Sunday, May 31, 2015

Coquest | Control | Confinement: de la Torres brothers and Belize Iristay

By Patricia Frischer, coordinator, San Diego Visual Arts Network

 Ship in the Woods 1660 Lugano Lane, Del Mar 92014
More info: Lianne Mueller 619-218-2737

This wonderful gallery is hitting its stride with a fabulous installation/exhibition by Einar and Jamex de la Torres and Belize Iristay. The ship is upping anchor in August but this show is not to be missed and the  S.O.S. Benefit Auction, Saturday June 27th from 6:00pm - 11:00pm is a call for help to keep the boat afloat.   Do yourself a favor and see this show and the home in Del Mar before this era is over. 

Belize Iristay was covered in black from head to foot when we arrived with just a slit for the eyes. This was part of the documentation as several of us adorned ourselves similarly. Adorned might not be the right word, as you immediately lost all sense of identity. You became a walking anonymous thing instead of a person. My friends did not recognize me until I talked to them and even the look in their eyes was alien as if I was an intruder.

Beliz Iristay shows a continuation of the video installation at Valencia Gallery for the New Contemporaries exhibition with these ceramic lip inspired works.

Belize Iristay


Belize Iristay

Belize Iristay
This and the images below are by the de la Torres brothers. There were individual works and every where you looked as well as installations in alcoves and in one whole room.


The largest installation was an entire room, floor, ceiling and walls completely covered with images.

 This is work you need to see in don't even begin to touch the effect. So don't hesitate. Go soon or you will miss this extravagance of art.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Get As Close As You Want at Playful Interactions Exhibition, SDSU Downtown Gallery, San Diego

Playful Interactions
Dave Ghilarducci, Rizzhel Mae Javier, Margaret Noble
San Diego State University Downtown Gallery  on view through June 15
Article by Cathy Breslaw
Dave Ghilarducci     Proverb Generator     2014

 For those of us who have set off alarms in museums for getting ‘too close’ to the art, or have been admonished by security guards for the same, this show is for YOU. Playful Interactions is an interactive, hands on exhibition of the art of Dave Ghilarducci, Rizzhel Mae Javier, and Margaret Noble. While playful and fun for viewers/participators, there are also underlying deeper ideas at the basis of these art pieces – these artists’ works deal with the subjects of identity, self reflection, human relationships, and memory.  Largely conceptual in their focus, these art pieces are created with a mixture of digital and analog processes. Dave Ghilarducci combines engineered technology and craft linked with humor and commentary on our culture. “I Don’t Feel Like I’m Getting Anywhere, (worker)” is a single lever acrylic circular mechanized system of angled trays where tiny metal balls run through, and the direction is controlled by the ‘player’. If the title is any indication of the piece’s meaning, Ghilarducci is referring to the world of work, and the inevitable questions about the direction we may be taking -  as if we are “spinning our wheels”. The work is couched in humor and cynicism. Rizzhel Mae Javier exhibits pieces from her series Move(meant) – black and white photographic analog works that are interactive.  These art pieces are based on  Javier’s personal relationships, having to do with private thoughts and memories. Javier’s work “The Hand” is one of a group of self directed circular photographic flip books, reminiscent of 19th century animation devices. “We and Me” is a conceptual piece housed in old-school metal index card boxes where comments on relationships come in the form of individual black and white photos, carefully catalogued under such category titles as ‘we changed’, ‘before’ and ‘after’. Here again the flip-book optical technique is cleverly employed to describe memories about an important relationship. Margaret Noble uses found objects, newly created wood objects and sound to activate the viewer’s senses in accessing memories and perception. “Head in the Sand” is a large warm-toned light-hued wood box on legs constructed with a large enough hole on top for viewers to place their entire head inside. Once our head is inside the box, we see an all-black interior, where pure sounds are activated – there is an eeriness to the sounds and darkness, yet a comforting feeling suggesting it as a familiar place to go when we want to hide from the world. “I Long to Be Free of Longing” is another interactive conceptual work created out of a found well-worn brief case. It is presented wide-open and inside there are a number of individual evenly sized small boxes with tops. Boxes are wrapped in fabric and tiny metal clasps invite viewers to lift each separate top. We sense a strong curiosity to find out what is inside each one. Lifting each top activates unique and separate sounds from the next. We are both confused and motivated to comb  our memories for reference points for these sounds and their meaning. This exhibition is not a five minute walk through – spending time with these interactive works by three San Diego artists is a rewarding, self reflective and fun experience.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Chinese Brush Painter, Pan Gongkai's Exhibition Four Nobles, at San Diego Museum of Fine Art

