There is a reason you save all those old Christmas cards and the stamps off the envelopes. Below is one of the pieces for the 2011 Project made with old Christmas cards from when I was very little. And this year’s card (shown above) includes stamps that I have been saving for years.
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Sunday, December 16, 2012
What to do on a cold, gray December day. How about Round 2 for the Geo Graphic Mail Project? This time a series of modified Vermeer postcards with stamps, maps, and happy little pets. There are Vermeerhares, Vermeerdogs and, of course, Vermeerkats.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Last month I sent out a new series of Geo Graphic Mail Art. They’ve been ending up all over the world. This week, one came back, well sort of. The Spanish artist Pedro Bericat cannibalized the envelope and incorporated into a new piece he sent back to me (see above). His stuff is always hermetically sealed in clear plastic tape with mystery contents transforming inside (sometimes moldy contents). I never dare to break the plastic seal, but I love getting these.
Thursday, December 6, 2012
The Clown, Georges Rouault
I’ve become rather dispirited by the trend of blockbusterism in museum exhibits. Desperate to draw the public away from their iDevices, museums hype up shows like the latest summer movie. They focus in on certain artists who could be described as the A-Listers of art history. Museums stock the gift shop with mugs and trinkets and wait for the throngs to come. And, well, they do. These are the shows that are impossibly crowded. Even on a rainy Wednesday, you don’t stand a chance of looking at anything that is on the audio tour. Isolated behind headphones the sheep stop where they are told and then stand and gape. I encounter this at the major museums in San Francisco, but it is not an isolated problem, it’s a global curse of big city museums — all the more reason to stop by museums in places like Reno.
I had to keep an open mind as I approached the de Young for the latest big show. The William S. Paley Collection: A Taste of Modernism. I braced myself for crowds and hype, but I couldn’t let an opportunity go by to see some Gaugins and Cezannes when they come to San Francisco. Along with you Gaugins and Cezannes, you have your Matisses and Picassos. All the names sure to bring in the once-or-twice-a-year crowd who need to see some art. Art they “know” is good.
Every work by a great master is not necessarily a masterpiece. Okay, there is not a bad painting in the exhibit. But let’s be honest, they are not all great either. Truthfully, much of Mr. Paley’s collection is full of second-tier work by big name artists. This is the type of collection that is amassed by the wealthy when they are more-focused on names rather than art. When that happens, no matter how rich the collector, they are usually a generation or two behind. They rarely can acquire the best work from a famous artist. But there is treasure to see in the show. Much of what I call “second tier” is quite strong, smaller paintings that would have been overlooked by earlier collectors. In particular there is a nice wall of little Édouard Vuillards. The strongest work in the show might be the work by the expressionist Georges Rouault (including the work shown above). Ironically, it’s the collections first tier work by a second tier artist like Rouault that really shines.
I have to mention the last work in the exhibit. Seemingly out of place, just before the gift shop, was an Edward Hopper watercolor of Charleston, South Carolina (a place not particularly associated with Hopper). It’s another work that makes the show, hype aside, worth seeing before it closes at the end of this month.
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Prototype – Black and White City, mixed media on canvas, 8”x8”, 2006
I am always a big advocate of experimenting in my art. When I do come up with a successful idea, I want to work on it through a number of pieces and keep refining the idea. As I am working on one idea, it always takes some self-discipline not to get distracted by the new ideas percolating in my head. And then there are times when I don’t even notice I am working on a major experiment until I see the results of the finished piece. This week I was reminded of one my favorite experiments.
