Category Archives: Shows

Gallery Spotlight: Interview with Old Crow Tattoo & Gallery

Located in the heart of Oakland, Old Crow Tattoo & Gallery is a hotspot within the art community, popularized mainly through word of mouth. I heard about it myself from other art students, and have been attending art shows here since 2010, which always blow my mind.

Art openings happen every month on 2nd Saturdays. The Old Crow Gallery, at 362 Grand Ave. in Oakland, CA offers a space to the public for monthly art exhibits by emerging and seasoned artists.

Check out my interview of the Old Crow gang below.

Old Crow Tattoo & Gallery

  • Notables who have shown or performed in the Old Crow Gallery include: Chor Boogie, Jet Martinez, Gaia, Robert Bowen, John Casey, Lauren Napolitano, Shrine, Krescent Carasso, Shawn Whisenant, John Felix Arnold III, Megan Kimber, David Young V, Black Diamond Shining, Lupo Avanti, Optimist, Kristin Farr, Parskid, Poesia, Feral Child, Deuce 7, Christopher Burch, Henry Gunderson, Kid Yellow, Mario Ayala, Jordan Quintero, ATWA, Spencer Keeton Cunningham, Kool Kid Kreyola, Smear, Micheal Kershnar, Jeff Meadows, Jurne, Japanther, Jessica Jenkins Ocotheca, Troung Tran, Amina Slor.

Old Crow Talk

Interview with tattoo artist Philip Milic and curator Terry Addison.

Rae: So, let’s start. Tell me about your unique tattoo shop and its second life as an art gallery.

Philip of Old Crow: In the initial planning, having a communal space and tattoo shop was always my vision, for the most part. A few things have changed, but the gallery part has stayed the same.

Terry of Old Crow: Well, I began showing Philip’s artwork around late 2007, after becoming familiar with his tattooing. At the time, I felt like he was creating gallery ready artwork that stood on it’s own, aside from his already heavily collected tattooing. Philip was in the final stages of opening the shop when we met, and had asked me to help him do an art show to go along with the shop opening.

Old Crow Tattoo and Gallery is divided into 2 large spaces…In the first room our gallery invites you into the tattoo shop which is in a separate larger room.

Pretty much, the minute I saw the space I knew it could be something dope. Since that day, I’ve dedicated all the time I possibly can to having those walls tell stories & hold memories for the people that view them.

Artist: Andrew Luck

Personally, I really enjoy the melding of the two worlds in one. Art galleries move at a much different pace than tattoo shops. Having both in the same space, we’re able to have a constant energy that not only exhibits artwork, but also creates artwork on a day to day basis.

Rae: Philip, How did you come up with the name of the shop?

Philip of Old Crow: My father is an old Croatian man, so it’s dedicated to him, the “Old Cro”.

Rae: Now, as for the tattoos, Philip… What got you interested in that business?

Philip of Old Crow: Not business!!!  Now that’s real talk.

When I started tattooing I was young & didn’t care about the money.

I was 17, living in my friend’s parents’ garage, opening up the tattoo studio I was apprenticing at after school. The shop was open from 12:30 pm-ish till 12am-ish every night. And I was there not for the money, but because it ached in every inch of my bones if I wasn’t there.

Rae: How long have you been in the tattoo business?

Philip of Old Crow: I’ve been a tattoo artist for 16 years, and now that I own a shop, I’ve only been in the business part of it for 2 years.

Rae: What would you say is your favorite part of your job?

Philip of Old Crow: Tattooing.

Rae: So, do you still enjoy the job after all these years?

Philip of Old Crow: 16 years later it still keeps me up at night. It really is like a little virus that my mind will never cure from, and I’m very thankful for this.

I hope to be that old guy that just can’t stop even if someone has to hold my arms to do it.

Feather Tattoo by Philip Millic

Rae: Any particular tattoo artists out there that you guys are inspired by and would like to work with someday?

Philip of Old Crow: Marcus Pacheco, I got to work with him a few years and fully regret not paying more attention when I did. Being young and not really knowing what’s real in front of you. I also have great appreciation for Scott Silvia, Juan Puente, Dan Dringenburg, and Seth Ciferri… all masters at what they do.

Rae: If a customer were to walk in and give you free reign over what was to be put on them, what could that customer expect from you?

Philip of Old Crow: A swastika blooming flowers in the center, would be a vajra and underneath in script it would say, hard to kill. And if you all don’t know the true meaning of the swastika, you all should look it up and educate yourself.

Rae: Do you feel that the tattoo industry is still very stereotyped?

Philip of Old Crow: I hope so.

Rae: Where do you see the tattoo industry in 5 years?

