Monthly Archives: May 2012

Five Questions: Megan Leppla

Occupation:
Art Maker & Educator

If you could use any special or rare material in your work, what would it be?
I love working with natural materials, but natural usually means ephemeral. I guess it would be nice to find something naturally sourced and archival.

Do you ask anyone to give you feedback on a work in progress? If so, why did you choose that person/people?
I value critical feedback, but since leaving an academic environment I haven’t had many opportunities to share works in progress with peers.

What is the longest amount of time you have ever spent creating one work? What is the least?
I tend to work pretty quick, and often fear I’ll overwork a piece if I go on for longer than a few weeks.

Megan Leppla, Blue Booted Bike

Do you have a funny or unusual technique?
I don’t think so, but other’s might disagree.

What do you do to get over blocks to creativity?
Working as an arts educator has been a great inspiration for me. I find that my students are constantly challenging me, and allowing me to see past creativity blocks.

www.MeganLeppla.com

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Art Show Poetry: Michelle Nye

Occupation:
Corporate Art Coordinator, SFMOMA Artists Gallery
Last Call Art Show Co-Curator

Blue Fridge (Bound)
It became necessary
to lay flat my need for you
making due with politely cold edges
dressed up in electric blues
I forgot your subtleties
and feigned forgiveness
closing heavy doors on you

Our woolly touches
and pointed gesticulations
once roaming loose and expansive
are sealed over, painted shut
inclinations are leveled
and movements bound
In this ever shrinking room

Michelle Nye, Blue Fridge (Bound)

Its girth impossible, unassailable
knocks my knees black blue
its persistence formidable
bruises my elbows yellow
stumbling and tripping
I chafe at the effort required
to contain the idea of you

So I will crack a window
and succumb to an insistent inhalation
the tentative fingers of surrender
expose the tracks of the hasty retreat
finding the kicked up dust
of our last knock down crash
settled around the edges of this room

Exhaling into corners and under debris
I will force open this stale structure
prying apart cold shoulders
kicking out locked knees
this lumbering molehill
shuffling, shifting and set upright
will get out of my way
all in order to let go of you

Five Questions: Kelly Parady

Occupation: Associate Registrar, Loans Out (Registration Department)

If you could use any special or rare material in your work, what would it be?
Gold leaf; painting on copper plate.

Do you ask anyone to give you feedback on a work in progress? If so, why did you chose that person/people?
Yes; artists and non-artists as both will reveal insightful thoughts.

What is the longest amount of time you have ever spent creating one work? What is the least?
The longest is two years and the shortest is three hours.

Do you have a funny or unusual technique?
I work in watercolor and gouache out of doors and return to the studio to re-invent these works, in oils on canvas or board.

What do you do to get over blocks to creativity?
Look at Cezanne and Klee paintings; view the unfinished painting(s) in a mirror or through the reversed end of binoculars; turn the unfinished work upside down; sketch in black and white; ride my bike; practice yoga.

www.KellyParady.com

Five Questions: Beth Goodsit

Occupation:
Artist, SFMOMA Visitor Services Employee

What’s your favorite tool? Why?
My favorite tool is a liner brush, as I love detail. I’ve kept my sculpture tools because they remind me of the fifty surreal ceramic pieces I’ve done, including two life-sized men, wing creatures, and three huge pieces. The unicorn, sphinx, and lion weighed approximately 600 lbs each, and had to be cut in half to be fired, then reconstructed. My cost was about $1,500 each; not to mention building bases with wheels, and renting trucks with hydraulic lifts. I did make the newspaper with the S.F. Arts Festivals four times. WHEW!

When a crazy person who I never met smashed the unicorn and sphinx to an artist’s warehouse, I quit sculpture. I donated the lion to a KQED auction.

How many breaks do you take when you’re working on a piece? What do you do on your breaks?
For me, art is not a 9-5 job with routine breaks. I work when inspired. I especially like to sketch while having breakfast with my cat.

Have you ever accidentally ruined one of your works by dropping/spilling/ripping?
After approximately 120 shows at galleries, festivals, cafes, and auctions I’ve had to repair broken sculpture, and a ripped canvas. Once after falling on a dragon sculpture and breaking a rib, I remember repairing it immediately after returning from the hospital.

What is the most surprising or unusual aspect of your process?
The most unusual thing is that I never run out of ideas, or give up. I love having shows. This is my 14th SFMOMA staff art show. It is my way of letting people know who I am.

Has working at SFMOMA influenced your work in any way?
Working at SFMOMA has been a miracle. The people are amazing, have similar interests, and help me with digital cameras, computers, and conservation. If anyone wants to visit my studio/museum, let me know.

Five Questions: Janet Seifert


What is your occupation?
Artist

If you could invite any artist living or dead to be your studio mate, who would you choose and why?
It would have to be Albrecht Durer, in hopes that a bit of his masterful draftsmanship would rub off on me.

