Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I'm mad at Thomas Heatherwick!

I Googled me today (place romantic music here) as I have Googled me many times in the past. (Oh, don't go there...I know you all have done it!)

Four whole pages, yep, this lil' narcissist has made it to four whopping pages! However, I have a pretty big gripe. Thomas Heatherwick is horning in on my time by squeezing in on my pages. I am told that Sir Thomas is a distant relative that has seen much success for his public sculptures. So, I Googled Thomas Heatherwick. (please do not place romantic music here.) I knew my good Midwestern upbringing would show through. I politely waited until the 24th page to interfere with his face time.

Ok Thomas, the Heatherwick family reunion is in can make it up to me by laying down your blue carpet and letting me go first at the buffet!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

A Collector's Collection

Throughout the years I have slowly added to my art collection. It started when I was in college and my intaglio printmaking professor Ray George had us contribute to suites. For example, we would have 8 students contribute 8 prints each to 8 nicely made suite portfolios. That started the “art swap” among students. My collection of prints probably adds up to 20 – 40 prints from my fellow student artists and professors.

While in school I was a teaching assistant for a Visiting Artists program. That basically entailed me driving, making copies for, organizing art lecture receptions and basically being all around gopher for the selected Visiting Artist. I had the opportunity to work with an amazing Chicago artist named John Fraser. Because of my assistance, he gave me this piece. His work is minimal, complex, calming and makes my chest fill up as if I am sitting on a rock at the river.

Every artist has dated another artist. This piece by Daryl Cardwell, a Wisconsin artist, was given to me as a present and thankfully not taken back. This is an amazing composition made of charcoal, acrylic and graphite.

This is the first piece I purchased from a gallery. As a printmaker, I am in awe of John W. Ford’s print “Right of Passage.” No, this isn’t a computer generated “print”, this piece is a multiple color, multiple plate, hand-rolled, hand-pulled Intaglio print. This poor photograph doesn’t capture the detail and intense quiet chaos.

I am easily charmed by a bit of whimsy. And charmed I was by these little people and knew they needed to be part of my family. Gary Wray made the “Tiki Head Family.” Gary is a local artist and B movie producer. Pat Griffin made this bust of a two-sided lady. The other side is a more somber and sad lady…I like them both, but prefer a woman with a little sass!

Nancy Torii is one of my favorite local artists. (See her at TES Exquisite Corpse show) When I saw her piece, “The Marvelous Hat” it haunted me at night. I thought about the piece for months and knew it needed to be in my home. Nancy’s visions are made of intense color, detail, and worlds within worlds. Her work has changed me.

I must include a very special piece given to me by my Poppy. He is a corporate manager by day, but a talented artist/woodcarver by weekend. I love the softness of this baby bird. It never fails to make me smile.

This is only a sampling of my collection and what wraps me each time I walk into my home. Want to work on your collection? Visit The Empty Space Gallery!

Saturday, August 20, 2005


Day of the Dead Gallery Exhibition Event Coordinators! Contact me at with your interest. The show dates are listed below.

Also, if you have interest in assisting the gallery we need the following:
  • Volunteer Gallery Assistant
  • Artist Reception Event Coordinator

Las Dias de los Muertos – Group Show
October 14 – 29
Opening Event: Saturday, October 15
4:00 – 7:00 pm

El Dia de los Muertos is a traditional holiday observed in Mexico and many other Latin American countries in which the community remembers the dead and welcomes their souls back with open arms. In the United States, the communal celebration of Day of the Dead emerged in the early 1970s, following political movements that spurred Mexican Americans to reclaim their ancestral heritage. In the decades since, the practice has attracted people of many faiths and backgrounds.

Friday, August 19, 2005

6 Degrees of...

I believe random happenings pre-determine a patterned path. Let me illustrate:

I dated Andy, owner of The Filling Station Coffee Drive-Thru for four years. He went to Sonoma State in Santa Rosa.

I met him by being a regular customer. Our meeting happened because I wanted to see the inside of his coffee house. He invited me in. I told him it reminded me of Aroma’s coffeehouse in Santa Rosa, California. It didn’t look anything like Aroma’s. He said he used to live there and loved Aroma’s.

I went to a class at the San Francisco Center for the Book to learn how to make artist books out of polymer clay. The instructor used cut up pieces of rubber stamps to make designs in the clay.

I told Andy about the class. He told me he used to work at a Rubber Stamp factory in Santa Rosa.

