Sunday, February 27, 2011

CCA Wattis Shows: "Undisclosed Destination" and "Hammarby!"

The other night I was so excited to celebrate my good friend, Rachel Foster's, inclusion in a show at the Wattis Institute for the Arts at CCA.  Wattis shows are generally touted as a big deal in our smallish city, bringing in artists who are well-known and often unseen beyond in museum exhibitions in the Bay Area.  Last semester boasted the "Huckleberry Finn" exhibition curated by Wattis Director Jens Hoffman, (formerly of the London Institute of Contemporary Arts),  with a commissioned installation by Kara Walker and pieces by two of my favorites, Hank Willis Thomas and Yinka Shonibare.  This semester's exhibition on the bottom floor of the Wattis is called 101 Collection: Route 2 Undisclosed Destination and was curated by Sharon Lerner as a "collection show", meaning that annually a local collector's "101 Collection" is curated by different guests.  Rachel happens to be part of the 101 Collection, and was shown along side some pretty fancy names, including John Baldessari and Todd Hido.

Rachel showing the announcement

Any time there is an opening at school there is food and a swarm of students around the food

Elisheva Biernoff's large landscape panel combining park, beach, volcanos, and basically environmental trouble

Elisheva's hand-painted double-sided imagined postcards from lost explorers
Two of Rachel's (hard-to-photograph) prints
Two more prints from Rachel
A stack of John Baldessari
Upside-down tree photo print- artist unknown

Upstairs was a sort of pre-exhibition of Belgian artist, (and one of the "Magnificent Seven artists scheduled to exhibit solo shows at the Wattis), Kris Martin's, show, Hammarby! in which he asked his project class made up of several of my friends to create work to be exhibited in the space which adds up to his own exhibition.  This is what the Wattis says about it:
"Over the course of this semester, Martin is living in San Francisco and serving as a guest faculty member at CCA. He is leading a class of 13 graduate Fine Arts students in creating new works on the subject of time, a universal truth with which all artists—and of course all people—must contend. Graduate school is a period when art students are developing their own practices, their own career paths. And so, Martin finds it appropriate to transform the private space of the classroom into the public space of an art gallery, with the latter's new set of expectations around finished pieces and the status of the working, professional artist. The gallery is divided into 13 autonomous-but-public spaces, one per student, via a grid of red lines. Martin is working in a 14th space, the entire gallery, and has given himself the same task that he has given his students: to devise new works that investigate issues of time and duration."  There will be a closing reception for the exhibition on March 29.

Gold painting by Liam Everett

Installation of theater props by Elizabeth Dorbad
Collages by Bean Gilsdorf

Dramatically lit installation by Mark Benson, video piece in the background by Steph Halmos

Maysha playing around with Christine Elfman's dress piece

Buddies: Steph, Me, Natasha, Marcella, and Maysha
More on the blog about Rachel Foster, Elisheva Biernoff,  Mark Benson, and Elizabeth Dorbad

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Artist Focus: Carlos Ramirez

I have been curious about fellow grad at CCA, Carlos  Ramirez's, ceramic work for some time.  Within our large program, Carlos and I have never been in a critique class together so I have never had much of a chance to investigate his work, but I have seen it peeking out of his studio since the beginning of school.  The other day his ceramic video game-shaped sculptures were hung in a project space out in a main lobby and I was able to check out some of the details of his pieces.  I asked if he could send me a few pictures and then I went into his studio to take snap more photos.  

What I love about the work is that it is so unusual- you don't see much ceramic work that looks this contemporary.  Often, ceramics are banished into a "craft ghetto", where artists sell pots and vases at craft fairs, or make seemingly identical, badly sculpted blobby figurative sculptures.  Contrary to this, using the narrative of anthropomorphic shapes most of us recall from childhood, with neon-colored plexiglass to mimic the geometric movements of the game shapes, his pieces are both beautifully colored with lovely cracks, refreshingly funny, and semi-nostalgic.  See his website here.

Looking into his studio

Inspirational source material

A piece on the wall 

Work station with candy

Candy and toys: necessities

For this particular body of work below, Carlos says:  "In this series of work, Crushing Nickels Into Quarters, I draw from imagery of 1980s video games, Meso-American architecture, and Minimalism to make sculptural work in reference to transitional times in coming of age".

Untitled (Black stripe)

Untitled (Pink stripe)

Untitled (Yellow stripe)

See my post on Southern Exposure's juried show, Boom, for another piece by Carlos.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Grad School: One Month In

I have been thinking about my life in Graduate School as it draws closer towards the end.  It's a strange feeling to be so comfortable yet so restrained- it's somewhat like being a prisoner and yet as free as I'll ever be.  What has been great, among many things, are the friends I have made, the art connections, and the breakthroughs.  What can be hard to swallow is leaving ego at the door and taking the advice of others when you are used to being an adult and making completely independent decisions about what you do in your life.  In school, there are advisors, and in life there are none; it's both a blessing and a curse to have so much input.  Knowing when I graduate there will be a limited amount of conversations about anything related to art, as well as less time to relax, I have been trying to appreciate the days left and to make account of the little things I'm sure I will miss.  Here are some photos of the past month of school, in our last semester at CCA.

