Endless Opportunities: A week ahead/A day behind

August 25, 2013 · Print This Article

I didn’t get a chance to post this yesterday, as I was sitting in the Music Box at their Noir Festival which I’d highly recommend if you feel like checking out some hard crime adventure during the last gasp of summer…More to the point, however — here are some opportunities that I came across, with special thanks to The Chicago Artist Resource where I found many of the following calls:

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1. Media fellowships available for Brooklyn Based media artists:

Each year, the BRIC Media Education and Contemporary Art programs sponsor the BRIC Media Arts Fellowship. The Fellowship makes BRIC Media Education courses and facilities available to professional Brooklyn-affiliated visual artists (born, live, or work in Brooklyn) at no charge. We provide training programs and technical assistance in video and digital production and in post-production technologies. Our classes include both BRIC Media Arts Fellows as well as members of the general public interested in television production, creating a unique mix of interests in the classroom. Learn more here.

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2. The annual HATCH artist residency deadline is coming up on October 6th.

HATCH Projects is a yearlong, juried incubator for contemporary Chicago artists and curators that strives to support an ecology of curatorial and artistic practice. A pioneering initiative of Chicago Artists’ Coalition (CAC), HATCH Projects fosters shared experimentation, exchange and creativity to produce ground-breaking exhibitions and programs. Twenty-four Artist Residents are accepted into HATCH Projects based on an application evaluated by the program’s four selected Curator Residents. Artist Residents are divided into groups of six to work with one Curator Resident throughout the year. Selected artists will participate in two exhibitions curated by the group’s assigned Curator Resident. Each Artist Resident receives professional development through dynamic exhibitions, one-on-one studio visits, public programs, and community building to develop a sustainable creative practice. More here.

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3. Seeking Submissions for “Research Project #2″ – The Space Movement Project Deadline: Monday, September 30, 2013 

Research Project is a low-tech works-in-progress performance series which brings performing artists together amidst their creative processes to show work, share process, give and receive feedback, start conversations and chew the fat. This opportunity provides a community forum for experimentation, emerging ideas and artist-to-peer support. Check out details here.

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4. For artists interested in public/participatory performance for exhibition at MCA Chicago:

A House Unbuilt (HUB) is seeking artists who have experience with participatory performance and/or performance in public spaces for a one-day exhibition at the MCA Chicago.  The exhibition will take place on October 1, 2013, and will feature a site-specific adaptation of HUB’s program DINNER DANCE, the choreographed meal.  DINNER DANCE is a improvisational performance structured around the social choreography of mealtime. Toward a goal of public engagement for the MCA adaptation, HUB has devised a number of participatory “stations” to be facilitated by volunteer performers throughout the museum.  These facilitators should have a sense of customer service, an ability for keen observation, and a performance presence in their own right. There will be 1-2 meetings/workshops in the weeks prior to the performances.  Artists must be available for the day of October 1st. For more information, send resume, work sample/portfolio, recent photograph, and a letter of interest (containing brief description of similar past experience) to ahouseunbuilt@gmail.com.

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9. There is a job opening for a Professional Development Associate at Mid-America Arts Alliance in Kansas City. Apply by  Sept. 21, 2013.

This position is responsible for completing the administrative and support functions for the Professional Development (PD) division of Mid-America Arts Alliance (M-AAA). This includes, but is not limited to research, development, implementation, and evaluation of all professional development programs. This is accomplished by setting up/maintaining files, records and reports; processing paperwork and invoices; managing all details related to scheduling  and the fulfillment of all program events. This individual may travel to coordinate event management and/or to represent MAAA as needed. On a day-to-day basis, this person answers questions and assists program participants to fully utilize program services. In addition, this person will be responsible for collecting, analyzing and preparing/presenting summaries of project evaluations and  activities for publication and/or presentation as required. More here.

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5. Want to make work in Hungary? Residency applications for HMC International Artist Residency Program due September 15, 2013.

HMC International Artist Residency Program, a not-for-profit arts organization based in Dallas, TX / Budapest, Hungary – provides national and international artists with the opportunity to produce new work while engaging with the arts community in Budapest, Hungary.  “Artist residencies allow the time for dialogue and create connections that contribute to the future..” More info on their website here.

