Give a Buck about Art…Feb. ArtWalk Part 1

The last three weeks have been a wonderful change of pace with some great theatre and meet-ups with friends and getting out and just chatting people up.  I think one of the most wonderful things was the return of the South First Fridays that happens in downtown San Jose.  I started out the night outside of Caffe´ Frascati because it was just too crowded inside to watch a young opera singer serenade the patrons inside.  I always have every intention of being inside for one of these events, but I am always too late.  And I don’t want to be the creepy guy that’s hanging about for too long, you know?

Next, just outside of Anno Domini, I came across this lovely performer from Cirque du Soleil.  She was a hoot! So charming and funny, and made sure that I had her shoes in the shot.  She had to be standing at 8 feet tall or so thanks to small stilts that she was balancing on.  What was very interesting was that when I asked if I could take her picture, she held her pose so well, and after she said she was always in a constant state of motion because the stilts weren’t wide enough to relax on.  The jewel colors of the dress are lovely and in her right hand is a small cluster of feathers (peacock maybe?) but from the picture it looks to me like she was holding the sting to the balloon that was painted onto the wall.

After saying goodbye and wishing her some foot relief, I made it inside Anno Domini and I perused the Art books that are in the main lobby area.  After taking a peek at those, I headed for the N’TENCE exhibit to see what I could be inspired by.  I have to admit that when I first entered the gallery all I saw were the 18 – 20 orange tents and was a wee bit disappointed.  It was so crowded in the little space that I couldn’t find the placard to see what this installation was called.  Maybe it would give me a clue as to what the Artist had in mind when putting this together.  After a brief sweep, I decided that I just wasn’t supposed to know about it.  One of the things that did catch my eye was a small hot pink log cabin house with little flowers on the outside and a red lightbulb inside.  I think the overly feminizing of something so necessary, like home, was a jab at some people’s old fashion sensibilities that the home is a woman’s domain.  But something about this piece was so flamboyant that I wonder if it was a “reclaiming” of the home in a sense.  Because there was a sign asking for pictures not to be taken, I don’t have anything to show from this venue.  After passing the cute house, I came up to some crudely drawn cartoon panels.  Most of them were a man and woman and various interactions.  One was of the woman drowning and saying “Save me!” to which the man standing next to her says “No.”  It’s a tough group of pictures to sift through because most of them are negative in tone, so it’s a bit of a downer.  There is an occasionally funny drawing mixed in, but not many.  Once I was almost through the gallery, I saw that the live band, The Comfort Slacks were getting ready to start.  I waited for about 10 minutes, but I think they were having technical difficulties, so I moved on.  I did go to their page on Facebook out of curiosity and found that I like their music.  It reminds me of Atari 2600 games music.

Usually, I only check out the museums because I think it’s awkward going into the food places to just check out the Art while people are eating all around me.  What drew me into Eulipia was the frenetic movement of the man playing the upright bass working his fingers up and down the frets so fast I thought he was trying to start a fire!  He handed off the improv to the drummer who was alright. It seemed like his each of his riffs were done one too many times. But it could totally be just me because I have a thing about repetition and predicability.  Last was the guitarist.  He was grooving and I found it very bizarre that the drummer was more interesting during the guitar solo than during his own.  I don’t know if maybe he was inspired by the guitarist, but in any case he definitely redeemed himself.  I hung around for two songs, but the smell of delicious over priced food was beginning to make my mouth water.

Jazz Trio "Vandivier"

Once I headed out of Eulipia, I walked to the MACLA building.  Little did I know, but there was a performance piece inside.  The performance time had just passed, but there was going to be another in 45 minutes, so I decided to hustle over to the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles. One of the first things I encountered while there was a large quilt hanging outside the bathrooms that to me looked like something other than a poppy.  And I work in a nursery so I am used to seeing them.  I mean abstractly, I supposed I can see it being a poppy, but not without a little help.  When I look at it, I see the AIDS ribbon, but I guess we are all influenced by our lives and experiences.

  Regardless, it’s a beautiful piece of work.  In addition to this work hanging in their main lobby, their gift shop had some wonderful items as well.  One of my favorite things was a set of DPN or Double Pointed Needles for my non-knitting peoples.  I loved that they were called “Fearless Knitting” Needles.  There was pyrographically etched images on them and the needles were silky smooth, even with the design.  One would think that the yarns would snag on these but they were slick as can be.   I took a picture of them, but my camera would not focus on the design.  But on my other favorite piece in the gift shop, I had no trouble.

