Thursday, August 28, 2008

9 @ Night

The premiere of the 9 @ Night Film Series kicks off at 6:30 tonight (August 28) with a Pre-Opening Benefit supporting Faithful Fools Street Ministry. The celebration will be at the Delancy Street Foundation, 600 Embarcadero.

Admission is free, and the program will feature tastings from Prager Winery & Port Works and Chocolatier Blue and a live auction with opportunities to bid on items such as a role in an upcoming Rob Nilsson film.

Rob Nilsson is a Cannes Camera d'Or and Sundance Grand Prize winner and Bay Area native. From 1992-2007, he worked with the Tenderloin yGroup, an actors' workshop recruited from the streets. Recovering homeless, drug users, and street people mingled with professional actors, inner city residents and all-comers. For many years, these workshops were held in the upstairs space at the Faithful Fools.

The result is 9 @ Night, a series of nine dramatic feature films chronicling the lives of 40-50 fictional characters living on the edges of society in San Francisco's Tenderloin. Each film stands alone but the 9 together weave a single 14-hour portrait of 21st century urban characters struggling to survive.

from Andrea Jorgensen

Sponsors, supporters and speakers include:

  • San Francisco Film Commission with Stefanie Coyote
  • Mill Valley Film Festival with Mark Fishkin
  • Bay Area Video Coalition
  • San Francisco Film Society with Graham Leggat
  • Stacy Keach
  • Ron Perlman

Please RSVP online at or call 474-0508 during business hours.

Info and Image from Unitarian Spark Newsletter

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Karl Benjamin at Brian Gross

When I went to see the "Birth of the Cool" show in Oakland, I fell in love with Karl Benjamin's work. I gained an even great respect for the man when I read an interview via a link that Joanne Mattera so kindly provided. His work will be at Brian Gross through September 5th so you've got about another week to see it. I'd say he is the precursor of a lot of current geometric work, including that by Joanne, Eva Lake and maybe even "our" own Chris Ashley. In any case, it's work by a smart, unique man. You really can't appreciate geometric work until you see it in person; a reproduction doesn't do justice to the colors, forms and the way they interact together. As Ms. Jancar pointed out, the location doesn't do justice to the pieces. Like Pia Stern's work, they are meant to be seen in a far less frenzied and commercial location - but having them up, even in the busy lobby of an office building - is better than not having them up at all.
At the satellite location: #1 Post St. Lobby Floor
Link to interview:

Sol LeWitt deinstalled

Tragedy or cause for rejoicing - you decide. But if you are a fan, you've got less than a month to see them again. Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

On September 17th, SFMOMA will be deinstalling the wall drawings by Sol LeWitt which have been on view since 2000 to make way for a new series of commissions for the atrium space.

From the press release:

“LeWitt’s drawings have become landmark works in the museum and we are sorry to see them go,” says SFMOMA Assistant Curator John Zarobell, “but we are happy to announce that new works will be installed in the atrium.” The first of these new works is a pair of sculptures that will be part of the upcoming exhibition Martin Puryear, followed by the first installation of, The Atrium Commission series, a new initiative for the museum. The LeWitt wall drawings will be painted over on September 17 in preparation for the installation of the two Puryear sculptures—Some Tales, 1975–78 and Ladder for Booker T. Washington, 1996—which are very large and will transform the space of the atrium. The works will be on view, along with the rest of the Puryear exhibition on the fifth floor, from November 8, 2008 to January 25, 2009.

image from website

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

End of August

A lot of galleries are closed for the month but there are a few interesting exhibits/events worth going to see. The Jancar Jones gallery is so tiny that you have to look hard to find it. Most exhibits are by appointment only but this Friday they will be showing a selection of experimental films. The title “Shapes and Colors” reminds me of the recent exhibit at the Oakland Museum with their showing of early experimental, hand-painted films. Kevin Brown’s studio/gallery space in North Beach ("Live" Worms Gallery) will be showing the works of Alex Styrsky, a fellow student in Glen Miyake’s painting class at Ft. Mason.

