Archive for June, 2008

THIS IS SAN JOSE, WHERE ARTISTS REACH OUT!

Posted by erin on June 24th, 2008

Julia Jacobson at di Moda: A Blending of the Arts
by Chris Hofer Borror, Summer, 2008

What do a hair stylist and a sculptor have in common? At first you might think they share very little, but upon closer examination just the opposite is true.

Amber Lopez (left) and Julia Jacobson in front of Jacobson’s work at di Moda

First let’s go from generalities to specifics: The talented sculptor is Julia Jacobson, whose gestural cast aluminum and Styrofoam works have been featured at various Bay Area locations including Bloomingdale’s in Stanford Shopping Center, the Steve Wozniak Estate in Los Gatos, and the Camden Community Center, as well as the Institute of Contemporary Art and the Triton Museum.

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CITADEL ARTISTS SHOW IN NEW GALLERY

Posted by erin on June 11th, 2008

FEEL THE MAGIC
By Ann Elliott Sherman, June, 2008

Last Friday night on the edges of J-town, the metal doors of Empire Seven Studios rolled up to admit lucky visitors to the temporary lair of the Thundercats, four San Jose artists who work out of studios in the Citadel: Ben Alexy, Michael Boldrey, Will Clark and Matteo Serna. The vibe was easy, positive and free of pretense, the work definitely worth making an appointment to see. Demonstrating considerable chops while incorporating idiosyncratic personal or cultural references into their paintings and drawings, these ‘cats are not too cool to show they enjoy what they do, and it’s contagious.

Heroically, the Thundercats pledge to each other and the battle of/with art.

One of Ben Alexy’s huge oils, Cycle Shematic (sounds like the title of a Beastie Boys cut) is positioned like the studio bouncer, the first and last thing you see. In this 2006 piece and the 2007 Detroit, Alexy plays both tight and loose, graywashing over text in the background, with a lone figure in a realist vein front and center. The latter work also engages in vertiginous shifts of perspective, with an overlay of what looks like an aerial outline map on top of the wash/text field, juxtaposed with the ground-level view of a dead horse in the foreground. The effect is a painted equivalent of cinematic jump cuts run in slo-mo. Here, the text is excerpted from a short story the artist described as being about a lifelong sailor on a landlocked voyage of self-discovery—autobiographical allegory?

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Katherine Levin Lau Befriends the Birds

Posted by erin on June 11th, 2008

Monotypes to be shown in Stuttgardt, Germany, by Erin Goodwin-Guerrero

Katherine Levin Lau has painted her friends and self-portraits in a realist style since graduate school at San Jose State University. Situated in strange symbolic circumstances, they speak of life’s challenges, personal struggles and overall, they document her journey as an artist.

Nearly, monotype by Katherine Levin Lau, 2008

For a time the canning jar was prominent in these highly detailed paintings. The canning jar represented the duties and responsibilities that a woman assumes to be thrifty, to save money as well as memories, and to conserve friendships. In one large painting of herself in the studio, Levin Lau appeared somewhat encumbered with a long string of reflective tin pie plates. She reports that when she moved into her current home, neighbors warned her that the birds were very aggressive and in order to save her garden, she would have to take some measures. The flashing string of pie plates was to serve as a scarecrow outside, but ultimately she used all of them as paint palletes in her studio. At that time of her life she was consumed with painting above all else and put a great deal of pressure upon herself to paint in every available moment.

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01SJ: SIN IN THE SPRITUAL AND CIVIL WORLDS

Posted by erin on June 7th, 2008

01SJ At Anno Domini: The Paintings of Fim-do-mundo And The Social Disruptions of G.R.L., by Rod Ayers

I had already caught Fim-do-mundo’s curious and very Latin paintings at the Anno Domni gallery the previous First-Friday. That didn’t keep me from enjoying their surreal imagery, and elaborate installation, again. One of the tenets of the Day of The Dead is that it is the one time during which souls of the departed can again engage in those pastimes they have left behind. Letting them briefly return to habits and vices impossible in the afterlife, or simply too risqué to be found in Heaven.

One wonders if this is the starting point for Fim-do-mundo’s work (each of his paintings is complex enough to contain a dozen stories. But every work, like every tale, has a starting point). Indeed, ubiquitous well-dressed skeletons -symbols of visiting souls- populate his work, along with others who may be angels or demons. And while the format of each work is littered with religious symbology and images of church decorum, a sense of naughtiness seems to permeate each scene.

