Archive for April, 2007

studio, schmudio

Sunday, April 15th, 2007

It’s been a long weekend out at RFS.
I think I’m sick of painting.
What was I thinking?

Anyway. Play not the violin for me. I have dug my own grave.
Here’s what’s been going on out at ye olde UC Berkeley Richmonde Fielde Statione (RFS) studio:


These are just a few of what will eventually be something like 40-50 small paintings, arranged horizontally and vertically. A bunch of them aren’t up on the wall, because I need to pop them into temporary frames in order to handle them.

At the end of the studio is this monstrosity. My sister and I are still working on this painting for a group exhibition that also opens in May: we worked enough on it last spring to make the video that can be seen on Wofflehouse, but the painting itself still needs a decent chunk of time put into it:


That’s it for now. Closeup pics coming soon. Bedtime for Woff coming now.

more post-easter death and resurrection fun

Saturday, April 14th, 2007

The Easter-related resurrection shenanigans keep on resurrecting…

Pops Woff emailed a couple more photos from Easter. These aren’t staged–they’re just typically surreal moments in the Wofford clan’s lives. We were seeing off the last of family on Sunday afternoon (Easter was at Mere and Pere Woff’s this year), when I decided to sprawl out on the warm walkway and balance a lemon on my face.



What’s interesting about the photo Mom Woff took is not the large citrus on my face, but the uncanny resemblance her composition takes to one of my favorite Edouard Manet paintings, “Dead Toreador“:


Now what makes this even weirder is that I sent (or so I thought) a few of my nurse drawings off to a show in Hawaii that my friend Trisha Lagaso Goldberg curated. I had emailed her jpegs of the work in advance. The one that she just chose for the postcard invite without telling me was this:




…which of course, was my “homage to Manet” toreador nurse.

Now, here’s where we get into the whole “death and resurrection” portion of today’s entertainment:

The person responsible for transporting all of my drawings from SF to Hawaii LOST them.

They’re gone.

Said person has very graciously offered to pay for all lost drawings, but this doesn’t resolve the dilemma that the image being used for the show postcard was one of the lost drawings…

Needless to say, Trisha and the unnamed messenger are aghast and apologetic, I’m dismayed and distressed. It’s a curator’s and an artist’s worst nightmare, but luckily we are friends and can deal with this appropriately, and the person responsible is actually taking responsibility. Considering the things I’ve lost in my lifetime, I am as compelled to be understanding as I can be: there but for the grace of God go I (dang, this is a hella biblical post!).

The main pain is that I now have to re-generate, or rather more appropriately, resurrect, the missing toreador nurse. It’s a damn good thing I had a digital file of it to use as a reference: it feels weird to re-make an identical image, but in many ways, I have such a long-standing sentimental attachment to this nurse, and her source material, that it just seems right to re-do it.

Next year, it’s all about Passover instead…


Friday, April 13th, 2007

“He nice, the Jesus.”
“He make the good things, and on the Easter we be sad because somebody makes him dead today.”
“Easter is a party to eat of the lamb,” the Italian nanny explained. “One too may eat of the chocolate.”
“And who brings the chocolate?” the teacher asked.
I knew the word, so I raised my hand, saying, “The rabbit of easter. He bring of the chocolate.”

David Sedaris, “Jesus Shaves”
Me Talk Pretty One Day

For your amusement, a few heart-warming Easter family moments:




wofford, wofford, uber alles…

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

I wish I could figure out how to put some nice umlauts over, I mean uber, the O’s in wofford for this title.

My friend Gina turned me on to this new artsy-fartsy networking site called Uber. I’m still kind of stumbling around on it, trying to figure out what it’s all about, but so far, so good. I’ve kind of ignored the whole friendster/myspace phenomenon, so I’m still unclear on this whole “social networking” concept, beyond the fact that it’s a wonderful thing for high schoolers to engage in whilst supposedly writing school papers when I’m substitute-teaching them.

