Monday, July 29, 2013

Robert Pincus on The Future of Art Criticism

Photo credit: Ilene Tatro
The 2013 Gotthelf Art Gallery Kick Off Event. got off to a great start at the beautiful home of Caryn and Alan Viterbi in July with a talk from Robert Pincus on the Future of Art Criticism.

We know of Robert Pincus from his 25 years of writing on the SD Art scene in the Union and then the Union Tribune. He is nationally published in various art magazines and has written books and introduction for numerous art catalogs. He is a beautiful speaker, a diplomat and a strong supporter of the arts in San Diego including the San Diego Art Prize.

At the UT he wrote for a mass audience and this talk was about the future of art criticism for that broader area of audience and not the special cognoscenti who is well catered for especially through specialist magazines. He spoke of not using art jargon (art speak) and "writing to communicate and not to impress”, which is advice he gives students. Although he believes art criticism will always survive as a thought process, he was addressing its survival as a profession defined as that which could financially support the writer.

Art Criticism is not art reporting. Art reporting tells stories but "stories don't create the same level or quality of dialogue”, reminds Pincus. We need criticism to jump start that critical process.  Art Criticism just as art reporting does lay a ground work of description of an exhibition, but it expresses an opinion about the value/worth of a particular show or work of art. Hopefully this is well written which is a bonus. We are not just informed but guided to make judgments about the work. In both cases, we are often encouraged to go and see and make up our own mind, but with criticism by a writer we trust, we can be influenced to make an extra effort and stimulated in comparing and contrasting our own views.

There are very, very few city papers that still carry art reviews. The New York Times and the LA Times both still have staff reviewers (as well as arts reporters). The New Yorker Magazine is one of the few magazines that are seen as generalist that has consistent art coverage. As funds are cut, as in education, the arts are the first thing to go. Now that Robert Pincus is no longer employed by the UT, we only see the occasional SD show reviewed by Los Angeles writer Christopher Knight and W.S, di Piero reviews local museum exhibitions occasionally for the San Diego Reader.

In the meantime, we turn to the non-profit to support the arts. Many like SDVAN, does reporting but it takes an art historian and a life time of passion for the arts to do proper art crits. There are a few grants available for art bloggers but not enough to support them full time.  Art Academicians usually have a full load of work and not the time to turn out mass appeal articles. Plus ivory towers offer safety from public controversy and accusations of favoritism.  

The jobs for full time art critics are just no longer there. Will they come back? Only time will tell but Robert Pincus will continue to hold his job as Senior Grants and Art Writer at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and will not be holding his breath.

We were given an opportunity at the end of the talk to peruse the home of the hosts and it was especially interesting to see their collection of limited edition photographs from 1925 on documenting the formation of Israel. By a variety of photographers, these were black and white compositions chosen with a learned eye by the couple whose home collections focused on Israel artists and Jewish subjects.  

Finally we learned about the upcoming programs of the Gotthelf Gallery:
Potiker Family Arts & Culture Complex, Viterbi Family Galleria
Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center, Jacobs Family Campus
4126 Executive Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037

September 11 - November 27, 2013 - Lavine/Levine: Relative Viewpoints, which is a collaborative show between Arthur and Dana who turn out to be distant cousins.
December 11, 2013 - February 26, 2014 - smART: The Art of Jewish Educators, which follows a show where they exhibited work from an overwhelming selection of local Jewish doctors who were artists.
March 12 - June 5, 2014 - Transformations: The Butterfly Project and Beyond, which is a show which artist can enter so artist watch for the call asking for caterpillars turning into butterflies as the inspiration.

The Photography of Jeff Brosbe

by Joe Nalven

San Diego is blessed to have many practicing artists. 

A good number of San Diego artists exhibit in Balboa Park at Gallery 21 in Spanish Village and at the San Diego ArtInstitute on the Prado across from the San Diego Museum of Art’s Sculpture Garden.

Retrospectives provide insight into an artist’s interests, development and variety within a broad body of work.

Jeff Brosbe is presenting his retrospective, Eclectic Eyes, at Gallery 21 from August 14 to 26, 2013.

What:   Eclectic Eyes, a 20 year retrospective of the fine art photography of Jeffrey R. Brosbe

Where:            Gallery 21, Spanish Village in Balboa Park

When:             August 14 – 26, 2013 open daily from 10 am to 4 pm

Contact:          619-282-0577 (to call for an appointment)

Artist Reception:   Friday, August 16, 2013 from 5 – 7 pm

Joe Nalven:  I am looking forward to your upcoming exhibit. How would summarize your photographic interests?

Jeff Brosbe:  The body of work I will show will be eclectic and reflect the themes I focus on.  I am still compulsively drawn to images that are social commentary or street photography.  As the light hits me and the lines fix my attention, I also capture abstracts and even the occasional portrait or flower. I still love to travel and do the majority of my photography while traveling. 

Jeff Brosbe / Long Tunnel – No Light

This image, captured during Comic Con 2010, instantly became one of my favorite street photography images.  After
talking with the subject to ascertain if it was OK for me to take some pictures, I began to focus on the man alone which presents a classical triangle composition.  The contrast of geometric shapes: triangle, square, and the circle of his hat led me to the larger picture and the social irony within.

