Activist Imagination

Installation Morning 10.

Activist Imagination window installation, preview image, detail

Another sneak peek at Activist Imagination: here, a site-specific intervention overlooks Capp Street and Mission District rooftops.

I’m 90% done with my installation, and correspondingly 90% less stressed out than 10 days ago. I’m really happy with my contributions and am really impressed with the quality of the show. Everyone’s stepping up with their A-game. The artists’ work is very diverse. Rest assured, the exhibition will cover a lot of ground thematically and formally.

I hope you can join us Friday at the opening.

Activist Imagination opening reception
Friday, Feb. 29, 6:30-9 pm
Kearny Street Workshop
180 Capp Street (at 17th Street, very close to 16th St. BART)
San Francisco

Activist Imagination

Installation Day 3 of 10. Hopefully 9.

So tired I can’t blog coherently. Snapshots of the past three days of installing Activist Imagination at Kearny Street Workshop:

Norman’s delightful personality and generous assistance in wall construction.
Norman’s awesome chop saw with red laser guides (one for each edge of the blade!).
M’s help; more importantly, the chance for me to show him what installation is like.
Spending more than I’d like to think about at the lumber yard.
Hauling sheetrock up two flights of stairs.
Stopping by Intersection for the Arts’ opening for the show on prisons; the tight community between KSW and Intersection. My favorite piece in the show: a prisoner’s folk-art award-winning model of a motorcycle, complete with high handlebars and flaring exhaust pipes, constructed of mouse bones, bits of shell and stone.
A scary short circuit.
Using corner beads for the first time.
Listening to Derek’s tasteful, random iTunes mix.
Pulling my back lifting a 5-gal. jug of joint compound.
Finishing walls takes ages, but the new joint compound is buttery smooth.
Goggies and a dust mask.
Entangled in headphones.
People’s delighted response to Jon Sueda’s sticker-sheet show announcement.
Pork Store’s pulled pork sandwich.

Activist Imagination

Know how to work a paint brush?

Activist Imagination exhibition postcard (front)
Activist Imagination exhibition postcard (back)
(postcards designed by jon sueda)

I’m really excited for the Activist Imagination exhibition at Kearny Street Workshop. It opens in 10 days and in the meantime, I’ll be furiously trying to finish three site-specific pieces. Sam Chanse, KSW’s stellar former Artistic Director, is staying on as a part-time consultant. She stepped down and just completed her one-woman show on Sunday. Amazingly, she’s the only staff during installation!

If you’ve got a few hours to help out in the next 10 days, we would really appreciate volunteers — Sam especially has a huge job of dismantling a stage, spackling/painting, getting the gallery looking spic-and-span, adjusting lights, etc. I could also use an extra hand with joint compound/sanding/painting too. We would be really grateful for a few hours of help.

Activist Imagination

APA Activism: whats and whys

Coming up next Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Kearny Street Workshop presents

Where We Are Now: Activism Today
Featuring Eric Mar, Diana Pei Wu, Favianna Rodriguez, and Le Tim Ly, and moderated by Robynn Takayama
an Activist Imagination event

Join Kearny Street Workshop and a panel of activists, artists, and organizers for a discussion about the present state of activism, the arts and community.

Where We Are Now: Activism Today takes place Tuesday, January 22nd, at Kearny Street Workshop‘s space180, located at 180 Capp Street, at 17th Street, San Francisco. The panel features San Francisco School Board member Eric Mar, National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights Program Director Diana Pei Wu, artist-activist and founding member of Eastside Arts Alliance Favianna Rodriguez, and activist and co-founder of Liberation Ink Le Tim Ly, and is moderated by community artist Robynn Takayama, and will examine, explore, and challenge the state of activism today.

Where We Are Now: Activism Today, is the second in a series of discussions that is part of KSW’s Activist Imagination program exploring the past, present, and future of arts and activism. The Activist Imagination also features an exhibition of new work developed by three lead artists, Bob Hsiang, Donna Keiko Ozawa, and Christine Wong Yap, responding to and exploring the themes raised in the program. The visual exhibition opens Friday, February 29th, 2008, at KSW’s space180.

Date & Time: Tuesday, January 22, 2008; 7pm

Location: Kearny Street Workshop’s space180, 180 Capp Street, 3rd Floor, @ 17th Street, San Francisco

Cost: Free and open to the public.

The Activist Imagination project is made possible in part by a grant from the Creative Work Fund through support from the Walter and Elise Haas Fund, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the James Irvine Foundation. Activist Imagination is also supported in part by a grant from the San Francisco Foundation and from KSW’s members and individual donors.

Activist Imagination, Research

Attn: Miserable Idealists

In a look at inward optimism and social pessimism, Matthew Taylor calls for a new collectivism among progressives (“Why Life is Good,” New Statesman, January 3, 2008).

Taylor writes, “miserable idealists need to make a New Year resolution to look on the bright side. Pessimism is becoming an impediment to progressive politics.” He continues:

Progressives want the world to be a better place. We bemoan its current inequities and oppression — yet if we fail to celebrate the progress that human beings have made, and if we sound as though the future is a fearful place, we belie our own philosophy. Instead, we need to address a deficit in social optimism that threatens the credibility of our core narrative.

Similarly, my works for the upcoming Activist Imagination exhibition are inspired by how we see ourselves reflected in the world.

Activist Imagination, Art & Development

Sports Metaphors + the Burden of Representation

In his profile of Kara Walker (New Yorker Magazine, October 8, 2007), Hilton Als describes a contingent of African American artists and their attempt to ostracize Kara Walker because her art didn’t ennoble African Americans. Elder stateswoman Betye Saar called Walker’s work “revolting” and asked if African Americans were being “betrayed.”

Walker, who was then pregnant, dug deep: “I felt, Well, I have to re-double my efforts if I’m going to keep all this going, and I’ve got to take this child and go charging through, like in football.”

I don’t think she set out to antagonize her predecessors, but I really admire her resolve, even as a young artist, to stay committed to her artistic practice, despite the costs.

I Am Not Making Activist Art for Activist Imagination. I’ll keep in mind the vision of Walker juking a field full of opponents.