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6. Garfield Park Conservatory seeks proposals from Chicago-based artists for creative interpretations of wind chimes for an exhibition in the exterior Conservatory gardens during October 2013. The deadline is August 30th. Read more about that here.

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7. Submit exhibition proposals to The Comfort Station, a turn of the century structure turned multidisciplinary art space, by Saturday, August 31st, midnight:

We are currently accepting proposals from artists, emerging curators and organizations for our 2014-2015 calendar. It is our goal to connect artists and arts advocates through Comfort Station. Final 2014 schedule will be announced September 15th.  To apply, please email art@comfortstationlogansquare.org with the following information:

• An artist statement or curatorial concept supporting your proposed exhibition
• A link where we can view examples of artwork
• If no site is available, then please attach images to email (just please be conscious of file size)
• Bio, resume and/or CV
• Any special display considerations Comfort Station is open to proposals of artwork of all media; performance, sound art, installations are all highly encouraged.

Tracy Marie Taylor at the Sub-Mission : 9-11-57 : Sep 13 – Oct 26, 2013

Tracy Marie Taylor coming up at the Sub-Mission Sep 13 – Oct 26, 2013

8. The Sub-Mission deadline for artist proposals is August 30th. Read more about that here.

 

 




ACRE: I Think I Could Turn And Live With Animals

August 22, 2013 · Print This Article

“I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contain’d,

I stand and look at them long and long…

No one is dissatisfied, no one is demented with the mania of owning things…”

– Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

 

Two weeks isn’t time to make much work. While I was at ACRE this summer as one of several residents, I quickly realized how short, yet how important the time was. I left my life behind with great expectations, all of which were just shy of fulfilled, but what I gained was so much more than what I had hoped. Two weeks, I found, is just enough time to figure out where you are, how you are going to communicate with the people of the life you suddenly left, introduce yourself to 50 strangers, start making work and realize you never what to leave, and then, its over. Its just enough time to take a chance on something, knowing that the end is right around the corner, but that you’ve still made a commitment. Its enough and not enough — in our real lives, two weeks rarely means anything, because it never has a beginning or end, just bleeds from the past and into the future. At a residency, it is a liminal space and time, where all constants are upended without chaos. Any residency worth its salt can make your head spin with new ideas, old ideas seen new, new connections, blown minds, failed pasts and energetic futures yet to fuck up, and ACRE was no different — I am still reeling from the conversations and influence of the people I met there. But no where else is there a way of life that is not separate from art (at least not until the modern day Commercial Gallery gurgled and choked its way out of the murky banks of the Galapagos Island communal bathroom, where hundreds of exotic species of semi aquatic animals did their business). ACRE was about art, as a real and true way of life, that life could not exist without feeling your bare feet in the dirt and sand, your junk in muddy water and your mind in a swirl of whiskey, beer and camp fire, back again early the next morning, up with the rooster, a cup of coffee and a new book from the library to start fresh.

 

Photo courtesy Lisa Walcott. Used with permission.

Photo by Lisa Walcott. Used with permission.

 

ACRE (Artist Cooperative Residency and Exhibitions) has just completed its fourth year as an artist residency based out of Chicago that occurs for three two week sessions each summer in the heart of the Driftless Region of Wisconsin. (Just a little east of the Mississippi on the bottom part of the state.) Residents utilize a fully staffed Wood shop, Screen printing studio, Recording studio and A/V Cabin while drawing from the sheer open space and beauty of the property. Rotating visiting artists, critics and presenters influence the space along with organic conversations that are a product of an artist bee hive. This model draws from the pedagogy of many graduate programs in art, yet ACRE removes itself from the institution due to its structure. Roughly twenty volunteer artists and musicians organize and run the program, volunteering 6 weeks of their summer (even more while planning the resulting exhibitions of past residents) towards helping others make art. Instead of focusing on their own work they facilitate the work of others.  Right here, organization, politics and the board controlled interests typical of an institution are gone out the window, leading into a more natural system where everyone – staff, residents and visiting professionals – are interacting with each other the same. Communal meals, lovingly prepared by a dedicated kitchen staff, are perhaps the keystone of this success. Symbolically, class distinctions of laborer / patron are not just blurred but forgotten.

