Art Basel Miami Beach” by Pamela Beck

ArtDart by Pamela Beck: Everybody knows that you can’t see everything when you go to Art Basel Miami Beach. It’s not that you don’t want to, you do. You really do.

ARTdart: There are as many ways to think about art as there are to create it. Join Pamela Beck in her column, ARTdart, as she explores and considers the different perspectives that define the art world.

Everybody knows that you can’t see everything when you go to Art Basel Miami Beach. It’s not that you don’t want to, you do. You really do. But there are more than 20 fairs, more than 75,000 visitors, and your mind stops working after several hours of concentrated art viewing and the constant jostling of well-dressed strangers.

Even if you have the stamina to make it to all of the fairs, there’s the not insignificant problem of finding a taxi to actually get you to them. It’s enough to make you stand on a street corner swearing that you’ll never return to Art Basel again… until you remember that the fabulous Design District will be completed about this time, 2014.

I saw many things that delighted me this year. Like this:

“Seer Bonnet XXI [Eliza] and Seer Bonnett XX [Emily]” Bonnets encrusted with thousands of pearl-headed corsage pins Lisa Sette Gallery
“Seer Bonnet XXI [Eliza] and Seer Bonnett XX [Emily]”
Bonnets encrusted with thousands of pearl-headed corsage pins
Lisa Sette Gallery
This is Angela Ellsworth’s strong statement about traditional Mormonism, her own background. (The points of the pins face inward, while the beautiful pearls reflect another message. Sister wives takes on a whole new meaning…]

And this:

“Tiny Landscape Painting, Antigua: Hurricane Sky, Black Jagged Hill” Oil on Polaroid card 1O x 8 cm Ingleby Gallery
“Tiny Landscape Painting, Antigua:
Hurricane Sky, Black Jagged Hill”
Oil on Polaroid card
1O x 8 cm
Ingleby Gallery

Frank Walter lived in an isolated shack in Antigua for 25 years. He suffered from delusions of aristocratic grandeur but produced these simple, powerful works.

And this:

“Ceyx” Graphite and Ink on paper 5O x 38 inches Dillon Gallery
“Ceyx”
Graphite and Ink on paper
5O x 38 inches
Dillon Gallery

Leah Yerpe’s perfectly rendered figures are riveting as they evoke the beauty and mystery of both human and celestial bodies.

And no trip to Miami will ever again be without a stop at the inspiring Perez Art Museum [PAMM], dramatically set against Biscayne Bay.

Photo:  Perez Art Museum Miami Partial View of Ai Weiwei's "Forever" installation of Chinese bicycles
Photo:
Perez Art Museum Miami
Partial View of Ai Weiwei’s “Forever” installation of Chinese bicycles

Herzog & de Meuron designed this jawdroppingly, elegant structure, both contemporary and organic with its use of concrete, wood and pervasive garden and water features. In a distinct “today’s-museum” style, PAMM compellingly combines art, nature, entertainment, leisure and respect for local culture/climate.

Photo: Perez Art Museum Miami Outside view
Photo: Perez Art Museum Miami
Outside view

The beautiful, sprawling entrance immediately stops you in your tracks with its latticed roof, abundant terraces, and plant infused columns hanging from the roof like tropical stalactites.

Inside, the airy exhibition rooms currently display diverse shows including: “Ai Weiwei: According to What,” the powerful political and personal installations of this outspoken critic of the Chinese government. [Ai was prohibited from traveling to see this exhibition.]

And, in contrast, another exhibit, “A Human Document: Selections from the Sackner Collection of Concrete and Visual Poetry,” is private and quiet, where words and images fuse to create fantastic works that span centuries and styles.

A friend asked me if the museum overpowered the art on exhibit. It’s a fair question. Being inside such a beautifully designed and constructed building is undeniably exciting and uplifting, particularly with the pervasive window views of lush gardens and the bay; not to mention the inviting seating areas, both inside and out, that are already crowd-pleasers.

In the end, my friend’s question will be answered by the art on display. Either it will encourage a visitor’s full involvement or it will be overwhelmed by the particulars of this pleasurable museum experience. Interestingly, this built-in competition is a provocative test for the art itself.

The same challenge can be given to the art presented at the Miami art fairs. The works that engaged me in that supercharged, distracting atmosphere are the ones I’ll remember; and the search for them and what they evoked in me, are the reasons I’ll return.

Now all I need is a car and driver.

Pamela Beck
Pamela Beck

Pamela is Public relations director for Season of Sculpture and a private art consultant. She co-owned Pannonia Galleries in NYC. There she was also an art appraiser, private art dealer, art fair exhibitor and catalogued paintings at Sotheby’s. She was Communications Director of The Essential Element. Pamela has a keen intrest in the arts and supporting Sarasota’s future as a lively, diverse and forward thinking city for young and old. Pamela is a member of The Fine Arts Society of Sarasota, Curatorial & Acquisitions Committee and Institute for the Ages Volunteer.