Finding Patterns: Paintings by Alex Styrsky
Styrsky uses some unusual media – words and paintings on old LP’s and album covers to make political statements. The show won’t be up for very long but the closing reception is on 8/22/08 from 6-9 PM.

"Live Worms" is Kevin Brown own studio and he also rents out to artists who want to have a show. The space is “old” North Beach with beautifully weathered floors and well lit whitewashed walls. It used to be a hardware store and it still has some of that ambience, a charming mixture of old North Beach and Bohemian.

Experimental Films: Shapes and Colors at Jancar

August 21, 2008, 8pm

Robert Breer, 70 (1970), 16mm, color, silent, 4 min
Jules Engel, Train Landscape (1974), 16mm, color, sound, 3 min
Oskar Fischinger, Squares (1934), 16mm, color, silent, 2 min
Len Lye, Kaleidoscope (1935), 16mm, color, sound, 4 min
Len Lye, Colour Flight (1938), 16mm, color, sound, 4 min
Hans Richter, Rhythm 21 (1921), 16mm, black and white, silent, 2.5 min

(Seating will be extremely limited, please arrive promptly.)
Suggested donation: $5. - $7.

Thursday-Saturday, noon-6pm & by appointment
Jancar Jones 965 Mission, Suite 120
San Francisco, CA 94103

“Live” Worms Gallery
1345 Grant Ave. San Francisco, CA 94133

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Neil Berrett has a show worth seeing up at American Rag Clothing on Van Ness. He's done some wonderful work photographing the abandoned buildings at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard. Nice work Neil!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Craft as art, art as craft

In a recent post Anna Conti remarked on some marvelous paintings that are made with thread, stitched so finely that you have to get up close to tell what the medium is. One of the things that I love in art today is when the traditional boundaries between art and craft are blurred and artists use "traditional" craft materials to make art that goes beyond craft. In order to do so, they have to have an understanding and respect for their materials which is not that common in today's art world. The best of what they create can be truly stunning. There are two such exhibits in SF today - one at the SF Museum of Craft and Design and the annual Pacific Center for the Book Arts exhibit at the SF Public Library (6th floor)

Randy Shull is a North Carolina artist whose work has attracted national attention. He has worked in a variety of mediums, including furniture design, architecture, painting, and landscape design. His painted sculptures and wall pieces blur the distinction between painting, traditional furniture, traditional sculpture in a unique way. His structures combine whimsy with sculpture to make something completely unique; his wall clocks are even functional!
“In my life, in my work and in my travels I like the excitement of crossing boundaries. I love the interplay between lifestyle and work and the products that come out of that interaction. Sometimes it is painting, sometimes it is furniture design, sometime it its architecture, sometimes it is garden design, sometimes it is travel."

SF Museum of Craft and Design, 555 Sutter St until September 28th.

BookWorks 2008 - This new exhibition features nearly a hundred contemporary, sometimes sculptural, unique or limited-edition books by members of the Pacific Center for Book Arts. The book arts have a long history--from the first cave drawings, scrolls, illuminated manuscripts and letterpress printing, to more recent forms of visual expression and communication made possible by digital technology. Drawing on past traditions, but free to envision the future, contemporary book artists and craftspeople use a wide range of book forms, materials and techniques to express their concerns as artists and inhabitants of the 21st century. The books on display are distinguished in their design, typography, illustration, hand bookbinding and printing processes and paper. Pacific Center for Book Arts is a member-service organization committed to providing its members opportunities to show their work, socialize with other practitioners of the book arts and learn from their peers. Members include calligraphers, custom binders, printmakers, conservators and many others. For more information, visit

Exhibition: From July 1 through September 26, 2008
Main Library, Sixth Floor, Skylight Gallery
Related Programs: Artist Talks
August 16 and September 13, 2008, 1-3 p.m.
Main Library, 6th Floor, Skylight Gallery,
100 Larkin Street (at Grove)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Creative Irritation

I like art. Even though it irritates the hell out of me.

