Fine Arts News

Posted on Tuesday, December 18, 2012 by Lindsey Westbrook

Ode to Happiness
Steidl, 2011
Hardcover, 40 pages, $55

Alexandra Grant (MFA 2000) illustrates this book by the celebrated actor and writer Keanu Reeves. It is a grown-up's picture book about making the best of a bad situation, a charming reminder not to take oneself too seriously. In the tradition of a classic "hurtin' song," Reeves's text externalizes a melancholy internal monologue and subtly pokes fun at it. Grant's images, delicately realized in somber inky washes, reflect the dark and light, the pathos and humor, of the text. Neither entirely earnest nor wholly ironic, Ode to Happiness is both a meditation and a gentle tease about how we cope with life's sorrows.

Posted on Tuesday, December 18, 2012 by Matthew Harrison Tedford

The Walls of Hope project in progress in Monthey, Switzerland

Claudia Bernardi (today a professor in CCA's Community Arts Program, but who also teaches in a wide range of disciplines, including Diversity Studies, Fine Arts, and Visual and Critical Studies programs) was a student at the university of art in Buenos Aires in 1976, the year the military dictatorship took power in Argentina.

"Those were very dark years -- very tragic, painful, and violent. The ones who survived learned to look at life, history, and art quite differently."

Posted on Tuesday, December 18, 2012 by Allison Byers

Toyin Odutola, Artist, 27
Using ballpoint pens and other drawing utensils, Nigerian-born Odutola makes intricate portraits from photographs. She has had a one-woman show at the Jack Shainman gallery in New York City, and exhibited in group shows at the Menil Collection in Houston and at the Studio Museum in Harlem.

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Posted on Monday, December 10, 2012 by Susannah Magers

Pae White, muhf-uhl, 2012

Susannah Magers (MA Curatorial Practice 2011) spent five months in 2012 on site as the visitor engagement manager at the exhibition International Orange, a FOR-SITE Foundation project located in Fort Point, near San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge.

It is the latest and most ambitious project yet produced by the foundation, a San Francisco-based nonprofit dedicated to the production of art about place.

What It's Like to be at International Orange

When I tell people I work in a fort underneath the Golden Gate Bridge, their reaction usually registers surprise, followed by confusion ("Wait . . . where?"). The date is October 25, 2012, and I have spent the past five months, five days a week, on site as the visitor engagement manager at the exhibition International Orange.

Posted on Monday, November 26, 2012 by Allison Byers

In 2007, Oakland artist Packard Jennings made headlines when the New York Times cited his sneaky method of placing “battle in Seattle” style Anarchist action figures for sale in local Target and Wal – Mart stores just in time for a holiday season filled with more than a few unsuspecting consumers. In the New York Times, Ian Urbana defined “shopdropping” as the act of “…surreptitiously putting things in stores, rather than illegally taking them out, and the motivations vary.”

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Posted on Friday, November 16, 2012 by Rachel Walther

Glen Helfand (in the green T-shirt) with CCA students and Creativity Explored artists

A hall of mirrors reflecting an artist's actual view of the world; sculptural train tracks coming out of the wall and into the gallery space; colorful, hanging text-mobiles that evoke psychologically charged word-clouds; a fashion magazine devoted to one fabulous model; and a pop-up shop selling equestrian-themed T-shirts, jewelry, and drawings:

These are the works that will be on view in Fabricators, the culminating exhibition for Glen Helfand's fall 2012 ENGAGE at CCA course, at Jack Fischer Gallery in San Francisco, December 12-22, 2012. The public is invited to the reception on Saturday, December 15, 3-5 p.m.

Posted on Thursday, November 15, 2012 by Allison Byers

On Grove Street, across from the gilded, Beaux-Arts exterior of City Hall, the San Francisco Arts Commission has a space that it is no longer allowed to use as a gallery – quite. 155 Grove has been deemed seismically unsafe, which means the general public is not allowed inside, but the city does allow SFAC to put the space’s large front window to use: A rotation of artists fill the cube with site-specific installations that the public can view from outside.

Posted on Thursday, November 8, 2012 by Allison Byers

It’s not always quite this bustling, Hank Willis Thomas tells me as we make our way into his small, fifth-floor studio located in Midtown Manhattan; it’s just when he’s gearing up for a major project or a show—which, these past few years, has been more or less his perpetual state.

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Posted on Thursday, November 8, 2012 by Matthew Harrison Tedford

The Cast of La Bamba 2: Hell Is a Drag

"I wrote a sequel to From Dusk Till Dawn when I was in seventh grade."

So began the filmmaking career of Rob Fatal (MFA 2012). His obsession with film proceeded apace, but it took him a surprisingly long time, he says, to realize that there was a person called a director -- that movies didn't just spring into existence like Athena from Zeus's head.

Inspired by Quentin Tarantino, Mel Brooks, and Robert Rodriguez, Fatal began writing screenplays at age 12. "I loved camp and sci-fi films before I even knew they were genres." At 19 he borrowed his father's camcorder and made a 30-minute film about DJs with magical turntables. "It was accidentally campy. It was accidentally bad. But it had a lot of sincerity." Much to his surprise, it did well, even getting into a couple of festivals.

Film Maker, Filmmaker, or Artist?

Fast forward a few years. Fatal was still working in film and experimenting with video art, but not quite to the point of considering himself a filmmaker, and certainly not an "artist," whatever that meant. But one day, in the midst of editing a video documenting an experimental opera by Fatal's collaborator/mentor Juliana Snapper, he recomposed portions of the footage into a new composition and showed it to CCA faculty member Cheryl Dunye. Dunye delivered the unexpected news that what he was doing was art, and urged him to apply to CCA's MFA program. The faculty there, she said, were pushing the boundaries of genres, and dealing with gender politics and racial identity -- fields of study Fatal had been researching for years in his graduate program at Sacramento State University. CCA presented Fatal with a place to finally bridge his dual love of film theory and practice.

Posted on Monday, November 5, 2012 by Rachel Walther

Zarouhie Abdalian (MFA 2010) maintains quite the hectic travel schedule. This fall she made a trip to Bergen, Norway, to participate in the Kunstindustrimuseum's Material Information exhibition, and afterward she headed to the 9th Shanghai Biennial as a participant in the San Francisco pavilion. She's exhibited work and created site-specific installations throughout the United States and eight other countries; right now you can see one of her works, The fall without the fruit, at the CCA Wattis Institute's When Attitudes Became Form Become Attitudes exhibition, on view through December 1, 2012.

Abdalian's work has evolved dramatically since her years as an undergraduate at Tulane University, where she focused on painting and printmaking. While at CCA she developed an entirely new way of working that is sculptural, and profoundly site specific. A new piece doesn't begin until she researches the place where it will be located. Visually and historically, her installations engage in dialogue with their viewers and -- ideally -- disrupt their typical interaction with a particular place.

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