Wk9 – Art Experience – Art Care Package

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This week, Art 110 has the class sending care packages to their friends or loved ones. We were instructed to send anything of value or meaning to our desired recipients, and I immediately thought of my parents and sister. My mother, father, and 12-year-old sister all live near San Francisco, so they haven’t had the chance to see me very often since I arrived in Long Beach for college. Also I realized that young men away from home call their parents far less often than women, making this project a great reason to reach out. It contains two pieces of art from previous weeks to let them know how my class is going. There’s a stuffed puppy from the dollar store for my sister, a pleasant surprise found in the solemn store where I buy occasional necessities. My mom’s bag and coffee mug are inside too, from when she helped me move into my apartment in August. The ramen is there to show my parents what a college diet must sometimes resort to, although I haven’t gotten tired of it yet.

Other forms of communication are great for quick notes and conversations, but they always feel less genuine than mailed letters or packages. Snapchat is super fun and efficient, but it requires zero effort and the receiver knows it. The care package obviously takes noticeable effort. I will be packaging it, driving to the post office, getting the correct shipping labels, paying a small shipping fee, and finally going back home. This extra effort will receive a far better response than if I sent a thread of emojis with the same items. The tangibility of care package items provide a physical viewing effect not possible from a phone screen.

Ephemera is immensely valuable in a sentimental sense. Objects that have a personal, historical significance will always be worth more than any single purchased object, to the specific owner. I bet nearly any person in a random location would choose to save their childhood family photos over their car. Things that cannot be replaced will always come first for most people.

Art that is meant for anyone has a high likelihood of being received positively, but it always has a capping point. The Mona Lisa can only inspire a certain level of feeling in a person. However, this is contrasted by small, personal art. Leonardo da Vinci probably felt a wave of emotion not possible for anyone else by seeing his creation become real. It was personal, and could have meant everything. A care package full of little trinkets will only effect several people, but in the most profound way possible. Broad audience art is like a football stadium light shining on a crowd, while personal art is a single-focus laser.

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Wk9 – Artist Conversation – Vanessa Olivarez

Artist: Vanessa Olivarez

Exhibition: Don’t Be Careful, Be Gentle

Media: Acrylic, Plastic, Film

Gallery: Dennis W. Dutzi Gallery

 

Vanessa Olivarez is working towards her BFA degree from the CSULB School of Art’s Sculpture Program. This is a non-degree show that Vanessa was simply inspired to create due to her fascination with acrylic. It began with acrylic, and then evolved into something much deeper as she decided the theme of the gallery.

When you first walk into the gallery, it resembles a fantasy-like setting. The room is completely covered in pink lighting, which initially made me check out the gallery in the first place. The eerie lighting works well for the entire display, because without the added atmosphere it wouldn’t blend together as seamlessly. The lights create a sort of other-worldly effect, and the doorway is the one-way entrance. In the middle of the room, an acrylic seesaw tips back and forth electronically. Vanessa stated that the seesaw took two weeks to code and finish programming. In addition to movement, a creaking sound has been added to the seesaw rivaling horror movies in its ominous tone. Opposing film images on the walls show two drawn girls in front of a ring structure in pink and purple. They are the same image, but are designed in opposing colors to create a mirror effect. Lastly, a small, old-fashioned television sits on the floor surrounded by acrylic. It quickly transitions between several scenes, with the most memorable being a pair of clown dolls. This furthers the eerie horror movie vibe.

Vanessa Olivarez began this project with acrylic, thinking about how it was transparent, reflective, and could work with the theme of identities. I asked about the clowns, because they were so odd as a creative choice for a gallery. She said that they represented identity as well, since their expressions were painted and anyone could feasibly be behind the mask. She also stated that the gallery focused on “fluidity” and “balance”. The seesaw used this in its creation, literally tipping back and forth between the different versions of the little girl on the walls.

I liked this gallery because it really attempted to create an immersive atmosphere for the viewer. Instead of simply providing images for an audience to judge or make sense out of, it gave audiences something to be a part of, turning the Dutzi gallery into an entire experience. It really worked in its display, since the fantasy-like horror theme was felt as soon as you walked past the blinders. I wondered what kind of identity every viewer would place onto the blank face of the wall, knowing each would be different.

Wk8 – Art Activity – Sketching at the Japanese Garden

 

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Sketching at the CSULB Japanese Garden was a great spot to get the creative juices flowing. I thought that the nature aspect of the meeting location helped in each student’s willingness to start sketching.

