Friday, December 26, 2008

Arteaser Weekend Guide 12.26.08

We took a little break here for the holidays, but with the presents unwrapped, it's a great time to catch some local art shows before they close at year-end!

Ongoing Shows
John Haines at SOMArts Cultural Center through December 27

Phillip Hua at Hang Gallery Annex on through December 30

Erika Meriaux at Aspect Gallery through the end of the year

Javier Chalini, Mike Kimball, Fernando Reyes, and Noah Dasho at the Falkirk Cultural Center through the end of the year

Mike Kimball at the Market Street Gallery through January 3

Brian McDonald and Fernando Reyes at Reaves Gallery through January 3

Fernando Reyes and Mike Kimball at the California Modern Gallery through January 18

For more events featuring artists interviewed on Arteaser, check out the Arteaser Calendar.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Arteaser Weekend Guide 12.18.08

Take a break from holiday shopping to see some of the ongoing shows around the Bay!

Ongoing Shows
Barbara Kleinhans at the Studio Gallery through December 24

John Haines at SOMArts Cultural Center through December 27

Phillip Hua at Hang Gallery Annex on through December 30

Erika Meriaux at Aspect Gallery through the end of the year

Javier Chalini, Mike Kimball, Fernando Reyes, and Noah Dasho at the Falkirk Cultural Center through the end of the year

Mike Kimball at the Market Street Gallery through January 3

Brian McDonald and Fernando Reyes at Reaves Gallery through January 3

Fernando Reyes and Mike Kimball at the California Modern Gallery through January 18

For more events featuring artists interviewed on Arteaser, check out the Arteaser Calendar.

John Haines

I met John Haines in his painting studio in the Noonan Building during Open Studios in October. My return visit for this interview to his blacksmith shop next door, however, involved tip-toeing over broken glass and industrial debris, my path lit only be the glow of my blackberry. Eventually, I made my way into Haines' shop, where I recieved a brief introduction to blacksmithing. Talking about different flame temperatures and the black body properties of the forge reminded me of physics and chemistry class, illuminated in a new context.

Born upstate New York, John Haines' family moved to Texas before settling in Northern California. Having always enjoyed drawing, Haines traces both his creative and technical talents to his parents:

"My father is an engineer - his degree is in flow dynamics, which is actually all that stuff about heating and cooling [....] but he also used to build boats, sailboats. [... My mom] was very crafty, so I think a lot of the making things and the spark came from her"

Growing up in Palo Alto, Haines recalls seeing contemporary paintings, like Jackson Pollock's "Lucifer", in the homes of classmates, some of whom had avid art collector parents. But Haines' knowledge of the art world was still limited and he did not yet see himself in it:

"By the end of high school [...] I had no idea what I wanted to do. I thought about sailing or illustrating. I loved drawing. I had no idea what to do about it"

After a year at a junior college, Haines went to Los Angeles with a friend whose godfather happened to be the abstract expressionist painter Sam Francis. Haines spent a summer fixing a boat owned by Francis and Frank Gehry. As Francis' assistant, Haines was then able to start attending Otis Art Institute, which represented an edgier art school scene in Southern California:

"Sculpture was dead, cause this was '82. Painting was the big deal, so the painting studios were just jammed and I couldn't handle it. So, I started doing sculpture cause the sculpture garden was just empty - it had a big outdoor beautiful sculpture garden [...] I started working with metal out there. I had no idea what I was doing and I remember the tech telling me back then, 'Oh, you should check out blacksmithing'"

Without really knowing it, Haines began using basic blacksmithing in the process of building other sculptures:

"I would go down to the train yards and I would pick up pieces of metal and create these works. As I was working I realized that I needed connecting pieces that weren't the shape that I had found, so I started to manufacture [them]"

After graduating, Haines spent about a year traveling in Europe, doing a lot of drawing:

"Most of the artists I knew of had done time in Europe and there was all the background around that and I just had to go"

When he returned to the states, Haines stayed with friends in Santa Cruz and carved out a business making stretcher bars for customers on the Peninsula and painting and drawing in the evenings. Most of his time, however, was spent carving stone at Cabrillo College:

"I loved that subtractive quality. The carving is just the amazing thing. I can go either way - I can go subtractive or additive. Right now, it's kind of hard to do both because they're both incredibly time consuming."