 

We started to see that money wasn’t present at ACRE. Yeah, we all paid for the residency and it was understood that it was crucial to everyone getting there. But through generosity and time did everything exist in the space, in an ever growing forgotten area of Wisconsin. At ACRE, money was only needed in the neighboring town of Boscobel, which only sold cheap beer by the 30 pack. (At least, I’m pretty sure that was their major industry.) Creating a space where financial transactions were discouraged helped separate the real world from this special place. Class distinctions, power struggles and money were nearly eliminated at ACRE. With only two weeks, a society cannot be established, and with the staff insisting on doing all the work involved with operating the residency, a utopian model does not completely apply. (Not that utopia is what they are after.)

 

Utopia as a reality is impossible to sustain, as human drama will eventually overcome and surmount a perfect existence. Some asshole always finds a way to get his agenda to the top of our concerns. Instead, what may be proposed here is a part time utopia: a form that allows a brief exposure to a utopian system in a format that seems possible. Likewise, the temporal nature of the system actually allows it to thrive, as human nature never gets the chance to ruin it. Able to geographically remove ourselves from city life we could fit within a more fulfilling life in this part time utopia; a utopian model which recognizes the inevitable failure of utopias. In the span of a two week residency, utopia can exist. We started to get it. Hammering it home was Ukiah, a six person artist collective from the Bay Area, who leave their day jobs once a week to build a cabin out of fallen timbers and mud on a ranch property. What does it mean to have a part time or temporary utopia in the context of art? Does this mimic how art is often made, in spurts of spare time, extracted from the pressures of the real world? Could a model of a part time utopia be sustained on a personal level? Is the idea of utopia important to the creation of art? Is its manifestation proof that art can create social change, or merely a distraction from art making? Do you really want to live forever? Alphaville lyrics reprinted without permission?

 

Utopia CAN happen, maybe only once a week, for two weeks at a time or a few moments, which can be nurtured. Maybe with practice, it will be with you always. For me, utopia is drifting down the Kickapoo River on dollar store inflatables mixing warm Pabst with the river water. Its singing Stevie Nicks and Otis Redding songs with everyone around and not caring who hears you, but that you’re heard. Its playing a four string Fender Squire in an empty grain silo that is better than an amplifier. It is eating a meal with 50 other people each night knowing all the ingredients were carefully and lovingly chosen from the immediate region. It is a constant exchange of ideas, and ideas as commodity, where money is replaced by beer or help with a project. Its understanding why Nick and Phil never wore shoes, and wishing you never bothered to pack any. Where dinner is served overlooking the sunset, and each sunset is better than the last. Every night is a celebration of the work done that day. Even the mosquitoes are contributing to your existence, saying: You Are HERE, as the mall map markers of the rural midwest. Fuck yeah, ACRE: You promised me transcendence in an email, and in real physical sweating pissing reality you delivered it.

 

 

SINCERE thanks goes to ALL the amazing staff who made this experience possible, and every resident, who, without being wiser, went along with it. Thank you. Thanks also to Lisa Walcott, for lending a photo of her experience.




Top 5 Weekend Picks! (8/23-8/25)

August 22, 2013 · Print This Article

1. Roads Scholar at Iceberg Projects

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Work by Murat Adash, Naama Arad, Marie Alice BrandNer-Wolfszahn, and Oren Pinhassi. Curated by NEW CAPITAL.

Iceberg Projects is located at 7714 N. Sheridan Rd. Reception Saturday, 6-9pm.

2. ARGUS: Organic Visual Archive at Johalla Projects

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Organized by James Pepper Kelly, with Filter Photo.

Johalla Projects is located at 1821 W. Hubbard St. Suite 209. Reception Sunday, 3-7pm.

3. Artist intervention in Alberto Aguilar’s Home Field Play: The Wedding Cake Project at the Museum of Contemporary Art

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Work by Edra Soto.

Museum of Contemporary Art is located at 220 E. Chicago Ave. Reception Saturday, 1-2pm.

4. Jonathan Ferrara Gallery in Chicago at Firecat Projects

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Work by Michael Pajon, Dan Rule, Dan Tague, and Monica Zeringue.

Firecat Projects is located at 2124 N. Damen Ave. Reception Friday, 7-10pm.

5. Guyth at Dos Perros Projects

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Work by Luith Miguel Bendaña, Tham Lipp, Chloe Theibert, and Alithon Veit.

