Sunday, July 26, 2015

Con)Text: Rethinking Language in Art at SDAI

By Patricia Frischer, coordinator, San Diego Visual Arts Network

Con)Text: Rethinking Language in Art at
San Diego Art Institute   opened Sat July 25 at 6 to 8 pm (1439 El Prado, Balboa Park, House of Charm, SD 92101) More info: Marina Grize 619.236.0011

The San Diego Art Institute has gotten lots of press lately and we believe they are hitting their stride with a new mural in the entry and a show featuring local artists who are using text in their art. Ginger Porcella, the director and curator of the show, saw this trend as very strong in the works she saw when she first arrived in San Diego a year ago and this show is the result of her keen eye and ability to gather together a group of talented creatives. 

The new large mural in the entry way is a homage to Balboa Park and also draws on many of the elements we have grown to love in the work of Raul Guerrero. Raul is a SD Art Prize recipient and a well respected established artist in San is work of this caliber that deserves to be showcased in the primary space in Balboa Park for Contemporary Art.  The work depicts a series of couples viewing and seemingly have a dialogue about art.

The second part of the above mural is this cheeky sculpture set in a  window alcove with an additional wall painting. Fishing for Pickles is a stream of conscious

The first work that caught my eye was this glass  piece by Deanne Sabeck. The structure is a thin sheet of glass attached to the wall like a narrow shelf, but the reflection above and below reveals a book and fairy tale story.

Keith Parks is showing  this work called The Plot Thickens which consists of strips of text arranged and photographed. We first saw Keith's work in the Crow show at Studio Door

Perry Vasquez presents this great interactive wall The audience is invited to fill in the words that start WOURD. ie. Would Our Uteri Really Dance and Wizards Only Understand.Rad Dogma. 

This long work by Dani Dodge consists of eye glass lens that have been painted and attached to peg board. Stacks of books are lined up under the work against the wall. Surprisingly this work spring from an incidence when a elementary school librarian told her to read less and get out into the world more.

Dani Dodge detail

Bradley Tsalyuk and Corey Dunlap, I think, steal the show, with the banner suspended with happy face helium balloons. The slogan says, "Don't wish it was easier. Wish you were better."  This pretty much sums up the attitude that SDAI is representing right now. We can all do better art and raise the bar on what we are showing the public.

My personal favorite for this show was this very simple work which sums up my idea of a conceptual art work. Ned Snider gives us this understated image that leaves the imagination full range to be creative. Why does one work affect you more than other. I think it is just a timing issue. Another day would have been another work, but for me I needed to have an outlet for a bit of suppressed rage and this was my enabler.  I walked away smiling.

No not a sculpture or even a photo in the show, but lovely attendees all in a row. Please note: Robin Lipman far left is a new board member of SDAI.

Ann Berchtold and Tom Sergott discussing Art San Diego.

Monday, July 20, 2015

“Working Backward From Crazy: Implementing a Vision” An Interview with Susanna Peredo, Founder and CEO of Vanguard Culture

“Working Backward From Crazy: Implementing a Vision”
An Interview with Susanna Peredo, Founder and CEO of Vanguard Culture
Article by Cathy Breslaw
Susanna PeredoLast week I sat down to interview Susanna Peredo. My association with Peredo began when she curated an exhibition I had at the San Diego International Airport in 2011. Now, as a writer for Vanguard Culture, I have seen first-hand, the organic and exciting growth of this organization and media entity.

Blessed with a large extended family filled with professional musicians, actors, dancers and architects, it is no surprise that Susanna Peredo followed tradition. Having been raised between Tijuana and Mexico City, she also travelled to Europe, having received a scholarship from the Royal National Theater in London and studied Art History and Video Art History at the Sorbonne and Ecole du Louvre in Paris. A professional actor in musicals and community theater, while in her mid-twenties, she created and sang in a jazz band. While Peredo was living in New York City, 9-11 happened – an event which she says “changed everything” for her.  Armed with her experience and knowledge in the performing and visual arts, and her BA degree in Humanities from San Diego State University, Peredo discovered her calling - which she describes as ‘finding purpose in giving back and making an impact in the San Diego community’.

For five years Peredo worked for the Old Globe Theater doing marketing, community education and teaching classes.
She went on to work for the city of National City where she worked for four years, creating arts inspired programs and managing their public art program. In a city with financial and social challenges, Peredo worked hard to convince the community of the importance of the arts in the lives of people. She advocated for an arts center as a way of inspiring young people, getting them off the streets and out of drugs, crime and gangs. Though it took several years, National City has redesigned and renovated the ‘old’ library and it is now an arts space for dance, music and the arts.  Peredo is very proud that she helped create this active and vital community center.  Having been on several arts committees and boards, Peredo moved on to work for the San Diego airport where, during over five years, she curated and coordinated music programs and over eighty exhibitions. 