    To read more about Pamela, view these links:

Incredible Journey: Interview with Emma Thurgood

I’ve been engaged in this ongoing dialogue about support for local contemporary art for quite some time now. Ever since I moved to Sarasota, FL I have experienced a vast amount of creative energy that feels underground, for the most part. Contemporary art collectives and gallery spaces crop up every now and then, which is great because creatives can see Sarasota’s vast potential — the only problem is that they don’t seem to stick for very long. So I wonder; how do we get to a point where new collectives and galleries can become established, and when these new collectives and galleries do become established they, in turn, become a catalyst for new spaces and groups until a domino effect is created? We have a good number of resources, but I think we still need to consider more support from current established institutions, so that artists (young and old) have more of an incentive to stay and help strengthen our art community. For example, when I was recently living in Utah, I loved going to the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art and CUAC because, not only could I view the work of artists living in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City, Berlin, etc., but I could also view contemporary art that was created by Utah artists! UMOCA even has a “locals only gallery” with a stipend included to help fund each exhibition within that space — AND the work that I saw continually blew my mind because I was viewing powerful, compelling artwork that was created outside of a major art center perspective — it was all new and fresh. I was viewing contemporary art about subjects that were specifically related to the location I was in and that added a whole other dimension to my experience as a viewer. It was also quite clear that these artists were very aware of the contemporary art world, were referencing aspects of it, but not necessarily mimicking it per se — they were adding their own perspective to what I consider an ongoing creative discussion, and it was coming from a Utah perspective. So that makes me think; how amazing would it be to go anywhere in the world and be able to view contemporary art that is representative of that location and its artists’ perspectives, while also being able to view artwork created by emerging and established, national and international, artists in the same space? To me, that would be highly fascinating! Fortunately for Sarasota, I’ve found that Art Center Sarasota is doing just that, and making quite an exciting impression in the process. I recently contacted Art Center Sarasota’s Exhibitions Coordinator, Emma Thurgood, to discuss the Art Center’s 2013-2014 season of exhibitions.

KLL: What is, and has been, your vision for Art Center Sarasota since you started your current position?

ET: My vision for the Art Center’s Exhibitions Program is to grow it to be a leader in Sarasota’s contemporary arts scene. For me, that means showing a variety of art year round that is visually interesting, thought provoking, and creates a memorable experience that they can’t get anywhere else in the area. I’ve been at the Art Center for a year and a half now, and I feel like we are on a great path with those ideas. For the last few exhibitions, visitors have been telling me, “This is the best show I’ve ever been to in Sarasota.” They said that about “Florida Flavor”, they said that about “African Nouveau” and “Leaf | Textile | Purpose” and I think the trend will continue on through the Incredible Journey Season.

KLL: Art Center Sarasota’s 2013-2014 season of exhibitions is titled Incredible Journey; why was that title selected and what should viewers expect to experience during the Incredible Journey season?

ET: Last season was called Southern Exposure for a reason: 20 of the 22 exhibitions we produced were exclusively Florida artists. It was a huge success in highlighting the amazing talents of Florida artists. Now, with Incredible Journey, we’re taking viewers on explorations of different art forms and concepts in art, as well as drawing artists from further afield than we normally do. In the past, it was very rare that our curated shows included artists that were outside of the Florida region. This season, we are presenting artists from across America and we have started the eight-year international exhibition program, “Confluence.” This program is an initiative I started where we will be showcasing artists from the countries in which Sarasota has a sister city. This year it’s Israel, 2015 is Russia.

I think this season is going to take some viewers’ way outside of their comfort zone. There are a lot of shows on the docket that present works that many people aren’t accustomed to seeing in Sarasota. For me, this is all part of creating a dialogue about what art is and can mean that will break down some barriers that have been put up.

KLL: We’ve talked a lot about fostering more support for local artists and creating an incentive for recent graduates to continue to live and work as artists in Sarasota; how is Art Center Sarasota contributing to this goal?

ET: Our main contribution towards encouraging students to stay in Sarasota is through Black Box Projects. It is specifically for students and recent graduates to produce an ambitious project. The Art Center provides an exhibition space and time, as well as some financial resources to see the vision of a student come to life. This contributes to their understanding of real world skills because they have to write a professional proposal to be considered and they have to produce the show.  Because we schedule so far out in advance, a candidate could be a student when they apply for the Project, but already graduated when the Project finally comes on display in the gallery. Secondly, we have juried shows year round, and students and young artists who have been submitting have been winning awards and selling their work regularly over the past six months. Sarasota in general is a great place for that kind of success, too. In my research of other centers like Art Center Sarasota across the country, very few regions are like ours in that they offer so many exhibition opportunities year round across multiple venues. The rate for being selected to hang in a juried exhibit is very high, as well. In other shows across the country, you are competing with hundreds, sometimes thousands of people and only a small handful will be selected. In the Art Center’s juried shows, we receive around 300 submissions from about 200 artists and hang approximately 140-160 pieces. In the current juried show, “miniatures,” we have 244 pieces on display from a submission pool of 345. Those are some great odds for artists.

KLL: In your opinion, why should there be support for local contemporary art in Sarasota?

ET: A city is only as old as its youngest member. If the art scene continues to alienate the younger artists and audiences as it has in years past, they’ll find somewhere else to go where they feel like they belong. It’s a difficult challenge to deal with, especially as a non-profit, because the young people are not always the financial supporters of an organization. But organizations need to cultivate the next round of supporters because, as with all things, times and people change.

Art Center Sarasota does a pretty good job walking this tightrope, I think. I try to make sure that there is something on display for everyone. I have at any given time over 300 artworks on display in the building and they’re all different.  No person should be leaving the center saying that there was not a single piece they liked. It’s impossible.

KLL: What advice would you give to recent graduates about establishing an art practice/career in Sarasota and/or its neighboring communities?

