Thursday, May 21, 2009

Weekend Guide 5.21.09

If you're sticking around for Memorial Day weekend, here are the shows you may need to catch up on:

Ongoing Shows

Noah Dasho at Artist Xchange through May

Phillip Hua at SOMArts Gallery through May

Leslie Morgan at Studio Gallery through June 7

Fernando Reyes at ACCI Gallery through June 7

Erika Meriaux at Aspect Gallery through June

John Haines at CIIS through June

Dale Eastman and Philippe Jestin at Gensler through August 14

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

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Weekend Recap 5.17.09

On Thursday, Anthony and I made our way to the SF offices of architecture and design firm, Gensler, for the opening of their latest staff-curated exhibit. The "Re:" show will be up through August 14 and focuses on works that use common or discarded materials:

I found one of Dale Eastman's "One Moment at a Time" pieces in a conference room (above). Her "Re:" word was "Re:member," reflecting how her work is a recording of thoughts an feelings over time.

Jeff Hantman (above and below) chose the word "Re:condition," reflecting his mixed media work with salvaged wood:

Nanci Price Scoular had several pieces from her new "Journeys" series:

Philippe Jestin was also among the six artists in the show:

I was really happy to see that one of Jestin's mobiles was in the show. Behind is Christine Lee's installation in the window, called "Shims":

Looking up at Jestin's "Lips Mobile" gives a better sense of how light and movement interact with his colorful resin work:

Lee's site specific installation was almost hard to notice at first, but we confirmed it with our map guide. Incidentally, if you are planning to visit the show during public viewing hours of 8:30am-5:30pm (M-F), be sure to stop by reception on the 4th floor to collect a map and get any special instructions, as some pieces are in conference rooms.

On Friday, I stopped by the Hyde Street Gallery to see Manny Fabregas' show, "Borrowed Time":

Fabregas has amassed a collection of thousands of photographs from thrift stores and antique stores, which serve as his source material for his paintings:

The notion of collective memories interests Fabregas, so the images are familiar and nostalgic: 

The show closes on May 24, so there is only one more week to get over there and check it out!

For more details about shows and events featuring artists interviewed by Arteaser, check out the Arteaser calendar.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Weekend Guide 5.14.09

With Bay to Breakers supposedly set to be a much more so(m)ber event this year, we've got a list of local art events to satisfy your creative sensibilities... just don't throw tortillas:

Openings and Events

Dale Eastman and Philippe Jestin at Gensler on Thursday, May 14 5:30-7:30

Erika Meriaux at Aspect Gallery on Friday, May 15 6-9:30pm

Leslie Morgan at Studio Gallery on Sunday, May 17 2-6pm

Ongoing Shows

Mirang Wonne at the Triton Museum through May 17

Noah Dasho at Artist Xchange through May

Phillip Hua at SOMArts Gallery through May

Fernando Reyes at ACCI Gallery through June 7

John Haines at CIIS through June

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

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The King Rat

Here at Arteaser, we normally keep readers up to date on shows and events that artists we've covered are participating in. Last month, The King Rat and his Court by William Bruno was published, featuring illustrations by Eduardo del Rio.The book takes an intangible topic (corporate ethics) and uses a physical vehicle (rats) to communicates its message, much in the way an artist might express an idea through symbolic imagery. To find out more about how The King Rat's visual themes manifested, I conducted a Q&A with the author and Eduardo about the book and its illustrations:

DG: Bill, when did you start writing The King Rat? What were your immediate motivations?

WB: I began writing The King Rat and his Court about four years ago. I wanted to shed daylight on how unqualified, unethical individuals achieve high level positions in corporations. The comparison in behaviors of rats and wayward CEOs had always intrigued me.

DG: The book is structured around introducing a cast of corporate characters, all rat-like in their own ways, of course. Why did you decide to organize the piece like this?

WB: The King's Court is the essence of the book. The King is only able to gain and maintain his power by building a court of vassals within the corporation and exchanging bilateral gratuities with those outside the corporation.

DG: It's a pretty serious topic, and one that certainly resonates with the current financial crisis. So, when and why did you decide to add illustrations to The King Rat?

WB: The illustrations were added after the text was completed. I decided to add the illustrations when I saw Eduardo's creative work. I thought that he could bring to life to the King and the members of his court. Eduardo illustrated the cover and the five section heading, full page illustrations. Later in the final book design phase, Eduardo recommended that we add the inserts within the chapters.