Dos Perros Projects is located at 859 N. Marshfield Ave. 2R. Reception Friday, 6-9pm.




The Place of Utopia: gloATL’s Blue Astro Turf Swings

August 22, 2013 · Print This Article

Introduction: Laying the Floor

This July, I participated in the gloATL Summer Intensive. gloATL is an Atlanta-based dance company that creates physical installations for the public. During the Intensive, there were six of these installations that focused on the concept of utopia for a series of “utopia stations” that was part of its series Liquid Culture: a collection of gestures and sensations from an asphalt perspective that had occurred during the summer for the past few years; this summer was the last of these installations. Lauri Stallings, the choreographer and founder of gloATL, considers these performances installations – physical and public installations; the series is described as “physical installations [that] are unveiled as public utopia stations for arriving, leaving, and staying for awhile.” [1]

During the first weeks of the Intensive, Stallings described to us her interest in utopia, referencing Thomas More’s book Utopia (Of a republic’s best state and of the new island Utopia (De optimo rei publicae statu deque nova insula Utopia)), published in 1516. What seemed to be impelling Stallings to the notion of utopia is that the word utopia has multiple and somewhat contradictory meanings. The statement for this summer’s series of utopia stations describes that “[t]here is a double-meaning in the term “utopia,” being both a good place (eutopia) and a no place (outopia).” [2] The perplexing concepts of “good” and “no” together propelled me to enter the work. During this discussion with Stallings, the company, and fellow intensive participants, I mentioned that it seemed that “no place” had to be impossible. Wherever there is being, there is movement. Even between two atoms, there is an ever-so-slight vibratory motion. Animate form, or life, is exactly that, animate. It moves. [3] If “no place” cannot possibly exist, then what of the “good place”?

gloATL. Utopia Station 1. Liquid Culture 2013. Soundtable. Photo from BURNAWAY flickr. http://www.flickr.com/photos/burnaway/sets/72157634525912059/

gloATL. Utopia Station 1. Liquid Culture 2013. Soundtable. Photo from BURNAWAY flickr. http://www.flickr.com/photos/burnaway/sets/72157634525912059/

All of the installations involved swings, swing sets, and the encouragement of public engagement with the swings. For Stallings, this is a gesture of ultimate freedom; the ability to partake in the childlike joy of swinging within public space. Each installation also had blue astro turf designating a stage of sorts that at most times separated the dancers from the public. However, Stallings said that even this space should not be maintained as an eternal divider. She keeps in mind that a member of the public could always step over the edge of the floor and enter the space of the stage.

In looking back on this Intensive experience and observing the installations while reading Plato’s Republic for my PhD comprehensive exams, I find myself in a rather perplexing state of body-mind. Both Thomas More’s Utopia and Plato’s Republic describe a space where all would be good – proper governance, happiness, order, common property. Both of these spaces are fictional, however, and cannot possibly exist in the real world; a confluence of the double-meaning – a good place that is no place. In encountering a work that attempts through dance to create a utopian space in the current world we live in, the troubling passages in Republic become more clear instances of the perceived dangers of artistic freedom. [4] However, maybe the utopian installations illuminate these same passages in terms of a Platonic sarcasm; since the idea has been so pushed to the edge, it has become ridiculous.

 

Being There

As a participant in the making of the work and also as a viewer, my experience of the series of installations straddles multiple spheres of engagement, perception, and bodily recognition. I have to admit that those three weeks of July were among the hardest I have lived yet. The physical exertion of dancing for hours six days a week was taxing. The emotional investment was more than I had expected. The mental exercising was beyond what I had encountered before. Being in a PhD program at Emory, I don’t often have the opportunity to use my body as the material of my thought and production of work, so putting myself in the mode of bodily “thought” was an exercise in mental gymnastics.

Inhabiting another’s work was something I had not experienced before. Taking on someone else’s idea as my own and incorporating it into my own body was more of a challenge than I could have imagined. The ability to fully take on the choreographer’s concept as inspiration for one’s own bodily experience is a skill that I fully respect. It amazes me to see gloATL dancers express these concepts with their whole bodies; each finger is doing something special; each facial twitch is a culmination of an entirety of being. As Stallings says, “the movement is in your fingers.”