There was a metal shop next to the stone carving yard, so Haines continued to dabble in metal and developed a collection of hand tools. But the Loma Prieta earthquake literally shook Haines out of complacency:

"That was the last day I ever did stone carving. Not because of trauma, but because that was the end of an era [since] the school closed down for a while [...] I never to even got to finish the sculpture [I was working on that day], so that was this traumatic end to a beautiful period"

In the aftershocks of Loma Prieta, Haines left Santa Cruz and ran Sam Francis' studio in Palo Alto for a few years before going back to Europe, this time more settled in Florence. His lengthier stay in Italy is reflected in his interest in the transavanguardist Mimmo Paladino's assemblage on painting. With limited space, however, Haines mostly worked and painted, but he was able to begin exploring some combined metalwork and painting:

"I did a little bit of bronze casting [...] for the beginning of the hybrid pieces. They were bronze plaques that fit in the middle of paintings"

As Italy faced serious economic challenges, Haines returned to the Bay Area in 1996 and ended up in Santa Rosa. Looking for work, Haines took a job at Waylan Smithy, a blacksmith shop in west Petaluma on a farm with twenty-five years of soot on the floor. Run by master blacksmith, Toby Hickman, the shop was true to the industrial heritage of blacksmithing:

"I came in one morning and he came up to my face and yelled at me. He goes: 'Why are you here?!?' and I said, 'Cause I love metal' and he goes 'That's the only right answer!' and he just turned around and goes, '8 o'clock tomorrow!' and he left!"

While at Waylan, a project for the San Francisco restaurant, Boulevard, introduced Haines to Art Nouveau and Victor Horta. When Hickman sold his business, Haines worked with a colleague from the shop for a while, but moved to San Francisco after he was able to secure his current workshop at Pier 70.

"I started doing the hybrid pieces in Santa Rosa, just kind of touching on them. I started doing some larger paintings with metal in the middle [... Hanging sculpture on the wall] makes it a little more accessible for people [...] There are very few people who actually have pedestals in their home"

When he had to move to a smaller painting studio, Haines began gravitating more towards his metal work, with which he can also maintain a commercial practice. But his lifelong passion for drawing continues to drive his sculptural conceptions and his unique combinations of painting and metal:

"I feel like I'm really still on the front end of it "

See John Haines' work at SOMArts Cultural Center through December 27.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Weekend Recap 12.15.08

In this season of giving, Reaves Gallery hosted a show benefiting Toys for Tots, featuring works by familiar artists, Brian McDonald and Fernando Reyes:

The group show included small collections from several artists, including Annie Galvin:

The show, which will be up through January 3, also included works by Denise Laws:

Sidnea D'Amico also had works on display:

For more events and ongoing shows featuring artists interviewed on Arteaser, visit the Arteaser Calendar.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Arteaser Weekend Guide 12.11.08

'Tis the season for holiday gift shopping, so be sure to check out the holiday sale events by local artists! Plus, several ongoing shows to catch before the come down at year end.

Holiday Sale Events

Mike Kimball at the California Society of Printmakers/Graphic Arts Holiday Sale on December 13 and 14 from 11am-6pm.

Nining Muir at the ActivSpace Open House on December 13 from 1-4pm

Joui Turandot at The Bus Stop Gallery on December 17 from 6-10pm

Ongoing Shows
Ashlee Ferlito at Ritual Roasters through December 14

Barbara Kleinhans at the Studio Gallery through December 24

Phillip Hua at Hang Gallery Annex on through December 30

Erika Meriaux at Aspect Galleryend of the year

through the
Javier Chalini, Mike Kimball, Fernando Reyes, and Noah Dasho at the Falkirk Cultural Center through the end of the year

Mike Kimball at the Market Street Gallery through January 3

Fernando Reyes and Mike Kimball at the California Modern Gallery through January 18


For more events featuring artists interviewed on Arteaser, check out the Arteaser Calendar.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Joui Turandot

This week, Arteaser takes a slightly different turn, looking at the art-inspired clothing of Joui Turandot. Each of Turandot's collections of one-of-a-kind apparel take inspiration from a different fellow artist.

