Archive for December, 2007

patronizzle-age fo shizzle-age

Saturday, December 29th, 2007

Something I’ve touched upon occasionally here on Wofflings is how artists often work on projects without remuneration or much respect, and also how flimsy an American conception of patronage is. I’m not whining about this at all: there are some pretty obvious reasons things are this way, and some pretty simple things you can do to ameliorate this a bit. As 2008 comes at us, here are a couple of things you could consider doing in your new year’s resolutions to have a healthier, more personalized relationship to culture and creativity:

So let’s focus on patronage. You don’t have to be rich to support the arts. Patronage, at least the way Wofford likes to look at it, can be personalized support in a host of different ways. Plus you get to think of yourself as a patron. And no, I don’t mean a big bottle of your favorite tequila.

Having a generous attitude can serve many purposes: being more inquisitive instead of suspicious of creative ventures will get you right on track to being a better supporter of contemporary arts forms. I do understand why many folks find experimental art/music/theatre off-putting, but I would ask that if you’re one of the people that feels this way, try a different approach, perhaps. Take a little personal responsibility for trusting the sincerity of an artist’s intentions, and putting more curiosity into establishing your understanding of the art piece. You still may not like the work at hand, but at least you’ve approached it with respect, instead of contempt. This process is about curiosity, not necessarily literal clarity. Ask questions. It gets you a lot closer to embracing something inherently ambiguous and experimental, and closer to the rewards that thinking creatively can bring you. Consider Brian Greene’s string theory piece in the New York Times from last year:

“…But that’s both the wonder and the angst of a life in science. Exploring the unknown requires tolerating uncertainty.”

I had this undergrad in my Introduction to Visual Thinking class at Berkeley last year who was an astrophysics major. She was far and away one of the most successful students in the class, because she was so willing to experiment, and accept strange, unfamiliar things as plausible options. She didn’t get hung up on traditional or aesthetic valuations. She stayed open and curious.

Spare Change/Spare Stuff:
If you do have a couple of bucks (and I do mean a couple), support artists and arts organizations in modest ways. And Paypal makes everything so easy, don’t you think? $10. $20. You don’t have to buy a box at the Opera. Small donations are great. For example, Fellow Travelers Performance Group is in need of matching funds for a grant they received, and Christine Wong Yap really could use your support on her Illuminate Project. The Shamans of Siquijor films need finishing funds. Or you might just ask that artist/dancer/film-maker friend of yours if they accept small cash donations for a project they’ve mentioned. Just because. Look around for ways you can help on a modest scale. Physical donations of materials can be really helpful, too: Joe McKay might still need your old, dead cellphone. Or if someone’s having a fundraising event or an opening, maybe you can pass on those extra wine bottles you’ve got kicking around so that the booze can be served or sold for donations. Ask first, though: sometimes donations of physical stuff like art supplies need to be very specific. Don’t foist 2 boxes of yarn off on someone working in new media. The East Bay Depot For Creative Re-use, however, might appreciate it.

Your Time:
Time is always hugely helpful, too. Some wonderful people have volunteered to help me with the installation for my upcoming show, for example, and I know that it will make all the difference in the world in making the show successful. Artists and arts organizations, most to all of whom are operating as non-profits, are always grateful for the offers/donations of volunteers, in a wide variety of capacities. Even if you’re not comfortable being hands-on with an installation, there are almost always other jobs, ranging from administrative support to IT to slinging drinks at their fundraiser, that any organization would love to have a hand with. And just show up at stuff! Art openings are free, and your enthusiasm for attending means alot! If you make a good connection with an arts org like this, and want to make a bigger commitment to them, see if they need board members or other kinds of regularized support, too.

Talk to others about cool exhibitions/performances/street art/whatever that you experience. Share your enthusiasm with others. You don’t have to be a dork about it. Just bring it up, ask others if they’ve seen anything good lately. If you’re a blogger, write about it. I just had a conversation this morning with a friend of mine who’s an amazing artist, but is somewhat frustrated because no one is writing about her work yet, for example. Artists almost always need press. Even blogs! I attended these strategic planning meetings with the Alameda County Alliance for Arts Learning Leadership a few years back, and the three most important words I took away from their sessions were “Creating Public Value”. It’s so simple, and it’s basically just good marketing strategy: think of yourself as an influencer marketer who’s working for the good guys, instead of some crap-ass corporation. You’re reminding folks why the arts matter, and how you participate in the arts yourself.

Okay. That’s it for now. I’ve got to get back to working on my show (speaking of how I participate in the arts myself). More shenanigans and upbeat diatribes later.

the showex at soex

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

So some of you know that I’ve got a January solo project coming up in the back gallery at Southern Exposure‘s new digs. I am only just now going into full-fledged production mode, of course, but I’m getting pretty excited about it. I don’t want to ruin the fun by revealing too much about it here, but here’s an illustration I made this week that’s guiding the direction of the project:


As with the illustration I did for Monster Drawing Rally earlier this year, this drawing was hand-pencilled and brush-inked onto 11″x14″ bristol paper, then scanned and colored in Photoshop. Real painting is fun, but fake digital-painting has its moments, too. Less brush clean-up and gunk under the fingernails, that’s for sure.

