Visual and Critical Studies News

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.

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.

Posted on Monday, February 27, 2012 by Jim Norrena

Production stills from CCA's newest "drama queens": Candacy Taylor, Greacian Goeke, Susan Sobeloff, and Jennifer Roberts

"I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being." -- Oscar Wilde

In the last year a growing number of CCA graduates -- each representing a unique program of study -- has tapped into the Bay Area's richly diverse and proliferating performing arts scene to have a full-scale world premiere of their work brought to fruition. Among these impressive alumnae are:

Candacy Taylor (MFA Visual Criticism 2002)

Posted on Thursday, February 16, 2012 by Jim Norrena


Please join California College of the Arts at the College Art Association’s 100th annual conference in Los Angeles February 22–25. CCA faculty and alumni will be participating in various panel discussions throughout the conference. (See event schedule below.)

We invite you to drop by the CCA booth at the conference’s Book and Trade Fair to meet esteemed members of our faculty. We're looking forward to meeting you!

Special Reception for Alumni

Posted on Tuesday, February 7, 2012 by Lindsey Westbrook

More American Photographs
CCA Wattis Institute, 2012
Paperback, 106 pages, $28

As the United States slowly emerges from its most significant economic downturn since the Great Depression, the [CCA Wattis Institute] reexamines the well-known photography program of the Farm Security Administration (1935-44). In More American Photographs, 12 contemporary photographers were commissioned to travel the United States, documenting its land and people. These new works are presented alongside historical images by original FSA photographers such as Dorothea Lange in a catalogue whose design was inspired by Walker Evans's seminal book American Photographs. The featured photographers include Walead Beshty, Esther Bubley, Larry Clark, Roe Ethridge, Walker Evans, Katy Grannan, William E. Jones, Dorothea Lange, Russell Lee, Sharon Lockhart, Catherine Opie, Gordon Parks, Martha Rosler, Collier Schorr, Ben Shahn, Stephen Shore, Alec Soth, Hank Willis Thomas (MFA and MA Visual Criticism 2004), and Marion Post Wolcott. The exhibition was curated by Wattis director Jens Hoffmann, who contributes an essay, and the book is designed by Graphic Design faculty Jon Sueda.

Posted on Tuesday, February 7, 2012 by Lindsey Westbrook

Making Race: Modernism and "Racial Art" in America
University of Washington Press, 2011
Paperback, 256 pages, $40

Jacqueline Francis (Visual and Critical Studies and Painting/Drawing faculty) explores the flowering of racial art rhetoric in criticism and history published in the 1920s and 1930s, and analyzes its underlying presence in contemporary discussions of artists of color. She specifically looks at the cases of Malvin Gray Johnson, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, and Max Weber, three New York artists whose work was popularly assigned to the category of "racial art" in the interwar years of the 20th century. The term was widely used by critics and the public at the time, and was an unexamined, unquestioned category for the work of non-whites (such as Johnson, an African American), non-Westerners (such as Kuniyoshi, a Japanese-born American), and ethnicized non-Christians (such as Weber, a Russian-born Jewish American). The discourse on racial art is a troubling chapter in the history of early American modernism that has not, until now, been sufficiently documented. Francis juxtaposes the work of these three artists in order to consider their understanding of the category and their stylistic responses to the expectations created by it, in the process revealing much about the nature of modernist art practices.

Posted on Monday, February 6, 2012 by Lindsey Westbrook

Fifty Years of Bay Area Art: The SECA Awards
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 2011
Hardcover, 168 pages, $29.95

Tanya Zimbardo (MA Curatorial Practice 2005), SFMOMA's assistant curator of media arts, coauthored this book chronicling and illustrating more than 100 SECA Award recipients from the late 1960s to the present, including CCA alumni Squeak Carnwath, Desirée Holman, Mitzi Pederson, Laurie Reid, Leslie Shows, and Kathryn VanDyke, among others. Featured faculty include Rebeca Bollinger, Kota Ezawa, Thom Faulders, Chris Finley, Donald Fortescue, Amy Franceschini, Clay Jensen, Jordan Kantor, Shaun O'Dell, Maria Porges, and Mary Snowden.

Posted on Monday, February 6, 2012 by Lindsey Westbrook

Modeling the Universe
Nevada Museum of Art, 2011
Paperback, 88 pages, $20

This publication surveys nearly 80 maquettes produced by Sculpture Program chair Linda Fleming over the past 30 years. Fleming has drawn upon an extensive web of influences to create a body of sculptural works that suggest the coexistence of the mundane, the cosmological, and the scientific. In addition to numerous full-page color illustrations, the book also includes reference images that reveal her natural, scientific, and architectural influences. It includes text contributions by the artist and CCA Sculpture, Fine Arts, and Visual and Critical Studies faculty member Maria Porges.

Posted on Monday, February 6, 2012 by Lindsey Westbrook

Berkeley Art Museum, 2011
Paperback, 179 pages, $27.50

Writing and Visual and Critical Studies faculty member Kevin Killian contributes to this book, published on the occasion of a groundbreaking museum exhibition curated by Lawrence Rinder (former CCA Wattis Institute director) with Matthew Higgs (former CCA Wattis Institute curator). Create showcases work made at the three Bay Area centers for artists with developmental disabilities: Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland, Creativity Explored in San Francisco, and the National Institute of Art and Disabilities in Richmond. Florence Ludins-Katz and Elias Katz, who today are recognized as pioneers of the art and disabilities movement, founded these centers between 1972 and 1982. This richly illustrated catalogue offers an overview of the work being made there today, including works on paper, paintings, and sculpture.

Posted on Monday, February 6, 2012 by Lindsey Westbrook

Kota Ezawa: Upstairs, Downstairs
University of Idaho, 2010
Paperback, 36 pages

This is the catalogue for Film faculty member Kota Ezawa's exhibition Upstairs, downstairs at the University of Idaho, Prichard Art Gallery in 2010. The catalogue was cowritten by Ezawa, CCA Writing and Visual and Critical Studies faculty member Kevin Killian, and Roger Rowley. It presents work in a number of different forms using older technologies as well as new media. The artist selects from sources such as news stories, lectures by prominent figures, fiction and nonfiction film, and even the history of photography for particular elements that comment on our media overloaded environment.