Fim-do-mundo’s work bears a careful execution and restraint which causes it to resemble the pages of a monk-wrought, illuminated Bible. Yet the flow of lines and script text also reminds one of street graffiti, and definitely of certain tattoos, perhaps glimpsed on the streets of Mexico. I couldn’t help but imagine that I was viewing illustrations of powerful rituals, which would in the next moments dissolve into a bar-room brawl or a drinking match.

The focus on Friday night however, was A.D.’s special ZERO1 guest, the members of G.R.L. aka the Graffiti Research Lab.

Todd Polenberg’s unique tags!

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“LIKE A MAGIC CARPET RIDE”, at 01SJ

Posted by erin on June 7th, 2008

Ethan Miller and Bruce Gardner present Urban Observatory, by Sally Sumida

Shoes are removed and once inside the Urban Observatory, foot movements control the interplay of images on a grid of translucent blocks. photos by Kirk Amyx top and Michael Herrman

Located on top of the seal of the state of California at the center of the palm grove in Fairmont Plaza is architect Michael Herrman, and digital media artists Ethan Miller and Bruce Gardner’s creation Urban Observatory. Based on the idea of a tourist’s kiosk found in cities throughout the world, this modular, nomadic, tent-like structure, with a white peaked roof and walls made of translucent resin and fiberglass blocks, is suspended within a metal framework. From a distance, your curiosity draws you toward what appears to be the flickering of green walls. Close up the individual blocks are like puzzle pieces forming one image of an environment of dense green trees that has been cut up and embedded in the grid of individual blocks. On the west face of the structure, visitors are instructed to remove their shoes before stepping through the wall and onto a padded gray surface with directional arrows marked on the center of the floor. Once inside, you can step on the arrows to control images projected onto the four interior walls. One visitor likened it to the game Twister where a plastic sheet is spread on the floor and players contort their bodies positioning their hands and feet on different colored circles. Another thought it was more like surfing. I felt like I was on a magic carpet ride balancing and navigating with my feet. From an aerial view of the world, you can zero in a specific location; get down to ground level and see images that have been uploaded to the Internet from that site. Travel to Paris or Bali, Greenland or Africa without even leaving downtown San Jose.

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Back from SubZero by Julia Bradshaw

SubZero was a street party and a half. It was an arts fair with nary a kitsch refrigerator magnet in sight. It was a musical festival where people played QWERTY keyboards and home-spun electronic devices. From the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, where Fanny Retsek hosted a screen-printing table to the sound stage beyond Anno Domini where, among others, ChKnFsH pleasured the crowd with electronic sound and video sampling – people wandered up and down the road three or four times or more investigating and participating in the many activities along the way.

Slow to start – a technology festival with an electricity delay and a lack of infrastructure must by necessity wait a while – the festival picked up whereby from 9pm, it was difficult to walk down the street. A smattering of the participants included:

FontanaBot, demonstrated by James Stone and Thomas Azmuth

San Jose artists James Stone and Thomas Asmuth assisted FontanaBot in the creation of its slashed paper drawings. Anthropomorphizing the mechanical arm somewhat, the pair insisted that FontanaBot makes rational decisions in choosing the location of its slashes and at one point described FontanaBot as being “particularly aggressive with this work”. With programming by Stone and mechanics by Asmuth, this robotic arm references the Italian artist Lucio Fontana, who transfigured his work in 1949 when he first started puncturing and slashing his canvases. It is the continuation of a series of works by Asmuth where he references theoretical leaders in his new media practice.

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01SJ TAKES TO THE STREETS AND GALLERIES OF SOFA

Posted by erin on June 7th, 2008

All-night art on the edge at SubZero
By Julian Peeples

Thousands descended upon San Jose’s South First Street Friday night for 01SJ’s SubZero street festival. Artists, musicians and performers roamed the streets, creating unique experiences and enlightening attendees.

The galleries along South First all participated in SubZero, with MACLA, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Anno Domini, Green Rice, Space 47 and the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles all debuting new exhibits as part of the festival. I particularly enjoyed two of the exhibits: The Graffiti Research Lab at Anno Domini, and El Laboratorio at MACLA.

Impermanent graffiti courtesy of the Graffiti Reseaech Lab

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YOUTH DOCUMENTARY CENSORED In 01SJ

Posted by erin on June 7th, 2008

Whitney Aiken, a lonely voice in the window of Works Gallery,
by Erin Goodwin-Guerrero

Space 47, a San Jose Gallery began a sociological investigation by mentoring a selected group of young people in the self-examination of behaviors on the internet. Parents, schools and sociologists have become increasingly concerned over boundaries broken on the internet. What is the subtext of shameless engagement in topics, acts and revelations that in previous generations were considered to be private, personal, embarrassing or incriminating?