Philip of Old Crow: Wearing oxygen masks. No, I hope a few bandwagon jumpers fall off and stop doing shitty tattoos. But I think most of folks that are sticking to some of the older ideas will prevail over all the technological shit and bull shit TV programming that they’re trying to implement. The beauty of this craft is that you can still buy everything you need in the USA. Everything is hand crafted from the drawing, to the machine, to the formation of the needles, etc.

Rae: Any words of wisdom for the tattoo artists/business owners of the future?

Philip of Old Crow: Don’t do it. Become a graphic designer or a DJ, or grow pot, or be a Facebook model.

Rae: Any upcoming projects for yourself, Philip?

Philip of Old Crow: In a year, I’ll do something big. As of now, staying focused on the present.

Art Opening Nights

Rae: Next, onto the gallery questions. What is your favorite part of creating art exhibitions?

Terry of Old Crow: Right now, I’m really into the process of bringing an exhibition to life from the curatorial idea all the way thru the show’s closing. For me, conceptualizing exhibitions and coming up with the theme’s direction is so important. That’s something I really pay attention and get stoked on.

Rae: Is there some kind of philosophy behind Old Crow’s curatorial process? What kind of artists are you drawn to? How do you go about finding artists to show their work at the gallery?

Terry of Old Crow: Yeah there’s definitely a philosophy… I’m looking to create gallery moments that change from month to month. Hoping that if a person were able to come to every show in one year they would be able to really make sense of my curatorial choices as a whole.

Almost every month at least one person comes to the gallery and says this is their favorite show.

That month I’m curating for them. With them in mind. I also enjoy creating and being part of an artistic environment for people to engage with. Working within Philip’s shop gives the space a certain shanty mysticism that only working with an artist like Philip can bring. I’m trying to curate month to month, season to season, and honestly year to year, in terms of actual shows themselves.

Artist: John Felix Arnold III

I grew up within the New England hardcore scene. Brought up around dudes that skated all day before they’d paint graffiti all night. And heads that listened to Big L on the way to see a Strife concert. Living in Rhode Island helped expose me to lots of great art and music experiences early on. Which pretty much sums up the direction of my curating, a lil hiphop and a lil hardcore.

As I’ve been working at Old Crow, I’ve learned to curate with more restraint. Focus on beauty, subtlety, essence, and grace. Instead of just overwhelming the viewer with imagery and/or message.

Over the years, I’ve been able to grow with some of the artist’s I’ve shown. The friendships I’ve gained with artists over time has influenced curating and much more. I started a small art collective when in my early twenties with friends I met after spending sometime in the Bay. In 2005 or so, around age 25, I started curating independently and showing some of the same artists’ work I do today at Old Crow.

That being said, I also really enjoy showing artist’s from outside of California as well. I’m constantly hoping to bring someone or something to the table while I have a chance, while truly trying to push the work of those close to me.

Rae: What would you say is an advantage for the gallery of being located in Oakland?

Philip of Old Crow:

Oakland? Oakland’s pride is deep. The culture is rich, the weather is perfect. Lots of that LA face/Oakland booty thing is great too.

Terry of Old Crow: Oakland is rad, just that alone is first. I love the SF art scene and think it has a vibrant history. I’ve learned so much about curating by just living in SF and being able to visit all these high quality spaces. When Philip asked me to curate at Old Crow, I felt like I showed up on my own lil art island.

While there’s so much going on in Oakland, I feel like it’s a perfect time for the type of thing we are trying to present. Which is something that nurtures Oakland but shows the beauty of outward to inspiration and energy.

"Oaktown Art"

Rae: Is there anything lacking in today’s arts you would like to see more of?

Terry of Old Crow: Lacking, I don’t know. I’m really more into what I can do better within the space I curate. One thing if any, I think sometimes there’s not enough risk taking in pushing artists or discovering artists that stylistically fit what you may be trying to exhibit.

If we all as gallery directors/curators all did the proper research, I’m sure more artists would be showing within the SF/Bay Area alone. Then again, so many galleries are killing it and are really presenting beautiful exhibitions. So I think it’s more based on what your looking for more the art community at large.

Street Artists are getting kinda silly right now. Respect to the real writers out there, the ones that actually paint.

Rae: What really differentiates the Old Crow Gallery from the others out there?

Terry of Old Crow: Besides that we’re also a tattoo shop, and the face that there’s an alter in the gallery that never moves. The walls aren’t white all the way to the ceiling, there’s lots of things. I think people enjoy the really diverse grouping of artists that exhibit here. I think that is one of the best things about this space and what we are giving to Oakland.

