Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Balboa Park at 100

Balboa Park at 100
Showing from Jan until Feb 27
San Diego Art Institute
1439 El Prado, Balboa Park, House of Charm, SD 92101
More info: Marina Grize 619.236.0011

San Diego Art Institute presents this show organized by Executive Director Ginger Shulick Porcella and Francis French, Director of Education at the San Diego Air & Space Museumwhich  is a collaborative exhibition, exploring the past, present, and imagined future of Balboa Park. 

The back room of SDAI is converted into a Commemoration of a Theft. It is the essence of a change in time and place in this show which explores, in quite abstract ways, the shifts in time that occur in any one location. But for location you can substitute memory, concept, and attitude. We see echoes of our own selves and are surprised by some of the shadows which don't so much haunt us but remind us that time is influenced by context. 

Carlos Castro Arias,

Carlos Castro Arias,

Carlos Castro Arias,
Carlos Castro Arias,

Alex Young
Alex Young
In this installation by Alex Young (above and below) we learn about the Heaven on Earth Club. They encouraged the branding of San Diego as Heaven on Earth. I often refer to living in Paradise for our home here. This spiritual calling was applied to the promotion of SD as a destination. 
Alex Young

Alex Young
Cat Chiu Phillips
Cat Chiu Phillips takes that same tourist promotion which we see today and stitches it with overlays of thread and paint. This works are converted into overlays of past and present.
Saulo Cisneros
The veils of time are activated in Saulo Cisneros work where a projection of nude figures leaps and strides making reference to those first studios of photographs of the figure which was used to study anatomy. The figures almost look like holograms as they seem to exist in a 3-d space. This display leads very nicely into the installation of Clark and Spriggs where a nude suit is on display along with a photo album of visitors of the park game to wear the suit. This commemorates the Nudist Colony at Zoro Gardens which was  public space for nudes right in the park, which peep holes in the wall so it could be observed. The idea seems totally absurd today but didn't seem to be the scandal we would have imagined it to be at the time

Kate Clark and Hermione Spriggs

Kate Clark and Hermione Spriggs at Zoro Garden Nudist Colony
Brian Goeltzenleuchter & Charmaine Banach'
I was able to hear 4 out of the 6 audio recordings of stories of past events related to certain spots in the park preformed by this duo. This again carries forth the theme and adds sound and smell and that interactive aspect that makes you responsible for activating the art work. Seeing yourself as part of the history and future of the park is an important part of the centennial celebrations. Balboa Park at 100, is after all, about that celebration.

This brings me to my favorite piece in the show. I loved the giant lantern created by Belize Iristay. It is made up of those glass candle votive holders beloved by Mexican that usually have religious theme. You can buy them at any 99 cent shop. Iristay has stacked these up and on a whole section has created her own iconography. The flame in the center gives this a lovely glow. Just seeing it makes me want to celebrate.

Beliz Iristay

Crow at Studio Door

The Crow Show: An Homage To The Raven Is produced by Patric Stillman’s The Studio Door curated by Jenna S. Jacobs, MOCASD Curatorial Manager. There are two locations: San Diego Art Institute - North Park (3830 Ray Street, SD 92104) and Art Institute of California - San Diego (7650 Mission Valley Road SD 92108) Both venues are showing from February 2 - 27, 2015 More info: Patric Stillman 619-994-2263

Patric Stillman is working hard to create a space for artist to show with a juror or curated but always with a theme. His first show attracted even a few international artists and as you see below, the quality of the work on display was a very high quality on this theme. Artists sometimes rise to the challenge when limited to a theme and this is especially true for this show which features 10 local artists out of the 80 selected. 

Keith Parks strips of black and grey paper, artfully arranged on a straw floor stunned me. The photo is much darker than the illustration below and you see paper strips first and then they loosely form a shape that emerges as a bird. It is subtle and beautifully photographed and seems to capture the essence of birdness fragility and flight in this indirect nuanced creation. 

