Press Democrat Editorial: Public input as performance art in Petaluma

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Day and night views of Brian Goggin’s artistic vision for the waterfront that is creating all the controversy.

By the editorial board : – pressdemocrat – excerpt

In Petaluma, artistic expression seemingly trumps public dialogue.

If there’s going to be public input about a controversial public art project, public officials ought to wait until after they hear it to make a decision. The whole point of letting people weigh in is to allow for the possibility that additional perspective might influence the outcome.

Apparently that’s not how it works with the Petaluma Public Arts Committee, which has decided to move forward with a controversial art installation, at least according to committee member Katherine Plank. All of the upcoming public process, then, is just so much performance art…

But some Petaluma residents vehemently disagree. They say it doesn’t fit the character of the community nor the waterfront site. There’s even fundraising underway for a legal challenge.

Other Petaluma residents love the project and think it will be a whimsical draw. It’s telling that in written comments on the proposal in the spring, the vast majority of people scored it either 1, 2, 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale…. (more)

Controversy hits the Petaluma waterfront. If all publicity is good publicity, this project has turned the artist into a big success in Sonoma County.


Redwood Valley Fire Victims Turn Debris Into Art

Last October, once the flames that torched her Redwood Valley neighborhood and killed eight of her fellow townspeople finally died out, Dee Pallesen poked through the ashes of her home, plucking treasures from the debris — blue marbles, melted jewelry, a pair of scorched scissors. They were now symbols of a previous life, the one that burned to the ground as flames raced over the ridge and wreaked tragedy on her rural neighborhood…

But over the last few weeks, Pallesen found purpose for her burned artifacts — as she gathered with other fire victims in a nearby Ukiah art studio to transform them into mosaic art pieces…

More than a dozen women have turned out for the weekly gatherings, the common thread the colossal experience of loss; all lost homes — some lost family members to the raging inferno…

But the workshops have created the alchemy for transforming various pieces of debris into colorful artworks that will serve as additional reminders of the journey back from devastation. The mosaics have become a fitting metaphor for the experience.

“The mosaic is you’re picking up the pieces,” said Elizabeth Raybee, the artist running the classes, “you’re in a lot of cases breaking things ourselves and then putting them back together in a new form, and that’s exactly what this is about.”… (more)

Abstract Memories and Visions

Opening Reception and Artists’ Talk
Join Sofia Carmi and Robert La Rocca for their Opening Reception & Artists’ Talk at the Italian Cultural Institute.
In the exhibit Abstract Memories and Visions, artist Sofia Carmi shares with us her investigations of memories of Florence, Rome and Venice through painting. In Matthew Steen words, “for Carmi, abstract art is a mix of ‘memory, mystery, color, form and texture’ that captures the viewer, forcing an interpretation not immediately apparent. An Israeli native, she was closer to the center of the European art movement living in Jerusalem, influenced both by surrealist painters and the desert landscape surrounding her as she grew up. Her aunt, Lea Vogel, was a Holocaust survivor and renowned Israeli sculptor who was also a profound influence on her art. Carmi describes herself as a ‘modernist painting in the contemporary time.'” Carmi is strongly influenced by her Italian heritage.

Robert La Rocca was born and raised in North Beach, San Francisco, and received a degree on Landscape Architecture from UC  Berkeley and Harvard. In addition to a successful career as a Landscape Architect, La Rocca was President of San Francisco Art Commission and was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the San Francisco Botanical Gardens. His paintings of the last years have been an outgrowth of his profession in Landscape Architecture. In his words, “… I’m intrigued with overlapping images which make the composition more interesting–like writing a novel with several subplots. I like to trick the eye. In some cases, the lines go out to the space and it’s up to you to connect them… I’m interested in activation the entire wall space and in the impact on the viewer.”

Friday, March 16, 2018 | 6:30pm
Free admission | RSVP Required

Richmond’s Rosie the Riveter festival celebrates women in the workplace

By Michael Bodley : sfgate – excerpt

A sea of red blanketed the bayside stretch of Richmond that’s home to the museum commemorating the life of Rosie the Riveter, the iconic yet fictional female factory worker who redefined the role of her many peers in World War II.

Rosie and the barrier-breaking life she represents has taken on a newfound significance of late, said a number of people taking in an annual event held in her memory at the National Homefront Historical Park.

As more than 1,000 attendees, most wearing Rosie’s traditional garb of coordinated red-and-white polka-dotted bandanas, rough, blue working shirts and jeans rolled up over red socks, milled around in a bracing breeze, a number of people said that something felt a little different this year…

Back in the crowd, as the jazz band belted out another rendition, a reporter asked a man why he was there. He declined to comment, saying the day belonged to females… (more)

It takes brains to make robots perform as art

By Charles Desmarais : sfgate – excerpt (includes video)

Kal Spelletich photo by Zrants

If robots kiss, is it a mechanical feat or a sentimental moment? What if their behavior is controlled by the brainwaves of two human beings?

San Francisco artist Kal Spelletich has built a career by hijacking ideas from engineering and science, then giving them the feel of flesh and blood. His show at Catharine Clark Gallery in 2015 was heavy with the pathos of the wired contemporary life, with jerky robotic figures acting the parts of personal friends at the push of a button.

For three performances this weekend at the experimental art space the Lab, identical 16-foot robots will move and interact, controlled by electrical impulses from the brains of two attendees. From the look of a preview video, the robots are more like giant disembodied arms with lethal claws than humanoids. Members of the audience will be fitted with electroencephalography, or EEG, monitoring helmets.

Most of the audience will not participate directly — only a few participants can be accommodated with the helmets. “We don’t know how many,” Spelletich said in a phone interview. “This is all new for us. Eight or 10?”

While Spelletich made the robots, the project is a collaboration with two others, Mitch Altman, a co-founder of Noisebridge hacker space, and Masahiro Kahata, who is described as a “psychotronics” specialist. An announcement calls the project “an experiment in improving people’s lives by exemplifying the poetry of the mind.”…

Kal Spelletich: Split Brain Robotics: 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, April 7-8; 1 p.m. Sunday, April 9. $8. The Lab, 2948 16th St., S.F. (415) 864-8855.

Artist Sofia Carmi Explores Inner and Outer Worlds

by Chuck Thurston : potreroview – excerpt

Image and art by Sofia Carmi

The University of California, San Francisco-Mission Bay Memory and Aging Center is an apt setting to exhibit paintings by Potrero Hill artist Sofia Carmi, who produced the works while healing from the recent loss of her long-time husband, artist Brent Bushnell.

Abstract art often attempts to connect the inner world of feelings and memories with the outer world of expressive colors, shapes, and textures, a process that Carmi finds stimulating. She referred to the creative metamorphosis of raw pigments into a meaningful painting as an “alchemical” process of transformation. Her paintings are a way of sharing this experience with others, with the hope that viewers will engage in their own metaphysical “dialog” with the work… (more)