DG: Eduardo, when tasked with animating these characters, were there any parts of the book that especially fed your vision of the rats?

ED: Having worked in many commercial and corporate situations, I felt that many of the descriptions in the writing hit all too close to home, or office. The characters colluding and conspiring behind closed doors were all too reminiscent of many executives that I have seen hording their 'cheese' and keeping the inferiors on a need-to-know basis. These characters practically drew themselves.

DG: What do you think the illustrations bring to the message you are trying to send to readers?

WB: I had two goals for the illustrations. The first was humor - although ethics is a very serious subject, I wanted the reader to laugh at the perverse behaviors. The second message is greed.

DG: I definitely found the illustrated rats simultaneously grotesque and amusing. How did you approach the goal that Bill had set out?

ED: Well any corrupted character is seen as both evil and pitiful. Their intentions are loathsome while their greed is laughable. You always hear about people becoming corrupted without them being aware. This is pitiful. But ethics predominantly reflects natural morality, so people should know better. I sought to represent both these sides of the described individuals.

DG: Greed and humor seem like they would be drawn from differnet aesthetic wells. What sort of visuals or artists were inspiring for the rats?

ED: I know the lively, playful characteristics of the rats in the books subconsciously emanates from the work of the great Maurice Sendak. He was able to breathe life into his illustrations, and you watched as they danced around the page with souls all their own. On the other hand, the metaphor of evil and corruption given form in the book I know is directly reminiscent of Hieronymus Bosch. His manifestations of ideals into imagery has always inspired me to find the links between a thought and its visual representation. I actually recently saw the painting "Death of the Miser" for the second time after a long time, and I smiled to myself as I realized that the work had indirectly influenced my art for the book. The miser is sitting on his death bed clawing after his pouch of gold as demons crawl unchecked like rats around his luxurious bedroom.

DG: I'll go back and check, but I don't think there was any Bosch in my Accounting 101 textbooks. It seems like many business-themed books seem to use stock illustrations or reproduced cartoons (Dilbert comes to mind) as visuals. What was it like to collaborate with an artist on this project for creative and original visuals?

WB: Since the text was written before the illustrations were prepared, Eduardo was able to grasp the nature of the characters. My message to him is that I wanted these characters to be humorous rather than sinister. After a couple of initial sketches, we agreed on a basic characterization. Then Eduardo took over - and with limited direction he used his creativity to come up with the scenes and individuality of the characters. He came up with the logo design "Stop the King Rat" and book design which create continuity of the theme, and link the message of corporate greed to the King Rat.

DG: So, I take it you weren't a fan of Disney's Ratatouille?

WB: I never saw Ratatouille; however, The King Rat would make a great animated movie!

DG: What were some of the challenges of working on an illustration project like this?

ED: As an artist I am often guilty of not relating to many of the utilitarian matters of business. That can be an excuse and it is something I have always grappled with. In this day and age these matters cannot be denied, seeing how the global economic situation has been so affected by the recent events. The message in the book is not just for businessmen. If it were, the problem may never be solved. My challenge was to become involved and truly understand a realm that I generally overlook.

DG: It's definitely a topic everyone should tune into and I think the illustrations really help make it more accessible. Thank you both!

The King Rat and his Court is available on Amazon.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Weekend Guide 5.7.09

Ok, Cinco de Mayo turned into Sick Day de Mayo for yours truley, but we're on the mend! Just in time for a packed weekend of local arts events:

Openings and Events

Phillip Hua at SOMArts Gallery on Thursday, May 7 from 5-8pm

Joui Turandot at Discarded To Divine on Thursday, May 7 7-10pm

Fernando Reyes at ACCI Gallery on Friday, May 8 6-8pm

John Haines at CIIS on Friday, May 8 7-9pm

Mike Kimball and Erika Meriaux at SOMA Open Studios this weekend, preview on Friday, May 8 6-9pm

Ongoing Shows

Joshua Hagler at Swarm Gallery through May 10

Mirang Wonne at the Triton Museum through May 17

Noah Dasho at Artist Xchange through May

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

Friday, May 1, 2009

Leslie Morgan

I first saw some work by Leslie Morgan at Zonal in January and then literally ran into her at the ArtSpan Benefit Auction in March. Now that summer is around the corner, she has a slew of shows on the calendar, so it's time to be introduced.

Some people never forget the things that surrounded them in their youth, but Leslie Morgan can't seem to forget what was absent:

"I grew up in the middle of a really ugly west Texas desert [...] It was brutally hot there and the closest body of water was 600 miles [away] in the Gulf of Mexico. So, I was always obsessed with water."

