Friday, December 17, 2010

Last Call for Pear Tree Art Studio Show & Sale.

This weekend (tonight 5-8 and Sunday 11-3) is your last chance to pick up extremely affordable fine art, jewelry, knitted wear, and crafts from 10 local artists including Anna Conti, Pam Heyda, Cynthia Tom, Adele Shaw, Anna Efanova, and others. Pear Tree at 1890 Bryant Street, San Francisco.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Federico "Pico" Sanchez, 1943-2010

Monday morning San Francisco artist Federico "Pico" Sanchez died peacefully in his sleep, at his live-work space at Project Artaud. The "Prince of Artaud" will be hugely missed by his friends and neighbors, not only for his warm and friendly presence but his guidance during his frequent stints as president during his 20-plus years with the organization, his welcoming installations in the center patio and central hallway and his murals seen all over the Mission.

Tuesday was the closing day of his show "Three Tigers" (a group show with his two sons Hayyim and Solomon Sanchez) at Artillery Gallery on 2751 Mission street. Artillery Gallery will host a memorial for Sanchez on Thursday at 8:30 p.m. “Three Tigers” is held over until Friday.

Mission Local has a nice write-up about him here.

Last spring, Michael Yochum wrote a brief essay about Pico's life and work on SFArtNews, here.

Here's a 22 minute audio (mp3) interview with Pico by Southern Exposure's Neighborhood Radio radio - he talks about his many years at Project Artaud.

SFGate interviewed Pico in 2007 for a story on changing real estate in the neighborhood:

When Mexican painter Pico Sanchez moved to San Francisco in the early 1980s, he joined an artists collective in the former American Can Co. building on Potrero Hill. Sanchez says the neighborhood was "much funkier" then. The train still ran along Florida Street every night at 7, and the greasy air wafting out of the Best Foods factory on the corner smelled like a fast-food restaurant. "There was nothing going on around here at all," he says, "Just hippies living out of their cars."

There will be a memorial service at Project Artaud on Saturday from 1-4pm, and a 1000memories page has been set up for Pico here.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

My Home Is Far Away

Roving correspondent here, with a report from Chicago.

My grandparents, whom I loved so much and still miss, although they have been dead and gone lo, these many years, were of the generation that embraced the concept of the chain restaurant, and found particularly attractive the notion that no matter where you were--Omaha, Nebraska, or Oceanside, California--if you went to a Bob's Big Boy, well, you were sure to get the same burger and fries.

Predictably, and probably partly in reaction to having eaten so many of those damn burgers, I hate chain restaurants. But I see the allure. When you travel, when you are a long ways from home, you do feel a sense of disorientation. I also feel this sense on holidays, that the world is a different place from the one I am used to.

I was in Chicago on business last week, that beautiful city, and it was a magical trip. (Even the traveling itself was fascinating. I met a sexagenarian businesswoman who wore intimidating jewelry and long grey dreads, and who owned 7 El Pollo Locos and 9 Burger Kings, and man! Did she have some stories to tell! Although I steered the conversation away from politics, because you can imagine how someone whose wealth came from the sweat of others over her grills feels about being compelled to provide health care for those others.)

The disorientation is part of the magic, it stirs everything up, like shaking a snow globe, it's good. And yet, when you retire for the evening, whether it be in your luxury hotel overlooking the skyline or in the spare bedroom at your friend's brick house two doors down from Codger Corner (where all the homeowners are septuagenarians, and a story about the neighbors frequently begins with "My neighbor was trying to get his wife's wheelchair out of the house/into the car/out of the car/onto the sidewalk"), you lie in bed and have that strange feeling of not being quite sure who you are.

This is where the art comes in. (I apologize for the lengthy setup.) I stayed with a friend in Chicago, and when she asked what I wanted to do, I said I wanted to see as much art as possible, and have as much fun as possible. My friend took me at my word. On Friday night, we drove around the suburbs and looked at Frank Lloyd Wright houses. On Saturday, we went on the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio tour, and then--as if that weren't enough--we went to the Art Institute of Chicago.

I've been thinking about this since my return, how to describe the sense of walking into that beautiful house and beautiful studio, and feeling so completely at home in this place where everything is designed and ordered with precise and elegant intention. And of walking through those galleries and falling in love with the haunting Têtes-paysage, 1928 (Francis Picabia), and the angular, vivid Kandinskys. Chagall's America Windows. I still don't quite know how to describe this sense that art gives you of being absolutely at home where you are at that moment. And that the world, some appearances to the contrary and in spite of the struggles (to secure health care for the poor, for example), really is a beautiful place.

