing a chronicle of the artist’s depictions and understandings of love and loss, what makes this art and why pay attention? Without question, Potter braves the impervious layers of life, dusts off all the fossilized sentiments, desires, and angst and hits directly upon the nerves that force the observer to beautifully collide the past with the present and future.

Please click here to view Carissa Potter’s work.

Published to Asterisk SF Magazine.

I know, I know.

I should be writing about an artist I don’t really care for or agree with because that would make for an interesting piece of art writing but this is an art diary (of sorts) and, well, I can write what I want (for now)! I’m sure my writing will go into varying directions in the next month or so with a studio class on the horizon. I digress (per usual). For those that know me well, I preface (quite a bit) but I did that (yet again) because I constantly write about artists that inspire and move me.

Ellen Gallagher being one of those artists. Being a fan of Art 21, I found myself engaged by her work. The ability to take imagery and appropriate it in a repetitious fashion but making all iterations worthy of a look amazes and excites me. A great example of her collaborative work is the ‘DeLuxe’ Prints series. She adds to an image of Isaac Hayes in such a way that the viewer is forced to re-imagine a narrative. Her re-telling of a history through painting over what is there, magically, uncovers what has long been concealed. Think of that contradiction? Covering up to uncover. Re-appropriating to make appropriate, inevitably be re-appropriated and re-configured in the viewers mind. Gallagher works wonders. I guess I wrote about her because I’m hoping to do some of my own magic in this upcoming studio art class. We shall see!

Learn more about Ellen Gallagher here