Community, Travelogue

Little Paper Planes’ LPP+ Residency Wrap-Up

Notes on a two-week residency: what, who, where, when, how, why, and my experience of the LPP Residency in the 1240 Minnesota Street studio building. 

What

I just wrapped up Little Paper Planes’ LPP+ residency in San Francisco.

The residency offers access for two to four weeks to:

  • A private studio in 1240 Minnesota Street, Minnesota Street Project‘s Artist Studio Program.
  • Support and promotion for a public event (artist’s talk or reading).
  • Access to the resources at 1240: a kiln, woodshop, digital media lab, and Adobe resources.

In return, artists-in-residence are asked to present at the public event, and make a ‘zine or print multiple (usually a small edition of 20-25) related to their residency for sale in the shop to help offset the cost.

Little Paper Planes’ residency studio at 1240 Minnesota Street. I added (and removed) the drying and tool racks.

STUDIO. The studio is probably about 8’-9’ wide by about 16’ deep. It is located in 1240’s second story, off the digital media lab. The second floor also has a small kitchenette and a restroom. It gets a little bit of natural light from a nearby skylight, and there is a large worktable (4×8’ sheet on sawhorses), a drafting table, and a folding chair.

PUBLIC EVENT. I had a talk inside a white cube studio/gallery in the middle of the complex. It was pretty low-key and DIY. Kelly lent a projector and I set up stools and got cups and snacks.

RESOURCES.

Electric Kiln. The kiln is huge and programmable. My ceramics knowledge is limited, and that’s all I can say confidently about the kiln. AIRs should bring their own (cone 5) clay, (cone 5) glazes, and clay tools. Note that while I was able to purchase clay at Douglas and Sturgess in SF, I had to go to Clay People in Richmond for glazes. Thinking ahead and ordering your supplies to be delivered is advisable. Note that there’s no wheel; I hand-built all my ceramic objects. Kelly helped me load and program the kiln for both of my firings.

Woodshop.

The woodshop is beautifully organized and maintained by Jesse Schlesinger. There’s a fancy saw-stop-outfitted table saw with a 48”+ outfeed table, a sheet saw, and sliding compound miter saw with a lot of possible angles. These are all attached to dust collection systems or vacuums, and there’s air filtration system too! There’s also a planer, an orbital sanders (and a handheld belt sander if I remember correctly?), a jigsaw, and a reciprocating saw. There are a variety of hand tools including two sets of Makita drills and impact drivers. There is also an impressive clamp cart. Minor expendables like sandpaper and personal protective equipment like goggles and ear protection are also available. It was easy to schedule an orientation early in my residency with Jesse, who is very meticulous about safety and cleanliness. He was flexible in letting people get approved to use some machines and not others according to their comfort level.

There’s a digital media lab with a large (44 or 48”?) inkjet printer. Residents should get an orientation from Sean McFarland and bring their own paper. You pay for ink by self-reporting on a clipboard. There are also two scanners—one flatbed ~12×18”, one smaller flatbed for film. There are at least three iMacs too. There’s also a color laser printer that accepts up to 11×17” paper (75¢ per US Letter per side). I used that to print my postcards, which had really vibrant colors. I got my paper at Kelly Paper, one of the great weird chain stores of the Bay Area, where you can purchase papers by the sheet. I cut the postcards down on a really nice rotary trimmer that studio member Miguel Arzabe made available for shared use.

There’s also an Adobe studio, as in Adobe the software company, on premises. I had my clay work cut out for me so I declined learning more about those resources. During my stint they had a screen-printing workshop, though you have to have screens burned by an offsite service provider.

There are also other resources at 1240: a full kitchen, a patio area with picnic benches that are a great place to work on sunny days, bountiful carts for moving things, lots of brooms, dustpans and work sinks, and rolls of brown butcher paper available. One of the studio artists is also setting up a darkroom. I was really impressed with the amount of space and the quality of the resources. It’s clear that the vision for 1240 is to make it nice and keep it nice! Many artist studio buildings exhibit a scarcity mentality (I’m thinking of some warehouses in NYC; some don’t supply toilet paper, and others are just fluorescent-lit hallways of closed doors where you rarely meet neighbors.) 1240 feels very deliberately abundant and supportive.

There’s also a free area where I found useful wood for my slab rolling, and some great rulers and stencils. There’s another area with extra furniture, where I found two wire racks and a pair of sawhorses for drying my clay pieces. Being able to scrounge and find good stuff, and to leave behind stuff to share is so great for traveling AIRs.

In addition to these resources and staff support, the community at 1240 was really great.

