Community, Research

Sign/Design

DON’T MISS:

Museo-rama: Joint Member Day, SF, CA

Tomorrow, Saturday, March 20 is Joint Member Day. If you’re a member the Asian Art Museum, Cartoon Art Museum, Contemporary Jewish Musuem, Museum of the African Diaspora, Museum of Craft and Folk Art, SF Camerawork, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, or Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, you and a friend can visit participating museums for FREE admission, special events and exclusive discounts.

I’m curious about Dispatches from the Archives and The View From Here photography exhibition at SFMOMA. I’m all for exhibitions that help Americans understand China’s pluralism, and the Shanghai exhibition at the Asian Art Museum introduces the cosmopolitan city through its Western-influenced hybridized modern art and design (with a few pieces of contemporary art). Still, I thought the didactic texts shied from the mention of colonialism; this westernization seems possible because cities were forced open to British trade by the Treaty of Nanking after China lost the First Opium War. Also, pop culture afficionados: don’t expect to see lots of vintage-kitsch Shanghai lady adverts; those make up only a small fraction of the exhibition.

It’s A Sign: New Bohemia Signs at Adobe Books’ Backroom Gallery, SF, CA

Design nerds ho! The immaculate hand-painted stylizations of New Bohemia Signs, San Francisco’s own anachronistic, fedora-donning, sign painting shop, are on view at Adobe Books’ Backroom Gallery through April 3. It’s like Steven Heller’s New Vintage Type came to life in shiny, seductive enamel paint. You can purchase individual functional signs for your indie mart or design tchotchke shelves, or larger aggregations for the aesthetics, and to make an undeniable statement about your good taste.

The signs are really cute. They are examples of great graphic design, but ultimately, just signs. I had hoped to make some smart-sounding statement about semiotics or wayfinding (especially in relation to “The Secret Language of Signs,” Slate’s recent series on signs), but really, style and legibility seem to be the main point of the work. If there is something more interesting to tease out, it’s probably in regards to context: A shop selling books (so antiquated!) exhibiting hand-painted signs produced by another independently-owned, brick-and-mortar small business, and the printed/painted letters they love.

Rockin’ Paper, Swingin’ Scissors at Rowan Morrison Gallery, Oakland, CA

Sort of in the same vein of totally adorable/collectible is Ryohei Tanaka’s show of papercuts at Rowan Morrison Gallery through April 3. Ryohei’s based in Tokyo now; I went to CCA with him in the late 1990s. Back then, he was a total drawing maniac, whose work was characterized by density and a cuteness that was simultaneously attractive and appalling. Now, his explosive prolificness has resulted in figures, monsters and robots in cheery colors and a traditional Asian folk art/paper craft. Small cuts start under $100; if that sinks your battleship you can walk away, as I did, with a navy screenprint of assorted figures on a white cotton rectangle (I think it’s a Japanese work scarf or tea towel) for $8.

WINSOME:

The website for Scott Oliver’s Lake Merritt project is up!

COMING SOON, to New York:

Gormley fatigue.

FASCINATING:

“Everybody Have Fun,” Elizabeth Kolbert’s round-up of recent books on the problematic intersection of happiness research and policy in the current New Yorker Magazine (March 22, 2010).

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Art & Development, This & That Mail Art Swap, News

Involved, Socially and This & That opens

Thanks to Dina and Joyce at Triple Base, Michelle Blade for having me in the show and compelling me to go one step beyond only exhibiting a work, M for love and support despite my week-long installation myopia, and the countless friends, supporters and mentors who attended, the opening reception for Involved, Socially seemed like a success.

It was well-attended, with a constant flow of people, and lots of time spent looking at art, reading texts and having good conversations.

I feel like both projects that I contributed, This & That International Mail Art Swap (a curatorial project in the back room featuring 32 artists) and Unlimited Promise (an installation in the basement) were strong, so I’m content.

