Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Paper in Nature

This past weekend I was part of the Art In Nature festival in Redwood Regional Park. Redwood Regional Park, which is about fifteen minutes away from where I live, is one of the places I go walking. Judy had mentioned something about being part of last year's festival and how much she enjoyed it, and so I applied and was accepted to make a piece, as a chance to honor a place that fulfills me so much. The work I exhibited was developed in the cast paper street art I did recently.

(For larger images, click on the pictures.)

The park is notable for Redwood Creek; its native rainbow trout have been cross-bred with other struggling trout populations throughout the US. Redwood Creek's trout are a genetically pure population that is under critical study in order to reveal new understandings about trout populations. With California's extreme drought the creek appears to be dried up completely; I'm not sure what this means for the population. This idea was the basis for this work I'm calling Upstream.

It was an insanely hot day, and yet they clocked around 5000 visitors to the event. For me, the best part was to sit (or lay) near my piece, and listen to the musicians play, and let their songs become a soundtrack of sorts. I didn't get to photograph many of the other works and performances, but here's a few!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Blue on the street

Last Sunday, I was part of the Sunday Streets festival in the Excelsior, which for non-San Francisco people is one of the last working-class neighborhoods in San Fran. I was invited by the Youth Art Exchange to do a short-term installation and activity.

I've had cast paper on the brain, since I'm building an installation with it for the Art and Nature Festival in September. So I decided to experiment, and ended up with cast paper street art.

The work is up for the next few weeks near the intersection of Mission and Russia. Click on the images for larger pictures.

For a street-based art-making activity, I proposed to do Gyotaku prints. I wanted something that connected to the installation. Since the street was closed, I originally started out in the street itself. For those unfamiliar with the Excelsior, typically it's one of San Francisco's foggy and chilly neighborhoods. Not last week - the sun was out in full force. In the street, ink was drying before we could print, and my crayons literally began to melt. So ended up moving onto the sidewalk, sharing shade with the Youth Art Exchange and their partner on another project, Green Art Workshops.

A gentleman by the name of Melxin Whartnaby came by during the event. He was documenting it for the Friends of the Excelsior Public Library, and shared his photos with me.

Due to the heat, the day was fairly low-key, compared to say, some of my past projects in which there was a constant stream of people. However, it reminded me of how energizing it is to make art on the street, with the public. More importantly, it affirms how much there is a need for such projects.

Green Art Workshops was also doing a participatory project. Using some silver mat board donated from SCRAP and the laser cutter from the Youth Art Exchange, they made a series of water droplets. The public was invited to write ways to save water on the drops, which were then hammered into the wall loosely. When the wind blew, the entire installation swayed. This piece will also be up for a few weeks, and is right next to mine.

Some of the suggestions were pretty intricate, as this drawing of a de-salination system.

Some tried for humor.

I owe a debt of gratitude for this experience to the Youth Art Exchange, particularly Reed Davaz McGowen.

The sun and heat took a lot out of me that day, but the event gave me a renewed energy for the studio. Since completing The Last Color, I'd been a little postpartum. That day I realized how much I've missed doing street art and public interventions. Now, with this renewed energy, I'm returning to the studio to try some experiments. As John Cage would say, I welcome what happens next.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Last Color, a new artist book

Finally some good documentation of my Small Plate book, The Last Color. This book was inspired by my interest in the history of color, particularly by listening to this. For larger pictures, just click on the images.

Due to the brevity of the residency, I didn't have time to make the paper. So I decided to pass on the good fortune, and support other papermakers. The book includes Sekishu Washi and Multi-dipped Indigo Cave Paper. The imagery was printed from two-color reduction woodblocks.

The book is a variation on the flag book structure invented by Hedi Kyle. In the front of the book is a short pamphlet with the text, printed in Garamond from hand-set type.

To purchase a copy, contact Malgosia Kostecka, Program Coordinator for the San Francisco Center for the Book, at (415)-565-0545, or visit the center. Copies are also available from Mrs. Dalloway's Bookstore at 2904 College Avenue in Berkeley, or by calling them at 510-704-8222. And if those don't work, a small number are available from me directly, shoot me at email at michelle(at)michellewilsonprojects(dot)com to inquire.

My book, along with the other Small Plates editions, is currently on display at the Center in one of their beautiful new display cases!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Printmakers for the Ayotzinapa 43 at the Santa Cruz Public Library

The Printmakers for the Ayotzinapa 43 portfolio is currently on display at the downtown branch of the Santa Cruz Public Library. There will be reception with a poetry reading and performance on Friday, August 7.

My print is the first on the left in the middle row. You can see a earlier post about the making of it here.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Making of a Small Plate

I've been busy these past few weeks completing the edition for The Last Color, my book for the San Francisco Center for the Book's Small Plates Imprint. Above is a photo that Cheryl took of the Small Plates artists and Chad: me, Andy, Chad (SFCB Studio Manager), and Patricia. This Friday, June 26, is the release party for the event - and everyone is welcome! The Facebook page for the event is here.