On such sites as Facebook, YouTube and Myspace, young people show themselves nude, in sexual postures, drunk and passed out and in many other ways that would have been anathema to their parents’ generation. Why does the current generation seems to have no need to maintain good face, avoid public shame, and conceal “issues”? Honesty, at times brutal, is embraced –perhaps as part of a youthful idealism, mixed with exhibitionism — that we all remember from our years under the age of thirty.

Whitney Aiken prepared The Biggest, Most Influential Thing that has Ever Happened to Me, as part of the Space 47 project. Daily, for six weeks, Aiken broadcast through word and pictures on the internet her grief over the death of her father, her mother’s breast cancer, and her own fears for inherited tendencies toward cancer.

Whitney Aiken’s The Biggest Most Influential Thing that has Ever Happened to Me, sponsored by Space 47, removed from the Tech Museum of Innovation, later installed in WORKS

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MUSIC COMPOSED ON UMBRELLAS/More 01SJ

Posted by erin on June 6th, 2008

RainDance is Happy and Wet by Chris Hofer Borrer

Stanford Professor and local electronic media artist Paul DeMarinis has devised a sensory wonderland with RainDance, his interactive sound installation that can be viewed from 11:00am–7:00pm through June 18 at Santana Row. Created for Expo 1998 in Lisbon, RainDance has made appearances in Shanghai, Berlin, and Geneva before coming to San Jose for 01SJ.

DeMarinis’s marvelous work contains something for everyone. For weather enthusiasts and outdoor-lovers, there is simulated rain, complete with umbrellas. And for music-lovers, the rain coming down on the umbrellas is turned into music that is a delight to the ear!

RainDance participants hear surprising musical sounds under their umbrellas in 01SJ’s satellite event at Santana Row

Created with help from sculptor Chris Bell, RainDance at first looks just like a series of four outdoor showers. But that is where the similarity ends. The installation uses jets of water along with audio signals to carry sound vibrations that are inaudible until an umbrella intercepts the rain. The sound is then decoded and turned into music. As the viewer moves, the music changes. Participants can move between different rain showers to create different music, thereby turning themselves into composers!

One thing to be aware of: You will get wet when you participate in RainDance, so don’t wear your best outfit when you come to see this happy work of art!

GOOGLING the “TOCAYOS”

Posted by erin on June 6th, 2008

The Many Faces of Jes√∫s Aguilar at Space 47, by Julia Bradshaw

The artist Jes√∫s Aguilar googled his name in a variety of search engines, curious about the lives of those that shared his name. But instead of romanticizing the lives he found, he collated the information in a very analytical manner.

Visitors to Space 47 discover documentation of the lives of many individuals named Jes√∫s Aguilar

Jes√∫s Aguilar uses the internet cull information that translates into tracks and maps and artifacts.

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01SJ, DAY TWO, BRINGS BILL FONTANA & STEWART BRAND

Posted by erin on June 6th, 2008

From bells to squatters: 01SJ events entertaining and enriching
by Julian Peeples

Following the late-night antics of the 01SJ festival’s opening evening, it was probably a good thing that I didn’t plan on attending anything until the late afternoon. But I definitely picked a great performance to start off my second day at the festival.

Bill Fontana composed and broadcast onto the street experimental music using the bells of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral and a digital mixer for the second day of the 01SJ Festival.

Second Street dinged and donged with the lovely sounds of church bells, which were the visions of Bill Fontana in his piece, “Sonic Cascades.” Traditional and experimental works written by Fontana sounded from the bells at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral. The sounds were captured by a digital mixer that was programmed to replay them in a series of relays.

“Every stroke of the bell plays eight times instead of one,” Fontana said.

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ON THE SJSU CAMPUS, A VORTEX INTO THE UNKNOWN

Posted by erin on June 5th, 2008

Eddo Stern’s Portal Wormhole Flythrough at ZERO1 by Julia Bradshaw

A better placement of Eddo Stern’s Portal Wormhole Flythrough could not have been conceived: on the campus of a major university in a valley steeped in programming and gaming culture and in recognizing that the university is a form of Portal in itself.

In gaming culture a Portal is a pathway to another side, an entry way of sorts. It is a term synonymous with access or a gateway. The wormhole/flythrough suggests the action of sucking into, or being transported to another side in a rather reckless and uncontrolled manner.

The ubiquitous portal in animation and on the internet provides dizzying, spiraling visuals in Eddo Stern’s Portal Wormhole Flythrough on the SJSU Campus, by Tower Hall

photograph: Everett Taasevigen

According to Stern the internet is littered with fragments of gaming portals created by students in 3-D animation classes. It is an elementary classroom exercise designed to teach students 3-D animation basics in a real world application manner. Stern has appropriated these animations and amalgamated them to create a 10 minute video loop which is projected onto a 16 foot aluminum structure.

