A global guide to LIVING CREATIVELY

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Jeff Sheng, Photographer

Truth is immovable and immutable and is sensed, not in the material world, but internally. It is felt as something certain. When the mind intrudes - when logic and analysis enter into the equation, truth departs.

Truth is at the core of all meaningful art.

As I sat to write about photographer, Jeff Sheng, I found myself returning to his website to view more of his work. I had not read anything about the photographer at this point, but, with each photograph it dawned on me that I was viewing the work of an important artist with a sensitive, concentrated eye. His work seemed to have a quieting effect on me as it drew me into meaning. I searched each photo for clues about the subject matter and discovered, first the component parts; a lamp, a carpet pattern, objects upon a mantle piece, or ambient lighting. Then I would return to the main subject of each photo - a uniformed man or woman, face hidden behind a door jam, or masked by brilliant sunlight or shadow - or a hand held up to hide a face.

The physical stance of each individual, sitting or standing, face hidden from view, conveys a sense of isolation and a feeling of loneliness.
Each photograph reveals the intimate story of individual American Gay and Lesbian military personnel who serve our county honorably while, involuntarily, serving in secrecy and inequality due to the restrictive federal law, more commonly known as, DADT (Don't Ask, Don't Tell) - a law which relegates honorable military service back into the "closet".
Jeff Sheng writes, "While photographing this project, I discovered that many of my subjects had previously done tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. And no different than the services of their straight peers, the dedication and sacrifices made by these brave soldiers have unfortunately been mostly ignored by the general American public during these last nine years." 
Mr. Sheng traveled over 30,000 miles documenting the visual stories of various DADT military personnel which are self-published in the book, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". This is the first in a series of books.
The child of Taiwanese immigrants, Mr. Sheng was raised in Thousand Oaks, California.  He received his BA degree from Harvard University in 2002, with an MFA received from the University of California, Irvine in 2007. He currently teaches at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
An earlier body of work, titled, "Fearless", depicts openly gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans-identified high school and college athletes proudly "out" to their teammates, coaches and peers. This series grew to include over 100 athletes and the work has been exhibited at over 40 high school and college campuses, nationally, at ESPN Headquarters and at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.
Central to the work of this accomplished photographer is an inner moral sense of what is true. However, while visually depicting social activism, the photographs also display a mastery of technique - melding both artistry and conscience.

From OvationTV.com - Jeff Sheng interviewed

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
September 18 - October 23, 2010
Kaycee Olsen Gallery
2685 S. La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90034
For more information:
Kaycee Olsen Gallery
All still photographs, courtesy, Kaycee Olsen Gallery and the artist.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Santa Fe Clay Gallery-Opening

David Hicks
Patricia Sannit
July 9 - August 21, 2010
Opening Reception: Friday, July 9, 5:00 - 7PM

From SFC Press Release:
Santa Fe Clay is pleased to present new work by David Hicks and Patricia Sannit in a two-person exhibition - the first time the work of these artists is exhibited at Santa Fe Clay. The artists are connected by material, but unique in their approach to medium. They present large scale work; work which confronts the viewer with a power and impact, architectural in nature.

DAVID HICKS is concerned with agriculture and nature's life-cycles. His "System Pieces" are large honeycomb terracotta structures resembling the substructure of vascular systems of organic life. His wall sculptures reference found-objects from farm, barn or machinery."

PATRICIA SANNIT'S hand-built pieces combine her interests in geology, archeology and history, creating work reflecting her studies and travels in the Near East and Africa. Raw clay and patterned textures "explore the development and transmission of culture through time and across distance." 

