Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Debby and Larry Kline, Collaborative Artist - Provocateurs Talk about Themselves

By Cathy Breslaw

Debby and Larry Kline are in love – their marriage and relationship is at the core of their collaborative art projects.  Having been together for over 25 years, and working closely on the art they create, the Klines finish each other’s sentences and converse like a well choreographed dance.

Born and raised in Indianapolis Indiana, the Klines were introduced by a friend while both studied at Indiana University.  They immediately connected and as they describe it, they began to talk in “twin babble” – with a remarkable sense of mutual understanding of one another. Both studied painting, and talked of all night painting stints until they were kicked out of the university studio by a security guard. They noted one professor, Steve Manheimer as mentor during their college years.  Described as a tough but brilliant teacher, Manheimer would rip up student drawings and paint on their paintings, constantly questioning their intent and teaching the Klines to more clearly understand their artistic process and goals for their work.

The Age of Enlightenmenet (detail of installation)

Both Klines worked at the Indiana Museum of Art during and after college, though Larry left for graduate school at the Maryland Institute of Art.  It was during this time that Larry’s work shifted from painting into sculpture. Having broken his right hand, he was forced to draw and paint with the left, and though he became good at rendering with his left hand, he began experimenting with using found objects to create sculpture, and would use ‘throw aways’ from other student work and incorporated those into his painting and 3-D work. During this time frame, Debby stayed working at the Indianapolis Museum of Art as an Assistant Registrar, handling the insurance, legal, shipping, safety and security of art works in the collection and works shown at the museum. After receiving his MFA, Larry returned to Indianapolis to work at the IMA doing photography and teaching classes.

Faced with college debts and the recent death of her daughter from Leukemia, Debbie left her art behind for a time, and received a good offer to be Associate Registrar for the Museum of Contemporary Art in  Chicago, and she and Larry decided to move there.  Both Klines sited Joe Shapiro, one of the founders of the Museum of Contemporary Art as a mentor.  A generous teacher and major art collector, Shapiro taught the Klines that collecting art is do-able – and that collectors are “caretakers” of their art.  He also emphasized the importance of selecting art that is not a ‘quick read’ – art that requires more than one viewing to understand. After five years in Chicago and paying off debts, the Klines were ready for a new challenge. Debby floated her resume at one of the national museum conferences and was hired as Deputy Director of the California Center for the Arts in Escondido. During her time there, Debby also handled the Registrar position and was Co-Acting Director for a time. Faced with budgetary and management issues, there were major staff cuts and the Klines looked for new jobs. The Klines currently teach 3-D Design at the Design Institute of San Diego and Larry also teaches 3-D Design and Perspective and Rendering at Grossmont College. They also lecture widely on subjects ranging from the nature of creativity to the art of the Holocaust.

Dinner With the Klines (detail of book)

Since they have lived in San Diego County, the Klines have developed a rich and engaging collaborative studio practice.  Their process involves a lot of brainstorming of ideas and ‘play’ as part of their art-making- often keeping a sketchpad in the car for bouncing ideas around on  long trips. They have a strong belief in experimenting with materials and learning self taught new skill sets – sometimes on youtube, as part of each project. They often seek out equipment at garage sales – for example, they found a ceramics kiln for $75  and free molds for their installation works. In order to develop their projects, they hold ‘business meetings’ with each other in order to plan and determine practical decisions about each of their individual responsibilities.

The Candy Store (detail of large installation)
Self described ‘Provocateurs”, the Klines use beautiful object making and humor to reel people into challenging their own preconceptions about subjects as wide-ranging as healthcare, religion, politics, and commercialism. Their work is as unique as their relationship – They have similar aesthetic sensibilities and share the goal of wanting to help people think differently.  A prime example is their project “The Electric Fields of California” which is an environmental work exposing the powerful Electromagnetic fields surrounding power lines by illuminating fluorescent sculptures without direct hook up to a power source.  This and more of their projects past, current and future can be viewed at: www.  In 2013, they won the San Diego Art Prize. They will have several booths at the upcoming San Diego Art Fair in November, 2013. Their show "Provocations" opens Thursday evening, September 5th, 5-7 pm, lecture to follow, at Mesa College, San Diego.
Artful Life By Cathy Breslaw - Debby and Larry Kline, Collaborative Artist

Artist-in-residence / Dyon Scheijen at the San Diego Art Institute

The San Diego Art Institute offers much to local and regional artists – a great location to participate in juried exhibitions in Balboa Park, San Diego. The exhibition space is called the Museum of the Living Artist.