Artists: John Casey, Obi Kaufmann, Nathaniel Parsons and Dave Higgins

Rae: Any particular artists you would like to collaborate with in the future?

Terry of Old Crow: Ummm, I really really really like Jane Alexander’s work. Eric Eaton is really great and seems like an honest good dude. Cris Cleen over in NYC @ Saved is creating a narrative w/ his paintings that I’d like to see explored in a gallery setting. MR Jago work is fantastic. I’m really interested in showing an artist named Reader’s work as well.

Rae: What attracted me most about your tattoo shop, has been the art show openings and word of mouth of friends who’ve gotten tattoo work by you guys. I’ve been to a few gallery shows since 2010 and was always blown away by the Artists’ work shown here!!! Amazing!!! Any favorite Artists that have shown here previously that has inspired you guys?

Artist: Shrine

Philip of Old Crow: Robert Bowen, Robert Burden, Optimist, and Shrine. This question is kinda silly cause if I didn’t get inspiration from it all, I would be sleeping. So really, I pull inspiration from everyone that has shown, even those I didn’t like so much.

Terry of Old Crow: The Poesia show was really amazing. I think it served as a re-introduction to the gallery artist he is today. Optimist paints super good. Shrine’s show was beautiful. John Felix is the future.

Artists: Jurne and Vulcan

Artist: Brett Flaningan

Lauren Napolitano is such a multi-talented artist, she’s epic and curated better shows than I have in my own gallery, also was part of one of the most exciting shows we had this year. Lauren, Spencer Keeton Cunningham, Kool Kid Kreyola, Andrew Luck, and Brett Flaningan were able to put together one of the most cohesive shows we’ve ever had.

I brought Megan Kimber’s work to gallery this year and that was rad. Krescent Carrasso is one of my favorite painters, that being said, she hasn’t let me hang any of her paintings yet, but there’s still time anyway. Marcus Pacheco and Vulcan took part in this year’s “Stant Tall pt. II” and that was pretty amazing to have 2 legends from different worlds take part in one exhibition.

Artists: Ken Davis and Optimist "Stand Tall pt.II"

Rae: You guys give a lot to the community through showcasing works of emerging artists. 

Terry of Old Crow: Getting the chance to create an impression in one person’s mind is really dope. Whether it’s on a buyer’s wall and in a viewer’s memory.

Art starts cycles for people. It gets the brain working outside of oneself, outside the day to day norm.

I hope people walk into Old Crow and feel there’s a vibe to the shop. That same vibe which is present in the style of work that we exhibit and produce. Being part of Old Crow and its constant outpouring of art has been pretty awesome. For a new gallery, I think we’ve done some things that people have been able to really enjoy within the art community.

Rae: Any words of wisdom for the creatives out there?

Terry of Old Crow:

Listen to Rick Ross while you make artwork… Hustle Hard, home skillet. And tell stories with your art.

Artist: Optimist

Rae: Any upcoming projects for Old Crow Gallery in the future you are excited about? New exhibitions in line?

Terry of Old Crow: Tweenz in Feb, Ink to Abstract in March w/ Shawn Whisenant, Robert Bowen, Poesia, Weirdo, and Jessica Jenkins, Pre-Vinylite Society in May, April’s show “Entrophy w/ Mario Ayala & Vibrata Chromodoris,” June we’ll be showing JAE54 and Chez, John Felix Arnold III has a solo show in June which is gonna be crackin’. Stand Tall 3’s in August. Out calendar for next year is really fun….I can’t wait to see these shows come to life, epic.

Rae: Any final words?

Terry of Old Crow: We out here. Shouts out to all my IPG’s and BG’s, Awake Click Stand Up. Metro, I see you. I wanna thank Philip for allowing me to work within the Old Crow Family. Espirit d’ Escalier.

Rae: Thank you for the interview Old Crow. Looking forward to seeing more art happenings in the future!

Links-

Check these birds out at: http://www.oldcrowtattoo.com/

Check out Philip Milic’s interview video w/ Vimby: 4598

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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.

www.keithsmithbooks.com

www.brucesilverstein.com

Artist Feature: Erlin Geffrard aka Kool Kid Kreyola

“My name is Erlin Geffrard aka Kreyola Kid and bitch I paint!” – Erlin

Rae: Let’s begin, do you have an alias?

Erlin: In a way yes, I have a project named “kool kid kreyola” which is an art persona that I create work under

Rae: Tell us about your artwork? Do you challenge the world’s thinking with the art that you make?

Erlin: umm wtf….that is a lot of pressure…the world could suck it man, I am creating work for fun!

Rae: How many hours a day do you create?

Erlin: Depends on the day. I stay painting, I don’t focus on the time, I just paint.