Keith Parks: Nested
I may be influenced by the snow we are constantly seeing on the news, but this very clever melted crow, melted my heart.
John Meza: Avian Terraglyph
 I am a sucker for a ready made and this one soars high knowing the title and raven theme.
Sam Laorum: Squawk Squad

Ron Testa's Kwagiuti Ceremonial Raven Mask is a historical photo by Charles Carpenter taken at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Expo. Printed from a 6x9 glass plate negative / scanned and a digital print made in 2013 by Ron. Photo courtesy of the Chicago Field Museum Archive, which Ron curates.  After much thought, Jenna Jacobs decided to allow the work because of the strength of the image and it made for a good companion piece for the other work Ron submitted of a photo he took. 

Miki Yokoyama"  Crow
Seeing this show, certainly makes us keen to see what else Patric has in store for the future. We are glad to see that the Studio door has found a new home in North Park at the corner of 30t and is the full text of their press release:
The Studio Door has announced that it has found a permanent home in North Park on 30th and Gunn in the heart of the bustling neighborhood.  The new facility will showcase an art gallery, working artists studios, GOLDEN art supplies and gift store, and Art-to-Market programming to help promote contemporary artists.

2015 has already been a wild ride for the arts business. After establishing a partnership with San Diego Art Institute - North Park (SDAI), The Studio Door planned to take over the SDAI lease for its facility on Ray Street.  The space was previously branded as the San Diego Art Department.  After moving in and beginning the laborious work to transform the space in preparation for its current exhibition, the artists received the announcement that the property owners were breaking the lease with SDAI effective March 1st to create leasing offices.

“It was a great disappointment.  A lot of people were looking forward to the prospect of reviving the neighborhood’s Arts and Culture District,” said Patric Stillman, founder of The Studio Door.  “A lot of excitement was being generated as we came in on the heels of Simply Local’s Brian Beevers new management for Ray at Night. The stars seemed aligned.”

As The Studio Door reached out to showcase the current international exhibition, The Crow Show: An Homage To The Raven, the press picked up the news and the word quickly spread. “Artists, businesses and neighbors began reaching out to contact us with encouraging thoughts, property referrals and personal introductions.  Suddenly, we had the good fortune of having many eyes on the street seeking out a new facility for us,” said Stillman. “We were blessed by the generosity of friends and strangers.”

Angela Landsberg, Executive Director of Main Street North Park (, was one of the community members to step in with an interest to keep The Studio Door in North Park.  Introductions fell into place, which eventually lead to The Studio Door finding a new space two blocks from their current exhibition.

“What a miraculous beginning for The Studio Door and its studio artists,” said Crisinda, an artist working with glass at The Studio Door in her own studio.  “A half a dozen artists were also caught up in this change.  We found ourselves scrambling with the short time frame to find new working spaces, which was particularly daunting as we faced the reality of losing the creative community we established as studio artists. It was wonderful to see The Studio Door act quickly to find a space where we would also be able to follow.”

“It’s a win for arts in North Park,” said Kevin Greeland, Certified GOLDEN Working Artist and educator (  “The community response really underscored their passion to live in a community with a thriving arts scene.”

Allowing for a month to transform the new space, The Studio Door will reopen in April with 50 To Watch, a landmark exhibition and national publication celebrating the region’s visual artists.

Meanwhile, the successful run of The Crow Show: An Homage To The Raven continues through February 27th with regular hours on Ray Street and at the Art Institute of California- San Diego in Mission Valley.  Check the website for hours.

For more information on The Studio Door, its programs and services, please visit and sign up for the monthly newsletter at

Monday, February 16, 2015

Mesa College Exhibits 6 Artists in "Reshaping the 2%: Contemporary Ceramics"

Reshaping the 2%: Contemporary Ceramics
Art Gallery, Mesa College, San Diego
Brian Benfer, Ianna Frisby, Joanne Hayakawa, Rebecca Manson, Brad Schwieger, Julie York
Show Runs Through February 26, 2015

