Stacy Speyer

February 5th, 2011

Stacy Speyer recently completed a residency at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. For the Exploratorium’s traveling exhibition Geometry Playground, Speyer created an interactive exhibit of metal geometric forms known as polyhedra. Subsequently she began work on a book on this subject called Understanding Polyhedra. Speyer was trained as a textile artist (MFA California College of the Arts) and is known for her large scale open weave installations. She is the Studio Manager of the Textiles Department at California College of the Arts in Oakland.

Whirligig: What is the connection between your work in textiles and polyhedra?

Stacy: There is an underlying grid in the make up of all fabric woven on a loom, but the different weave structures possible on a loom can create a huge variety of patterns and kinds of fabrics. My favorite weave structure is called plain weave and it is the one I usually use for my loom woven artwork. It is the simplest structure and when done in the light open way I weave, the woven grid is revealed. Though it is visually layered by the colourful composition dyed into the threads. It depends on the viewer’s interest whether they are caught more by the details of colour or the organic woven.
Stacy SpeyerThe start of all this polyhedra making, was a curiosity with a basketry technique, a hexagonal weave structure. It has three elements instead of the two in a basic grid that I am used to on the loom.

I liked the odd number of basic elements, one horizontal and two diagonals, that come together to make this regular structure. When all three elements meet, they make a small equilateral triangle and a set of two in three directions form the sides of a hexagon.

One year I worked out how to make the structure flat and the next year I tried making it into a basket. Then I wondered if I could close it off, making all the ends meet in some kind of spherical shape.

Spheres have always been a big part of my work but usually just seen as circles of dyed colour in the cloth or when the form the fabric is hung in an arc and column.
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Julia Bradshaw

October 17th, 2010

Photographer and video performance artist Julia Bradshaw is exhibiting seven different series of work in her first one person show at Fresno City College this month. Her work often comments on language and the mixed messages of cross-cultural exchanges.

Bradshaw was born in Manchester, England. She spent nine years working and living in Munich, Germany where she studied with Michael Jochum before coming to California in 1995. She received her MFA from San José State University in 2007. Bradshaw is Assistant Professor of Photography at California State University, Fresno.

Whirligig: At Fresno City College you are exhibiting seven different series of photo-based works: Cut Pieces (2010), Case X (2010), Nocturnal (2010), On Photographing Breasts (2009), Tissue Blowing Project (2007), Constraints (2003), and Companions of my Imagination (1994). What is the thread between these bodies of work?

Julia: I am interested in the photographic series as a means to problem solve or comment on everyday life. Apart from the Nocturnal series, all of these projects have something to do with our culture and society. Cut Pieces, On Photographing Breasts and Case X are all linked in that they have to do with my investigations into libraries and books. They consider book content, the public’s misuse of books and a library’s policy on “protecting” books. The Constraints Series has to do with the various societal dictums that potentially have something inherently good and bad associated with them. For example, I have an image and text combination I call “polite conversation.” In this image I am trying to say that “polite conversation” is positive in that it ensures a civil society, however it also has a negative aspect in that polite conversation also can prevent people engaging at a deeper level. Likewise in the Tissue Blowing Project I am also thinking about language. In this project I visually represent miscommunication, disputes, failed advances, diametric viewpoints and avoidance and absence in relationships.

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Pod Post

March 14th, 2010

Pod Post, the mail art duo comprised of artists Carolee Gilligan Wheeler and Jennie Hinchcliff, has become an icon at Bay Area print, book, and zine fairs. Their presence is memorable in part due to their complete-with-merit-badge uniforms, their much sought after collectible mail art ephemera, and their passion and advocacy for all things postal.

In late 2009 their book, Good Mail Day: A Primer for Making Eye-Popping Postal Art, was published. It quickly sold out and has gone into multiple printings. Good Mail Day—a resource rich in visual, historical, conceptual, practical and hands-on information—was created by two inquisitively whimsical pods who know how to correspond.

Whirligig: What is Pod Post?

Carolee: Pod Post—the name—started out as a brainstorm when Jennie and I were on the airplane to Tokyo in 2005. We like alliteration, and we had been playing around with the concept of a pod as a carrier of potential. After that, we discovered that one of the early national mail delivery services was called Post Office Department.

Pod Post originated as an umbrella for our postal and correspondence obsession, and we started making things under that name, rather than our individual “press” names (Jennie’s was Bubble and Squeek at the time, and mine was superdilettante), to denote that it was a partnership separate from our individual work.

Jennie: Carolee summed up the idea of Pod Post nicely—the entity came about organically, based on our mutual love of all things postal and correspondence related. Once we started appearing together at book fairs and expos as “the Pods,” we quickly realized that there were plenty of other folks out there who were just like us: people who agonized over the perfect fountain pen, searched eBay for exotic airmail envelopes, and knew their postal carrier by first name.

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José Arenas

January 20th, 2010

Bay area painter José Arenas recently completed a mural commission in his hometown neighborhood of downtown San José, now the up and coming art district of the United States’ 10th largest city. Arenas is art faculty at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, California; a graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute and UC Davis, where he completed his MFA in 2000. He is currently represented by Hang Gallery in San Francisco. This interview was conducted at the completion of the San José mural, and will be included in a monograph of Arenas’ work to be published in early 2010 by Hunger Button Books.


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Whirligig: You’ve just completed a mural in downtown San José that is 16 feet high by 108 feet long. How does that feel?

José: It feels pretty good especially now that it’s done. I now have time to look back and reflect on what happened in the last two months. I was really excited to work with other people. I usually don’t get that when working in the studio, in there it’s mostly alone time. So I got to work with a great team for about six weeks and at the end of the project we held an unveiling party. It was a really good way to give thanks to all of them for being involved in such a big project.

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Jane Reichhold

September 27th, 2009

Jane Reichhold is an internationally recognized and award-winning artist and poet, prolific writer, editor, publisher, and scholar based in Gualala, California. Jane has written thousands of poems and published nearly 35 books on haiku, tanka, and renga, including Basho: The Complete Haiku (2008); Ten Years Haikujane (2008); and Writing and Enjoying Haiku: A Hands on Guide (2002). Jane is a co-editor of LYNX, the publisher of AHA Books, and editor of AHA! POETRY where she keeps the practice of writing successful haiku and other Japanese poetry forms alive and lively.

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Whirligig: You spent over twenty years working on Basho: The Complete Haiku. What compelled you to create this book? Can you talk about your motivations and processes?

Jane: I felt that if I could really see how Basho wrote his hokku, by seeing each word he used and not some translator’s idea of what a haiku could be in English, I could figure out how to write a better haiku. I started first by collecting every translation of each of his poems and comparing them. Then I asked Japanese friends to give me a word-for-word translation. I began to study Japanese but still depended on Japanese translators. My only contribution was to understand how Japanese poetry works and to make the translations fit or follow these precepts.

Whirligig: That’s a very humble response for twenty years of work which resulted in invaluable insights for both Basho and haiku scholars and enthusiasts.

Jane: Truth, like haiku, is so simple.

Whirligig: What initially drew you to haiku?

Jane: On the sale table at City Lights Books Store in San Francisco, in 1968, I found a Peter Pauper book of translations for a quarter. Though I had been writing poetry since college, I felt that here in the Japanese poems was a new way of expressing poetry. Soon afterwards I was making a vessel on a potter’s wheel and just as I pulled the clay upward a bird sang out. I had the feeling that it was the bird’s voice that caused the clay to rise. I realized that in this coincidence what I felt was the same kind of inspiration Japanese poets valued.

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