Talk about fancy water!

Inside the room that I believe hosts classes, I came across this cool kimono inspired jacket.  I loved the pattern shown here. It not only gave it interest by color and pattern, but it also had a really cool texturizing feature as well.  I just wanted to tear it off the wall and take a closer look at it.

In the corridor leading to this room there is a mini-grouping called Collecting California.  While the works are very nice in their colors and patterns, there was one that made me want to learn the art of quilting right then and there.  The piece is called “On The Edge II” by Linda Gass.  Here is the image from the museum website, with my photo next to it, so you can see why I loved it so.

It looks like rivers and canyons and the topography of the piece just makes me want to trace all the green  veins and follow them like a maze.

As you can see I spent A LOT of time in this space. And there was still one more collection to see!!

The “Invisible Lineage” was a mixed bag of knitting, crochet, weaving, and macrame.  The pieces were lovely, but true to my pickiness, I found one that I thought could have been improved upon.  It was a piece of knitting done on at least  size 12 needles or larger.  It was a rectangular piece about 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide.  The yarn used was (I believe) a heather gray, and the cross in the center was a thicker yarn with an addition of a single metallic thread in the cross section only.  My instinct said, “She should have went bolder and used a ton more of that metallic for the cross.”  Unless you look REALLY closely, you don’t see the metallic in it.

When I rounded the corner, I was treated to some sublime and delicate lacework. It’s incredibly well done.  I heard one lady say to her friend that she would have reinforced the edges to make it bolder, but I thought to myself “then that would ruin the delicate look of the piece.”  But then I thought of the cross and told myself to “shut your face.”

So exit the Quilts and Textiles Museum, I did.


At the Metro offices, they had an exhibit called Live. Local. Loud.  There were about 25-30 photos of local performances.  I liked how vibrant the images were.  The photographers almost seemed to capture the energy of the subject.  And I had camera envy.  A lot of it…




There I sat in rapt attention…

Before I say anything, I have to give a gigantic THANK YOU to my boss, Ms. Amy Root!!! If it wasn’t for her radicalness, I would have not been able to catch the whole evening whilst looking shockingly presentable.  There’s pictures of me floating around somewhere.  🙂

Friday night,  Teatro Vision held a little fundraiser to help cover the cost of sending two Teatro Vision representatives to the National Theater Communications Group Conference.  Typically, this conference is held in the East Coast, but this year, it’s happening in the City of Angeles.  The TCG is focused on how to keep the Arts alive and changing with the times.  On their site, they say that the theme of the conference is “What if…” I think it’s a brilliant theme and I loved some of the questions they posed on the page.  You should check it out!

