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Sharpen your Conceptual Claws, World: UCSD Open Studios


A simple subjective experience

By Katherine Sweetman

“The Visual Arts Department at UC San Diego encourages experimentation, innovation and risk-taking in scholarly and artistic production. We provide a unique environment for learning and research that crosses the boundaries between history, theory, and practice in the visual arts.”
– from Vis Arts website   

              

Last Saturday the top graduate art program in San Diego opened its doors and gave the public a glimpse into the world of the MFA Visual Arts’ program. Coinciding with the Open Studios event was the department’s annual PhD conference, this year titled New Institutions, and a gallery exhibition with the same name curated by Lara Bullock, Sascha Crasnow and Elmira Mohebaali. From roughly 1-7pm a steady stream of (mainly) “arts insiders” mingled through the Visual Arts Facility on the UCSD Campus that houses the individual studios of the graduate students. Brave guests also ventured into the conference, held in the very-black Black Box theater next to the gallery, where panels and keynote speakers discuss topics like contemporary art and the constructs of Art Institutions.

By the Marcuse gallery’s entrance, the first piece to catch the public off guard was this one by Joe Yorty and John Brady:

Untitled Trailer pieces for San Diego (That's a top heavy boat there) Joe Yorty and John Brady

The concept, explained on the interior gallery wall along with a video projection, spoke of the performative and labor intensive collection of the objects. The mattresses, couches and pillows piled onto this trailer were collected, one by one, from streets and alleyways of San Diego, and the overloaded trailer is imitates the familiar (to this region) over-stuffed trailers traveling from San Diego to Tijuana. This trailer however, ended up traveling to La Jolla (in some respects an antithesis of Tijuana), to be put on display as a single art object. While pausing to take a few photographs, I overheard viewers discussing subjects such as American wastefulness, bed bugs, and “Is This Art?”.

Untitled Trailer pieces for San Diego (That's a top heavy boat there) Joe Yorty and John Brady

 

Another attention-grabbing project in the Marcuse Gallery was a video segment by artist Frankie Martin. The project became more appealing, to me, as I learned the piece in the gallery was a smaller segment of a larger video project titled: WE ARE WILD DOGS WITH TURQUOISE FUR LAUGHING AT FULL MOONS (vimeo trailer here).

From website: “This movie is an exploration of the meaning of/desire for context while at the same time creating a context for fellow artists and musicians by including their work in the video. In this way, the project is largely a curated exhibition. Participating artists include; Frankie Martin, Brianna Rigg, Berglind Tomasdottir, Aquapuke, Emily Sevier, Adrienne Garbini, S4E, Extreme Animals, Narwhalz, MEN, Bob Pierzack and Juiceboxxx.

Installation in Marcuse Gallery, Frankie Martin

Installation in Marcuse Gallery, Frankie Martin

The Artist’s studio was dressed up for scenes of her in-progress video. Pictured below is Tattoo Parlor backdrop.

Frankie Martin (right) in her studio with actress from her film

Another artist worth mentioning is Emily Grenader.  During Open Studios she exhibited the creation of a very interesting participatory project (similar to one that can be seen here) in which she invited the viewers to pose in front of a green screen for a few moments of video-capturing. She then layered the video into a video crowd portrait– part of her Crowd Painting series.

Emily Grenader in studio working on (digital) Crowd Painting

Emily Grenader's (digital) Crowd Painting in progress

Her practice showed a methodical visual progression from actual crowd paintings, which were also on view in her studio, to this new digital crowd portrait video.

From statement on work: “Her “crowd portraits” bring people together based on unusual circumstances or common details in order to shed new light on different relationships and show comparisons on a single plane.”http://ucsdopenstudios.com/2012/artists/emily-grenader/

Emily Grenader, example of Crowd Painting (with paint)

The studio to draw the largest crowd was probably one belonging to artist J Noland where an hourly (I believe) performance took place with two members of a marching band and a soft-serve ice cream machine (see below).

Interior of J Nolan's studio, UCSD Open Studios 2012

Interior of J Nolan's studio, UCSD Open Studios 2012

Interior of J Nolan's studio, UCSD Open Studios 2012

 

And then of course there was this:

Blake Stimson, keynote speaker for New Institutions conference

 

By all accounts (that I heard… or created myself) the UCSD MFA Visual Arts program kept up its appearance as an institution that is encouraging “experimentation, innovation and risk-taking in scholarly and artistic production”. By employing artist/students running the gamut in production techniques, the department will certainly never leave a visitor bored.

I’ll close with a few more images:

by Adrienne Garbini

 A small, beautiful video piece by  Adrienne Garbini (pictured above) where small ceramic, smiling faces were dropped and shattered, one after another.

Ela Boyd

Artist Ela Boyd standing in front of one of her many intricate projection pieces (pictured above)

Blake Stimson's keynote discussion

Blake Stimson, from UC Davis, pointing out some of the inclusionary memes this photograph has created.

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