Monday, October 28, 2013

Is it art?

This piece of 22”x28” canvas board has a lot of history.  This is the board I paint on.  I’ve been taping paper to the back of it, placing things over it for under painting and using it as a studio tool for over 15 years.  Looking back I wish I had taken a photo of it monthly.  I would have captured the top most layers of acrylic paint and now would have a visual diary of my palette-in-process.  Well, it’s too late for that now.  Anyway, it’s time to lay it down on the table while I apply a coat of varnish to the latest piece I am working on.  Is it art? 

Yes, I think it is.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Collagescapes – First Steps

I’ve spent a lot of time reviewing my older landscape paintings this week as well as photos from my road trips and hikes to focus in on the palette I use.  Essentially these collagescapes are new versions of previous paintings.  The first step is to paint places as big fields of color.  Once they’re nice and dry I can cut them up into small pieces for the next phase of collagescapes inspired by places like Butano Redwoods and Point Reyes.  Stay tuned…..

Spring Collagescape Prototype

Spring Collagescape Prototype, mixed media on board, 6”x6”

Collage + Landscape = Collagescape.  Read more about this new series here.  Prints inspired by the series are available from Society 6.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Luke, I am your mother…

Immediately I was amused by Ianna Nova Frisby’s new series of Darth Vader-inspired sculptures.  And that was enough to make me love them.  But the more I looked and the more I thought about it, these are just so delightfully subversive on many levels.

They could be seen as a parody of the collectible Star Wars kitsch sold on the pages of Parade Magazine or the Lillian Vernon Catalog.  I’ve never been in a home with Star Wars collector’s plates hanging on the wall.  I doubt I could keep a straight face.  And then there are all those figurines. For example, there is the one of the scantily clad Princess Leia as a prisoner of Jabba the Hutt.  I had the pleasure of seeing Carrie Fisher’s one-woman show and sat two rows behind George Lucas as Fisher berated him over those figurines (she never received a dime for those). 

I also love the feminization of the iconic villain.  Particularly due to the generally male-dominated, sexist universe depicted in that galaxy, far, far away – there are few females in the Lucasverse and even fewer strong, independent women.  It’s worse than Mad Men.  

You can get a look in person at Luke’s Mother at Axis Gallery up in Sacramento for the 20th Annual Pink Week happening in November.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

This is where I go / a mail art project

Coming up next month up in Canada at the Britannia Gallery in Vancouver is a mail art show called This is where I go. The show is up November 6th  to 29th and yes, I do have a small piece in the exhibit.  A little homage to the old Eastern Span of the Bay Bridge.

Collagescapes – Phase 1

Collage + Landscape = Collagescape

Collagescape Prototypes, mixed media on board, 6”x6” each

 Part of the work of making collage is the time and effort spent seeking material that I refer to as collage fodder.  I find the hunt enjoyable poking around thrift stores, yard sales etc.  I also have a great network of friends and family who are always making contributions.  My current show, the Art of Beer, would have been impossible without their help.  That said, I have had a nagging feeling in recent years that the days of collage as we know it, could be numbered.  Basically, as we become a paperless society, or a less-paper society, we are leaving behind less and less ephemera to work with. 

We are still far from the collage crisis, but I am already thinking ahead.  During the 2011 Project I started with the idea of making my own collage material.  For last year’s installation I even made my own “vintage” luggage tags for a collage.  In my latest series, I am carrying the idea further, where I am making all my own collage fodder from scratch.

When I am not working on collage, I usually am painting.  I typically paint western landscapes.  Not that I would dare compare myself to the genius of Diebenkorn, but this summer I was reminded of a certain kinship with his palette.  It’s a palette that most California painters work in.  As I make material for this new series, that is the palette that I am using.  I started with the California landscape, making big fields of color to be cut up and reconfigured into collage landscapes or collagescapes.  A certain reference to maps or aerial imagery, but I am not seeking to be too literal with the finished pieces.  This new series is essentially a coming together of many of the different but connected elements I have been working on for years – landscape, maps and collage.

Shown are some examples from the Phase 1 in the Collagesacpe Series.  Phase 2 will be more place specific, capturing places I love such as Point Reyes and Mount Diablo.

Prints and other accessories of some of the images are available from Society 6.  Contact me directly regarding the originals. 

California Collagescape, mixed media on board, 12”x16”

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Inspirational History just across the Bay

Today I got to visit one the of the Bay Area’s newest and I must say, best museums.  It’s the Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park.  The park is still a work in progress, but in 2012, a temporary visitor center/museum opened with exhibits and short films.

The museum helps tell the story of the women and men who worked building ships as well as worked in other war industries that kept our forces overseas well supplied in the fight to preserve our freedom.  They remind you at the museum that, in part, the war was also won right in Richmond, California.  It’s an amazing story of a town of 23,000 across the Bay that was a mix of industry and truck farms in 1941.  It quickly mushroomed to 130,000 people plus all those who came in to work from surrounding communities.  Their contribution to the war effort included 747 ships built in Richmond during World War II, some in just a few days.  It was an amazing feat and it happened all over the Bay Area and throughout the country.  Even my own great grandmother was part of the effort.  She worked assembling radios for the military back in Buffalo. 