Stallings process is an incredible one to witness. Starting with an idea, it traverses into often unexpected territory, blossoming into full body expression. This part of the process, called “Process” by gloATL, usually came after a warm-up led by Stallings or other gloATL dancers. This wasn’t any sort of warm-up though. Called “Tools,” it was an exploration of internal bodily connections that make movement manifest externally. All movement generates from the inside and radiates towards an external form that can be witnessed. Coming out of a Gaga tradition, a dance technique and vocabulary formulated by Israel choreographer Ohad Naharin, “Tools” is a way to connect to the pleasure of movement. Even when difficult, the ability to move is a pleasure in and of itself. One of the goals is to constantly search for the unexpected places in the body that initiate movement. Stallings often said that if you feel you are comfortable with a particular movement, it’s time to move towards something previously undone, unthought, un/not-moved.

After finishing the intensive and going back into my usually more stationary world of reading books and writing words on a screen, I feel that the world of movement has infiltrated my world of stationary contemplation. I realize that the movement was there all along and that it’s just that I have begun to accept it more fully into the life I am living.

gloATL. Utopia Station 2. 10th and Piedmont. Liquid Culture 2013. Photo by Thom Baker. http://www.artsatl.com/2013/07/review-gloatls-liquid-culture-series-finds-breath-simplicity-freedom-great-outdoors/

 

Swinging Release

During the last installation I participated in with gloATL, I felt something inside come up into my throat. Maybe a purely physical experience, but something tells me that it was more. At the end of the installation, we invited the audience into the middle of the blue astro turf floor by leading them using our elbows as the anchor for them to hold onto. There, after looking into each other’s eyes, we decided as a group to speak: “You have only to say yes.” With childlike wonderment and excitement, about the beautiful swing sets, about the blue of the astro turf, about being there moving, the group performing in the installation let go with screams, laughter, and every other kind of expression that erupted from the core. At this point, something inside my body crept up to the top of my throat, something was attempting to escape through my mouth. I stopped still. If I moved anymore, that thing would exit my body onto the astro turf. I couldn’t fathom that happening. It was a purging that I couldn’t handle happening at that time.

gloATL. Utopia Station 4. Woodruff Arts Center. Liquid Culture 2013. Photo from BURNAWAY flickr.

gloATL. Liquid Culture 2013. Woodruff Arts Center. Photo from BURNAWAY flickr. http://www.flickr.com/photos/burnaway/sets/72157634714580973/

I went home that night after the installation and tried to process what had happened to me. The next morning during process, we went over that moment. The same thing kept happening. Whatever was in there wanted to be let go, but, for some reason, I couldn’t let it. I sat down in the hall outside the studio. My body couldn’t accept what it was saying. The connections between my body, my mind, and my internal emotional existence were confused with each other. It seemed that my mental thoughts couldn’t keep up with the internal movements of my emotions and body. I couldn’t keep it together. I couldn’t participate in the last installation. Of this, I am deeply regretful. I wish I could have made it through, but something, I’m not sure what exactly, kept me back.

Maybe it was the thought of utopia, a freedom I couldn’t comprehend. That feeling deep in my belly that rose to my throat threatened me simultaneously with the “good place” and the “no place.” Something in my unconscious body-mind didn’t understand what that even could mean. How could I occupy that position of “good place” and “no place” at all, let alone at the same time? Maybe this is what Plato was warning against: a radical disorder. If the body, mind, and soul cannot be easily divided and categorized, what happens to that being and the rest of the world she inhabits? Music and gymnastic together as dance brought be to that precipice of disorder that was begging to erupt. This eruption of bodily order holds within it the potential for ultimate freedom from restraint, but also ultimate devastation of a creeping chaos.

gloATL. Utopia Station 3. Goodson Yard at The Goat Farm Arts Center. Liquid Culture 2013. Photo by Ralph Williams. E37 Photography. http://e37photography.blogspot.com

gloATL. Liquid Culture Series 2013 at Goodson Yard. Photo by Ralph Williams. E37 Photography. http://e37photography.blogspot.com

This is the experience that Stallings created – for me, for the public, maybe for the other dancers themselves. Though these installations are meant for public interaction, it is rare that you see an audience member claim the space as her own. The dance floor remains a dance floor for most of the time until glo explicitly invites the public to join them. There is a timidity to dance and art viewing even with the explosion of socially-engaged and participant-driven art. However, during one of the performances at The Goat Farm Arts Center, one of the participants decided to take control of the space. He took on one of the swings hanging from the rafters as his own. He did not want to get off the swing, even when approached by glo dancers that needed the swing to perform the choreography. Eventually, with some silent, eye coaxing he got up and off the swing. In the public sphere, it is impossible to claim a particular space as purely your own. Part of the freedom the series of installations points to is the freedom to not grasp so tightly.

