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Nature and Asian calligraphy inspired AAU instructor and prolific artist Jenny Balisle to create the most striking compositions that encompass stunning effects. A large body of work that represents diligence interwoven with innovation teases us with unresolved questions on technique. The complexity of Jenny’s artistic process is juxtaposed with the simplicity of the choice of subject. Pigment soaked in layers of solvent-rich oil boasts of variation in application techniques. This very lucidity defines her artistic identity. In conversation with Jenny Balisle who taught me how to get better at what I do:

  • You are obviously committed solely to abstraction. However, some of your drawings involve repetition and meditative mark making that have dared to venture into the representational world. Does the highly personal and rhythmic quality of line encourage you to cross conventional borders in order to find expression?

My pen and ink drawings explore repetitions of line and organic forms. As a result, I explore the simplicity and complexity of gestures, marks, lines and textures. Often, viewers will observe a symbol or form from nature. As a result, the mark making of the art becomes a language of expression. Therefore, I cross borders through the viewer’s interpretation of the art.

  • I helped to display your paintings at the Faculty-Alumni Auction and I have to admit that I was completely floored by the beautiful and finely layered surfaces. Would you like to share your secrets with us?

In my latest body of work, each painting took over 2 1/2 years to complete because of the drying process of multiple oil paint and mediums layers. The secret is having time and patience on your side.

  • Photographs do absolutely no justice to your work. The composition is undoubtedly minimalistic but only close observation reveals how committed you are to your method of painting. How did your process find you?

My process has taken years to accomplish and will continue to evolve over my life. Artists have to discover what they excel at, work hard and make it the best possible within their skill set. Make art that is your own and do not copy.

  • You are extremely well-informed about the current art scene, concepts of art and have a lot to offer in class. How challenging was it for the student in you to emerge into an instructor while you juggled with the ceaseless quest to establish yourself as an artist?

. It’s very important to know how your art fits into the current contemporary scene. It helps an artist look at their art honestly. In addition, being a fulltime artist prior to teaching guided me as an instructor. To me, teaching is giving back knowledge to promising artists. However, establishing yourself as an artist takes a lifetime.

  • How does being a woman affect your role as an artist? What project have you undertaken to promote women artists?

. I proudly take the “labels” as artist, educator, advocate, wife, daughter, sister, aunt and woman. Of course being a woman has affected my role as an artist and I have been rejected based on that. However, the strength I’ve gained from these experiences provides the inspiration to work harder to produce the best art possible.Ultimately it should be about the quality of the art and I look forward to a time of equality. Even though I feel positive about the direction of the art world’s perspective towards women, progress has been slow. As a result, I’m curating and participating in a show featuring eleven women artists. The women range in ages, education and background. Please check out the website and blog: www.factorxx.com.

JBP67222252V- Jenny Balisle

JBP67222252V- Jenny Balisle

Class with Carrie Ann Plank is the simultaneous culmination of fun and the deceptive obliteration of labor. It is hard to categorize her into anything other than the ‘accomplished artist and ingenious instructor’. Dexterous and cognizant, this multifaceted ally cum tutor makes the miter saw seem less intimidating and printmaking more fascinating to me. I bring to you a demo in the hope that it might lure you into bringing her Mixed Media class into your life.

Armed with printmaking, the content, concept, and context of her work find themselves rendered through an amalgam of diverse techniques. Her approach is informed by a plethora of information and found imagery. Carrie Ann effortlessly accommodates ‘manuals, treatises, medical texts, records, and charts and diagrams of all descriptions’ to create a unique repertoire whose quest for aesthetics in atypical spaces redefines convention and confronts perception.

Begging the question - Carrie Ann Plank

Begging the question - Carrie Ann Plank

Greg Gandy created quite a stir at the Faculty-Alumni auction this year. His paintings were a popular choice and sold for the highest bids at the Live Auction. On his experience at the auction he states, “In retrospect, I am very proud to have been one amongst many talented artists in this year’s faculty alumni auction. I am especially proud that I was able to support the Academy through it’s scholarship fund. On the day of the auction, however, I was impressed with the excitement in the air about art in general. It was especially rewarding to have that excitement be due to the few pieces I had in the auction. The live auction was especially memorable. It was fun to see patrons bidding live on my piece.”