Sandwich board typography by Mylinh Nguyen, via Michelle Blade. Window: project by David Horvitz. You know it's San Francisco's Mission District by the taqueria and bicycle.

Sandwich board typography by Mylinh Nguyen, via Michelle Blade. Window: project by David Horvitz. You know it's San Francisco's Mission District by the taqueria and bicycle.

The main (front) part of the storefront held several artist's projects; This & That was in the back room. Yuen Fong Ling's fluourescent posters, commanding JOIN US, are visible from the street.

The main (front) part of the storefront held several artist's projects; This & That was in the back room. Yuen Fong Ling's fluourescent posters, commanding JOIN US, are visible from the street.

Amanda Curreri's and Sally Elesby's project - a line of iridescent glitter is drawn across the gallery. amandacurreri.com

Amanda Curreri's and Sally Elesby's project - a line of iridescent glitter is drawn across the gallery.

Left, works by Mark McKnight. Right, t-shirts by Amanda Curreri.

Left, works by Mark McKnight. Right, t-shirts by Amanda Curreri.

Photographer Seth Lower (far left, sethlower.com) inspects This and That; Jeronimo Roldan and Marcella Faustini and friend inspect Amanda Curreri's/Sally Elesby's correspondence (center). Jessica William's art (right). Not pictured: David Horvitz' letters about the Indian Ocean.

Photographer Seth Lower (far left, sethlower.com) inspects This & That; Jeronimo Roldan and Marcella Faustini and friend inspect Amanda Curreri's/Sally Elesby's correspondence (center). Jessica William's art (right).

This and That, with works by Crowe and Rawlinson, Tan, Chavez-Dawson, Churchill, Hongisto, Blackmore, Chen, Staincliffe and Hall.

This & That, with works by Nick Crowe and Ian Rawlinson, Tattfoo Tan, Mike Chavez-Dawson, Joshua Churchill, Eric Hongisto, Simon Blackmore, Susan Chen, Daniel Staincliffe and Antony Hall.

This and That, works by same artists as previous photo, plus Anading, Bell, Payot, Brumit and Wagner, the Bloors, and Carollo. Lower corner, a moment for our sponsor.

This & That, works by same artists as previous photo, plus Poklong Anading, Chris Bell, Laurence Payot, Jon Brumit and Sarah Wagner, Simon & Tom Bloor and Michelle Carollo. Lower corner, a moment for our sponsor.

Scott Oliver's Lake Merritt walking tour.

Scott Oliver's Lake Merritt Walking Tour.

Verity-Jane Keefe's project on a housing estate in Barking, East London.

Verity-Jane Keefe's project on the estate in Barking, East London.

Works by Oliver, Keefe, Hattori, Glover, Pest.

Works by Oliver, Keefe, Taro Hattori, N. Sean Glover, Pest.

Works by Ryan, Woff, Sherry, Griffiths, Ma, Kabot, Kaplan, Yu.

Works by Anthony Ryan, Jenifer K Wofford, David Sherry, Mary Griffiths, Ivy Ma, Sarah Kabot, Scot Kaplan, MM Yu.

Works by O'Malley and Ling. Below, the spread.

Works by Susan O'Malley and Yuen Fong Ling. Below, the spread.

This & That artist Anthony Ryan takes home court advantage to inspect potential swap selections.

This & That artist Anthony Ryan takes home court advantage to inspect potential swap selections.

Joshua Churchill, looking uncharacteristically dodgy, powers N. Sean Glover's cardboard record player.

This & That artist Joshua Churchill, looking uncharacteristically dodgy, powers N. Sean Glover's cardboard record player.

Churchill also tries out David Moises' Ego Shooter, but he's too fast for the camera.

Churchill also tries out David Moises' Ego Shooter, but he's too fast for the camera.

Mik Gaspay -- mikgaspay.com -- sports a This and That-like cardigan.

Painter/photographer Mik Gaspay -- mikgaspay.com -- rocks a This & That-like cardigan.