ET: Get involved! It’s hard for students, between classes and jobs, but seriously, there’s still enough down time in their life for them to carve out even twenty minutes a week to go and look at what’s on display in a gallery. The more involved they can become in the arts scene, the better off they’ll be. They’ll have a better idea of who the players are, they’ll be able to meet and speak with many of them at receptions, and it will give them a better idea of how they fit into the art landscape. One of the things I can’t stand is when a  young artist comes to me to ask me to put on a show of their work and they have no idea who I am or what I do or even anything about my organization. I teach a professional practices class at the center with Elizabeth Hillmann, our Education Coordinator, and one of the things we talk about is gallery etiquette. I live by a simple rule when it comes to that: date your gallery. Be informed about who they are and what they do before you approach them, be respectful of their time, and if they pick you for representation, treat them with the absolute utmost respect and maintain a good relationship.

KLL: What other services does the center provide that the community can get involved with?

ET: Art Center Sarasota has a wide variety of events and public programs throughout the year. I have a great lecture season coming up with Kevin Costello and Baila Miller starting on November 21. We also have a killer education program with tons of classes in painting, sculpture, collage, jewelry and other fun stuff. The full listing of classes and workshops can be found at www.artsarasota.org/education. I’m really looking forward to Paper Arts Week November 18 – 22. Then, in March we have tons of programming to accompany our “Confluence: Israel” exhibit and of course, iconcept on March 28, 2014 where art walks the runway!

KLL: I am thrilled by the variety of art mediums and artists that are, and will be, exhibiting this season. Can you touch upon the importance of a diverse exhibition space that incorporates the work of local, national, and international artists?

ET: The best thing about the space at the Art Center is that we have four different galleries. So I generally show four different shows at any one time. Our largest gallery is always a juried exhibit of predominantly local artists. Some of them come from further afield in Florida, and every now and then we get someone from out of state. The other three galleries are dedicated to curated shows of local artists, community groups and nationally recognized artists.

I think some artists would prefer if we only showed local artists all the time, but as a community center, we are not just here for the local artists, we’re here for the viewers too. That’s a difficult balance to manage sometimes. Showing the work of local artists is great, and I do it as often as I can, but showing that work doesn’t mean anything if no one is coming to look at it. What makes a viewer come to look at the local art that we are displaying as opposed to any of the other venues in town doing the same thing? That’s what our curated show of more recognized artists are for- they get the people in the door to come and see something they can’t anywhere else in town. I couldn’t tell you how many times someone has come in to see one of our shows in the front gallery and then bought something from a local artist out of the juried show. It’s also a benefit for the artists showing that they can say they’ve exhibited at a place that has also exhibited such notables as John Chamberlain, Syd Solomon and many others.  It offers up some shared prestige.

KLL: Can you tell us a little bit about CUBEMUSIC, Sun Boxes, and Pulp Culture?

ET: CUBEMUSIC and Sun Boxes, from Craig Colorusso, are the big blockbusters for the opening of our season. I feel like they really kick off the journey. Sound art is so underrepresented in Sarasota. The only other exhibit I’m aware of is the one at the Ringling in late 2011. But, for that you had to pay to go see it or wait for free Monday, and generally the people that need free Monday have to work on Mondays. What’s a viewer to do? Art Center Sarasota is always free and open to the public during our business hours, Mon-Sat 10a-4p. CUBEMUSIC will be transforming the space of Gallery 1 for the next eight weeks. Its cast light and shadows coupled with the soothing deep resonance of sound creates a truly altering experience of the space.

For viewers who still aren’t able to come and see the art, the art is coming to you! We are so excited to take Craig’s other installation Sun Boxes on the road around Sarasota. We’re stopping at parks and beaches to bring sound art to the masses. Whereas CUBEMUSIC is somewhat dark and ominous in its sound, Sun Boxes is positively ethereal. You can’t help but feel happy when you see them and hear them. The full schedule of the Sun Boxes tour for November and January can be found at www.artsarasota.org/sunboxes.

Pulp Culture is another show opening November 7 that I curated. I wanted to do a fun show about paper because I have such a love for it. I daresay it’s a dangerous addiction. I tried to not be too serious about it and just show fun creative art that would make people smile while educating them about the way that paper can be used for art other than drawing or painting. So far it seems I’ve accomplished my goal because of the feedback I’ve already gotten while I was installing the show.

art center sarasota image

You can view more information about Art Center Sarasota, Sun Boxes, CUBEMUSIC, Pulp Culture, and Emma Thurgood at:

Art Center Sarasota

Backstage Pass: Emma Thurgood curates excitement

Artist Interview: Craig Colorusso

 

Season of Sculpture, Season VII presents “Shared Ground: Eight Artists-Eighteen Installations” by Pamela Beck

This year, Season of Sculpture presents Season VII’s “Shared Ground: Eight Artists, Eighteen Installations.” Eight highly acclaimed artists of regional, national and international renown, will exhibit eighteen large-scale works throughout Sarasota’s beautiful downtown Bayfront Park from November 16, 2013 through May 2014.

ARTdart: There are as many ways to think about art as there are to create it. Join Pamela Beck in her column, ARTdart, as she explores and considers the different perspectives that define the art world.