P.S. Title from Dawn Powell's My Home Is Far Away. If you don't know of her, she is a wonderful early 20th century American writer who--here it comes, the story of women artists from time immemorial--was overshadowed by the men. In Dawn Powell's case, the men were Hemingway and Fitzgerald. Although Powell is just as great. Some might say better.

P.P.S. Great photos of Chicago here.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Holiday Shopping outside the mall

Think outside the box - the big box stores that is.

 “Fruit Jello” by Camille Holvoet - Creativity Explored

"Making plans to take advantage of Black Friday shopping deals? We'd rather not, personally, that's why we have the Internet and a stack of Amazon gift cards. But if that's your kind of thing, you might want to start queuing up now because one Lori Davenport has already set up camp in front of the St. Petersburg, Florida Best Buy. As she says, "it's not about being first or any sort of firstness, it's about our own personal's about the experience of what this brings to you." (SFist)

It brings you a week's worth of hard nights out on the pavement in front of Best Buy and a brief, if embarrassing, shot at Internet fame. That's what it brings to you.

But if you want to opt out of the buying frenzy, avoid the hysterical crowds and support local artisans, try some of the following craft fairs. The current economic crisis is an unavoidable reality for many organizations as well as individual artists. It has been devastating to a wide array of services, in great part because the availability and wealth of granting agencies has greatly diminished. As a result, individual contributions are a vital artery of support. Your support, now more than ever, is the life-blood of the local arts community, no matter how large or small the gift. The list below is just a sample of what's available, outside the big box stores - the events listed are either local, benefit artists who are not represented elsewhere or non-profit arts organizations that need our support, now more than ever. (Michelle Mansou, Roots Division)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Visit to Porchlight for Stories About Art

This past Monday I went over to the Verdi Club to see "Don't Call Me Retard," one of Arline Klatte and Beth Lisick's monthly storytelling series - this one benefitting Creativity Explored. The storytellers were teachers and students at the Mission art studio that serves artists with developmental disabilities. Or, as one of the speakers described the place, "a safe haven for the vulnerable."

The joy, awe and inspiration was almost more than that little old dance hall could contain. The program alternated solo standup stories with interviews, and video presentations. There was a common thread between all of the presentations, by teachers and students alike, and it was the pleasurable surprise and wonder that occurs when creativity is nurtured, witnessed, and appreciated.

Thomas Pringle is an entertaining fabulist who regaled us with his stories of catching a Great White Shark in San Francisco Bay and becoming the youngest professional baseball player at the age of two.

Whitman Donaldson read from his graphic novel about his experiences living with Prader-Willi syndrome and told another story that involved mythic cupcakes and mother love.

When the video presentations developed technical glitches, Klatte and Lisick did impromptu dances.

The videos used images and recordings of student work to tell stories that were impractical for the stage. One of the most powerful was by Than Diep. She illustrated a story about her early life, accompanied by the keening sound of her natural voice and the mechanical voice of her communication device. I don't think I'll ever forget it. I wish you could see it. But check out this short video of Than Diep in the studio.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Union Square Ramble

Anna wrote up a marvelous report about our fabulous Friday night in downtown SF - art, food, friends...go and read about it at:

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Masao Yamamoto at the Robert Koch Gallery

I prefer the intimate experience of looking at small prints. I print and display my own photographs small for that very reason. When I walked into the Robert Koch Gallery last evening I was more than pleased to see the entire gallery devoted to an exhibit of Masao Yamamoto's exquisitely crafted photographs, most no larger than 4X6 inches.

Everything about the exhibit played to exactly what I love about photography: intimate view of subjects presented in a manner that invites the viewer into that intimacy while offering a fresh and often unique perspective.

Yamamoto's vision and process transcends the generations of photographic pursuit. Many of his images evoke pictorialism and classic figure study, but they are in fact beyond all that and firmly planted on a most contemporary point of view.

"If I take small photos, it’s because I want to make them into the matter of memories. And it’s for this reason that I think the best format is one that is held in the hollow of the hand. If we can hold the photo in our hand, we can hold a memory in our hand. A little like when we keep a family photo with us." -(quote from an interview posted to lensculture)

The work of Masao Yamamoto is on view through December 24, 2010 at the Robert Koch Gallery, 49 Geary, San Francisco.

