It takes brains to make robots perform as art

April 6, 2017

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. www.thelab.org(more)


Artist Sofia Carmi Explores Inner and Outer Worlds

March 26, 2017

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)


Making News!

October 29, 2016

Artspan news

We’ve had some fantastic press coverage this year.
Check out this marvelous article in 7×7 about three of the art collectors we featured in Open Collections. Read Hoodline’s  feature on this weekend’s SF Open Studios artists in the Sunset, and listen to this interview with Joen Madonna on KALW’s Open Air.

Thanks to our media sponsor, KALW, for presenting public service announcements all month long. You may catch one while you are soaking up their creative and informative programming.

Good year for publicity as the artists struggle to keep their place in this historically art friendly city. San Francisco artists are joining others in cities all over the world and they are being out-priced and outed by the greed factor facing us all.


Dogpatch Business Association Debuts

August 15, 2016

by potreroview – excerpt

In May, Mark Dwight, founder and chief executive officer of Rickshaw Bagworks, a messenger and laptop bag, sack and sleeve manufacturer on 22nd Street, launched the Dogpatch Business Association (DBA), a nonprofit collection of enterprises located in Dogpatch and Pier 70. DBA will serve as a networking platform for companies, promote neighborhood businesses, and represent the collective interests of the commercial sector in interactions with City government, the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, and other neighborhood business and merchant associations.

Dwight is recruiting businesses within the boundaries of Mariposa Street to the north, Cesar Chavez Street to the south, Pennsylvania Street to the west, and Pier 70 to the east. Dogpatch companies have historically been able to join the Potrero Dogpatch Merchants Association (PDMA), an alliance of establishments located in Dogpatch and Potrero Hill.

According to Dwight, Dogpatch has gained enough businesses with unique concerns to merit a separate organization.  “Dogpatch has been sort of underrepresented in PDMA. I saw an opportunity that we had achieved critical mass. I really feel the time is right to have our own business association down in the flats,” he said.

Keith Goldstein, PDMA president, said he thought the split was a natural progression for Dogpatch.  “There’s so many businesses opening up there. For years, PDMA was just the Potrero Hill Merchants Association. About eight or nine years ago, we changed our name to include Dogpatch. Now they have their own designation and rightfully so,” said Goldstein.

Dwight serves on the San Francisco Chamber’s board of directors.  He’s president of the San Francisco Small Business Commission, which consists of seven people, four appointed by the Mayor and three by the Board of Supervisors, which oversees the City’s Office of Small Business (OSB), an information and referral source for companies. Dwight said Dogpatch isn’t a standard neighborhood to represent, lacking a main retail corridor or substantial street parking to accommodate customers.

DBA membership is open to all businesses, not only retailers, including firms that don’t have a storefront, such as biotech companies. “Traditionally, small businesses are locally-owned and independent,” said Dwight. “They are deeply rooted in the community in which they exist. Companies like biotech firms are often less deeply rooted and need to be flexible and nimble. We have totally different modes of operation and very different interests. To the extent that a venture-backed company wants to be part of the community for as long as they’re here, that’s great. We want to make membership easy.”… (more)

Read the rest of this entry »


Terry Helbling’s Tenderloin Flat Full of $200K in Stolen Art

August 1, 2016

By Joe Eskenazi : sfweekly – excerpt

This is a really bizarre story that appears to be from 2011. It is weird, non-the-less. Read it and find out just how weird. The art is strangely reminiscent of the Beaux Arts collection. The way the pieces are arranged on the walls and everywhere else. View a slideshow of all the stolen art here.

Queried about his client, Terry Helbling, attorney Kenneth Quigley rhapsodizes an artful response: “Neurotics build castles in the sky, psychotics live in them, and psychiatrists earn the rent. Terry lived in a castle in the sky for a long time.” Today, he will crash to earth.

It goes down on a hazy late January afternoon, when Helbling waddles into a San Francisco courtroom. While he may be the city’s most notorious art thief, the Tenderloin resident will never be mistaken for Thomas Crown. Helbling, 53, is short and balding with a dusting of a white beard. His posture is stooped, and he shambles in his oversize orange jumpsuit. Also, he has an affinity for cramming things into his ears; Quigley, his court-appointed counsel, curtly yanks out the wads of balled-up tissue like an impatient mother and drops them into Helbling’s shackled hands… (more)

 


Op-Ed: Artists have been ousted but Point Alameda awaits to fill a need

July 14, 2016

By Jonathan Farrell : digitaljournal – excerpt

San Francisco – As the cast and crew of “The Soiled Dove” make preparations for this weekend’s two-day extravaganza event, they are one among many who have displaced by the dramatic redevelopment of San Francisco’s Mission District…

“The Soiled Dove” now has a new home at Point Alameda just across the Bay from where they had been in San Francisco’s Mission District along Bryant Street.