For the first decade of the 21st Century map-based collages dominated my work. There was a great deal of experimentation with pattern, types of maps and color palettes. I usually work small first. Because my work is so labor intensive, I do not want to spend weeks working on an experimental piece I might consider a failure. Back in December 2006, I did this 8”x8 prototype piece seen above. This was a pattern I had been working with for a few years, but that time I decided to do a black and white version. I used only street maps of different cities found in the backs of atlases from the 1940’s and 1950’s. All of the maps were interspersed in the index section of the atlases. There were also black and white photos of various cities on those pages. What I had not realized is that by using those maps, I was sourcing the same ink that was used to print the photographs. The color of the maps was not just black and white but had the distinct tone of black and white photography. It was a delightful surprise and reaffirmed why I keep experimenting. In the following months I did larger pieces with the same material. I was reminded of this prototype piece this week when my gallery let me know they had sold one of the larger pieces.
Thursday, November 15, 2012
Victory Mandala, mixed media on canvas, 8”x8”
Putting up a window sign for President Obama’s re-election was a bit of “preaching-to-the-choir” here in San Francisco. Our President received over 83% of the vote locally. Still, I proudly put up the sign. The other day it was time to take it down. It just seems like something one should save. But I have to ask, how much stuff can I save? The solution for me was obvious. Preserve the sign by using it in a piece of art. Out came the exacto knife followed by the glue. The result is the Victory Mandala. It’s not only a victory for President Obama but more, a victory for common sense, for our country and our planet. And it’s also a victory for continuing to move forward into the 21st Century.
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
A few months ago a friend gave me a pile of postcards and postcards books picked up at various art museums over the years. Many of the paintings on the postcards were nudes, from Mel Ramos, to Picasso to Hopper as well as some vintage erotic images. It all lead to a silly idea. I thought I would “censor” the images with bits of maps. The idea was to create a series of geo graphic mail or was it geographic mail? This week I mailed out the 50 postcards to various friends and artists. Be warned, they might shock your postal carrier. A few more can be seen in the Mail Art section at tofuart.com.
Sunday, November 11, 2012
Jellyfish, mixed media on canvas, 24”x24”
Pictured above is my latest piece — more mixed work with old postage stamps. I always like the effect when you look at a piece of art from across the room and, as you get closer, you see something different when you realize the piece is comprised of hundreds or thousands of small pieces of something else, in this case postage stamps. As I was working on this one, something else happened, I added the row of Vietnamese postage stamps featuring various folk costumes. As I kept working towards the center when I noticed the unintended effect. As the circle was being filled in it was reminding me more and more of a jellyfish.
And I can say this piece is blessed. The sun is low in the sky this time of the year, but the entrance to my apartment building is usually very sunny. I actually take art down there to be photographed. Last week, on Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, I brought the piece downstairs to be photographed. I also carried a handful of marigold petals. On the Day of the Dead one of the traditions is to sprinkle marigold petals on your doorstep. I do it to let my departed loved ones know they are welcome to pay a visit. I stepped outside, camera around my neck, marigold petals in my hand, carrying Jellyfish flat and upright into the sun. Immediately a butterfly landed on the piece of art for a moment. I set the art down and then sprinkled the flower petals only to have the butterfly return to land on my hand. Safe to say, I feel this piece of art is extra special – it’s blessed!
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Today I found the 29th piece to be returned waiting for me in my P.O. Box. One of the things about the Millennia Mail Art Project is that it always seems the latest one to come back is my new favorite. The cloth pansy added by Beth Yarnelle Edwards was the perfect touch along with additional layers by Diane Pierce, Rebecca Holt Palmer and Sara Holt.
All of the returned pieces can be seen at tofuart.com along with links to the participating artists’ websites.
Monday, October 15, 2012
27 pieces for the Millennia Mail Art Project have been completed and made it back to San Francisco so far. See tofuart.com for project details and all the pieces including links to participating artists (over 100 so far).
Sunday, October 14, 2012
As a collage artist you inevitable use other people’s stuff. There are the old books and magazines that someone may have read or not. When you get to old maps, there is often a greater amount of residual energy. Was it a map that traveled around Europe in a backpack belonging to someone inspired by The Drifters 40 years ago? Maybe it was a map that spent a life in a glove box and occasionally witnessed those stressful where-the-hell-are-we arguments on stressful car trips? There are times I feel my dreams are influenced by materials I handle all day while making art.
