Exhibition Review by: Kim Lynn Cook
In late Spring San Francisco was bustling with art happenings. From art fairs (ArtPadSF, artMRKT, San Francisco Fine Art Fair), to large-scale events (closing of SFMOMA), to MFA exhibitions (Berkeley, CCA, Mills, SFAI, Stanford, I could go on…), to the regular art scene occurrences, there was much to be seen from well-established and emerging artists alike. Art-goers were forced to pick and choose which events to attend, unfortunately, missing out on some of the action.
Pamela Belknap and Elizabeth Cunningham of Studio 110 Gallery envisioned a show that would provide another look at the work of select recent Bay Area MFA graduates, exposing their work to a wider audience in an alternative context. Hang|Over consisted of artwork by: Alyssa Block, Marcella Davis, Nancy Ivanhoe, Oliver Leach, Andréanne Michon, Simon Pyle, Naamen Rosen, Raelyn Ruppel, Lauren Visceglia, and Ingred V. Wells. The majority of the artists completed their coursework at SFAI, with the exception of Simon Pyle who graduated from Mills College.
The SFAI graduate MFA exhibition was held at The Old Mint, a treasured National Historic Landmark set to become the future home of the San Francisco Museum at the Mint. As an art venue, the Mint is exquisite - including high ceilings, stunning architectural details, vaults that lend themselves to performance and video work, not to mention the history behind the space that offers up another realm of art production. Before attending Hang|Over I was curious to see how the artwork would translate to the experimental gallery setting.
Studio 9 Remnants (detail)
Nancy Ivanhoe’s Studio 9 Remnants was an ingenious interpretation of the show theme. I saw the first iteration of this evolving piece at The Old Mint, which consisted of large (approximately 6 x 8 feet) sections of drywall with intricate pencil drawings reminiscent of delicate webs. Cut down to smaller sections, Studio 9 Remnants included two 9 x 9 inch pieces of drywall, transforming her studio wall drawings to art objects.
On the Edge of Utopia (detail)
Realyn Ruppel’s series of photographs depicting Mission Creek’s houseboat community, On the Edge of Utopia, brought to mind the Sausalito “Houseboat Wars” which took place slightly north of the gallery. Ruppel describes this photographic investigation as examining the “forced gentrification” of the Mission Bay area. In these particular photographs, condos loom over the houseboat community setting up a juxtaposition that causes one to question their personal meaning of utopia.
While visiting the gallery, I had the opportunity to sit down with Naaman Rosen and Andréanne Michon to discuss their work, the transition from graduate school, and their future plans for art making.
Naaman Rosen is interested in the handwritten traces that people leave behind and what those traces often reveal about their authors. His work is as much a commentary on the history of photography as a representation of his personal archive of human traces. Prior to attending SFAI Rosen co-founded WE Artspace, an artist-run gallery centered on building community in Oakland, CA. In the near future, he hopes to start another gallery space alongside creating his own artwork.
Quiet Anger series
Andréanne Michon’s poetic landscape photographs reflect her anxiety about environmental concerns. She explains that her work is "more about philosophy than facts, questioning how new realities are formed" and how humans will adapt. Michon’s art practice fits seamlessly into her lifestyle. She photographs everywhere she goes connecting her personal journey with her thoughts on the shifts in the environment. Her next series of work focuses on trees, blurring the lines between landscape and portrait photography.
Aside from the difference in presentation of the work at The Old Mint vs. Studio 110 Gallery, there was also a noticeable shift in the temperament of the artists. Hang|Over added an opportunity for camaraderie that will be less likely to happen as their priorities adapt to life after graduate school. With all of the pressure of highlighting the culmination of their graduate studies through their individual projects at their MFA exhibitions behind them, I sensed that the artists’ sentiments had shifted from me to we. Not only was Hang|Over a great chance to view/re-visit the work of recent MFA graduates, but it is also an excellent example of the support system offered to emerging artists in the Bay Area. The choice to invest in further education through MFA programs is a big one and afterwards the path from art school to established artist or art professional is not always clear-cut. It is exciting to see an art space focused on helping emerging artists find their voices and connect with one another.
Hang|Over was on view at Studio 110 Gallery June 8-22, 2013. Studio 110 Gallery is an experimental workspace operated out of conceptual artist, Pamela Belknap’s Sausalito-based art studio.