If there’s one thing the web does well, it’s bringing folks together in ways that might not happen otherwise, and Uber seems to be focusing in on a particular group (the creative types) that could benefit from this. It seems kind of myspace-y, but a little cleaner, and more pro.
Since my relationship to the interweb has grown by leaps and bounds in under a year (wofflehouse was only born in July 2006), I’m suddenly getting the big “aha” about its usefulness in connecting me to new folks, and creating opportunities. It seems silly to grub for any more exposure than I already have, but I guess it comes down to this: I’m graduating frighteningly soon, and I’m definitely looking for new professional opportunities, whether those are teaching or showing my art in new venues. Much as I love this Bay Area art community, I think I’ve shown in every nonprofit space there is, and it’s time to cast the net a little wider. Uber seems to be a new avenue to try: I’d be curious to hear what experiences others have had with it thus far.

don’t mess with taxes

Monday, April 9th, 2007

or is it “death and texas”? I get those phrases all mixed up. Anyhoo, the 1040, it is DONE. The 540, an unnecessary evil this year. Thank you, Larry, from H & R. You are my new BFF.


Apparently many people do this “tax” thing every year, but it never ceases to feel like an all-new, utterly alien obligation that I, and only I, must contend with. Why is that, exactly?

This year’s tax appointment gem-moment:

Larry: Wow. It’s amazing how many schedules you have to file, considering how broke you are. Did you know that you actually qualify for food stamps this year?

Fermata: pause, or…period?

Sunday, April 8th, 2007

A fermata (or hold or pause) is an element of musical notation indicating that the note should be sustained for longer than its value would indicate.

OK, as we continue to creep ever closer to Fermata, our MFA Exhibition, comedy material keeps falling in our laps here at Berkeley…please appreciate the design qualities of the official invite to the reception for Fermata, which was just emailed to us on Friday:


And now, please appreciate the design qualities that a wonderful member of our program (who shall remain nameless) has added to said invite:


It’s got wings!

All kidding aside, it’s exciting to be moving closer and closer to the official event. The BAM staff has been nothing but supportive, from helping us draft our brochure texts, to keeping us on track with other deadlines so that our big-time debut is a professional affair. Now that I’ve got that final group crit out of the way (which went swimmingly, BTW, thanks for asking), there are only a few hurdles left…whee!

Overmapped pics!

Saturday, April 7th, 2007

Someone asked me how Thursday night’s Overmapped opening was, and the first thing I said was “A gallery full of art and Filipinos? It’s like a dream come true…” Obviously, not quite as big a fantasy if the gallery is, say, in the Philippines, but here in the US, these moments have been few and far between.

I think about how not so long ago, a show like this was unthinkable: when I was studying with Carlos Villa in the early/mid-nineties, the dialogue was very much around the utter lack of (documented) Filipino-American art history, and what could be done about it. We’re now at this point where not only is there more and more of a paper trail for that subject, and more art shows (curator Koan Jeff Baysa has done a particularly significant job in this regard) but because the post-1965 Immigration Act generations are finally coming of age, the groundswell is really finally underway. I can only be excited about where this work will expand to, as these next generations keep comin’ up like they are…

Rico put together a really lovely, multi-generational, multi-faceted show: it felt like the best kind of family affair. There were folks from a wide range of life-experience, art practices, backgrounds, places, all mixing and making new alliances. It was such a fun night: the after-party was at Poleng Lounge, where a number of us kept up the carousing and connecting for a few hours longer.

Overmapped is only open until April 25th, so catch it while you can. Since SomArts Cultural Center is right next to the shopping complex that houses Trader Joes and a couple of other businesses, it may just be the only time in your life that you can A, see a great Filipino art show, B, stock up on hummus, salad-in-a-bag and Vanilla Almond Crunch, and C, go to Bed Bath and Beyond, because, you know, you will have enough time.

OK, on with a few photos:


Curator Rico Reyes, Carlos Villa, Jeff Jones


Overmapped, the Overview


hot new emo boyband “Bittermelon” (mike, christian, kenlo)


the silva-syjuco coalition


the worlds in collison USF crew (charles, woff, miki, nancy)


d’oh! karla threwed it in the trash…Al Gore’s hella pissed.

SomArts Main Gallery

934 Brannan Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
exhibition: April 5-25

Pete Nelson: still getting bad tattoos.

Friday, April 6th, 2007

Well, I don’t know that for sure, actually, but the image for his solo show sure makes it seem like it:


Pete Nelson is an amazingly talented sculptor who graduated from UC Berkeley’s MFA program last year. I don’t really know the details about the show yet, beyond what I’ve posted below: Pete was such a consistently impressive, relentlessly hard-working artist in the year that we were in school together, I can only expect this to be a fantastic show. He had a side project that he worked on last year, where he offered a tattoo gun to anyone who had never given a tattoo before, and let them tattoo something on his body. In a Bay Area where everyone and their grandma takes pride in their boutique tattoos, Pete’s project was always so deeply, perversely wonderful.