Old postage stamps can have a whole other level of energy. Mostly I use old, cancelled postage stamps. The envelopes cut apart, the stamps soaked from the paper and dried. All those steps, and there still may be the physical evidence of residual DNA from a long ago sender’s saliva. And more significantly, the old stamps can contain the residual metaphysical energy from the letter’s contents.
Today I was working on a new collage made with old postage stamps. I started along the edge and used a batch of 10¢ Jefferson Memorial stamps from the 1970’s. Each stamp was identical but with a different history. I began to wonder what type of letter was each stamp affixed to. Was it a bill that someone struggled to pay? An application for college? A rejection letter from an employer? A love letter? A Dear John letter? A birthday card? Each stamp linked to it’s own story, now lost but yet somehow still attached to the individual stamp’s history. Decades later that stamp, and in a way that story, becoming part of something else, a new piece of art.
Thursday, October 11, 2012
Pieces from the 2011 Project with Collage Fodder “made from scratch.”
Not that I wish to paint a dystopian picture for the future of collage, but we need to start thinking ahead. We should be preparing for a world without collage — collage as we know it.
Like many mixed artists, I have at least one box with what I call collage fodder. Over the years I’ve added things knowing I might use them some day. I use some of the contents and I even get rid of stuff as the direction of my work changes. I am always on the look out for new material. The problem is that there really is a finite amount of material. Like fossil fuels, collage fodder won’t be around forever.
Yes, we still have years to go. But I already see it happening. As the world goes digital, the ticket stub, the postage stamp, the postcard, the map and even the printed photograph all seem to be vanishing. I have pretty much just listed the contents of my collage fodder.
Last year, when I was working on the 2011 Project, most of the works were mixed media. I was raiding my collage fodder boxes on a daily basis. But I had instances where I did not have quite what I felt was needed. I realized the easiest solution was to start making my own material, my own collage fodder. The thought was to make art, with the idea it will be subsequently cut up and used in a collage. Considering the labor-intensive nature of what I do, adding another step seemed a natural solution.
Earlier this year, as I was creating work for my installation Imagining Val Travel, I wanted to do a piece with the colorful luggage tags airlines used to use. The ones that had airport codes in bold letters. The problem was, I only had a handful of those tags. The solution was to make 64 tags to be used in Frequent Flyer the piece shown below.
As things run out, we could scan and digitize material. But I resist that “solution.” I really feel, for collage, the piece can be as much about the final texture as the images used. Digital collages might be nice on a digital display, but for art in the real world, we have to get used to making collage fodder from scratch.
Saturday, October 6, 2012
I stepped out for coffee today and decided to head up to post office and found the latest issue of Featuring Magazine had arrived from Europe. Having an ice coffee at a café and reading about oneself, it feels a bit, dare I say, glamorous…
I have to begin with a disclaimer. Here in the Bay Area, the title of this post might suggest this is yet another tome praising Burning Man. But no, read on. It’s easy to make that assumption. It seems you can’t go to any social gathering without someone trying to convert you to the “experience.” When I say I love going to the desert, I have lost count of the number of times someone has asked, “Do you go to Burning Man?” The answer is always no! I go on to explain that I love the desert for its solitude, it’s quiet, its beauty. I’m not a big crowd or big party sort of person. A party in the desert is just not my thing.
The devotees of Burning Man can rarely just leave it. The art they tell me, what about the art? Yes, the “art” (quotes very intentional). I have seen plenty of photos. Last month a friend sent me a link with photos of this year’s event. The nighttime photos were stylistically interesting, but frankly the skilled photographer could have made a strip mall parking lot look just as an intriguing. The “art” at Burning Man had little to do with the quality of those photos. I also see Burning Man art installed around San Francisco. Never has it compelled me to spend the time, money and energy of going to Burning Man. By contrast, I dream of a trip to Korea just based on a few exhibits at the Asian Art Museum. Ten years ago, I first heard of Marfa, Texas and got there as quick as I could. Now, that’s art in the desert.