And artists can practice drawing and photographing models at ArtGym, not to mention discussing each other’s work at The Gathering

Dyon Scheijen painting at San Diego Art Institute
Now, Netherlands’ artist Dyon Scheijen is holding court as its artist-in-residence.

Scheijen is an abstract artist, echoing the large canvases and emotional connectiveness in Mark Rothko’s paintings.

The signature is on the side
What makes Scheijen’s approach interesting is that he engages the environmental space which he will fill with his paintings. Large spaces might require a layout with specific measurements. Other areas are more amenable to a more immediate layout. This is what Scheijen is finding with the space he is working with at the San Diego Art Institute. Read more at Scheijen's blog.

Scheijen is self-taught and has been engaged in his abstract painting approach since 1999.
Artist-in-residence:   Dyon Scheijen
Where:  San Diego Art Institute / 1439 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101 / Balboa Park
When:   Continuing through September 11, 2013.  Daily Tuesday through Sunday,10am – 3 pm  and by appointment.
For more information, call:  Kerstin Robers at 619-236-0011

Sunday, August 25, 2013

No SD County Art Council Just Seems Wrong: Politics Affecting the Arts in San Diego

I am tracking several other large initiatives for the SD arts community and we should see some amazing changes soon at the San Diego Art Institute and the Commission for Arts and Culture.

The hunt will be on soon for a new director for The San Diego Art Institute.  We are so pleased that Claire Slattery has been designated as the interim director. She was president of the board and so knows the inner workings of the Institute and what is will take for this wonderful resource to reach new heights. This is a huge opportunity for the right person who will know the benefit of collaboration with the entire arts community. Slattery was previously also on the board of the Combined Organization for the Arts and knows the value of the art associations of the entire country. This resource was little developed since it came under the authority of SDAI, but the potential is still there. We feel that the SDAI has been under utilized and would love to see so many more events and more variety in the exhibitions, a larger audience and more support from the community so that this premier venue in Balboa Park really serves our artists at the same time as it creates a strong arts identity for the region. That identity can serve the county as a whole in so many ways including showing the economic benefits of attracting skilled professionals to this area by showing them the creative excellence that exist here.

The position of director of the Commission for Arts and Culture for the City of San Diego will need to be refilled now that Mayor Filner is gone. The new mayor or acting mayor might want to choose from three new candidates that the commissioners put forward. Right now Dana Springs is holding down the fort as acting director, but maybe they will lure Denise Montgomery back as she resigned after two months in protest to Filner harassment charges. The future of the commission is the bigger issue. Some say it may be requested that this group becomes an independent non-profit organization and no longer is part of the government. That seems like a way to cut off the funding from the TOT (Tax on Tourist) to the arts. So it will take a strong and savvy director to keep the money flowing from the city.

Finally, we have to realize that the Commission for Arts and Culture is the only organization recognized by the county supervisors and thus the only one eligible for California Arts Councils funding. As Jim Gilliam, Director of Arts for the City of Encinitas reminds us, “San Diego had an Arts Agency long ago but it was disbanded when the downtown Commission for Arts and Culture was established. The problem with that structure: the city doesn’t serve the full county.” It seems obvious that we need a SD Country Arts Council formed to represent all of the constituents in the region. This has to be an independent organization, not a branch of any other organization and it need to address the issues of funding for arts in the county, arts education, audience building and a true arts identity which is all inclusive. Although San Diego Visual Arts represents over 2100 resources we don’t cover the performing arts and don’t see this as a role for any one organization. It has to be a joint effort, with buy in from the majority of our art professionals. There is not a golden egg waiting for us at the CAC, but we are the only county in California that does not have a county art council and that just seems wrong.

Fifteen Minutes of Fame at SDMA

15 Minutes of Fame: An art installation by Lauren Carrera/Prudence Horne at The San Diego Museum of Art
 only Sat. /Sun. August 3 – 4th. Noon to 5 pm. This is part of Summer Break 2013 (1450 El Prado, Balboa Park, SD 92101) More info: Lauren Carrera 619.971.8747

What a terrific experience this was for all 30 artists involved.  I was one of the lucky artists and I was surrounded by all my friends like a pop star with paparazzi…camera clicking and questions hurdling at me. We were invited to bring work an hour before the appointed time, then when our 15 minutes came, place it on an easel in the first gallery to the left of the entrance.  There was a chair set up on a small raised dais with a vase and flowers. It was over all too quickly and we were on our way. But my resume is now proof of this short but sweet experience. 