For more information:
545 Camino De La Familia
Santa Fe, NM

Friday, June 25, 2010

di Rosa Museum, Napa, CA

A surprise in the Napa, California countryside

When invited to an event, one never knows who or what might be discovered. Recently, we visited a friend in Sonoma County, California, for an extended weekend of relaxation. When we were asked, prior to our departure, if we would be interested in visiting the di Rosa, we wondered if we would be attending a wine-tasting event. When we were told the di Rosa was a collection of artwork, we did not imagine what type of adventure we were about to encounter. Little did we know it would be so visually stimulating and thought-provoking.
We were scheduled to tour the collection on a Friday. We parked, walked to the  Gatehouse, entered the gallery shop and paid our entry fee. From there we were taken on a journey of experiencing one work of art after another - from one space to another - a literal tour de force of painting, sculpture, and photography.

At the very core of the collection, are two invisible, co-collaborator collectors (Rene and Veronica di Rosa) who, along with a large group of highly imaginative and productive artists, all seemed to be speaking the same language, dialoguing on multiple topics, and blending into one multi-dimensional, organic whole. Now a public museum, the di Rosa collection, located on 217 acres in the Napa Valley of California, is considered "the most significant collection of San Francisco Bay Area art in the world." The founders, Rene and Veronica di Rosa, amassed over 2000 plus works of art, created by more than 800 artists. The collection is housed in several buildings, starting with the Gatehouse Gallery and ending with the former di Rosa home. And as the shuttle vehicle makes its way from one building to the next, outdoor sculpture is placed in various key locations - in an extraordinary natural setting of lake (Winery Lake), oak woodland, native grasses, and wildflowers.

Rene di Rosa, in an interview, stated,
"... The Bay Area is the pond from which I fish. It does not define the catch. My personal taste does not include austere abstraction, white on white. I like additive art, not reductive art. I prefer maximal to minimal. I like the figure and identifiable objects that grab your attention through their familiarity. The artists I like use the familiar as a hook to lead you into new realms. The best artists are like shamans who can take us to deeper truths."
This statement defines the collection. One must, however, prepare for the actual experience of appreciating so much art all at once. Viewing the di Rosa website will  set you on your journey. However, your journey will only be complete with an enlightening visit.
There is nothing like it - without qualification. A visit to the di Rosa is a must on your next visit to Napa / Sonoma or northern California, generally.

Selected Artists:
Bill Allan
David Best
Elmer Bischoff
Judy Dater
Roy De Forest
Stephen De Staebler
Viola Frey
David Ireland
Tom Marioni
Richard Misrach
Ron Nagle
Manuel Neri
Nathan Olivera
Mel Ramos
Raymond Saunders
Peter Voulkos
William T. Wiley

From YouTube: KQEDondemand - 2003 - Meet Mr. Rene di Rosa - learn more about the man and the collection
For more information: di Rosa website
For more videos: YouTube
Please note: All still photographs, above, courtesy of the di Rosa Museum

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Artist, John Baldessari

Los Angeles County Museum of Art
June 27 - September 12, 2010
Curated by Leslie Jones, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art, Tate Modern
and Kerryn Greenberg, Assistant Curator, Tate Modern

From the LACMA Press Release:
"...organized by LACMA in association with Tate Modern, the exhibition will bring together more than 150 works and examine the principal concerns of Baldessari (b.1931). LACMA's presentation will be the only West Coast showing and feature the greatest number of works of any venue on the show's major international tour."
Photo: LACMA Website - Portrait: (Self) #1 as Control + 11 Alterations by Retouching and Airbrushing, 1974, twelve color photographs with airbrushing on museum board, 14 x 10 3/4 in. (35.6 x 27.3 cm) each, Glenstone, © 2009 John Baldessari, photo, Marian Goodman Gallery, NY.
For more information: LACMA website

