Monthly Archives: November 2011

Keith Smith, Book By Book

Keith Smith, Book By Book is and exhibit at Bruce Sivlerstein Gallery, New York.

Keith Smith has been creating books as works of art since the 1960s, yet he has rarely shown his work to the public over the past twenty-five years.

He designs books that allow the viewer to experience and question the structure and nature of the book itself—his works are often radical departures from traditional books made of string or covered in fabric, they unfold, light-up, do not open, are unbound, or punched full of holes. Each piece is an opportunity for the viewer to expand his or her own expectations for a book and physically engage with the imagery or text.

For Smith, his work is a form of creative articulation whereby the act of making the book—the binding, printing method, page materials and textures that comprise the form, content and structure of the book are chosen to most adequately express the artist’s original inspiration or personal challenge.

While a single book might be guided by one idea or one particular interest, when the viewer examines the artist’s complete body of work—currently over 280 books—images of certain people and places reappear, and Smith’s voice begins to emerge. His works address the recurring themes of love and desire and reveal the artist’s efforts to reckon with his sexual identity.

Keith was educated at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology. He has taught at the Visual Studies Workshop, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the University of Illinois. He is a recipient of two Guggenheim Fellowships, and a National Endowment of the Arts grant and a Pollock/Krasner Foundation grant.

His work is in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago; Center of Creative Photography, University of Arizona; Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University; International Museum of Photography at the George Eastman House; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Getty Museum, Los Angeles; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London among others.

He has authored nine books on bookmaking, among them; 200 Books, An Annotated
Bibliography, published by Keith Smith BOOKS, First Edition, May 2000; Books without Paste or Glue, Non-Adhesive Binding Volume I, The Sigma Foundation, Inc., 1991; and Structure of the Visual Book, First Edition, The Sigma Foundation, 198.

Courtesy of Bruce Silverstien Gallery. Exhibit runs till January 7, 2012.

Featured Artist: Jorge Tellaeche

Jorge Tellaeche is an artist currently living in Mexico City, Mexico. His biotic line work and vibrant bright, pastel colors consists of a combustible, lively interpretation of dreamlike disorderly landscapes.

Rae: Any self portrait photo of u?

Jorge: Yeah I did one for my last solo show called “Animals R Honest” @ Medellin 174 gallery . Its of me turning into an animal with deer horns. 🙂

Rae: I’ve been checking out your latest work on your blog. What would you say about these latest series you’ve posted?

Jorge: Uffff that they are very different. I like the challenge of changing the direction of my work when I get too comfortable doing, what I am doing. But anyway, the new series is all about me reflecting on what kind of person I want to be, so they are these kids that are somewhat illuminated, and have an amazing connection and clarity with nature and other kids. Its like a lost tribe, thats why its called “the lost boys and girls”

Rae: Describe your process while making a piece.

Jorge: Its hard to explain, because it changes between pieces. But I am usually working on a acrylic piece and on the side some watercolor drawings or some ink. So there is no real strict way of working for me.

Rae: Looking at your work, you bring a really soft, vibrant graphic art to your style? It gives your artwork an inviting feeling? What inspires your work these days?

Jorge: Well I studied graphic design, so I have that buried in my roots, and I think it makes the paining more current, and it communicates to our generation. Yeah, I like my art work to be pieces that you can live with and enjoy for many years or generations, and that the dialogue with the piece can constantly develop and grow into different directions.
What inspires me? …. well everything I think, I am very influenced by my emotions so with that I involve all of my friends, and people that surround me that make me feel different things. Also by my surroundings, colors, forms, textures.

Rae: How is your studio working routine? Time of day? Any great music you’ve been listening to lately?

Jorge: hahaha no routine, I am a MESS … I can paint in the day or night, it depends on my other activities that day, but I do try to work every day. Music is tremendously important to me and my work…. I have a very eclectic ear so I don’t listen to just one type of music, but lately I have been feeling my studio with the sounds of Lhasa De Sela, Foals, Chris Garneau, Bon Iver, Architecture In Helsinki , and many many others 🙂

Rae: What do you love most about being an artist living in Mexico City?

Jorge: Well Mexico City has a huge amount of energy, it lets you work as hard as you want and go as far as you can…and I like that in a city, to always ask more of me.