Rae: What is your most favorite medium at the moment right now?

Erlin: Booty? I paint on butts….it’s fun!

Rae: Is there anything you consistently draw inspiration from?

Erlin: I love ancient art all over the world: Egyptians, Nubians, Mayas

Rae: Any books you’ve been reading at the moment that has been inspiring towards your artworks?

Erlin: Hero With A Thousand Faces, and The Alchemist

Rae: How do you recharge when your creativity hits the wall?

Erlin: I hit the crack pipe jk. I just relax the mental and go back to the basics!

Rae: Describe the process within yourself when you are creating a new piece?

Erlin: Shit, I just keep it nasty like I get it wet, then I put it in, ya feel me!

Rae: Yeah, I understand how that process is. Any upcoming new projects, shows, or travels?

Erlin: I got a show coming up at the Luggage Store Art Gallery! Feb 9, 2012.

Rae: Nice! Looking forward to that! What percentage of your work is collaboration vs. say, interactive? Or are the terms in your work interchangeable?

Erlin: Awww man like 50%- me, 50% colab i think more community art projects are the future. Less ego art world b.s., more rainbow togetherness…I worked with Spencer Keeton, Rye Purvis, Moe, Triple Mike the Shooter, D-nice, Quin Arnason, Quinn Arneson, Camus revel, the list goes on dude

Rae: Studying at SFAI, what have you learned most about there?

Erlin: no comment

Rae: Which cities have you lived in?

Erlin: I grew up in West Palm Beach, Florida and then moved to sf, dats all!

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

Erlin: R. Kelly, and John Baldessari

Rae: What do you like most about the art in San Francisco?

Erlin: The growing interest in new artists. I feel like their eyes are on us now.

Rae: Favorite place traveled? Why?

Erlin: my dreams cuz I travel nonstop

Rae: Has your art style changed at all during the years?

Erlin: kinda

Rae: Working on any new series of work?

Erlin: yeah um urban hieroglyphs

Rae: If you were to stop making art, what would you replace it with?

Erlin: pimping

Rae: Any artists that you admire, that influences your work?

Erlin: Spencer Keeton

Rae: What type of music or bands are you listening to right now?

Erlin: Whale Cries

Rae: Finally, What has been your most exciting moment as an artist?

Erlin: smoking out with Carlos Villa

Rae: Thanks for the interview Erlin, looking forward to seeing more of your works in the upcoming future.

Check out Kool Kid Kreyola’s website: http://bitchipaint.com/

Improvisation: It’s not all about jazz

I recently went to Thee Parkside to see Judgment Day with a group of friends; we were all stoked because we had each seen them a handful of times before and knew we were in for a great show. We always know what to expect when they play tracks from “Peacocks/Pink Monsters” or “Dark Opus,” but this time was different.

Judgement Day. Left to right: Anton Patzner, Jon Bush, and Lewis Patzner. Photo by Riki Feldmann (http://www.flickr.com/photos/brokenobelisk)

At the end of their set, Anton and Lewis Patzner initiated an improvised violin vs. cello battle. My friends and I exchanged glance, shrugs, and smiles as if to say, “What is this?! I’m not sure… but I like it… a lot.” When their set ended, we burst out laughing, shared an obligatory exchange high fives, and repeated variations on “That. Was. Amazing.” There was something so exhilarating about having your expectations demolished and collectively experiencing an anomalous moment with your friends and fellow audience members.

This got me thinking: As a Bay Area native who has attended local shows for going on ten years, I’ve seen a lot of my favorite bands more than once. Well versed with their studio albums and live performances, I come to a show more-or-less knowing what to expect. I know when to sing along and nod my head to the beat, I know when to anticipate a potential mosh pit, I can feel when there is going to be one of those pregnant pauses where people who don’t know better will think a song is over… but it isn’t.

However, improvisation changes all of that. This particular Judgment Day show couldn’t have been the only time I had ever attended a partially improvised performance—where has my head been?

I investigated this further by asking Lewis more about this show in particular. He explained that in his experience, improvisation is something that the audience innately picks up on regardless of whether or not they’re familiar with the a band’s discography. Lewis mentioned that from both the musician and audience’s point-of-view, when it’s done well it “seems right…[successful] improvisation make something unpredictable seem inevitable.” It’s nearly seamless, and if, as an audience member, you aren’t present with this progression in the performance, perhaps you could miss it. However, the energy exuded by a performer at the moment of conception of something knew is “hard to fake.”