Thursday, June 3, 2010

GoGo Gear / Scooter Girls / 360

Necessity - and Women of Invention
Somewhere in the heart of Silverlake (Los Angeles), two very enterprising women are pioneering a clothing design business. Transferring skills from previous professions (Arlene Battishill, was a project manager for a large real estate development/home building company and Desiree Estrada, a real estate economic consultant) and finding a slew of new creative skills, they rearranged their lives and reinvented their careers.
Ms. Battishill and Ms. Estrada started GoGo Gear, "a groundbreaking line of modish safety apparel designed by and specifically for women motorcycle and scooter riders" in 2009. The clothing is described as, "cutting-edge, feminine outerwear with robust interior engineering that includes abrasion-resistant fabric, quality CE-approved armor in the back, shoulders and elbows and highly reflective details." This technical description has almost nothing to do with the fact that the clothing is stylish and fashionable, as well - and is designed for women of all sizes. According to Ms. Battishill, "We want our customers to know we're thinking about them from day one, working to come up with flattering, cutting-edge designs for all women."
Although, neither of the owners have any type of clothing design experience in their repertoires, they have gathered together imagination, experimentation, and innovation to bring into fruition inspired new clothing designs. In a very short time, GoGo Gear has caught the attention of the fashion community and the energy and ingenuity of the owners has been rewarded.

GoGo Gear:
•was selected "Best in Show" at Fashion Business Inc. fall runway show, LA Fashion Week, Oct. '09.

•debuted at EICMA (Europe's largest motorcycle exhibition) in Milan, Italy and was a featured product on the show website, Nov. '09.

•received significant press coverage in Dealernews (Dec. '09), Scoot! (Dec. '09, Jun. ‘10), All About Bikes magazine (Jan. '10) and throughout the blogosphere.

•was selected by Dealernews as a Top 25 finalist for their Top 10 Products 2010 based on products' ability to increase sales for dealers.
Find out more about GoGo Gear via the website and blog (links, below). Before closing this post, here are a few photographs of the line.

Scooter Girls
For a detailed blog article, Plus Size: Fatshionista

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Chocolate - Taza and Mast Brothers


"There are four basic food groups: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, and chocolate truffles." - Anonymous

CHOCOLATE. What dreams and fantasies does the word conjure up?
As I began to research this tasty treat, I was transported into an unexpected world. Chocolate, I discovered, has a history. Unlike most of us, however, chocolate has a pedigreed history with close associations to Mayan and French royalty and Popes.
The Mayan, who discovered the cocoa tree as early as 2000 BC and named the bitter liquid Xocoatl, understood the intrinsic value of this rich, dark substance. Cocoa pods symbolized life and fertility for the Mayan and plantations of cocoa trees were planted throughout Central America, portions of South America and the Yucatan Peninsula and beyond. Later, the Aztec demanded payment in cocoa beans from conquered groups. And the story of chocolate makes its way through recorded history as Popes (Pius V) became aware of its nutritional aspects during feast days. Subjects of the French Court exchanged gifts of chocolate and when the craze made its way into Paris, the dark and delicious substance, subsequently, conquered all of France.
Americans were introduced to the wonders of chocolate in 1755 and ten years later, it was produced in America’s first chocolate factory (Baker’s Chocolate).
While delicious chocolate is made the world over, there are two American chocolate makers, one in Massachusetts and another in Brooklyn, who add to the lengthy history of chocolate. Each uses organic beans and is socially responsible.
Taza Chocolate was, “born out of a desire to combine the Meso American tradition of chocolate with a modern, high-quality product manufactured in a socially responsible way.” Founder, Alex Whitmore steeped himself in the history and culture of Mexico in 2005. Along with co-founder, Larry Slotnick, they decided, early on, to develop a company with a conscience. Sustainable was the key word in producing organic chocolate while fairly compensating growers for their work.
In the village of Williamsburg (New York City), artisan chocolate makers, Mast Brothers Chocolate, personally handcrafts each chocolate in “delicate batches”. They start with the best organic chocolate, sourced from “small family farms and coops around the world, such as Madagascar Venezuela, Dominican Republic and Ecauador.”
Keep in mind, there are other small, socially responsible chocolate making companies. Here, we share two videos on the above companies; one from Nina Simonds, Spices of Life – Taza Chocolate Company and another from Cool Hunting Video – Mast Brothers Chocolate Company.

Taza Chocolate
Mast Brothers Chocolate
Nina Simonds, Spices of Life
Cool Hunting
More on the history of chocolate: Field Museum.org

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