Courtesy of “The Soiled Dove” and the Vau de Vire Society productions company…

Native San Francisco artist Cynthia Tom knows this all too well. She has lived in many areas of the City growing up. But for more than 22 years she made The Mission her home; especially the 1890 Bryant Street Studio and artists collective.

“It is a travesty,” she told this reporter. “That area (where ‘The Soiled Dove’ had been held) was one of those massive spaces where you could incubate just about anything and invite an audience.” Cynthia as a surrealist artist has grown both artistically and professionally, as well as personally over the years. Her talents and skills include event planning for her one-of-a-kind art installations, curating historical exhibits, counseling with a focus on healing and music. “My band, ‘Manicato’ even did some recording there at one time,” she said.

“1890 Bryant, the building I am in is highly affected by all this gentrification. We are 2 blocks away (from where ‘The Soiled Dove’ used to be). Our parking is slowly being taken away and I mean removed,” she said. For her to talk about it struck a nerve and then a list of spilled over.

“All bikes only, no parking all along 17th Street. 1 to 2 hour parking limits, so non-residential,” she said. 1890 Bryant, where I am is in, is an industrial versus residential area, eventhough parking is permittable for residential customers only. No one can park for long. Artists need vehicles to move our stuff around and there is no parking sometimes at all. They just built two large condos on Potrero Street and purposefully didn’t put in parking for every condo because they (the Planning Dept.) want to attract non-car residents.” For Cynthia and others like the artistic community she shares 1890 Bryant with, all this drastic ‘gentrification’ makes no sense.

“Basically the City is making it impossible to be a creative business,” Cynthia said, “Which is one of the reasons people come to the City. Taking the bus and biking is cool if you don’t have to transport large objects daily or if you rely on clients driving into town to buy your work and needing a way to get it home.”

“Space for creative businesses is disappearing with the snap of a finger,” she said. “Eventually San Francisco, it will be all restaurants and bars all too soon. But nowhere to visit after your meal.” This makes little sense to Cynthia and to the local artists that have thrived here for decades. “I guess you can stand in the street and admire all the condos,” she said…(more)


Dreaming of a new Streetopia

October 17, 2015

48H The big question is always not just “can art make a difference,” but, as the current neoliberal practice of art-washing shows,

By Marke B. 48hills – excerpt

Groundbreaking 2012 arts festival — which fought Lee’s “art washed” gentrification plan — is revisited with new book and two events, Thu/15 and Fri/16. 

ART LOOKS How do you throw a sprawling, thought-provoking, renegade art fair to protest the gentrification of a neighborhood — just as the mayor starts pushing art fairs as the key to sugarcoat his gentrification agenda?

That’s one of the contemporary arts dilemmas the organizers of the 2012 Streetopia festival — which occupied Mid Market and Tenderloin abandoned storefronts, public spaces, and civic-minded galleries with work from almost 100 artists and activists — set out to explore.

Their creative approach? Double down on community engagement, dig deeper into San Francisco’s communitarian past, activate spaces left abandoned by rampant speculation, and challenge participating artists to harness the abstract to the concrete to address and broadcast the concerns of the local population, caught up in a seemingly uncontrollable wave of change…

A free food cafe, a geography-based project informing homeowners of the hippie commune past of their property, public interactive performances, and more were meant to counter the “art washing” that can take place when art fairs like Art Basel Miami take over a community and contribute to its displacement.

Three years later, Streetopia is back — in the form of a new book documenting the festival with full-color pics and 24 in-depth essays from Bay Area arts heavy-hitters like V Vale, Kal Spelletich, Chris Johanson, Barry McGee, Spy Emerson, and Bochay Drum that address Streetopia’s vision, execution, and legacy. A panel with the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project (Thu/15) at Adobe Books and a full-on bonanza book release party (Fri/16) at Luggage Store Galley — locus of the original Streetopia — will bring this vital piece of recent history to life.

I talked to Streetopia fest co-curator and Streetopia book editor Erick Lyle about the legacy of the festival, the implications of large arts organizations like Burning Man establishing shiny new bases in the Mid Market and Tenderloin areas, the idea that arts can “clean up” these supposedly “blighted” area, and how art can actively address gentrification and change…

48H The big question is always not just “can art make a difference,” but, as the current neoliberal practice of art-washing shows, “can art make the right kind of difference.” What are some of your thoughts about the larger role of art in a a hyper-capitalist/post-civic marketplace like the current SF?…

STREETOPIA: BOOK LAUNCH PANEL WITH ANTI-EVICTION MAPPING PROJECT
Thu/15, 7PM, free. Adobe Books, SF(more)