Back to Nevada, I just completed what I’ll call a Great Basin Road Trip. It was a week on the road that started by heading due East with a drive over the Tioga Pass. Nevada presents some challenges for a road trip. There are vast expanses with few people. You need to think about where you’ll fill the gas tank and where you’ll even find a motel. I planned this trip to be one where I was in no particular hurry. Allowing myself to stop when I found something that caught my interest. I say “no particular hurry” but cruise control is your best friend. Let’s just say that without cruise control, hypothetically, you find Perez Prado blasting on the car stereo and you look at the speedometer and you, hypothetically of course, are hitting 100 mph.
The second day of the trip I woke up in Tonopah, Nevada. Tonopah is a mining town that survived in a landscape that is dotted with ghost towns. The mine is long closed, the population has grown smaller, but Tonopah still is a community. Having frequently visited ghost towns like Bodie and Rhyolite, I find places like Tonopah fascinating. In Rhyolite you have a few stone façades, in Tonopah many of the old stone buildings are still standing and occupied. By visiting both the ghost towns and similar towns that are still in existence, you get a different perspective on both places. It is a different experience from the visiting a restored historic town or district. Nevada is probably one of the only places where this could happen.
Tonopah offers two museums, neither an art museum per se, but still definitely an art experience. I began with the Tonopah Historic Mining Park. Okay, I have a certain affinity for old rusty stuff. It always makes me whip out my camera. If an artist had come along and placed all these discarded pieces of machinery, we would call it an installation. Either way, it still has that effect. The Hoist House was my favorite spot. Hoist houses were industrial buildings with an adjacent tower and the machinery needed to hoist the loads of heavy ore out of the ground. And, if those towers remind you of that much-talked-about “man” in the Nevada Desert, well yes, so much art really is derivative. The building is well preserved. There is certain magic about the interior of a large wood frame, tin clad building in the desert. The intense desert light is always “calmed” inside these structures. It’s bright yet gentle. But the real magic is the sound. As the day heats up there is the pop and crackling of metal and hardware expanding and contracting. It’s hard to really describe, but once you’ve experienced it, you know. And if you’re like me, you always like to step inside those buildings.
On the way out of town I stopped by the Central Nevada Museum. I learned that sun and magnesium turn glass purple and I fell in love with a map of mining claims. Keep an eye out, this pattern might appear in my work soon. The road took me onward with a stop at the ever-kitschy Little A’Le’Inn near mythical Area 51. And before reaching Utah I stopped at Cathedral Gorge State Park. Nevada has a few lesser-known state parks that are of national park caliber. As I pretty much had the place to myself, I shouldn’t complain. Nevada has tough competition in the West. It’s quite beautiful, but when you’re stuck between California, Utah and Arizona, no one seems to notice Nevada. If we moved Nevada between say, Kansas and Oklahoma, well, everyone would rave about Nevada.
After a few days in Utah and it was time to head home. This time a different route that included Great Basin National Park and an overnight in Ely, Nevada. Downtown Ely boasts a sculpture park with works by Sarah Sweetwater that incorporate abandoned mining equipment. The next challenge is Loneliest Road in America. Route 50 is a segment of the old Lincoln Highway and actually follows the original Pony Express Trail across Nevada. It’s a long, but rather beautiful drive that ended in Reno.
In Reno I held to my rule about visiting museums in smaller cities. The Nevada Museum of Art is always worth a look. The highlight of this visit was Richard Ross’s photographs of children caught up in America’s juvenile “justice” system. It’s a disturbing and unpleasant show, but the sort of important subject that museums need to address at times. I kept thinking, could this show even happen in a San Francisco venue? It would never be pretty enough for the de Young. Perhaps the SFMOMA, but frankly Ross will need to be “validated” more by New York to get on their radar. Even Yerba Buena would be unlikely to show his work. There are limits to their edginess.