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SHONE’S DRONES ROAM 01SJ

Posted by erin on June 5th, 2008

Drone Machines at ZERO1 by Julia Bradshaw
Sonic pleasures accompanied many of the opening day activities, none more fun than Tristan Shone’s Drone Machines on The San José State University campus.

Drone machines are hand-fabricated devices that look like someone has parked elements from an industrial shop in the midst of an arts festival. The instruments are reminiscent of some form of industrial cutting device, or suggest the heavy fabricated levers that are necessary to drive a ship. The weight of each device and the resistance each generates adds to a melodic sense of sound-creation.

Visitors to 01SJ enjoy the sounds and are piqued with curiousity over Shone’s Drones. Tristan Shone, left, engages former Museum of Art Director, Dan Keegan who made a special trip West for 01SJ.

Another instrument, fabricated using a CNC machine, is shaped like a heavy metal drum and is played by tapping and rotation. For this machine/instrument, inertia plays a role in ensuring an organic sound. Inside each of these instruments is an open-source micro-controller and robotics that are connected to the computer controls and from there to the amplifiers. The computer determines the output whereas sound is produced by two or more pitch and volume controllers in each device.

So what did it sound like? Drone is a good word. It’s the kind of music that sucks you in, that you can listen to for a long time as it feels both organic and soft. It murmurs and hums and hisses and bellows and roars and fades. Shone’s interest in heavy metal comes through in his music – only with a less wild performative aspect. He plays his instruments well; like some intense form of metal music mediation.

Tristan Shone, who performs as Author and Punisher fabricated his instruments either by hand or by using a CNC machine. He will also be performing on 1st street as part of the SubZero event on Friday May 6th from 6pm.

OPENING NIGHT AT 01SJ

Posted by erin on June 5th, 2008


Off and running: O1SJ Festival kicks off
By Julian Peeples

The waiting was finally over as the second 01SJ global festival kicked off the evening of June 4, as art enthusiasts from around the globe converged on San Jose to experience the work of some of the world’s most innovative minds. Southern California-based artist Ruben Ortiz-Torres initiated everyone to the festival with “High ‘n’ Low Rider,” his hydraulic lift that danced to the brilliant sounds of the Tijuana-based Nortec Collective.

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed welcomed festival-goers to San Jose, calling it the “largest progressive party in the United States” during a lengthy opening ceremony. While the weather wasn’t exactly what you might expect for a June night, the festival delivered on its opening day, offering compelling experiences at the intersection of art and technology.

Luis Valdez expounded, entertained and informed an opening night audience.

The highlight of the opening ceremonies was easily Latino theater legend Luis Valdez, who spoke about the significance of the number zero, and its roots in Mayan culture.

“Without zeroes, there is no computer age,” Valdez said, referring to digital art’s birth from the zeroes and ones of binary code.

Australian Craig Walsh’s undulating creatures seen inside the City Hall Rotunda

The crowd took a journey to San Jose City Hall to witness the unveiling of Australian artist Craig Walsh’s “Incursion 37:20:15.71’ N – 121:53:09.51’ W” which turned the city hall rotunda into an organic life form. I’m sure it’s not the first time somebody has referred to city hall as a jungle. Walsh’s creation of an organic habitat in modern architecture is an homage to the experimentation within multiple mediums performed by Ken Kesey during his famous “Acid Tests” in the 60s. The piece will be on display from dusk until dawn throughout the festival, but you won’t actually need any help seeing these lovely visuals.

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A CADRE ARTIST’S “LIFT OFF”

Posted by erin on June 4th, 2008

Ethan Miller’s Netbody at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art
by Sally Sumida

Above: Ethan Miller, Netbody v2, 2008.

In a darkened gallery space, a video projection covers an entire wall. The sounds of bellows-like breathing, a voice and musical sound effects accompany a succession of images. A panel of user names, tags, photos and videos appears on the screen. One is highlighted in red. It enlarges before our eyes, shooting out arcs of red spider veins that connect it to the next wave of emerging images before it disappears, becoming a tiny dot in an orderly grid of proliferating nodes advancing from left to right across the screen. As the dance of emerging and fading images continues, only the spider veins and the nodes to which they are connected remain visible. They resemble a chaos of umbilical cords, or a tangle of wires, tangible traces of their points of origin and previous connections. Where are we and what are we experiencing? Welcome to the world of Ethan Miller’s Netbody.

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