News, The Eve Of...

10/4: The Eve Of… as Survival Strategies at Open City/Art City

The making of The Eve Of…, in diagrammatic and GIF forms.

The Making of The Eve Of... Self-Initiated Residency and Exhibition.

The Making of The Eve Of… Self-Initiated Residency and Exhibition.

Here’s a tiny teaser of a detailed diagram on the making of The Eve Of…; along with a narrated video, it’ll be presented this Saturday at Open City/Art City at YBCA. I’ll be there in spirit, but not in person. It’s too bad, as my other panelists, assembled by the formidable Christian L. Frock, are fantastic artists for whom I have tons of respect.

SOS ARTISTS: Strategies of Survival

Curated and Moderated by Christian L. Frock, Independent Writer, Curator and Educator
This interactive session will present strategies for developing self-made public opportunities for artists at all stages of development, with an emphasis on what is possible through autonomy and collaboration. In addition to the live event, documents relevant to the discussion will be available to freely view and share online at


  • Christian L. Frock, writer and curator, Invisible Venue: On creating public platforms through unconventional organizational partnerships
  • Jonn Herschend, artist and co-publisher, The Thing: On recent high profile commercial projects and creating equitable corporate collaborations with integrity
  • Ernest Jolly, artist and co-curator, ArtComplex, Oakland: On ArtComplex’s experimental exhibition model and creating opportunities within transitional real estate
  • Favianna Rodriguez, artist and activist, on producing multiples and direct studio sales to raise funds to advance larger projects
  • Stephanie Syjuco, artist and John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Visual Arts Fellow: On self-publishing her successful Guggenheim application, and transparency as a mode of working amidst competition
  • Christine Wong Yap, artist: On the development of her self-initiated New York residency and solo exhibition, and building new models of production in public spaces

More info at

That’s the brains of the thing. Here’s the behind-the-scenes braun:

The Eve Of... installation and deinstallation.

The Eve Of… installation and deinstallation.


See: Bay Area Now 7, opens Friday

Very excited for dear friends presenting new works.

July 18–October 5, 2014
Bay Area Now 7
ybca, San Francisco

There’s a lot of reasons to be excited for BAN7, but I’d like to personally cheer these folks:

Susan O’Malley and Leah Rosenberg (by invitation of Montalvo Arts Center). Find your center and then get a little de-centered at their event-specific cocktails on July 24, from 6-8pm.

Susan O'Malley and Leah Rosenberg, Find Your Center, Montalvo Arts Center at ybca.

Susan O’Malley and Leah Rosenberg, installation of Find Your Center, Montalvo Arts Center at ybca. Source: Susan and Leah.

This, unbelievably, is happening at ybca:

Bay Area Art Workers’ Alliance

Bay Area Art Workers Alliance presents an exhibition of works by preparators addressing the invisible labor, aesthetic vocabulary, and materials that art workers use when they install and care for the precious objects that give value to institutions like YBCA. …

Each of these 50 new art works are constructed using on-the-job materials informed by vantages of the preparator — behind the painting, during the paperwork, inside the crate, from truck to office to gallery — that happen between, in proximity to, and in spite of the finished exhibition.

In the collaborative spirit of the profession, BAAWA will present works generated by preparators with a strategic focus on the collective work of a community rather than one single author.

BAAWA’s site:

I really wished that I could have attended the Tate Modern’s No Soul For Sale fair of alternative and artist-run spaces, so when I heard that BAN7’s distributed curatorial model was inspired by NSFS, I was intrigued. The featured organizations cut a broad cross-section of the Bay Area art scene. In fact, I’m not familiar with some of them—either they’d begun around or after I left SF for NYC, or they were in entirely different networks. For a scene as small and tightly-knit as the Bay Area, this chance for BAN to present new spaces, artists and ideas is really exciting. It’s easy to knock bi- and triennials, but when the curatorial authorship reflects smaller art organizations, I hope audiences attend with a more open mindset.

Art & Development

Two Brothers named Design and Art

To be considered a “serious” artist, there’s pressure to downplay one’s non-art practices — even visual ones like graphic design. Art professionals need to distinguish between dabblers and lifers, but that shouldn’t be hard. It’s perplexing that this dissociation persists.