Taro Hattori and Scott Oliver discuss amongst themselves.

This & That artists Taro Hattori and Scott Oliver discuss amongst themselves.

Naomi Vanderkindren -- vanderkindren.com -- browses MM Yu's Book of Sleep.

Naomi Vanderkindren browses MM Yu's Book of Sleep. (Naomi's photographs can be viewed at vanderkindren.com.)

A visitor inspects Antony Hall's Hele shaw cell experiment.

A visitor inspects Antony Hall's Hele shaw cell experiment.

Yuen Fong Ling's posters in background.

Yuen Fong Ling's posters in background.

MJ-jacket sporting Vice leans in to hear Joshua Churchill's sound project.

MJ-jacket sporting Vice leans in to hear Joshua Churchill's sound project.

A viewer reads N. Sean Glover's instructions for the cardboard record player.

A viewer reads N. Sean Glover's instructions for the cardboard record player.

Back room. Painter Marci Washington and mixed media artist Justin Hurty, and others. marciwashington.com. justin.hurty.com

Back room. Painter Marci Washington and mixed media artist Justin Hurty, and others. marciwashington.com. justin.hurty.com

Main gallery.

Main gallery. This & That artist Chris Bell talks shop with Naomi.

Amanda Curreri's glitter line, a few hours later...

Amanda Curreri's glitter line, a few hours later...

My installation, Unlimited Promise, in the basement.

My installation, Unlimited Promise, in the basement. Produced during the Breathe Residency at Chinese Arts Centre, Manchester, UK.

Spillage.

Spillage.

Thanks to all the artists in This & That for being such interesting artists and exhibiting professionalism, generosity and flexibility. Big thanks to Chris Bell, Joshua Churchill, Taro Hattori, Ali Naschke-Messing, Anthony Ryan, and Scott Oliver (who helped tremendously by installing his multi-part work) for coming to the opening. Thanks also to Susan Chen, who dispatched patience and editorial advice.

Involved, Socially runs through September 6th. Gallery hours are Thurs-Sun 12-5pm. For more info visit basebasebase.com. To learn more about This & That International Mail Art Swap, visit mailartswap.christinewongyap.com.

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This & That Mail Art Swap

Welcome to This & That

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I’m pleased to announce a new curatorial project, This & That, an invitational mail art swap among international artists. Initiated in July 2009, This & That is a grassroots exchange by artists for artists.

32 artists/collaboratives are from 7 countries are participating:

Poklong Anading (Manila)
Chris Bell (Austrailia/San Francisco)
Simon Blackmore (Manchester)
Simon & Tom Bloor (Birmingham/London)
Jon Brumit (Chicago)
Michelle Carollo (NYC)
Mike Chavez-Dawson (Manchester)
Susan Chen (San Francisco)
Joshua Churchill (San Francisco)
Nick Crowe & Ian Rawlinson (Berlin/Manchester)
N. Sean Glover (Pittsburg, Penn., USA)
Mary Griffiths (Manchester)
Antony Hall (Manchester)
Taro Hattori (Oakland, Calif., USA)
Eric Hongisto (San Francisco)
Sarah Kabot (Ohio, USA)
Scot Kaplan (Ohio, USA)
Verity-Jane Keefe (London)
Yuen Fong Ling (Manchester)
Ivy Ma (Hong Kong)
David Moises (Vienna)
Ali Naschke-Messing (San Francisco)
Scott Oliver (Oakland, Calif., USA)
Susan O’Malley (San Francisco)
Laurence Payot (Liverpool)
Pest (Rebecca Chesney, Robina Llewellyn & Elaine Speight) (Preston, Lancs, UK)
Anthony Ryan (San Francisco)
David Sherry (Glasgow)
Daniel Staincliffe (Manchester)
Tattfoo Tan (NYC)
Jenifer K. Wofford (Oakland/Prague)
MM Yu (Manila)

Submissions will be exhibited in “Socially, Involved,” an exhibition at curated by Michelle Blade, at Triple Base Gallery, San Francisco, California, USA from August 7–September 6, 2009.