JN:  Nearly everyone takes photographs. If there is any object that has become part of global culture, it is the camera. But fine art photography is more than just the camera and its technology.  What has been your experience with the camera and getting involved with photography?

Jeff Brosbe:   A camera has been a part of my life since my pre-teen years.  At first my interest was exclusively with family and friends, vacations and special events.  Later, I became attracted to compositional elements by the last years of high school.  Around that time I discovered some of the masters of the art such as Edward Steichen, Paul Strand, Ansel Adams, and especially Robert Doisneau.  His influence has been significant in my development.  And it would be criminal not to mention Life magazine. 

Jeff Brosbe / Bangkok – April 2010

This Bangkok image illustrates my accomplishments as an avid world traveler as well as demonstrating my continual battle with titles.  I have seen all three embalmed Communist leaders: Vladimir Lenin, Mao Zedong, and Ho Chi Minh.  I have been tear gassed in three countries: the USA, the Philippines, and Malaysia. More and more I resort to place and date rather than an interpretive title.

More and more I was taking pictures because of the shape and light that attracted me as much as the subject matter.  As this progressed in my adult years more and more people wanted copies of my work and urged me to show my images.  Two decades ago I admitted that since I could not live without photography, I should test the waters and began to submit my work to competitions, public art associations and galleries.  I began to receive recognition and praise.  My first solo show was sponsored by the city of Carlsbad, California  in 1997.

JN:  I am struck by your using travel as a way to generate your photography.
JB:  I have what some of my family referred to as a gypsy spirit.  I have always loved to travel and experience new and different places.  This combined by the influence of Life magazine’s photo essays and the work of Robert Doisneau has given much of my work a photojournalistic bent. 

JN:  One can sense various thematic ways of organizing your work.

JB:  Most of my early serious work was travel related.  Even today I have a penchant for street photography.  But today I feel that the major influence on my work is more about the composition, the light and lines, than the subject matter.  In the early years this influence can be seen in floral and landscape work; and, today it is most prominent in my abstract work.  I still am most productive when traveling, but my eyes are always open for an image wherever and whenever I come upon it.

Jeff Brosbe / Lotus #3

The oldest image presented here  is part of a four image sequence, created in China in 1993, which is illustrative of the Buddhist cycle of life.  This image represents youth, with the reminder of the life cycle represented by the seed pod of an expired bloom.

JN:  Those in photography for the long haul have had to confront digital capture,  processing and printing. What has been your experience with digital technology?

JB:   It was not an easy or eager transition.  Not at all.  And, even now, my compositional approach has not been altered by the possible wizardry of digital manipulation.  My images are still composed in the camera and with the subject matter as it is at that moment.  The technology of the full frame camera I use now has made the quality of my final image as sharp as if it were captured on film; and I have learned how to prepare a digital file for the printer.  Since I tend to favor larger prints, I have always worked with a professional printer who, in the printing aspect of creating an image, is an artist in his own right.  Today, I work with Jim Respess.

Jeff Brosbe / Dandelion

More and more of the flora images I capture are presented in black and white.  I feel it allows the viewer to fully appreciate the physical composition without the distraction of color.  This one was taken  laying on a frosty turf in a valley in Kyrgyzstan about 20 minutes before dawn.  This image also demonstrates my attraction to the imperfect.

JN:  Despite what one might feel about being unique as an artist, artists are embedded in relationships that may influence their art or how they participate in art institutions.  In what way have you intersected with other artists in San Diego?

JB:  I am a strong believer in associating with other photographers on an artistic level.   Not only does one learn but also the feedback and comradeship is invaluable.  Locally I suggest two great opportunities:  SDAI's ArtGym and NCPS (the North County Photographic Society).  Both hold regular photo shoots as well as other activities and present excellent opportunities to meet and network with other photographers.

Jeff Brosbe / Mela, Sonepur, India

This image of late afternoon light took two days to capture.  It was taken during the Mela and Animal Fair in Sonepur, India.  Hundreds of thousands attend this annual event and many of them camp out with their families during the three days of devotional activities.  While photographing this camping area, I noticed this location.  But the first day did not produce an image that celebrated the light properly.  The image was created on the second day.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Art Eats Food

Has anyone else noticed how food continues to sneak into art events? It now has equal booking in many exhibitions. Our own Palette 2 Palate event was very successful and is part of our ongoing Eat Your Art Out program.  

We all have to eat and the attraction of food is universal. Everyone has an opinion about food and most of us have chopped and grilled enough to earn our cooking badge. There are as many types of cuisine as there are schools of art. You can attract an audience to view art with the lure of food. Some worry that food is a distraction at an exhibition saying that some people just attend for the grub and drink. Of course, alcohol has been known to loosen the purse strings. I personally like small dinner parties instead of large cocktail parties, but there is no doubt that the young like to gather and shout to be heard.

No one needs a reminder that food has been a subject for art since cave drawings.  And who needs to be reminded that there is a whole industry in food styling for all those glorious images we see in every possible on and off line publication.  