Many of us have memories of climbing over outdoor sculpture as children; we were free to explore and react to the look, sense and impact of a work of art in its ever-changing natural surroundings. Free from the encumbrances of traditional indoor settings, we experienced art in a fresh and approachable way; sometimes serious, sometimes playful, but always visceral and untethered from rules of art protocol and gallery decorum.

If we were lucky, this was our introduction to sculpture- to be fully engaged, curious and physically interactive without restrictions; and this is exactly the opportunity Season of Sculpture offers to newcomers and established fans alike over the course of the next six months.

Season of Sculpture is a local not for profit, 5O1 [c] 3 organization that produces a biennial, international exhibition of large-scale sculptures along Sarasota’s bay front. It’s free and open to the public 24/7. Their mission is to enrich the cultural and educational experience of residents and visitors. The organization relies on donors, sponsors, volunteers and artists to bring these nationally acclaimed, international invitational exhibitions to Sarasota.

This year, Season of Sculpture presents Season VII’s “Shared Ground: Eight Artists, Eighteen Installations.” Eight highly acclaimed artists of regional, national and international renown, will exhibit eighteen large-scale works throughout Sarasota’s beautiful downtown Bayfront Park from November 16, 2013 through May 2014.

“Shared Ground,” curated by Fayanne Hayes and Andrew Maass, presents sculpture by Heinz Aeschlimann, Hans Van de Bovenkamp, Robert Chambers, Richard Herzog, Linda Howard, Jun Kaneko, Jae-Hyo Lee, and Boaz Vaadia. Docent-led tours will be offered, as well as public and student educational programs.

A satellite exhibition of the artists’ smaller works will be exhibited at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune building at 1741 Main Street in downtown Sarasota from January 7th through May 3Oth, 2014.
As the director of public relations for Season of Sculpture, I’ve had the opportunity to ask the artists about their work. A series of brief interviews with them will appear in this column, starting with Boaz Vaadia.

2OO8 Bronze, boulder & bluestone 86"h. x 12O"w. x 8O" d. A/P, Ed. of 5
Asa, & Yeshoshafat with Dog, 2OO8
Bronze, boulder & bluestone
86″h. x 12O”w. x 8O” d.
A/P, Ed. of 5

 

2O13 Bronze & bluestone 91"h. x 36" w. x 36" d. 2/5, Ed. of 5
David, 2O13
Bronze & bluestone
91″h. x 36″ w. x 36″ d.
2/5, Ed. of 5

Boaz Vaadia Bio:

Vaadia was born in Gat Rimon, Israel in 1951; He was a self-taught artist until he could afford to attend the Avai Institute of Fine Arts, from which he graduated in 1971. He taught himself welding and stone masonry and built his first casting foundry for bronze following his graduation.

In 1975, he was awarded his first, of two, American-Israel Cultural Foundation grants to study in the US, where he has lived and worked ever since, in New York City.

Vaadia’s unique sculptures, either in bronze or stacked bluestone slate, evoke his Israeli heritage in a meditative, contemporary, yet sensual style. His work is permanently sited in numerous public collections, as well as museums and private collections throughout the U.S. including: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Museum; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem; the Time Warner Center, NYC; The Ravinia Sculpture Park, Chicago; the Independence Park, Tel Aviv; and The Philharmonic Center for the Arts, Naples, FL.

PB: How long did you think about this sculpture before working on it?
BV: Most of my sculptures take several years of thought and study before I begin carving.

PB: Who/what are some of your influences, artistically or otherwise?
BV: Mainly ancient stonework, but also sculptors like Michelangelo, Noguchi, and Giacometti.

2OO9 Bronze, boulder, & bluestone 76" h. x 12O" w. x 1OO " d. 1/5, Ed. of 5
Family with Dog, 2OO9
Bronze, boulder, & bluestone
76″ h. x 12O” w. x 1OO ” d.
1/5, Ed. of 5

PB: How do you anticipate that your sculpture will look different in the bay front setting?
BV: As my work is layered I believe it will connect well with the environment, looking as though carved by winds from the bay.

PB: What made you choose to do a work of this size?
BV: My work is based on the human scale, allowing viewers to interact with it in a more personal way. The natural materials I work with also help determine the size of my work.

PB: What is your favorite hobby or pastime other than your art?
BV: Meditation and spiritual studies.

2O13 Bronze, basalt & bluestone 65"h. x 9O"w. x 8O" d.
Maaka & Revaham, 2O13
Bronze, basalt & bluestone
65″h. x 9O”w. x 8O” d.

website:
http://sarasotaseasonofsculpture.org/

Contact:
SusanMcleod@michaelsaunders.com

Pamela Beck
Pamela Beck

Pamela is Public Relations Director for Season of Sculpture and a private art consultant. She co-owned Pannonia Galleries in NYC. There she was also an art appraiser, private art dealer, art fair exhibitor and catalogued paintings, drawings and sculpture at Sotheby’s. She was Communications Director for The Essential Element. Pamela has a keen interest in the arts and supporting Sarasota’s future as a lively, diverse and forward thinking city for young and old. Pamela is a member of The Fine Arts Society of Sarasota, Curatorial & Acquisitions Committee and Institute for the Ages Volunteer.