Consider art since 1960, and the typographic sensitivity of many Conceptualists.

on kawara, lawrence weiner, yoko ono, barbara kruger

So you think you are a typophile? Faces named below.

Consider how aspiring artists and designers learn. My early creative interests were unbounded — drawing horses and floorplans as a kid, making zine collages as a teenager, studying printmaking (AKA graphic arts) in college.

Further, my making skills — whether tinkering, bookmaking, or print and web design — enhance my art capacity, especially now that I’m making text-based installations and producing multiples. It seems obvious that design is a useful skill set for artists; fellow artists and art institutions need graphic design, too.

Good design conveys risk-taking and visual sophistication. For example, Stripe‘s print and signage design for the Wattis and Cinthia Wen’s/Design at Noon’s identity design for YBCA* are innovative, flat-out gorgeous assets.

So I’m excited to have the chance to bring my design skills to a contemporary art context. After a terrific experience creating new work for Southern Exposure‘s Bellwether exhibition, I was invited to design the poster for SoEx’s next show. The alternative arts organization has a history of working with award-winning designers like McFadden & Thorpe and Post Tool, so I earnestly accepted. The poster will be arriving in mailboxes and shop windows in the coming weeks. You can’t miss it.

In the meantime, worlds (art and killer typography) collide: Emigré is having a show at Gallery 16.

EMIGRE at Gallery 16
December 18 – January 29, 2010
Opening reception on Friday December 18 from 6 – 9pm

Emigre, Inc. is a digital type foundry in Berkeley, whose magazines were an inspiration since year zero B.M. (Before Macintosh). You can bet that there will be gorgeous posters, publications and, quite possibly, some hand-thrown pots. Because designers can be artists too.

An outro in the rock ballad of this blog post:

I’m not so idealistic as to pretend that there aren’t differences between being a graphic designer and being an artist. Last week when M, a workaholic early-bird designer, started staying up late to obsessively photograph his design portfolio, I told him that he’s becoming an artist. His response:


(*Disclosure: Occasionally I work at the Wattis and YBCA doing design/vinyl/preparator work.)

Avant Garde Medium, DIN Cond Bold, American Typewriter, Futura Bold Oblique

Art & Development

moments in Bay Area art-time


I really liked Kenneth Baker’s review of Kim Anno’s show at Patricia Sweetow Gallery (SF Gate, Sept. 26, 2009) — very concise writing about the work and the context of contemporary painting. How’s this for a tight lede:

New abstract painting arrives today in an interpretive hall of mirrors where quotation, pastiche and the cannibalizing of motifs by designers can instantly embarrass any claim to originality.

The review also mentions a show by stellar artists Walead Beshty, Patrick Hill and Karl Haendel at NOMA Gallery. I’ve been a fan of Haendel’s insanely detailed graphite realism since Glen Helfand’s Particulate Matter at Mills College Art Museum, and of Beshty’s since I saw his Fed-Ex’d glass cubes at the Whitney Biennial, so I regret missing the chance to see their work as well as Hill’s.

Another show I wish I saw was Ian McDonald and Conrad Meyers II at Queens Nails Annex. I totally loved Ian McDonald’s mixed media sculptures at Rena Bransten and YBCA’s Bay Area Now 5; in both exhibits he showed ceramics works that were functional yet their identities were somehow unhinged, with a lot of great material juxtapositions. His latest work about everyday objects and usability really resonates with my Pounds of Happiness project, but I just haven’t been able to make it over there…

Besides opening a show in LA last weekend, I’ve been logging hours at the studio…


…where I’ve been nerding out on behind-the-scenes art stuff, like:

1. Taking joy in the small things in life.

1. Taking joy in the small things in life.

I haven’t painted in ages, but that doesn’t mean that I no longer enjoy that brand-new brush buzz… This is my first-ever Purdy. It’s sharp as a razor, and it buoys my hope that craftsmanship can still exist within mass manufacturing.

Some things, though, don’t change: Wood stain, it turns out, smells exactly like the last time I used it, in junior high wood shop class. I’ve lost my printmaker’s tolerance for oil and solvent smells, but gosh, it’s satisfying to wipe down fresh stain and see the wood grain magically re-appear.