If creativity were genetic, Joui Turandot's chromosomes would probably have the relevant combination. A native of Sacramento, Turandot's grandfather, Jean Varda, was a collage artist in Sausalito, while her grandmother had a degree in fashion design and became an abstract painter and art therapist:

"[My grandmother] had always lots of paints around because that was her job. She'd always set me up with an easel and I'd just be painting away or drawing or whatever. She was very encouraging of my artistic expression"

Turandot's creative instincts did not stop with painting and drawing. With the support of her family, Turandot was involved in a range of arts and crafts as a child, including theater, singing, music, and sewing:

"Puffy paints came into my world and so I started puffy painting on my shirts and things. Then a couple years later it seemed like maybe I was deft enough to be able to handle a sewing machine [...] Other kids were doing sports and I was in sewing class"

Designing and making clothes captured Turandot's imagination and she was deeply involved at an early age:

"In high school I was making all my own clothes practically and I was sure I was going to be a fashion designer, but [...] it seemed like such an awful world to be in [...] it just had this community that I wasn't excited about."

Opting for balance, Turandot attended Mills College, getting a degree in Media Studies and Spanish. Meanwhile, she stopped designing apparel, finding some creative release in collage, but struggling with her instincts to create clothes:

"It was always kind of sad for me. I'd see other people [sewing and think,] 'Oh, I should be doing that', but I felt like I couldn't because there was this huge mental block for me [...] There's kind of a snobbery towards people doing clothing in the art world [...] It has this reputation for being really artificial. "

After college, Turandot worked in video media and documentary film, but lacked the enthusiasm to go above and beyond. Then, a friend producing a film asked her to work as a stylist:

"It woke something up in me. I was working with a woman who was creating some of the costumes and I [...] just started getting that hunger again"

The film project led to stylist work for commercials and photo shoots, but Turandot still felt unfulfilled:

"It was not very satisfactory because there's no artistic expression - you essentially just have to do what they say"

After some soul searching, Turandot arrived at creating clothing from recycled things, which resolved some of the conflict Turandot felt about the wastefulness of the clothing industry. A visit to an exhibit in New York further inspired her sense of depth in clothing art:

"This woman had done a colonial outfit [...] but all the fabrics were african print [...] That made an impression on me [...] I would like to do more work in that sense [...] because clothing is such a political thing both historically and even now."

Turandot then created the clothing-line Vagadu and created collections based on art by Jean Varda, Rex Flodstrom, and Kara Maria. Going forward, she hopes to collaborate more closely with artists and their works in process:

"I'm always just interested to push it [...] I'm interested too see how much more expressive we can be and make up some interchange with the artist"

Meanwhile, Turandot plans events to show her work either worn by models or "performed" by dancers. Displaying her work with dancers adds a tertiary level of creativity:

"I love collaborating with different artist and I love what they bring with it. Having dancers and having them pretty much freely choose how they go about interpreting [...] it's great because there's my vision, there's their vision, and there's the art itself"

Some could view the functional nature of clothing as limiting, but Turandot embraces it as a medium both for what the wearer can add to the piece and the balance between material and form:

"To have them on the body [...] it really tells much more of the story and it becomes alive. This static piece becomes a living thing [... W]hat's kind of great about clothing [is] you can go crazy with the fabric, but then the form itself has to be kind of defined"

The Arteaser Calendar will keep you posted on any upcoming events featuring Joui Turandot's art. In the meantime, you can follow her on her blog.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Weekend Recap 12.8.08

My first stop this weekend, was the opening of "Hueliday" at the Hang Gallery Annex on Thursday evening:

The group show featured a Phillip Hua piece from his re:action series (right) as well as Nicolas Van Krijdt (left):

Also in the Hueliday show are Daniel Ochoa (left), Erik Jacobsen (center top), Andrew L. Rogers (center bottom), and Stephanie Jucker (right):

The "Hueliday" show includes about thirty artists, including Carolyn Meyer (below), and is on display through December 30:

On Friday night, I attended the preview reception of the 34th Annual Fort Mason Print Sale:

Among the hundreds of works by artists and students were some etchings by Javier Chalini (left):

Mike Kimball (left) also had works on display, along with Noah Dasho and Nining Muir:

For more events featuring artists interviewed on Arteaser, check out the Arteaser Calendar.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Arteaser Weekend Guide 12.4.08

The holiday shopping season has begun! Pick up some gifts of original fine art at some of the holiday sales this weekend:

Holiday Sale Events
Fernando Reyes at the Jingletown Art Walk, opening Friday, December 5, 6-9pm, and continuing Saturday and Sunday, 11-5:30pm

Javier Chalini, Mike Kimball,and Noah Dasho at the Fort Mason Print Sale, opening Friday, December 5, 6-9pm, and continuing Saturday and Sunday, 10-5pm

Openings and Events

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Erika Meriaux

I met Erika Meriaux during Open Studios in October and the classical civilizations minor in me was intrigued by the mythology themes in many of her paintings. We later met again in her SOMA studio for the Arteaser Project.

