My hips don't lie

I have really been terrible about keeping up with posts lately and it's mainly because I took a break from everything while I recovered from hip replacement surgery. That's right, I am now bionic! I feel much too young to have gone through this, but it's a genetic thing and I've been needing a new one for a while. I'm excited to see what a pain-free life can bring me now. I love to walk outside for inspiration and I was greatly limited for a long while, but I will be back in action again very soon. In the meantime, I can post about a trip to a museum I made before the surgery.

I went to the teamLab interactive exhibit at the PACE Gallery in Menlo Park. It runs through December 18th of this year and is absolutely worth a trip if you are in the Bay Area. As stated on their website: 

"teamLab, the renowned Japanese art collective, recognized for challenging and expanding the digital art making practice, and Pace Art + Technology will present Living Digital Space and Future Parks. The large-scale installation will invite participants of all ages to immerse themselves in the multi-room environments spanning 20,000ft² and showcasing 20 digital works."

It is pretty incredible and I could have stayed for hours. Take a look at these videos for a peek at what's in store if you can make it.

 

Crystal Universe

Selfies on Paper

Lee Friedlander, Self Portrait NYC 1966

Lee Friedlander, Self Portrait NYC 1966

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam currently has an exhibit titled "Selfies on Paper". It shows artists from the past four centuries capturing their own images in various mediums. As noted on their website: "Virtually every artist in the past looked in a mirror and captured his or her image for posterity – just as we do now." But we all know that they just took a little more time to do it.

In this age of immediate and fleeting gratification, the exhibit intends to make people slow down and take a moment to appreciate the art and the time it took to create. Cameras are not allowed, and instead, attendees of the museum are encouraged to draw or sketch what they see instead of using their selfie stick. I love this!

You can read more on the exhibit on the museum website here, and also on thisiscolassal.com.

Rembrandt, Self Portrait 1639

Rembrandt, Self Portrait 1639

Oskar Kokoscka, Self Portrait 1923

Oskar Kokoscka, Self Portrait 1923

West Coast Craft 2015

I had an amazing time this past weekend at the 2015 West Coast Craft Fair at Fort Mason. There were so many great vendors my eyes were just popping out of my head! I could have really done some damage but I was good, and restrained myself from breaking my bank.

Here are just a few of the 250+ artists, designers and craftspeople who exhibited. There were so many wonderful things but these stalls particularly caught my eye. I met a lot of really nice people and was very inspired by these talented artists. If you missed it this time around, I highly recommend staying on the lookout for the next show. It was by far the most enjoyable one I've been to at the Pavillion. 

p.s. please excuse the not great quality iPhone shots - I forgot my camera at home! Also, when you click the images below you will be taken to the sites. Just click the back button to return to the blog.

Ai Wei Wei @ Large on Alcatraz

As stated by the For-Site Foundation (who made this show possible) "Ai says that for him, the dragon represents not imperial authority, but   personal freedom: '  everybody has this power.'   The individual kites that make up the dragon's body carry quotations from activists who have been imprisoned or exiled, including Nelson Madela,   Edward Snowden, and Ai himself."     Side note: Take a close look at the eyes of the dragon.

As stated by the For-Site Foundation (who made this show possible) "Ai says that for him, the dragon represents not imperial authority, but personal freedom: 'everybody has this power.' The individual kites that make up the dragon's body carry quotations from activists who have been imprisoned or exiled, including Nelson Madela, Edward Snowden, and Ai himself." Side note: Take a close look at the eyes of the dragon.

When I'm in between jobs and have time on my hands, I love to take advantage of the free time to explore the city. Most of the time, I travel alone since my friends are at work or home caring for their children. I don't mind seeing exhibits solo because it allows me the space to become involved with the show and sometimes (as was in the case of this particular show) become very emotional. Spoiler alert! If you haven't seen this show and are planning to go, I must warn that I am going to show much of what the exhibit has to offer. 

On a whim, I bought an Early Bird ticket to see the Ai Wei Wei exhibit at Alcatraz. I paid a bit more to bypass the general flow of traffic (well worth it) and have a private guide scoot me up to the good stuff before anyone else got there. She told me that it was the first time EVER that she only had one person in her group—lucky me!  