As a result of her over fifteen years experience, Peredo realized she had amassed several hundred contacts and relationships with the arts community in San Diego. She commented that she would receive over 300 emails per day of happenings all over the region, and realized that there was no one outlet or organization that filtered or shared all of this information.  Ready to make the jump to beginning her own project, the seed was planted in Peredo’s mind, and with that, Vanguard Culture was born.

What began as an idea, about three years later, is now a newsletter of over 4000 subscribers and over 2000 social media contacts. In developing her vision and strategic planning, Peredo says “Start with ‘crazy’ and work backward – she asks “How do we get there from here?”.  All big dreams start someplace and Peredo began by building upon her relationships in the community.  She contacted bloggers and media folks to write about the events they attended which began the online newsletter. This helped shape the mission of Vanguard Culture which is: “an online media entity designed for culturally savvy, socially conscious individuals searching for unique visual and performing arts experiences while making a difference in their community”. Vanguard Culture now has six cultural correspondents/writers who report on arts events, three advisory board members and two interns.

Peredo has developed several ‘real life’ off-shoots to the online newsletter. One of her goals has been to bring the various facets of the arts and cultural community together for an interchange of ideas and possible collaborations. This is how ‘Foodie Soirees’ began. For the past three years, evening food events have taken place quarterly, mixing the arts with the local culinary world.  These culinary events take place in private homes of artists, art collectors and other arts lovers where food, drinks, entertainment and fun prevail. Another fascinating smaller gathering inspired by Peredo’s experience while living in Paris is  “An Artist @ the Table series” which is an intimate dinner, pairing a noteable person from the arts community with nine ‘strangers’ , inviting them to share a four course dinner prepared by a known chef at a lovely private home. These smaller dinner events are geared to raise money to continue building Vanguard Culture. In keeping with bringing awareness to the needs of the community “Cause of the Quarter” began – every three months a different cause is featured in the newsletter, which helps publicize and provides links for donations to fund the organizations selected.

Another recent amazing event which took place for the first time in June was the ‘Avant Garde Costume Gala’ held at the Mingei Museum in Balboa Park. Peredo commented that this was a huge financial risk but she believed in her ‘over the top’ vision and it proved successful. Over two hundred people attended an event designed for ‘creative and sensory pleasure’ – ‘guests were asked to wear their wildest, most unique or thought provoking costume or accessories”. The event featured food, custom designed drinks, and entertainment from The California Ballet, The Patricia Rincon Dance Collective, Priscilla the Empress of Pop, The Animal Cracker Conspiracy” and an Avant Garde Fashion Show by Shawn Michael. Live body painting, Henna Body Art, stilt walkers, and a photo station were also included. Peredo plans this as an annual event and fundraiser for the organization.

Peredo, CEO and Founder of  Vanguard Culture has built upon a synergy taking place in the San Diego region.  The unexpected downturn in the economy beginning in 2008, has required the many moving parts of the arts communities including boards, organizations, businesses and individuals to work together to accomplish their aims. With all that Peredo and her team have accomplished in only three years, it will be exciting to see what crazy and wonderful projects will emerge and grow while giving back to this diverse and growing region.

Changes to the San Diego Art Prize

By Patricia Frischer, coordinator, San Diego Visual Arts Network

I was thrilled that Kinsee Morlan of City Beat choose to write about the SD Art Prize and changes we are considering. She presents a fair and accurate reporting of our thoughts which you can read below. I was always surprised that there was not more controversy about this prize in San Diego and I am very glad to see an open discussion about it. Our intention was to shine a light and and even make some new local art stars and get a bit more attention for the high quality of  art in our region. We added an mentoring aspect but collaboration, education and recognition were always the most important aspects of this project. 

As we move forward with an experiment in smart device public voting, we hope to continue that  push to create partnerships, to inform the public and to see our artist recognized in all their glory. 

To that end, a number of the SD Art Prize artist recipients will be featured in Open Walls Project which is focusing on the SD Art Prize this year. These are large billboards (a bit larger than 10 by 22 feet) scattered through the city. The Open Walls is made possible  by the presenting sponsors Art San Diego Contemporary Art Show and CBS Outdoor.

Rethinking the San Diego Art Prize: City Beat by Kinsee Morlan

Organizers are proposing big changes set to take effect next year

Patricia Frischer - Photo by Maurice Hewitt

Most people who pay attention to the local art scene know about the San Diego Art Prize, but few truly understand it. The confusion and some ongoing complaints are driving organizers to propose major changes to what's become an important and mostly lauded institution over its nine-year history.