See the entries at exhibition, or at the opening reception — Friday, August 7, 7-10 pm — or check mailartswap.christinewongyap.com.

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Community

Points of Reference: posters, typefaces, Lake Merritt

The artists behind Shotgun Review are doing some really interesting individual and collaborative projects.

I’m SUPER digging the two projects on Joseph del Pesco‘s site right now.

pile of artist's funding posters
State of the Arts, The Present Group & Horwinski Press, December 2008.
Image source: http://delpesco.com/

Beautiful posters influenced by wood type and mixed-fountain printing, demanding better working conditions for artists. What’s not to like?

Black Market Type & Print Shop
Joseph del Pesco, Black Market Type & Print Shop, Articule, Montréal, June 2008
Image source: http://delpesco.com/index.php/P1/

Artist’s typefaces—I love it! It’s a great coincidence, because after working on hand-lettering during the Breathe Residency, and reading Ellen Lupton’s Thinking with Type recently, I decided I’d like to design a typeface. It’ll probably be a display face, exuberant and expressive at the risk of legibility. But I figure it’ll be an art project, not a design project; I know enough to leave the development of extensive type families to the pros.

There are so many crappy fonts in the world already, why bring another one into existence? Well, the fact is, even typographic design can be a little subjective; Blackletter was considered very legible in the early 20th century among Germans and inscrutable in other parts of the world. And history, as well as Lupton’s book, is filled with other examples of typefaces that were reviled in their time. For example, Baskerville, a typeface that many modern eyes would consider just another serif roman font, rather boring and not particularly distinctive, was reviled for

Blinding the Readers in the Nation; for the strokes of your letters being too thin and narrow, hurt the Eye.

–as quoted in Ellen Lupton’s Thinking with Type

Scott Oliver's Once Upon A Time, Happily Ever After, audio tour of Lake Merritt, Oakland, CA

Scott Oliver's Once Upon A Time, Happily Ever After, audio tour of Lake Merritt, Oakland, CA

I’ve always liked Scott Oliver‘s material investigations/post-conceptual modifications of everyday objects, and his next project—an audio tour of Oakland’s Lake Merritt—totally floats my boat for two reasons.

A. I love Lake Merritt, it’s one of the few things that keep my regard for living in Oakland really high.

It’s a nice open space in the middle of the tree-starved flatlands, and while it’s not the most natural of places, it plays an important role larger ecosystems. Lake Merritt is not a “man-made lake,” but an estuary, which is why it’s a unique habitat for migratory birds.

It’s also a nice public space used by a cool cross-section of residents: runners, walkers, people who put on jogging suits to get coffee at Peet’s, guys hanging out in their cars all day, serious athletes running the stairs, office workers and families from all walks of life.

B. Oliver’s working with some really bright collaborators, and bringing onboard a lot of local arts organizations. Any local histories can be tricky, but Oliver’s got the right approach.

Oliver’s got a matching grant, so he needs to raise matching funds in the form of donations from individuals. Matching grants are challenges in any situation, but I don’t envy his position in this economy.

Once Upon A Time, Happily Ever After: An Audio Walking Tour of Lake Merritt will offer an immersive audio experience to listeners—using a mixture of ambient field recordings, interviews, music and narration to weave an idiosyncratic but approachable narrative that will guide listeners through the various natural and artificial elements that surround Lake Merritt. With an emphasis on local history, cultural diversity, urban ecology, and the power of imagination, Once Upon A Time, Happily Ever After will explore the invisible that surrounds the visible—the stories and forces that shape the lake and our perceptions of it. Once Upon A Time, Happily Ever After will be free to the public and widely accessible to Lake Merritt visitors through both on-site and remote locations.

To support the audio tour of Lake Merritt, email Scott Oliver at: knot (at) sbcglobal . net.

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