Working with deep and wounded history

seeingSometimes it gets to me – working with the deep and wounded history of my ancestors. Today I had a good breakfast conversation with a friend. She understands the work I am doing about the Japanese Internment Camps in New Mexico at the Santa Fe Art Institute. She’s lived here in New Mexico long enough to know that there is rich tapestry of different cultures and communities and that makes researching and making art about the history of the camps even more complicated. Peeling the layers back can be raw, and seeing the crisscrossing histories of: the vets who were in the Bhataan death march and experienced the brutality of the Japanese army, the injustice of the American concentration camps imprisoning innocent people of Japanese ancestry, and the Los Alamos creation of the bomb that killed so many in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I’m wrapping my head around it after a month of research.

My friend said, “you are a flag bearer who makes sure people know the history so things don’t happen again.” Yet I find it so discouraging to see the Central American immigrant families being imprisoned right now.

Keeping my heart open is what sustains me. I hope to bring light and witnessing to stories of injustice and imprisonment for all kinds of people. My ritual performance will invite anyone to participate. More info to come soon.

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My kind of shows at Palo Alto Art Center

I just saw a most inspiring and innovative group of shows at the Palo Alto Art Center. They are having their Winter 2011 Exhibitions: Patrick Doughtery, a site specific installation; the Nature of Entanglements; and Architecture of Memory, Mildred Howard. I have to say I loved all three of them. If you have seen my art, you know I have an affinity for installation and organic materials and found objects. There is plenty of that here!

The Nature of Entanglements mixes an artist group show with basket and nest artifacts. I really enjoyed that tie in – the historic, cultural, and naturally created functional work with the artists’ interpretation of ‘entanglement’ through painting, drawing, and installation.

Mildred Howard’s constructions using different kinds and colors of bottles were beautiful and strange. For inspiration she tapped into ancient West African and Black Atlantic Southern bottle houses and their spiritual protection. It brought to mind a full size greenhouse made out of large pickle jars I saw during my travels to the Czech Republic.

And lastly, Patrick Doughtery has to be one of my heroes! His whimsical, alive feeling installations just delighted me, as well as the mother and son who ran around throughout the piece with me. He even used willow from Pescadero, near where I live. Go to the Palo Alto Art Center to experience it for yourself! I’ve included a video for your enjoyment.

The Shape of Things: Paper Traditions and Transformations until 2/15/09

I really recommend going to see this show at the Museum of Craft and Folk Art in San Francisco. It closes on 2/15. If you are like me, I love seeing what artists can do with a simple piece of paper.

R. Lang
R. Lang
J. Chung
J. Chung
J. Linssen
J. Linssen

The Shape of Things: Paper Traditions and Transformations
November 14, 2008 – February 15, 2009

The exhibit explores the history of cut, folded, and molded paper, alongside contemporary artists who introduce fresh perspectives on those traditional forms. From the unique to ubiquitous, the exhibition examines paper traditions from Asia, specifically from China, Japan, the Philippines, and Korea, and includes papercuts, origami, katagami, paper lanterns, papier-mâché, and paper boxes. Juxtaposing the work with that of contemporary artists demonstrates how traditional arts, folk art, contemporary craft, and fine art are all part of the same continuum.

Check it out at: http://www.mocfa.org/exhibitions/index.htm

Art in our harbor?

While researching info on the artists in the “Bay Area Now 5″at Yerba Buena I came across this article:

Donald Fortescue and Lawrence LaBianca’s “Bay Area Now 5” work — jokingly referred to earlier this month as the “Top Secret Oyster Project” — is not just about the creation of a well-crafted object. The piece also deals with the current state of San Francisco Bay’s wildlife, tides, and geography. So the two artists decided to let the physical environment affect the work — literally.

After putting in plentiful research, studying ocean survey charts, and talking with local environmental authorities on the work’s impact of their piece, the pair hired a diver to install the steel-table form they built — a muscled-up version of traditional cabriole or animal-legged furniture, as Fortescue describes it — on the floor of Tomales Bay, where it was designed to sit for several months. During the installation, however, their diver told them that the conditions weren’t the best for the hoped-for weathering and oyster- and barnacle-encrusting process, so the table was relocated to Pillar Point.

So my question is, has anyone seen it?? I’m going to take a look this week and report back.

Read more about their project by clicking here.

Robots, gotta love ’em

I have really been enjoying the rediscovery of San Jose this summer. One of the places I am really impressed with is the San Jose Museum of Art. They have two great exhibits there right now.

by Clayton Bailey
by Clayton Bailey

Everyone, kids to seniors will enjoy the Robot, Evolution of a Cultural Icon exhibit that is on until October 19. I have included a couple of videos of two artists to wet your appetite. One will remind you of Moontown!