It’s Oakland Art Murmur this Friday night, to boot: go to blank space gallery to catch Pete’s show, then cruise on down to some of the other amazing galleries on the Art Murmur website!

The installation There aint No Party Like a Holy Ghost Party attempts to create a space where thoughts of faith and addiction can simultaneously exist. Traditionally these two states have inhabited separate landscapes socially. These two contriving terrains describe a dependency not on the other but rather on the polarity of their existence.

Nelson received a MFA from UC Berkeley, while at Berkeley; Nelson was named Anchor Fellow for the 2005-06 year and accepted a residency at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Recent exhibitions include Five Habitats at New Langton Arts, Event Horizon at the Transmissions Gallery and American Mythology II, Oliver Art Center, Oakland, CA.

Pete Nelson
There aint No Party Like a Holy Ghost Party
blank space gallery
6608 san pablo ave, oakland ca 94608
March 30 – April 23, 2007
Reception: Friday, April 6, 7-10pm

Motel Cucaracha Gets Overmapped

Monday, April 2nd, 2007

Pinally. A Pilipino art show! Pronto! Curated by the fabulous, brilliant Rico Reyes, the show, OVERMAPPED, opens this Thursday at SomArts Gallery. Rico and I have been co-teaching Filipino-American Art History at USF this semester: our students are helping install OVERMAPPED this Wednesday!

I hadn’t been mentioning the show because in a typical dent in my logic, I equate blood, sweat and tears with preparation for an exhibition, and since my contribution to this show has involved none of those bodily fluids (hallelujah) for a change, I’ve been sort of spacing it!

I’m showing my DVD of Motel Cucaracha, which is a piece I made a couple of years ago (which involved copious amounts of blood, sweat and tears at the time). The video was part of a comprehensive motel room-like installation/performance at a.o.v. gallery in 2004/05. It will be interesting to see it out of its original context, on an utterly unadorned monitor.

Here I am, in all of my roachy glory, in the original installation:

Rico pulled OVERMAPPED together on a shoestring budget (wait a minute: no budget), so it’s one more testament to the dedication of grassroots nonprofiteers that this show is even happening. It shouldn’t have to be done this way, but it’s proof that it can and should be done…Rico seems to do everything so gracefully and thoughtfully: I learn a ton, just watching him in action.

He put together a really fantastic, diverse array of artists, including Galleon Traders Johanna Poethig and Eliza Barrios, so I’m really looking forward to seeing the work, and meeting some of the talented folk I’ve admired for a long time!


Rico wrote a lovely curatorial statement for the show, pasted below:

Overmapped: A Cartography of Filipino American Visual Arts is an exhibition looking at the vital and vibrant visual arts community with ties to the Philippines. The artists presented in this exhibition are Filipino, Filipino American, American Filipino, scholars of Philippine Studies or Pinoyphiles. This exhibition is an informal and incomplete survey and by no means an exhaustive study. However, the growth and development of the Filipino visual arts community needs to be marked; there is a need to pause, to look, and take stock of what is happening with young artists coming out of school, with established artists and their career trajectories, with hobbyists who find themselves deep in serious artmaking, along with many others. This moment is as good as any!

The artists included in this exhbition represent the various points on the arc of Filipino:American visual art production. The points are defined by both artists and the academia and institutions. There exist the myriad points addressing gender and sexuality, the points of race, ethnicity, or otherness, the points of material and formalism, the points of conceptual and avant-garde, the points of the established and the up-and-coming, etc. There are many points on the arc and one artist may occupy many points simultaneously, or a point might be occupied by more than one artist. The artists included in this exhibition are Melba Abela, Terry Acebo-Davis, Matias Aguilar, Yason Banal, Genara Banzon, The Barrionics, Eliza Barrios, Elaine Benisano, Leo Bersamina, Emily Caisip, Danilo Cuevas, Ariel Erestingcol, Vince Golveo, Robert Gutierrez, England Hidalgo, Mary Rose Mendoza, Allyn Nobles, Marcius Noceda, Johanna Poethig, Carlos Ricafort, Angela Silva, Alberto Vajrabukka, Charles Valoroso, Carlos Villa, Mel Vera Cruz, and Jenifer Wofford.