People ask why I go on desert road trips, well now you might have a better idea.
Thursday, October 4, 2012
Jenn Yoo has written an article for Untapped Cities about my current installation Imagining Val Travel. You can check it out here.
Monday, October 1, 2012
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
It’s time for another treasure that I have brought to the West Coast. This is the type of thing my father paid a dollar or two for around 1970. I remember it hanging on the wall back in our Victorian in Buffalo. It moved with us to the house on Cape Cod. There the elements were tough on it. Even indoors, when you have an old house between a salt marsh and the beach, everything is damp. Unfortunately this piece has some serious foxing issues.
It’s pencil and gouache on paper. I suspect it may have been cut from a sketchbook. The size is 7” wide x 14” high. Signed in pencil on the front. There are framing instructions on the back in pencil in the artist’s hand. Who was Violet Gene Schwender who signed this rather lovely fashion rendering from the 1920’s?
Sometimes a bit of internet searching makes one feel merely frustrated and teased. I want to see more of her images like this one. I did learn that Violet Schwender was the artist’s maiden name. Violet Gordon lived a long life, passing away in 2005 at the age of 1998. To think, if I had looked into this a bit sooner, I could have asked the artist herself.
I learned she was well known in Buffalo as a local artist, but Violet Schwender Gordon was also a teacher of Fashion and Design in the New York State University system. She even wrote the book (which I can find no record of online) that was used as the basis of the university system’s curriculum. Somewhere, I hope there is an archive that has a treasure trove of more of her fashion renderings. Maybe one day I’ll get o see it, and in the meantime I need to look into restoring this one.
On another note, a little bit more about the framing -
When I pulled apart the original frame I found that the only backing that was used was some cardboard from a product called Chase’s Domino Mints that promised:
Chase’s Domino Mints are Strictly Quality mints, and are in a class all by themselves—Not an ounce of glucose, starch or other adulterants used, thus leaving no unpleasant “after-taste.” A few Chase’s Mints every day chases all indigestion away.
90 years ago it was candy that claimed to be medicinal. Nowadays we have other medicinal sweets here in California. It seems Chase’s is still business, but there is no mention of the mints on their website.
Monday, September 17, 2012
Last night’s opening for Imaging Val Travel was a big success. The show is open Tuesday thru Sundays at Glama-Rama Salon and Gallery. The show ends November 3, 2012. Imagining Val Travel is a site-specific installation of mixed media art made from travel-related ephemera. The installation infuses the space with the soul of an imaginary, long lost travel agency. Details at tofuart.com
Photos courtesy of David Wilson
Sunday, September 16, 2012
I am so used to seeing my art close up, in the cozy space of my apartment. It’s such a different experience seeing it from across a big room. Here’s what it looked like at 9:30 last night. 40+ pieces of art installed and now just waiting for you.
A site-specific installation of mixed media art made from travel-related ephemera. The installation infuses the space with the soul of an imaginary, long lost travel agency.
Glama-Rama Salon & Gallery
304 Valencia Street (at 14th St.)
San Francisco September 16th – November 3rd, 2012
Sunday, September 16th, 6 pm - 9 pm
Sunday, September 16th, 6 pm - 9 pm
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Below is the information and statement for my upcoming installation:
304 Valencia Street (at 14th St.)
September 16th – November 3rd, 2012
Sunday, September 16th, 6 pm - 9 pm
I have always been interested in history, from the big moments to the everyday. I have a special fascination for San Francisco history. I even like to look-up the history of spots in my neighborhood. For a relatively young city, San Francisco has a rich, layered history. It is also a city full of ghosts. It made me wonder about the space at 304 Valencia. What was there long before Glama-Rama?