Pan Gongkai    artist in his studio      2015
Four Nobles
Pan Gongkai
San Diego Museum of Fine Art - on view through February 1, 2016
Article by Cathy Breslaw

Chinese artist Pan Gongkai follows in the footsteps of his father and celebrated Chinese painter, Pan Tianshou.  Though Tianshou suffered persecution during the Cultural Revolution(1966-1976), he went on to create a large body of work in the tradition of brush and ink painting, influencing his son. 

Pan Gongkai’s Noble Virtues  depicts “the four gentlemen”(si junzi): plum blossoms, orchids, bamboo, and chrysanthemums.  Gongkai’s fifteen meter scroll of ink on rice paper  was hand carried in sections and then framed as one long narrow work, elegantly displayed on the wall of Gallery 15, a public area adjacent to Panama 66 and the May S. Marcy Sculpture Court.  The scroll which reads right to left, represents the four seasons – the resilience of plum blossoms in winter, the delicate elegance of springtime orchids, the strength and flexibility of bamboo in summer, and the chrysanthemums defiantly blooming in autumn under the approaching winter chill. 

The five paintings of ink on rice paper on the opposite wall named as a series –  Lotus Pond, depicts beautiful lotuses, which can lie dormant for many years prior to blossoming, emerging from murky waters, representing the resistance and purity of the soul. The immediate take on these works may be one of “just another display of Chinese brush painting”, however, at closer inspection the work exposes the artist’s deliberate, well-honed and confident line-making, a direct expressiveness of personal emotion, and a spontaneous feel - all reminiscent of  western abstract expressionist painters. We can picture Gongkai in his studio creating hundreds if not thousands of these kinds of paintings carefully narrowing down the selection to those that most closely meet his standards, thoughts and emotions about his subject matter and his relationship to it. 

There is a particular beauty, strength and simplicity to the work of this artist whose commitment to the years of a  disciplined art practice of using only brush, ink, and rice paper can make.  Gongkai comments that sadly, his kind of work may be lost on the current younger generations of Chinese because they are not being taught brush painting and will not have an appreciation of it.  It is for this reason that Gongkai strongly believes in a co-existence and continuing of traditions and methods across countries of the globe rather than a climate of integrated multi-culturalism.  Either way, the poetry and essence of Gongkai’s work speaks loudly, yet quietly of the unique traditions of his culture.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

El Anatsui's Mesmerizing Exhibition, Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works, San Diego, Downtown

El Anatsui
Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works
Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego
Article by Cathy Breslaw

Ink Splash, 2010, aluminum and copper wire, 119 x 124 inches, installation at the Akron Art Museum. Collection of Jennifer and John Eagle. Photo by Andrew McAllister, courtesy of the Akron Art Museum.

El Anatsui is an African artist who shares time between his childhood home in Ghana and Nigeria.  He is a mature artist whose artistic sensibility can be traced to the 60’s and 70’s when painters, sculptors and installation artists experimented with accessible materials, turning their backs on tradition, and ushering in new perspectives on “what is art”. 

While travelling through the various rooms at the Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown San Diego, viewers are struck by the massive sizes of these textile-like wall and immersive works made with a combination of thousands of liquor bottle labels, bottle caps, wire ties, and round tin can tops that are wire stitched together, then fastened together with copper wire. 