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This is my primary sketch, which took about 10 or 11 minutes to complete. I actually had a great time doing this, since the Japanese Garden is genuinely relaxing. Sitting on a rock by the trail, I selected my panoramic view and started from the bottom upwards. The best part of sketches is its freedom from pinpoint accuracy or mistakes. Since the picture is by definition a “rough sketch”, I can draw quickly and boldly. The mini-railings between the concrete path and grassy edge were made very easily and quickly, but I was pleasantly surprised by how they turned out. The background took slightly more work, because through the increased distance everything looks densely packed together. The picture as a whole would be recognizable if held up next to the same real-life viewpoint.

This abstract drawing didn’t turn out well at all, and the vision in my mind would have taken much more practice to depict. The oval figure was inspired by the lake, as I imagined a hanging light over an empty table in a dark room, resembling LA noir detective cliches. I pictured a placid, night time lake in a dark void with a faint light shining over it from a distant background, and then a door opening to the side in a weird, alternate-dimension fashion. The picture to the right was my inspiration for the abstract lake setting.

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These are my initial sketches that I used as a warm up before heading to class on Wednesday. These came extremely easy to me, since I started doodling when I was 15 in chemistry class at 9 in the morning. All of the mini pictures are completely improvised, and I never know what the final doodle will be until I start drawing it. Doodling is an immediate stress-reducer, and takes minimal effort. Personally, sketching is something that I will probably begin to practice on a regular basis in between lectures, or during lectures, or whenever boredom and a lack of concentration begin to overtake my focus.

Wk8 – Artist Conversation – Carlos Villicana

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During our class trip to the Japanese Garden, I struck up a conversation with Carlos Villicana. He’s a Journalism and Film major from Long Beach, the first double-major student I’ve met knowingly. I’ve often wondered what being a double-major student would be like, guessing it would be very time consuming. Actually, to my surprise, Carlos told me that it’s not too troublesome depending on your combination of major. I might consider it soon, which is a big decision to come out of a casual conversation at the CSULB Japanese garden.

After talking about hometowns and majors, we mainly focused on the Questions of the Week. Concerning the first question, which talked about the possibility of a son or daughter pursuing an art career, we both agreed that it wouldn’t be a problem for either of us. Art, dance, and film majors are heavily stigmatized for being a waste of time — which is far from the truth. The plurality of students are focused on finding a career straight out of college, an annual salary based job with work hours from 9 to 5. They may not understand that college is historically a learning institution, meant to be intellectually stimulating more than to provide a job.

The second question asked what phone apps we use most often. Carlos uses Amazon, Fandango, and Spotify regularly. I was surprised by this answer, since I thought everyone used Instagram and Snapchat daily. Most people are too connected in my opinion, so Carlos’ answer was a bit refreshing.

To end our conversation, we discussed how Game of Thrones Season 6 was great compared to season 5 and how Carlos believed it might be the best one so far.

Wk7 – Artist Conversation – Dulce Soledad Ibarra

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Artist: Dulce Soledad Ibarra

Exhibition: Manos De Oro

Media: Mixed-media, Film

Gallery: Max L. Gatov Gallery East

Instagram: N/A

 

Dulce Soledad Ibarra is a senior at CSULB, currently working towards her BFA degree in the School of Art’s Sculpture Program. This exhibition is not part of her graduation requirements, but solely a passion project. It comes from a very personal aspect of her life and family, highlighting the virtuous character and work ethic of someone close throughout a lifetime-long career. Manos De Oro revolves around and is dedicated to Dulce’s father, who has been a gardener for a very long time. This whole exhibition is a heartwarming tribute from daughter to father, respecting his profession.

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The pieces in the collection are all gardening tools plated in gold. Dulce stated that each piece is a real gardening tool, an authentic and genuine object used by actual gardeners like her father. Certain parts of each tool are covered in gold coating, which I believe helps to symbolically show the value that Dulce places in her father and his profession. These aren’t cheap, “laborer” tools. They are the instruments needed by every potential homeowner who wishes to live in a desert climate like Los Angeles county, but expects their home to resemble a temperate suburban neighborhood. Many people don’t understand the massive amount of work that goes into the upkeep of Greater Los Angeles, and people like Dulce’s father are greatly underappreciated. The gold plating shows how significant and valued his work actually is, and also displays a daughter’s perception of her father’s job. A central video plays on the back wall in front of a faux-lawn strip, with Dulce’s father working on rose bushes.

