Patricia by Patricia

Patricia by Patricia
Patricia by Patricia

Friday, August 29, 2014

London Journal 1: Tate Britain Folk Art

Hello friends and colleagues,

We are in London for 6 weeks and I am going to post these occasional reports on the food we eat and art that we seeing during the trip. If you stumble upon this blog and want to receive regular notices of postings, make sure and enter your email address near the top right.

We are indulging in jet lag and starting to slow down from the hectic pace of life connected with the San Diego Visual Arts Network. I actually have time to read a book and check out some art videos online. What is this strange feeling: OMG, I am relaxed!

Our first night out was at a local gastro pub called the Prince Alfred which has a delightful dinner room, the Formosa. We are staying in a lovely flat loaned by dear friends near Maida Vale and the Warwick Avenue underground station on the Bakerloo line. Our own flat is rented out and is on the south side of London, so this is a whole new experience for us.

Lanterns at Formosa which remind me of commercial versions of William Lesley's work

A unusual sparking wine from the Langedoc region of France using sauvignon grapes

Watermelon gazpacho with feta crumbles and the tang of vinegar

Bangers and mash i.e. pork and apple sausage for Darwin and I had scallops with a yellow tomato sauce and chorizo garnish

Opps, all that is left of the sticky toffee pudding, yummy.

Tate Britain presents the first major survey of British Folk Art. The exhibition has sourced what they call "important" works from the length and breadth of the country, gathering over 100 paintings, textiles, sculptures and rare objects. The show is all historical with no contemporary works. We saw lots of naive painting like Alfred Wallis's ships, needlework tapestry, by Mary Linwood,  a few quilts, large trade signs sculptures, ship figureheads. little figures made from scrapes of fabric by George Smart, bead encrusted "remember me" pillows and lots more. Although curated into mini collections of these objects, you have the feeling the works were selected from a large antique store. But on display at the Tate Britain they attempted to be charged with the label of high art. Emphasis is on form, color and medium as they are taken out of their context. I don't draw the distinction about what is high and low art, but this seemed a bit forced and overstated  in the little free brochure about this exhibition. All these types of folk art works can be seen at the Victoria and Albert Museum where they are just as special.  

Small object made large to use as signs in front of trade shops

Tin and bone chicken made by an Englishman while in a French prison

Ship figurehead

Very large  figurehead maybe for Ali Baba's ship (?) but actually for the HMS Calcutta in Mumbai in 1831
These suits covered with strips of newspaper predates Nick Cave and reminds me of The Mascot series by Brian Dick one of our SD Art Prize recipient

You also see the Phyllida Barstow installation in the central hall which is very much what we expect from the Tate Modern. Very, very large scale works that are rough and ready, living in this elegant architecturally rich interior. The contrast is startling. But it seems like the Tate Britain has lost its way a bit. I am not so sure of the brand anymore. I know it is all British, so I guess it is a way to see all that Britain has to offer in visual art in one stop. 

Phyllida Barstow in the great hall

The most impressive thing about this visit was the new staircase down to the lower floors. It was exciting to see the shapes and flow and it fit perfectly into the space. There is a whole new front room as well, with modern light fixtures and it is almost like it has become slightly more American, a bit too clean and tidy, and I miss the old slightly yellowing and warm feeling of space as I remember it. 

We followed this show with an extremely elegant lunch at the Whistler Restaurant at the Tate, named after the murals that cover all four walls of the room. Not cheap, but such a refined and truly English experience. I had a the Rabbit turnover with wonderful pickled vegetables. The table split a chocolate fondant which is like our chocolate decadent serve hot which oozes when you have the first bite.

Whistler Mural

Stephen Jones and my husband Darwin, mural in the background

Rabbit Turnover and Pickled Vegetables

Chocolate fondant pre-ooze and vanilla ice cream, not clotted or double...see how American they have become

Please excuse any misspelling or typos. This set of blogs is not being proofed by the usual set of wonderful eagle eyes that normally scan my words.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Priest, A Rabbi and an art Critic walk into an Art Gallery....