Rae: Are you a full time artist? or do you have a day job as well?

Jorge: I am a full timer! 😉

Rae: Any upcoming project, trips, shows coming up for you?

Jorge: Yeah, I have been busier than any other year. I am reviving a functional art project that involves furniture called twig, I am going in December to SF, LA, SD and TJ and then early next year I am going for two months to Berlin… and as for shows, I have a collective show called minimart with Fifty24 gallery in Mexico city, and a solo show in Mexico city in April that I am working like crazy for.

Rae: Nice. What is the most inspiring, exciting moment you had in your art career so far?

Jorge: It always keeps getting better….one tops the other

Rae: So you have lived in San Diego before? What made you decide to move to Mexico City?

Jorge: Yeah I was living between TJ and SD for many very comfortable and fun years. I decided to move because I love big chaotic cit, and Mexico city is one of my favorite places in the world.

Rae: You’ve done a lot of commercial art, do you think that has influenced your process of making art in any way?

Jorge: Not really, all the commercial work that I have done has been with creative license, so I don’t really have to change what I am doing or how I do it.

Rae: Favorite place traveled so far? And why?

Jorge: Berlin, thats why I am going back! It has a freedom that you can feel that I love.

Rae: Any artist you would love to collaborate with in the future?

Jorge: Yeah, there are many that I completely respect. I would love to do something with Kelsey Brookes, Dr. Lacra (even though he is really dark) , Sergio Mora… and I can go on ….

Rae: Any amazing places/spots that you would suggest to check out to someone traveling to Mexico City?

Jorge: Depends on your mood and personality, but for sure the pyramids are a must see, Palacio de Bellas Artes, Condesa-Roma is a nice neighborhood to eat, drink and walk around. And JESUS CHRIST the food is amazing anywhere you go heheheh.

Rae: You’ve also done street art, thinking about doing more?

Jorge: Yeah, I would not consider myself a street artist because I haven’t done enough, but I did start last year wen I started my collaboration with Adidas. Since then, I have been doing a lot of murals….and I have to say that I love it… Its fun and it’s a great way to communicate with a larger audience … I would love to do one in San Diego in December!!!! HINT HINT heheheh

Rae: Yeah, you should totally do a mural in San Diego! Any advice you would give to other artists?

Jorge: I don’t feel I am old enough to give other artist advice hehehe … but maybe I can say that there are no rules in this biz, everybody has their own rhythm and timing, don’t get discourage if its a slow start. OH and stay passionate

Rae: Thank you for the interview Jorge, hope to see more from you in the future.

Check out his website at
twitter: jorge_tellaeche

Artist Interview Featured with Alexis Amann

Rollup Gallery: photo courtesy of Lauren Devenney

“I am the Bad Wolf. I create myself. I take the words. I scatter them… time, and space. A message to lead myself here.” – Rose Tyler (Quote from Doctor Who)

Alexis Amann is a SF based artist working with a wide range of mediums.

Hedgewitch and Baby Beluga

Hedge and Beluga bone detail

Rae: Let’s begin with the interview, nice to have you with us today….

Rae: Describe your process for creating a new piece and what sorts of materials you prefer to use and why?

Alexis: I work with acrylic gouache on paper. I love working on paper because it references a book, illustrations, and comics. I like making work that feels like it comes from that world. I can cut the edges to suit the painting. I like that I can work with paper to make a small painting that will be framed, or a larger installation piece made of multiple pieces of paper that over a wall.

My experience is that when a painting really needs to happen, it will not leave me alone,  even if I have a ton of other paintings in line that I should be finishing up. I have to at least get that idea down on paper as much as possible. A lot of my art making process is about listening to those little thoughts and images as they arise as much as I can without censoring them. I’m definitely a first ideas person – get your first idea out and refine it later, don’t mull it over for all eternity trying to find a better idea, or make it something that would say this or that, suit this person or that person, or be one thing or another. Once they are out, the ideas are mine to change and manipulate in the making of the piece, but in the early stages, I try to just the ideas as much as possible. I also do work out of ideas by drawing in my sketchbook. Drawing is thinking, sometimes a better way of thinking. I often go back to those drawings as a starting place for creating pieces.

