Sunday, November 28, 2010

Museum Visit: San Francisco Legion of Honor's JAPANESQUE

Travis and I went to visit the Legion of Honor last week. I'd forgotten how beautiful the landscape is there, even when it is about to storm.

The exhibition we went to see was Japanesque, which explores Japanese printmaking and its influence upon 19th Century and early 20th Century Europe and the United States.

On this particular day, Tomoko Murakami, who I remembered from my days working at the Palo Alto Art Center, was demonstrating Japanese ukiyo-e printmaking techniques.

Each of us had the opportunity to carve a tiny block of wood. In ukiyo-e, cherry wood was traditionally used for its hardness and capability of holding fine lines. However,  it is so hard that a hammer and chisel are required.

For the purposes of the demo Murakami used a softer wood called Shina veneer.  It is so soft that it can be carved very quickly, which is nice if you have young students or not much time.  Also you can use regular woodcutting v-gouges rather than the hammer and chisel.

I was in an impatient, stormy mood so I carved a rather odd mini-tornado in the wood.

Though I had read about it, I had never seen ink applied to woodblocks using brushes, only rollers. The brushes she used were very stiff: one is used to apply the ink and the next is used to spread it on the carved block.  Traditionally, the brushes are rubbed against sharkskin to open up the bristles so that they may better absorb the ink.  Tomoko also suggested using house paint brushes, trimmed down until they are stiff, as an affordable alternative.  She uses one per color.

Each of us tried printing with the ink and brush.  We used Akua water-based inks, some thinned with rice paste (which can also effectively slow down the drying time).  I was surprised by how easily they spread.  What's nice is you can also put ink on part of the block and then blend it with water, creating those gentle gradations of color found in ukiyo-e prints, often in the sky. Which reminds me, she wet the wood with water and wiped it before inking it (otherwise the wood just absorbs the ink).  She explained that if you have a large block, you will want to wet both sides to prevent warping.

There was a video about carving, inking and printing techniques that was pretty fascinating. One thing that amazed me was the use of a hanging jug of water next to a light bulb to concentrate the light on a particular area of the wood so that the carver could really see it clearly. Considering the fineness of the lines (especially in the representation of women's hair), this made a lot of sense. It also appeared to be a brilliantly economical way to illuminate your work area.

Tomoko Murakami will be teaching classes at Kala Institute this year. Here is the class schedule.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Museum Visit: San Francisco Academy of Sciences

Last week my mom was in town and I took her and her partner, Seth, to see the Academy of Sciences. We went to the diorama section. This was my first-time viewing of them and I thought it was nifty how they had updated them to include live animals as well.

In the one of the African Savannah, if you look beyond the zebras toward the horizon you can see a herd of elephants appearing and disappearing in the distant 'heat' (done digitally, I imagine). In addition, if you peer up into the tree above you'll find a leopard peering down on you. I loved all of those little hidden things.

I took a lot of pictures of the horns, because they vary so much and I'd like to incorporate them into the figures I create for my Bestia and Dreamers series.

We all enjoyed watching the film about the Academy of Science expeditions in the Galapagos section. These voyages resulted in many of the specimens that re-opened with the museum after it was demolished in the 1905 earthquake.  My mother and I went to the Galapagos Islands when I was in college, so it was of special interest. I had not realized to what extent the Academy serves as a research institute as well as an exhibiting entity.

We also took a quick trip up the elevator to see the living roof.  It is really hard to believe that this is a roof. It's like something out of the Shire.  I thought of Hundtertwasser's tree tenants.

A docent explained how they began by growing plants in coconut-husk boxes made especially for them in the Philippines.  The roots grow through the box and eventually break it down entirely. The egg carton forms catch the rain runoff.  There's a layer of insulation in between that lets water through but not the roots. 

Afterward we went to see the rainforest.  There really is nothing like it. Wandering from floor to canopy surrounded by live birds and butterflies while viewing (behind glass) environments containing bats, leaf cutting ants, tiny poisonous frogs, creatures from Madagascar, lizards truly is a living wonder world. I enjoy the fact that you must check in a mirror for butterflies when you leave, and that you enter by way of a semi-airlock, as if you are on a spaceship.

We were sorry when closing time came, but exiting the aquarium I caught sight of these Surinam toads, utterly frozen in this position (and no, they were not stuffed...well...OK, never mind).

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Visit me tonight :)

I'm manning (mistressing) the gallery tonight, Saturday, from 4:30 - 9:00pm.
Come chat, look at lots of folks art as well as mine!
City Art Gallery, 828 Valencia between 19th and 20th Streets.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Three of my works on my wall at City Art sold so far, including Encounter (below).  I'll have to come up with some replacements. :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Exhibition Friday Nov 5th

You are invited to the City Art Gallery reception this Friday evening, 7-10pm at 828 Valencia between 19th & 20th Street, San Francisco, where I have a large wall of Dreamers & Beast-themed work installed :)

Kink's anatomy & lizard love at the studio of Sandra Yagi

There is nothing quite like visiting the studio of an artist you admire; I felt very privileged to get to do that today with Sandra Yagi :)  I love her imagination & her technique.  Her production levels, especially for the style she paints in, truly astound me.  Someone to look up to as I go forward down this always sketchy (see what I did there?) road of being an artist.  AND I'm saving up for a piece :D

Oh, and it's always important that an artist have a serious, professional portrait so I made sure to bring my state-of-the-art camera (er...old Iphone ) to do the job.  I think she's speaking lizard to her lizard model, which was perhaps used for the extraordinary painting she made on the easel. 

Check out her web site & blog:

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Online Art Mag of Interest...

Art Practical

Reception this Friday

Just installed work on the nice big back wall at City Art Gallery in the Mission. :) The show opens this Friday from 7-10pm, 828 Valencia (btwn 19th & 20th Streets), SF.

Cool CCI Workshop

This evening I attended a planning workshop for artists put on by the Center For Cultural Innovation that gave me some good, creative strategizing material :)  It's pretty cool organization -- it's gotta have some true artist clout if Bill Viola is on the Board!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

10/23/10 Artist Talk at BEAST

Discussing my Dreamers series & Bestia installation
Photo by Susan Schen.
Dorian Katz discussing her work (as guests 
continue to color it in!). Photo by Susan Schen.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Printing at Graphic Arts Workshop

Printing on the Sturges press. The top row of prints 
is from my Sceptre series, made with very old, very 
large clock hands.  Photo by Travis Eneix.

BEAST! Opening at Million Fishes

The BEAST Opening was mobbed.  It was very nice to have all those people and also a little overwhelming.  The interactive elements and the performances really added to the experience of the show.
More about BEAST
More opening pictures on FLICKR