Art summoned Greg in his sophomore year, perhaps residually from childhood creativity indulgences. Greg’s quest for skill brought him to AAU and his impressive work amasses assiduous and countless hours in the studio, “I can’t put into words why, its just something I have in me. I think because it doesn’t come easy to me I never get tired of doing it. To me being a painter is like being a great problem solver. Each painting requires a new way of thinking and fixing the scene to create a successful painting. … I am in the studio just like its an everyday job. I paint from 8am to 7pm because I feel like that’s what it takes to get better.”

A recent graduate, this remarkable go-getter paints realistic, detail-oriented landscapes of San Francisco amongst other things. Currently represented by John Pence Gallery his still lifes and urban landscapes are a must-see for all.

Rainydayonmarketstreet- Greg Gandy

Rainy day on Market Street- Greg Gandy

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For Garrett

His Own- Andre Hermann

His Own- Andre Hermann

Andre Hermann aspired to be a war photographer. He documents a different genre of war now, one that is highly personal, equally painful, unpleasant and concealed.
At 625 Gallery, the artist takes you on a heart-rending ride through little Garrett’s complex world as you bear witness to the most poignant moments of daily life captured on film. The photographs leave you disturbed and pensive while the film offers a closer encounter with the brave protagonist.

Andre wishes to create an awareness of the disease in question, to highlight the impact of its attack.  Epidermolysis Bullosa or EB refers to a rare skin disease that Garrett has to live with every single day of his life. The inability to produce collagen-7 protein that sticks the outer layer of the skin to its inner counterpart changes everything for everyone. Garrett is fragility wrapped in bandages, 24/7. Visits to the doctor are undesirable, excruciatingly long and painful; similar to the bandages that need to be changed 2-3 times a week with a great deal of patience and effort. You may want to question the very idea of God and unflinchingly invite cynicism into your life. If that is the case, you may have just missed the point.

The idea is not to evoke feelings of pity. Garrett is incredibly cute, popular at school, shares a unique bond with his mother and has doting girlfriends. Extremely passionate about basketball, he invites his friends over for an occasional indoor game and was even appointed ‘honorary assistant coach’ to exercise his extensive knowledge on the subject. Andre worked with Garrett and his family for a year and a half on a weekly basis to build a body of work that hopes to culminate into a traveling exhibition. It is fascinating to discover how the physical condition affects in varying degrees, not only the victim and his family but all who come in contact with it.

As viewers of an exhibition, it is perhaps impossible for us to gauge what it is to live with EB. Impact, innocence, ignorance, intensity and isolation collectively gnawed at my feet as I walked through the images. How does one start to accept pain in one’s daily routine? The element of shock is aimed to challenge the way you look and feel. Hence the artist plays the crucial role of a mediator between viewer and subject. In collaboration with Blurb Inc. he brings to us a book on the subject, the proceeds of which will partially go to Garrett.

The AAU Alumni Association will host a party for faculty and alumni at the closing reception to help raise funds for the cause on Tuesday, December 1, 2009. For those of us who cannot attend the event to gain a better insight into Garrett’s story, the book of 70 powerful photographs is available for purchase at 625 Gallery for $25.The series of photographs ends on a relatively happy note with Garrett out in the open. Check out the artist’s website and blog at www.andrehermannphoto.com

Garrett and Andre at the opening reception

Garrett and Andre at the opening reception

Amiable, talented and enthusiastic Meryl first grabbed my attention at 79 Gallery when the Senior Portfolio Show was being hung. The work was fresh, candid, promising and I was curious to know more. It revolves around the crucial role that experiences play in shaping personalities. She perceives human beings as ‘casts’ or ‘molds’, each made up of a unique blend of substances.  Her civilian medals, symbolic of an essentially unrewarded and tough human existence beckoned me.

