Lisa Hochstein

July 10th, 2012

Lisa Hochstein, Wrap 2Lisa Hochstein is a Santa Cruz, California-based artist who works in collage, painting and fiber arts.

She recently curated the exhibition Earth • Science • Art for the R. Blitzer Gallery in Santa Cruz. The exhibition paired 16 scientists from the USGS Pacific Coastal & Marine Science Center with 16 Bay Area and Santa Cruz artists.

Hochstein has a BFA in painting from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Whirligig: What is art?

Lisa: My answer to that depends on whether I am in the role of artist or of audience. As someone who creates objects, art making is a response I have to the world’s bumping up against my awareness. Making art feels very instinctual though I can’t completely explain why I feel drawn to this particular activity. It has always seemed a little strange to me—that awareness leads to a desire to make something. When I am in my studio, my frame of mind is one of openness and curiosity and a certain amount of discontent or unease. Each piece grows from a combination of feelings, ideas, memories, associations and formal considerations, plus elements of chance and luck that I always hope to be awake to. I regain some kind of equilibrium through my work, but it’s not just about that. I also want to be surprised by what I’m doing.

Lisa Hochstein, Origins When I’m in the role of audience, I take in someone else’s work and want it to transfer some of that initial response/art-making impulse from its maker to me. As a viewer I also look for something I recognize as much as I look to be surprised. Elegance, honesty, technical skill, originality, narrative truth and aesthetic truth are some of the touchstones for deciding whether I regard something as art or creative output, which strike me as different from each other. There is a lot of creative work that may be artistic but not what I would call art. For me, something that is awkward and raw can be art while something beautiful and harmonious can easily fall into a creative-but-not-art category. Art needs to sing. Read the rest of this entry »

Valerie Raps

October 27th, 2011

Valerie Raps sculpture

Bay Area artist Valerie Raps recently completed a public art commission for the Alum Rock History Corridor Project.

Cultivating Community is a life-size, stylized spring tooth harrow created from fabricated steel and cast bronze. The tines of the harrow are made from casting the arms of ten San Jose community members. The sculpture is located at Tropicana Shopping Center in East San Jose.

Raps has a MFA from San Jose State University and a MA in Holistic Counseling from JFK University. She is also the Resident Curator of Art Ark Gallery in San Jose.

Whirligig: You recently completed a commission for a sculpture for the Tropicana Shopping Center. Tell us about this project.

Valerie: The project was commissioned by the City of San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs in collaboration with Don Imwalle, who is the property owner of the northeast corner of Tropicana Shopping Center on King and Story Roads in San Jose.

About three years ago the city put out a call for participation for submissions to be part of an artists catalogue. They selected 30 out of 300 applicants for this catalogue which was then made available to developers who build commercial and residential spaces. I was one of three artists to present proposals for a public art project for the Tropicana Shopping Center. The site is part of a larger project called the Alum Rock Cultural History Corridor, an area in East San Jose which has pinpointed several locations for public funds to commenorate the rich and diverse history of the area.
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Steven Andrew Kacsmar

September 22nd, 2011

Steven Andrew Kacsmar is a San Francisco based singer songwriter. His band Phantom City has just released its second CD Off the Map.

Whirligig: Off the Map is Phantom City’s second CD and your third. What goes into making an album and how do you determine the arc of the music?

Steven: My songs come from my experiences and sometimes from my idealism. Sometimes I write tunes to try and help people think about how things could be better. Sometimes I just have a story to tell. But even the songs that are about a real event often undergo a transformation from the literal to the allegorical.

In terms of making a CD, there is a lot of work that goes into producing a CD that goes unnoticed unless you don’t do it. For example, on Off the Map we recorded many takes of each part then picked the best sections and then blended them into a single track. We also ironed out any wrinkles so that we put out a polished product, hopefully without losing the fresh feel of the song. In the process of creating a CD, you spend a lot of time listening, and honing, taking out as much as you put in.

Whirligig: How did you come to be a musician and songwriter?