During the ending section performed at The Goat Farm Arts Center and The Woodruff Arts Center, we played a game of switching and racing for swings. It was so satisfying to attain the glory of the swing, but at a certain point, while swinging with pride, watching the other dancers in the middle of the floor fidget with anticipation and wide eyes, I decided to jump off the swing, give it over to another to enjoy. That might be the space of utopian contradiction – both the “good place” and the “no place” together; the space suspended in air where you joyfully float, exiting the swing in order for another to occupy it.

gloATL. Utopia Station 4. Woodruff Arts Center. Liquid Culture 2013. Photo BURNAWAY flickr.

gloATL. Liquid Culture 2013. Woodruff Arts Center. Photo from BURNAWAY flickr. http://www.flickr.com/photos/burnaway/sets/72157634714580973/

 

For more images of the installations, check out BURNAWAY’s flickr sets for gloATL’s Liquid Culture installations at Historic Old Fourth Ward, Goodson Yard at The Goat Farm Arts Center, and Woodruff Arts Center.

For a great review/write-up of the 2013 Liquid Culture series, check out Cynthia Bond Perry’s article “gloATL’s “Liquid Culture” series finds breath, simplicity, and freedom” published on Arts ATL.

Notes:

[1] Statement for Liquid Culture: a collection of gestures and sensations from an asphalt perspective, gloATL, http://gloatl.org/upcoming/whats-next/ (accessed 8.21.2013)

[2] Statement for Liquid Culture: a collection of gestures and sensations from an asphalt perspective, gloATL, http://gloatl.org/upcoming/whats-next/ (accessed 8.21.2013)

[3] Maxine Sheets-Johnstone, The Primacy of Movement, 2nd edition (Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2011).

[4] See for example Plato’s treatment of music and gymnastic as the best tools for educating the body and soul to be temperate, courageous, and good. However, there are stipulations attached to these training methods; no innovation is allowed. Since music is claimed to be the most mimetic art, it comes with a certain power that must be controlled. I don’t think it is surprising that this art form is paired with an art of the body, gymnastic. (Plato, Republic, Book II, 376; Book III, 410; Book IV, 424; and etc.) Also consider the discussion of music and gymnastic in relation to the proper form of narrative in poetry, pure third person narration, which does not inhabit the person of a character and speak through him or her. In Book II, section 377, Plato asks whether music also includes literature, and further, whether this literature is true or false. This leads the members of the dialogue to a discussion of what stories should be allowed to be told and which ones are dangerous to the ears – too influential.




Wandering SF: The Mission

August 20, 2013 · Print This Article

I recently saw the trailer for Woody Allen’s new movie Blue Jasmine starring Cate Blanchett.  There was an exterior shot of a café on the block I live on in the Mission neighborhood of San Francisco.  I pass that café almost everyday and I never considered it to be so dramatic until I saw it in the trailer.  I was reminded how vibrant the Mission is, and so I decided to take a walk around the neighborhood to visit some great art spots.

The Mission is a cool place – home to a dense Mexican community that is quickly becoming consumed by white affluent hipsters.  Lots of homeless people in puffy down jackets slowly push shopping carts on Mission Street past tipsy Marina bros wearing aviators and the latest salmon-colored shorts.  ‘Artisanal’ is in the name of the game in this area, with highly priced food, home, and décor products in shops along Valencia Street.

A massive double decker private commuter bus equipped with Wi-Fi.

The booming tech scene has spawned the tech renaissance populated by well-educated and well-paid 20 and 30-somethings that have injected the city with so much money that San Francisco has become one of the most expensive places to live in the United States.  Private commuter bus lines for employees of companies like Apple, Facebook, and Google weave through the Mission, attracting very competitive rental fees on new and old luxury apartments.