Where Current Can Flow: Interview with Sarah Viviana Valdez

Sarah Viviana Valdez is an artist living and working in Tampa, FL whom I met through mutual friends, and as a fellow Ringling College of Art & Design and New York Studio Residency Program alum. I’m intrigued by Sarah’s art practice, her evolution as an artist, and the direction her projects are headed. Recently Sarah had her first solo show at Gallery 621 in Tallahassee, FL, of which incorporated painting, sculpture, interactive ‘stations’, and googly eyes. With all the projects Sarah is currently involved in, I felt it absolutely necessary to contact her for an interview as her creative energy and dedication is refreshing and inspiring.

A Year After Surgery, Gauche on soft press watercolor paper, 63' x 76',  2011
A Year After Surgery, Gauche on soft press watercolor paper, 63′ x 76′, 2011

KLL: You have a very multifaceted art practice; how did you come to that process?

SVV: Peers have always had a huge impact on me. During undergrad school at Ringling I was heavily influenced by my classmates exploring a variety of methods, materials, and conceptual ideas. While there I applied topics such as educational systems, institutional aesthetics, traditions within portraiture, and interactive environments. In school it seemed more about processes and failures involving ideas. Everyone was feeding off of each other; it was a very fruitful environment amongst the small Fine Art majors. Naturally everyone needed to expose themselves to every medium since they seemed so enticing; it was a time to start being playful and we all learned a lot from that. I moved to Tampa post graduation, first living with my parents with little to no income. During this time, I had a six month break from school peers. Supplemental income allowed me to play with tools in a way that set aside the embedded history and its contemporaries. That transition helped manifest a language with myself, and understand where the work was coming from outside of the institution. After meeting a group of creative freaks in Tampa, I started to blend into the guerilla noise scene, and explore within a multifaceted DIY culture. My art practice is a result of my curiosity and desire for constant productivity, leisure, and play within order. It wasn’t until the institutional context was gone that I allowed the process of producing with a structural multifaceted framework, due to the nature of my new environment.

KLL: Recently, you had your first solo exhibition in Tallahassee, FL. Please describe the exhibition space, how you coordinated the show, and why you chose the name Where Current Can Flow for the exhibition title.

SVV: I found Gallery 621 online because they posted an open call for solo exhibitions a year ago, which I was diligently searching for at the time. I was unaware of the art scene in Tallahassee, so I researched Railroad Art Square which made the space intriguing — I would get exposure with family participants, according to the director who said Friday openings get at least 3,000 foot traffic, including families and students from FSU. The family aspect sold it to me; I wanted to plan a simple interaction with groups of people I’m barely exposed to with my artwork — Gallery621 was able to provide that interaction.

Planning an entire solo show is a challenge, especially when I never visited the site before the show. The gallery director, Cynthia, who is wonderful and extremely open-minded, responded to my email requesting information in regards to the layout and measurements of the space. Cynthia sent a detailed map and encouraged the proposal.

The proposal was a response to my current situation — an artist working a cubicle job and feeling very restricted by it. My experience with routine at work is absurd, where self identity is hardly encouraged and motivation is prescribed. The design of the office environment has an effect on its workers, putting them in a routine trance — the objective within the interior design is so specific to the potential each individual is allowed to have –this really interested me. What if I flipped that around and  experimented with different arrangements to encourage the opposite effect? Where Current Can Flow intended to create play within order in an unconventional layout, allowing freedom and privacy in an inhibiting space. In this case, the gallery was the inhibiting space for a month. The floor space was divided in three stations, workspace, leisure-space and recreation-space. Arranging the three stations let me investigate the way adults and kids work, how information travels, and the way they encounter an ambiguous station encouraging interaction. For this show I started with primitive materials such as tape and scraps of paper, a labyrinth, and carrots to-go. The intention with the title, Where Current Can Flow, was to manifest an enigmatic energy between the space and the participant, initiating a creative circuit. Since the show, I hope to continue experimenting with and investigating the design of spaces for a positive energy that enhances self quality per participant.

Where Current Can Flow Installation, 2013
Where Current Can Flow Installation, 2013

KLL: I’m particularly intrigued by the “stations” in the exhibition; please describe each in detail.

SVV: The entrance area started with cartoon hands, pointing to the left and right sections of the room. The hands divided the space in half, offering two choices, the work-space to the left and the leisure-space to the right. Since there were no additional wall surfaces hiding what both sections included, it created an open environment. The left side was the work-space — a floor furniture piece shaped like three circles including tiny wooden sticks, tape, and scraps of construction paper in a trashcan. These items suggested a simple interaction, with one objective, to decorate the rug collaboratively rather than replace these items each day, the resulting constructions/collages were left for participants to dismantle or add to over the course of the installation. The right side was the leisure-space, signified by a large rounded rectangle as another floor furniture piece. In the center of this rectangle was an assortment of edible carrots and beets stored in a container with damp sand. Produce was used to invite the viewer to leisurely indulge in eating a fresh healthy snack, or to take back home, whichever notion pleased them. The front center was the recreation-space — a large square labyrinth floor piece with the maze laid out from tape. Participants could walk on top of the piece to find a way in and out of the maze, embodying a mental exercise. All the stations allowed me and the participants to reflect on three different topics; work, leisure, and recreation coexisting in the same space with no dividends.

Where Current Can Flow Opening, 2013
Where Current Can Flow Opening, 2013

KLL: Your work is predominantly vibrant and playful. I’d love to know more about the play element.