I tend to make a bunch of sketches and drawings in my thinking-it-out process: this is an integral part of my art practice, whether this work gets seen or not. Since this upcoming show is primarily an installation with wall treatments and some simple sculptural objects, I’m not necessarily sure that I’ll even exhibit this drawing, or any of the other paperdoodles I’ve done! However, since SoEx’s lovely Maysoun Wazwaz requested something from me for publicity for the show, I figured that this image would be more useful for such purposes than some of my other messy scrawls, or pics of a pile of unready lumber, awaiting transformation.

The exhibition opens on January 11, and I am in seeerious need of friends, family and other amiable volunteers to help with the install. This is the first comprehensive solo installation I’ve done in a couple of years, and there is much painting of walls and some mild hammering and sanding to be done. If you have time/interest in helping out, and you don’t suck royally at painting, I would be very appreciative.

The primary window for helper-outers will be Jan 2-Jan 9, with (fingers crossed) minor touching-up only on the 10th. And then big fun party on the 11th! Let me know if you want to lend a hand. I can’t pay you, but I can feed you, and entertain you, and promise not to stick things in your ear. Add a comment to the blog, or email me directly if you’re into it!


Thursday, December 20th, 2007

Frankenart Mart is most certainly my absolute favorite artist-run space that I’ve never been to. I mean, how could it not be? It’s not just hotdog-centric, it’s community-centric and participatory-centric and alternative-economy-centric…it has all of the indicators of greatness in a gallery that I require! (Except perhaps some sort of waffle-friendly sub-agenda.)


Yes, it’s true I have wiener-sympathetic inclinations which might leave me unable to be objective about such matters, but really, what else is there to do but surrender to pleasure when you receive an email blast like the one below? (And objectivity’s over-rated, anyway. To paraphrase Howard Zinn, you can’t be neutral on a moving train, especially when hot dogs are being served.)

The kind message they sent (please note their invitation to get involved):

Open this Weekend!
Frankenart will be open this weekend for all your holiday shopping and art making needs.

Call for the Currency Show
The Theme: Art, music, video, writing, etc”¦ about money, exchange, and the circulation of goods and/or value.
Drop-off dates at the beginning of the show: Jan 19 and 20, noon to 7pm
Duration of show/ Arterrarium dates available: Jan 23 to Apr 13


For this show, we will be hosting our own postal service in which artist-courriers interact with and deliver mail in the city of San Francisco (farther destinations may be negotiated). Customers will purchase artist-made postage, and then drop their letter or package in the frankenmailbox. Artist-courriers whose stamps are chosen will pick up the mail, interact with the exterior and/or contents in a respectful and generous way, and then deliver it to the desired destination.

Participating artist-courriers are needed. All you have to do is create an art stamp(s) and swear an oath to perform your postal duties. Artists receive 50/50 cost of postage.

PLEASE NOTE – the frank
All artwork, including stamps, will be exchanged with frankenart currency – the frank. The frank’s exchange rate is based on the daily price of a regular gallon of gas at the Arco on 1175 Fell St & Divisadero St. 1 frank = $3.25 (as of December 15, 2007). All artwork will be priced accordingly. An exchange booth will be located in the store for custumer convenience and to answer questions.

We love fruit cake!
Happy Holidays,

leslie, reuben and zeke
frankenart mart

They have hot dog currency. Pegged to the price of gas.

Hot dog CURRENCY!!!!

The only thing I can even half-heartedly question in this fine message is their spelling of “courrier.”
I’m suspicious of the extra R, but even the spelling-stickler in me has been disarmed by everything else.

If you feel like wandering over to the frankenart mart website, or perhaps even frankenart mart itself, heeere’s a screencap to teleport you there:


When you click through, please take a minute to bask in the subtle joys of a banner logo done up in shades of Mystery Meat and Enriched Bun. And a navigation bar that lists art and hot dogs and manifesto as non-mutually-exclusive categories.

It’s times like this when I love America once more.

515 balboa street
san francisco, ca 94118
wed-fri 6-9 pm
sat 1-8 pm/ sun 1-6 pm

luggages and stages

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

OK, clear your dance cards, people. Fun stuff this weekend:

Friday, Dec 14:

The venerable Luggage Store Gallery is almost old enough to drink! Come celebrate twenty years of their awesome-ness at the massive opening reception for the group show In The Fullness Of Time: Celebrating 20 Years. Mail Order Brides/M.O.B. are sharing our AABNAB vision of wedded bliss once more, but don’t come because of us. Come because the Luggage Store is effin’ awesome, there is an amazing group of artists who’ve shown there over the years in this exhibition, and it’s likely to be a total dog and pony show, as far as openings go.