Now, just imagine what it was like at 304 Valencia Street when they were renovating and moving into the new location for Glama-Rama. Imagine a trip to a dusty, dark basement and finding a forgotten corner. They might have discovered a box filled with discarded items from a long gone tenant. Imagine Val Travel.
Ask yourself, could a former travel agency be haunted? What sort of ghosts would be there? I like to think it could be a place of pleasant and happy spirits. The positive energy left behind would be from the years of customers coming by to plan and anticipate exciting adventures. A salon and a travel agency have something in common. They are both places that fulfill dreams and make our lives more glamorous. It’s no accident that Glama-Rama found a new home at 304 Valencia.
With this mind, I wanted to create a new series of travel themed, mixed media pieces using travel-related ephemera. The installation at Glama-Rama Salon & Gallery is meant to infuse the space with the soul of an imaginary, long lost travel agency. The work pays homage to all travel agencies because they have all but vanished from our urban landscapes.
I reuse and repurpose old bits of paper, everything from maps to postcards to stamps to photographs to magazines to various travel ephemera. Recycling is only part of the agenda. Even though I may destroy certain items to reuse them, there is a side of historic preservation with my work. Rather than tucking something in a box or drawer, I prefer to permanently add it to a piece of art. The work may have aesthetic value, but it also can serve as a time capsule by using items that would otherwise be lost or forgotten. Many of the items I use are being rendered “obsolete” in our digital society. Snapshots, postage stamps, tickets stubs are among things that are vanishing from our day-to-day lives.
Friday, August 24, 2012
A forgotten box full of old travel brochures, maps and postcards, etc. + an old photo = more than 30 pieces of new work. The story is revealed on September 16 when Imagining Val Travel opens (click here for details).
Sunday, August 19, 2012
Now that the Millennia Mail Art Project is underway, it seems every time I head to the Upper Haight to check on the P.O. Box I find another completed piece has returned. Above are the most recent cards to make it back to San Francisco.
The pieces show include layers contributed by myself and the following artists:
Corrine Gilman, Danielle Williams, David Stanley Aponte, David Wilson, Dori Singh, Eduardo Cardoso, Gina Visione, Jane Smith, Janie Pinterits, Katinka van Ingen, Kelly Sikora Pocci, Lady Nigel Butterfly, Many Fariello, Mike Szwarc, MZ Carbuncles, Nico Van Hoorn, Pablo Piccasso (aka Guido Vermeullen), Pamela Gerard, Paul Graham, Picasso Gaglione, rodni.com, Rufina Abasova, Sandra Lefever, Serse Luigetti, Stacy Gibboni, Susan Gold, Tiziana Baracchi, Torma Cauli, and Virgy Milici.
You can see all the completed pieces at tofuart.com with details and links to the participating artists.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
Texas Kaleidoscope, mixed media on board, 18”x18”
This is what happens when you have a stack of vintage postcards and postcard booklets from the 1940’s. All from Texas, from El Paso to Corpus Christi, Amarillo to Galveston, there’s cowboys and cowgirls and, look closely, a few longhorn cattle.
Prints and other goodies based on this piece are available from Society 6.
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Southwest Kaleidoscope, mixed media on canvas, 8”x8”
My work tends to be both labor and time intensive. I always like to start small and experiment first before committing to larger pieces. I feel yesterday’s experiment with vintage postcards of American Indians was a big success. Stay tuned, bigger versions on this idea will be coming…
You can also get prints and other goodies with this image from Society 6.
Monday, August 6, 2012
Atlantic City Boardwalk, mixed media on canvas, 8”x8”
Atlantic City has been done over a number of times over the years. Most famously, or notoriously, in the 1970’s when much was torn down to create a bit of Las Vegas on the Atlantic. It’s a shame that it has always been about renovation instead of restoration. Imagine if we had waited and now, a century later, Atlantic City’s Boardwalk was meticulously restored to its early 20th Century splendor. All we have now is old photos and postcards. The postcards used for this piece were nearly a hundred years old. Come on down to the Boardwalk, jump in the sea, get some saltwater taffy and imagine the days when Nucky Johnson ruled the town.
