Thursday, February 14, 2013
Johanna Poethig, associate professor of Painting and Public Art at CSU Monterey Bay’s Visual and Public Art department, wants to talk about The Lion King as a racially charged play, about public art smothered by piousness, billboards rampant with sexism, and the colonial Orientalist view of Asian women that persists today. “It’s about media literacy,” she says.
To be more precise, she wants artists to talk about these things with the school’s art students and the community.
The Visiting Artist Series is a class for VPA’s art students, but it’s also a free presentation for the public, a tributary of what’s going on in spots in the art world.
Last year the series brought to campus Nina Simon, executive director of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History. September 2011 it was Annice Jacoby, editor of Street Art San Francisco: Mission Muralismo, described as “a street art combining elements of Mexican mural painting, surrealism, pop art, urban punk, eco-warrior, cartoon and guerilla graffiti.”
The spring semester’s three-part series begins Thursday with Bernard Williams, a Chicago painter, sculptor and muralist whose work absorbs history and ethnology, best exemplified by his 2008 hieroglyphic mural, “Buffalo Chart.” It’s made up of black-painted wood cutouts in shapes of American icons like the car and an oil well, archetypes like a cowboy and a boxer, and words like “land” and “pow!”
“[I’m] collecting large groups of symbols, signs, images, and grouping them together as a way to talk about the flow of history and humanity,” he says from his home/studio in Chicago. “That history work has been [my] core practice.”
His Car series comments, he says, on an American convergence of the automobile industry and speed of life, painters like Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock, NASCAR’s origins in bootlegging, all synthesized into “a kind of manly, risky flirting with… a spiritual quest, with alcohol helping you access these deep psychological spaces.”
But the life-size and cartoonish plywood facsimiles of brightly painted race cars seem a more whimsical statement than that. In addition to showing images of his work and talking about it, Williams will have a message that is all working-artist-adult reality.
“[Art] is one of the most difficult pursuits,” he says, citing the lack of art education funding, and the elitism and nepotism of the art world, and says he “only recently kind of emerged from a pretty dark two years” of financial anxiety – saved by an unexpected grant: “I didn’t apply for it. [It’s] great, but it just announces how amorphous, speculative, the whole thing is. It’s hard to navigate.”
If he had kids who wanted to be artists, the 40-something-year-old artist says he would caution against it.
“They would have to convince me by their own tenacity,” he says. That sounds like a challenge, doesn’t it?
“The expectation, talking to students, is that [the talk] is going to be sugar coated,” Poethig says. “[But] it’s honest.”
BERNARD WILLIAMS speaks as part of the spring semester’s Visiting Artist Series 6-8pm Thursday, Feb. 14, at CSUMB’s University Center Living Room, Sixth Avenue near B Street, Seaside. Free. 582-4337, csumb.edu/map
• Last December, the curtain was lifted a bit on the 76th season of the Carmel Bach Festival, which spans July 13-27 this year, in the drawing room of the Monterey Museum of Art-La Mirada. There, a select group of festival patrons and donors was made privy, by ebullient music director and conductor Paul Goodwin, to the coming program of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and Faure’s Requiem as main courses; French accents of Debussy, Ravel, Chausson, Poulenc; arias from Carmen; Berlioz’s Symphony Fantastique; music from the 14th century up to new commissioned work; beloved Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert; return performances by Stephen Prutsman, Mike Marshall and Caterina Lichtenberg. “I like speed; it’s lovely,” Goodwin said of his conducting style. And after he had speedily laid the news on the crowd, he allowed for questions. There were none. Tickets go on sale March 1. www.BachFestival.org.
• Hartnell College celebrates Black History Month with an afternoon of folks like Salinas mayor Joe Gunter, Hartnell president Dr. Willard Lewallen, Candi Thomas doing a Mahalia Jackson tribute, poet and author Josephine Morris, and recording artist Charmaigne Booker-Scott. The keynote is delivered through song, story, multimedia and something called “experiential learning” by Traciana Graves. 11am-3pm (1pm keynote) Thursday, Feb. 14. 415-240-6005.
• Valley Greens Gallery, which just opened at 16A E. Carmel Valley Road, lends itself this Sunday, 1-3pm, to Kiki Wow’s pop-up concert featuring L.A.-based Lily Wilson. Another CVV art joint opens 1-5pm this Saturday at 9 Del Fino Place, Suite 102 – Joelee Art Gallery is born, with jazz guitarist Joe Lucido, Cima Collina and Valor wines, appetizers and art trumpeting the ocassion.
• First the Monterey Bay Blues Festival, now the Marina International Festival of the Winds is blowing away this year. The Marina Foundation, which sponsors – sponsored – the event for 13 years, has had to make a choice between funding another year of the outdoor ode to wind and giant kites and community picnic, et al, that inextricably took place Mother’s Day weekend, or funding an ADA equipped van for the city’s senior program. They went with the van, and you can’t really knock that. They’re trying to raise money for it with a matching grant that deadlines June 1. 717-4117 or MarinaFestival.com.
• SpectorDance, one of the higher profile local keepers of the fine art dance flame, in Marina no less, knows how to keep momentum going. Two year ago they won money from the Tom’s of Maine contest 50 States for Good Initiative. Last year there was the Ocean performances in D.C. and Italy. This year they’ve received their second grant from the NEA for a project with Rancho Cielo addressing gangs, and in May will do a program here with Not Man Apart Physical Theatre Ensemble. And that’s not even counting their Emerging Choreographer’s Showcase this weekend (see Calendar).