Who

Little Paper Planes is a store featuring goods by artists. It was founded by artist Kelly Lynn Jones in 2004, and has had a storefront in the Mission District in San Francisco since 2013. Kelly and I were classmates in the MFA Fine Arts program at the California College of Arts in San Francisco. I was happy to be allied with an independent, woman-owned, artist-owned business in San Francisco, especially one with accessible price points.

Kelly is really chill. She was very easygoing about everything. She didn’t have any paperwork for me aside from 1240’s contract. I initially proposed to make ceramics for activity kits and games. Two weeks is quite short to make ceramics, so I switched to making pottery (which for me is more intuitive), and Kelly seemed totally cool with it. I also wasn’t sure what the outcomes from the residency would be, and how many objects she would want for the shop. She was really easygoing and didn’t want to take too many objects, which worked out great since my glaze technique can use improvement. She also mentioned making a ‘zine that reflects the residency, and was very open-ended about the format and the time line. I wanted to finish it before I left, so I made postcards (not a zine!) and she was totally cool with it.

1240 Minnesota Street has a healthy staff of artists. In addition to Jesse and Sean, there’s Brion Nuda Rosch, the director. Michael Rubel is in charge of facilities and is really friendly and helpful in receiving shipments.

Furthermore, the 30 or so studio artists at 1240 seem really dedicated to creating a friendly community. My residency happened to overlap with a BBQ/potluck, and it was really nice to meet folks. I am fortunate in that I lived and practiced in the Bay Area for a long time, so I already had met Jesse and Sean before, and was friendly with studio artists like Dana Hemenway and Richard T. Walker. I really got the feeling that studio artists have a sense of ownership in 1240 and feel responsible for contributing positively to the shared resources, whether with knowledge (such as helping to run the kiln), labor (helping set up the BBQ), or good will (sharing food and welcoming new artists). The value of being part of 1240 extends far beyond the square footage of a private studio.

Where

1240 Minnesota is across the street from the Minnesota Street Project, on—of course—Minnesota Street in the Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco. A huge Philz Coffee is next door. There are more restaurants about two blocks away. Center Hardware is also nearby.

I have family in the area, I had access to a car and accommodations. By car, 1240 is really convenient off of the 280, though parking can be tough. I didn’t have to take public transportation but the Third Street light rail is two blocks away.

When

I opted for a two-week residency. Kelly gave me option of staying four weeks, but with no stipend, I would have been financially overstretched. Also, a shorter time frame was better back-to-back with another residency. I am new to clay, so I didn’t have to foresight to realize that two weeks is very short for ceramics. It took about four or five days for wet clay to get bone dry for bisque firing. Then each firing took about 36 hours. I really had to jam the first seven days to get the studio up and running, get all my supplies, and hand build my 50 pounds of clay. I was also able to get a three-day extension, as the next artist wasn’t moving in for another week.

How

I applied via the Open Call. [See the Art Competition Odds.]

Why

I can envision a wide variety of artists enjoying the resources at 1240: photographers, woodworkers, clay (hand-builders), and drawers/painters. Those resources are plenty of reasons to apply for the residency.

I was also really attracted to learning more about Minnesota Street. Minnesota Street Project opened a few years ago, when many SF galleries were closing. I think it has brought a lot of fresh energy and optimism to artists and gallerists in San Francisco. My residency overlapped with the San Francisco Art Book Fair at MSP. Kelly was kind enough to invite me to be a featured artist at her booth, so I contributed ‘zines and letterpress prints from my Working Together series. I enjoyed SFABF as a visitor, too—it was great to see so many local and out-of-town artists and publishers in one really buzzy, exciting place.

My Experience

I really had a great time being part of the 1240 community and accessing the resources there. When I realized I needed to make some molds, I scrounged in the free area, found some wood, chopped it up, and had three molds within an hour or so. Back in NYC, accessing a woodshop is much more complicated for me. When I glazed my bisque pieces, I worked on a large table in a communal space near the kiln. A roll-up door was up, letting in sunlight and a light breeze. It was just so pleasant.

Glazing in the shared space on a pleasant SF day.

The residency aims to provide opportunities for artists to experiment. Having not done ceramics since high school, I took a hand-building class at La Mano Pottery (an independent, women-owned business in NYC) this spring. The instructor (and La Mano co-owner) Julie Hadley was very encouraging. It is so nice to feel unafraid to mess up, especially when you are learning new techniques and trying to get comfortable in a shared space with clear rules and etiquette established among members. In five classes, I learned enough to figure out what kinds of tools I liked and needed, and was able to hand-build pieces that remained intact in the kiln! I had shipped out the linoleum blocks from Working Together (only realizing in hindsight how much money I would have saved in shipping if I unmounted the blocks in NYC). I used the linoleum like stamps, imprinting them in the wet clay.