SVV: It’s second nature for me to be very playful. I’m constantly striving to take each experience nӓively like a child would. Of course my reflections on such experiences are different than a child’s. There is something about the immediacy approach, using new mediums to translate observations into images with no order or rules. It’s a constant reminder for me after being influenced by children. I have a younger brother, we are 15 years apart and he is now 10, Fernando is such an inspiration to this concept. It’s something I feel we shouldn’t lose as adults. I want to have that balance between child and adult when taking in new experiences, so I can make connections with our everyday life with play in mind. Our observations and conclusions shouldn’t have to be so structured. There is an energy that keeps allowing new connections to have an impact on us. With vibrant color and play it allows that to exist for me within the work.

KLL: What is it like living and working as an artist in Tampa, FL?

SVV: Tampa is a city where the general public doesn’t support the arts very much, having little knowledge about the underground local performance/art scene. Any rural, metro, or suburban city can have an ‘art culture’ exist; it takes a group of people with similar interests to make something happen. We just start spitting out ideas till something hits and actually interests all of us, but if no one ever produces them the results will be unknown. A group of people have to be okay with being intuitive with each other in order for the scene to progress locally. Breaking away from specific manifestos is important too. Such group decisions allow growth within the community. It’s a series of experiments: what else could be added, where else can we do it, who else can be involved? Working in Tampa is like any other place; to me it’s what you make it to be. Deserted spaces are useful pathways to transform into a happening. Such a space provides privacy, freedom, and choice of interaction. Tampa is filled with foreclosure homes for movie sets, bridges that hover the Hillsborough River that shelter performances, Curtis Hixon park with a power outlet and lights on till midnight, friends living in cheap housing in Ybor with no noise rules that allow events to get dirty and loud, storage units where mechanics test vehicles and the youth blow up speakers at the same time, Stoney’s a dive bar that get’s serenaded by loud bands bringing something back that was lost due to the pollution from nearby ports, and the list can go on…

KLL: How do you divide your time between your job and your art practice?

SVV: I work a full-time network support job that is unrelated to my degree and passion. It’s difficult to accept what needs to be compromised since a lot of my time is spent working 40 hours a week just to pay off my education loans. It’s like having two jobs — office job and studio practice job. It can feel discouraging at times, especially with Tampa not having a well grounded art community awareness. Awareness is not promoted well through the museums and galleries. USF Contemporary Art Museum has some of the better shows, but none include local art in Tampa. There is so much that is archived and has happened here and still not many people are aware of it. A lot of that is to blame within the scene too, due to rejection it’s natural to be enclosed with the smallness of the community, or allowing other scenes to diverge. We can make any place conducive to make art happenings. When there is less going on, it’s the boredom that brings similar people together to fill in that gap.

It has taken about two years to figure out my routine and balance my job, personal life, my dog Enzo, leisure, and art projects. I’ve had to sacrifice events, materials, and a certain lifestyle in order to keep making work. Continuing the work and being part of a community is all that matters to me. Nothing else makes sense in order to get through the day. When I get home there is so much to release after thinking in my dark cubicle cell. At my cubicle there is a stack of empty post-its that a co-worker gifted me. I use those constantly, writing ideas and lists of things to get done. When the shift is over they get stuck to my wallet or the back of my smart phone. My desk at home is filled with post-its. The notes are relative to review later on, a simple documentation of my processes unfolding. I also use my smart phone a lot for note taking, the camera captures weird occurrences encountered that later inspire certain pieces. The applications on my phone have been great in that sense, documenting immediate responses to my surroundings. That material has grown since acquiring the device, a lot more to reflect on though. I’d probably go insane not releasing my thoughts.

KLL: I love how you’re also interested in music and fashion; please describe your recent projects.

SVV: I did a fashion show called Gilded Rag with Katie Magruder, who performs as Fishwife, and Erin Hart, owner of Nail Pop LLC. It was our first time coordinating a fashion show and I really wanted to bring together our community in Tampa, and experience a happening through fashion. It was hosted at Cottage Sleaze, a true lair of Ybor housing used as a performance space. My friend Jasmine Huneycutt owns the place and performs as Diamond Hymen. A few friends have a name for their houses and use them as performance spaces; these spaces have changed the dependency with outdoor guerilla locations recently — It has changed the way sound occupies the space. Before, it was with limited equipment on the cement with a generator, now it’s a more controlled environment. The backyard, I think, used to be for milking cows — that’s where we did the fashion show — there is a raw cement opened building with a brick pathway leading to it, naturally ready for the runway. Jasmine also has a great amount of plants that added the Florida tropic into the scenery … oh, and there are even Roosters flocking around, showing off their red comb. The reason we did the fashion show was because there is a lot of Tampa music, but little of everything else. There are Ybor clubs and venues hosting mainstream pop culture, including Hip-hop and indie-rock — also the hair salons have formal fashion shows with an amazing influx of talent — there are the drag shows because Ybor has an upcoming gay pride scene, and then a few galleries that have opening receptions. Also, there is the DIY underground scene that includes noise, heavy metal, and punk.

I wanted to offer something different, aside from all the semi segregated scenes, and include something that had sculpture, performance, sound, and installation. The Gilded Rag show fit all of those points, and it still included music by using a tablet program that was very simple for my models to perform while wearing the clothing pieces. I also wanted to include more females performing that typically wouldn’t within our group, of course some of them already do. I selected a variety of girls, and was able to use two males, and put them in a position to perform and learn to be comfortable with their bodies and expressions. All the clothing was made out of plastic from shower curtains, LED lights, spray paint, free dumpster fabric — basically anything that we could get without spending our own dough, because we had a very tight budget to dress-up 12 models.

