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Jul 23
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Year of Art: Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz

*My new years resolution is to visit one art gallery per week in 2014.

Headed to the coast yesterday, warm sun and no wind.  I visited two galleries in different coastal towns, making up for some very lax resolutioning this summer.

In Half Moon Bay, I visited the Coastal Arts League, a non-profit volunteer organization of artists started in 1979.  The photography in particular was outstanding, as many of the photos shown were recently selected for a juried international art show.  By international show, I mean a show in Half Moon Bay, with many many California photographers competing against a handful of international photographers.  When you look at the number of Californian winners, it seems a bit skewed.  It seems like a nice way for local artists to compete in an ‘international’ art show. That may be a bit negative, as the show is still less than a decade old. It is just my first impression. Regardless, its a beautiful collection of photography.

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"Tibetan Flags 5" - Larry Louie.  Edmonton, Alberta Canada

Louie’s work really drew me in.   It is a shot of Tibetan prayer flags staked into the ground, waving so quickly in the wind they appear blurred.  It is said that the spiritual prayers placed on these flags are dissolved into the wind.  There is certainly an aspect of dissolve in the photo.   Even though the flags are meant to be a symbol for peace, there is an ominous presence.  The work reminds me of Rob Sato’s illustrations of banners and marches.  (See below).  Both artists brings imagery of heraldry, marching for war.  Though Rob Sato’s are set on the most idyllic days, green grass underfoot and blue skies overhead.  

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The Mad Guard, Rob Sato 2012

I drove down the coast to Santa Cruz. On the main drag, I walked into Artisans Gallery, a great collection of local artists.  Along the walls are many great artists working in ceramics, found art sculpture (steam punk-ish stuff), oil painting and photography.  While some of it had coastal or beach references, it didn’t feel trite or overdone.

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I appreciated Laurie Longnecker’s work.  Formerly working in textile design and living in New York City, she must have taken up some of my favorite characteristics in her art.  Blotches of bright color against darkness, romanticizing houses set on the water, street corners with telephone wires crossing.  Her view of Santa Cruz is that from a 1950’s diner and a seaside mediterranean village.

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Capitola Village - Laurie Longnecker

After gallery going, I went to a cafe and ranted for about five pages on my computer.  Always good to get things off your chest.  Then I took a walk along the boardwalk, loving the flashing bulbs and carnival typography.  Summer! Ahhh!

Cheers, Kyle

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Jul 16
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Year of Art, Midsummer Nights Win

The past month I’ve been pretty unmotivated toward my new years resolution to visit one art gallery a week.  I blame this on audiobooks, which apparently you can check out online from your library, for free ! 

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I’ve been to two galleries and attempted to see an outdoor art installation. The first gallery is on the coast of northern California at Fort Bragg, nothing to brag about.  And the second gallery in Los Gatos California is again nothing notable. it was sedentary art: no pop, no drama, no social upheaval.

Stirring things up out of this midsummer malaise, I went looking for a public art project in downtown San Francisco. It was supposed to be a projection onto the outside wall of SF Camerawork, a photography enterprise, now in its 40th year.

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But the large-scale art projection, Up All Night, was off this Monday night. The massive white screen on the side of the building, said Let There Be —— We were left to fill in the blank.  And we left mid Market Street to find a bar.

Our first bar, Showdown was also closed.  I have a fond memory of it being open.  

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So we headed to Monarch, which sits at the corner of 6th and Mission.   And we found our art projection! Sid and Nancy projected on one wall of the lounge.  Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols, and Nancy Spungen his bleached blonde, leather and lace rock girlfriend.  Lots of drugs and epic 80s rock style.

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A DJ spun vinyl, for the 20 bar patrons.  80s brit rock, and we got to dancing.  We were joined by some fellow dancers, and we each got hit on by a young dude buying drinks.  This guy literally hit on all of us - guys, girls, individually and collectively. Tight hugs and ass grabs, this guy wanted a five-some.  But instead we just danced it off, and hit the free photobooth.