Works in progress.

I only dip glazed two pieces at La Mano, however. So when it came time to glaze my LPP pottery, I was treading on thin ice. I bought four quarts of glaze and hadn’t tried any of them before. I suppose an experienced ceramicist would have insisted on making some test tiles. Quarts are very small quantities for dipping, so I applied by brushing. The instructions suggested 2-3 coats, which I suspected to be too heavy, and indeed, the results were often unsatisfactory. Though it was disappointing that many pieces didn’t come out as I’d hoped, I have the perspective to see that perfect outcomes would have taken a lot of dumb luck, given my minimal skills and experience in ceramics. I learned a lot and had fun. I gained some confidence in my hand-building and valuable lessons in glazing. I am so grateful that the residency aim is experimentation.

A small serving tray, imprinted with the image of Subjugation and Obedience, will be available at LPP.

 

A trivet with the image from Dropping the Ball and Picking Up the Pieces, and a “Cool Down” postcard.

 

MOODS & MODES postcard set

I am also happy with the print multiple I made. At first, I sketched illustrations of pottery, but it felt like someone else’s work, or like a Bay Area motif. I realized that just plain calligraphy, like the Working Together book cover, would be true to me. I took full advantage of the chance to print on weird papers, and use lots of colors that would be quite laborious to print on letterpress.

Double plant pot and postcards available at LPP soon.

The set of 8 postcards is called MOODS & MODES. Some reflect the ideas in Working Together (“Thank you for listening” inspired by “Listening”). Others are inspired by the pottery inspired by Working Together (“Cool down” came from the trivet, which was inspired by “Dropping the Ball and Picking Up the Pieces;” “Let’s grow together” relates to the double plant pot inspired by “Shared Growth”).

MOODS & MODES will be available at Little Paper Planes, which is currently renovating and will re-open with a studio for art classes next week. You can support LPP’s Kickstarter to offer classes.

Huge thanks to Little Paper Planes, Kelly, 1240 Minnesota Street, Brion, Jesse, Sean, Michael; Dana, Miguel, Beth, Liz, Sandra, Henna, Richard, and all the kind and welcoming studio artists; Genevieve and Elizabeth; and Michael, Angela, and Sophia.

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Citizenship, Community

Points of Reference, mid-December 2016

Right now it seems difficult to feel sure about anything—facts, news sources, impending policies, and even the appropriateness of one’s own emotions. I know that despair and inaction are recipes for depression, however. Here are some unconnected things that are affirming my faith in each other and the power of self-organization.

Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer invites you to a community Self-Defense, Anti-Bullying, and De-Escalation Training Learn self-defense, de-escalation, and upstander tactics from the Women's Initiative for Self-Empowerment (WISE) and the Center for Anti-Violence Education to protect yourself and your neighbors. Wednesday, December 14, 6pm-8pm Sunnyside Community Services 43-31 39th Street, Sunnyside RSVP: 718-383-9566 or eehrenberg@council.nyc.gov Free and open to all. Reserve your spot today!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016, 6:00pm
Fight Back Workshop: Secure Your Movement
Asian American Writers’ Workshop, 112 W 27th Street, NYC

AAWW’s responsive call for the Open City Muslim Communities Fellowship 2017, “a unique six-month opportunity for emerging writers of color from communities under attack from Islamophobia to publish narrative nonfiction about Muslim communities in New York City.” The program offers a “$2,500 stipend, skill-building workshops, and publishing opportunities to up to five writers.”

W.A.G.E.‘s responsive statement about the continued relevance of its advocacy for paying artists within the context of fighting for all workers:

Here is what we must do: we must put our exceptionality to work. Putting our exceptionality to work means claiming the privilege of having it both ways. It means dissenting from the industry that we serve by demanding to be paid for the content we provide. And this demand can no longer be made on the basis of being an impoverished, marginalized, and exploited constituency. …the demand for compensation must be made on behalf of a broader class struggle that extends well beyond the field’s impossibly high barriers to entry.

I’m excited about their teasing announcement of WAGENCY,

a broad-based coalition and artist certification program intended to provide working artists with the necessary agency to negotiate compensation or withhold content and services from institutions that refuse to pay them fees according to W.A.G.E. standards—a new form of labor organizing for an unpaid and atomized work force.

It’s time, artists. UNITE.

Southern Exposure’s goals of Abundance, Collaboration, Equity, and Agency—principles that I’ve written about in Art Practical, and explored in recent projects over the past two years…

soex-goals

Support SoEx.