Bearded Lady (lost at sea)

Rae: I noticed your illustrations seem to take on a comic illustration perspective, do you also agree with me?

Alexis: Yes for sure! Comics have been a huge influence on me. As a kid, I read Bloom County, Calvin and Hobbes, Archie (and all of his pals ‘n gals), Lynda Barry, Amphigorey, Matt Groening’ Life in Hell stuff, Zippy the Pinhead, the comics in Cricket magazine, and Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, among other things. I was never much for superhero comics as a little kid, although now I do have a collection of Golden Age Wonder Woman comics that are amazing. I continue to read lots of comics, including everything Lynda Barry does. I really, really love the Hernandez Brothers. They are beyond compare both in story and art, truly stellar- their female characters are brilliant, and it’s amazing to be able to see story arcs occurring over years and years.

Rae: How is it living and working as an artist in San Francisco? What do you love most about being an artist based in SF?

Alexis: The art community is great here. I grew up on the Oregon Coast and love being in a city that is also right next to the ocean, where I can take Muni to the beach!

Rae: What inspires your work these days?

Alexis: I have been working on a series of monster women that are a mix of literature, pop culture, fairy tales, personal history, and mythology. My work is inspired by pretty much everything that passes through my brainpan, catches my interest, or tugs at my heart. Some of those things are: the ocean, my personal history, my friends, relationships, books I’ve read, things I’ve heard, natural history, old illustration and comics, William Morris patterns, science fiction, and Doctor Who.

Rae: When are you most creative, at what time of the day?

Alexis: I’m in the studio a lot at night because I work a day job. I’m creative whenever I have to be, whenever I have time. I like to paint in the mornings on my days off – it feels so good to start the day painting and then I can just keep painting all day. My favorite time to paint is really Saturday night – it feels like the farthest point in my week from any other obligations, and the quietest, deepest time.

Rae: What was the most inspiring moment you had this year?

Alexis: Right now, everything kind of pales in comparison to how inspired I feel by the Occupy movement. I finally feel proud of America in a way, I’m not sure I ever have before. Art-wise, I went to the Alternative Press Expo this year and was very inspired by the way Kate Beaton talks about her work, reading her history comics aloud, almost like a stand-up routine. I like people who really have fun with their work like that. It’s cool to see artists really excited and entertained by their own work. People who really make work they love inspire me the most.

Rae: Any upcoming projects, trips, more shows? etc……….

Alexis: Worked on a squid costume for Halloween! I have a few things in the works, but not ready to talk about any of them yet. Soon, hopefully.

Rae: How would you describe your work to someone?

Alexis: Usually, I tell people that I make narrative paintings on paper that are drawing based, with use of a lot of color and line, have cut edges, and reference mythology, pop culture, literature, natural history, and personal narratives, and are populated by mermaids, boats, harpies, whales, monsters, women, fish, water, demons, etc. And that there’s a lot of water everywhere, usually.

Rae: Can you recall a memory of when you first started making art? How did you start being serious about it?

Alexis: I had a lot of hip surgeries as a kid for a condition I was born with, and was in a cast more often than not until after I was three years old. I remember drawing on my casts a lot with my mom, and sitting at the table drawing and painting a lot back then. She also let me draw on the walls of my bedroom. I got to keep the casts after they came off and had them for years- heavy plaster things with scrawled marker pen drawings all over them. I’m not entirely sure when I became “serious” about art, it just kind of happened because I didn’t like doing anything else quite as much as drawing and painting.

Rae: Having studied at SFAI. How did studying there influence your art making now?

Alexis: I feel like my time at SFAI really returned me to myself in terms of my painting practice. I came up against a wall with needing to find fun and excitement in making my work again, and I really fought to let myself make work that I loved. Grad school shook everything up in the way I was hoping for and brought me to the work I’m doing now, which I’m so grateful for – it feels like my real work. Because of this struggle, the most important part of what I found during grad school was a deep trust in my own vision and own process, the knowledge that I can see myself and my work through those difficult times- a feeling that I can really count on my artistic process.

Rae: Studying at SFAI, any teachers that are influential? What did he/she teach you most about?