Join the road trip exhibit

Hey – this looks like a lot of fun! And if you are like us, you haven’t straying far from home during this gas crunch (ok so you don’t count – ST, Lisa, Gerry, Mark) and may have some great photos of some sites. Check out the directions on the video

Aria – musical and sculptural performance

This was a multi sensory, beautiful experience –

Cellist Joan Jeanrenaud teamed up with Italian designer/fabricator Alessandro Moruzzi to create an interactive pairing of sculpture and music in the YBCA Forum. Inspired by the many permutations of air—“aria,” in Italian—the artists as explored the politics and poetics of this powerful, invisible element.

Toy soldiers battle in YBCA’s 5th Triennial

The opening night for the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts 5th Triennial (San Francisco) was a couple of week’s ago. I imagine it must be difficult to put together a show like this – a survey of what is happening in the Bay Area. So I applaud the hard work of the curators and the artists for putting it all together.

It was challenging to find the flow in the exhibit. Was the main connection location? These selected artists represent the Bay Area and perhaps that was the point – we have a varied eclectic group here, and I guess that is good!

One of the most profound pieces was by Brian Conely. His soldier installation with game pieces and strategy was intriguing. It included larger than life photo blow ups (no pun intended) of melted plastic army men heads which was humorous and sobering at the same time. Tied into the installation was looped news video of US forces bombing and bursting into Iraqi homes. I found this initially playful piece to be horrifying.

Searchinig around the YBCA site I found more info about his piece:

At Games Expo in Las Vegas on March 19–21, 2007, I asked a group of gamers to “play”/fight three battles from the war in Iraq, using recent information from Western and Iraqi news sites, and real-time reports from Iraqi bloggers. The gamers built a diorama that was used to represent a town in the Zarga region near Najaf for the first two games, and a neighborhood in Baghdad for the third. An onsite research team investigated and selected the scenarios.

The first game restaged an attack by a group called Soldiers of the Sky on a police barricade, on January 28, 2007, during the Ashura pilgrimage from Najaf to Karbala. This game was based on reports from Western news sources. The second game restaged the same event as seen through the eyes of civilians whose clan, the Hawatim, was involved. The last event followed a live hostage crisis that had begun in February, 2007, when Hannelore Kadhim and her son Sinan were kidnapped from their Baghdad home by a group called the Arrows of Righteousness.

I think the Triennial is worth checking out, but do not expect to be wowed. Read more about it here: http://www.ybca.org/exhibitions/

Beautiful San Francisco Birthday Tour

For our dear friend Charlene’s birthday, Ander and I took her for a San Francisco whirlwind tour of some of our favorite places. We did not tell her where we were going, so each stop was a surprise.

First we had a lovely lunch at Fog City Diner on Battery and The Embarcadero. I used to go here a lot when my friends were working around the corner. The food was still great after all these years. Luckily we made reservations ahead because it was pretty hopping. I had a crispy reddened snapper sandwich which was spicy and delish, and Ander had a 1/2 pound Niman Ranch burger. Charlene had the Chicken Schnitzel with broccolini and lemon caper butter. Everything was served promptly by a very responsive waitress and was terrific. The restaurant looks a bit garish on the outside, but the inside is all dark wood and there are booths or tables  and a busy liquor and oyster bar.

After our meal we moved on to the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park. I chose this because she and I both enjoy gardening and flowers. It turned out Charlene had always wanted to go here and so it was perfect!

The Conservatory is one of the finest examples of Victorian architecture in San Francisco and the 12,000 square-foot greenhouse is the oldest existing glass and wood conservatory in the United States. i think it looks like the American version of the Taj Mahal!

The greenhouse is divided up into environments: lowland tropics, highland tropics, aquatic plants, potted plants, and a special exhibit area. The temperature changes as you move from one are to the next.

These tropical flowers brought a smile because they reminded me of my mother and grandmother who lived in Hawaii.

This little guy was fascinated by the fiddle heads. There were many kids there with their parents.

The special exhibit area featured info on pollinators of all kinds – bats, birds, wasps, bees, and butterflies. A few butterflies fluttered about to the delight of the many kids.

I love the aquatic area – check out the video:

Walking in this most wondrous place I really got a sense of peace and calm. Charlene’s comment was, “How can you not believe that there is a higher source after being here.”

Last on the tour was the De Young Museum. Here we stopped for coffee and shared a fruit tart and opened presents. We then went up the elevator to the 9th floor to see the view of Golden Gate Park and surrounding San Francisco area. It was a bit foggy, but that just added to the timeless, mysterious, landscape of The City.

birthday beauty

Here is the birthday beauty!

It was nice to be a tourist and have a play date with our dear friend. I recommend getting out there and enjoying our local venues to remember why you live in this terrific area.