Archive for November, 2007

35 years of kearny street badassedness

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

When I was still a wee anklebiter, making my way through the San Francisco Art Institute years ago, I first started hearing about the legendary Kearny Street Workshop, and its innovative program of art and community activism at the International Hotel and beyond. Later on, when I taught high school, I ended up becoming close with student Nicole Hsiang, whose parents were Kearny Street Workshop’s Nancy Hom and Bob Hsiang. Sometimes, when you’re constantly around something peripherally and familially like that, you forget that you aren’t actually involved: it’s only in the past couple of years that I’ve gone to more Kearny Street events, and participated in exhibitions there.

Lo and behold: Kearny Street Workshop is now 35 years old, even if it’s not on Kearny Street. But the I-Hotel has gone and returned, with a Manilatown Center in it, to boot, and they are on Kearny Street! To commemorate this amazing legacy, they are sponsoring a wonderful series of events and an exhibition entitled Activist Imagination.

The first Activist Imagination event is this Tuesday, November 27:

Kearny Street Workshop and Manilatown Heritage Foundation present
The Journey So Far: 35 Years of Activism
A discussion with Nancy Hom, Oscar Peñaranda, and Min Paek
Moderated by Alison Satake

Join Kearny Street Workshop, the Manilatown Heritage Foundation and a panel of activists, artists, and organizers for a compelling, honest, and dynamic discussion about activism, the arts and community.

The Journey So Far: 35 years of Activism features community activists, artists, and organizers Nancy Hom, Oscar Peñaranda, and Min Paek, and is moderated by author and writer Alison Satake. The discussion, which encourages questions and comments from attendees, will take a look at the last three and a half decades of activism and arts in our communities–what forms has activism taken? what methods have proven effective or ineffective? what lessons can we learn from looking back, and how can we find inspiration for the present and future of engaging in activity that effects real social and political change?

The Journey So Far is part of Kearny Street Workshop’s 35th anniversary program, Activist Imagination, a series of conversations with community activists and artists and an arts exhibition with visual artists Bob Hsiang, Christine Wong Yap, and Donna Keiko Ozawa. For more information about Activist Imagination, please click here.

The Journey So Far: 35 Years of Activism
Tuesday, November 27, 2007 @ 7 PM
International Hotel Manilatown Center, 868 Kearny Street, at Jackson, San Francisco, CA 94108
Free and open to the public.

For more information on Manilatown Heritage Foundation, please visit
For more information on Kearny Street Workshop, visit
Join the conversation! Visit the Activist Imagination blog right here.

perhaps mildly exaggerated

Friday, November 16th, 2007

This has just brightened my day enormously. Packard Jennings just sent out one of his intimate email blasts to friends, announcing the arrival of the public art posters he and Steve Lambert just completed and installed on Market Street in SF. The project’s title is “Wish You Were Here! Postcards From Our Awesome Future,” and the posters are effing awesome: a clever balance of civic engagement, utopian imagination, and straight-up goofiness. They will be up for four months.

the story:

Packard and Steve asked architects, city planners, and transportation engineers, “what would you do if you didn’t have to worry about budgets, bureaucracy, politics, or physics?” Ideas from these conversations were then merged, developed, and perhaps mildly exaggerated by Steve and Packard to create a series of 6 posters for the San Francisco Arts Commission’s Art on Market Street Program.

Love the “perhaps mildly exaggerated“. Here are a few samples of the posters.

Commuter zip-line across the Bay:


PJ and Steve imagine a new, improved BART:

how the Market Street posters look at night:

Small prints from this series will be available soon. Interested? Steve will be sending out a notice on his mailing list when they are ready: sign up here. And a panel discussion about the future of San Francisco presented by the San Francisco Arts Commission and Livable City is being planned for January. Sign up on the mailing list, use the rss feed, or check back for details.

goldie hawn

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

Last night was a blast. The kind people of the SF Bay Guardian put together an amazing shindig last night for the Goldies Awards: I really didn’t know what to expect, but it was a total treat: truly festive, very funny, totally vibrant.

This morning, I woke up feeling a really tremendous sense of gratitude: I’ve been getting a lot of reminders lately about the importance of generosity, and the Guardian offers this up when they give these awards. Yes, you could say I’m biased since I GOT one of the awards, but the feeling is really about not wanting to take any of this for granted, and to really appreciate these things. The Guardian doesn’t have to give these awards, and throw a party on top of it, but it does. It has taken the time and energy to honor local talent in the arts for nineteen consecutive years now. It felt so great to be in that room last night with all sorts of other creative people, and realize that our work is actually honored. Most of us do this work without much expectation of public reward or recognition, so when we actually get it, it feels fantastic. The generosity of spirit behind the event last night, and the enthusiasm the writers all put into the pieces they wrote for the Goldies, all added up to a serious case of the warm fuzzies.

Beyond the pleasant coincidence of Galleon Trader Mike Arcega and I getting awards the same year, the Guardian had the good sense to give the Lifetime Achievement Award to Creative Growth Art Center. I’ve had so many friends work there, I have friends who are clients there, and I even worked there occasionally years ago, that it felt like the awards were a family affair! It was so nice to getting to witness them get the accolades they deserve, and to get to be in the audience hooting and hollering for them as well.

Onwards to the embarrassing photos. Photos of our late-eve silliness on the dance floor remain mercifully out of reach, so this ridiculousness will have to suffice.


Mike, Eliza and I: very excited to be reunited


EBX, Pirate, Clam, taken by some photographer from “Napkin Nights”…huh?