Sometimes art is just plain irritating, like when I saw the excess resources used by Matthew Barney in his 2006 exhibit at SFMOMA, which among other things featured a sculpture consisting of 1600 gallons of liquid petroleum jelly.

Sometimes the irritation builds up in a Louis Black ranting way, like when I saw the Gilbert & George retrospective at the de Young earlier this year.

And sometimes the irritation is in a beneficial and inspiring way, the irritation that drives me to write, construct or draw, or design greeting cards. I call that Creative Irritation.

Long ago, I was in a writing workshop led by author and SF Chronicle columnist Adair Lara. She told a story of an author friend in Marin who tried to inspire herself to write by going to local coffee houses, but she found the Marin atmosphere was too cordial. So her friend drove to Berkeley, sat down at a table in a coffee house, and quickly began absorbing the significant amount of aggravation in the atmosphere. Soon she was writing prolifically. I tried it myself a few years later, basked in the agitation, and scrawled out an impressive number of stream of consciousness pages.

At Open Studios one year, I discovered the art of Erin Carney. Carney creates a variety of abstract paintings, which capture the diverse beauty of light and shadow. Her paintings are not intended to have recognizable images; however that does not stop those of us with vivid imaginations from decoding them like personalized license plates.

One of my favorites is “Tranquillity,” which looks like a delusional dream about belly buttons after eating large servings of three flavors of Jell-O. Ok, it is an abstract study of color, light and shadow.

The fact that Carney is a lighting design expert is evident in her paintings. Or maybe the fact she is an artist is evident in her work as a lighting design expert. There is a huge difference between a house with lights and a house that is well lit. Her current show at Red Union Salon on Union Street carries the lighting connection further, as one could get their highlights done while viewing the artwork.

I purchased a small painting from Carney which I named Creative Irritation. It got on my nerves as soon as I saw it.

It is a series of rough brush strokes with thick paint, making an increasing number of centerless squares, each slightly larger and overlapping the previous one. Each square is made without turns at the corners, but with four harsh slaps of the brush. After each stroke, the brushes were dipped in a different color, creating multiple colors in each brushstroke.

I took the painting home and hung it on my wall to the right of my computer screen, transforming my writing space into that cranky creative cosmos known as The Berkeley Coffee House Effect. Works every time.

by Phil Gravitt

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

New Cal Academy Coming Soon

Via Fecal Face: Jesse Pollock and Lindsay Irving toured the new California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park, and posted an update HERE (with lots of photos, including these two.) Only 45 days until the opening!

Incidentally, the CalAcademy has always integrated art and science in their exhibits - HERE's an interview with Tiffany Bozic, one of the artists participating in the CalAcademy's Artist in Residency Program. One of her images, "Battle of the Deep":

Monday, August 11, 2008

Needle and thread at Jack Fischer

The Jack Fischer Gallery consistently shows work that is so highly skilled and original that it's impossible for me to walk past his tiny space without getting sucked in. That's what happened Thursday evening when I was on my way to another gallery on the 4th floor of 49 Geary.

I saw the hand stitched images by Lauren DiCioccio and Aliza Lelah from the hall, but I didn't realize what they were - they looked like drawings and paintings at first.

Aliza Lelah's isolated figures are photo-based "paintings" derived from found photographs. She writes on her web site that her pigment is recycled fabric and her binding medium is stitching.

Lauren Dicioccio's "drawings" are also photo-based, derived from mass-produced images in newspapers, magazines, plastic bags, and 35 mm slides. The excess threads dangle from the surface, much like the drips in graffiti painting.

Their work is perfect together. The show is up for the rest of this week.