So on this blustery and foggy Tuesday morning, my guide and I stepped into the New Industries Building where the exhibit begins with the With Wind installation. Whoa. The light, the blast of color, the contrasting surroundings. Incredible! I felt very privileged to be here before anyone else and also to be in this room alone with these beautiful, hand painted kites. The colors and motifs are chosen from the countries' flags where the prisoners of conscience are being held. 

 

Ai Wei Wei
Ai Wei Wei
Looking out toward the bay and beyond.

Looking out toward the bay and beyond.

AiWeiwei Dragon

"By confining the kites inside a building once used for prison labor, the artist suggests powerful contradictions between freedom and restriction, creativity and repression, cultural pride and national shame. he also offers a poetic response to the layered nature of Alcatraz as a former penitentiary that is now an important bird habitat and a site of thriving gardens." (quote: from For-Site.org)

Swallows Ai Wei Wei

Continuing into the next room, we approach the installation called Trace. Laid out on the floor is a vast sea of faces made of individual lego pieces which were hand assembled in squares and pieced together like a quilt. The portraits depict 176 prisoners around the world who have been exiled or incarcerated because of their beliefs or affiliations. Ai Wei Wei calls them “heroes of our time.” It was very moving for me to see these faces and not recognize most of them. I was awed by the sheer number of them, and by the way they were portrayed in this confined space. Literally brought tears to my eyes.

Ai Wei Wei Trace
Ai Wei Wei
Ai Wei Wei
Ai Weiwei
Katja at Ai Wei Wei

The last exhibit in this building is entitled Refraction. It is a large metal wing weighing several tons, made up of reflective solar panels. The theme of "confined freedom" continues here where "this piece uses imagery of flight to evoke the tension between freedom—be it physical, political, or creative—and confinement. The weight of this piece keeps it earthbound, but one might imagine its array of solar panels silently mustering energy, preparing for takeoff." 

The confinement of the guard's walkway where one is forced to view the work through cracked and rusted window panes is noticeable; and the irony of the glowing EXIT sign is not lost on me in this moment. 

Refract2.jpg
Refraction.jpg

The next series of works are found in the A block building. The Blossom sculptures are on display in the hospital ward and are made up of an abundant and delicate array of porcelain flowers. "The work could be seen as symbolically offering comfort to the imprisoned, as one would send a bouquet to a hospitalized patient. The profusion of flowers rendered in a cool brittle matieral could also be an ironic reference to China's famous Hundred Flowers Campaign of 1956, a brief period of government tolerance for free expression that was immediately followed by a severe crackdown." (quote: For-Site.org)

Blossom2.jpg
Blossom Ai Wei Wei
Blossom Ai WEiWEi

The last exhibit that I participated in is called Yours Truly. You are able to correspond directly with any of the listed prisoners by filling out a postcard (they are adorned with foliage and birds from each country of the incarcerated). There is a binder with descriptions of the captives and their stories and you may write any message to any prisoner of your choosing. The staff will mail the pre-addressed cards for you for free. Whether it reaches them or not, will remain unknown although it has been recorded that many do reach them and are greatly appreciated. Around 6 or so prisoners have been released since the beginning of this exhibit.

Here's another excerpt of the description from the For-Site website:

"Ai Wei Wei has spoken of the deep feeling of isolation that afflicts incarcerated people. He says that political prisoners often fear that they — and the causes they fought for — have been forgotten by the outside world. This work is a response to those concerns, reminding detainees that they are remembered — and reminding exhibition visitors of the detainees’ individuality and humanity. In the spirit of free expression, visitors may write any message they wish. Yours Truly brings home ideas at the heart of the exhibition: the responsibilities that we all bear as members of a community, and the importance of communication as both personal expression and a force for social change." 

Yours Truly Ai Wei Wei

To know more about these as well as a few remaining pieces in the show, I would recommend A) Go to see it in person if you can or B) Read more about it on the For-Site.org website.

It was an incredible show and day all around. I felt all sorts of emotions—from awed and fulfilled, to sad to inspired and hopeful.