I decided to do a mail art exhibit at The Empty Space. A friend of mine told me to talk to Jennifer Randall, a local artist. Jennifer put me in contact with John Held, Jr., a well-known artist stamp and mail art scholar, collector, curator and creator. John came to Bakersfield to give a lecture on Mail Art. We became friends.

John invited me to a Dada dinner in San Francisco. I met a gaggle of mail artists, including Picasso Gaglione, a mail artist and rubber stamp maker.

Not long after that visit, I came up to San Francisco to visit with my artist friend Jan Stevenson. I met her at the Polymer Clay class at the San Francisco Center for the Book Arts. I also stayed a night with John Held, Jr. who put me up at a friend’s house. John told me Joel, the owner of the house, used to own a rubberstamp factory in Santa Rosa. Andy used to work at that factory.

I recently subscribed to Timothy McSweeney’s Journal and Believer magazine. I received my first issue of Believer magazine that came with a great CD featuring “excellent bands covering excellent bands.” I played the CD at my recent Exquisite Corpse gallery opening.

The Exquisite Corpse show inspired a new project idea that involved creating artist stamps. I talked to my friend John to see if he knew someone that could help me make my first set. He introduced me to Tim Mancusi. Tim is Picasso Gaglione’s cousin.

I recently met Tim at Aroma’s Coffeehouse in Santa Rosa to discuss my artist stamp project. He lives in Santa Rosa. He told me he used to work at a local rubberstamp factory. He remembers Cesar, Andy’s co-worker, but not Andy. He makes a comment on how everyone in connected to everyone else if we only just took the time to talk to each other.

I visit with John after meeting up with Tim. We go out to dinner with his friends, Andy and Alissa, from the band Vetiver and have inexpensive sushi. I find out that they just got back from a 3 month tour of Europe. Alissa is a musician and a photographer. I invite her to participate in a show at The Empty Space Gallery. She gives me her website and contact information.

John asks if I want to check out his mail art exhibit at Linc Art gallery and an exhibition at the San Francisco Center for the Book where Picasso Gaglione’s antique rubberstamp collection is on display.

I get home from my trip and check out Alissa’s mittenmaker website and Andy and Alissa’s Vetiver website. As I’m reading their website I notice they announce that they are in a recent issue of Believer magazine.

I find out that I have been happily listening and singing along to their amazing footstomping cover of Michael Hurley’s “Be Kind to Me” from the Believer magazine's free CD located in the 25th issue .

Saturday, August 13, 2005

I hate Thomas Kinkade!

I hate Thomas Kinkade. I know, mama always said “hate” was a strong word, but this 32 year old is slamming her door to commercialism. I cringe when I get the sweet, doe-eyed inquiry into what kind of art I do by the nicely pressed co-worker at my “will I always been controlled by The Man?” 9-5 job. It is usually followed by a comment regarding a relative’s beautiful watercolors which is just the ramp up to the…”I just bought my first piece of artwork…a Thomas Kinkade...PRINT!” Alright, for those of you who don’t know, your so-called print is…a poster. Yep, you can be just like you were in college, but instead of purchasing your Bob Marley poster at the local pipe shop; you mosey on down to the Thomas Kinkade "Gallery.” Oh, to pour so much money into a nicely framed, gold plated, signed edition of…a poster.

I know it started when you were young at the one-day, one-town carnival. You stared dreamily at the unicorn painted mirror behind the creepy, carnie guy while you lapped at your cotton candy and your friend Peggy puked out her funnel cake after twirling on the suicidal swings.

Not too many years later you rushed to the magazine isle at the grocery store to thumb through the newest issue of Teen Beat. Rob Lowe was in the fold-out. You begged Mom to buy you the issue, promising it would be your last request. Rob Lowe, mmmmmmm. If only you knew it could have been you with him and the video camera. Right time, wrong place. Rushing home, you proudly place him prominently next to your Unicorn mirror. Before you went to bed…a light kiss on his lips.

Of course I am not going to drudge up your Michael Jackson fantasy sticker collage pre-Rob Lowe. That would be just, well, too low.

High school brought on braces, acne and your need to be an individual. How easily you rolled up Rob in exchange for your true feelings, the kind of feelings that got you all gooey inside. George Michael. He wanted your sex. You weren’t quite sure what that was, but you think you got to third base with the funereal director’s son. You rushed home to give thanks to the George Michael Poster/alter for making it all feel so real.