Photos by Masao Yamamoto, courtesy of Robert Koch Gallery

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Open Studios 2010, 1st Weekend

Cross Posted from Working Artists' Journal
Hugh Buck's iPad drawings (at Developing Environments)

It's getting to the point where I can barely keep up with seeing the the studios of my friends & acquaintances, nevermind seeing someone new. But still, we try.

Last weekend was for artists in the Mission and I visited studios all day Saturday & Sunday. This week (SOMA & Dogpatch) I'm going to try to limit it to the Friday night receptions. I couldn't possibly write about everything I saw, but I'll give you the highlights.

Project Artaud hallway - Dale Erickson's paintings.

My overall impression was that the studios were set up beautifully and the art was better than ever. It looked to me like there were plenty of visitors everywhere I went - I even witnessed two sales. But most of the artists I talked to said it was slower than usual and sales were poor. No surprise, I guess, in this economy - still, artists are enthusiastically making plenty of art.

Bernie Rauch is working on a new banner for political actions. He's also finished some new paintings in his multilayered style, including one of Glenn Beck covered in dog (Fox?) shit.

Detail of the acrylic raised surface on Bernie's paintings:

Dale Erickson made a sale while I was there. His paintings filled the studio and spilled out into the halls. In his newest work, he's adding deeper, richer colors and playing with edges.

Robert Burg had quite a few new paper constructions, plus a series of drip paintings.

Nartan modeled one of her fashion creations.

Anna Efanova was also making a sale. Her studio was filled with eclectic sculptures, prints, and paintings of mostly surrealistic creatures.

Heather Robinson has a big new body of work, using stitchery in her mixed media panels, with a recurring theme of openings, peepholes, or directed views. The space she shares with a handful of other artists, a little storefront called Secession, was the best looking space I saw this weekend.
It's very attractive, very inviting, filled with interesting things to look at and buy. Everyone was so hospitable, I hated to leave. I've noticed more and more of this kind of art sales space - geared more toward the retail model and less toward the white walls (museum) model. Seems to be working.

I stopped by the Southern Exposure Gallery for the "Art Publishing Now" fair. Thirty-four publishers, from zines and web-only outfits to established companies like Re/Search and McSweeny's were set up at tables with samples and were willing to talk to artists about ideas, plans and projects. It was pretty exciting - i came away with a ton of samples and even more ideas.

Jennifer Ewing had a brand new installation for her Spirit Boats - she told me this was a kind of trial run for an installation she'll be doing at the de Young in January. She also has a new web site, with a great page about a very special spirit boat and its launching.

Shawn Ray Harris has expanded his series of 3D anaglyphs (photo-based line images, red/cyan) to include graphic novel styled layouts and narrative. They're really cool looking, and original. I told him they would make a great iPad app, and told him where he could get it made. Then he told me about another artist in his building, Hugh Buck, who has started painting on his iPad and making the printouts at Costco.

Shawn took me upstairs to see Hugh's work and I was blown away! This guy should be doing covers for the New Yorker. Seriously - wish I had better photos - he doesn't have a web site I can direct you to, either. See if you can pick out the Gavin Newsom caricature.

Now it's time to go visit a whole new bunch of art studios . . . .

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Nancy Ewart at Open Studios: October 15, 16, 17

I didn't want to post examples of my work on "the other blog" - right on top of a post about one the gorgeous screens from the upcoming show at the Asian - talk about unfair competition. But since I'm tooting my own horn, here are some more pieces from the inventory. The piece above is titled "Big Dipper." It's about 24 x 36, mixed media on paper and I don't remember the date but it is older.  (Bad Nancy). The image doesn't do justice to the texture or the colors; when I work with acrylics, I seem to feel freer to incorporate raised areas, gold leaf and lots and lots of paint.

Bimini, 24 x 30. Oil on Canvas, 2009/2010

Memory of Water. 12 x 12. 2009. Part of a four part series

Low Tide, Full Moon. 28 x 36. Oil on Canvas, 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sandy Yagi at Open Studios

I met Sandy though Anna and have become intrigued by her Gothic visions, part medieval, part post-apocalypse, but always uniquely hers. She brings an impressive level of skill to her work - a rare facility with oil and imagery, a sense of humor and an imaginative vision of unknown worlds that almost, but not quite, seem like ours. It's as if we are a parallel time line to the worlds that Sandy imagines, a different evolutionary track but one which seems quite plausible until you look more closely. With Sandy's work, it's always important to look more closely.