Gilded Rag Crew, Performance Fashion Show, 2013
Gilded Rag Crew, Performance Fashion Show, 2013

The music scene has been around my artistic career in Sarasota as well. I knew about the Tampa noise scene because they played shows at New College when I was in school at Ringling. Plus, in Sarasota, Matt Pierra, who has Roofless Records, coordinated Cinema Sounds — blending live cinema scoring with south-west noise music. I worked with Matt at Burns Court, and he was my introduction to DIY music in Florida. When I moved to Tampa, it was instinctive to become part of it due to my performance background. It was different of course — It’s like learning another language. Once I became confident writing and performing, the aesthetics and sculptures for i_like_dog_face sets started to mirror my art. Jimmy Sanchez and Daniel Kipp Whittaker, the guys from Skeleton Warrior, had this house off Branch Ave called the Branch Ranch Pervert Pit — they were the first to encourage me to start performing. I have Jimmy and Daniel to originally thank. Up until this year Cyborg City, a hidden secret amongst East Ybor, provided a space for my first sculptural performance involving a plastic inflatable Cyclops face — It is filled up with air from an industrial fan and I performed inside of it. Afterwards, I had a better idea for dog_face’s aesthetic, and it’s been interesting experimenting with outfits and environments recently. The same guys who run Cyborg City curate NO RAVE once a month this summer, at The Social Club in Ybor . There is a basement, it’s dark, and when it strikes midnight there is live electronic/industrial music from the noise scene.

I have released two digital downloads Cubicle Spell and Keep Rising From the Screen — both include digital sample sounds that have a creepy voice reciting words with a combination of panning bass — It first started with, “How do I deal with having a cubicle job?”. From there I created sounds for aggregate routers bouncing, clamping, encrypting, anything that included my job functions but giving it a soundtrack.

There are also a few festivals that happen once a year, getting everyone together to cram an ambitious amount of bands that perform over the course of 2-3 nights. The most notable one I got to perform for this year was International Noise ConferenceRat Bastard runs the event in Miami, FL at Churchhills Bar, and this year was the 10th anniversary. That guy has so much energy and loves everything about weird/noise music and gear. The event is held in February. This year Diamond Hymen attached a toy shotgun to her microphone, tossed one feather pillow into the air, and passed three cow hearts to three female performers included in the set — it looked like a slumber party occult ritual; it was fantastic. At the end of the night, everyone consumed feathers and where gagging them during their sleep.

I got asked to play for the third Savage Weekend festival hosted in Chapel Hill, NC, put together by Ryan Martin. It brought more Northern performers from Philadelphia, New York, and Providence, RI. It was the first time I’ve seen Humanbeast perform, and my jaw dropped amazed by Maralie Armstrong’s voice. The festivals have been inspiring just by experiencing the family vibe everyone has with each other, supporting the scene — its high-encouraging. I’m still new to performing within the scene, and this year has been the first time it has been exposed outside of Tampa. Cephia’s Treat Recordings released my first 15 minute tape Twisting Signals of Light right before Savage Weekend. The cover is screen-printed with glow-in-the-dark ink on construction paper — trademark of the local connoisseur and archivist of the Tampa noise scene, Todd Lynn (Haves & Thirds). The tape can be ordered through his website.

i_like_dog_face @ Savage Weeked III, Performance with found material, 2013
i_like_dog_face @ Savage Weeked III, Performance with found material, 2013

Tampa has its own slice in the pie as well which is Blood Fest  — you never know where it will be or what’s going to happen. The sets are short, at different locations, sound tracking the urban landscape of Tampa. There are no limitations with locations to perform when it comes to a generator. It’s really hot and drippy; everyone has their own disaster of ‘blood’ that is poured on them before the set. This year was my first time performing for it. Also, artist Rosemarie Romero did another Porn Nails performance in conjunction with Nail Pop LLC and Action Research, at the Venture Compound in St.Petersburg, FL. The installation was great and the space is huge, surrounded by other industrial warehouses. There were music performances alongside the mobile nail salon concept, invading public spaces. So my ideas have translated in many different ways in Tampa. I’m having the constant desire to play and have fun with like minded freaks.

KLL: Where does your work exist in relation to the Digital Age, and how do you see this age evolving –our culture evolving and adapting to, or from, the Digital Age–?

SVV: I work a very technical job that changes everyday due to the progression of technology. It’s benefited me to understand how internet outages and other digital communication devices have an impact on individuals. Consumers expect it to work 24/7, with no flaws, without understanding what makes it function. We rely on the timing and advice of technology, to run and tell how life should be lived. The Digital Age has many affects on our culture, especially the way information is distributed and how products are marketed. The whole ‘You’ as the image for marketing is very strange, our own image/avatar is used to promote the use of these website companies, and it seems to have become easily adaptable in everyone’s lives. My work has gotten small exposure to strangers that know someone who knows another person, because it’s floating out there. I don’t really think people are ever unnoticed anymore, as much as we still like to think. Sure there are different degrees to being recognized but we are not alone. Also the Digital Age has expanded the way tools are perceived; the idea of editing has become more complex and its part of our everyday lives, with us not even noticing it. Because of all these programs, the amount of expression that is posted in the web has increased. Everyone is generating ‘something’. We are evolving as artists, because our filters are changing constantly with the rate of technology. There is also the politics of sharing in the Digital Age, the open source culture is having an impact on the way DIY is expanded in technology; people are sharing for free for others to amplify on their ideas with the intention to learn from each other. I think we are adapting slowly to technology, because the rate of technology is progressing at a fast rate, but our culture is not parallel yet. That’s where we need to be focusing, and it starts with understanding how our devices work because it’s now part of our daily lives.