Though the back story of the work speaks of the cultural, economic, and social issues of colonialism, globalism, waste, and consumerism, viewers are more caught up in the sheer visceral reactions to the size and gorgeous shimmering flowing patterns of gold, silver, red, blue, and brown colors woven through each piece. 

There is also a series of over sized ‘Wastepaper Bags’, five to eight feet in size, made of aluminum, and newspaper speaking to the problem of waste recycling in his country.  Two additional rooms are devoted to El Anatsui’s drawings and wooden wall reliefs with metal and paint.  Anatsui carves and scorches with chainsaws and routers to gouge, torch and mark the many previously used wooden slats. He makes reference to abstract visual systems of communication in these works as well as to the ancestry of the African people.

Though complex in their compositional elements, there is a particular directness and raw simplicity in these wood reliefs that is missing in the massive wall tapestries. It is interesting to note that these massive works are created with the help of El Anatsui’s thirty assistants and that when they are hung in the various museums and other venues, the installers are free to manipulate these cloth-like metal works and hang them as they desire. This ‘global collaboration’ in both the creation and presentation of El Anatsui’s art is a consistent underpinning of his work.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

New Contemporaries VIII at Valencia Gallery, produced by San Diego Visual Arts Network

 By Vanessa Christie

New Contemporaries VIII at Valencia Gallery (Barracks 16 Suite 101 2730 Historic Decatur Rd SD 92106) Opening Reception: Fri. May 1, 6-9 pm and showing until Fri. May 29.Catalog VIII Final selection of work by Alessandra Moctezuma , SD Mesa College Art Gallery  More info: Aida Valencia 619 752-6118


Atara Baker nominated by Roxana Velásquez, Maruja, Baldwin Executive Director, San Diego Museum of Art
Claudia Cano
nominated by Bhavna Mehta, artist
Larry Edwin Caveney
nominated by Patricia Frischer, coordinator, San Diego Visual Arts Network
Andrea Chung
nominated by Kathryn Kanjo,
Chief Curator and Head of Curatorial, The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego
Collective Magpie
nominated by Ann Berchtold,
founder Art San Diego Contemporary Art Fair
scott b. davis
nominated by Philipp Scholz Rittermann,
Tom Demello
nominated by Joseph Huppert,
Prudence Horne nominated by Erika Torri,
Executive Director, Athenaeum Music & Arts Library
Jim Hornung
nominated by Marianela de la Hoz,
Beliz Iristay
nominated by Debra Poteet,
Jessica McCambly nominated by Ben Strauss-Malcolm
Director, Quint Gallery
Marco Miranda
nominated by Aida Valencia,
founder, Valencia Gallery
Tim Murdoch
nominated by Constance Y. White,
former Art Program Manager, San Diego International Airport

Nominated by the SD Art Prize Notes writers and previous SD Art Prize recipients, the New Contemporaries are the emerging artists selected as contenders for the Emerging Artists for the Established Art Prize winners to mentor. Now at Valencia Gallery is a group show consisting of pieces by those emerging artists. Wendy Maruyama and Roy McMakin, this year’s Art Prize Established Artists, were selected by the SD Art Prize committee and again nominated , by previous years winners and writers for the SD Art Prize Notes.  They now have the difficult task of selecting which of the Emerging artists will exhibit alongside them although they are not obligated to choose from this group. 

These are artists exploring different subject which connect but also separate them, including themes of nature, artifice, political and society, real and imagined.

