Monday, May 30, 2011

Can artists make wine?

Sure we could have the vineyard, grow the grapes, pick the grapes, etc., etc. But for artists, we can take a little short cut.

We can buy other people’s wine and just make fun new labels. And in spite of what wine snobs will try to tell us, isn’t the best way to pick a wine based on the label? I admit to being a sucker for any $10 bottle of wine with a good lucking label. Should not wine also be a visual experience?

Now, when you repurpose a bottle for your own label, the trick is to choosing the wine. As you’ll probably be gifting the bottle at some smart dinner party, here are three basic rules to keep in mind:

1) Never go for the $2 bottle, because if ever they decided to drink it…

2) Never spend too much. Because what if they don’t drink it, it goes to waste. And why buy some impressive bottle that you’re putting a new label on?

3)The ideal price is $6 on sale. Drinkable but forgettable.

So this recent occasion was for a friend who is a recovering mormon and Broadway devotee who also just finished a thesis on Don Quixote. Start with the iconic Man of La Mancha poster. The one designed by Picasso himself. A bit of image searching and a bit of photoshop and you have this swell vintage called Mormons of La Mancha. It pairs well with jello salad and anything containing a lot of mayonnaise.

So yes, artists can make wine.

Monday, May 16, 2011

5th Annual Artist Trading Card Exhibition – Part II

Earlier this year I participated in an Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) up at the Richmond Gallery up in British Columbia (see previous blog entry).

One of the rewards is that my cards were traded and sent on to other artists. I received some cards in return from the gallery and am quite pleased with that arrived in my mailbox. A few of the new pieces are seen above. The include a piece from Ian Addison Hall’s series progress as seen through a hole, a simple and beautiful little water color from Preetika Rajgariah, and a collage from Monique Motut-Firth.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Is this the best place to see Modern Art in San Francisco?

I try to take advantage of all the opportunities the Bay Area has to see art. I believe as an artist it is always important to look at a lot of art. It’s not always about a matter of looking for inspiration (though it happens) — you just need to get out there and look.

Over the last 20 years nearly half of the really good, interesting and cutting edge, contemporary art that I have seen in the Bay Area was seen at one museum. It may surprise some for me to report that museum is the Asian Art Museum. I have seen plenty of good work at other museums and galleries, but the Asian has had more than it’s share. My general rule is, if it is a modern art show at the Asian, don’t miss it.

Yesterday I saw the big, hyped up Bali show. It’s quite good and there are some fun things (I want a fighting cricket cage and some chicken shadow puppets). The show did inspire my piece for the 2011 Project as well. Why though they feel the need to charge an extra $5 for this show, I don’t know. This is a bad trend in museums where they charge extra for every special show. The Asian is having trouble getting people in the door, and charging more is probably not the best way to improve attendance. Also, in spite of great contemporary shows, the Asian Art Museum has never played to that strength.

Currently you can wander upstairs and come upon a very strong, little show called Here/Not Here: Buddha Presence in Eight Recent Works. Information about the show is buried on their own website. You can go into the next room and realize that the traditional painting on silk is actually a pattern created with a blowtorch on steel mesh (the work is amazing).

There have been many modern shows there that I wish could have become permanent. In 2005 Sui Jianguo’s red dinosaur in a cage quite literally was a traffic stopper out in front on Larkin Street. At the same time there was his sleeping Mao installation inside. There Mao was surrounded by hundreds of little dinosaurs all configured into a map of Asia. A few years later this piece turned up at that “other” museum on Third Street. I am still shocked by how dusty it was.

The 2004 exhibition of the Thai artist Montien Boonma remains one of the best modern art shows of all time in San Francisco. Getting lost in the House of Hope is a moment that will stay with me. It was an installation of strands of fragrant, prayer beads that visitors could wander into. And the post-industrial Buddha heads you could stand under while light dappled in were marvelous. They really should have kept the young lead singer of the punk band The Hammered Grunts on the payroll to pose under the art. He looked like part of the installation in all his pierced, studded glory.

At times it seems the Asian Art Museum just doesn’t understand how good it does Modern Art — but I’ll keep visiting in spite of that.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Flowers on Market Street

A few flowers have popped up on Market Street near UN Plaza. The sculptures were created from recycled metal by artist Karen Cusolito. They were installed with the help of the Black Rock Arts Foundation. They are 20’ tall and look tough enough to withstand the harsh conditions on Market. And the one looks like it may even be carnivorous.