Friday, February 26, 2016

Short Sighted Selfie

Although we have long been in Janis Selby Jones fan club (she is Judith's sister), it was great to see the positive public response to her artwork in Out of Place: Creativity Meets Detritus of Land + Sea at the Tides Thoreau Center in San Francisco. With her mastery of composition and light (with an iPhone no less) she creates beautiful yet disturbing images that bring to mind the problem of plastic pollution. Her photographs capture that expansive feeling we enjoy while at the beach— the stretch of vision that extends to the horizon line. Then there is the shock of a piece of trash, of plastic washed up on the sand. Which brings us to questions: how did that bottle, bag or BIG GULP cup ever get there? and what can we do about it?

In 1986, instead of amplifying past predictions about the demise of the planet, Timbuk3 penned an optimist ditty, The Futures So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades. It has been interpreted as a song either about the promise of nuclear energy to power our electronic devices or perhaps the nuclear threat of the cold war. Either way it is a catchy tune.

Janis puts a new spin on the Future and the Shades. Her shades are made from sunglasses and plastic that has washed up on a stretch of beach in Carlsbad, California. They are goofy fun to wear plus they invite the wearer to look through the lens of the future — but in this case, the future is so filled with plastic that we have lost sight.

Short Sighted Sunglasses an interactive kiosk filled with sunglasses embellished with plastic garnered lots of attention at the opening reception. Some of the pics and pledges with real action items are on Instagram #shortsightedselfie and #plasticpledge.

Friday, February 19, 2016

A Brand of One

When blithe spirit Sarah Bellums breezed through our lives — we were blown away.  She stopped for a visit and an overnight while on her epic bike journey 1113 miles from San Luis Obispo to Portland. All of her worldly belongings are stored in kitty litter buckets on a 1974 Schwinn bike that she has embellished with crocheted plastic bags.  We were touched by her exuberant smile and her fierce determination to traveling as a model for a zero waste lifestyle. 

She is going fossil fuel free — would not even to get in our in the car to "run to the grocery store." She gave up the possibility of buying a car for a different kind of life on the road.

On our excursions out to the beach we see the streams of bike groups whizzing out in a peloton, French for platoon. While we are loathe to criticize anyone, for what we do is a form of madness, but we do find the bike wear loaded with advertising logos, a mystery. Folks wearing, for free, and, at  their own great expense, moving billboards. We call them the "Peoples Lycra Brigades" that swarm Sir Francis Drake Road on the weekends. These moving placards advertising bike gear are an enigma, outfits riding from Fairfax out to Point Reyes Station and back again on Sundays. And the $4000 bikes…!!!

Of course, we love the cream-rise of excellence as the pricy bikes attest, but we like Sarah's style. She's an advertisement for her DIY lifestyle, for if the "60's" were anything, it was an era of do it yourself. Sarah, wears life simply. Her tool belt is fashioned from pockets from a pair of old jeans. And the bike itself —talk about reduce, reuse, recycle! The mud fenders are made of plastic water bottles. One can buy a set of panniers for $300, or you can do like Sarah and repurpose a pair of kitty litter boxes and take something wasteful out of the garbage stream. And the bike! Not exactly made for hill climbing but it get's her there. 

She likes her fellow travelers who are going somewhere, but the weekend warriors in their tight flocks, out for speed and competition, who yell at her to get out of the way, make her sad. For Sarah, the journey is truly the destination. Gives the heart a lift to encounter one like her. She is totally hand-made and a brand of one.

Friday, February 5, 2016

The Anvil

This painting by Ian Huebert, which hangs above our home fireplace, pretty well sums up how we have felt this last month, and for that matter, this last five years — toting a heavy anvil across a frozen pond. During the "downturn" Electric Works, our fine art photography and printing business, suffered the ravaging of our neighborhood real-estate by "start ups" and fancy condos, and the decimation of the SF art scene by lofty rents, not to mention business drying up like spit on a hot iron, also, not to also mention, cumbersome and expensive audits by the City of SF and the Labor Department (successfully concluded in our favor). Cool Don't Live Here No More written by our upstairs neighbor Tony Robles says, "SF is no longer a city it's an app." But truly, we continued to do what we started out to do—live by the principals of The Land of Yes.—to provide printing and consulting services to artists at any career level regardless of marketplace clout. True, our projects have ended up at Yale, The Smithsonian, the di Rosa Preserve, etc, etc. and we admire the hierarchy of cream rising. But, the hundreds of artists who crave the dialogue that comes from collaboration and have been shut out by economic "curation" needed a place to land. For 20 years we tiptoed across the thin ice of economic survival. And what did we learn? Stay tuned to this blog as we roll out the fuller history of "THE LAND OF YES." 

We had a February 2nd deadline to vacate if we were to retain our security deposit. It was a monumental marathon of effort. But we did it, we made it to the other shore and it will be free skating from now on—for Judith and Richard free skating is spelled — "retirement." Noah and Kris together will be taking over the Electric Works print and photo studio and will be offering upbeat energy and excellent service. We are excited that Kris will be returning to the helm of the printmaking service after a 3-year family leave. And we will be cashing in on our "Golden Years."

They asked for "broom clean."
Noah takes a parting shot.

All the while during our time at Electric Works our beach plastic project has been a welcome "hobby." Trips to Kehoe Beach the highlight respite from our hectic work lives in San Francisco. But now we intend to take things at a different pace. With what we have been able to accomplish with little to no promotion, makes us wonder what will happen when with get going with some bits of PR.

With exhibitions in Hong Kong, Cairo, Georgia, (USA) Georgia, (Republic of...) to name a few, 2015 was an exciting international year for And we are full steam ahead in 2016. We continue to be active bloggers about our adventures on and off the beach and have revved up a new blog for our musing about life at Rancho D, as we call our test garden and home. What can the perIpatetic artist's mind do with a little soil, water, sunlight and germ plasm? We are increasingly intrigued with the alchemy of fermentation and distillation.

"Gyre: The Plastic Ocean" now at the San Jose State University Thompson Gallery, February 2 - March 25, 2016 organized by the Anchorage Museum traveled to The David J. Spencer CDC Museum in association with the Smithsonian Institution and the USC Fisher Museum of Art. We are happy that our work is contributing to the important message about the gyres and is being presented in conjunction with such an esteemed group of international artists.

Needless to say, as we move into our "retirement" it does seem that we have plenty to keep us busy. It may not exactly sound like it but we are really interested in some relaxing time off. And did we say, digging the dirt, getting our garden in? Git them 'taters and onions in the ground. Come on kids, it's time for a trip to the beach and an overnight at Rancho D.