I never feel ready for it, and it always sneaks up on me. It never goes how I think it’s going to go, but it’s usually one of the most rewarding experiences of my year, so I continue to push myself. I’ve been participating now since 2015, and this will be my fourth consecutive year. You’d think I’d have my act together by now, but that is never the case. It just gets easier to manage the hustle.
Last year I participated in Open Studios in downtown Oakland, with a wonderful group of artists at Uptown, and it was there that I casually met my mentor Toru Sugita. Toru has since introduced printmaking into my life. We had a very important discussion that very warm Summer day in June about struggle. Now reflecting back a year later, little did I know or understand that experience would change my work so much. It’s been enabling me to create work I’ve always wanted to make using new mediums I’ve always loved and appreciated, but never understood until now. Over the last year, I’ve been able to study with Toru, and make some painful mistakes, but also have some little successes too. It’s all movement, and pushing me in a direction that feels right.
As time goes on with every passing month, I’ve come to find that continually hacking away at my craft whether it’s painting, drawing, carving, or printing - it’s my community of creative peers that always lifts me up and keeps me going. I have met many lovely people over the last few years that have literally opened doors and walls for me to show work, or allowed me temporary use of space to make my work, or have helped me make connections to grow my work. All of this has blossomed through participating in Open Studios. Whenever I’m feeling reluctant or have anxiety about participating again, I try to remind myself of these opportunities. I never would have known if I didn’t try. I am asked all the time by other touring artists who question showing because they don’t feel ready. What does that mean? How do you even know the answer to that? What defines ready? Everyone has to start somewhere.
In my humble opinion, Open Studios is a special time that calls for action from artists to make it happen for the community. It is being community, and continually gives back to the local art community. Artists must work together to help other artists put themselves out there. It’s a competitive world, and self-promotion is not easy. It’s the hardest thing ever when you’re unsure about where you’re going or if you’re not used to sharing so much of yourself with strangers who may give you feedback. It’s necessary though to grow. Especially as a new artist putting your work out there. Every year I do this I have to put on a brave face, but I look at it as a way to give back to myself for all the hard work I’ve put into learning the past year. It’s not free, but it’s a small price to pay for the opportunity it could bring. Make it an art party, and show with friends if you don’t want to do it alone. I do this a majority of the time, and it’s always a lot of fun! I know I can only speak for myself, but my willingness to keep saying yes to this every year has brought me here now, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world (even if it makes me feel a little uncomfortable sometimes.)
I look forward to meeting some more friendly faces this year. Come on by if you’re in the neighborhood! There are some great deals on prints this year!
June 2-3, 9-10 - 4 days only! 11am to 6pm
Activspace West Berkeley
2703 - 7th Street, Studio #122 Ground Floor
Entrance @ Pardee - Off the Ashby exit - Free Parking!
Life has been pretty colorful lately! For the last several months I’ve been working behind the scenes with the Oakland A’s and Arts For Oakland Kids – the non-profit that is very dear to my heart. I was given an amazing opportunity to paint one of 50 special commemorative larger than life elephant statues celebrating the baseball team’s 50th-anniversary in their home city of Oakland. How wonderful to have this public art celebration for all of us to enjoy (and seek out and find!) It’s been an absolute honor - definitely the most special of my artistic journey to date because of it’s significance to my community. I definitely didn’t do it alone either – The statue is composed of over 300 handprints from children throughout our Bay Area community which make up Stomper’s face and hands. Colorful, wacky, imaginative, and in all shapes and sizes – They are the hands of the kids! Each one of them an artist. They had so much fun mixing their colors for this project, and I just loved how it all came together.
For the next several months, you can visit our AOK Stomper located under the marquee at the iconic Grand Lake Theatre on Grand Avenue. This landmark has such special memories for me as a kid. I still can’t believe he’s there. In junior high, I watched the Oakland A’s play the Angels at my very first live baseball game at the Coliseum. I never forgot it… I can’t wait for my semester classes to be over so that I can seek out all these Stompers in person, and even get back over to a baseball game this Summer. Congratulations to all the artists involved with this incredible community project. If you’ve found your way here, thank you for supporting public art, and for just caring about the cause. Your actions matter and you taking the time make a difference!
