Get up. Go. You only have today and Sunday.
Having recently returned from a work trip to London, Amsterdam and Paris (okay, that last stop wasn’t work), I almost dreaded having to write about the Mission Spring Studio Stroll since so many open-studio weekends disappoint, and especially so in comparison to Mexico or Europe.
But, WOW, there’s a lot of inspiring work going on in the Mission. So much that I only made it to four of the eight spaces holding Friday premier parties.
If you made it to the other venues or have other favorites at these spots, please post in the comment section. If you send us a link to a photo or a photo and caption information, we’ll post that as well.
So, where to start? The warren of studios at ActivSpace, 3150 18th Street, opened at 5 p.m. so Steve Saldivar, the photographer for the evening, and I began there. Some of the highlights: “A Walk in the Mission” by Colleen A. Marlow. “Capp St. at Dawn: A Man in an SUV Drives Down the Street … ,” begins the text on the 32-by-24-inch acrylic mixed media that includes—among other figures—a missile heading straight for the bull’s eye on the female figure’s purse.
Katja Leibenath, who studied architecture in Germany, has a wonderful series of oil-on-canvas landscapes (painted after a drive to Livermore) and a series, “City Skies,” on the rooftops outside her fifth-floor studio. Some are Richard Diebenkorn-like in style.
Not everyone opened for the evening, so viewers walked down long hallways looking for art. On one of these hall excursions, I passed an office with an open door, looked in and saw no canvas on the wall. The Idea Laboratory, the card outside announced. Hmm, on I continued, but then I wanted to know. What is an idea studio?
Turns out, Veronica Van Gogh creates iPhone applications and, well, lives an artful life. Van Gogh was busy filling white socks with $1 bills and a piece of chocolate. It’s her Sock Project, a “way to use the money I make in my life.” She will give the socks to the first 50 people who walk through the door and look reliable enough to pass them on to someone living on the streets.
There was more at Activspace, but we had to move on to the Blue Studio at 2111 Mission St., where we visited the Mission 17 space first. There, we found art critic and professor David Buuck. A writer? Yes, and his project for a six-week stint as a visual/cultural critic in residence is “17 Reasons Why,” a “visual archeology of the building’s surrounding city blocks.”
Buuck’s one of the only writers I’ve met who can say, “I’m part of the art,” without sounding awful. The thing is, he’s made an intriguing space out of the gallery and I’ll be back for follow-up events on May 6, 20 and 30.
On the same floor, Alex Nichols, an art teacher in the public schools, has two different series going. One consists of large female figure drawings and the other is a series of geometric-like, black-and-white mixed-media paintings that include pages from an S.F. phone book. The Calder and Dada influences are there without being overly obvious. Nice.
Nearby, Camilla Newhagen showed collages (lots of great collage from many artists this year), photography and soft sculptures. I’ve never been a fan of soft sculpture, but her near-life-sized doll-like creations, Newhagen said, led her to the collage series, so it’s hard to complain. Each collage on paper is minimalist in considering the “invisibility of women.” Each also suggests beauty and elegance.
Down the hall, Chad E. Xavier has a delightful series of 12-by-12-inch oils of pigeons—sainted pigeons as it turns out, as each represents one of the 12 apostles. “They were right outside my window,” he said. “People called them flying rats but watching them I could see this whole social network.” My favorite: Judas. Haunting.
On to a large room with multiple artists where, stuck to the wall, was the nearly discarded cardboard covering for a table. On it, Andrew Vogt had drawn a simple representation of an outdoor table with its umbrella and four chairs. I’m a sucker for simplicity so it sent me in search of Vogt, who is not so simple.
He uses carefully discarded wood from Bay Area houses, peels it away—or not—to create what he calls, “drawings in wood.”
He also takes the wood and a staple gun to create three-dimensional, elegant sculptures. “Skin and Bones,” for example, suggests the housing disaster of today, but with a spare, stark beauty.
From Blue Studio—and there was much more there to like—we went to Workspace Limited at 2150 Folsom St. and walked right in to see the “Window Series” by Ali Saif—bold, sure oils; collages from digitized original art by Sharon Steuer; amazing paper and found object sculptures by Mel Epstein; delightful abstracts by Delfina Piretti, and an exquisite still life series and portrait series by Denmark native Kirstine Reiner.
Reiner’s work was one of the highlights of the night. The Denmark native is self-taught and extraordinary. In the still life series, she said, she was “fascinated about getting a ghostly, airy feeling; a feeling of the surreal.” In “Invitation,” an 18-b-24-inch oil, a wine glass is turned over, the plate empty and the silverware aligned. The set table suggests order; the light, anticipation. Luminous.
Very different but also noteworthy were Lisa Knoop’s “Inheritance” series, near-skeleton-like oils by Mr. Rogers, mixed media by Lani Asher, and “Mother Nature” by Tana Powell. But I probably missed many because each demanded time. And we had to move on.
Our last stop for the night: Developing Environments at 540 Alabama St. Again, too much to like. Ronald Chase isn’t even officially in the show, but his huge oils and wood sculptures still hang in the hallways. Amazing. “The Bodega 1969,” the mixed-media sculpture the size of a doorway turned on its side, uses a Spanish photograph from 1900 to create an homage to that period. Two paintings—one huge and vertical and the other huge and horizontal (huge as in the size of a large door)–are mixed-media oils called “Heroes of the Vitteret-Cotterets.”
Also, I liked Shawn Ray Harris’ photography, Jennifer Ewing’s mixed-media oils and spirit boats, and Lila Maes’ and Rosa De Anda’s wooden sculptures—7 -by-4-foot wings and other pieces on flight and movement.
Time to move. Four more warehouses to go.
Mission Spring Studio Stroll
Sat., April 25, and Sun., April 26, 11am-6 pm. Free.
Map and other information here.