Heeeeres Johnny Ray Huston, getting the awards ceremony started…


Zombies! Creative Growth’s Michael, Jennifer and Ann looking suspiciously undead alongside Tom


Marga Gomez extols the virtues of vusual art


Zombie convention! Trying to stop thinking about eating peoples’ brains


Woffords squatting and sitting and eating brains


We won!!!!!!!! (pic courtesy of sisig)

back in timespace to out of timespace

Monday, November 12th, 2007


I swear if I don’t address at least some portion of this today, all of the brilliant discussions that happened at this weekend’s Out of TimeSpace symposium are just going to float out my ear, and go off into the ether forever. You’ll need to spend a few minutes perusing the OoTS website for any of this to make sense, but the short version of this story is that a lot of smart, creative, engaged academics, artists, and like-minded folk got together at UC Berkeley and SFAI for a series of conversations on visuality and alterity. (Erm, I had to look those terms up initially: if you need to as well, a couple of reasonably handy references are here and here, although I’d say that we’ve not adhered to any rigid definition of either). Not being anything resembling academic or well-read, I was not at all familiar with those terms initially. It turns out they applied to pretty much everything that consumes me as an artist. Little did I know.

The symposium opened on Friday morning at UC Berkeley with a lively centernote conversation loosely titled “Transnational Artworlds, Social Justice, and the ‘Will to Globality’.” Introduced and moderated by Dalida Maria Benfield (the queenpin of OoTS), it was an incredibly dynamic discussion between professors Laura E. Perez, Ramon Grosfoguel from UC Berkeley and curator Okwui Enwezor of SFAI. What was so compelling about it, since no transcriptions or public notes yet exist (check the OoTS site soon for these), was the way in which each speaker made a forceful case for his/her stance, and then pushed and prodded and encouraged one another throughout the discussion. There were some clear moments of disagreement, but what was so powerful was watching the way the three of them worked it out, and re-clarified their points of intersection again, in front of us. It set the tone for a symposium that was at times contentious and uncertain, but where despite differences in strategy, language and experiences, most participants were incredibly willing to move beyond their various epistemologies, to meet others at new points of intersection.

For all of the times in which I’ve seen all manner of passive-aggressive tactics used by both artists and academics to belittle one another to make their own point, I witnessed little to none of this at OoTS. The conversations many of us had were messy and imperfect, but they pointed towards a willingness to talk out and work on issues that many of us haven’t had opportunities to push with like-minded colleagues. It’s really difficult to be more specific right now: I’m not that great at distilling the enormity of some of those discussions down to tidy details. Also, the meatier blog housed at OoTS will soon be doing much heavier lifting than lightweight little Wofflings is able to do. Suffice to say, it really seemed that the risks and the effort undertaken to make this symposium happen in such a short amount of time are going to yield some pretty interesting rhizomatic results in the weeks and months to come.


brilliant mimes/brilliant minds: Okwui Enwezor (with invisible coffee cup), Ramon Grosfoguel (invisible dagwood sandwich), Laura Perez (invisible book), November 9 at UC Berkeley


OOTS co-organizer Rose Khor keeps her eyes on that sandwich


Matthias De Groof and Kristin Rogge presenting during the ‘translocalities/transmodernities’ thinkspace


Worth-Ryder Gallery opening for the ‘OoTS/Another Country’ exhibition


Allan deSouza and ‘Another Country’ curator Laura Swanson breaking it down for folks during the artist talk


The OoTS masterminds, Dalida Maria Benfield, Annie Fukushima and Lindsay Benedict, finally relaxing Saturday night

My involvement with the Visuality and Alterity working group that organized OoTS came late, and came minimally: I was always a little hazy on what it was all about, but I instinctively glommed on to the kinds of conversations that the folks involved were having. Unfortunately, the brunt of the planning happened while I was utterly consumed by and then recovering from the visuality-alterity extravaganza that was Galleon Trade, so I couldn’t contribute a whole hell of a lot. I helped out as best I could, but to be real, it felt a little bit like how at Thanksgiving time, I can only help my family prepare by doing all of the menial, brainless work. I am not to be trusted with turkeys, pumpkin pies, or any of that smart stuff that requires foresight and heavy lifting. Essentially, I was the OoTS member in charge of peeling potatoes and clearing plates. (Which was great fun, actually.) Nothing too hard, but good to be at the party, either way.

Congrats to Dalida, Annie, and all of the amazing participants who actually did the hardest work of visioning and manifesting this thing.

Out of TimeSpace

Friday, November 9th, 2007

Whew. What does it mean that I’m posting this at 8 am on the day of the event?


When I got marginally involved with the ‘Visuality and Alterity’ working group at Berkeley last year, little did I know it would turn out such an intense, comprehensive conference a few months later! I had earnest intentions to help out with the symposium more, but what with, oh, having already GRADUATED, it ended up boiling down to a couple of graphic design jobs (such as creating the poster above), and general shuttling of peoples and foods. I’m still looking forward to the event immensely, however.

If you’re looking for something smart, entertaining and complex to do this weekend, please come to the Out of TimeSpace events at both UC Berkeley and SFAI. Galleonista Johanna Poethig presents today, and Galleon Traders Stephanie Syjuco, Johanna Poethig, and yours truly present on Saturday. Should be good dialogic fun!

To read more about Out of TimeSpace, click here.

you like me, you really like me!

Friday, November 9th, 2007


I’m feeling hella Sally Field right now. Ha haaa. It’s an honor.
Thank you, Johny Ray Huston and good people of the SF Bay Guardian.
Big party this coming Tuesday night! Open to the public, after 9:30 pm.

Show up. Should be way more excellent than the 1985 Oscars.

SFBG Goldies Party
111 Minna Street, SF
Tuesday, November 13, 9:30 pm onwards
free admission!