Lauren DiCioccio and Aliza Lelah
through August 16th at Jack Fischer Gallery
49 Geary, #440, San Francisco

Friday, August 8, 2008

Pia Stern at 455 Market Lobby Gallery

This isn't the best venue for Pia Stern's delicate and introspective art work but at least she's getting a show. Unfortunately, the Lobby Gallery is a busy, noisy place where her sensitive and thoughtful pieces are lost in the hurrying throngs and loud cell phone chatter. She's been with a local gallery for years but has only had one show with them (to the best of my knowledge). I think that's a shame because her work has a meditative beauty which reveals deeper meanings on repeated viewings.

Her works often contain cryptic images - ladders, crosses, animals, boats, bicycles - which draw the viewer in and encourage you, as viewer, to make up your own stories. Stern states, “I view painting as a disciplined activity akin to meditation or prayer.It is something that I must do on a regular basis so as to feel fully engaged with life on a spiritual level.The work depicts a kind of dialogue with myself -a process that reflects a search.Ultimately, I view my paintings as visual interpretations of psychological and philosophical dilemmas that confront me.”

The 455 Market Lobby Gallery is open weekdays; the show will be up through September 5th.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

What really happened to the little mermaid.

"Mermaid Meat, The Secret to Immortality and Other Japanese Ghost Stories"
A 70 page illustrated book and 1 hour cd of storytelling (with musical accompaniment)
by Brenda Wong Aoki and Mark Izu
ISBN 978-0-9797528-0-3

This little multi-media gem is an accessible and affordable work of art by two San Francisco contemporary artists and a Japanese woodblock master of Ukiyo-e. And maybe this silk-covered book-with-CD is also a transitional format for the book.

Brenda Wong Aoki describes herself as "a solo performer specializing in song/dance/monodramas." In this book, she presents four of her ghost stories - all female ghosts. These ghosts are filled with passion, rage, and the power to manifest their will. They cover the classic human themes of love, desire, betrayal, selfishness, delusion, cruelty, redemption, and the hunger for immortality.

The stories are presented in Aoki's written words and performed in her voice, accompanied by musician Mark Izu. For visual accompaniment , Aoki chose the woodcuts of Yoshitoshi Tsukioka, a talented and innovative artist from the 19th century whose work looks strangely contemporary. Aoki's stories also range back and forth through time. She writes in the forward, "It's the actions of the dead that bring us to the present. If you know the past, you can change your future."

I read the stories and looked at the pictures before listening to the CD nested in the back cover. I was impressed and moved. Then a few days later I clicked on the track for "Mermaid Meat" while eating breakfast . . . yowza - she reached out and grabbed my throat and that was the end of breakfast.

It's been postulated that books have outlived their usefulness, or at least their primacy in storytelling and may "end up back where they started, locked away in monasteries (or the depths of Google) read by a select few". Brenda Wong Aoki is a story-teller of the most ancient form, but in this project, she combines multiple technologies to pass her story along via the spoken word, the printed word, and the image. "Mermaid Meat, The Secret to Immortality and Other Japanese Ghost Stories" is of its time, with a message from/to all time.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Birth of the Cool: Karl Benjamin

Red, Blue, Pink, 1958
Totem Group IV, 1957T

Two weeks ago I went to Oakland with several new friends found via the Internet including SF Mike (, his domestic partner, another friend and Matthew ( to see the "Birth of the Cool" show at the Oakland Museum. The day was utterly delightful and Mike and Matthew's comments on the show enabled me to see the work with some new perspective. Matthew, like me, was a child of the 50's and the furniture, textiles and the Barbie doll (!) brought back memories of family rooms, plastic dishes and unfortunate accidents with the huge glass sliding doors that were so prevalent at the time. The show introduced me to a whole new group of painters. Birth of the Cool is a reference to a 1959 exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum called Four Abstract Classicists, which featured the work of Lorser Feitelson, John McLauglin, Karl Benjamin, and Frederick Hammersley.The show presents a cross-section of art created in Southern California in the 1950, from hard-edge abstraction to architecture, furniture design, animation and jazz. It was an innocent, upbeat time and the work reflected that ethos. The lines are playful and clean, hedonistic yet not too self indulgent. The designers of the day were fascinated with the new materials of plastic and steel and totally oblivious - in architecture - to considerations of economy, energy and space. The huge glass windows and sleek furniture presents a vision of an America that was confident and open and could afford anything it wanted, even enormous cars with even larger tail fins and houses that leaked heat and would cost a fortune today to heat. America was on top and although McCarthyism laid a dark shadow over parts of the landscape, it doesn't seem to have touched these artists and designers or their rather Utopian vision of how American should, could live.