However, the most exciting aspect of this combination is merging the talent of two very creative aspects of our lives. Eating delicious, artfully prepared food in an aesthetic setting raised the experience to a whole new level. Valuing art as an essential ingredient for a social meeting is enlightened.

I envision a time when even grocery stores present limited edition, dishes of the day/week/month served on limited edition artist made dishes also for sale. 

Here are a few new Art and Food venues.

Art a la Carte is a San Diego's trending pop-up food-meets-art movement showcasing works of art by local artists - curated by ArtWalk San Diego at Aventine every first Sunday.

Feast! at the New Children’s Museum The Art of Playing with Your Food runs from Oct. 13, 2013- Oct. 2014  Feast! will feature art installations created by sixteen artists.

Watch for the grand opening of the remodeled Sparks Gallery. Owner Sonya Sparks says, “We are currently investigating how the presentation of food can compliment art or even become its own work of art, and may incorporate this into our upcoming events when the gallery reopens.”

Art places that serve up extra special treats include:

The Wine, Cheese, and Chocolate Festival returns each year in June at Women’s Museum of California at Liberty Station. The Museum of Photographic Arts hosts a major wine dinner each year but they now offer Dinner packages at the Prado restaurant. The Café at The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego offers especially tasty tidbits

By Patricia Frischer, coordinator of SDVAN

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Allied Craftsmen at Mingei, Wonder Women: On Paper and Off at Women's Museum of CA,, Art Pulse TV

Allied Craftsmen at Mingei 

Corset II


The wonderful show of art works that are highly crafted proves with no doubt the high level of visual art available in San Diego.  I give links to just a few of these artists below. I was particularly impressed with the new work by Alexandra Hart, who has made what appear to be sculptures but are in fact a corset and arm and leg embellishments.

Arline Fisch (SD Art Prize), David Fobes, Joanne Hayakawa, Paul Henry, Jeff Irwin, Linda Litteral, Viviana Lombrozo, Cheryl Nickel, Joe Nyiri

Wonder Women: On Paper and Off 

The Women's Museum of California launched this show in time for Comic Com and it is a perfect example of a charming boutique museum engaging the community at large to direct their attention to their main theme: the rights and power of women in our society. Go and be amused and educated.

Art Pulse TV


Watch for this new 1/2 hour Arts and Culture TV show with four segments and which airs every Sat at 5 pm on channel 7 NBC. Terri Beth Mitchell  is the star of this show with a series of Terri Tries reports. She is charming and odd and we loved her.  Art Pulse Gallery will be moving to Bread and Salt (1955 Julian Ave in Barrio Logan 92113) in October

By Patricia Frischer, coordinator of SDVAN

We welcome anyone to submit reports on Picked Ripe exhibitions or make suggestions of Picked RAW Peeled events that have been chosen as Picked RAW features. 

Tales from the Vinyl Dimension - John Purlia at Pannikin

Tales from the Vinyl Dimension - John Purlia.Portraits and Landscapes, New photos and videos.  Exhibit runs July 1 through 31 Opening reception Saturday, July 6, 5 to 7  Pannikin (7467 Girard Avenue, La Jolla 92037) More info: John Purlia 858.454.5453

I am so happy to see work by John Purlia on view. Ok, the venue is not the best way to display art, but he fills the café with charming portraits of his characters and there is a monitor with one of his videos playing, His animations are wacky and his still photos of scenes he sets up are nostalgic and strange. So the whole spaces takes on a surreal virtual reality vibe. The food is good, so treat yourself before July is over.
Sensible family planning is dreamt away to the 1950s by Esmeralda — Femme Fatale of Conservative Values
Lola and Lexi ditch Biology, and never return to the Eleanor Roosevelt School for Wayward Girls

Duke Windsor's Men @ Work: Blood, Sweat, & Fears

Duke Windsor's Men @ Work: Blood, Sweat, & Fears opens on Fri. July 5 at 5 pm.  Show until July 31at Sophie¹s Gallery (2825 Dewey Road, Gallery 101, SD 92106) This contemporary figurative series depicts these men and women construction worker, road crews, and the soldier in battle dress under less than favorable conditions. More info: Wendy Morris 619.578.2207

I am a big fan of the work of Duke Windsor. I admired his street scenes and I appreciated the new direction he was making with his abstract works. That is why I am so pleased to see that the best work in this current show is a combination of both styles. Windsor has always been a master of composition that is one of his strength. In the larger work Men@Work XXVI Portrait he shows his ability to portray a human face. Unfortunately in the smaller works the faces betray him and the images with obscure faces let the composition shine. But the star of the show is Patchwork showing a worker but from above working on road repair with what looks like asphalt, but that asphalt is a textured swath of paint that stick proud of the surface. This technique is obviously one he mastered when working abstractly. I would have liked to have seen more of this combination, but more importantly, more work where he stretches himself to new heights.  

Patchwork by Duke Windsor Acrylic ~ 18" x 18"
Who So Evers by Duke Windsor Acrylic ~ 20 x 30
Men@Work XXVI Portrait
Slow Down, Big Guy! by Duke Windsor Acrylic ~ 10" x 10"
Slow down, Big Guy