Making this book at the Center has been such a thrill - some photos of the journey below.

Printing many shades of blue:

Folded accordions stacked neatly:

Assembling the accordions with the flags:

After casing, an interesting weight solution that accommodates the accordion:

The books:

I'd be remiss if I didn't acknowledge all the assistance, advice, and problem solving by Chad Johnson, as well as the binding help from Jillian Bruschera and Lynn Prather.

Hope to see you on Friday!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Art Fairs!

May blew through my life like a tornado, and I'm still trying to catch my breath. It started with the Parking Lot Art Fair, a rogue art happening outside of artMRKT. Artists were invited to set up in parking spaces on the chilly Saturday morning of the fair.

Thinking of literatura del cordel (clothesline literature), I decided to show my work as grabados del cordel (clothesline prints). I was feeling a little nervous when I first got there, so I kept looking at the prints above. It's always nice to have some family and friends with you when you're anxious.

At one point during the event I was talking to a couple of Frenchmen who were there for main fairs, and they said it seemed like the Parking Lot Fair was the black market to artMRKT. I kind of liked that.

So many other cool artists were participating. My neighbor during the event, Mike Rothfeld:

Curator Jenny Sharaf knows how to get around at an event like this:

NIAD Art Gallery in a pickup truck:

Mary Button Durell:

After the Parking Lot Fair closed down midday (and the sun finally came out - I should have worn more layers!), I walked over to the stARTup Fair with Tracey and Sharaine.

Since the event was at a hotel, I was intrigued to see how artists incorporated hotel furniture. I forgot to note who this was, but it was a lovely use of the bedroom space.

I really wanted to see Mary and Tony's room as Quite Contrary Press. They turned their beds into tables!

Tony's work:

Mary's work:

Mary had also turned their closet space into an installation - I really liked it, and hope she gets more chances to do stuff like this:

It was an art-filled but exhausting day.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Printmaking for Los Ayotzinapos 43

Back in March, I was invited by Stephanie Martin and Melissa West to participate in a project they were organizing called Printmakers for the Ayotzinapa 43. For this endeavor, they invited printmakers to make a print that commemorated one of the students who was a victim of the Iguala Mass Kidnapping.

Although I intellectually understood the importance of the project, I didn't realize what I had gotten involved in at first. The artists were given a list of names, and I selected Giovanni Galindes Guerrero, for no particular reason. All I knew about him was this short bio, and so, armed with this small amount of information, I began to think about how I could honor him.

My difficulty was that I had more information about how Giovanni died than about his life. I've done portraits before, but usually of people I knew and connected with. But in this case, I knew very little about his personality, his quirks, his individuality. I knew he was studying to be a teacher; I am a teacher. I knew his nickname was El Espáider (the Spider). I knew he was twenty years old at the time of his death. And I knew there had to be so much more that filled his life, that made up his soul.

Somewhere in all these perambulating thoughts, I turned to art history. The prints of Taller Grafica Popular, particularly Leopoldo Mendez, always inspire me, and felt very relevant to my subject matter. This print has always stayed with me, and became my visual guide. The most haunting part of the print is the smoke of the train, evoking the final destination of the Holocaust deportees to the cremation chambers of the concentration camps.

Giovanni's body was also burned after his death. Thinking about that, his nickname, and Leopoldo's print, I started sketching. I decided to include a spiderweb as the first layer as a reference to his nickname (see the print above), but also an allusion to interconnectedness.

The next layer was his portrait, and a layer of smoke.

This was followed by a chain of buses, like the ones the Ayotzinapa 43 were riding when they first clashed with the police.

When I'd been sketching, I'd originally thought this print would be three layers, and that when I reached this point it would be finished. However, once the imagery was printed, it didn't seem complete to me yet. Sometimes a drawing translated into print needs more. I've been a printmaker in some form or another for over fifteen years, and I still learn, again and again, to listen to the process.

So went back to sketching, and asked a few friends for their thoughts. I felt that the smoke in the print made the image unbalanced, so I added another layer.

The bottom still felt empty, it needed just something a little more to send it home. With all that gray, I felt that it needed a moment of color. After some deliberation, I decided to add the number "43" using pochoir. Several of my students this semester have been experimenting with it, so I thought I'd give it a try.

The prints still need to be curated and signed, but I think the image is complete now. I hope it honors the memory of Giovanni Galindes Guerrero well.

It's been a busy spring, with finishing this print, my regular teaching, two residencies, and editioning an artist book. I'm fortunate to be a part of so many things, and trying to remember to pratice self-care during this insanity, rather than putting it off till after. However, moments like these, it's nice to step back and see the work complete.