Sunday, March 29, 2009

Baer Ridgway Exhibitions (P)Review

On Friday afternoon I stopped by downtown gallery, Baer Ridgway Exhibitions, who I had come across at the Pulse NYC art fair earlier this month.

I caught the end of the Tyler Cufley show (above and below), which featured paintings, videos, photographs and installations. Themes of political radicalism, embodied by Patty Hearst and the Weatherman, carry through his work:

Opening next Saturday, April 4 is a group show Dark Americana, featuring works by Derek Albeck (below left) and Chris Crites (below right)

As part of a look at the darker side of defining America, Brendan Lott (below) will also have this painting in the show:

Baer Ridgeway will also be showing a solo exhibit of works by Tom Huck (below). Both shows have an opening reception on Saturday, April 4 from 4-6pm:

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Weekend Guide 3.26.09

Spring is finally here! Even though the days are getting longer, you can still enjoy an hour of darkness this weekend, as well as get caught up on shows around town:

Ongoing Shows

Fernando Reyes at Reaves Gallery through March 28

Phillip Hua at CSU Gallery through March

Katie Gilmartin at City Arts Gallery through March

Brett Amory at Fabric8 through April 18

Phillip Hua at Seedcorn Gallery through April

Mirang Wonne at the USF School of Law Rotunda Gallery until May

Mirang Wonne at the Triton Museum through May 17

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

Monday, March 23, 2009

Freya Prowe

I saw notice of Freya Prowe's "Black Water" show at Hang Art Gallery on ArtSlant and stopped by to meet her. For this story, we met up again at the appropriately aquatic-themed Anchor & Hope, which features a mural by Prowe.

Freya Prowe grew up mostly in Minnesota, but the family spent every couple of years in her father's home country of Germany:

"We spent a lot of time in Germany as a kid [...] A lot of my German side came about through fairy tales that my dad read me when I was a kid"

She gravitated to art early, always drawing in her sketchbook. Her parents accepted her interest in art and helped her attend youth art programs. What's more, her bi-cultural upbringing subtly fed her creativity:

"We traveled a lot [and] my sketchbook was kind of my companion. I was drawing and always kind of imagining things. I had the influx of the whole German fairy tale thing"

With steady exposure to German culture, Prowe became undeniably influenced by strong tradition of 20th century German expressionist art, from Kathe Kollwitz, Otto Dix, to Egon Schiele, as well as Old Masters like Albrecht Durer. In particular, Prowe enjoyed the visual tension from opposing aesthetic forces:

"I'm really drawn to the darkness and the comfort with the grotesque that exists in that tradition [...] the ability to travel into the dark side without being divorced from beauty"

By high school she was branching out into pen and ink, screen printing and oil painting. Prowe then went to Pitzer Collage in Southern California and majored in Fine Art. There, she was influenced by textile arts professor, Eileen Senner and studied abroad in Indonesia:

"My time in Indonesia was fairly mind-expanding culturally, having never traveled in the East before or in a developing country. There I was basically painting on fabric using Batik (hot wax and vegetable dyes)."

Continuing to pursue training in textile art, Prowe went to Switzerland for a textile internship with a long-lost aunt, and she ultimately wrote her senior thesis contrasting the Swiss and Indonesian culture and textile work. After college, Prowe sought a change of scenery and was drawn to San Francisco:

"I had had a love-affair with the beat poets and scene from afar growing up in [Minnesota] and to be in the birthplace of those people seemed amazing to me. I remember seeing Lawrence Ferlinghetti on the Embarcadero once in the flesh and just staring in awe. His poetry had meant so much to me as a young teenager. I still read it."