A Priest, A Rabbi and an art Critic walk into an Art Gallery....: Varieties on Truth, Beauty and Art
A Panel Moderated by Kinsee Morlan with Reverend Eleanor Ellsworth, Rabbi Lenore Bohm and Robert Pincus.

an exhibition of new work by Vicki Walsh and premiering portraits by 6 emerging artists... 
Karen Cohn + Carole Dowling + Gisela Gebling + Olga Griesinger + Kassie Mattia + Sheryl White
Exhibition Dates 
July 5 - EXTENDED TO Aug 5
Saturdays and Sundays, 12:00 – 4:00pm, or by appointment
Opportunity Gallery
NTC at Liberty Station
2825 Dewey Rd, Building 202, Suite 103
San Diego, CA 92106

Left to right: Kaz Maslanka, Rabbi Bohm, Vicki, Revenend Ellsworth, Tom Sergott, Robert Pincus

We loved the title of this panel discussion and I was delighted to see such a great turn-out on the night. I was especially thrilled to see Robert Pincus as I had a nightmare about him recently and he was on great form and very entertaining. Isn’t it strange how you dream about something you must do and I guess I was slated to remember to attend this event, which we had to sandwich in between two other fun art promotions…the Art Expo 2014 and South Park Walk About. You can read Mark Murphy's ArtExpo 2014, my Picked RAW Peeled report. The South Park Walk About was a crowded, frenzy of young families who were basking in the sounds of at least three bands that I counted and a variety of food trucks, arts and crafts. Very happening and still going strong when we left at 9:30 pm. Watch for the next one on Oct 4. We met up with former education director of the San Diego Art Institute Stephen Wagner who was promoting his printed scenes of San Diego. Stephen now runs the ARC Galleries and Studios in San Francisco.

Vicki Walsh arranged this evening at NTC at Liberty Station in the new Opportunity Gallery which can be rented on a month to month basis until the New American Museum moves back into the space. You may remember NAM started in this location which was then occupied by Pulse Gallery before they move south and then closed.  Our lack of sustainable galleries makes it vital that artist take this kind of initiative to show their work.

Vicki is showing her incredible intense painting with the subject of faces and she also invited six of her students to show works along side. Three members of the audience that I knew were also subjects of these art works: Robin Lipman, Debra Poteet and Patti Cooprider.


The panel was Vicki’s idea to explore concepts of truth and beauty in art and Kinsee Morlan very professionally navigated the three speakers into this direction. Here are a few of the notes that I took. I noticed that there were sound bites at every turn. Maybe that is because Reverends and Rabbis do a lot of public speaking. These are not exact quotes and you had to be there make your own interpretation of the context.

Reverend Eleanor Ellsworth
We don’t know it all.
Art is not what is always beautiful, but also what is meaningful.
Inter faith is based on respect
People seek the structure of religion
Religion has long been a patron of the arts

Rabbi Lenore Bohm
What is good is beautiful. Truth is beautiful.
We are humble about our knowledge but impassioned about the worth of art
Art does not always need to be meaningful. Sometimes it can just reflect the beauty of the world.
Jews do not make any icons of God.
A benefit of pluralism is that it is a sign of fences coming down.
Religion can be a lens to see the work, just as art can.
Art is a noble calling and those who seek to be artists should go for it with passion.

Robert Pincus
Nothing is objective, every thing is subjective.
The printed word validates opinion. (could this change in the digital age?)
Successful art needs to succeed on its own terms
Art is not therapy
Art has the rigor of form that a trained eye can judge
A successful artists is one that makes art worth seeing

Kinsee Morlan
I am a journalist and I have noticed that people appear to crave opinion from experts.

Art is about communication.
I don’t want a portrait of a stranger in my home. I see too many strangers day in and day out.
Art offers structure without boundaries

I remember a comment from a friend of ours who is a theater and movie critic. I was going to mention this on the night, but there was so much good discussion, it just did not seem necessary but this might be a fitting end to this article.

He said he makes judgments based on three factors:
Does the artist have something to say?
If so, was that worth saying?
Did he say it well?

I stopped in briefly in two other NTC Liberty Station exhibitions:

ROCKIN' THE BOAT: The Women's Liberation Movement of the 60s and 70s at the Women's Museum of California until August 31

Aida Valencia is showing her own sculptures at Valencia Gallery along with the painting of Lourdes Rivera 

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Call to Action

The recent two part article by Kinsee Morlan in City Beat (Part 1 San Diego County's unusual approach to arts funding and Part 2 What more would we gain with an County Arts Council ) was a very fair handed report on the state of the arts in San Diego County. It clearly laid out the case of why San Diego County needs to step up and have a more professional administration to advise and organize the arts at the regional level. New funding from the California Arts Council will only be available to us if we get our act together and move forward.  Some of the biggest success stories are from regions that have embraced the arts as an economic driver.

