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SF artist Beatriz Vasquez turns Mexican craft into an art form

<<< From the altar "Para Mama Benita con Amor" by Beatriz Vasquez at the SOMArts 2017 Day of the Dead exhibition

November 14, 2017 5:16 pm
for Mission Local (LINK, with photos)

It was on a trip to Mexico after her father’s death that Beatriz Vasquez discovered the centuries-old Mexican craft that has become the vehicle for her art.

Papel picado, which involves cutting designs into layers of thin tissue paper, goes back to pre-Hispanic Mexico and is still used for events like weddings, baptisms and other festivals or ceremonies.

“It’s very disposable, and nobody really sees it as a fine art,” said the 49-year-Vasquez, who has a year-long fellowship with Root Division, where she teaches. And she has a residency at The Growlery, where artists live and work, rent-free, in a restored Victorian-era home.

During her trip to Mexico, Vasquez researched the craft and began to see papel picado as a metaphor for the indigenous women she was interviewing.

“I saw the paper as very fragile, but extremely beautiful and extremely sustainable and extremely versatile,” she said. “Kind of like what we are.”

It was then, Vasquez said, that she thought, “‘I’m gonna take this craft, disposable art form and turn it into fine art.’”

Her pieces are generally large — sometimes seven feet tall — and depict her experiences with politics, self-expression and her Mexican culture. In her work, there are intricate cuts of skeletons, butterflies and pineapples.

The very nature of the art and how a successful piece operates reflects society, she said. “Everything has to connect for it to work,” she said. “If we don’t connect with each other, it doesn’t work.”

One piece, La Sirena Feminista, tackles the topic of machismo in the Latino community. The work, created in 2015, is based on a traditional Mexican card game known as the Lotería. The face of la Sirena is that of Beatriz.

Coming Soon: Shepard Fairey's New LA Show and Hulu Doc

After ‘Hope,’ and Lawsuit, Shepard Fairey Tries Damage Control
By JORI FINKELNOV. 3, 2017 (LINK)

LOS ANGELES — By just about any measure, it’s been a long time since the street artist Shepard Fairey managed to capture the optimism of Barack Obama’s candidacy in his “Hope” poster, the stylized portrait in red, white and blue tones that easily ranks as the most famous, also ubiquitous, artwork of 2008.

Mr. Fairey’s oldest daughter, then 2 years old, is now almost a teenager. The “Hope” image became the subject of a copyright infringement lawsuit by The Associated Press that was both expensive and embarrassing for the artist. Mr. Fairey, who is 47, has since gone on to create art for activist movements like Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter and the Women’s March.

And now “Damaged” — his biggest gallery show yet, with about 200 new paintings, prints and illustrations made since 2015 — is set to open on Nov. 11 in a Chinatown warehouse, the same day a documentary on the artist has its premiere on Hulu. The mood of the exhibition: what happens when hope gets trampled but not killed.

Out of Style: Street art event, organizer rebuffed after controversy

Out of Style: Street art event, organizer rebuffed after controversy
by

Artists from across the globe who arrived in the Bay Area expecting to participate in a three-day street art festival were shocked to learn it had been abruptly cancelled.

The Meeting of Styles Art Festival 2016, which was set to take place at various alleys and streets throughout the Mission District on Sept. 16-18, was unanimously denied the necessary permits by the Interdepartmental Staff Committee on Traffic and Transportation (ISCOTT) due to growing community concern about the event, and questionable actions involving the event’s organizer, Lisa Jo Brewer.

“This year something happened,” Brewer told El Tecolote via telephone on Sept. 16. “I can’t really put my finger on it, but there’s this small organization in town here in the Mission, and they were dead set against it.”

The small organization Brewer referred to is the Calle 24 Latino Cultural District, which fielded a number of complaints from residents and organizations concerning property damage following last year’s Meeting of Styles event.