Now, today you are walking with your toe-headed children at the Market Place. You give them change to throw in the fountain knowing their wishes will be for some ice-cream and maybe a Harry Potter poster from Russo’s bookstore. You pause, something draws you in…a light, yes a light coming from a frothy little cottage next to a stream. Once again, you are in love. Could that be a unicorn peeking out behind that pine tree? And who is waiting for you in that little cottage with the video camera? Do you hear music pumping frantically in your ears…”I want your…”…yes, oh yes…

Enjoy your poster.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Your Art's in the Mail...Now THAT'S Funny!

With much love and care, we have finally mailed off the documentation for The Empty Space Gallery’s very first mail art exhibit in January, 2004.

"Lucky Foot" Cover Design by Julia Heatherwick

Each catalog was lovingly designed and handstitched by Guinevere Park-Hall!

Yes, it is August, 2005 but love and care isn’t served up McDonald's style!

We had over 150 mail artists contribute a bit of their funny bone to the show. The exhibit opening was packed with people biting at the bit to hear Mr. John Held, Jr. talk about his experiences of being a collector, author, creator and all around mover and shaker within the mail art and artist stamp community.

John Held, Jr. with his fans!

As John Held, Jr. writes in this excerpt from his essay contributed to the Now THAT’s Funny Mail Art Exhibit:

“Many ‘marginal art mediums,’ such as artists’ books, rubber stamps, artist postage stamps, visual poetry, zines and sound works were harbored within Mail Art. With little interest expressed by galleries, and no distribution method for these mediums established, the postal system became the favored means of getting the work out and seen by others. It was also a great means of meeting other creative people.

Even though the Internet has established a faster means of information transfer, the postal service still delivers that personal individual touch so necessary in true communication. But more than ‘artistic pen pals,’ Mail Art remains an alternative to the gallery and museum system, delivering creativity directly in the home.”

(Thank you John for your essay contribution! His complete essay can be found in the catalog sent to all participants.)

The curator and her fans!

The Empty Space Gallery is home for alternative art!

So did they laugh you ask...oh yes, they laughed and laughed and laughed and some of them even remembered to tip their waitress!

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Gallery shows and Gallery tips!

The Exquisite Corpse exhibition was a hit! We had 50 – 75 artists, musicians, actors with a healthy dose of art supporters. Live music, live wall drawings and breathing Corpse livened up the gallery.

Oh how they sang and ate!

Artists from Top to Bottom: Damon Dorsey, A.S. Ashley, Nancy Torii, Nick Belardes

Artists from Top to Bottom: Julia Heatherwick, Nick Belardes, Elizabeth Hinkle, A.S. Ashley

Don’t fret if you missed this one we have another exciting exhibit coming your way.

Mark your calendars for the September exhibition. Los Angeles artist and musician, Michael Biagiotti, brings his urban, punk rock attitude influenced oil paintings to The Empty Space Gallery September 16 – October 1. Michael’s work is influenced by the energy flow of the city. "Although Los Angeles has its share of problems, there is a chaotic beauty that exists here because of the crazy mix of culture, religion and race. It is this type of beauty which I portray in my work."

Meet Michael at the artist opening on Saturday, September 17 from 5:00 – 7:00 pm.

I get a lot of questions about how artists can get into The Empty Space Gallery.

Here are some tips:

Go to the art openings! This isn’t a trick to get you in the doors. If you are interested in approaching a gallery about showing your work it is important to know what type of shows they put on. Your sweet painting of unicorns frolicking in a buttercup and poppy field might not work in a gallery that puts on an Exquisite Corpse show or gives a solo show to Mike Biagiotti.

Have a solid, consistent body of work. Your work should be recent and look cohesive. If a stranger were to walk in the gallery it should look like the same artist did the work. Find your voice and artistic confidence.

Use high quality materials and framing. You should never paint a masterpiece on newsprint. Always expect every piece to be your next masterpiece. If you get invited to participate in a show, always have your work ready for hanging and free of damage.

Prepare an artist statement. It is important to be able to talk about your work. Writing an artist statement allows you to begin to articulate you visual vision. Gallery Directors want to be able to talk to you about your work and talk to their clientele about your work. Don’t write fluff. Be real, genuine and thoughtful.

Be professional and courteous. Be prepared and on-time. There will always be another artist, but if your work is great and you are reliable…it may give you an edge. Being an artist isn’t an excuse for being unprofessional.

Watch for more gallery tips!