The arts community has a united responsibility to aid and support the goals of our supervisors, most of which are very worthy. So the time is over to think of the county administration as a source of funding hand outs.  We need to start giving back to our whole community to ensure its health and prosperity.

Ron Roberts, supervisor of District 4 wonders what we would gain by having an arts council. This is a valid question. We don’t need a superficial layer of bureaucracy. We need a serious and committed look at how professional arts administrators could improve a system that is stuck in the status quo and refusing to be open to new ideas. He has even gone so far as to say, “It’s just not going to happen while this board’s in place.”  Is that really the attitude that an innovative leader needs to have to ensure success?

We are asking the supervisors to embrace the art community and recognize that it is an aid to economic growth and a better life for the entire region.  We make a call to all the arts in our community to see how you can come together to collaborate and design system that will help us to help them.

These are Dave Robert's (supervisor of District 3) stated objective (in bold) from his website and we think by giving these examples, it helps to clarify more how the arts are an aid to the system.

·       To be an independent and honest representative, who restores government accountability and promotes job growth – CULTIVATING THE ARTS CREATES JOB OPPORTUNITIES to aid economic development in the new economy. In 2013, the nonprofit arts and culture organizations stimulate the economy with over $186.8 million in direct expenditures. This includes $108.8 million in salaries supporting a workforce of more than 6500. The arts not only create jobs, they provide a competitive advantage in attracting new businesses and a skilled workforce. In addition, 13,391 volunteers contribute time, talent and resources to this sector. In 2013, over 1.6 million visitors traveled to San Diego to participate in arts and cultural events and pumped more than $850 million into the local economy. According to the 2013 San Diego County Visitor Profile Study, tourists who participated in an arts and culture activity stayed longer, spent more and used more hotel accommodations.  The average was $561 per trip (up from 2009) as compared with the average tourist’s $235 (down from 2009). In fact all these trends are up.
  • To promote neighborhood preservation – CREATING VIBRANT ART PROJECTS FOR NEIGHBORHOOD builds PRIDE through BRANDING and the creation of ARTS DISTRICTS in communities, like North Park, South Park, Oceanside, Carlsbad, National City, Chula Vista, Encinitas, NTC Liberty Station, Vista, Escondido, Fallbrook, Barrio Logan/East Village.
  • To strengthen fire protection -  EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS PROGRAMS for artists for example those by Synergy Arts Foundation which supplies education and funding for artists affected by the fires
  • To promote public safety - ARTS PROMOTE SAFETY by keeping a dangerous element off the streets by giving them a purpose, creating after school, healing arts and veteran programs
  • To improve libraries and parks  - ARTS PROGRAMS in the PUBLIC LIBRARIES  throughout the district and PUBLIC ART in the parks are great enhancements to our community. LIBRARIES ARE THE NEW CULTURAL CENTERS in their community that utilize the arts (visual, performing. literary, culinary, healing arts). The Encinitas Library, Carlsbad Libraries and new downtown Library are a prime example, which uses the arts to increase attendance for all ages and for life long learning.
  • To protect our coastline and open space – ARTS TAPS INTO EMPATHY with Programs like Sea Changes: Act (Part of the DNA of Creativity project) to draw attention to areas that need improvement like plastic pollution and sustainable fishing.
  • To preserve and promote initiatives to sustain our environment -  ARTS PROGRAMMING for environmental issues includes recycling, food banks, and shining light on issues like climate change.
  • To promote quality schools and opportunities for all to succeed - ARTS EDUCATION is fundamental to prepare our students of all ages for the challenges of an innovation based economy

We don’t particularly care what this administration on a county level is called, but eventually is needs to be formed and it needs to be approved of by all five supervisors so that funds can be directly equally to the whole of San Diego county. But more importantly it needs to be formed so that once and for all the county recognized the valuable role the arts play in our community and so that the arts community can align itself with the goals of our citizens.

The call to action then becomes a call for collaborations to be set up in all areas of the county to investigate what each part of the county needs and how the arts can fill those needs. These collaborative groups need to share information among and between themselves. Then, when the time comes in the near future, when new or existing supervisors can open their minds, we will be ready.