Robin Landy and Eric Kuhn of Silian Rail

Silian Rail, a Bay Area-based band and long-time favorite of mine, recently posted an improvised piece on their Facebook page. I asked Eric Kuhn, Silian’s drummer, to share some of his experience with improvisation with me. Much to my surprise, Eric’s insights on the subject were compatible with my own initial thoughts. Without wandering too far the realm of cheesy kumbaya talk about feelings, I would be remiss not mentioning the essence of the matter: Art and music in particular are mediums by which we can express ourselves and our emotions, often times from an unconscious place. Improvisation is as much a feeling as it is an action, for both the performer and the audience. In regard to live improvisation, Eric articulated some of the finer points of the overall experience:

I would say improvisation in a live setting can be particularly powerful because it acknowledges that that one context for the sharing of music is completely unique– the physical setting, the particular place and time, the particular group of people there to witness it and the energy they bring, the equipment being used– all of these things, which you can multiply out to infinity, are variables which shape the music in to the one distinct thing that it will be in that moment and no other moment. So, improvisation is a nice acknowledgment and celebration of that fact, and it also gives the artist a chance to create something which is intentionally born of that unique moment, rather than taking something pre-existing and fitting it in to that context.

In the handful of conversations I had with diverse groups of people on this subject, they repeatedly returned to the idea that improvisation operates within a conventional context, then goes on to break away from our expectations and rational thought.

Perhaps needless to say at this point, but these conversations got me really stoked. So much so, that I had to explore how other people, specifically non-musicians, integrate improvisation in to their work.

Lauren Baines

Lauren Baines.

Lauren Baines, a contemporary dancer based in the South Bay, expanded on the implications of improvisation on modern dance. I have to admit, I had never thought of dance in those terms. Before speaking with Lauren, my knowledge of modern dance was laughable and my personal experience with dance non-existent. Lauren explained that modern dance, like modern visual art, is about “setting yourself free from tradition, expectations, and structure and instead allowing the personal voice of the choreographer and the dancers to have free reign.”

Lauren recently performed with ahdanco (Abigail Hosein Dance Company) in Ernest Jolly’s installation at the SF Arts Commission’s window front gallery space.

A trio of dancers

San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery Ernest Jolly - Natural Reaction. ahdanco performance

performed a partially improvisational dance. The structural foundation was a “follow the leader” format where Abgail would do a movement and the other two would copy her. None of the dancers knew what movements Abigail would do, it was completely spontaneous. The other catch? They were all facing different directions in the space.  This added layer of complexity challenged them as dancers to try and see what movement she did, then repeat in our own space. Did I mention they were also in several inches of water? This is another instance where I can’t speak to what the audience’s expectations were going in to this performance, or if they could tell it was improvised, however, Lauren images “there was a certain spontaneity to that section…to see the movement echo through the dancers in slightly different forms… as if the three dancers were all going through similar thoughts and emotions, but not connecting with one another.”

Brian Chu, editor and director with The Werehaus, had encountered improvisational elements in film making. A lot of time and thought goes into pre-production and planning what type of shots and lightening to use, but Brian said it really all comes down to the subject (and as we all know, people are unpredictable). With Brian’s documentary film making, “unplanned shoots have come out feeling so natural and real…more so that I could ever imagine.” As a visual medium, films with a documentary point-of-view purposefully capture genuine unscripted moments and present them to an audience with the expectation of sincerity and authenticity without leaving too much on the proverbial cutting room floor. It’s a delicate balancing act between improvising when the subject of a film takes the conversation or action in an unexpected direction, and responding by crafting the narrative around a moment of spontaneous inspiration.

What are the implications of all of these ideas to us? Here is my charge to you: Put yourself out there, attend a performance that you are interested in but know little about, and go without holding tightly to your expectations. I think you may surprise yourself when you tune in, listen and watch carefully. It wasn’t until after I finished writing this blog that I realize how Artlarking-centric this idea truly is; I first thing I always tell people about Artlarking is that the heart of the mission and vision revolves around collaboration. Improvisation is a quintessential form of collaboration on a number of levels, but keep a sharp eye, otherwise you may miss it.

Interview with Featured Artist: Fonda Yoshimoto

Fonda Yoshimoto is an artist based in Oakland, Ca.

“The quality that we call beauty….must always grow from the realities of life, and our ancestors, forced to live in dark rooms, presently came to discover beauty in shadows, ultimately to guide shadows towards beauty’s ends.“- Jun’ichiro Tanizaki (1977)

Title of your warehouse show: 10th Street Open Studios

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

Fonda: The first memory I have of making is when I was around 4 years old. I made a small house-like structure. I remember carefully collecting spare wood from around the shack my family and I lived in. I knew what I wanted to make and struggled so much with fitting all of the disparate pieces together. I was fascinated by the whole process: the idea, the struggle, and the outcome. I started off like many children do with painting and drawing. My mother always encouraged me to create, although we did not have much money we were always able to find materials to make things with. I started really understanding how serious art is to me in college when I was around 20 years old. I took Art Studio and Art History courses in college and started to realize how powerful art can be, what an incredible form of communication it is. I was able to express my ideas and emotions through art in ways that I could not through words.