Michelle Kurtis Cole Sitting Pretty with her art work on the easel

Patricia Frischer with organizer and artist Lauren Carrera

ArtWalk @NTC Liberty Station

Thomas Hemlock at Art Walk

ArtWalk @NTC Liberty Station  is moving this year from the Bay to the promenade at NTC. It should be easier to park and you also have a chance to see the Talmadge Art Show on Sunday. Both are free. Sat/Sun Aug 24/25, 10 am – 5 pm( Ingram Plaza, 2640 Historic Decatur Rd, SD 92106) More info: Sandi Cottrell  619.615.1090

A beautiful August Sunday morning in sunny San Diego at the NTC Foundation in Liberty Station was an immensely easy and pleasant way to view art. There were over 100 artists, about 5 art associations on view with none of the parking problems of downtown SD. Plus we enjoyed  lovely trees with shade, lots of food booths or in our case, a visit to the new and extremely impressive Stones Brewery (yikes, they can serve 900!).  

There are another 30 gallery/studio spaces resident at all time at the NTC but we did not have time to see them as we choose to go to the Talmadge Art Fair held at the Activity Center on the same day. Although the Talmadge organized by Sharon Gorevitz is known for it jewelry, accessories, craft and clothing, the Art Walk had it share of jewelers this year as well as a few potters and many more glass artists than I remember from my last visits.  

Sandi Cottrell choose not to hold the Art Walk in the promenade area but it was very conveniently located and easy to see just off Historic Decatur Road. I would love to see more art organizations showing their members works undert the shady arches of the center promenades. But that will have to be for a future showing. Right now I belief that Art Walk at the NTC signals the coming of age of this art center, long in the making but now secured at least for the 55 years of the lease.

Emily Halpern at Art Walk

Jeff Yoeman at Art Walk

Julia Resor at Art Walk

Friday, August 23, 2013

BEERology: Something to see, something to taste

By Joe Nalven

The Museum of Man has opened a yearlong exhibit on beer:  BEERology.  The exhibit is not about the beer making scene in San Diego - microbreweries and nanobreweries included.  The exhibit is about the worldwide history of beer making.
Moche (pre Inca) growler
The exhibit offers interesting things to see - particularly ancient pottery with functional uses. This was the way art used to be before it got conceptual and lost out on the fun. There will be beer tastings, too, in September, January, March and June.

Patrick McGovern’s work, cited by the Smithsonian and part of the back story for this exhibit, is known as the beer archaeologist and he surmises that beer may have been the spark for civilization in various parts of the ancient world:  “[That may have been the] case when early man decided to start farming. Why humans turned from hunting and gathering to agriculture could be the result of our ancestors’ simple urge for alcoholic beverages.”
Rex Garniewicz talking about the ancient Egyptian beer mug
This exhibit was brought together by Rex Garniewicz and Katherine Yee, primarily with artifacts from the Museum of Man’s collection.  The exhibit gets one to thinking about the importance of beer to how society worked thousands of years ago to our own interests and practices today.

One of the artifacts in this exhibit is one of seven known beer mugs from the period of Akhenaten (14th century BCE). The other six are in Egypt.
From explanatory wall at BEERology - Cuneiform symbols for beer
Equally fascinating is that Egyptian beer was loaded with antibiotics. The fermenting process produced tetracycline – more than what a doctor would prescribe today. How do we know that?  Bones from Egyptian mummies thousands of years old showed significant deposits of tetracycline in the bones.  That was no accident. That was beer.

BEERology takes us on a tour to different continents.  One commonality was that women were generally the brew-masters.  Stay at home, gather the grains and do the cooking. Start the day with a brewski, end the day with a brewski.
Quechua woman adding yeast (ca. 1992)
Was that how it was?  Clearly, the exhibit gets us to thinking and rethinking how society evolved and what the engine(s) were that served to promote society and goodwill.

However, there is a dark side to this beer drinking that I discuss when I teach about cultures of Latin America.

As part of a larger essay about the variation in drinking patterns in Bolivia (Sirionó, Camba, Aymara, Mestizo townspeople and Gringo buyers), Dwight Heath tells the sad tale of the well-intentioned anthropologist who unwittingly gave an steel ax to the Sirionó to replace their stone axes.

When the Sirionó, a hunting and gather society in the rainforest, used stone axes, cutting down bee hives to get the honey to make honey beer (or mead), it took much time and effort. With success, the drunken revelry that followed only increased sociability. Everyone had a good time.