"You know, it's always good to have something morph and become something else—nothing should stay exactly the same forever," says Patricia Frischer, coordinator of San Diego Visual Arts Network, the volunteer-run nonprofit organization behind the prize.
The Art Prize is an award given every year to two established artists and two emerging artists. The four artists win modest grants, exhibitions, educational materials, a write-up in the Art Prize catalog and a decent amount of press. Each year, a special committee convenes to select the two established artists, and each of those artists is then asked to handpick an emerging artist to share the prize.

And here's where things start to get wonky—the established artists are given a list of names of emerging artists chosen by a nominating committee made up of past Art Prize winners and arts professionals. The list is called the "New Contemporaries," and the artists on it are included in an annual exhibition. The established artists are encouraged to go to the exhibition and they can either pick someone from the show or completely ignore the list and award the Art Prize to any local artist they want. Over the years, this piece of the Art Prize puzzle has led to some grumblings, especially from the nominated emerging artists who feel like they've been ignored in exchange for favoritism and even nepotism, as was the case in 2013 when established artist James Hubbell picked his own son, Brennan Hubbell.

"I didn't see the point of having nominations only to [have the established artists] not select any of the emerging artists nominated," says Andrea Chung, one of the dozen emerging artists named this year. "[The San Diego Art Prize] is well-intentioned, but I didn't care for the format."

Another common criticism of the Art Prize is the categorization of artists. In many cases, the artists nominated as emerging are just as accomplished as the established artists. That was certainly an issue in 2009, when longtime artist Richard Allen Morris picked his buddy, Tom Driscoll, to share the prize. Driscoll's been making great art almost as long as Morris.
"You know what emerging is," says Dave Ghilarducci, an artist nominated in the emerging category last year even though his credentials clearly indicate that he's better described as established. "It's young up-and-comers or someone just starting out. If there's a question, then the artist probably isn't really emerging."

Frischer is currently addressing these concerns. She gave CityBeat a first look at a draft of proposed changes, which includes eliminating the established and emerging categories and instead just awarding four artists the Art Prize. Past winners and arts professionals would nominate the artists—similar to how nominations for emerging artists work now. Frischer is also considering letting the public vote alongside the Art Prize committee to select the four winners. 

Other changes are proposed, but nothing will go into effect until next year.
A total of almost $50,000 has ended up in the hands of area artists thanks to the Art Prize. Interesting collaborations between the established and emerging artists have taken place, too, and that's the one aspect Frischer says she'll miss most if the proposed changes take place.

"But you always have to sacrifice something," she says. "There's no such thing as a perfect situation." 

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Friday, July 10, 2015

Pipe Cleaner Sculptures, Paintings and Drawings by Don Porcella at Low Gallery

Low Gallery, San Diego
Don Porcella:  Shapeshifter

Article by Cathy Breslaw
"Smoke 'em if you Got 'em"   pipe cleaners, mixed media  installation  104"x80"x66"

 On the surface, Don Porcella’s art conjures up playful memories of childhood, with his use of an array of brightly colored and shimmering textured pipe cleaners and drawing materials we all used in art class. He has incorporated these materials along with chicken wire for structure and transformed many of  them into conceptual sculptural works, paintings and drawings that are his own 'take' on American culture – TV shows, products we use, consumerism, as well as his reflections on personal identity. We are struck by his whimsical humor as in Porcella’s mixed media drawings related to Star Trek, and a fantastical drawing of a strip mall. His works are reminiscent of folk art with a disarming simplicity, humility and straightforwardness, yet thoughtfully well crafted and sophisticated in their conceptual intent. Porcella’s pipe cleaner shoe works and packaged pipe cleaner ‘products’ poke fun at our consumer –oriented culture while sculptural works “Earth Monster”, “Blue Medusa”, and “Beast of Burden”(and others) are cloaked in fantasy as they speak to an underlying human condition. Alongside these works, is a second and unique set of works that are connected to Porcella’s experience living and working in a home previously inhabited by an artist named Harvey Matthews. Switching gears and using materials found in this space, these works appear to give homage to this unknown deceased artist and in reaction to him. Porcella has created an abstract installation with a selection of small black and yellow boxes, paintings of people on found wood, gas can, signage, nails, and other articles found in Matthew’s studio are included. It is as if Porcella created these works to document this artist’s life, giving identity, meaning and a personal connection. Porcella’s exhibition of 60 works is on view through July 16th at 1878 Main Street, San Diego.
(From left to right) Star Trek Fan Club   Klingon Language Institute   Pocket Pool
mixed media on paper  each 8.5" x 11"

Stoner,  Assorted,  Protesters,  Road Crew,  Sucker,  Corney,  
pipe cleaners and hand-made packaging   each 12" x 7" x 3"