Growing up in France, Erika Meriaux always drew as a child and even enrolled in a fine arts school as a teenager. But she left after six months as she was not taking school seriously. That may have been the end of her formal training, but at age nineteen she began painting on her own:

"I started painting when I got a small apartment in Lille [in the] north of France. The walls were white and I felt that I needed to fill the emptiness"

Meriaux took to surrounding herself with images and patterns that she enjoyed:

"My inspirations were very diverse. I liked to work with ornaments or repetitive patterns, like wallpapers or something like that, and I'm still [inspired] by that"

Meanwhile, unemployment plagued France, particularly northern France, making job opportunities hard to come by. Having started a family in her early twenties, Meriaux found herself at home painting. She began asking her husband, who worked for a software company, about transferring to California:

"I had many motivations to go to San Francisco: First, I was living in the north of France and I needed more sun (laughs) [...] and I needed a more dynamic environment for art"

Meriaux and her family moved to the Bay Area in 2000, but much of her influence still comes the Old World. The classical Western paintings that adorn the walls of European museums feature biblical and mythological references:

"I have always been inspired by visiting museums. So, I have often been inspired by classical themed paintings - it's why I'm working on mythology now. It's because it's a tribute to other painters"

While her figurative content draws from a long tradition of European biblical and mythological painting, her stylistic inspiration is in modern figurative painters, such as
Balthus, Gustav Klimt, Diego Rivera, and Tamara de Lempicka, as well as 20th century propaganda art:

"In a way that propaganda use in the thirties [...] was based on archetype: very strong people, very strong men or very strong women... the idea of an archetype, a god, someone very powerful "

Harmonizing between actual stories of god, goddesses, and biblical heroes and the psychology of worship is what fascinates Meriaux and inspires her work:

"It's a very interesting thing to what lead millions of people towards something, toward an idea […] This need - the need for someone or something to worship - that is interesting because this has nothing rational. It's deep inside each person, this need of worship"

The anthropomorphic nature of the greek gods – powerfully divine beings often flawed by human vices – cleverly captures that relationship between authority and human nature. Another set of characters that similarly intrigue Meriaux are those from Tarot cards, which she explained to me were originally for gambling:

"What inspires me [about Tarot is...] it's a very popular way of expression. […Gamblers] are very superstitious, so, it's not difficult to imagine all this whole universe of gambling and images [...] When you see Tarot cards, it talks about the time it was, and what people thought at this time and what were their worries"

For Meriaux, these elements of mysticism reflect on the human psyche and need for faith:

"I think the very core of all of this is my interest for [the] human being, because as a person who doesn't believe in god or any kind of supernatural thing, what interests me [is] the need [to] follow something, follow a person."

Meriaux’s work is on display at the Center for Sex and Culture through December 11 and at Aspect Gallery through the end of the year.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Weekend Guide 11.28.08

Folks in town for Thanksgiving? Take 'em to see a couple local artists in venues around the Bay! And get ready for a couple mid-week events next week: 

Openings and Events
Nining Muir at Live Worms Gallery on December 3, 7-11pm

Ongoing Shows
Fernando Reyes at California Modern Art Gallery through December 2

Ashlee Ferlito at Ritual Roasters on through December 14

Barbara Kleinhans at Studio Gallery through December 24

Javier ChaliniMike KimballFernando Reyes, and Noah Dasho at theFalkirk Cultural Center through the end of the year

For more events featuring artists interviewed on Arteaser, check out theArteaser Calendar. Also, you can now become a fan on Facebook at our new Facebook Page! Hooray!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Phillip Hua

I first met Phillip Hua at his studio in the Noonan Building during Open Studios. His use of the stock pages from the Wall Street Journal caught my attention, so we arranged to meet later for the Arteaser Project.