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Eric (left) and Kyle (me, right).

I’ll have to keep looking for summer art projects, and if I fail I’ll just go party. 

Cheers!

Jun 15
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Documentary: First Friday, Oakland CA

*My new years resolution for 2014 is to visit one art gallery/event each week.

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This week I attended a screening of First Friday, a documentary about the monthly street event in Oakland California — filmed just after two shootings in 2013.  The film shows tensions between city officials, educators, youth and students, Oakland locals and Oakland newcomers, anarchists and those crying for justice. It highlights the positive claim for community that makes Oakland Oakland, through the lense of a single monthly block-party.

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[Film, First Friday, by N’Jeri Eaton and Mario Furloni,  Trailer] Screened at the Oakland School for the Arts in downtown Oakland, 

First Friday grew out of an art walk, Art Murmur.  Art Murmur in 2006 was a monthly crawl for eight galleries in Oakland. The gallery walk grew over the years, and Art Murmur now includes almost forty galleries and mixed-use art spaces in Oakland. Six of the eight originally involved in Art Murmur are now closed, but many have evolved into new spaces nearby.  

I have never been to First Friday, and I thought it was an art crawl. After seeing the film First Friday, I see First Friday is not centered around the galleries. “In recent years, some Uptown galleries have lamented the fact that the monthly event is more of an unwieldy street party than a celebration of local art.” [Art of Neighborhood Creation, East Bay Express].  A New York Times article published in August 2012 shows the street fair just as attendance levels were spiking. [Oakland Art Murmur Outgrows its Name.] No longer a ‘murmur’, the article was published just four months before street-closure permits shrank and the First Friday documentary was filmed.  

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The documentary shows a much quieter and smaller event, after two months of fatal shootings inside the First Friday boundaries.  Since March 2013 there has been one more fatal shooting on First Friday, four blocks from the event. I’m not trying to discourage you; the consequences of the shootings and the push to maintain a community event is the major focus throughout the film. If you are interested in art galleries, I would recommending moseying around outside of the First Friday block-party area.  (See my map!)

Few galleries are actually within the bounds of the blocked off First Friday section.  While First Friday brings significant new foot traffic to the greater area, the immediate economic impact for galleries is questionable.  Buyers might see an interesting art piece at these brick-and-mortar galleries and return to buy it, but it seems that bars, restaurants, vendors and convenience stores are the ones to enjoy immediate effect. [Economic Impact of Oakland First Fridays,].    I walked along Telegraph Avenue between West Grand and 27th on a Saturday morning, and I couldn’t tell it was home to any artistic or cultural event. That seems to be part of the charm, an oasis out of thin air.

Art galleries may find more success in newer Saturday events, which Art Murmur is advertising.

Here is a map I made of art galleries in Oakland, It includes Art Murmur, the designated blocks for First Friday, and a stretch of 15th Street that has many new galleries. 

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Map of Oakland Galleries

Jun 11
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Year of Art: Union Square Galleries

A few weeks back I attended SF Art Market, and it was wonderful.  Its an indoor art fair highlighting over 70 galleries’ current artists and offerings. It really showed me, hey, there are some bay area galleries worth checking out!  I followed up with a few and stumbled across many more in the gallery dense area around Union Square San Francisco.  With the high rent prices in the area, the artists who were featured are either seasoned and acclaimed, or a big bet by the gallery owner.

Here are a few favorites!

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Alex Katz at Meyerovich Gallery

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Yrjö Edelmann at Tangent Gallery/Scott Richards Gallery 

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Chris Dorosz at Tangent Gallery/Scott Richards Gallery  (Paint globs on acrylic beams)

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Jeffrey Palladini at Sandra Lee Gallery (Combined painting and looped video on LCD screen)

Fun fact: Yrjö Edelmann did Absolut advertisement, in the mid-1990s.

Cheers!

Kyle

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Jun 05
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Year of Art: Zine Makers at OMCA and Crushing Finish Fetish

*My new years resolution is to visit one art gallery/event each week for 2014.