Rae: Which cities have you lived in?

Fonda: I have lived in over 30 houses in many different cities. Honolulu, HI; Laguna Beach, Santa Rosa, and Davis, CA; Providence, RI to name a few.

Rae: What do you love most about being an artist in Oakland?

Fonda: I love the range of different venues from professional galleries to coffee shops to improvised spaces. I love how accessible art is, especially with the Oakland Museum, First Fridays, and all of the murals and public art.

Rae: What inspires you to continue making art?

Fonda: Making is a way of thinking. I connect with materials and develop ideas through making. It is also something I share with my ancestors, who were all makers in their own way. They worked hard to support themselves and their families and engaged in art when they could, because the need to create is so strong. My mom once wrote to me, “I am excited for your ability to create and do what you love.” Her words inspire me to continue making art.

Rae: Any influential artist that you love and admire?

Fonda: Linda Sormin, Shannon Goff, Ambromovitch, and Eva Hesse.

Rae: When you were studying at UC Davis who was an influential teacher of yours? What did he/she teach you most about?

Fonda: Annabeth Rosen, Professor at UC Davis, was an incredible influence on me and my work. She really did teach me what hard work looks like. She is so dedicated to her work and to her students. She encourages her students to gain inspiration from their own lives, the environment around them, and to work beyond their comfort zone.

Rae: What impressed you most about the art department in UC Davis?

Fonda: The Art Department at UC Davis has incredible faculty who create a supportive yet rigorous environment. In terms of Ceramics, UC Davis is steeped in history. TB9, the ceramics building, has great facilities. We were encouraged to take advantage of the space, and size of the kilns, to make work ranging from small to large.

Rae: You also studied at RISD. How did studying there influence your art making now?

Fonda: At RISD one of the first questions I was asked is ,”why clay?” I started grad school with an interest in working with different materials, but while I was there I was able to learn how to work with wood, metal, textiles, as well as video, and drawing. When I felt like I needed to learn about a new medium or technique I was able to because I had access to classes, facilities, faculty, and other students. I keep that belief that you can learn just about anything with me, I am curious and want to continue learning forever. At RISD I was able to break my own boundaries of what I considered art, as well as what I considered I was capable of. My work expanded into the room or the environment it was in, I began making work that the viewer could see, walk around, and walk through. I am excited about making work that people can connect with visually and physically.

Rae: What is your most favorite medium to work with? Why?

Fonda: My favorite medium to work with is Ceramics, it has such a tactility and versatility. I love working with different types of clay, all having different qualities and personalities. Working with clay is mental, physical, emotional. I just feel really alive when I work with clay, the way the material responds to you, and demands time and attention.

Rae: Is there any artist you want to collaborate with in the future?

Fonda: My studio-mate from grad school, Sarah Gross, and I collaborated on curating a show at RISD. We are currently in discussion about collaborating again.

Rae: Any new upcoming projects you are working on?

Fonda: One of my pieces in the 10th Street Studios show is a knitted piece. I am really excited about the potential of drawing through knitting and am continuing to explore that. My goal is to use the knitted pieces to create a space that people could stand in, and walk through.

Rae: Please tell me about what your artwork, what does it represent for you personally?

Vein is a drawing on translucent rice paper. There are three layers so you can see into the drawing. I am interested in drawing in ways that are physically three-dimensional. The ink lines wind around the page, connecting and clustering in areas.

Fonda:
My work is intuitive and imaginative but is inspired by architecture, objects, and function. I have been exploring mark making and patterning through my work. Drawing with ink on paper and also three-dimensionally with ceramics and textiles. Ornamentation in my work is voracious, constricting and expanding, winding through space and on every surface. Ornamentation can express identity, can mark belonging to a time, space, era, tribe, region or home. The patterning takes over, I make marks out of need, a kind of anxious comfort. The space defines me, caught between creating pattern and scratching, wiping, willing it away. The mark making becomes a palimpsest, layers and layers of history, of motion, are visible. There is a psychological tension in this process, it also becomes a ritual. I see my work as somewhere between a dream and a nightmare, inside and outside, here and there, healthy and unhealthy,
engineered and makeshift, safe and dangerous, sheltering and eerie.