A first-generation American, Phillip Hua grew up in San Jose reading comic books and playing video games. While he drew and took art in high school, he did not commit to art school until a teacher at De Anza Community College encouraged him.

"I went through lots of phases where I wanted to be a teacher, I wanted to be an entomologist and study bugs, I wanted to be a psychologist at one point [...] after high school, I went to community college cause I still didn't know what I wanted to do [...] I took an art class and had this teacher who really liked my work and she kind of looked at my work one day and said, ' You should do this'."

Once decided on studying art, Hua's interest in games and comics led him to focus on illustration at Academy of Art in San Francisco. Nonetheless, Hua was able to begin branching out from figurative work:

"My junior year I started to do more abstract work for my electives and just found that I was really drawn into that"

After college, Hua began a relationship with another artist who challenged Hua's artistic boundaries. In retrospect, Hua regards that relationship as a key influence, in addition to works by Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Barbara Kruger, and Yuken Teruya:

"We collided often - just coming from different art backgrounds and modes of thought - and that collision was often troublesome and rocky, but it was definitely beneficial coming out of it [...] conceptually stronger and thinking about what I was doing. Where illustration was very focused on telling everything in that image. [...] he was sort of pushing me to think more beyond what you saw: the materials, the process, the reason, the inspiration"

Meanwhile, Hua found work in galleries, doing freelance design, and a part-time job in a frame shop. Alone in the frame shop, Hua would listen to NPR on the radio for hours, nurturing an interest in global affairs:

"I used to be not interested in current events, not interested in politics [...] Current events, politics and the news is sort of the most interesting soap opera to me right now"

In 2005, Hua joined his father on a trip to China. He was struck by the pollution hanging over Beijing, which was undergoing large-scale development ahead of the 2008 Olympics and as a result of the country's booming economy:

"Coming from California where we're very [...] sensitive to the environment, it was just this sort of thing that I was not used to [...] and contrasting that idea with their massive construction [...] there's this concept of growth and decay"

Returning from that trip, Hua created a series of abstract pieces, called "De/Construction", in which elements of the painting are created and destroyed. He then continued to explore the theme of the environment in a new mixed media series, this time using figurative images:

"There's this funny sort of poetry to have an image of a tree on paper. To construct a tree out of its remnants, essentially. And then you wrap it in packaging tape [...] you're wrapping something natural in something synthetic"

The "Re:action" series, is laden with commentary, beginning with the carefully selected materials:

"None of the materials are archival, and that also speaks to [the fact] that the environment is degrading - it's not going to be around forever. So, when these pieces are left in sunlight they turn yellow and start to degrade"

I immediately noticed that the newspaper on which Hua's trees were printed were pages of the Wall Street Journal. This was no accident:

"I think the Wall Street Journal is sort of the bible of capitalism [...] and I sort of use that as symbolism for not just a newspaper, but specifically a newspaper that deals with commerce and capitalism"

Hua manipulates the ink with water after they are printed, making each piece unique and inserting a human element to the digital printing process:

"The painting process [is] sort of a commentary on contemporary painting - painting in the 21st century with digital technology [...] I sort of feel that it's natural that the computer would influence painting [...] Its a cyborg of an artwork: there's a natural element and a mechanical/technological element to it"

For his next series, Hua is developing prototypes that continue to play with images of trees on paper and the impact of a dynamic environment:

"It's sort of the opposite mood and feeling, where the tree comes forward and it comes out of the paper. It's a little more of a poetry about reclaiming what it once was, so a tree coming out of paper as opposed to paper coming out of a tree"

Hua has a "Re:action" piece in the Hueliday show at the Hang Gallery Annex through December 30.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Arteaser Weekend Guide 11.20.08

It's a good weekend to get caught up on shows that are up around the Bay Area, before the holiday shopping madness sets in...

Ongoing Shows
Fernando Reyes at Alta Galleria through November 25

Fernando Reyes at California Modern Art Gallery through December 2

Ashlee Ferlito at Ritual Roasters on through December 14

Barbara Kleinhans at Studio Gallery through December 24

Javier Chalini, Mike Kimball, Fernando Reyes, and Noah Dasho at the Falkirk Cultural Center through the end of the year

For more events featuring artists interviewed on Arteaser, check out the Arteaser Calendar. Also, you can now become a fan on Facebook at our new Facebook Page! Hooray!

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