Words matter. Why equity? Why not diversity? Diversity is “a much lower standard than equity” (Jeff Chang).

Jeff Chang‘s perceptive writing on race and protest in We Gon’ Be Alright:

But even for those who say they don’t like the bullying and don’t like the bully, the culture wars allow them cover to do nothing. Demagogues evoke restorationist dreaming, a deeply imagined past of order and tranquility. Reactionaries do not even need to sustain the belief or the anger of the fearful; they need only the silence and the complicity of the masses. In this way, from Wallace and Nixon to Palin and Trump, the energies of anxious whites have been diverted from class uprisings to racial division.

And this:

Protest of moral and historic force begins with people facing extreme vulnerability. For those who have been silenced, rising to the act of speaking is a perilously high climb indeed. For them, protest is not an expression of fear and doubt, but an overcoming of fear and doubt. And when it comes from those at the bottom, it can often be a profound proposition about how to make the world better for all. That’s the difference between the mob whipped into a frenzy by a demagogue and the protestors demanding that the institutions address harmful conditions that negate their very existence. One excludes, the other raises up.

The #NODAPL win at Standing Rock. Mobilizations work! Now let’s continue the pressure to permanently stop the pipeline. There are still #NODAPL actions scheduled throughout December, and you are still urged to divest from the banks funding the pipeline, such as TD and Citibank.

Thinking about:

  • Self care” versus sticking your head in the sand.
  • Sticking your head in the sand versus mindfully withdrawing from the 24-hour news cycle. Being as careful about the media you consume as you are with the foods you eat (Thích Nhất Hạnh).
  • That 1980’s/1990’s slogan, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” The way it affirms our negative moods, but can whisper guilt and fear into our positive experiences.
  • The facts that working out helps relieve stress, and emotional stress is tied to medical illness. Knowing that this is going to be a long haul, and we must sustain ourselves with care for ourselves and each other.

 

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Community, News

7/14: Opening @ Kala Art Institute, Berkeley

After five weeks of intensive printmaking and sewing, I’m happily exhausted and happy to share Ways and Means, a new body of letterpress-printed activity kits, collaborative games, and custom garments exploring interdependence and resourcefulness. The project includes collaborations with Leah RosenbergElizabeth Travelslight, and Sarrita Hunn (Institute for Autonomous Practices). Ways and Means is participatory—come, interact, bring a buddy, and make new buddies.

Details from Ways and Means: letterpress printed cut-and-assemble activity on interdependence (two-color linoleum and polymer printed and bound at the Center for Book Arts) and apron (two-color screenprint on canvas, sewn with Sophia Wong).

Details from Ways and Means: letterpress printed cut-and-assemble activity on interdependence (two-color linoleum and polymer printed and bound at the Center for Book Arts, NYC) and apron (two-color screenprint on canvas, sewn with Sophia Wong).

July 14 – October 15, 2016
Appro-propagation
Residency Projects: New Work by 2015-2016 Kala Fellows

Opening Reception: Thursday, July 14, 6-8pm

Kala Art Institute
Gallery: 2990 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702
Gallery Hours: Tue-Fri, 12-5:00pm; Sat, 12-4:30pm

Takuji Hamanaka
Jamil Hellu
Lucy Puls
Ronny Quevedo
Neil Rivas
Leah Rosenberg
James Voller
Christine Wong Yap


This experience has been so positive in bountiful ways. I’ll elaborate more later, but at this moment I am moved to share my gratitude for the organizations and so many individuals who have made this possible: Kala Art Institute; the Kala Fellows Program; Kala staff (particularly Carrie Hott, Paper Buck, Ben EngleAndrea Voinot, and Mayumi Hamanaka for their help and trust, and Archana Horsting and Yuzo Nakano for having the vision to create and maintain such a special place); Kala fellow Fellows, Honorary Fellows, AIRs, and interns for contributing to the spirit of welcoming community and knowledge-and-resource-sharing; the Center for Book Arts’ AIR Workspace Grant program; Val Imus and Southern Exposure for non-profits’ mutual aid; Kevin B. Chen and Genevieve Quick for believing in me; collaborators Sarrita Hunn, Leah Rosenberg, Elizabeth Travelslight; installer Gary and interns Katrina and Sean; Sophia Wong for sewing assistance; and Michael Yap for unending support. I am also grateful for Susan O’Malley, to have shared in her life, work, and wisdom, and—I believe—a feeling that interdependent entanglements such as these swell our hearts and lives… Thank you.

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Community

Art Moves 2015 billboard festival will be dedicated to Susan O’Malley.

“Susan took part in the Art Moves Festival in 2012 and was twice a juror of the Art on Billboards competition. She always brought her wonderful mixture of optimism, energy and professionalism.”