Saturday, Dec 15:

Manilatown Center at the once-again glorious I-Hotel is hosting the book launch party for Stage Presence: Conversations with Filipino American Performing Artists, edited by the mighty professor, musician, and Prince fanatic Dr. Theo Gonzalves!

I’m thrilled to bits about this event because
A: it’s about damn time someone put together a new book on Filipinos’ enormous capacity for effective hammy-ness,
B: Theo now lives in Hawaii so I never get to see him much,
C: I’ve been excited to visit the Manilatown Center but haven’t had a chance yet, and
D: getting to go to the rebuilt I-Hotel is like getting to see a legend come back from the dead!
(Way better than a Led Zep reunion concert, and infinitely cheaper, too.)


So you folks know where I’ll be.
Hope to see you at one or both events!

Reception for In The Fullness Of Time: Celebrating Twenty Years
Dec 14, 5-10 pm
Luggage Store Gallery
1007 Market Street (at 6th), SF

Book Launch for Stage Presence: Conversations with Filipino-American Performing Artists
Dec 15, 3-5 pm
Manilatown Center at I-Hotel
868 Kearny Street (near Jackson), SF

pneumatic holiday hijinks

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

Maybe I’m just trying to get the December festivities over and done with early, but doing things ahead of time isn’t exactly my MO. I’m not sure just what this earlybirdlyness is about, but I’m enjoying it…

Had back-to-back little get-togethers this past weekend: a long-delayed session of Drawing Night with a few of the usual suspects, and then a small Galleon Trade reunion with a few of our Bay Area cult members.

Drawing Night, after a long hiatus, is back on: our December session was a little heavy on the balloon animals, but it’s not like we have strict drawing night by-laws we are required to adhere to.

On top of a number of the usual suspects in attendance, Gerone dropped by to draw, which just added to the fun. We all made atrocious Christmas card drawings and collaborative googly-eye collage drawings, but I haven’t photographed those yet. For now, it’s all about the balloons.

photo: MRGIII

There were drawings of balloon animals, there were drawings on balloon animals, there were balloon animals that looked nothing like balloon animals at all…The nice thing about balloon animals is that they don’t actually need to resemble anything. Virtually everyone is content with whatever dubious abstraction they create.


hall and ricci: balloon game-face

The ballooning carried on to the Galleon Trade Pasko, as well, where we all agreed that ‘Balloon Animals 101′ should be a required assignment for every beginning sculpture student, as a great, inexpensive way to deal with volume/space/form, as well as impermanence and obsolescence. We’re so art school that way.

jaime c strikes a pose

Lastly, what Galleon Trade event would be complete without a gratuitous photo of Christine and her magnificent Green Tea ice cream halo-halo? Served up with a bow tie and a smile!



I’m still suspicious of the implications of an innocent, delightful Filipino treat being topped by an originally Japanese dessert. Served in an American home. Is this like some deceptively sweet WWII metaphor? An edible analogy for globalization’s exploitations in the Pacific Rim? What? What?
It seems I’ll need to eat it a few more times to figure this out.
Yum to that.


Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

Yup, the season, it’s speeding along. I’ve got some overdue artsy posts to write, plus some update pages to the ongoing studio sale to add, but for the time being, you’re stuck with hearing about trees and drugstores.

Well, the Christmas tree is already up here in the house: this might be a world’s record. Thank you, Long’s Drugs.  I love Long’s Drugs at 51st and Broadway, as many people know. I am not alone. There are many of us who are deeply fixated on the place. Not Long’s in general, mind you: just this one. It’s wedged between an art school and a cemetery. It has a Top Dog. It has everything. And it’s 24 hours. I’ve been there on my birthday. Twice. Just because.

My favorite thing in the store this season is the Christmas palm tree. Not really because it’s a palm. More because of the way it’s displayed.


I wanted to write some rapturous description at length, but my photo really says everything I need to say about what I love about holiday spirit, storage containers, and Long’s Drugs. Not to be cocky.

So, Long’s provided a more typical pine-ish tree, more decorations there, and everything. (I would have bought the palm, but it was on the pricey side. I’ll wait till it goes on sale Dec 26.) The traditional decorations in the store are pretty mundane, sadly, but here is why Long’s redeems itself: as with any good American drugstore, you can buy many more things than drugs. So, along with the requisite flashing tweaker-lights and prior years’ mini-parols and nylon butterflies, the tree is also now kitted out with slimy fishing lures, toy frogs, snakes (snakes on a tree!), and pine-tree car air fresheners (my personal favorite). And a plastic rock hanging from a wire. It’s almost as good as the tree from 2 years ago that we decorated with BART cards and expired MUNI passes.


The tree gets named each year. This year’s tree is “Nardito”. Just so’s you know.