Last night was a salon of zine makers and publishers from the Bay Area, California. This was a small gathering of illustrators, print houses and fans. The setup was a bit like a bakesale or a science fair: each table sharing recent and past works, all for sale. 

Giant Robot, a magazine that exposes Asian / Asian-American art and culture is currently being featured at OMCA (Oakland Museum of California).  The magazine started off as a scrappy ‘zine, cut and paste pictures and writings by Eric Nakamura. Nakamura showcased his fanboy attitude for an underexposed world, and his passion grew into a full fledged magazine.  The exhibition at OMCA has some masterpieces of contemporary asian american culture!

Rob Sato, Five Moments for Little Guys, at OMCA Oakland CA

Lately I have been interested in the LA Finish Fetish / Glass and Plastics world. It originates from Los Angeles’ car and surfboard loving culture, c. 1950-1970.  It is supposedly a segment of the Light and Space movement, but it stands on its own.  Light and Space seems to deal with human perception.  Finish Fetish is more objective…it is literally comprised of objects.  Finish Fetish seems more concerned with techniques in plastics, more concerned with blow-molding than blowing minds.   Earlier this week, I had seen this piece online by Sylvie Fleury.  It definitely has a tongue in cheek stab at finish fetish car culture.

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Sylvie Fleury, Frieze New York 2014.

At OMCA I bought a zine that instantly reminded me of Sylvie Fleury’s crushed car pieces.  It was a *Muahahah!* to the glossy perfect plastic artworks I’ve been reading about lately, those original pieces from finish fetish LA.  

Cheers!  Kyle.

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Rubber Necking ‘Zine by Kenneth Srivijittakar

Tiny Splendor Press, Los Angeles CA

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broken bones, 2014 - Kenneth Srivijittakar

From the artists tumblr, kennyfightsdirty.tumblr.com

May 29
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Year Of Art: Tara Donovan, PACE Menlo Park Pop-Up

*My new years resolution is to visit one art gallery/event each week in 2014.

Generative Art.  

Well let me try to explain this.  Lets say you have sea anemone colonies down by the tide pools.  The tide pools are empty when you start, and your goal is to put some sea anemones there and have them flourish.  There are a few rules about growth: place sea anemones close enough together to protect/help each other out, but keeping them far enough away so they can grow.  You can only plant a few anemones, and must see how they multiply as each generation gets born.  Got it?

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Colony, Tara Donovan 2004.  Pencils.  

So, you plant a few anemones, and watch them multiply in each generation. Some die, some spread and multiply, all depending on how you put that first set of sea anemones — how many, how close together etc.

This is sort of how to describe generative art.  Tara Donovan initially places down a few pencils, drinking straws, balls of mylar, buttons.  Then layer upon layer the art is created, producing organic form based on that first layer.  There might be an artistic eye plucking and chucking along the way, but a lot of the design is determined by the materials, the way the materials behave, and that initial layer put down that becomes the inspiration and base of all future layers.

Generative art can descend into chaos, particularly if its digital or has  infinite capability to reproduce/grow.  In the real world however, the constraints of space, gravity and other laws of physics produce work that can appear very natural and orderly.   We can see biomimetic systems If the materials are simple and are able to repeat throughout the entirety of the work.

PACE Gallery, operating in New York since the 1960s and featuring artists such as Robert Irwin, David Hockney and James Turrell, recently opened a pop-up in Menlo Park California.  The intention was to stay open until Mid June 2014, but if successful, the gallery may stick around a bit longer.  We will see how this art gallery anemone propagates on the Silicon peninsula! 

Cheers,

Kyle

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Bluffs, Tara Donovan 2013. Buttons and glue.  PACE Gallery Menlo Park.

imageUntitled (Mylar), Tara Donovan 2011. Site-specific dimensions.  PACE Gallery Menlo Park.

May 26
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Year of Art: ArtMarket SF

*My new years resolution is to visit one art gallery/event each week in 2014.