Friday Evening Reception
October 15th   -  6:00PM - 9:00PM
with live music, snacks and refreshments

Open Studio - Saturday and Sunday -
October 16th - 17th  -  11 AM to 6 PM

South Beach Artists Studios
340 Bryant Street - Suite 320, Studio #13
San Francisco, CA 94107

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Nancy Ewart at Open Studios: October 15, 16, 17

Nancy Ewart. Dangerous Waters. Oil on canvas, 22 x 20. 2010

Open Studios coming up: Opening Reception October 15 from 6-9
Open to the public on Saturday and Sunday, October 16 & 17 from 11 to 6
689 Bryant St, SF, Studio 27
Accessible via public transportation - some parking in the neighborhood

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Open Studios 2010

I will be showing the second weekend (Nancy Ewart, SOMA Arts, 689 Bryant St, 5th & Bryant, #27) and I hope that the rest of the contributors to this blog will add their information.

2010 SF Open Studios

Gala Weekend

ArtLaunch 2010: 7-10 p.m. Sat. More than 400 works for sale, open bar and hors d'oeuvres. $35 advance, $40 at the door.

Exhibition opening reception 4-7 p.m. Sun. Admission free; cash bar. Both events take place at SOMArts Main Gallery, 934 Brannan St., S.F.

Weekend 1: Oct. 9-10: Bernal Heights, Castro, Duboce, Eureka Valley, Glen Park, Mission, Noe Valley, Portola

Weekend 2: Oct. 16-17: Bayview, Excelsior, Financial District, North Beach, Potrero Hill, Russian Hill, SoMa, Tenderloin

Weekend 3: Oct. 23-24: Buena Vista, Diamond Heights, Fort Mason, Haight, Hayes Valley, Marina, Mount Davidson, Ocean Beach, Pacific Heights, Richmond, Sunset, Twin Peaks, West Portal

Weekend 4: Oct. 30-31: Hunters Point Shipyard and Islais Creek Studios

Studios are open 11 a.m.-6 p.m. For more information, go to

Monday, September 20, 2010

Independent Publishing: Where's It At?

FREE arts workshops tonight, tomorrow night, and next Saturday (9/25) in SF: (via Ramona Soto)

Independent Publishing: Where's It At?
Monday, September 20, 6-8PM
Viracocha SF, 998 Valencia St. @ 21st. St., SF

What will rule publishing? Print vs. Internet? ... or are people even reading? How do you start and run your own small press? What literary events are happening? What spaces are available? How do you promote your lit'ry endeavor? Who's writing, who's reading, what's happening around the Bay Area?

•Mike Skott (Ink. Publishing
•Ramsey Kanaan (PM Press,
•Tony DuShane (Cherry Bleeds,
•Deborah Grabien (Plus One Press,
•J. Brandon Loberg (Performance poets, publisher of "The 16th & Mission Review")
•Ginger Murray (Whore Magazine -

Promoting Your Underground Art
Tuesday, September 21
Mission Comics & Art, 3520 20th St. x Mission St., 6-8PM
How to promote your event on a limited budget, and on the edge of propriety.

•Evan Karp (QUIET LIGHTNING Reading Series,
•Bix Warden (Bookings/Outreach, Mission Control,
•Doctor Popular
•Caroline Thompson (promotions for Broadway musicals "Wicked," "Peter Pan," etc.)

Also: PLEASE DO COME TO SF next Saturday: Wonderful Expo for Independent Arts with workshops galore!! PLEASE SHARE!

Writing for marketing, PR, grant proposals, storytelling and more
10:30-11:30 (CELLspace, 2050 Bryant St. SF)
Dalya Massachi, author, Writing to Make a Difference
Josh Wilson, co-founder, Independent Arts & Media

Social networking
11:45-12:45 (CELLspace, 2050 Bryant St. SF)
Emily Goligoski, arts and culture writer
Therese Davis, Songbird Festival founder
Kwan Booth, writer, editor, cultural curator
Johnny Funcheap, founder, FunCheapSF
Gregory Stock, arts promoter

Community collaboration and project documentation
2:30-3:30 pm (Sports Basement, 1590 Bryant St, San Francisco, CA)
Wendy Testu, Project Director, Welcome to the NeighborHOOD
La Constance Shahid, Project Coordinator, Welcome to the NeighborHOOD
Lise Swenson, filmmaker
Gregory Stock, arts promoter

Online fundraising
3:45-4:45 pm (Sports Basement, 1590 Bryant St, San Francisco, CA)
David Hunt, co-founder, Circus Bella
Michael Stoll, SF Public Press
Lisa Lee, Hyphen
Irene Kao, Hyphen

* * * *
1:00-4:00 pm (CELLspace, 2050 Bryant St. SF)
SFAC’s Face Time

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"Getting Back to the Phantom Skill"

This promises to be a very interesting series of columns in the NY Times: "Line by Line" will be a 12 week series by James McMullan which readers are encouraged to follow with pencil and paper in hand.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Viva Mexico - Celebrate Mexico's Bicentennial on Friday at the De Young (And it's Free!)