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

Fonda: I always start a new piece with a loose sketch or drawing based on an idea, feeling, pattern, or movement. I often start working directly with clay after that, I do not use many tools. When I am working larger I will sketch diagrams, make maquettes, or models. I will work back and forth from the individual components and the plan of how it will all come together. My favorite materials are paper, ink, clay, fabric, cotton cord, old scrap wood, copper wire, and, bricks.

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

Fonda: I am still exploring the area and have a lot to see. I really do love going to the student galleries, especially at CCA. The shows rotate every week, there is an incredible amount of energy and ideas cycling around constantly.

Rae: When are you most creative……time of day?

Fonda: I am most creative in the evening and at night. I tend to do a lot of thinking and sketching during the day but most of the production happens at night.

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

Fonda: I have been listening to a lot of Cibo Matto, Boards of Canada, and Major Laser.

Rae: Thank you for the interview Fonda!

Check out Fonda website at  http://fondayoshimoto.blogspot.com

Lei is made out of porcelain blossoms, strung with copper wire. The strands hang from the wall, casting shadows, making high pitched sounds as they are pushed together by the breeze.

Featured Musician: Seabright

Seabright is a one-man musical project that seamlessly fuses electronic with live instrumentation. Lots of reverb, near-unintelligible vocals, and layers upon layers of majestic pop hooks form the basis of Seabright’s sound. Its creator, Justin Morales of the South Bay Area, was gracious enough to accept both an invitation to perform at Neon Nature and to provide the answers for this very interview. Let’s get to know him a bit better, shall we?

Artlarking: When I googled the word “seabright,” my first results were a brewery, an insurance company, and a city in New Jersey. How, exactly, did you come to settle upon the moniker?

JM: Seabright is the name of a beach that I used to go to a few years back. At the time, I was just getting back into making music and I needed a name. I’ve always been pretty much obsessed with the beach. So Seabright just made sense and I went with it.

Artlarking: Your newest release, Dark City, is listed as an EP on various websites, and yet there are 11 songs on it. What gives?

JM: Haha, yes. When I started working on Dark City (October 2010), I didn’t know what it was going to be. I was just making songs, and I guessed it would be an EP. But then it really got crazy and I started finishing tons of songs. I decided to finish as many as I could up until January 1st, 2011. It’s an EP only in name, but I didn’t want to change it.

Artlarking: What led you to form Seabright as a solo venture? Also, there only appears to be one other musician on Dark City – who is Sunyoung Kim, exactly?

JM: When I first started Seabright, it was while I was finishing grad school (2005). All my old friends that I used to make music with were either in different cities or not making music anymore. So I just decided to utilize all the new recording software and do it all myself. Sunyoung Kim is my girlfriend and also a really good singer and piano player, so sometimes I convince her to make music with me. 🙂

Artlarking: I understand that you’re a schoolteacher by trade. How do you balance your daily obligations with your artistic pursuits?

JM: Yeah, teaching takes a lot of time and effort, so during the semester, I can really only make little beats and try little ideas. Then, during my breaks, I will record and do all the big work. As far as shows, I usually just play locally, so it’s not too big of a problem. I was able to do a little mini-tour to LA this spring during my spring break though.

Artlarking: What do you think about sites such as Twitter, Tumblr, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, etc.? Have they helped independent musicians to thrive or are they simply cluttering the internet?

JM: I love all of them. I was really devastated when Myspace fell off because that was my main site, but now I realize that it was a blessing. Soundcloud and Bandcamp in particular are really essential and exciting developments that let independent music reach the masses. I’ve found some amazing stuff on Bandcamp just as a listener. I’m still warming up to Twitter, but it is obviously essential too. I’m curious about what new websites will pop up next. Hopefully I’ll be able to figure them out too.

Artlarking: Which older “classic rock” acts do you model yourself after? Or alternately, which newer, more recently emerging acts do you model yourself after?

JM: My ‘classic’ rock influences are definitely the Beach Boys, Kraftwerk, the Velvet Underground and Neu! Then I’m really influenced by 80’s new wave and synth pop, then 90’s indie rock, ambient and trip hop, and finally by lots of other bedroom/laptop musicians like myself. It’s great to be part of a scene and to see other musicians who have been able to take so many styles from the past and put them together, almost DJ style, and create something new and fun.

Artlarking: I understand that you have an active fascination with the sports world. Will the Giants repeat as world champions for the second year in a row? Who do you predict will win the NBA Finals, the Dallas Mavericks or the Miami Heat?

JM: Hahaha. Yes, I love sports! I would love for the Giants to repeat, but I’m a little worried about our injuries (get well soon, Buster*!). For the NBA Finals, GO MAVS! It would be great to see a team like the Mavs, with so many awesome old players, win a ring.