I had never heard of Karl Benjamin (or the other painters either) and found his work very intriguing. He painted overlapping and interlocking precise forms in startling combinations of rich colors that still look fresh. In a 2002 interview (NY Times), Benjamin explains that he stopped painting back in 1995. A bad back, a bad hip and “years of drinking too much,” he said, made handling the canvases difficult. “I started getting too creaky to haul these things around.”

"A self-taught artist, Mr. Benjamin began painting in 1950 while working as a grade school teacher. His principal started it all by asking him to add 47 minutes a week of art instruction to the curriculum."

“I bought some crayons and paper,” he said. “And the kids drew trucks, trees, mountains. That was boring, so I said, No trucks, no trees. And they said, What should we do? I said the right thing, even though I didn’t have any background in art. I said, Be quiet and concentrate.”

That exercise — ultimately a lesson in “finding the right color to put down next to another” — is not far from Mr. Benjamin’s own sense of composition. As he likes to say, “Color is the subject matter of painting.”

“As an abstract painter, you’re always flying in the face of your country’s values,” he said. “All of a sudden (Morris) Louis is selling a lot, but I’ve never made a lot of money. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about getting the colors right.” These words should have been written in huge letters over the exhibit and on the walls of every art school in the country. Be quiet, concentrate and get the colors right.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Pick Up the Pieces

. . . in the immortal words of the title of that one song by the Average White Band.

A bit of my soul is in Marsden Hartley's Black Duck.

When I am in a new place, the first thing I want to do is find a museum. It's a compelling impulse, but I've only ever followed its demand without attaching any meaning. I don't attempt any interpretation--which makes some kind of sense to me. I mean, we don't wonder why we're hungry for breakfast; I don't wonder why I need to find art to look at.

Nor do I generally examine the why when I have a deep response to art, that sense of recognition and knowing and even fulfillment. Sometimes joy. But how can one get all that simply from viewing an image?

Thomas Moore offers this answer:
When I find myself in a city, for a lecture or other business, and have a free hour, I always try to visit an art museum or gallery. I do this not only because I'm interested in art, but because I work with the soul and I live a human life; I have a family and I get sick and I have thoughts of mortality. I visit a museum to find myself. On the prowl for art, I'm like the Egyptian Isis, who sought all over the world for the pieces of her dismembered brother and husband, Osiris.

A piece of my soul might be encased in a gallery in Seattle, or Rome, or Brussels. In fact, I have found lost portions of my soul in these very places. I remember walking up a curving stairway in the magnificent art museum in Brussels and discovering a great piece of my identity in the twelfth-century stone reliefs I saw there. . . .
This is from The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life. I highly recommend the chapters on dreams, archetypes, and of course, art.

(Another bit of my soul is tucked away somewhere in Liza Lou's Kitchen.)


This is an exhibit at the Grace Hudson Museum in Ukiah, through September 7. The genre is not one of my favorites, but I have to give the curators credit for putting together an exhibit that shows the diversity of themes and approaches. The works range from 1970s through now, the artists are all northern Californian.

My objection to a lot of visionary art is actually to one manifestation of it: paintings that combine hyper-real attention to minute detail with garish color and symbolism or representation so obvious it is trite - in short, bad science fiction book cover art. And yeah, that school of visionary art is represented here.