Sprinkled throughout this urban grid are several art venues.  From private galleries to non-profit spaces, the Mission is an eclectic mix as diverse as its inhabitants.  The tech folk have yet to share and indulge their economic prosperity with the artistic community of the Mission, but eventually some kind of connection will be made.  Until then, these art venues continue to produce and shape an active voice in the shape of San Francisco’s cultural identity albeit in the shadow of technology’s spotlight.

Root Division

Just two blocks from the café in Blue Jasmine is the artist-run space Root Division.  Several of my classmates from grad school have had or currently have studio space there.  From the website: “Root Division is a visual arts non-profit that connects creativity and community through a dynamic ecosystem of arts education, exhibitions, & studios”.  The space constantly holds calls for submissions and proposals for future shows and delivers a wide range of educational programming.  My favorite is their annual juried exhibition titled Introductions – I’m a sucker for healthy art competition and the debut of emerging artists!

Artworks by Gabby Miller.

During my visit, I got a chance to check out the group show Electronic Pacific Satellite curated by Justin Charles Hoover.  Digital and time-based media fill the space, but I’m still a fan of a standout like Gabby Miller’s Logistics from Sea to Land (For Giang and Nam) (2012).  A large section of a steel shipping container is painted blue on one side and leans against a wall.  Miller quotes a text from Marc Levin’s “The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger” that traces the shipping connection between the US and Vietnam.  I giggle when I relate the shipping container to the enormous private tech busses passing through the Mission.

Southern Exposure

Some blocks away, I see Southern Exposure.  From the website: “Our good friends THE THING will be in residence at Southern Exposure for the month of August before transitioning into their new Tenderloin storefront this fall. Six years ago, THE THING launched their first issue at SoEx; it’s only fitting that they return for the completion of their 20th, conceived by Tauba Auerbach. A wrapping party for the 20th issue will be hosted by SoEx on August 15”.  The last time I was at SoEx, I participated in a wrapping party for the 19th issue by David Shrigley.  This space is all about collaboration and sharing with passionate artists throughout the city.

Kadist

I keep walking and I see Kadist, but its doors were closed this day.  From the website: “Kadist Art Foundation encourages the contribution of the arts to society, conducting programs primarily with artists represented in its collection to promote their role as cultural agents. Kadist’s collections and productions reflect the global scope of contemporary art, and its programs develop collaborations between Kadist’s local contexts (Paris, San Francisco) and artists, curators and art institutions worldwide.”  One night a couple years ago, Tony Labat invited several artists to share YouTube videos in this space.  We all gathered around a projection screen and watched a variety of odd, funny, weird, informative, and emotional videos.  The evening became the contemporary equivalent of an ancient scene of storytelling around a blazing fire.

Richard Kamler, Twelve Food Trays on Ikea Shelves, 1999 – Present. One-pound sheet lead, found objects. 11 x 17 inches each.

After passing a yoga studio or two, I finally end my wandering on a block with two private galleries: Steven Wolf Fine Arts and Guerrero Gallery.  I have an affinity for Steven’s gallery because I exhibited in the space last year.  The first gallery room hosts Richard Kamler’s Twelve Food Trays on Ikea Shelves (1999 – Present).  The gunmetal-colored objects display the last food item requests from death row prisoners.   It’s quiet in the room, and spooky and grey and I know in the other room there is a working sculpture of an electric chair by Philip Zimmerman, so I get a little uncomfortable and I quietly back out of the gallery and cross the street.

Artworks by Adam Feibelman.

Across the street at Guerrero Gallery, Adam Feibelman shows a bunch of artwork in an exhibition titled Do with Me as You Will.  While the space is naturally bright and airy like Steven’s gallery, there’s a different, lighter feeling in here.  Maybe it’s the hand-cut paper pieces in pretty frames that seem more familiar in a gallery space.  There’s sewing thread and pattern and images of cityscapes, so I think that it could be quite uplifting, until I consider the brown edges of the cutouts to be burnt and suddenly everything looks very spooky and ghost-like.  What an intense block of artwork!

A couple hours of walking in the Mission can bring you face-to-face with the contemporary art scene of San Francisco.  The sun is always shining, and it’s particularly rewarding when it seems like the rest of the city is covered in fog.  Every space has an interesting perspective and is consistently delivering the kind of work that local artists enjoy making, and local audience members enjoy discussing.  Now let’s try to get the tech folk to check it out!