Doing the hard part- the thesis.

The other work- the art.

Breakfast with my bosses and co-hort, Marissa!

Some sweet California January reading weather.  (That's the garden I grew, BTW)

Sitting around, playing Scrabble-ish "Bananagrams"

An opening event at "Fishspace" in the grad building featuring tons of arcade games.

Arcade action shot.

Courtney and Mark hanging out in my studio.
More hanging out in my studio with Natasha and Steph.

Even more hanging out with Jake, Courtney, and Adair.

Taking a break from school: checking out Jim Fairchild (Natasha's beau)'s solo act, "All Smiles".
Another break: checking out Lanvin necklaces at Barney's.
Opening at the Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art.

Natasha and I trying to escape to the ballet on student tickets- too late for the show!

Escaping again, with Rachel, to the top of the Mountainview Cemetery. 
From today- another opening at the Wattis: Steph, me, Maysha, Natasha, and Marcella.

Here's to more art, beauty, fashion, and lounging after school ends, even if they are all harder to come by.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

New Exhibition: Hilary Pecis

"Half Truths and Outright Lies" by Hilary Pecis, Guerrero Gallery, San Francisco February 12 through March 5

A solo opening featuring new work by my good friend, Hilary Pecis, is coming up this Saturday, February 12, at Guerrero Gallery in San Francisco.  Yeah Hil!  I can't wait to see her new digital collages!  

Juxtapoz recently posted a preview of works in the show.
Hilary Pecis website

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I Did It First!

Francesco Vezzoli, "Sacrilegio" at the Gagosian Gallery in New York through March 12

Annie Leibovitz Photograph from Vogue

Recently I flipped through the January issue of Vogue and discovered a new show by Italian artist Francesco Vezzoli, promoted with a sumptuous portrait of his mother holding him as a madonna and child by Annie Leibovitz. at the Gagosian Gallery in New York called "Sacrilegio".  The mixed media prints/embroidery/paintings are all images of models depicted as Madonnas, which struck me as hilarious since I have painted a few similar images.  Vezzoli, as it turns out, is quite an interesting artist, using similar ideas of desire and commodity with perfume, etc., and boasts an important resume including (duh Gagosian) the LA MoCA, the NY New Museum, and the London Tate Modern.  

I made these paintings because I thought it was a funny way to reference our obsessions with escapist imagery, either through religious icons or contemporary models.  It wade perfect sense to combine the two.  In the first one, I made a model holding another smaller model, and in the second I drew an ad where a girl model comforted a male model as if she were a Madonna.

Serena Cole Images
Madonna with Child, 2009

A New Madonna, 2009

Francesco Vezzoli Images



Images from Gagosian website

Monday, February 7, 2011

San Francisco Openings

My friends and I decided to take the short trek over to the Geary Street galleries in San Francisco from school the other evening to do what the other locals do- fight the crowds of First Thursday.  As the monthly openings hurrah takes place every first Thursday, it brings droves of art lovers, both the casual, after-work crowd, and the art school variety to 49 and 77 Geary.  I've noticed the actual collectors don't come on this night, where you have to walk up flights of stairs to avoid the elevator rush, and navigate the hordes of free wine swillers.  

We came to see the opening at Rena Bransten that my friend, Aimee Reed curated called "Pure Paper" (through March 12), but it was quite crowded so we ended up also checking out other shows in the complex which were set to close soon.  (The show looked good though, and I plan to come back later).  

I am a big fan of Katy Grannan's photographs, which grace the pages of fashion magazines like AnOther, as well as notable art galleries, and was excited to see her show at Fraenkel (through February 19).  These photos are taken on the street of people she sees and spontaneously captures in beautiful, natural California light.  They seem to glow, looking like watercolor versions of reality.

We also popped in to Gregory Lind, where these detailed paintings of book covers of Richard Baker, (through February 26), were kinda interesting, but I thought they were a little gimicky.  All the books seemed like cool, well-read treasures, as if he were calling attention to his library more than his art.

We also stopped by Altman Siegel, a new gallery which shows a young generation of artists.  They were having a three person show, with Chris Johanson, Charley Harper, and Matt Keegan.   It was quite a dude show, with highlights including these two Chris Johanson pieces.  I love the blue in the boat piece, and the line-up one is pretty funny.  (The show just ended).

Be sure to check out Rena Bransten if you are in the area.  Til next First Thursday...