But with the new steel ax, things changed.

“More honey flowed into the community, and it was promptly converted to beer. More beer meant more parties – and that meant less hunting. Meat, which was always in short supply, became especially scarce [ ]. Tempers grew short, with people exhorting each other to go out hunting, but with each hunter preferring to enjoy a prolonged drinking binge.”  (Dwight Heath, Changes in Drinking Patterns in Five Bolivian Cultures: A Cautionary Tale about Historical Approaches.

In this case, modernization and do-gooding had negative consequences for traditional Sirionó society.

So, yes there is much more to know about beer and how in interfaces with daily life. And then there is the history of wine, mead, hard liquor and hallucinogens.  Human society has used them all and we would benefit by understanding this larger picture rather than limit ourselves to current policies, beliefs, rituals and practices. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Juxtaposing Photographers: The Relative Viewpoints of Lavine and Levine

by Joe Nalven

There are many ways to curate an exhibit. Not often do we get to see skilled family members in the same exhibit. 

The Gotthelf Art Gallery will be featuring two cousins, Dana Levine and Arthur Lavine. Both are photographers.

Arthur Lavine / Woman Stockholder (Left); Dana Levine / The Goth Look (Right)

Immediately, questions abound about whether there is an aesthetic connection about time and context. Are we all related to each other, not just by family but by the times we live in?

Lavine/Levine: Relative Viewpoints

Gotthelf Art Gallery
Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center
4126 Executive Dr.
La Jolla, CA 92037
Exhibition from Sept. 11, 2013 through Nov. 27, 2013
Hours: Sunday through Friday 9 am - 5 pm

Reception: Wed. Sept. 11, 2013 at 7 pm

Joe Nalven:  What is the idea of this two-person show juxtaposition?

Dana Levine:  In our exhibition, Lavine/Levine: Relative Viewpoints, we match 24 photographs by Arthur and myself.  The viewer gets to compare our work.  Our photography looks at life from the mid-20th century to the present.  You get to see nostalgia, the contemplative side of life, the character reflected in faces, and humor.

Joe Nalven:  How do you and Arthur see with the camera?  Were you influenced by Arthur's way of seeing photographically?

Dana Levine:  We did not meet until 2007 at the San Diego Museum of Photographic Arts when we discovered we are distantly related to one another.  In the six years I have known Arthur, I have come to realize there is an amazing visual thread, woven through time and space, that somehow connects my cousin to me. 
Although I am familiar with Arthur's work and we both love street photography, i.e. taking candid shots of people unaware they are being photographed, I do not consciously copy his work.

I arrived at photography through my work as a two-dimensional painter.  I used a camera to take photographs that I could later use as inspiration for my paintings.  It was so easy to use a digital camera that I found myself taking many more shots.  I soon discovered many of my photos would not make good paintings but would make good photographs.  That's how I started exhibiting my photographic work as well as my paintings. 

In terms of seeing through a camera, what I like best is to look for interesting body language, or people in unguarded moments.   For example, my photograph of Girlfriends was taken last year in Rome and shows girls looking at a cellphone.  The shot tells a story of girls sharing a fun moment.  My image is paired with Arthur's Friends taken more than 50 years ago, but viewer experiences the happiness of friendship in both.

Arthur's work is straightforward and journalistic but he uses his images to tell a story, frequently in a cinematic way.  In Central Park Snowfall, the man walking away in the distance could evoke the final frame of a film.   Similarly, the woman in my Figure in the Mist is walking away from the camera;  I was fortunate to be ready with my camera because a second later she had turned the corner and disappeared into the conservatory.

Joe Nalven:  How do these various juxtapositions or complements fit together into a total exhibit?

Dana Levine:  We come from different generations. And our life experiences are different. This informs our art. Also, Arthur works with a film camera in black and white and I work with a digital camera and Photoshop.  The outcome - the photographs - resonate with one another. The subjects, the composition, and the imagery connect our art. You can see similarity in how we view the world.

Arthur Lavine / Girls on a Slide (Upper);
Dana Levine / Children at Play (Lower)
For example:  Arthur's Girls on a Slide, shot in the midwest and taken decades before my recent photo of Children at Play on the Beach in front of the La Jolla Shores Hotel, presents both the same subject matter and diagonal compositional elements as mine. 

We paired Arthur's Bridle Path, Central Park, filmed in black and white, with my Vermont Farm, shot in color on a digital camera and converted to black and white using Photoshop.  A bridge in Manhattan's Central Park and a rusty farm machine in a meadow are reminders that timeless, beautiful images can be found anywhere, anytime.