Thursday, August 2, 2012
It started quite innocently for me. Back in December 2010 I did a piece of art that I mailed in 62 separate parts as the year ended. As 2011 was winding down, I decided to ask for postcards to use in the first piece of 2012. That’s when it started to get out of control – in a very good way.
I continue to get the coolest things in my mailbox. Below are some of the recent arrivals.
Two Cards from Jennie Hinchliff at Red Letter Day and one from Carroll (aka dumpsterdiersanonymous on flickr.)
Eni Ilis sent me a couple of slightly enigmatic and groovy pieces of Brazilian mail art.
David Stanley Aponte tried to send me something from Berlin. It arrived in a tidy plastic bag from the good people at Deutsche Post – Die Sendung wurde leider beschädigt – indeed! A handmade card from a band named Trick Sensei came from Portland in much better condition.
In some cases the envelopes are as cool as the contents. Eduardo Cardoso returned some Millennia Mail Art all the way from Portugal and Janie Pinterits sent this just across the Bay.
Another cool postcard from arlikeart in Florida and finally a postcard from the Hilarious Assistant Principal of Staten Island.
Thursday, July 26, 2012
I have never tried anything like the Millennia Mail Art Project before. So it’s hard to predict how fast the layered cars will return. So far, five completed cards have returned (shown above) and you can get a closer look here. I also am finding the project mentioned on all sorts of blog posts and seeing examples of the cards in various stages of completion. And, along with completed cards, I am getting some cool things turning up in my P.O. Box from artists who have completed the middle layers. I still have a few cards left, so if you want to participate, send me an email via tofuart.com.
Saturday, July 21, 2012
It’s worth an annual trip up to the California State Fair in Sacramento, if only to escape the foggy, July weather in San Francisco. No one gets out of bed in Sacramento and puts the heat on during the summer. The state fair brings to mind images of prize winning dairy cows, corndogs and chocolate-dipped cheesecake-on-a-stick – a dessert that is so wrong, but so right. Most people don’t think of art and state fairs, but the California State Fair is also a great place to see what’s happening in California Art.
There are galleries with traditional, expected crafts like quilts – each one a work of fine art. One of the expo buildings is always devoted to the Youth Art & Design competition winners. The quality and promise of the work never fails to impress me. It’s a reminder that there is a new and very talented crop of artists coming up in California. The Fine Art juried exhibit is always a treat.
The first thing you encounter when you walk into the Fine Art exhibit is Dave Lane’s Device for Creating Stars, Model A. Its glowing orange center has added an element of James Turrell meets steampunk. I was waiting for it to start vibrating and blast off through the roof. You can’t go wrong with a giant (yes it’s made out of a lot of sugar) sugar skull, Rob Owens work Mija. Pam Avery’s Majestic Red was a personal favorite – classic, California abstract work. Sacramento artist Ianna Nova Frisby has included an installation piece titled Archaeoacoustics. From the artist’s statement:
“Archaeoacoustics is the exploration of acoustic phenomena encoded in ancient artifacts. For instance, the idea that a pot or vase could be "read" like a gramophone record or phonograph cylinder for messages from the past, sounds encoded into the turning clay as the pot was thrown. Although improbable, the history of such attempts has its own intriguing history.”
Finally, it was great to see a portion of Gong Yuebin’s installation Site 2801 was shown in the gallery. I saw it twice at the Crocker Museum. It’s one of the best things being shown anywhere in California this year. It was also fun watching a boy of about 12 excited about the instrallation and explaining it to his friend. Later I noticed him in another part of the show explaining the art. It’s easy to tell a kid who has seen a lot of art and grown up in museums.
This year’s state fair runs through July 29. Go on up to Sacramento, have a corndog and see some great art.