The title of this show is the product of intellectual synergy and confusion. The word “overmapped” is derived from the interplay of ”˜overlap’ and ”˜mapped’. The concept behind the exhibition is to layer on top of the topographical map of the psyche, as developed by Sigmund Freud, with an imaginary topographic sketch of the colonized mind of Filipinos. This overlapping of maps creates a new terrain that shifts with migration and memory, desire and resistance, embodiment and dismemberment, love and hate. These maps are continuously being drawn and re-drawn to charter a course to unknown coordinates. Thus, the act of organizing an exhibition under the theme of “Filipino” becomes a cartographic exercise, redrawing the boundaries of the community and repainting the lines of visual art, in an attempt to speculate a heading and to propose a new course.

Coincidentally, the term “overmapped” is also used in computer programming language. An “overmapped error” describes a situation when 1). two or more data directories exists in a hard-drive and each script in the directory competes and confuses the logic of a given set of memory, or 2). the memory chip is overloaded with a datafile that is too big for it. Either phenomenom describes the condition of Filipino artists. From which “directory” does one process information, or is one’s colonized experience too much to handle within a mainstream framework? The psyche of the Filipino artist is like that of the computer chip overloaded with cultural data from two conflicting sources, always alerting its viewer of a process being OVERMAPPED.

SomArts Main Gallery

934 Brannan Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
exhibition: April 5-25
reception: Thursday, April 5 from 5:30-7:30 pm
post-reception: Poleng Lounge, San Francisco

Group Critiques

Sunday, April 1st, 2007

I’ve been in my studio for the better part of the weekend. No vacation till graduation! Yes, the MFA show is coming up fast (May 18), but before that, I still have one more group critique of my project, and a Final Review (April 26) with Berkeley professors and my MFA committee members. Whew!

Wednesday night, my work receives its final group critique of my grad school career. For those unfamiliar with the group critique, it’s essentially a process in which an artist presents his/her work to a group of his/her fellow students, usually facilitated by a faculty member. Each artist in our program has his/her work run through “group crit” once or twice a semester. It’s an integral part of the critical process: it trains (by example) artists in how to talk about work more deeply, and it gives the presenting artist access to feedback otherwise unavailable to him/her in a solitary studio practice. It’s often stressful for the presenting artist, as private work is suddenly laid relatively bare to public opinion. At its best, it’s a productive, thoughtful, well-structured forum for giving and receiving feedback that will help work grow: at its worst, however, it disintegrates into a messy, destructive free-for-all, where individual agendas and egos actually compromise the process altogether. It can go either way, at the drop of a hat. Good facilitation is key.

Grad school, as most of my friends know, has been an intensely challenging experience for me. (Apparently this is many people’s grad school experience, as it turns out). While at this point (with the end clearly in sight), I feel much more charitable about my time at Berkeley, there have definitely been choice points of deep frustration, one of them being how group critiques have been handled at times. In comparing notes with friends in other programs, it doesn’t seem as if our process was particularly awful, so I certainly can’t single out our program for woffordly condemnation. There has certainly been bad behavior in our group crits on occasion, but in the end, it’s been mitigated by other much more pleasant moments, for the most part. It seems to be endemic to the (historical) structure of the group crit process itself, which hasn’t really evolved much over the decades.

Given my background as an educator, I’ve just had to come to terms with the fact that I have different expectations of crits than others, and that I’ve not been in a position, as a grad student, to implement change. It’s been painful, however, sitting in situations that I’ve seen multiple solutions to, but not been empowered to do anything about. It’s been doubly painful, watching artists default to classic patterns of dysfunctional artist behavior, in situations where they’re utterly capable of doing more, and doing it better. To be fair, I’ve been mostly grateful to learn from my peers and their creative processes, and at the end of the day, I don’t regret grad school at all. I just hope that when I start teaching again, I’m able to dismantle some of the dopey-ness I’ve witnessed/had to go through, and bring better, fairer processes to my own students.

The process has gotten enormously better this academic year, and it’s been such a pleasure to see how the conversations about work have shifted and deepened. People are much better about treating each other respectfully, while still challenging the content or weak spots in artwork. This is a group critique at its best: where enough safety and respect has been established that people are able to speak candidly and productively about one another’s work. I could write a very long essay on the dynamics of art school group critiques (insert sigh of relief from everyone who’s heard me wax on about this already), but I’ll spare you the gory details. Suffice to say, I’m actually looking forward to Wednesday night, and also looking forward to being done with it!