Joe Nalven:  Are there any statements about reality that the viewer might draw from your respective visualizations?

Dana Levine:  I think the most telling realization a viewer will come to is a reminder that life has not changed all that much through the years.  Teddy's Barbership has given way to Tattoo Parlor.  Conclusion: the activities of daily living have altered only slightly.   The poses and attitude in Man outside Cinema and Roman Profile show men who could be brothers relating to each other across the generations.  In these four photographs, the compositional elements reinforce that knowledge.

Arthur has a gentle sense of humor which clearly can be seen in his Greenwich Village while I take a satirical look in What to Wear at the Fair.  The figures here are saying to the viewer, "I'm here and this is me so get off my case."

Arthur Lavine / Greenwich Village (Left); Dana Levine / What to Wear
at the Fair (Right)
Arthur composes his shot when he looks in the camera viewfinder and in recent years rarely cropped his images in the final print.   However, Working Hands is dramatically cropped and never printed any other way.  Arthur made this image while still a photography student, and the photo was included in The Family of Man exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in 1955.   (This exhibition is still traveling the world and the book based on the exhibition was a best seller.)  My photograph, Trolley Dance, is also cropped to focus on the body and strength of the central dancer.

Arthur Lavine / Working Hands (Left); Dana Levine / Trolley Dance (Right)

Dana Levine / South Bay, Salt Works (Upper);
Arthur Lavine / Building Fantasy (Lower)
In at least one case the contrast between our work is a lot stronger than the similarity.  Although the subject matter is the same, the differences are immediately apparent in View across Wall Street and Windows and Flag.  Arthur has created a dynamic black and white look down Wall Street with flags flying, crowds of people, and traffic jammed. I multiplied and then rotated the side of one mirrored office building reflecting back a flag to create a symmetrical design in color.

Joe Nalven:  Where do you get your inspiration?

Dana Levine:  When I see something or someone that reverberates within me.  I take multiple shots, trying to capture it before it disappears.

Nb.  Many of the photographs referenced in this article require a visit to the Gotthelf Gallery. Go and enjoy the photography.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

That’s Not Photography - Gallery 21 Art Show

by Joe Nalven

Gallery 21 in Spanish Village/Balboa Park has an excellent series of art exhibits. And now, we anticipate another thought- and art-provoking show:  That's Not Photography!
Exhibit at Gallery 21/Spanish Village/Balboa Park -Aug 27 to Sept 9, 2013

Exhibit:  That’s Not Photography!

Where:   Gallery 21 in Spanish Village, Balboa Park

When:      August 27 – September 9, 2013

Gallery hours: 11 – 4 daily

Opening Reception:    Sunday, September 1st, 1 – 5 pm

Closing Reception:      Sunday, September 8th, 1 – 5 pm

Joe Nalven:  What gave you the idea for this exhibit?

Kris Moore:  “That’s not photography” is a tiresome refrain that has echoed in my head since matriculating through the Department of Fine Arts photography program at Indiana University in the 1970’s.  The MFA candidates in my program were dedicated to the zone system (formulated by Ansel Adams and Fred Archer back in the 1930′s) and Bernice Abbott’s 1951 declaration that, “Photography cannot ignore the great challenge to reveal and celebrate reality.” 

Joe Nalven:  That's an important point. We are often trapped by definitions.  Some are expected for civil behavior.  But in art?  Did the academic framework lock you into how you did your art? 

Kris Moore: Although, I never completely bought into it, I was thoroughly intimidated by my peers.  My experiments with exposing crinkled up photo paper or drawing on it during exposure drew condemnation from my classmates and was completely ignored by my professors.  So, I backed down and did the street photographer thing, which was very hip at the time.  I documented the rural backyards of Bloomington, Indiana, which I swear someday I will scan the negatives and make inkjet prints.  The old “C” prints are a mess, but to me they represent a precious look back to a simpler life. 

That’s Not Photography, the exhibition, was born from my art school frustration. 
Joe Nalven:  Who is in the show with you?

Kris Moore: Three photographers, whom I admire immensely, join me in this endeavor.  Will Gibson, Theresa Jackson, and Eric Johnson approach their work with determination and gusto.  We are thoughtful photographers blurring the line between painting, photography, and graphic design.

Kris Moore - Sanibel Orange Stem;  Eric Johnson - #87

Will Gibson - Pursuit 3; Theresa Jackson - 4 Roses 02