article by Cathy Breslaw

Ianna Frisby
 11" x L 10" x W 6"   Porcelain, decals and luster     2014

Mesa College Ceramics Professor Nathan Betschart curated this contemporary ceramics exhibition at the college’s Art Gallery. The six artists in the show hail from various parts of the United States and though they use similar materials, their work is distinctively diverse. 
Brian Benfer’s drawing that extends the entire length of one long gallery wall, is part of Benfer’s ‘Chalkboard Series’, where he uses a porcelain composite that mimics ‘chalk’, creating a ‘blackboard’ surface. The result is a static black and white drawing with a richly textured mark-making surface - an overall pattern which the artist produced directly onto the wall.  Ianna Frisby’s two conceptual porcelain wall pieces comment on American history and culture. “Luke, I’m Your Mother”, is a white Darth Vader mask, made from porcelain that is embellished with flowers, showing the opposite more benevolent side of the “Dark Force”(humanity).  Her other work “White Guilt”comments on the dark history of  southern plantations. Joanna Hayakawa uses a combination of porcelain, steel and natural bush branches to explore connections between the biological side of humanity and the natural world.  Her “Inhale, Exhale/Aspiration” works which take the form of ceramic body parts, coupled with the structural imagery of natural bushes,  challenge the viewer to examine these relationships.  Rebecca Manson’s porcelain and epoxy wall pieces appear as ‘sculptural paintings’ in their shape, form and context.  Comprised of many individual small thin elongated ceramic shapes resembling nails, the totality of these works have the physicality of human skeletons and collections of small bones.  Brad Schwieger’s ceramic tabletop sculptures relate to architectural landscapes and are wheel thrown forms that together appear as industrial in content.  There is a certain amount of surface detail and adornment in the colored glazes used that are not evident in most of the other works in the show, but relate to traditional notions of ceramics. Julie York’s wall works relate closely to drawing and painting. Also made from porcelain, York’s works use color, form and perspective drawing to create ceramic architectural interior spaces that possess a meditative quality.  These six artists have unique art practices that taken together portray a complex, evolving and compelling view of the changing face of contemporary ceramic sculpture.

Joanne Hayakawa
“Inhale…Exhale,” 2013, 30”(L) x 28”(W) x 8”(D) (Wall), Porcelain, Beeswax, Steel and Rose Branches and Prismacolor

Monday, February 9, 2015

Joseph Bellows Gallery, Living Arrangements, Group Exhibition Spanning Several Decades

Living Arrangements
Group Exhibition: Rennie Barrow, Bevan Davies, Charles Johnstone, Gene Kennedy, Michael Mulno, Phel Steinmetz
Joseph Bellows Gallery, La Jolla, CA
Article by Cathy Breslaw

                Michael Mulno     Multi-Unit Residence   Florida Street, University Heights, San Diego   gelatin silver print,  8” x 10"  2014

Joseph Bellows Gallery brings together the work of eight photographers, emerging and established,  spanning several decades from the 1970’s to the present.  Contemporary and vintage black and white photography are included in this show of gelatin silver and platinum prints ranging in sizes from 7”x7” to 20.5” x 25.5”.  As the title of the show (Living Arrangements) implies, the content of the images relate to domestic sites, picturing developing and existing communities, track homes, neighborhoods and multi-unit dwellings.
The commonality of all the photographers is their straightforward, no frills, depiction of dwellings in their
own particular environment and decade. There are no people or pets, and no views of any interiors of the buildings. With one exception by Scott Davis of night-time views in southern California creating a nocturnal ambiance, all others are daylight depictions.  Regardless of the decade, there is a certain quiet subtly and neutrality to the images, where the photographers want us to form our own opinions about what we are seeing. There is no direct intent to let us in on their point of view. Reenie Barrow’s photographs from the 1970s offer curbside views of homes with trimmed hedges and formal compositions.  Bevan Davies’ photographs show small apartment buildings and large-scale corner views of residential streets in LA in the 1970s’ while Charles Johnstone’s small scale photographs from the early 2000’s depicts mobile homes of coastal communities.  Douglas Gilbert’s photographs show images of Midwest suburban neighborhoods of the 1970’s - revealing natural landscapes transforming into subdivisions, while Gene Kennedy’s large format panoramic frames depict the development of track home communities in the 1980’s in California.  Michael Mulno’s symmetrical compositions of singular buildings taken in the last few years depict multi-unit buildings commonly seen in San Diego neighborhoods, while Phel Steinmetz’s multi-panel panoramic photographs explore the rapid development of real estate housing of the 1970s and 80’s. The photographers in this exhibition provide us with a path to reflect upon what we normally take for granted – the dwellings and places which we call our home.