Lately, I keep thinking back to Mr. James’ shop class, and my dad’s garage, because those are the places where I learned most of my woodworking skills. I picked up a few things in college and grad school, and I’m picking up new skills quickly as a preparator. But the foundation is the same, and certain traits seem to show through. For example, in junior high I found the jigsaw and bandsaw least intimidating, and to this day I still use circular saws with extreme respect and caution. I also still appreciate my dad’s improvisational handyman approach — try to use what’s around, instead of running to the store for every little bit of hardware or new tool — and his good humor inherent in tinkering.

2. Building a big crate.

2. Building a big crate.

This crate, which has a detachable compartment, took about:
— 2 hours to design,
— 2.5 hours procure and unload the materials, and
— a solid day and a half to construct.
To move the crate, though, is gonna take three people and a truck.

(A recurring puzzle: Why do people think that artists just make art all day? When in fact, there’s so many other things that need to be done, like making crates, storing stuff properly, framing, writing, reading, research, procurement, bookkeeping, seeing art, talking to people, emails, etc. That’s why CARFAC Canadian Artists’ Representation / Le Front des artistes canadiens is so exceptional: it reflects an understanding that an artist’s work extends beyond studio work and exhibition installs. See their PDF guidelines for Professional Fees, which include admin and preparatory work, as distinct from baseline Exhibition Fees.)

This crate is for mirrorsblack, my newest sculpture, which will be unveiled at…

FUTURE / Art events I won’t miss:

Friday, October 16, 8–10 pm (Member’s Opening)
Saturday, October 17, 4–10 pm (Public Opening)
October 17–December 12, 2009 (exhibition)
Southern Exposure, 3030 20th Street, San Francisco
I stopped by SoEx’s new digs the other day and it’s all abuzz with activity. Their purpose-built gallery/office/classroom is brand spanking new. I can’t wait for the inaugural exhibition to launch. There’ll also be loads of activities and artist’s projects at the Public Grand Opening / Block Party, so hope to see you there.

Monday, October 5, 7:30 pm
Fred Tomaselli lecture
SF Art Institute
Tomaselli’s resin-cast mixed-media paintings are mind-bending. His works in MOCA’s Ecstacy show were trippy and hallucenagenic enough, but his more recent work at White Cube were completely stunning. He also seems like a down-to-earth kind of guy. I think his lecture will be great.

Thru December 12
Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art
Though I helped to install this show, I didn’t get to spend much time looking at the work, especially the media works. I’d love to spend more time with the lovely paintings by Marcel Dzama, prints by Rockwell Kent, and the installation by Ellen Gallagher and Edger Cleijne. Also, I’ve heard high praise of the film by Peter Hutton.


Good people, good times

I once worked for a MacArthur genius. Among her many talents was a tremendously high value for people — she conveyed that no matter how smart you are or how much recognition you get, you’re only as good as the people on your team.

Even geniuses don’t go it alone.

Recently I’ve had the good fortune of working with really bright and hard-working artists.

I’ve been working alongside visual arts staff and crew at YBCA who cultivate respect and teamwork. They’re artists, students, musicians, designers and artist’s assistants who are skilled and friendly. It’s been really awesome to be partly responsible for actualizing a massive art exhibition. As a solo artist, it’s easy for me to shape my work around what’s do-able for me, but this experience has shown me firsthand the impressive scale of what resources, organization and manpower can accomplish. It’s also clarified for me that working hard is really enjoyable when you’ve got good tools, peers with good attitudes, and the environment to apply one’s skills and be efficacious.

This is all in the context of helping artists realize their projects for the upcoming exhibition, Wallworks. My former CCA professor Chris Finley is installing a huge installation of vinyl, paint, string and even more stuff, that starts with vector art and shoots off. I’ve also been helping Makoto Aida, one of the mellowest artists I’ve ever worked with, never mind the language barriers. Here’s a photo of the hand of Osamu-san, Aida-san’s equally amiable assistant:

Osamu-san's hand, with "Christine," "Sean" and "Kyle" in Japanese.

Osamu-san's hand, with Christine, Sean and Kyle in Japanese.

(Sean and Kyle are tireless YBCA crew members at who’ve assisted Aida as well.)

Odili Donald Odita, from Philly, has created some really enjoyable, flawless, geometric wall paintings. Yehudit Sasportas, of Berlin, is contributing a truly massive b/w, high-contrast wall painting that’s eerily more like graphic design than painting. The way the flat black background falls away behind the white linework is really wonderful.