After the visiting museum we went across the way to the former Ford Assembly plants that ceased making private automobiles during the war and switched to making tanks.  It’s now a nice restaurant.  But the day wasn’t over. We drove to the other side of the harbor (past lots full of newly delivered cars from Japan).  We were given a tour of the SS Red Oak Victory, one of the few remaining cargo ships built during the war at Richmond’s Kaiser Shipyards.  Our guide was a World War II veteran who served on a similar victory ship.  The final stop of the day was at the Rosie the Riveter Memorial.  It’s in a waterfront park that was part of the shipyard.  The memorial is laid out along a walkway and short dock the length of one of the keel’s of a victory ships built by the workers in Richmond.

One of the highlights of the day was getting to meet Betty Reid Soskin.  She is our nation’s oldest national park ranger at 92 (she has held the job since she was 85).  Recently she came to the America’s attention when she was featured in news reports about the federal government shutdown.  Meeting pop celebrities is of no interest to me, meeting a star like Ranger Soskin (pictured below) was both an honor and inspirational. 

I’ll be going back, and anyone who visits is going to be taken to up to Richmond, this national park is as important for Bay Area visitors to see as Muir Woods or Point Reyes. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Ceramics in Civic Center

I can’t spend the whole day at my table making art, well actually I can.  But on a sunny October day I felt compelled to get out, take a little walk and some fresh air.  I found myself down in Civic Center where I happened onto an outdoor show called Ceramics Annual of America.  It’s free, accessible and out there for everyone to enjoy.  The work of most of the participating artists can be previewed on the event site. 

There was plenty of quality work filling the center of Civic Center Plaza and two outstanding artists caught my eye: 
  • Katherine Dube’s work is all about grids, circles and patterns, many of my favorite elements.  If I was to head into ceramics I suspect I might end up in a similar place.  Her wall installation Bloom is shown above and more details can be seen on her website.
  • Calvin Ma’s work was my favorite in the show.  He was showing work from his Homebodies Series (they all can been on his website) and two are shown above. 

The CAA show had plenty of well done, but dare I say, predictable whimsical ceramics.  The kind of things that fill galleries in places like Sausalito and Carmel – nice, but nothing I that feels new since about 1974.  What struck me about Calvin’s work is that he is building on that tradition but taking in a new direction fusing in the look of contemporary animated imagery but still creating something unique.  I wish a piece of his work was in my budget, because something tells me it’s destine to be picked up by serious collectors and museums.  If they were giving out awards, it would be the best in show.  

Saturday, October 19, 2013

More art to be hidden

More mail from Sandra Lefever this week at ArtLikeArt.  These ones designated to be hidden in books.  It makes me wonder if I just start hiding all the smaller art I get in the mail in my extensive collection of books instead of an archive box.  It might be fun to find them or search for them years from now.

Monday, October 14, 2013

It seems to be raining in Hungary

A nice big square postcard received from Torma Cauli last week.

A.P.E. 2013

The Alternative Press Expo (A.P.E.) is always a don’t miss and this year didn’t disappoint.  There is always an opportunity to see some familiar faces as well as make some new discoveries.  It’s also a chance to meet and talk to artists and authors, from the famous like Bill Griffith to the soon to be famous.  The show changes over time.  Felt art seems to have vanished and crocheted characters are definitely on the decline.  Benedict Cumberbatch fan art is understandably big – my favorite was this little book Let’s Learn the Alphabet with Actor Benedict Cumberbatch. 

Some of my favorite new “discoveries” (links below):
  • Jesse Cowan’s Little Wolf Comic.
  • Joan Wirolinggo’s illustration work, I got a little penguin myself. 
  • Tu-Anh Nguyen’s Awkward Boobies (as in the birds),
  • Estrella Vega was showing off some beautiful prints of her work.
  • Though my favorite this year was Chris Koehler’s series of zodiac prints based on his illustrations and then overlaid with the constellation map for the corresponding sign of the zodiac.

 Next year’s show is moving to Fort Mason, so mark you calendar for 2014.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


A little beer-inspired art waiting for me in the PO Box today. “Øl” is Danish for beer and this piece came from the artist Marina Salmaso in Denmark. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Art of Beer at City Beer

For the last 7 months I have been making beer-themed, mixed media art with assorted beer packaging, labels and other beeraphernalia.  The result is a new show I hung today called the Art of Beer.  The show runs through November 3rd at City Beer in San Francisco.  The work can be previewed at

Saturday, October 5, 2013


Airmail, mixed media on board, 4”x6”

Some of us still like our mail the traditional way, because we know, as fast as email might be, there is nothing like seeing an airmail envelope waiting for you in your mailbox with a letter for someplace far, far away.  Or in this case, a collage of an airmail envelope made out of old stamps.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Geo Graphic Mail – The Nine of Hearts and the Seven of Clubs

Another AMG image on a postcard repurposed with some Muscle Beach in Venice thrown in.  This time with playing cards added to the mix.  Part of the ongoing Geo Graphic Mail series mailed out this week.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Little Delightful Books

Lots of grooviness has been turning up in my PO Box lately.  I love these little handmade books.  The top one is from Holland from the artist Suus in Mokum, she has incorporated some art samples that I sent out in June.  And the lower one is a little San Francisco souvenir from Phyllis Lucas-Haddon.  

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Happy Birthday Yosemite!

Late Afternoon Light, acrylic on paper, 16”x20”

Yosemite National Park is 123 years old today.