Ancient Stencils Reproduced for Cave Temples of Dunhuang Exhibit

Reproduction allows for the widespread sharing of treasures without endangering them.
By LEE LAWRENCE for the WSJ
July 5, 2016 5:18 p.m. ET
7 COMMENTS
Los Angeles

Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on China’s Silk Road
The Getty
Through Sept. 4

On a sunny afternoon, the glare in the Getty Center’s Arrival Plaza is blinding—and stepping into Cave 285 feels like teleporting to heaven. Here, in one of the main features of “Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on China’s Silk Road,” winged creatures flutter on the vaulted ceiling while, on the walls, Buddhas preach, myths unfold, mortals repent, donors pay homage. Amid scrolling florals and colored flames, a large Buddha sits, his face a featureless mass of clay. This is a full-size copy, created by hand on the basis of detailed scans and myriad photographs of a grotto carved into cliffs that edge the Gobi desert in northwestern China. It is as faithful to the colors, designs and brushstrokes artists used in A.D. 538-39 as it is to the deterioration and damage that nature and man have since wrought.

The fragility of some sites has made copies an increasingly viable way to share treasures more widely without endangering them. The Getty’s exhibition uses them in tandem with more traditional displays to bring out the richness, complexity and conservation challenges of one of the world’s great art treasures. Its curatorial team includes experts from the Getty’s institutes for research and conservation, the Dunhuang Academy and the New York-based Dunhuang Foundation, and while theirs is not the first U.S. show to tackle the subject, it is the most ambitious.

LA, CA: Stencils, Students, and a Rare Bird

 Mural of rare yellow-billed cuckoos is a mix of social commentary and environmental conservation

Louis SahagunContact Reporter (LA Times)
<< Photo by Tani Ikeda

The rare yellow-billed cuckoo is a shy, slender, long-tailed bird that migrates from Central America in spring to breed in streamside forests that once thrived throughout Southern California.

And that got some female high school students and two art instructors at the Miguel Contreras Learning Complex’s Academic Learning Community in downtown Los Angeles thinking about developing a mural about federally threatened species and people who come from as far away as Central America in search of a better life.

What they produced over the next year and a half with research, photographs, stencils, spray paint and house paint on a huge wall overlooking the school’s basketball courts is a mix of female empowerment, social commentary and environmental conservation.

A Journey to the Oldest Cave Paintings in the World

A Journey to the Oldest Cave Paintings in the World
The discovery in a remote part of Indonesia has scholars rethinking the origins of art—and of humanity
By Jo Marchant
The Smithsonian Magazine, January 2016

I struggle to keep my footing on a narrow ridge of earth snaking between flooded fields of rice. The stalks, almost ready to harvest, ripple in the breeze, giving the valley the appearance of a shimmering green sea. In the distance, steep limestone hills rise from the ground, perhaps 400 feet tall, the remains of an ancient coral reef. Rivers have eroded the landscape over millions of years, leaving behind a flat plain interrupted by these bizarre towers, called karsts, which are full of holes, channels and interconnecting caves carved by water seeping through the rock.

We’re on the island of Sulawesi, in Indonesia, an hour’s drive north of the bustling port of Makassar. We approach the nearest karst undeterred by a group of large black macaques that screech at us from trees high on the cliff and climb a bamboo ladder through ferns to a cave called Leang Timpuseng. Inside, the usual sounds of everyday life here—cows, roosters, passing motorbikes—are barely audible through the insistent chirping of insects and birds. The cave is cramped and awkward, and rocks crowd into the space, giving the feeling that it might close up at any moment. But its modest appearance can’t diminish my excitement: I know this place is host to something magical, something I’ve traveled nearly 8,000 miles to see.

Scattered on the walls are stencils, human hands outlined against a background of red paint. Though faded, they are stark and evocative, a thrilling message from the distant past. My companion, Maxime Aubert, directs me to a narrow semicircular alcove, like the apse of a cathedral, and I crane my neck to a spot near the ceiling a few feet above my head. Just visible on darkened grayish rock is a seemingly abstract pattern of red lines.

San Francisco hitting up graffiti vandals with costly civil suits

San Francisco hitting up graffiti vandals with costly civil suits

By C.W. Nevius for the SF Chronicle
August 21, 2015 Updated: August 21, 2015 5:16pm

Everyone knows how difficult it is to stop the graffiti tagging epidemic in the city. First, it’s nearly impossible to catch anyone in the act. And if cops do, a criminal case in the courts often results in minor consequences, like a few hours of community service.

A walk down virtually any graffiti-tagged street in the city tells you criminal charges aren’t having much of an effect.

So, San Francisco is changing the game. We’re making it personal.

In an innovative and clever legal maneuver, the city attorney’s office is asking the courts to treat the city like any other property owner and allow it to sue for damages to pay for graffiti cleanup. It makes for some odd phrasing when the complaint says, “Plaintiff is . . . the owner of real personal property in San Francisco, consisting of Muni buses.”