When something so essential is so exotic, it's probably bound to make an impact. From an early age, water was therapeutic for Morgan, in a literal sense:

"I had asthma and allergies really bad and my mom put me on a swim team when I was eight in order to increase my lung capacity. I was really good at it and I would just kind of space out in the water. I guess it was one of my first forms of meditation"

Morgan was also creatively engaged in her youth, but her experience was dominated more by the people involved, feeding her sense of visual humor:

"My mom was really big on crafts, making stuff [...] She put me in oil painting classes in junior high with the lady who was our local artist/character [...] She had a big piece of property in the middle of town and the trees [were] planted in the shape of Texas, so if you flew over her house you would see Texas. She was kind of eccentric"

Knowing she loved the water, Morgan wanted to be a marine biologist, but she didn't have the grades in science and math. So, pursuing her interest in people, she studied psychology in college. There, she discovered photography, which became a lifelong interest, but, again, there was a strong social element to her practice:

"I went to a liberal arts school that forced us to take an arts class every semester, which I loved, and I got really into photography. I did a lot of black and white photography through college. Even in my twenties I always had a dark room in my apartment and I would go out and do photo shoots with my friends"

Morgan stopped doing photography when going to graduate school in San Diego, and it would be many years before she resumed. Focused on her career, she moved to the Florida Keys, where she was the only female clinical psychologist for a fifty mile radius:

"I answered an ad in the American Psychology Association Monitor. This guy needed a clinical psychologist for his psych ward, a locked psych facility [...] He ended up being one of my best friends"

Over the next ten years, Morgan practiced as a psychologist and enjoyed being surrounded by her beloved H2O. She kept upgrading boats until she was living on a 47 foot motor yacht:

"I got my captain's license and every chance I could get I was out on the water. When I wasn't listening to patients sitting in a chair, I was on my boat - I spearfished, I scuba dived and basically hung out in the water as much as possible"

About six years ago, Morgan moved to the Bay Area to be closer to her brother and adopted niece. It proved to be a bigger change than just zip codes and one that led her to making art:

"I gave myself two years off from psychology [...] and the farther away I got from it, the less I wanted to go back to it. I realized how toxic all those years of listening to pain and suffering had been"

When her brother, who collects art, was preparing his daughter's bedroom, Morgan suggested hanging work by a female artist. He insisted on only hanging original art, and Morgan took on the challenge:

"I painted a picture of Frieda Khalo [...] They were really afraid because they never seen any of my paintings, so they were afraid it would be really bad and what would they say [to me], what would they do with it"

But Morgan's humor prevailed and despite friendly teasing, her painting replaced a piece by an established artist on the wall of the bedroom, instead of assuming the wall of the closet. As aquatic reference go, the floodgates opened:

"I kept painting, I just got into it. Then [my brother] moved to Barcelona and I think that kind of freed me up, too, because my brother had always been an artist and not having to compete with him and not have him show me his San Francisco artist world, I discovered a little bit of it on my own. It gave me freedom to explore."

Meanwhile, Morgan had become involved with a local synchronized swimming team, which became a major source of subject matter. She then began working from older photographs that her mother had taken around the pool, evoking a sense of nostalgia:

"I just think water is so universally human and necessary. And I think we also all carry inside of us the memories of the joy that swimming pool water provided us as kids. That kind of glee, that joy. Nothing changes your state of mind like jumping in a pool of water"

Then things got really... deep. Reviving her interest in photography, Morgan experimented with taking pictures underwater:

"I went out to a pool in Walnut Creek that a friend of a friend's had. I took the dogs and a couple of disposable underwater cameras and got some amazing pictures. [After that,] I bought an underwater camera and I started taking pictures of my team"

By taking her viewers underwater, Morgan gets closer to her own therapeutic relationship with submersion:

"I used to hold my breath and sink to the bottom of the pool and lay there. [I would] look at the sunlight coming in and just kind of trip out on how beautiful the water was. I think that's what I'm trying to convey, especially for my underwater pictures, is that perspective. That sense of ease, that beautifulness that you get to have if you're relaxed in the water"

Dive in to more of Leslie Morgan's work at her open studio this weekend in Hunters Point. She also has upcoming shows at Studio Gallery in May and June and at Frankee Uno in August. She frequently shows at City Art and her work is regularly on display at Zonal, where she will be the featured artist in June.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...