(*Buster Posey, the Giants’ starting catcher, broke his ankle on May 25th of this year, effectively sidelining him for the remainder of the season – ed.)

Artlarking: You reside in the East Bay. Which San Francisco venue has been your favorite to play thus far?

JM: Actually I’m from the South Bay, but I would say that the Elbo Room and the Knockout were my faves, along with Epicenter Café!

Artlarking: Good answer, and sorry for the geographical flub! Which 5 *South* Bay acts would you most like to promote? Most of our readers live within the city limits, so it’d be nice to know some good up-and-comers to look out for.

JM: I really like Ugly Winner, Sour Patch, Guests, Doctor Nurse, and from Santa Cruz, Atlantic at Pacific.

Seabright plays early in the evening at this Saturday’s “Neon Nature and the New Currency” event; make sure and be there no later than 6 PM in order to catch the entire set. Also, big thanks to Justin Morales for his insightful answers and timely response!
AME

“Neon Nature and the New Currency,” a free event hosted by Artlarking.com and MAPP, will be held at the Box Factory at 865 Florida at 21st in San Francisco, CA. It begins at 5 PM and ends at 11 PM. Other performers and artists include Uncle Rebel, Cartoon Justice, Anna Ash, Shantell Martin, Kristin Farr and Richard Parker.

Featured Artist: Kristen “Bug Lady” Rieke

Kristen Rieke

Kristen Rieke is undoubtedly an artist to watch. Her series on the role of the bumble bee in our environment has earned her the affectionate nickname, “The Bug Lady.” Her work is technically masterful and beautiful, we can’t wait to share it with you at the upcoming “Neon Nature and New Currency” show on June 4th at the Box Factory. Until then, w invite you to get getter acquainted with Kristen. If you’re an artist who would like to collaborate with her in the future, look her up at Artlarking.com.

When did you realize your artistic talent? What that the same time you realized you wanted to be an artist?

I am pretty certain I tapped into my artistic talent at the age of 6. My sister, my best friend, and I would spend hours in my forest-clearing-like backyard constructing intricate and functional houses for fairies. We would turn flowers, sticks, leaves, and grasses into tiny furniture, lamps, and structures. It was awesome. We never took any pictures of them, though–what a mistake! However, we did document them and the fairies that would inhabit them using drawings in consecrated composition notebooks. I didn’t decide to be an artist at the time (I decided to become one during my sophomore year of college), but come on, my parents probably saw that coming every since the miniature-house-building obsession. (of note: my best friend who was involved, Cassidy, has also become an artist, and my sister has become a woodworker. Coincidence?)

"Honeybee, Preserved." Oil on panel with cast resin, 19"x19," 2011.

Where do you find inspiration for your work?
Well, the fairy houses are a great source of inspiration. I still carry out similar activities each time I go hiking or exploring. I also find inspiration in old National Geographic magazines, the woods of the Northwest and Northern California, and at the Farmer’s Market.

Are there any artists in particular who have inspired you?

Yes. My fellow Santa Clara University Art Majors are one hundred percent inspiring. So is my friend and mentor, Aleksandra Zee; she creates amazing mixed media installations, and continually inspires and pushes me to become a better and more adventurous artist!

What do you want people to take away from seeing your work at the Box Factory?
I would like to prompt people to walk outside with no purpose other than to explore, look down and around, and experience the rewarding task of loving the intricate creations made by our friends, the insects! I also would like to inspire them to find some beekeepers to hang out with.

What is your preferred medium: paining, mix media or installation?

I love painting on wood panel. It is so great how the raw wood sucks in the oil, and then you can sand things away  that you messed up on, and later act like it was on purpose.

Untitled collaborative piece using Katie's photograph, rice paper/wire honeycombs, and actual wasp's nest, beeswax, and a found shadowbox (thanks to Renee Billingslea!)

Has collaboration ever played a role in your work?
Yes. Most of the mixed media pieces I have created have involved collaboration with other artists and friends, especially those who just enjoy making things. My boyfriend, Christian, deserves one hundred pats on the head for being willing to help me do things like cast giant pieces of resin and dragging huge branches into small indoor spaces.

If you could collaborate with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
I would like to somehow collaborate with Jo Whaley; she embodies a lost art with her Cabinets of Curiosity, and makes these into beautiful dioramas and photographs. I also know that she, too, is a finder and collector, which would be a fun activity to do together.

Do you have any works in progress you’re excited about?
I am in the middle of creating some great vandyke prints on used coffee filters. I really love the way they look; I have been either sewing them together or putting them inside 3-dimensional wooden frames shaped like honeycombs that I build.

Thanks, Kristen!