Despite her vast experience with textile art and design in college, Prowe ultimately gravitated back to painting. However, her interest in contrasting aesthetic forces drives a hybrid approach to creating imagery:

"The part of textile design that still informs my work is the repetitiveness and the pattern making qualities. Sometimes I use a little bit of silkscreen in my work and that's really the clean lines and the ability to repeat imagery. I like that in juxtaposition to more of a fluid [painting]"

After settling in San Francisco, Prowe did several series of figurative works. Often featuring women, she explored a subtle visual tension around contradictions in attraction:

"I've always loved the figure and body. A lot of those were about gesture and about physicality and about women: the beauty versus the angst [...] Within one figure I tried to embody - hopefully - the seductress, but a little bit of a repelling force, too"

Still exploring elements of contrast, Prowe then began a series of small works that drew upon the fairy tale lore and psychology of the innocent facing dark forces. Embracing a more narrative style, the fairy tale notion took greater meaning as she observed the developing subconscious of her oldest school-aged daughter:

"Basically [it's about] the naive force, the little maiden or little girl, who goes into the forest [...] and there she discovers her monsters [...] There's often a tension, a force, between the little girl and her monsters. It really became more elaborate when I started to think about [my daughter] and how she's experiencing this, thinking about myself at that age and continuing into adulthood"

As she continued with the them in larger works she changed the symbolic venue from the forest to the belly of a whale, both traditional fairy tale representations. The belly of the whale was exposed as the pivotal moment in the maturing of her character:

"They morph from being my daughter/myself/everyone else - something you can identify with - to [little angels]. It's not because they are so angelic and good, it's just because they exist in an outer place, outside the subconscious realm. When they go into the belly of the whale, they loose their wings and they start grappling with their inner demons"

The whale also introduced the ecosystem of the sea from which to cast characters and imagery. Prowe chose hideous and menacing deep sea fishes to embody the lurking dark forces that face her protagonist:

"They're swimming along in the darkness, basically a level below where the action is taking place, but it all becomes dark in there, it's all the belly of the whale. Then the fishing line - which is another icon that comes along in this series - the fish hook becomes temptation"

The heavy use of symbolism, especially using elements from nature, reflects the influence of psychology on her work. Like decoding dream imagery in the Freudian tradition, Prowe tells a story about the common human experience:

"I draw on anything that's a biological reference as more because it seems like to me its a great illustration of subconscious forces"

Reflecting her interest in visually representing tension or conflict, Prowe chose the name of the deep sea series, "Black Water," from an allusion to emotional struggle:

"[It's] the idea that your subconscious and your demons - your deep sea fishes - are always lapping at your feet. There's a balance that people strike, moving through the world [and] allowing those forces to exist, but not let[ting] them overtake you"

Meanwhile, Prowe had evolved her whale into the body of a woman, drawing on her previous figurative work. As such she continues to explore the female form in a state of contradiction:

"There's sort of an inner tension you can't escape with beauty and repulsion and seduction and anger"

Expressing these states of tension, Prowe works in strong figurative and narrative form. However, she admires abstraction:

"I'm definitely a figurative artist at this point in my life and career. I feel like working abstractly is the most evolved work that there is, like going towards absolute silence, John Cage-style. That's the ultimate. So I feel like maybe in ten years or twenty years maybe I'll arrive at abstraction, but I completely have to admit that I'm not there yet"

In the meantime, Prowe often indulges her instincts for textured layers and repetition. Many pieces in her latest "Black Water" series feature that active aesthetic:

"As I mature or get older I'm definitely more in tune with where to stop, but I also know sometimes that a painting has to be almost insanely busy and overdone for me to be done with it [...] I was working and working and working [on this particular piece]. It was one of those that I was risking working it to death, but I just felt compelled to continue adding and I think it really actually only to me felt finished when it was almost choking on itself"

Freya Prowe shows regularly with Hang Art Gallery here in San Francisco. Watch the Arteaser Calendar for future shows!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Weekend Guide 3.19.09

Happy Nowruz! While you're out celebrating this weekend, be sure to catch some of the art events going on around town:

Openings and Events

Fernando Reyes at Reaves Gallery on Friday, March 20 from 6-9pm

Ongoing Shows

Katie Gilmartin at City Arts Gallery through March

Mirang Wonne at the USF School of Law Rotunda Gallery until May

Mirang Wonne at the Triton Museum through May 17

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

Monday, March 16, 2009

Bridge New York

From Pulse, we made our way to our last stop, Bridge New York. Our first stop was New York-based Susan Eley Fine Art:

We enjoyed a couple sets of paintings by Japanese artist, Kentaro Hiramatsu (above and below):

A couple mixed media pieces by Tracy Silva Barbosa (below) also caught my attention:

Another piece by Barbosa (below):

Finally, we paused at a set of encaustic pieces by California-based artist Amber George:

I next stopped into New York's Collective Gallery:

I enjoyed digital prints by Gary St. Clare (above) and photography by Frank August (below):

The only San Francisco gallery that I found at Bridge was Toomey Tourell, which was exclusively featuring works by Igor Josifov:

The burned image portraits above are based on photographs taken by the artist over several trips. However, the primary display was a performance piece where the artist had a line tattooed across his scalp (video is below top):

The line signified the separation of the two halves of the brain, which killed a friend of the artist after she suffered a tragic bicycling accident. Portraits of the victim, Renata, wrapped around the booth (above), while an illuminated cast of her face gazed up from the floor (below):

Finally, we stopped at Mexico City's Ginocchio Galeria:

There, we enjoyed paintings by Hugo Lugo (above and below) that were done on paper made to look like pages from a giant notebook:

That wraps up our coverage of this year's New York Contemporary Art Fairs. Check out the Arteaser Calendar to see local shows and events featuring artists that have been interviewed by artists interviewed on Arteaser.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

ArtSpan Benefit Auction

We interrupt our series on last weekend's New York Contemporary Art Fairs to bring you coverage of last night's ArtSpan Benefit Auction, held at SomARTS. I attended wearing an awesome piece by Joui Turandot (below):

With over 160 pieces of art available for bid, there was plenty to see. Veerakeat TongPaiBoon (below top) had a couple works in in the silent auction, as well as one in the live auction:

Photograph by Kent Wisner (above bottom) and painting by Susan Bostrom Wong (below):

Small resin piece by Philippe Jestin (below):

Elana Kundell had a small painting (below):

Kim Smith had a vintage materials collage (below):

Mixed media print by Taiko Fujimura (below):

Piece by Jessica Niello (below):

Mike Kimball painting (below):

Mixed media piece by Susannah Kopcho (below):

Prize-winning painting by Veerakeat TongPaiBoon (below):

I caught up with artist Leslie Morgan by her painting (below):

Watercolored etching by Leslie Lowinger (below):

Juror's Choice mixed media piece by Stephen Wagner (below):

Painting by Michele De Sha (below):

Mixed media piece bye Jana Grover (below):

This Jurors Choice winning piece by Erika Meriaux (below) was selected for the live auction:

Barbara Kleinhans' painting (below) won second prize for Non-Representational:

This painting by Katja Leibenath (below) was selected for the live auction:

Also in the live auction was this mixed media piece by Sidnea D'Amico (below):

Juror's Choice winning pieces by Emily Clauson (below top) and Ivy Jacobsen (below bottom) were both in the live auction:

Katie Gilmartin's print, "The Red Menace," was selected for the live auction:

Risley Sams donned a tuxedo for his role as auctioneer. As a member of the ArtSpan Board of Directors, artist Mike Kimball (below center) was one of the many volunteers at the event:

Proceeds from the auction will fund ArtSpan's programs, such as Art for City Youth and SF Open Studios. Below is a piece by a "super-emerging" artist from a local elementary school:

Erika Meriaux's "Rape of Europa" was the first item on the block:

Barbara Kleinhans' painting was next up:

Painting by Jenny Balisle (below):

The only sculpture in the live auction:

Painting by Alan Mazzetti (below):

Painting by Robin Denevan (below):

Painting by Clare Kuo (below): 

The final piece on the block was a painting by Veerakeat TongPaiBoon (below):

In the last round of the silent auction to close was this drawing by Don Anderson (below):

Mixed Media by Linda Sanders Colnett (below):

Painting by Raymond Difley (below):

Painting by Lee Cline (below):

Thanks for stopping by Arteaser and be sure to come again for original stories about Bay Area artists and local arts coverage!

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