This year’s theme is “What has real value? Can money buy everything?” The deadline for submissions is July 22, 2015.

Art Moves 2015

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Community

Susan O’Malley and Tiny Beautiful Things

In advance of Sunday’s public celebration of the life of Susan O’Malley, I offer those who are reeling from loss a book recommendation, which Susan presciently shared with me.  

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on love and life from Dear Sugar, by Cheryl Strayed. // Source: CherylStrayed.com

Let yourself be gutted. Let it open you. Start here.

—Cheryl Strayed

 

Susan was reading Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar when we roomed together on an art trip to Poland. She spoke glowingly about it, and highly recommended it to me. This was in early September 2012. Later that month, one of the worst things that have happened in my life, one which I wouldn’t wish upon anyone, happened.

In grief, my heart felt beaten and bloodied, like it was cleaving itself from my chest. My universe had been permanently re-arranged, and I walked around in a state of shock for months. I wasn’t sure of anything: why I do anything, what the point was. I wondered how to avoid subjecting loved ones to what I’d been through when my own time came. The hurt of life—and death—seemed inescapable.

Strayed is no stranger to the loss of a parent, and those indescribable, intensely personal, most idiosyncratic emotional experiences categorized as grief. She wrote candidly and forcefully about it in Tiny Beautiful Things and Wild. Strayed somehow found the words and the strength to acknowledge the brutality of such loss. Her honesty also lets in cracks of light: unfathomably, imperfectly, we go on. We might be total fucking messes, but we also have to try, even if we fail, to forgive and love ourselves.

On my way home from three of the worst weeks of my life, I sent Susan a message from the airport. I had to thank her for her recommendation. My mourning felt isolating, but Strayed’s words offered moments of familiarity and acceptance. Maybe it can do the same for you, and thereby join the multitude of ways in which Susan’s wisdom lives on.

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Community, Make Things (Happen)

In Remembrance: Susan O’Malley

It is with immense sadness that I share that Susan O’Malley suddenly passed away.

Susan was an artist, curator, and member of the tight-knit San Francisco Bay Area art community. She was my friend and collaborator. She recently contributed to Make Things (Happen), and I last saw her at the opening reception on February 6. She was pregnant with twin girls, and almost due. Susan was radiant, and as characteristically good-humored as ever.

Susan’s positivity in person and via her artworks left countless people with brighter days. I aspired to be more like her: to embody more compassion, forgiveness, and kindness; to be magnanimous in my relationships and outlook; and to let go of what I can’t control.

I have always admired her work—an enthusiastic blend of relational and text-based practices—for its elegant simplicity, humor, and unabashed enthusiasm. It was borne out of her unshakable faith in optimism. She embraced the risk of being sentimental, trusting that sincerity is a virtue that redeems feeling self-conscious or ridiculous. All of us, Susan insisted, are capable of wisdom and love. She asked us to open our hearts to possibilities.

Many of us defend ourselves from the slings and arrows of everyday life with cynicism. Susan remained unapologetically affirmative, even in sustained grief as her mother endured a lengthy terminal illness. That fact speaks to the courage of her humanity.

I saw this in her work, One Minute Smile, when I was still fresh in the clutch of bereavement of my dad. Exemplifying her generosity of spirit, Susan shared an intensely personal, vulnerable moment with a room full of strangers and friends. As she made eye contact with us, we became more present and mindful. Together, Susan helped us acknowledge: Yes, we are fragile… and yes, we have yet-undiscovered reserves of resilience within us, too.

I’m grateful for Susan for sharing her light with me, and helping me and many others find more of our own. She will be dearly missed.

Susan O'Malley with her mobile billboard stating "You Are Exactly Where You Need to Be" in the Art Moves Festival in Torun, Poland, September 2012.

Susan O’Malley with her mobile billboard stating, “You are exactly where you need to be.” Art Moves Festival, Torun, Poland, September 2012.

Romer Young Gallery annoucement
Artforum
Christian L. Frock, “Celebrating the Life of Artist and Curator Susan O’Malley (1976–2015),” KQED

Learn more about public memorials and a memorial fund for the arts: morebeautifulthanyoucouldeverimagine.com

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Not because it’s easy, but because it often isn’t:

Susan O'Malley, One Minute Smile (participatory performance documentation), 2013

Susan O’Malley, One Minute Smile (participatory performance documentation), 2013 // Source: SusanOMalley.com

It’s an invitation to us, really. To try to smile every day, even on the days when we least want to.

—Susan O’Malley
Community, Works

Susan O’Malley, One Minute Smile

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