Also in the show will be new works by Leslie Shows, Amanda Ross-Ho, Tillman Kaiser and Edgar Arcenaux. Beside the fact that I helped to install the show, I think it’s a really great concept for a show and many of the works will be completely unlike anything you’ve seen in a while.

Wallworks opens Friday, August 3, from 8-11pm.

Art & Development, Community

they’re prepared

This is my first time working with an institution as large as YBCA, and it’s been really neat.

Over the past few days, I’ve been installing my work for Galleon Trade: Bay Area Now 5 Edition (which opens Thursday, Sept. 4) with help from the lead preparators, Justin Limoges and Justin Wyckoff. They’ve been friendly, calm, helpful and meticulous. YBCA’s also got a on-call, kick-ass installation team, which includes the fabulous Tammy Kim, who have transformed the Terrace Gallery in no time at all.

I often exhibit at spaces with fewer resources, and I am happy to bring my own tools and install my own work, but working with YBCA has been a welcome change of pace. For example, my kinetic sculpture needed to be mounted on YBCA’s 14-feet-high ceiling and I’m not really a fan of heights, so I was looking forward to handing that off to a professional! It was nice enough that someone would go up on a ladder to hang my heavy, unwieldy sculpture of moving parts, but I wasn’t prepared for the moment when Justin took out a tape measure to get the baseboard just 1/8″ over, making it parallel to the lighting track. That kind of obsessive attention to detail is usually exhibited by artists installing their own art, so to have it automatically extended to my work, even as a zillion other installation details need to be attended to, made me feel extremely grateful for this exhibition opportunity.

Thanks to the hard work of the installation team (and their sacrificed holiday weekends!), the opening is three days away but the gallery is already looking great. Megan’s site-specific installation is looking great, and works by the paired photographers (MM Yu and Gina Osterloh) and painters (Johanna Poethig and Norberto Roldan) are looking really cohesive.

Hope you can come see Galleon Trade!
Opening: Thursday, Sept 4, 5-8 pm, YBCA

Cheers to the unsung heroes of the art world.


Galleon Trade opens at YBCA Sept. 4

galleon trade opening reception

Galleon Trade Opening Reception
Thu, Sep 4, 2008, 5–8 pm

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
701 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94103-3138
tix 415.978.ARTS
FREE with gallery admission

Join us as we celebrate the opening of Galleon Trade: Bay Area Now 5 Edition, a collaborative project for Bay Area Now 5 guest-curated by Jenifer Wofford.

Galleon Trade builds international bridges between the Bay Area and other cities on the globe through a process of exchange and dialog. Taking the historic Acapulco-Manila galleon route as a metaphor of origin, the Galleon Trade exhibitions seek to create new routes of cultural exchange along old routes of commerce and trade. Galleon Trade I brought work by twelve California artists to three galleries in Metro Manila, Philippines in summer 2007. Galleon Trade: Bay Area Now 5 Edition addresses the deeply transnational ties between the Bay Area and the Philippines by pairing artists from both places. It features work by local artists Jaime Cortez, Megan Wilson, Johanna Poethig, Gina Osterloh and Christine Wong Yap, all of whom went to Manila with the project in 2007, and met many local artists. Their work is in conversation with the work of five artists from Manila: Poklong Anading, Norberto Roldan, Maria Taniguchi, Yason Banal, and MM Yu.


Artists working together

As I mentioned before, Bay Area Now (ongoing at YBCA til November) is facilitating a lot of artists working and having conversations with other artists. And not only am I working with other artists, I’m working with BAN artists, like Erik Scollon, whose ceramics know-how is proving to be instrumental in my charcoal-based sculpture.

I paid a visit to Erik’s studio, and though BAN has opened, he’s still plugging away at the studio. It turns out that Erik’s project, Take Me Home and Use Me, involves the distribution of his utilitarian ceramic objects. Audience members can take an object at no cost — the only restriction is that users should report back with a photograph of the object in action. Erik makes really wonderful objects, and this is a really interesting social project, and I hope you get to participate. Don’t forget to register — Erik’s been busting his butt on at the throwing wheel, making every piece by hand!

Erik Scollon\'s Studio, in preparation for Take Me Home and Use Me

Erik Scollon's Studio, in preparation for Take Me Home and Use Me