Alexis: The teachers at SFAI are awesome and incredibly generous. When I was there, I worked with Caitlin Mitchell-Dayton, Mark Mulroney, Amy Ellingson, and Dewey Crumpler, among others. I feel like they all had a role in helping me understand my vision for my work in different ways. I also feel like I learned a lot about how to be a teacher myself from working with them. I think the most successful teachers are those who are able to share a lot of their own artistic process/struggle with their students – their honesty and compassion with themselves is something they bring to their students as well. That’s something I try to bring to my classroom when I teach now, too.

Rae: What impressed you most about the art department in SFAI, for you to pick the school?

Alexis: I loved the vibe of the studios at 3rd street and the Chestnut campus. I think this may have changed over the years, but at the time I was looking at schools, and the SFAI Chestnut campus really felt like a painting haven.

Rae: Yeah, I know what you mean, I totally agree with you on that one. And which cities have you lived in?

Alexis: Rochester, NY (until I was 8), Newport, OR, Portland, OR, San Francisco.

Rae: Any artist you want to collaborate with in the future?

Alexis: I would love to collaborate with a writer on a book project!

Fancy Demon

Rae: Any amazing gallery you love in the bay area?

Alexis: I just showed with Rollup Gallery in August, which was super fun.

Rae: Favorite place traveled? Why?

Alexis: The library – everything is there!

Rae: Lastly, what type of music or bands are you listening to right now while making art?

Alexis: Music is so emotional – it’s too much like painting for me to listen to music much in the studio. I mostly listen to audio books and podcasts because they put my mind into the right kind of distracted focus when I’m working. I’m a devout Nerdist podcast listener and also listen to all the usual suspects like the Moth, This American Life, etc, when I can. There is more media to consume than I can keep up with, which is so frustrating. I just finished the audio version of The Martian Chronicles, and currently listening to Ready Player One, which is awesome so far — and read by Wil Wheaton!

Rae: That wraps up the interview. Thank you, Alexis! Will be seeing more of your work in the future, I’m sure.

Another one of Alexis’s favorite quote: “A girl’s best friend is her mutter.” – Dorothy Parker

To check out more of her artwork, go to her website: and


The Beginners Guide to Collecting Art

You love art. But the good stuff can be expensive. Starting your collection now may seem like an irrational move. But in fact, buying art is an excellent investment. Buying today could  bring you a substantial chunk of change a few years down the line.

But where to start? You know what you like, and you think you probably can’t afford it. You may not be able nab an original masterpiece, but there is another way. Buy a limited edition print.

Le Repas Frugal, Pablo Picasso

Le Repas Frugal, Pablo Picasso. Etching, 1904. Available at David Tunick Inc.

I was recenlty at the IFPDA Print Fair in New York, organized by the International Association of Fine Print Dealers.  I found out more about the next-best way to own art. Prints of well known art can be pretty pricey themselves. I admit the above Picasso is probably pretty up there, though I didn’t inquire.

But prints by emerging artists are affordable. And if they’re at a reputable collaborative exhibit, you know the collecting community has its eye on this artist.

IFPDA Print Fair. Collaborative Art Exhibit. New York 2011

Beginners Art Collection Guide, 5 Tips

1. Buy What You Like

Why waste time and space collecting a piece you don’t actually like? Because you think it will be worth something twenty years from now? You’ll be stuck with a monstrosity in your living room while you wait for the day you can finally make a profit from it’s sale.

2. Make a list of your favorites.

To start off, when you’re at an art exhibit, write down the names of the artists and pieces that really turn you on. Research your list later. I like to use my smartphone to snap a photo of the description beside the piece.

Nerd out time: Galleries and exhibits of the future may use QR codes for this like Artlarking did at the Neon Nature show. Just snap a photo or input a number and you’ll be directed to a web page with full information on the piece.

3. Always bargain.

Tell the seller that you’re just starting your collection. They may come down on the price. It’s worth a shot. Go low and they’ll come up a bit from the price you quote.

4. Check out Group Exhibits, Art Trade Shows, and Collaborative Art Projects.

They’re a great  place to get exposed to a lot of art. If it’s a big show, you know galleries are bringing out their best work. You can also bet that the piece your interested in is collectable and will go up in value.

5. Buy prints.

Buying a print is the only way for many of us to get our hands on the work of well known artist. Original prints are signed by the artists themselves.

*Any other advice for the would-be collector? Any tips specifically about buying Prints?