What do you play on the radio when no one else is around?

Classic rock and roll or jazz.

Favorite piece(s) at the SFMOMA?
Wayne Thiebaud’s “Sunset Streets”
Sam Francis’ “Untitled 1974” drawing with acrylic
Morris Lewis’ “Ambi I”
Georgia O’Keeffe’s “Lake George”
Michael Light’s (NASA) “Earthrise Seen for the First Time By Human Eyes”

How do you find you balance your work life at SFMOMA with your art production life?
As an artist who volunteers at SFMOMA, I balance painting at my studio everyday with volunteering for arts organizations and other causes to enjoy the company of art appreciators and makers, and to help out in some small way.

Edge of the World Number 2, Janet Seifert

If you had to name one book to give someone insight into your artwork (and life), what would it be?
It would be Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson.

www.artSpan.org/artist/janet-seifert

Five Questions: Ray Bussolari

Occupation:
Commercial and Fine Art Photographer

What is your favorite tool?
My favorite tool is a 1955 Linhof Technika III large format camera and Polaroid Type 55 Film.

How many breaks do you take when you’re working on a piece? What do you do on your breaks?
The work can take days and most of the breaks come when the frustration level is too high to think straight. That’s when the music gets turned up. I usually listen to anything from opera to punk. I’ll listen to any music that will get me out of my head. I’ll also get my dog Luna to take me out for a walk. That always helps.

Stained Glass, Ray Bussolari

Have you ever accidentally ruined one of your works by dropping/spilling/ripping?
I have a closet full of ruined works. I keep thinking that one day I’ll make this colossal, all encompassing piece of art that will clean my closet out and it will be the best thing I’ve ever done. It hasn’t happened yet and the door is coming off its hinges.

What is the most surprising or unusual aspect of your process?
There’s always some song being played over and over again in my head. In addition to music, I have some pre-visualized image that I’m hoping to capture. The two elements combine and bring about a dance of looking, listening, shooting, developing, and producing the image. Sometimes the dance is a tango and sometimes it’s a manic, flailing jump into a mosh pit.

Has working at SFMOMA influenced your work in any way?
Working at SFMOMA has been the best education in art I’ve ever had. I’ve been given the privilege of seeing and learning about all types of art and artists. It’s also been a blessing to be given the opportunity to meet and work with all the diverse and intelligent SFMOMA people that inspire me as much as the art does.

www.raybussolari.com
raybussolari.wordpress.com

Five Questions: Sara Jennison


What is your occupation?
Artist/Graphic Designer, SFMOMA docent

If you could invite any artist living or dead to be your studio mate, who would you choose and why?
Oh boy, that is always such a tough question! In my current frame of mind, I want to be around the ‘happy’ artist, so let’s invite Roy Lichtenstein, Alexander Calder and my 10 yr old daughter!

What do you play on the radio when no one else is around?

RTL 2 (so I can pretend I am in France)

Favorite piece(s) at the SFMOMA?

‘Lick and Lather’, ‘The Nest’, and the 2nd floor landing by Parra are three of many…

La Pin Up, Sara Jennison

How do you find you balance your work life at SFMOMA with your art production life?
Well, as a docent, my ‘work’ life is mostly outside of SFMOMA, so I view the time I spend at the museum (with the school tours) to be a great source of inspiration.

If you had to name one book to give someone insight into your artwork (and life), what would it be?
As an adult, the entire library of Communication Arts since 1990. And when I was young, A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle.

www.bigumbrellastudios.com

Five Questions Gina Contreras

What is your occupation?
I work part time in the Museum Store and on-call in the Koret Visitor Education Center at SFMOMA.

What’s your favorite tool? Why?
My favorite tool is a pencil. Writing down ideas and sketching.

How many breaks do you take when you’re working on a piece? What do you do on your breaks?
When I am painting, I like to relax and I usually have my TV on in the background which means I take breaks to catch up on my favorite shows.
When I screen-print I don’t like to take many breaks. For the most part I stay in it for the long haul, mainly because I don’t want my screens to dry.

Have you ever accidentally ruined one of your works by dropping/spilling/ripping?
We all have our moments of carelessness, but I usually try to have “clean hands” when I’m working.

It’s Okay it’s Better this Way, Gina Contreras

What is the most surprising or unusual aspect of your process?
The most surprising aspect of my process is that I start off with a title and then I work from there.

Has working at SFMOMA influenced your work in any way?
I think it does influence my work, not in a lot of ways but in the little things that happen throughout the work day. Such as, interactions with people and observing the awkward things tourist do and say.

http://www.tumblr.com/blog/ginamcontreras
http://ginamcontreras.blogspot.com

Studio Visit: Nining Muir

Visiting Nining Muir in her studio at Art Explosion was like walking in to a museum gallery without the help of an audio tour or docent. Trying to get her to open up about her work and her process was a bit like pulling teeth. Many of her paintings have a definite message, from the brutality of the meat industry to her feelings about her emigration from Indonesia; however, her low-key ego insists that I, as the viewer, determine my own meanings from her work since she only occasionally hinted at what I should or shouldn’t get out of the experience. Her opinion in this matter is summed up by the artists’ quote on her website http://www.niningmuir.com:

What the eye beholds
The tongue need not explain.