But that’s how San Francisco has filed a civil suit against a woman officials say is an infamous serial tagger. The city alleges that Cozy Terry (her real name according to the complaint) tags as “Coze” and is responsible for 28 separate acts of vandalism on city buses. In all, the 41-page complaint lists 58 cases of tagging and adds up the cost of cleanup and repair. The total should get the attention of graffiti scofflaws.

“It is at least $53,788,” said Jill Cannon, one of the two deputy city attorneys who is making the case. “I don’t know what her assets are, but if we get a judgment we will seek to collect.”

The Origin and Current State of Borf

10 years after his graffiti campaign, the artist known as Borf paints a new life
By Rachel Manteuffel :: August 13 (Original Washington Post article)

Read about Borf's arrest and sentence here.

John Tsombikos, 28, 10 years after his campaign of graffiti and cryptic messages covered the city. (Roger Erickson/For The Washington Post)

The artist previously known as Borf, though that was never his name, is 10 years older than he was when his whimsical, mysterious graffiti campaign in Northwest Washington got him adored and despised and incarcerated.

 

He’s 28, sort of. He lives in New York now. He won’t say where, exactly. He says that’s irrelevant. He says he does no work that would compromise his anti-corporate, anti-authoritarian principles, but also refuses to say how he supports himself or whether he lives in a place his parents own in Manhattan, as some records suggest, or if he is working some sort of soul-numbing day job, the kind he publicly sneered at, to support his painting habit.

He also won’t let you take a picture of him. You can only shoot his art, but not him. If he thinks you’re trying to sneak a picture, he turns away or holds a hand over his face. He’s reluctant to talk about what his art means, but in the end he will blurt something so revealing that it explains just about everything. He will hate these paragraphs if he reads them.

Eclair Bandersnatch: Street Artist for the Snowden Age

Eclair Bandersnatch: Street Artist for the Snowden Age
Annalee Newitz, Gizmodo

Walk pretty much anywhere in San Francisco’s SoMa, Haight or Mission neighborhoods, and you’ll see one of Eclair Bandersnatch’s glittery stencils, often featuring “Saint Snowden” or Chelsea Manning. We talked to Bandersnatch about bringing art, tech and politics together on the streets.

Bandersnatch has been stenciling San Francisco streets for several years, and her subjects run the gamut from Godzilla to ladies who look like they’d be comfortable at a 1920s party along the Barbary Coast. Her vision is uniquely San Franciscan, mixing internet politics with a queer sensibility — and heaping dose of humor.

And ever since Snowden began to tell the media about the NSA’s secret surveillance plans, Bandersnatch has been turning the Snowden Age into street art. Here’s our interview with her.

Giz: Why are Chelsea Manning and Ed Snowden important to your work?

Eclair Bandersnatch: My work? They’re important to my life! And they should be important to everyone’s life!

Now Experts Are Issuing Warnings About Sunburn Art

Now Experts Are Issuing Warnings About Sunburn Art

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, July 16, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Sunburns are painful and potentially cancer-causing, but that hasn’t stopped them from becoming an increasingly popular means of artistic expression.

Experts are now speaking out against “sunburn art,” a new social media trend in which people use stencils or strategically applied sunblock to create a do-it-yourself temporary sunburn tattoo on their bodies.

Participants then take pictures of their creations and post them on sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

The trend is worrisome enough that the Skin Cancer Foundation has issued an official position on sunburn art, warning of the health risks associated with tanned or sunburned skin.

“Sunburns cause DNA damage to the skin, accelerate skin aging, and increase your lifetime skin cancer risk,” the statement reads. “In fact, sustaining five or more sunburns in youth increases lifetime melanoma risk by 80 percent. On average, a person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns.”

Dr. Deborah Sarnoff, senior vice president of the Skin Cancer Foundation, said that people tend to underestimate the health hazards of sunburns.

The ultraviolet rays in sunshine or, for that matter, in the rays emitted by tanning beds, damage the DNA inside skin cells, making them more apt to turn cancerous, according to the American Cancer Society.

Further, the risk is cumulative, Sarnoff said. The more tans and sunburns a person receives throughout their lifetime, the more likely they are to develop skin cancer or melanoma at some point.

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