But there were some very pleasant surprises too. Janet Rayner's "Threshold" is beautifully painted - the quality of light in it is masterful and evocative. The surreal landscapes of Bill Martin could just about cross the line into sci fi book art, but they manage to be utterly believable little worlds in their own right, and fascinating to contemplate entering. There were a couple of other peices that struck me in their vision and artistry, but I neglected to make adequate notes the day I was there.

The Grace Museum is hosting a panel discussion, What is Visionary Art?, on Saturday August 23, at 1 pm.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

An Interview With Alyson Belcher

Photography has always been an important topic of study in the art schools here in San Francisco. Both the Art Institute and The Academy of Art University are known for their photography programs. Much has changed in photography since Ansel Adams and Minor White created the fine art photography program at San Francisco Art Institute.

Recently I asked Alyson Belcher, who is on the faculty of the photography department of The Academy of Art University, for her thoughts on the current trends in art education and specifically about the shifts in the teaching of photography at the university level.

"Art education in general is becoming more interdisciplinary. Students are encouraged to cross boundaries, to work with many different mediums. We are also seeing critical theory playing more of a role in art education. At some schools, I've noticed that studio art faculty members are actually art critics. Every school has its own approach. With regard to teaching photography some are more geared toward art and some are more commercial. A lot of schools these days focus more on art and critical theory, especially at liberal arts universities. Private art schools may give students a more technical foundation and are more likely to prepare students for a career as a commercial photographer."

Contrary to an often popular belief, art school has never been an easy way to a degree. Alyson points out that a good education in art requires sharpened skills in the basics.

"I have a lot of students at the Academy who are extremely bright, but they may not excel in a traditional academic environment. Sure, there are always students who opt for art school because they think it's easier than going to a liberal arts university. But I find that those students who are not motivated to learn and grow don't stay in the program beyond the first year. I love it when I get students who come to art school because they think they won't have to do math. After one year in the photography program, they find out how important math is. Or students who think that they will never have to write--they want to let their pictures do the talking. While their photographs do need to clearly communicate, it's also important for the students to learn to articulate their ideas in writing. Grants, business proposals, artist's statements--these are all things they will have to write when they get out of school. Overall, I am very impressed with my students at the Academy. I'm not just saying that because I teach there. Once they realize the high expectations we have, they either step up to the plate or drop out. More often than not, they rise to the challenge. Of course there are always a few who do just what they need to do to get by."

The mastering of technology is something no one can escape in this digital age. It has been integrated into almost every aspect of our lives, not only our work and leisure, but also our creative pursuits, our art. Today's students begin their education with a high level of competence in the arena of computing and digital technology. These are tools they expect to have access to and use.

"One challenge in photographic education is how to incorporate digital. Should it be taught alongside film or should it replace film? Some educators are teaching introductory classes that focus more on what photography is and can do, regardless of whether it's film or digital. They are looking at how cameras work and what kind of creative approaches can be explored--many of these things are the same for film and digital cameras. In addition to providing a technical foundations for camera use, they are discussing things like the properties of light and optical culture. Both Robert Hirsch and Angela Faris Belt have recently published new introductory books that take this new approach to teaching the basics of photography. Hirsch's book is titled, "Light and Lens," and Faris Belt's book is "The Elements of Photography.

"We are seeing more and more students who are creating narrative work using digital montage techniques, both in the fine art and commercial realms. Students often shoot locations and models separately now, and combine the two in Photoshop. The work has a very futuristic, surreal quality."

One could say all of this helps make the case for the "film is dead" camp, but Alyson doesn't believe so.