KLL: Where do you see your projects going from here?

SVV: Right now I’m everywhere and in need to calm down. The next few months I want to focus on my sound performances with i_like_dog_face, and have better quality recordings. Ryan Martin (Secret Boyfriend) from Carrboro, NC owns Hot Releases records and he will be releasing a vinyl of dog_face. I have a lot to consider: The image on the cover, the content in the sound, how it’s recorded, what kind of atmosphere I’m willing to invade with the concept, etc. It’s an object that is distributed and the only control I have is the image and sound; the rest is involved with a basic frame that is pretty universal. It’s very exciting and all very new to me; Ryan is great and such a supportive person for the entire ‘noise/weird’ music scene. Also, recently many of my friends want to produce films, and a few have written stories for them and started filming already. One that comes to mind is Carlos Gonzales, a prolific performer for Russian Tsarlag, comics Slime Freak, and filmmaking. He resides in Providence, RI but is a true local from Tampa. He was in town over the weekend and we filmed one movie involving a Magician and another involving a Cowboy dentist. Carlos is a method actor and has a real immediate raw style with filming and editing. Sets include green tones and scraps of shiny trash melting off the wall surfaces. He uses a mini DV camera with built-in ‘cheap’ effects and edits with a VCR… Really excited to see the by product. I’ve been pushing myself so much to coordinate projects, such as dog_face performances, Gilded Rag fashion, and my solo show that now it would be nice to be used and directed. I feel like my performance and fashion will translate well when acting for films. Last of all, I’m moving into a cheaper housing situation which means extra cash flow and potential for a studio space, finally. Getting such a space has a lot of potential for the community in Tampa, not just for me. I’m already encouraging a lot of friends to get a space in the same location that was found on Craigslist — that’s if it’s legit. It’s good to have that break period and experiment with another form of art, for me at least it’s manifested a conversation within the community of friends, because not everyone is sticking to one thing anymore. Let’s keep the ball rolling, eh?

Layla Dyed, used clothing, fabric dye, fur, chain, acrylic nails (Nail Pop LLC), 2013
Layla Dyed, used clothing, fabric dye, fur, chain, acrylic nails (Nail Pop LLC), 2013

Bio:

Sarah Viviana Valdez is a Kansas born artist who lives and works in Tampa, Florida. Valdez graduated with class of 2010 from Ringling School of Art and Design Fine Art department, and participated in the New York Studio Residency Program, Spring of 2009. You can view more of Valdez’s work at www.svaldez-es.org

“Could an Artist Have Anything in Common with A-Rod?” by Pamela Beck

What if Artists took Steroids? Join Pamela Beck in her column, ARTdart, as she explores and considers the different perspectives that define the art world

ARTdart: There are as many ways to think about art as there are to create it. Join Pamela Beck in her column, ARTdart, as she explores and considers the different perspectives that define the art world.

Recently I read a provocative article inspired by the deluge of baseball-steroid shenanigans entitled: “What if Novelists Took Steroids?”*

Alex Rodriguez bats in a game on April 19, 2008 courtesy of Keith Allison.
Alex Rodriguez bats in a game on April 19, 2008 courtesy of Keith Allison.

The writer wonders would he, too, indulge if the results were superpower skills that allowed him to leap to the best-seller list faster than a speeding bullet?  If his stories could flow like water and his fingers could grow extra-muscular to better attack the keyboard with stamina and zeal—would he be able to resist the temptation to pop that pill?

While this falls in to the category of “What I’ll Do When I Win the 45O Million Dollar Powerball,” you have to admit that the pill-popping question intrigues and makes you silently consider your ethical stance.

Le Penseur, (The Thinker), Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
Le Penseur, (The Thinker), Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)

As an artist, the consequences could be extraordinary.  What if by taking such a pill, original ideas would frequently appear to you along with the technical mastery to produce them?  What if the results would be met with international acclaim? What if there was a shortcut to creating satisfying work and your motivated hands would work forcefully and successfully to paint, sculpt, or fabricate the best ideas you’ve ever come up with?  Would you be able to resist the temptation for that new little chaser with your morning coffee?  You could take that pill secretly.

It’s hard to say if you’d develop affection for a fantasy capsule that’s accompanied by a solo show of your work at the Guggenheim Museum.  The writer of the article cited says, “Cheaters always know how it’s going to end. That’s why they become liars too.”

What hand would you play…if no one were watching?

Pamela Beck
Pamela Beck

Pamela co-owned Pannonia Galleries in NYC. There she was also an art appraiser, private art dealer, art fair exhibitor and catalogued paintings at Sotheby’s. Perhaps it’s not surprising that she is also a psychotherapist. She has a keen interest in the arts and supporting Sarasota’s future as a lively, diverse and forward thinking city for young and old. Pamela is a member of The Fine Arts Society of Sarasota, Curatorial & Acquisitions Committee and Institute for the Ages Volunteer.

*http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/11/opinion/sunday/what-if-novelists-took-steroids.html?_r=0