Art Market is an art fair in San Francisco, four years running.  It is a collection of art galleries based primarily on the West Coast, bringing and selling selected works.  The show brought a collection of contemporary art - sculpture, two-dimensional classics and pop art and audio-visual / electronic pieces.  This was essentially bingeing on eye candy; its great to have a new year’s resolution that encourages excessive consumption.

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An Gisela Colón Glo-Pod 2013, From Quint Gallery at Art Market San Francisco

I fell in love with Gisela Colón, an artist living in Southern California and influenced by Light and Space and Finish Fetish movement artists.  The Light and Space movement emanating from Southern California in the 1960’s and 1970’s included use of light projections in featureless rooms, and blow molded plastics redefining form and function.  It bent our human perception of light, color, edges and distance, and the definition of the ‘frame’ or ‘space’ that keeps art contained.  You might describe the full-room experiences as falling into a Rothko, Or for the plastic pieces, larger-than-life candy-colored scraps.  Finish Fetish in particular is drawn from the surfboard and car culture of Los Angeles and Venice Beach.

At Art Market, Gisela Colón’s blow-molded “Glo-Pods” had such texture, radiance and iridescence they seemed to be alien eggs from another world.  They were cuddly pods of magic that I wanted to take home immediately.  And for $2500-6000 you can!  The artist is currently shown at Quint Gallery in La Jolla California.  From her bio:

“Los Angeles-based artist Gisela Colón has been associated with California Minimalism, specifically the Light & Space and Finish/Fetish movements. Colón’s painting-sculpture hybrids, fabricated out of blow-molded plastic meticulously saturated with iridescent, reflective pigments, mark her as part of the next generation of southern California artists using light as exploratory media. Colón investigates the properties of light in solid form and luminescent color through the use of industrial plastic materials. Her work offers a unique and innovative development in the Light & Space movement by creating the illusion that light emanates from within the object. Colón’s use of amorphous, organic, asymmetrical lines and light-reflecting and radiating pigments make her objects seem to dissolve into the surrounding environment, allowing the experience of pure color and form in space.” - Quint Gallery

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Gisela Colón, “Dome Melt Floor Glo-Pod (Iridescent Orange)” 2013 Blow-molded acrylic.  42”x42”x16”

I recalled Craig Kauffman’s work, who similarly played with plexiglass. Colón has learned much from these early pioneers of plastics and her work is certainly the evolution of techniques from 1950’s-1970’s Los Angeles.  She uses soft matte textures and vaguely transparent double layers/chambers to create very new work. Her art seems to naturally emit energy and create light, not merely manipulate it.

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Craig Kauffman, Untitled (Pink Bubble), 1968. Vacuum formed plexiglass. 22”x52x”12”

Check out more of Colón’s work at http://quintgallery.com/artist/gisela-colon/

May 22
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Year of Art* Ramiro Gomez Hangout

May 9th 2014

*My New Years Resolution Is to Visit One Art Gallery/Event Each week for 2014 

Down in Los Angeles for a wedding, I had the chance to sit down with Ramiro Gomez.   Ramiro Gomez is a 20-something native Angeleno and  easily likeable. He possesses the pride of a good son and the positivity of a level headed artist with burgeoning work.  

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Delfino, Behind the Scenes

Gomez, as I mentioned in January, is an artist working to bring to light many invisible workers of L.A.  Housekeepers, janitors, nannies, groundskeepers, often from Latino, Caribbean, African descent, but not always.  Gomez’s work draws attention to great people maintaining order and the image of perfection in Los Angeles. L.A. is a ‘self aware’ city to say the least, and demands constant upkeep and attention.  I  was instantly drawn to his work, buying one oil-on-magazine work (Mop, Ernestina, Mop) and eventually Facebook stalking him ‘til he had lunch with me.  (I actually just fanboy-ed out and he was very happy to share an afternoon last week.) 