As she states, “Three out of four medals have enamel fired onto a surface within the piece and one displays enamel in its raw form, powdered, within vials.  I like to use found objects in my small medals work to support concept and to offer visual variety; in some cases, a beautiful or interesting found object can be more visually and emotionally striking than a mass of expensive metal.  Some techniques used in the process of creation were soldering, enameling, reticulation, riveting, hinge making, framing or bezeling, decorative filing and patina.”

With an unlimited reserve of resources at her disposal, the sky is the limit. To explore the unusual, to refine, define and redefine appear to be her enduring obsession. Found objects seem to effortlessly find, tease and challenge her into expressing a visual language far removed from the norm. She reveals that installation work demands careful consideration that embodies concept, choice of material, execution and attention to detail.

Civilian Medals detail - Meryl Pataky

Civilian Medals detail - Meryl Pataky

Civilian Medals detail - Meryl Pataky

Civilian Medals detail - Meryl Pataky

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Sculpture club at 688.

79 Gallery was a perfect start for the ‘first Thursday gallery-hopping’ with friends. 625 Sutter and a couple of detours later I can assertively offer one single tip. LEAVE EARLY! For our clique, the 688 Gallery opening reception never saw the light of day.

I had to go back the next day to bring you the latest. Be sure not to miss one of the most unusual exhibitions at the AAU galleries.  688 Sutter hosts a show organized by the Sculpture Club featuring 14 individual styles and personal statements from graduate and undergraduate students. The spirit of the club finds itself channeled into an exciting show born out of popular demand. The work ranges from jewelry to bronze casting and everything in between.

Gallery assistant Amy Vazquez reveals that sculpture is a welcome change for 688 Gallery, “Being the Sculpture Club’s first group exhibition, I think this show does a great job at demonstrating to the public the wide range of works that are being produced in the Sculpture Department. It was also very nice to see how excited the sculpture students were to have their work displayed, and their anticipation in preparing for a future show. “She further states that displaying the diverse styles was a challenging but interesting experience.

The actual physicality of three-dimensional works often calls for a tempting tactile response from viewers who steal a moment from the alert gallery representative to reach out and touch the forbidden. Not always a good idea especially if you’re considering a brief encounter with Michael Barrett’s interactive sculpture titled ‘Punchline’. An interesting take on the absurdity of life, the installation mimics a boxing ring, an environment that symbolizes the endless struggles that mankind faces. A video of the artist getting punched by a left hand glove aka Alter ego, as he attempts to paint a straight line with his right hand could save you from a first hand experience. Check it out.

http://web.me.com/creepypeepyroom/iWeb/Creepy%20Peepy%20Room/Video/B43CE231-F09F-408A-895C-A497F60E8E64.html

Bobkidu series - Bob Carpenter

Bobkidu series - Bob Carpenter

Bob Carpenter’s ‘Bobkidu’ series creates an environment of original characters in a plot.  The artist and his ‘shadow’ or alter ego leap into life and narrate incidents to the viewer who in turn gets as deeply involved in the experience as the characters themselves. Almost animated in their appeal, the highly expressive figures do not fail to grab a great deal of attention.

A mélange of delicate materials, gleaming surfaces, roughed up textures and solid structures creates a unique visual indulgence. A personal favorite, ‘Anatomy of Kisses’, by Sonya Zuniga is as delicate as it is dangerous. Interesting dichotomy and skilled craftsmanship make this sharp-edged, welded steel holly wreath an instant success. Look but don’t touch!

A quick look at the 625 Gallery Jacquelyn Vierra and Carina Lomeli’s painting show. The former explores the beauty of nature in female nudes rendered in a representational style. In an attempt to bring classical realism to the contemporary art world, the artist paints an unconventional rear view of the model. Carina Lomeli prefers to paint her impressions and experiences in San Francisco. Drawing parallels between her personal relationships and the pace of vibrant but complex urban life, she realizes how deeply connected we really are.

Director of galleries Hillary Welde makes a special appearance next week. A super exciting event juxtaposed with an absorbing insight into the gallery world.  Stay tuned…

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