How could I not want to help a local company, that has given me so many opportunities, travel to something this important?  With this in mind, I accepted the invitation to the get together and was granted permission by Elisa to take photographs of the night.  Since I didn’t want to distract the performers, I didn’t use the flash, so there is a kind of 70’s looking graininess to them that I kind of like.  But I really did want some clear shots especially for the dancers.
The night’s hosts Rodrigo and Elisa made everyone feel welcome and thanked the crowd many times over.  Rodrigo was the emcee and he was incredibly charming behind the mic.  He spoke of the hope that this event may be something that Teatro will host every few months to have a chance to reconnect with each other.  It was a small gathering, but he said we were all familia.  That’s one of the great things about Teatro Vision that keeps me wanting to go back again and again.
First up to perform was Cristal Gonzalez.  She performed a monologue titled Hero & Saints.  This multi-character scene began with an Erin Brockovich type reporter bringing to light the toxic water supply in a California city and the citizens struggle with governmental assistance.  The reporter shifts into a gossipy neighbor, then into a mother and grandmother of a child dying from the water.  It was a lovely piece that makes me want to know the rest of the story.
Next up was Sarita Ocon.
Sarita performed an original piece called “Compromise.”  This performance was also uses a monologue from the play “References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot.”  While speaking with her, I found out that it’s an exaggeration on an experience that happened to her at an audition once.  She slates as one would at any audition, then begins to launch into her monologue.  She is repeatedly interrupted by the director who is constantly trying to make her more feminine or more “Latina” I cannot explain how fascinating this was to watch.  I just knew that I was watching someone incredibly special.  I mean, I have NEVER paid so much attention to how someone rolls up their sleeves.  I was completely enthralled and did not ever want it to end.  Her transformations were marvelous.  You could see, after she was “directed,” she took time to change her attack and she showed you without a word and without making it a long drawn out thing.
Not only was her performance mesmerizing, but her story was so full and complete that it wasn’t until after I got home that I realized the song that lead into her piece was a perfect choice.  I don’t know if she requested to be brought onto the stage to the tune of “I’m Your Puppet” by James and Bobby Purify, but it fit with the idea that she had to do the things that the director wanted.
By the time she was done, she was the complete opposite than what she started and was so much more intense that when she left the stage, the room exploded with applause.  Truly an amazing and gifted artist, and I would LOVE to work with her.
The next performer was a shock to me for two reasons. The first was that this is a Latino function and there’s so much machismo in this culture that I didn’t expect it.  The second was the audience reaction.  I feel bad because I couldn’t quite catch the name, but we were treated to a fun three song set of a drag performance.
Her heels must have been at least 3.5 inches so I don’t know how she did all that she did in them.  Props to her for that alone!!  She worked the crowd and they loved it.  I wish I could tell you the songs she used, but they were in spanish and I was just lost.  So I focused on the beat and the dancing.  She was all kindsa sassy!  So fun though.
Closing out the show would be my first folklorico dances since I truly began to appreciate dance.  My friend the beautiful Anees Guillen and her dance partner Alex Morales delighted the crowd with a three song set as well.  It was stunning.  I couldn’t help but to be drawn to the way she would work that dress!! It just moved to well.  They had asked me to make these little calls or yelps to cheer them on, so when I tried it, I felt like I wasn’t doing it right.  I didn’t do them very loud, but I tried.  
While it was the end of the performances, the night was still young, so I hung around and danced my first line dance! When I told Perry and one of my other friends this, their reaction was the same: Me: I danced my first line dance.  Them: Ugh!  Me: It was to Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Achy-Breaky Heart.  Them: UUgh!  Me: In Spanish.  Them:  UUUGH!!
But it was super fun.  I got a little sweaty thanks to the tunes of our playlist iDJ, Hugo, who was also very active in getting everyone into the line.  I think in all there were four songs that had a line dance type of movement to them.
In the MACLA gallery, I was greeted by the works of Elizabeth Gomez.  She works with mixed media to create images of nature/animals that are adapting to human habitats mixed with religious iconography.  One of my favorites called “Crow”  is a large beautiful piece of blues with little faux flowers that looked to be painted to match the canvas settings.  It’s a charming and lovely piece that would look perfect in my blues filled living room.
One of her other pieces was of a mountain lion that had been shot by Animal Control, I believe it was.  I don’t know if you remember the mountain lion that was found in the backyard of a Redwood City home and was shot rather than captured and released that happened a while back.  Thanks to, for lack of a properly respectful term, Ms. Gomez’s love of nature, her sorrow for this pointless killing inspired her to create a stuffed toy replica of the lion and underneath is scarlet red fabric. There are three deep indentations with that same scarlet fabric sewn into them with ribbons of it flowing out the “wounds.”  I am sure that my likemindedness regarding nature and destroying other creatures homes for humanity’s benefit allowed me to connect with this image and made me feel what I guess is the same sorrow that she felt.  The hanging flowers over the body offer a touching element representing that love of nature.   I was so caught up in looking at the lion and the other works that Ms. Gomez created that I didn’t even realize the doors opened and people were filing in.
All in all, it was a wonderful night! I got to hang out with my buddies Hugo,  Rodrigo, Anees,  and Elisa.  I got to meet some cool new people like Alex and Sarita.  And I was blessed with inspiration.  What more could I hope for?

I love crazy stuff!

Last, last Friday was the Art Walk in downtown San Jose.  I really wanted to at least hear one of the opera songs at Caffe Trieste, but there was seemingly no one there to sing.  Of course we had gotten to the cafe early so that we could find a seat  and not be stuck in the middle of a cluster like last time.  So right away, I was disappointed for the walk.  We left the Cafe, and walked up First Street toward Reed Street, hoping to find something else to look at, but the whole street seemed to be in the middle of shutting down for the night.  We were only 15 minutes early, why would that make such a big difference to the event?  I don’t know, but it did.  So we sat at a bench across the street from the MACLA center and waited the last few minutes.

