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!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Noah Dasho

One of my first fine art purchases was a print by Noah Dasho at the annual Fort Mason Holiday Print Sale. Years later, I met him at the Bay Printmakers Open Studios. We met after work downtown one evening for this Arteaser interview.

Originally from the Bay Area, Noah Dasho began spending his school years in North Carolina with his mother. They lived near a wildlife refuge, which fed Dasho's early interest in birds: 

"When I was probably six years old I wanted to be an ornithologist [...] I had every bird book there was [...] Roger Tory Peterson was someone that made field guides and he painted every single bird there was, and John James Audubon as well, the naturalist. I would just look at the way that they could draw every bird under the sun"

These detailed bird drawings were more akin to Dasho's own creative pursuits, despite his father's preference for practicing music:

"My dad was a musician and he always wanted me to play an instrument, and I just never took up any instruments, but I've drawn since I was little and I guess always kind of considered myself an artist from a young age" 

Dasho continued art into high school, where he was first exposed to printmaking. These early attempts, however, were not encouraging:

"I did a couple lino-cuts in high school art class and absolutely hated them. I just couldn't get what I wanted. [...] I just remember trying to rub a linoleum block with a wooden spoon in high school and being incredibly frustrated [laughing]" 

Dasho returned to the Bay Area for college at UCSC, where he ultimately majored in Art and Economics:

"I've  always done art, but didn't think I would study that in college. I started trying to take art classes and couldn't get into any unless I had that major. Then I [thought], 'I can do two majors in four years.' So, I did it"

Despite his earlier frustrations in the medium, Dasho found himself back in a printmaking class in college. This time, however, he connected with the technique:

"In college I had no interest in photography, so I took the printmaking course because it fulfilled the same elective. Once I started doing it, I just fell in love with it [...] I love detail and I love line. Printmaking just gave a line that I had never seen before, especially etchings"

The process and precision work of printmaking appeals to Dasho. He enjoys a high level of detail and the patterns it can create:

"Whether it was feathers on a bird, I used to meticulously draw every feather - it was sort of the pattern. And lately I've been doing scales on fish and sort of the patterning of those and different things in urban landscapes. I'm really drawn to those kind of details"

Extending the notion of patterns beyond the image, Dasho is interested in the reproduced nature of the print itself. He reflects this by replicating images within a composition:

"Everything starts with line. I'm incredibly interested in pattern as well. Within that I really like that there's a sort of a nod to the fact that you're creating multiples and I like to do small groupings of things [...] like little flocks of birds"

Dasho doesn't confuse detail with realism. Replication is just one of his stylistic traits:

"I like to kind of flatten shapes a little bit and kind of change the perspective in a lot of my prints. I want do something a little bit beyond just straight photographic [images]"

His early stylistic influences came from traditional printmaking artists:

"I think the reason that I got into printmaking was definitely Japanese woodblock artists [...]  it's the composition, the flattening, the styling, and the colors, sort of the scale [...] I love the big sky and the intricate, yet stylized detail"

Dasho has branched out and now takes inspiration from urban graffiti artists like Barry McGee, Andrew Schoultz, and Evan Hecox:

"Currently, I'm extremely into urban art, and I'm into people who have strong line, strong pattern [...] and also their use of color and imagery"

The defiant nature of urban artist is exciting for Dasho, but he is challenged to reconcile his passion for traditional printmaking: 

"I kind of want to get out of that [traditional] box a little bit, but there's something so beautiful and contained that draws you in about printmaking. It's not really something you view from a distance, it's something that you walk up to and inspect, at least for me, and I hope that my audience has that same relationship with it, that they can go in and see the craft and the detail"

Noah will be participating in the Fort Mason Annual Print Sale from December 5-7. He also has a few works on display at the Falkirk Cultural Center through the end of the year.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Arteaser Weekend Guide 11.13.08

Ding-dong the week is (almost) dead! Time for the Weekend Guide!

Openings and Events

Ashlee Ferlito at Ritual Roasters on Friday from 7-10pm

Nining Muir at the deYoung Museum on Friday from 6-9pm

Ongoing Shows
Fernando Reyes at Alta Galleria through November 25

Fernando Reyes at California Modern Art Gallery through December 2

Barbara Kleinhans at Studio Gallery through December 24

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

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

New Features!

Hello there!

Last night I launched a couple new sections of Arteaser. The most exciting, in my opinion, is the Artist Index. This should make it easier to browse and find artists than digging through the Post Archive. 

I've also added an About Arteaser page and a Contact Us form. I welcome your comments and feedback!


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Fernando Reyes

I first met Fernando Reyes at the Bay Printmakers Open Studios in October. Last week, I ventured out to Jingletown, in Oakland, where Reyes has a studio. I was already intrigued by his background in financial services, but learned much more about the fruits of his artistic labors.