Gomez worked as a nanny on the west side of Los Angeles, each afternoon standing with fellow nannies at the West Hollywood park. His young charges tangled on the jungle gyms.  Gomez even watched some of his clients’ children take their first steps, aided by the soft sand of the play pit.  Gomez takes pride in his park, and gave me a tour of the grounds, recent additions and upcoming renovations to the library, pool and landscaping.  He genuinely loves his neighborhood of West Hollywood.

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"The Caretakers: :Los Cuidadores", Mural West Hollywood CA by Ramiro Gomez .  Photo  via altononthespot.blogspot.com/

Gomez recently painted murals at this park, depicting nannies taking care of other people’s children. It is a strange reminder of how life really exists, how much work it takes for childrearing and who is often raising children.  The rest of Gomez’s work sheds light on other professions employing invisible workers, those forgotten in L.A’s idealized images and advertisements.  We see gorgeous facades and homesteads splayed in magazines, always groomed and without a soul in sight to maintain that level of care and order.  

The first time I saw his work, it stung with the obvious, an obvious absence in our depiction of civilized life. Ramiro Gomez, apart from his city murals and some fantastically renegade ‘street art’, has taken to painting in what is missing from magazine advertisements and catalogs: those who actually clean, cook, garden and caretake.  A nanny painted into an page ripped from a design magazine, picking up toys in a lavish playroom.  An immigrant worker hunched to clip grapes, muddily oil painted amongst the perfect rows of a winery ad. 

Gomez gives great respect and love for the women and men he brings to the picture.  His work in the “Domestic Scenes” collection represents real people he has met, including his own family, and the titles of each reflect this.  The real life muses of his work can feel proud and honored, though some - and their employers - have felt alienated.  What has surprised Gomez are the new friends and connections brought into his life, even if past relationships are strained or cut off. 

When I returned to SF, I had a chance to meet Charlie James, a gallery owner championing Ramiro Gomez’s work.  Writeup soon!

Kyle

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Mop, Ernestina, Mop - Ramiro Gomez

Photo courtesy of Kyle Mulroe

May 02
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Year of Art Continued

Last week I came to an opening at the Contemporary Jewish Museum. 

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Photo: CJM Twitter @ jewseum

The exhibit “Jews and Midcentury Modernism,” is a look at the architecture, graphics and home design that came out of Jewish Communities forging life in midcentury America.  As artists left Europe, they both assimilated into American culture and created new identities in the modernist spirit developing from 1920-1960.  The work isn’t particularly wrought with religious influence, and bares the minimalism and upheaval of shifting mid century culture.  The artists “found respectful supporters in socially conscious institutions,” amiable towns and art meccas like New York’s Museum of Modern Art. {Current Shows NYT)

Cultural contribution during emigration and recolonization is a very interesting way to think about midcentury design.  The Renaissance in Italy in the 1400’s was largely brought on by similar emigration and collapse of entire artist networks.  As Turkey and Greece experienced greater instability leading up to the fall of Constantinople in 1453, artists fled to nearby Italy.  They coalesced in places like Venice, strengthening these centers of art, mathematics and design.  In a similar way we can think of Jewish emigration in the mid twentieth century as having a fortuitous impact on American culture, in spite of the decimation in European homelands.

 http://www.thecjm.org/.

Here is a good writeup of the exhibition, from SFArts

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Paul Rand Logo Design

Rand was raised in a strict Orthodox Jewish home in Brooklyn New York. Orthodox Jewish law forbids the creation of images that can be worshiped as idols, so this entire wall of corporate titan logos is a thought provoking addition to the CJM exhibit!

Apr 27
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Art Interlude April 27 2014

Like globs of sun, filling my eyes with quick citrus and zest.  Still life, could be so lonely. But the potential of a million tastebuds, a thousand breakfasts and a hundred dinner parties reaches out.  A reflective cup of tea in the window you bought this house for - it gives light to my heart.

Good Morning.

Kyle

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The Lemon, Edouard Manet

imageStill Life with Decanter and Lemons on a Plate, Vincent van Gogh