Steven: I’ve always been musically inclined; I sang on my mom’s lap in the car when I was a child. I was in band in high school and have been playing guitar since I was about 8. There’s always a soundtrack going on in my head. I was curious so I asked some of my friends if this was true for them and was surprised to learn that not everybody has a soundtrack to their life going on in their head. So I guess it’s safe to say that music is an integral part of who I am as a human being. I have worked at many things in my life, but the day gig I had longest was with Bank of America, for 21 years. When I left the corporate world behind, it was with a very clear intent to focus on my music while I still had some fire in my belly. Read the rest of this entry »

Jody Alexander

May 28th, 2011

Jody Alexander The Artist in Her Studio

Santa Cruz based artist Jody Alexander is known for creating complex characters whose narratives are revealed through an array of artifacts which almost always include handmade books and are often exhibited as interactive art installations.

Her work celebrates collecting, storytelling, and odd characters.

Alexander has just completed two solo exhibitions: Jody Alexander: Sedimentals at Mohr Gallery in Mountain View, California; and The Odd Volumes of Ruby B.: An Installation at Saffron and Genevieve in Santa Cruz, California.

In the first half of 2011 Alexander’s work was included in: The Art of the Book at Donna Seager Gallery in San Rafael, California; The Book: A Contemporary View at Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts; Reconstructions at Conrad Wilde Gallery in Tucson, Arizona; Encaustic with a Textile Sensibility at Kimball Art Center in Park City, Utah; and Masters: Book Art published by Lark Books.

Alexander has a BA in Art History from UCLA and a MS in Library Science from Simmons College in Boston.

Whirligig: How did you come to be interested in the book as an art object?

Jody: While working on my Master’s degree in Library Science in Boston, Massachusetts. One of my professors took our class to Harvard’s Houghton Library. He began by showing us medieval manuscripts: Book of Hours, Gutenburg Bible, Nuremburg Chronicles amongst others. Obviously, this was very exciting to examine these treasures up close, but then he started taking out artists’ books. I don’t think I had ever seen an artists’ book before, and if I had, I wasn’t really aware of them as a genre of art. I think that I couldn’t breathe for a little while. I had one of those moments when everything suddenly made sense and it was clear that this is what I wanted to do. I proceeded to do every remaining project in Library School on artists’ books: their history, collecting them, storage and preservation of artists’ books, etc. As soon as I graduated I started to make them.

Whirligig: Tell us about the first book you made.

Jody: When I was about eight or nine I know I made some small books. I used to draw a hillbilly family and type out their story on my green portable Sears typewriter. These eventually became little books. I’m not sure how I bound them. They were just little pamphlet books. They no longer exist.

Jody Alexander Eleven Exposed Spines
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Marion Patterson

March 18th, 2011

Photographer Marion Patterson has several new bodies of work coming out based on recent travels to Antarctica and the Galapagos. Patterson was mentored by Ansel Adams who became a lifelong friend. She also studied with Dorthea Lange, Pirkle Jones, Jerry Uelsmann, and Minor White. She studied philosophy at Stanford and received her Masters in Interdisciplinary Creative Arts from San Francisco State University. Patterson was faculty at DeAnza and Foothill College for 28 years. She currently makes her home in Anchor Bay, California.

Whirligig: How did you come to paint on your photographs.

Marion: I was a painter first. A watercolor painter. But from an early age it was always photography, and then I fell into the Ansel Adams circle.

When did I start painting again? Maybe when I saw Holly Roberts’ work. She paints thickly and saves only little bits of the photograph. Instead of that approach I wanted part of the photograph to be painted on. I love paint. When I got my Masters at San Francisco State I took a course in animation in which I had to draw on cels. It’s an incredibly complicated thing. I made a camel walking across the screen and all this stuff. It was two or three minutes of film. My instructor said, “Did it come out the way you wanted it to?” and I said, “Yes, and that’s the problem.” It didn’t give me any surprises. The thing with paint is that there is always a surprise. Even with drawing there is a little surprise depending on how you hold the pencil. That’s what I love about paint. It leads you. The camera leads you. The darkroom leads you.

Whirligig: When you are isolating a particular element in an image what are you thinking about?

Marion: It is a matter of how do we see? How do we perceive as we do? Why do we perceive what we do?

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