In a family of eight struggling to make ends meet in Fresno, Fernando Reyes didn't grow up with much exposure to art. Nonetheless, by junior high his interest in art had begun to develop:

"I would draw caricatures of my brothers and sisters- those were my really first models [...] My experience with art back them was pretty minimal outside of what I was learning in [...] high school"

To earn extra money for the family, Reyes and his siblings would pick grapes in the summer. As necessity is the mother of invention, Reyes' fruit-picking labor fed his artistic inclinations:

"One of the ways I got my drawing paper was by actually getting it from farming [...] When you pick grapes for raisins you pick them, put them in a box, and then when the box was fully you would lay down this sort of craft paper sheet [...] I would see these huge packages of this large craft paper [...] so, I would just take rolls of it home with me and that's what I would use to draw"

A couple years after high school, Reyes got a job at Bank of America and two years later transferred to the North Beach branch in San Francisco. Over the next fifteen years, Reyes would advance in the bank, ultimately Senior Operations Manager: 

"I virtually stopped doing art probably at the time I started working at the bank" 

Reyes' re-entry into art came only after his parter, Daniel, excavated the remains of his youthful endeavors:

"He saw some old drawings of mine and he saw some talent there. So, one christmas he bought me a pad of paper and drawing pencils and charcoal"

Daniel's encouragement went far beyond supplies as his own life decisions provided a model for Reyes to make a career transition. After seventeen years at Bank of America, Reyes left in 1991:

"I saw that he had quit his corporate job and decided to go back to school to pursue the career he wanted [...] I decided that really I wanted to pursue finding my career in art [... Leaving the bank] really impacted my life at the time because that meant that I am actually free now and I can actually do what I was meant to do in life"

Reyes started taking figure drawing classes at City College of San Francisco, sticking to familiar drawing mediums. When Daniel was accepted into graduate school in Chicago, Reyes joined him:

"It was probably the best move I could make [...] I went to this portfolio day at the [Chicago] Art Institute, and there was every kid in the world there - it was packed [...] All I was thinking was I could really improve by doing this"

Reyes was accepted and focused on painting and printmaking. He also gained the broad exposure to the art world that was never available in Fresno: 

"My interest while going to the Art Institute was always the figure [...] Throughout the entire time I was going to school [...] I was given so much opportunity to explore different artists from different periods [...] Michaelangelo [...] RaphaelTiepoloTitian - people like that were my first inspirations because I was so enamored with the figure"

Reyes and his partner returned to California and while Daniel interned for a year at Davis, Reyes worked out of the university's printmaking workshop and broadened his painting horizens:

"I discovered that I enjoyed doing landscapes which is something that I had never, ever done before [...] I didn't have access to a model to work from, so I kind of went to a second choice and really, really enjoyed that a lot"

Back in the Bay Area, Reyes diligently pursued his craft, inspired more by modern figurative painters like Paul Cadmus

"My drawing has just improved throughout the years because of the amount of drawing that I do [...] once I moved into this studio, one of the first things that I did is I started drawing sessions here in my studio every week. I would have other come artists draw with me, so I would draw continuously"

These early years were still lean, as Reyes hadn't established himself as an artist. Reyes' resourcefulness was again applied, but this time with unexpected results:

"When I was really, really poor [...] after graduating art school and I would go to theses classes or sessions, so I wouldn't waste so much paper, I would draw more than one figure on one sheet [...] I realized I had something here I should investigate"

This discovery led to a painting series of overlapping figures, Body Language, and later a print series. Meanwhile, Reyes' style had begun to emerge:

"That's really what [my work] is about - it's about the figure and the line [...] - it's about the unspoken word"

See Fernando Reyes' work at Alta Galleria in Berkeley through November 25 or in the Reflections of the Bay juried exhibit at the California Modern Art Gallery through December 2. He is also showing at the Falkirk Cultural Center through the end of the year with fellow Bay Printmakers, Javier Chalini and Mike Kimball. Reyes will be participating in the Jingletown Holiday Art Walk from December 5-7.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Weekend Recap 11.10.08

I kicked off the weekend a little early and stopped by Joui Turnadot's open studios on Thursday night:  

Turnadot's pieces of wearable art were circulating amongst visitors on models: 

On Saturday night, I squeezed my way into the crowded Studio Gallery for the opening reception of "Tiny", including works by Barbara Kleinhans: 

This is the fourth year for the small-works focused show at the gallery. As works are sold, new pieces replace them, so the quilt-like display evolves over the course of the seven-week show:  

Studio Gallery is focused on local San Francisco Bay Area artists and will be celebrating its fifth anniversary on December 6. The "Tiny" exhibit will be up through December 24th:

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

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Arteaser Weekend Guide 11.6.08

The elections are over, but the party doesn't have to stop.

Openings and Events
Barbara Kleinhans at Studio Gallery on November 8th, 4-8 pm
Visual Aid's "Big Deal" featuring Mike Kimball and Barbara Kleinhans at SomArts on November 8, 4-9pm

Ongoing Shows
Javier Chalini and Mike Kimball at the Falkirk Cultural Center through the end of the year
Ashlee Ferlito at Ritual Roasters from November 9 - December 14

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

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