Here is a list of links to the artists websites:

 Please note: Vanessa Christie wrote about some of the artist but all the artists have statement and letters of support by their nominators which can be found at this link to the New Contemporaries Catalog VIII

Collective Magpie

MR Barnadas and Tae Hwang are Collective Magpie. Working with A Ship In The Woods, their work explores the meaning of space and time together with transit and migration. Their work exists in their perception and the idea of the safety of being suspended in time and place. Without beginnings there is no end, and no need to make choices beyond the momentary

Prudence Horne

Beliz Iristay (without the projection)

Beliz Irstay is another artist with an interest in the social rather than just the aesthetic. A multimedia artist from Turkey, Beliz uses traditional art forms such as ceramics and combines them with contemporary techniques. Currently living in Mexico her current project mixes ceramics and video in an innovative way to explore the Cundina in which women in Mexico gather to collect money. A cross-class social form the Cundina collects this money for projects, charity, and the needs of individual members.

Beliz Iristay, details

Tom Demello

Tim Murdoch
Tim Murdoch uses sculpture and installation making use of natural material such as wood and reclaimed unnatural material such as electronics. Exploring the relationship of human to their environment his work contains traces of absurdist humor. Recent work makes use of tree like natural forms made form artificial materials. Having moved to San Diego from Boston, recent work features mirrors to mimic water which distorts realism to show what may be closer to truth than strict representation but is also dependent on perception. 

Claudia Cano,
Claudia Cano is an artist with multiple personalities: Rosa Hernandez. La Chacha (the cleaning lady), La cocinera (the cooking lady), La Rica (The wealthy Lady), La Jardinera (the gardener). Her work explores the gap between rich and poor, haves and have-nots; and the reality that the people who work the hardest in economically stratified societies are often the least visible.  Like all big cities San Diego is full of laborers who work long hours for low pay, and in cases of wage theft, for no pay.  The perpetrators of this form of human rights violation often escaping any repercussions.

Andrea Chung,
Like Claudia Cano and Beliz Irstay, Andrea Chung is an artist with an interest in the social and political world. She is an installation artist exploring the relationships of materials, locations and culture. Like Claudia Cano she is interested in the relationship of labor to the disenfranchised and Focuses on island nations, such as in the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean and the descendents of these peoples. In casting her work, she makes use of laborious processes in an effort to call attention to the often misappropriated labor of the under classes.

Atara Baker
 Atara Baker is a mixed media artist born in Israel. She has studied with several prominent artists including; sculptor Emilio Greco, Bill Ainslie, Noel Bisseker, and Gary Hansmann. Her multi-layered work embraces her life experiences as she has lived several countries.  They attempts to bridge the gaps between diverse cultures and the use of color and pattern in primitive societies, such as the San people of the Kalahari desert. Her piece reflects her interest in surface material and the contrast between a primitive appearance and the sophistication of the modern artist.

scott b. davis

Jim Hornung
Jim Hornung is a sculptor who creates work inspired by reality but not limited to the strictly representational.  In some senses, his work is a reflection of the abstraction often present in modern art, but retaining an interest in the natural rather than the artificial world.  He uses old techniques of welding to coat his work in 22 carat yellow gold and 12 carat white gold. His piece for New Contemporaries is one of his fertility symbols utilizing spores and deer horn to create an object that looks both aggressive and otherworldly.

Jessica McCambly
Jessica McCambly earned an M.F.A. in Painting and Drawing from the University of North Texas, College of Visual Arts and Design.  She uses painting, drawing, sculpture and installation to explore beauty, emotion, and nuance.  Her work uses the perception of the minimal to explore the larger world. A multitalented artist skilled in the use of painting, drawing, sculpture and installation, her work draws from but is not limited to the representation of the natural world. Much of her work including the New Contemporary pieces, makes use of the circle.

Larry Edwin Caveney

Larry Caveney is also interested in iconography and the detritus of the modern. He utilizes color and abstraction to reveal his perception of his audiences’ instincts. A painter with several series exploring such diverse subjects as Great Sports Figures, Carnival Folks, Writers, Nudes, Guys who talk to God and wear big Hats!, among others.  Unlike many artists he makes use of social media such as Facebook to circumvent the traditional distance between artist and audience.
Marco Miranda