Fine Arts News

Posted on Tuesday, June 12, 2012 by Allison Byers

It’s been more than eight years since San Francisco-based artist Mary Button Durrell has exhibited her unique paper sculptures. This month, she returns with Flash: New Works by Mary Button Durell at SF’s La Boutique, a contemporary gallery-cum-shop in Jackson Square.

We recently got a chance to catch up with Durell to talk about her art and inspirations.

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Posted on Thursday, June 7, 2012 by Allison Byers

In a society where many people don’t feel comfortable talking about race, Hank Willis Thomas insists on making art about race.

And he’s O.K. with making people even more uncomfortable.

“I take pleasure in talking about things that people say we don’t need to talk about anymore,” he said. “Just because we think we’re over race, doesn’t really mean that we’re over it.”

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Posted on Thursday, May 31, 2012 by Allison Byers

True to the title of Zachary Royer Scholz's current exhibition at Eli Ridgway Gallery, "Nothing Is Ever Finished," little is set in stone for the San Francisco artist - apart from the fact that everything in his life seemed to lead him toward his practice.

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Posted on Thursday, May 31, 2012 by Lindsey Westbrook

Ceramics and the Human Figure
A&C Black, 2012
Paperback, 176 pages, $40

Edith Garcia (MFA 2004) is a ceramic sculptor and researcher. Her work has been exhibited throughout North America, Mexico, and Europe, and is included in the permanent Sculpture Garden of the Archie Bray Foundation in Montana, and other public and private collections across the USA and UK. She authored this book of profiles on an international range of ceramic artists, all practicing within the fields of installation and sculpture. Divided by broad themes, each chapter explores a variety of different expressive works. The book explores the role of figurative ceramics through history and in contemporary contexts. It also reveals the methods of six key artists, using how-to images to illustrate their techniques.

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Posted on Thursday, May 24, 2012 by Allison Byers

MFA thesis exhibitions, though often overcrowded, are always abuzz with the excitement of eager, budding talent. This year's presentation at California College of the Arts, up through May 19, 2012, is no different. There are over four-dozen artists in the show, each ranging wildly in style, medium, and conceptual aims; selecting a half-dozen thesis students to highlight is no easy task. I can assure, at the very least, that in this bustling and ambitious show, there is something for everyone.

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Posted on Monday, May 21, 2012 by Allison Byers

The 2012 California College of the Arts post-graduate exhibitions featured artworks by nearly 50 MFA artists graduating this spring, as well as post-graduate students in Architecture and Design programs. Unfolding throughout CCA’s San Francisco campus, the MFA Exhibition is just a single part of a year-end celebration that includes thesis exhibitions by seven CCA graduate programs such as the Baccalaureate Exhibition, featuring works by students graduating from the 21 undergraduate programs and the Annual Fashion Show.

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Posted on Thursday, May 10, 2012 by Lindsey Westbrook

Will Brown is an actual guy. A very cool and nice guy, according to all who know him, plus a CCA Curatorial Practice graduate student. Once upon a time, not too long ago, Will was spending a lot of time by himself down at 3041 24th Street, which some of you may recognize as the address of the late, great Triple Base gallery. Triple Base was founded in 2006 by CCA Curatorial Practice grads Joyce Grimm and Dina Pugh (both class of 2006) and finally closed in 2011. Toward the end there, the space's main "resident" who was keeping it up and running and officially occupied was their friend Will.

If you've been down to that block of 24th Street in the last few years, around Harrison and Folsom, you know that it has become a lovely haven of art and food while retaining its Mission District feel. So three friends of Dina and Joyce (two of them also alumni of CCA grad programs) decided to step up and take over the lease. The idea of running their own experimental/conceptual gallery space, once conceived, seemed like an offer they couldn't refuse.

The question that almost derailed everything was what to name this new venture, but under their self-imposed 11th-hour wire came the stroke of genius. "Will Brown" is of course a spoof on commercial gallery naming conventions. It is also a benign inside joke, and a well-meant tribute to a friend. Keeping it in the family, so to speak. The three of them also liked the idea of operating as a singular, semi-authorless entity.