September 16th marks marks the day in 1810 when Mexico began its war of independence against Spain, an event that triggered similar uprisings across the Western Hemisphere.

In September 1810, rebels in the central state of Guanajuato were secretly planning an uprising against the Spanish when their plot was discovered. As Spanish troops moved to arrest conspirators, one of the them, priest Miguel Hidalgo, realized the moment for revolution was upon them.

Before dawn on Sept. 16, 1810, Hidalgo rang the church bell to gather residents in the town of Dolores, and then delivered a famous call to arms known as the grito, or shout.

The war lasted 11 years before Spain finally gave Mexico and Central America its independence. The territory included what is now California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Texas, and parts of Wyoming and Colorado.

Tonight at 11, Calderón will ring a bell in the Zócalo Plaza and recite the names of Hidalgo and other independence heroes. After each name, the crowd shouts Viva!— long may he live.

The event, which is repeated by mayors and governors across Mexico, has become an annual sign of hope, said Oriel Gómez Mendoza, a historian at Michoacan University.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fecal Face - 10th Anniversary Show

If you like a certain type of SF 20-something hipster-yipster-trend (probably with trust fund) kind of art, Fecal Face is throwing a party to celebrate their 10th anniversary.

From SF Fist:
Fecal Face Dot Com, the premier and inexhaustible arts and culture site, are having their mammoth 10 Year Anniversary Show tonight. The exhibit at the Luggage Store Gallery features some of SF's favorite artists, and the after-party at Mezzanine will include performances by Kelly Stoltz, Sonny Smith, and Ty Segall, and DJ Ted Shred.
6 to 8 p.m. // Luggage Store Gallery (1007 Market St) // free
9 p.m. to 2 a.m. // Mezzanine (444 Jessie St) // $8, suggested donation

SF Chronicle review:

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Cézanne: part of the Post Expressionist exhibit opening later this month at the De Young.

A year after he died,  a major exhibition of Cezanne's works opened at the Salon d'Autumne in Paris. Picasso, Braque and Matisse were among those crowding into the show--and stealing his secrets. But they would never steal his grandeur. Rilke, too, was there. "Not since Moses," he wrote to his wife, "has anyone seen a mountain so greatly."

Full piece up at:

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Up and Coming for the fall

There's a comprehensive list of all the fall shows up at the website, along with a lot of other notices and reviews about art and daily posts - well, almost daily up at Chez Namaste Nancy (see sidebar for link).

Ars Longa, Vita Brevis! 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Cantor Arts Center: “Mami Wata: Arts for Water Spirits in Africa

Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University presents “Mami Wata: Arts for Water Spirits in Africa and Its Diasporas,” August 4, 2010 through January 2, 2011. This exhibition explores 500 years of visual cultures and histories of the water... Read more »

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Maira Kalman
Various Illuminations
of a Crazy World

I first heard of illustrator, author and designer Maira Kalman when a friend forwarded her New York Times blog, about a trip to City Hall and a sewage treatment plant. Her funny, interesting and educational story was intermingled (intertwingled?) with paintings and photographs of what she saw along the way and at the plant.

The Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco has an exhibit of Kalman's work, now through October 26. Like a good San Franciscan, I tried to take the Muni railway to the museum. But then there was a switching problem, followed by a few and far between bus and trolley problem, and then a full to the brim bus, trolley and cab problem. Finally made it to the museum about an hour and a half after I left.

As there is a lot of detail in Kalman's work, as well as plenty of reading of the several books accessible in the exhibit, I recommend going to the exhibit when one is fresh. Choose your mode of transportation accordingly.

The Kalman exhibit includes drawings, books, children's books, designs on clothing, objects that appear in her work, and short films. Photographs are also on display, including a series on free sofas on the sidewalk. Coincidentally, I had taken a similar photo below, just before boarding the train to nowhere. Somehow, Kalman's free sofa photos are so much more revealing.

My favorite of her books was "FIREBOAT, The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey."

It is a wonderful combination of fun and history, powerful and inspiring.

by Phil Gravitt