"We have an increasing number of students who are interested in alternative processes and mixed media. I think we have made a good case for keeping film around. Students want black and white darkroom classes. I have many students who are very committed to film. But within the next year we are going to change the intro class to include digital and film and it won't have a darkroom component. Students will be able to take a darkroom class after they have completed their basic courses. After that they can decide which direction to pursue with their work. "

Photo: Alyson Belcher making pin-hole Polaroids, Racoon Hollow, Gloden Gate Park. ©2008 David W. Sumner

Friday, August 1, 2008

Bay Area Art Now at Yerba Buena

What is Bay Area Art Now?
Saturday, August 2, 2008; 2:00 pm
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
701 Mission Street btw 3rd and 4th Streets
For 15 years, YBCA has been championing the work of emerging artists of the Bay Area, in a triennial showcase that has launched many careers, but is the concept of a regional exhibition outmoded? What does it mean to be a Bay Area artist in a world that is both local and global? Moderated by YBCA Executive Director Kenneth Foster, this conversation brings together YBCA’s multidisciplinary offering of BAN 5 artists including Todd Brown, Co-Director of the Red Poppy Art House; performance artist, Dohee Lee; Madeleine Lim, Executive Director of the Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project (QWOCMAP); visual artist Lauren Woods; and a surprise guest. (Free.)

also mentioned in the Stark Guide

Sara Minardi

Thanks to the odd shape of the café displaying her work, I discovered the drawings and paintings of Sara Minardi. Café Trieste in the San Francisco Financial District was constructed from the leftover ground floor space of a newer condo building, giving the café the appearance of a series of converted store windows. Even Minardi's small painting hanging from the hallway wall—which is three feet from the glass front wall--can catch the eye of unsuspecting passers by. The big, sad, expressive eyes of Minardi's thin figured girl were eerily real, and the artist accurately captured natural slouching posture.

Minardi's female figures are innocent, imperfect. The faces, eyes and posture communicate contentment, reflection, bewilderment, perplexity, hunger, exhaustion, and hope, as shown in the fascinating and mesmerizing look of “Ballet Dancer.”

Minardi's web site,
shows her wide creative range, with more figures in paintings and drawings--some are a combination of painting and drawing--plus mostly hand sewn stuffed creatures and monsters, stationery, greeting cards and stickers.

Minardi does not use models or poses. Most often, the beginnings of a figure drawing come to her as a gradual idea of a certain look. She starts her drawings with the eyes and head, with the head tilted down or down and away, or the eyes wide open looking right at you. Her works convey her appreciation for the effect of lighting and shadows on a slouching figure. A close examination of her paintings shows that beyond the realness of the figure, there can be added bones and extended and distorted limbs.

Her painting, "Mother Earth," is both beautiful and disturbing, the head and face of the figure appear young and evolving, the body appears older and gaunt.

"The Saint" is angelic with a halo, and like many of Minardi’s drawings and paintings, was inspired by Aeon Flux cartoons, and the feel and look of paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Anime popular in her youth.

Many of her early works incorporated buildings in the background. The red and blue buildings of “The City” reflect her native Syracuse, New York.

“The Whore” started out as a slouching figure on a bench, with a longer dress, and then became angry and upset. The scene is tense, like an Edvard Munch painting. Much of the figure was drawn by candlelight during a power failure; the blue skin was a surprise to Minardi when the power came back on.

Minardi’s stuffed creatures and monsters are often “scary cheerful” mixed in with “cute and adorable,” like Aliens Meets Sanrio. As a child, she was encouraged by her parents to draw monsters that scared her, as a way to dissipate her fears. The inspiration for Minardi’s current creature creations is drawn from her life experiences, dreams, fairytales and stories from her childhood.

Minardi learned to sew as a young child, adding designs to her jeans as well as to purses she created. Her early stuffed creatures were all sewn by hand. Today she uses a sewing machine for the bodies, and a needle and thread for the faces and features. Like Minardi’s drawings and paintings, the three-dimensional creatures and monsters show mood and feeling, their individual character exposed by the artist’s purposely imperfect and asymmetrical designs.

# # #

A solo show of new works by Sara Minardi
Opening Friday, September 12th, 2008 from 7pm-9pm
377 Guerrero St
(between 15th St & 16th St)
San Francisco, CA 94103

Opening in February 2009 at:

520 Haight St.
San Francisco, CA 94117

by Phil Gravitt