The three new proprietors of Will Brown (the gallery) are David Kasprzak (MA Curatorial Practice 2011), Lindsey White (MFA 2007), and Jordan Stein (a 2005 MFA grad of the San Francisco Art Institute). Far easier than picking a name was selecting the theme of their first show, which opened on January 27 and closed March 4. The provocative premise, like the gallery's name, was a refutation of art business as usual, and specifically a play on art ownership and art-world transactions. Illegitimate Business featured artworks and ephemera "with a peculiar provenance," in other words acquired by their (anonymous) lenders under less-than-totally-up-and-up circumstances. The original concept came from old conversations with the curators' artist friends Zachary Royer Scholz (MFA 2006, MA Visual and Critical Studies 2009) and Brion Nuda Rosch.

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Posted on Saturday, May 5, 2012 by Christina Linden

Maja Ruznic made up for her performance in "The Cries of San Francisco," 2011 (photo by Aimee Friberg)

Maja Ruznic's painting Self Portrait as Mother of All Evil was recently featured on the cover of New American Paintings. That, plus the sudden flurry of activity that has followed (including a hefty feature on ABC news and commissions from around the world, have been extraordinary and gratifying, and the biggest break thus far since her graduation in 2009 from CCA's Graduate Program in Fine Arts.

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Posted on Thursday, April 19, 2012 by Lindsey Westbrook

Little Paper Planes: 20 Artists Reinvent the Childhood Classic
Chronicle Books, 2012
Paperback, 84 pages, $19.95

Kelly Lynn Jones (MFA 2010, Painting/Drawing 2002), owner of the online artist store Little Paper Planes (which carries work by many CCA artists!), has created this awesome celebration of a timeless pastime. The book offers constructible paper airplanes and a few other airplane-inspired crafts, taking the paper plane to a whole new level, from paper-doll planes and shark planes to plane mobiles and mix-and-match gliders. Featuring work by rising stars and indie darlings as Gemma Correll, Michael Hsiung, Julia Rothman, Alyson Fox, and Lisa Congdon. Printed on perforated pages for easy removal and assembly, the planes are accompanied by instructions, artist interviews, and loads of visuals.

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Posted on Thursday, April 19, 2012 by Mitchell Schwarzer

Mitchell Schwarzer gives his introduction at the CCA faculty retreat

On February 4, 2012, the faculty at California College of the Arts gathered at the college's San Francisco campus for a retreat focused on the state of the arts across our many disciplines. In the morning, 25 short presentations offered insights into challenges and opportunities faced by practitioners and thinkers in recent times. The word aired most frequently was crisis: the crisis of the Great Recession; the crisis of Global Climate Change; the crisis of understanding and working within a discipline in our digital age.

Watch the video of all the presentations (91 minutes), shot and edited by Yoni Klein (Photography 2012)

The economic downturn has produced an economic squeeze within most of our disciplines. Art directors, as Alexis Mahrus remarks, have diminished roles in shaping an illustration. Smaller profit margins reduce the flexibility and time given over to experimentation. Branding and celebrity worship take up a larger slice of the creative pie. Some presenters, like Sue Redding of Industrial Design, see no problem in this conflation of art and business and, furthermore, dispute the notion of a crisis. Yet many presenters feel that the economic crisis is not only real but wielding dangerously asymmetrical impacts. Demand remains strong for high-end craft goods and blue-chip fine art. Some small nonprofits are struggling to survive. To Ignacio Valero of Critical Studies, the priority given over to luxury items can be attributed to the ongoing influence of classical economic policies that privilege individual decision making over collective social and natural needs. Likewise, Sandra Vivanco of Diversity Studies notes that economic inequalities have greatly worsened over the past few years, especially in the developing world. Contemporary society is forging a timeless, spaceless way of conducting business, a race for lucrative and short-term gains that concentrates investment more than ever in the hands of a few.

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