To this, she also added another characteristically Nining Muir quote in response to my badgering for more fully developed answers to our blog Five Questions: “You wanted more? Less is more; here you go.” I then realized that it would not be easy to pin her down on much about her process. She says that she dislikes “the process of blathering about process” and that “visual art” to her “is simply that: visual.” After a series of questions that weren’t being answered with the detail that I felt they deserved, I was then surprised by her answer to my question about any special or rare materials that she has used in her work. Catching me off-guard, she responded by pointing to one of her paintings, “Blood Oil”, (shown below, over her left shoulder) which depicts a gushing well; the oil and sky in the painting contains the artist’s own menstrual blood.

While many of her images are positively political in dramatic, bloody realism, the same number are more in the pop art category, with the former portraying such things as cows being mutilated for slaughter and in the latter, her cows are brightly colored with cartoonish smiles. After pressing from me about why cows are a favorite subject of hers, she finally opened up by saying:

I’ve painted a lot of cows. Why? I don’t know; I felt like it. One cow painting led to the next. Some turned out to be gruesome, some fanciful, some had a political dimension; others simply reflected my mood at the time of their creation. I guess mood matters. Often a painting starts out one way and changes direction radically, all because of the way I’m feeling. Will people find that interesting? Maybe, but frankly I’d rather have them look at my work, look closely, walk away and then come back and look some more. It’s all about looking, about what’s visual. I’m a visual artist. I’d rather leave interpretations to the viewers (or the curators).

When asked about the influence working at SFMOMA has had on her work, she feels that one of the best things about working here has been in getting to “meet all of the other artists who are also [on] staff” and in getting to see other people’s work. Her favorite pieces at the museum include works by Anselm Kiefer, Frida Kahlo and Nathan Oliveira.

While the artist is impenetrable, her artwork is entirely accessible. After interviewing Nining and coming to terms with the fact that she was forcing me to make my own judgments about her work, I realized that this is the best way to approach viewing art, anyway. As a viewer, I’m going to like what I like, regardless of the story behind the work, or what the artist intended to get across. It is about my experience, and I don’t have to view a work through a political or cultural lens; the viewer sees what he or she wishes to see.

Interview/photos by Ric Weaver

Nining Muir sits in front of the diptych, “Vietnam Vertigo” to be displayed in Last Call Staff Art Show.

Studio Visit: Sharon Shepherd

Sharon Shepherd welcomed Last Call Staff Art Show curator Michelle Nye into her studio and home, sharing a wonderful conversation and excellent coffee.

Sharon’s Words:

I create work on canvas or paper, working on 3‐8 pieces at the same time, over several weeks or months. My process is layered: paints, mediums, scraping, digging, wiping into and onto the surface of the work. I might sit in a chair or on the floor, stand, crawl, crouch, or stoop to reach the surface of the work. My workspace is limited in size, so continually moving of the works around in the space allows me the visual impact of following the progress of all the works as I repeat my layering process.

I work alone (with the exception of my Shih Tzu, Bailey), and prefer it that way.

Years ago, I chose a non‐studio profession to support and inform my art. I’ve always sought outside employment that would not drain my spirit of creativity, but inspire it. For many years I was an academic fine arts librarian at a university and enjoyed interaction with fellow faculty (art and otherwise) and students in helping with research in all fields of the arts. I was continually exposed to new ideas as individuals sought my assistance and expertise to resolve their questions. This reference work always created an exciting landscape for my own curiosity and opened many ideas to me in creating my own artwork.

Working at SFMOMA is an invaluable opportunity to meet inspiring co‐workers and see and experience behind‐the‐scenes work at one of the most exciting places for inspiration – an art museum.


There was SFMOMA ephemera throughout Sharon’s studio. I loved her recycled use of temporary SFMOMA badges – excellent painting tools!

I have been very fortunate to have traveled extensively, which has given me the opportunity to see many museums around the world, as well as visit many historical, archeological and ancient architectural sites that have influenced my work. The remains and traces of our cultural influences reveal not only decoration, but deterioration as well, and these remnants have inspired my works. My paintings embrace a visual language in my layered surfaces, disguising realism altogether. My commitment is to abstraction and to my process.


These are a collection of photographs Sharon has taken of deteriorating walls from around the world. These surfaces inspire some of her mark makings.


Sharon’s gorgeous collection of artwork by esteemed Bay Area and international artists – stunning!

NOT TO MISS:

Sharon’s work is currently on display in the lobby of 425 Market Street through May 19th, 2012.

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