Monday, July 22, 2013

Green Art

Green, mixed media on board, 12”x16”

I can’t do a series of beer-themed art without a green piece, even if I did not reuse green beer bottles.  I did repurpose a lot of the green packaging including cases and six-pack containers.  This piece is both green for recycling and green as in the many, many bottles.

Green will be included in my upcoming exhibit at San Francisco’s City Beer in October. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Welcome to Ikeaville?

To make it clear, I am not one of these San Franciscans opposed to all growth and change. Right now we are in the midst of building boom.  I prefer urban in-fill instead of suburban sprawl eating up more orchards, farms and open space.  The thing that is disheartening about our current building boom, is the generic quality of everything being built.  Everything has the same Pottery Barn Modern look.  It could be Santa Monica, Amsterdam or Brooklyn.  It’s all the same.  As the new street level real estate will have the same chain stores and chain coffee shops, this might actually be appropriate.  

I remember all the excitement when Ikea came to the Bay Area years ago (and yes I went and shopped too).  It took less than a year for discarded Ikea furniture to find its way to San Francisco curbs joining old computer monitors and printers. Now, a decade later the influence of Ikea seems to be playing a new role on San Francisco’s streetscape. 

A walk down Market Street from the Castro to Civic Center reveals construction in every block.  These aren’t the faux industrial lofts of 2000. The new decade has brought us kitchens for giants, or to be precise, every new building seems to look like a stack of Ikea cabinets with a few subzero refrigerators thrown in.  Perhaps developers might consider naming their projects after Ikea furniture, can you say Akurum Towers or Abstrakt Place?

No, I don’t think we need to build fake Victorians to keep the City’s character intact, but how about a little imagination and yes, some buildings that blend in and reflect the City better than a stack of appliances.  Think Broderick Place built in 2007 and not the current behemoth that is NEMA.  That one’s almost making Fox Plaza look charming.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Diebenkorn at the de Young

Berkeley #22, Richard Diebenkorn

In recent years I have had little interest in the hyped-up, blockbuster shows at the de Young.  But finally they’ve hit a home run right out of the park.   Richard Diebenkorn – The Berkeley Years, 1953-1966 does everything a major museum show is supposed to do.  There are pieces familiar to de Young regulars and a few from other Bay Area Museums.  Bulking up the large show are plenty of rarely seen works from private collections as well as pieces from museums, big and small, around the country.  The de Young should be praised for the effort it took to bring in so many single pieces from different museums.  The show fills the museum’s entire lower level special exhibition space and overflows to the main floor as well.  I believe this might be the largest amount of space the de Young has ever devoted to a single artist – and deservedly so for a Bay Area giant like Diebenkorn. 

The show is one that demands more than one look – it’s up until September 29, 2013.  And, as Scarlet Johansson never played Richard Diebenkorn in a movie, the crowds are manageable.  You can take in those big pieces from across the room without a mob in the way entranced by their audio tour.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Mail Art from Puerto Rico

Two nice pieces of mail art in the PO Box this week from Piro Rios in Puerto Rico — The first includes some of my own material sampled and returned (more about that mailing here).  The second was a bit of tropical warmth on a typical, gray, foggy San Francisco, July afternoon.  San Francisco is the only place in America where we’re putting the heat on at night while the rest of the nation is sweltering.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

An Old Plastic Container

It may not look like much, but this old plastic container from Double Rainbow Ice Cream has been through a lot.  This week marks the 16th Anniversary of my departure from a downtown life and officially dedicating my life to making art.  This container has been through it all, I started using it sometime in the mid-1990’s for a water container for my brushes when I am painting or gluing.  Countless brushes have come and gone, but this container has been through it all.  Every now and then I peel off a bit of the layered acrylic crud that builds up.  So much of my art is about recycling and this old container is part of the process.  For now, I’ll keep on using it…

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Tim Tam Land

When a friend visits from Australia and brings you a box of 35 Tim Tam cookies you can’t let the packaging go to waste.  Sure, I had to eat (and share) all of those cookies.  But I then when I was done, it was time for a map, a map of Australia made from the box, and there it is:
Tim Tam Land, mixed media on board, 4”x6”

Friday, July 12, 2013

More Art to Hide in Books

Back in April I sent out 100 pieces of art with the intention that the recipients hide the pieces in books.  More about that project here.  I love as new pieces of art come back to me with the instructions to hide them in one of my many books.  This one came from the German artists Karin Fröhlich this week.

Sunday, July 7, 2013


Alus, mixed media on board, 12”x16”

Alus, it’s the Lithuanian word for beer.  European friends have been sending me beer labels from places like Luxemburg, Switzerland and of course Lithuania.  This is a latest in a series of beer-themed art and it’s dedicated to all of us with the habit of drinking beer and then peeling labels off of the empty beer bottles.  Well, if you cut those labels up and use the shiny pits in particular, you end up with something like this.

Alus will be shown in my upcoming exhibit at San Francisco’s City Beer in October. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Latest Treats in the P.O. Box

It’s nice to start the summer with a haul of mail.  This is just a sampling of some of the recent arrivals including some hand made books.
  1. Robin Sparrow sent one of her hand made journals from New Zealand.  A few antipodean bird feathers even spilled from the envelope.
  2. Phyllis Lucas-Haddon sent a hand made book incorporating materials from my sampling mailing from June.
  3. Sandra Lefever sent me a copy of the handmade book Secret #1.
  4. Mim Golub sent me an altered postcard of Monticello, Indiana.
  5.  I received a soft and fuzzy, hand sewn card from Amy Irwen.
  6.  Ana Marta Austin sent another card from Brazil with a Brazilian postal service stamp commemorating manicures!
  7. Another beautiful card from Sandra Lefever at Artlikeart in Florida.
  8. And finally, more mysterious postal charms from Pedro Bericat in Spain, a piece that includes popes and space aliens.