If you want to read more about the making of the statue, my inspiration behind it (the kids of course!) and more about our mission at Arts For Oakland Kids click on over to the Stomper page - In the meantime, I hope to see you all about town very soon – Thanks for your support!
Over the last couple weeks in the printmaking studio, I’ve been busy making art out of garbage and it’s amazing how beautiful the results can be. Collagraph relief printing is fascinating. We’ve been playing with all the various textures and surfaces these found materials can leave behind when assembled together, inked and then run through the press. It really changes one’s way of thinking about throwing things away. I’ve always been a huge craft reclaimer, and I often work with recycled paper, but learning this new print method takes the concept of craft recycling to new heights. It really makes one think twice about what is being tossing away in a normal day, and potentially how it can be reused.
Recently I’ve been studying Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s “Running Fence” installation which was on display for only two weeks throughout the hills of Marin and Sonoma County in 1976 before it was permanently removed. This veiled fence was assembled by thousands of volunteers. It extended for over 24 miles, and was composed of over 2,000, 18-foot panels of white nylon, held by steel wires anchored into the earth. The battle over getting this incredible installation built, and the political discussion and arguments it caused over 40 years ago about what is considered “art” is still something that people in this area recall. My parents remember this time, and one of my instructors at DVC was a volunteer who hung some of the panels.
My fascination with the fence was an inspiration while working out this abstract collagraph print. Compiled from a variety of packaging materials, paper waste, aluminum foil, wire, elastic, string, weeds, leaves, and even a bone - it was an exercise in patience. I learned a tremendous amount about playing with the press pressure and struggling to move oil-based ink around each surface. There were a few repairs in-between the pressings, but overall it’s pleasing to see the end results. I can’t wait to make more art out of garbage soon!
I love history, but I especially love art history. I read and thrift old books and take art history classes for FUN… I wish I was kidding, but it’s so true! I decided to start sharing my fascination with the subject and recently took up this silly little habit of posting old video clips about some of my favorite artists on my Facebook page. Hop on over to check it out!
Check out this brilliant music video from a few years back by the French American indie pop band Hold Your Horses! The band shot and designed this incredibly creative sequence paired to their song called “70 Million.” As you can imagine, it went viral back in 2010, but it’s so so good, like the art, that it’s going to be forever memorable. Many years ago in a former life, I used to be a costume designer, and I have a REAL appreciation for the imagination behind filming and editing this production. See if you can guess the artists and all 25 paintings. If you can, you’re an art fanatic too and hopefully, you’ll check out my (usually-weekly) You Tube posts from time to time!
Act 2. Classes have begun and I have long days – Very long days ahead of me on campus. This semester I’ll be tackling more printmaking techniques (specifically monoprint) plus a few other new methods under Toru’s guidance.
Our theme this semester is “Crossing.” Our class is split between half monotype students and half etching students, but for our first intaglio assignment, we all started out together working on copper plates. Etching my first plate reminded me of working on a giant copper penny. I started thinking of those machines that make new tourist impressions on old coins. I just love those! I always wanted to draw the Golden Gate Bridge as though I was a tourist myself because I still do feel that way a lot. I’ve realized recently that it’s been 20 years since I took up residence in the Bay Area. Often I still feel like there’s so much I have yet to discover because there’s always more to see and do. With neighborhoods changing at such a rapid pace, many of my favorite haunts are now gone, but the bridge – She’s still there, as beautiful as ever.
I wanted my overall imagery to feel like an old postcard when printed. Working with the plate was challenging. Learning to burnish out scratches, and adding drypoint technique was hard on my hands. Yet printing an etched plate is flexible in the sense that once the plate is burned with the illustration, it allows the maker to ink the surface in many different ways. Essentially it’s playing with light and shadow and controlling your ink flow by wiping. I was able to try many variations which created a feeling of day to night and night into day. I could ink the waves choppy, or still, and even produce a rounded vignette appearance as though one were looking through a lens. Each and every print was slightly different from the next. It was the perfect introduction before beginning monotype to understand how manipulating the ink on a plate will produce such unique and varied results. This should be a very interesting semester.