7:59 rolls around and we begin to hear music in the MACLA center.  More people are now on the street, not much more, but enough to notice.  It’s amazing what a few minutes can do. The music was from a Latin rapper that was performing in the venue.  I tried to get an image, but all I got was some of the lights and fog.

Since we were already at the end of one side of the “Strip”, we decided to head over to the Slave Labor Graphics headquarters, SLG Boutiki and Gallery instead of heading back to the beginning and staring the walk all over again.  I liked that the theme for their shop was Weirdos, Porn Stars, and Other Eccentrics. The artist behind this exhibit was Karl Christian Krumpholz who featured  portraits of people that most us know.  You can see his work HERE. I found the works stunning, and I couldn’t take my mind off the one entitled “Strummer”  so I ended up buying it.

Karl C. Krumpholz's "Strummer"

While waiting for the transaction to complete, Karl told us of his trip to the Winchester Mystery House.  He said that he didn’t believe that Sara Winchester was crazy but rather, peculiar.  He was incredibly kind and was happy to sign my purchase. If I had the means, there were four or five other pieces that I would have loved to buy.  One of them was called “Divine” and another called “Waters” which were portraits of the eccentric director and his outrageous drag queen actor.  I tip my hat to this clever and talented fellow, and look forward to seeing more from this artist.  Just as SLG had statues available last time, they offered up a rubber figurine of the emotional Carl Cthulhu.


I have an extra and if you send me a comment with your definition of what a Cthulhu is, I’ll randomly select someone to get this adorable little guy!  All entries must be in by June 5, 2010.  Random drawing of qualified contestant will take place on June 6, 2010.  Good Luck!!!

The ICA still had the By A Thread exhibit, so we walked past and went into the Quilting and Textile Museum.  It was really warm in there and it was pretty full.  I only saw two things that I would consider buying.  One was a quilted work titled “The Shadow Woman”, if memory serves.  The easiest way to describe it is to say that at the forefront there is a profile of a woman made from a rich tan and chocolatey brown patterned piece of cloth.  On the other or “back” side of the woman’s head is the same profile  but using a plain almost cream colored felt.  I am not sure why but the head just seemed to pop out to me.  The background, if I remember correctly was of a sunset.  At least when I think back on it, that’s what’s coming to mind.  I don’t know why it bothered me so much, but it gave me the chills/creeps and had to stop looking at it.  But I would buy it anyway.  The other item that I liked was an embroidered post card of a superhero.  Yeah, that’s a little geeky.

We walked into the Metro offices where there was a band playing.  They sounded like mix of Dexie’s Midnight Runners and the Stray Cats.  They were decent, but it was hard to understand the vocalist because the sound wasn’t balanced well.  Once we stepped outside, though you could hear him better.  Unfortunately, there was no one to ask who they were, and no flier or anything stating the name of the band.  Shucks.  Like I said, they weren’t bad.

There were a few neat works inside MACLA that were on display before their auction that took place on the 15 of May.  You can see the works HERE.  I think the one that struck me the most was called “Carta de Amor.”  It’s a painting of a young man in jeans. The background is a mass of roses painted in a deep red.  In contrast, there’s a bright red that’s painted on it but doesn’t disturb any of the shading or detailing of the roses.  If  you look at the man’s fingers, the bright red seems to be dripping off almost as if it were blood.  Then as I stepped back to look at the whole thing again, (I thought it was supposed to be a wonky star at first glance) it looks to me that the bright red created a silhouette of a gang member type of character.  So with a title like “Letter/Card or Document of Love” it makes me wonder what kind of backstory that painting has.  It’s a gorgeous piece.

We left MACLA and tried to get into Anno Domini, but it’s always busy, and because it’s so small in the lobby, I never feel like climbing my way to see what’s going on inside. However, this time we were treated to some incredible puppets that walked around out side.  Check it out…

Puppet and the Soul behind it.
Creepy Puppet was afraid of this puppet
Puppet 2 and it's master
Puppet in action

The puppets’ bodies and faces were made of cardboard while the mechanics were metal pipes and wood for the feet.  This is them in action.

We skipped into another gallery that was ran by volunteers, and I drooled over these amazing works…

This last one reminded me of a fun little gift that my friend Sarah made for me one Christmas that used a similar idea.

Again, South First Fridays was a ton of fun.  I just hope that it won’t be a number months before I get back there again.  And a note to the venues that host musicians, Put some signs up so we know who’s playing!!