Dulce stated that this gallery is indeed about her father, and that the gold theme made each machine “feel as if it had value”. She grew up in a lower-income household, with her father always supporting the family through gardening. He still works as a gardener today, although Dulce said that she wished he would retire soon. Becoming a young adult and now being conscious of the economic conditions affecting your parents can be very stressful, but creating an art display in honor of them is a great way to express it. This project took Dulce several months to complete, and when her family arrived for the gallery opening, she said that her brother cried. It’s a very real exhibition with a clear and solid inspiration, which is very admirable.

Personally, I loved the gallery due to its family-centered themes. Having an older father as well, I connected to the message of being grateful for their dedication. Paradoxically, young adults sometimes begin to feel powerless in regard to helping out their parents, during a time when we are first becoming independent ourselves. It’s an interesting concept that competence also creates an awareness of what you aren’t capable of doing, such as quickly changing the socio-economic status of your mom or dad. Although those scenarios can’t be dealt with in the blink of an eye, creating a positive project about them such as Manos De Oro by Dulce Soledad Ibarra is a great first step.

Wk6 – Art Experience – Flip Book

This week’s art project, Flip Books, was inspired by the artist conversation I had with Blaine Prow on his exhibition Extrusions. His display worked with shapes and how they contrasted with backgrounds that were intentionally different shape-wise to create what I believe was a morphing effect. I wanted to create my own morphing effect, and flip books turned out to be the perfect outlet for making a shape change size, orientation, and color.

A big part of Extrusions was it’s lack of color. This worked well for the numerous pieces on display, prominently white-on-black-on-white-again. The white boards with black interiors hung on white walls that blended in to appear as natural protrusions. Black and white coloring makes the individual appreciate the raw aspects more than a planned, surface-level representation. This works when you have a whole room as a canvas, and the minimal color scheme reaches for deeper feelings. I thought about going down this path for my shape flip book, but it honestly felt like a level of seriousness that I didn’t want to replicate right now. I wanted to create a more playful experience, and that would have only been possible with lots of color.

What represents color better than crayons? I thought that markers would feel too clean- too robotic. Crayons are messy and uneven: perfect for a morphing, pencil-sketched triangle as it becomes a star.

I wanted the initial triangle to look like it was dancing across the index cards before slowly growing its other “legs”. This idea took shape form from the artist conversation, but the shape format is only a template to express the transformation from caterpillar into butterfly. I was always interested in the idea of depicting a caterpillar’s process of change, but the shapes format was a simpler, fitting representation for this spectacle. The little triangle dances around, looses its form, begins to grow other parts, and then transforms into a star worthy of both praise and the numbing process it took to get there.

Wk6 – Artist Conversation – Blaine Prow

 

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Artist: Blaine Prow

Exhibition: Extrusions

Media: Paper

Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Dr. Maxine Merlino Gallery

Website: N/A

Instagram: @tiffuts

 

Blaine Prow is currently working towards his BA degree in Studio Art from the CSULB School of Art’s Graphic Design Program. His concentration within his Studio Art degree is in Graphic Design as well, and this particular exhibition is not part of his graduation requirement.

The exhibit consists of numerous black-and-white, shape-based designs. The pieces center around a theme of geometry, contrasting cutout shapes with a black, empty middle portion. These are paper constructions, and I believe the three dimensional segments of each piece are created through the cutout portions of the black void. The colors are very muted, evoking an L.A. minimalist feel to the entire display. Because every individual art piece is entirely black and white, the viewer has to really focus on the nature of the shapes to gain any meaning from the exhibit. The 3D aspects create a less passive viewership that draws attention quickly, but the effects of the protruding segments work better at a farther distance. None of the 3D shapes match their corresponding black background, so it may be possible that each cutout was placed onto a different board.

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When I asked Blaine what influenced or inspired him to create this piece, he offered back little substance. Apparently, there was no actual inspiration for this exhibit. It simply came to him one day in the form of creating a triangle pyramid. This makes sense, since the exhibition fulfills no graduation requirement and must genuinely be a passion project. However, Blaine did state that he has always liked geometry, which eventually became the outlet for Extrusions.

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I enjoyed this exhibit, primarily due to the minimal color scheme. I think that the lack of bold colors assisted in highlighting the dimensional properties of Extrusions. This project felt like an experimentation in paper design, observing how each piece appeared slightly out of place within the black portions of the same palette. Although he refused to mix color onto the boards, since Blaine Prow admittedly hates painting, a lack of colors made it even more powerful overall. If there were bright, contrasting colors smeared onto each cutout, the entire display would’ve been passed over as sloppy. For some reason, a lack of color makes the viewer see more of what’s underneath initial appearances. Life isn’t in black and white, so the use of it as a filter brings out the true impression of everything visual-related.