If you’re paying attention, you may have noticed the onslaught of notifications regarding SF Open Studios from me. Well, now it’s over- at least for me, but there is one more week left of #SFOS next weekend. *Plug: If you want to see some art, let me know. I’ll take you around, personally. The talent in this City is just too good to waste by not seeing it for yourself.
That said, if you read my last post here, you will know that I had conflicting emotions about opening up my private space to the public, selling my work, etc, etc. Well, I’m happy to report that that specific issue is now over, and since artists make it their business to collect observations, here are mine:
- Part of the job of an artist is never to be satisfied, perhaps with anything- ever. This goes with your own work, other’s work, other’s perception of your work, the nature of the business, the list goes on. I’m fairly certain that the crippling, heartbreaking sadness of never quite being happy is somehow an integral of your creative growth. Knowing this can make you feel like severely depressed, an awful ingrate, or just annoying to be around, because you know you might never be actually happy- even if you’re wildly famous and enormously wealthy. As for me, I choose to compartmentalize and ignore it 99.1% of the time because I’m good at doing that.
- People get it. One of the coolest, mind-blowing, and most humbling moments are when people become emotional in front of your work. This happened three separate times with three strangers, in response to three different paintings. I was stunned. One woman teared up when telling me what she saw in “Regrets Only.” Another man told me about his guilt when he saw “Lilac Wine.” When I finally asked them to explain what they saw in the painting, they fucking NAILED it. I’m not kidding, those emotions were real, and we shared it. Except that mine was outside of my body, and theirs was, well–within. From this, I gathered one of two things: 1. Maybe my art is too heavy-handed, or 2–STOP over-analyzing it already, your work actually matters to somebody. Also, don’t ever underestimate how much people understand.
- Dualities exist, and that’s the beauty of it. Being an “artist” is both simultaneously liberating as well as stifling, and the art world is frustratingly small, yet crazy intimidatingly vast. Maybe that’s why we keep coming back to it. Because in that moment where you see a piece that is so amazing and genius that you tell yourself that you might as well pack up your shit and go home because you’ll never get to that point–you realize that you’re also doing the same thing they are; that maybe you’re at the same point on a different continuum or on a different point, but holy shit–you’re all in it together. And the next time you see their work, you’ll feel infinitesimally small again, but your ego might grow ten sizes larger: because you are getting that close to something brilliant.
I’m not there yet, and I may never be completely satisfied if I ever were– but collecting these observations makes me feel like it’s getting me closer. Thanks to all that came to support me and my work last weekend, I had a blast.
I decided to move to SF in 2004, after graduating UCLA. True to SF tradition, I packed up my life in a VW and cried all the way up the Interstate 5 freeway. I had no job lined up, just a room with three other girls on the corner of Haight-Ashbury. At the time, my rent was $700/month for a prime location. I still worked two jobs to make about $1000/month. I had no savings, so that didn’t last long.
Fast forward to almost a decade later, and I’m in a much better spot: I took a job at Google for a few years, saved up, and quit to become a full-time artist. This makes me a bit of a unicorn in this City, because I see both sides of the Gentrification debate. I have good friends on both sides of the heated discussion, and I am conflicted.
Full Disclosure: For all intents and purposes, on all superficial fronts, I am a full-fledged yuppie transplant. I don’t claim to understand what it’s like to be an SF native. What I do know, however, is the fact that I came here because I loved the City. I love San Francisco for its natural beauty, the fact that the fog paints the light in such a way that this City glows in a different light every single day. That, I can walk down the same streets and look at the same view every single day and see something different and inspiring. I loved the people I know and met here; people cared more about what you know versus who. I loved that people cared about touchy feely stuff, they were politically engaged– they simply, cared.
Fast forward to 2013, a time of ridiculous rents and imminent class divides in this fair city, and what I see are a brand new class of residents who simply don’t care. People like Peter Shih, (no relation I swear) who got busted saying idiotic shit at the wrong place and the wrong time and became the poster child of the assholes ruining the City. In my opinion, Peter Shih’s only crime was his total disregard for the City he hoped to cash out in. To him, and many others, SF is simply a City like NYC to live in, conquer, and move on to the next sexy city.
What I see in San Francisco is a beautiful, tolerant City who isn’t afraid to evolve. We’ve made it through earthquakes, hippies, and we will survive the tech boom. No one is mad about change. What people are angry with, I think, are entitled, young rich people who come in believing that they earned everything they have by themselves, at no expense to their communities. I’d even go as far as to say, a lot of these people really believe they’re making SF a better place simply by moving here. Newsflash: the fact that I’m paying property taxes in SF does not make me some kind of saint, it is my duty as a resident here. Going out to eat at fancy restaurants and bars doesn’t somehow contribute to trickle-down economics. No one asked me to move here.
Now, I’m not asking to resolve the differences between the haves and have-nots. There will always those, and no one denies that. But the sense of smugness, of entitlement, and lack of community concern is really troubling. I say, if you really care about this City, ask yourself why you moved here, and get involved in making that part of the City better- whether it’s through the Arts, the Environment, Education, or Mental Health. If you don’t have time, donate money. If you code, check out Code for America (SF), if you want to help the Arts, check out SOMArts.org, if you want to volunteer but you’re an Atheist, go to Glide Memorial. Use your talents, whatever it is, and give back to the colorful, vibrant, tolerant community you live in. Do it on a local level, and stop acting like you’re making neighborhoods better simply by moving there. Read about the history of your neighborhood. Chances are, it had its fair share of problems, but was just as awesome before you moved in.
And to my artist friends complaining about tech people. Make your demands. What is it that you want, that would make the City better? Patronage toward Arts organizations? Donations to the SF Food Bank? Blocking the Google bus and impersonating employees doesn’t help articulate the issue. Also, don’t just whine about the City changing, it’s going to happen. That’s the beauty of this City, no two days ever looks the same. That’s why I came. We’re just all here to make it better.
People often ask me, “What Inspires You?” And I’ll tell them: People who have paid their dues, pursued their dreams relentlessly, and came out with amazing Character. People like my friend Cathy, aka Eva Dilcue of The Generators. She is not only a brilliantly talented visual artist, I recently also found out she was the lead singer for a punk band called The Generators back in the 80s out in Cleveland, Ohio. And the best part is? They’re f–king FANTASTIC. I’m not joking. They’re a balls out, rockin’, female-led version of the Dead Kennedys. Maybe even better. I mean, they good. Honestly, I really think the only reason they didn’t get as big as they should have was because back then, the record industry was still controlled by the Man. They recorded a bunch of music for a record deal but the Man ran off with some floozy and probably headed down to Mexico before getting offed by the Cartel or something. OK, I’m making that up. Probably happened that way, though.
But it’s really too bad, because they just don’t make music– and people like this anymore. The good news is that Eva recently dug up some of these old recordings and we sat down together to put them up on a SoundCloud page. She created a Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/TheGenerators1980s and we decided to release them to the world as a tribute to their band. Eva didn’t think anything of it at first, she just wanted to make sure she preserved their legacy in the age of Social Media and the Internet.
BUT THEN, THINGS GOT EXCITING. Within days, the old Generators fans rolled in one by one, each one of the band members joined in, and people came right out of the woodwork to talk about how amazing the band was (and still is!) It was amazing to witness. All the band members were scattered across the country, doing their own creative thing or still making music, and the Facebook page made it possible for everyone to reconnect after 30 years.
Since then, Eva has been contacted by fans in Cleveland and all over the country, and is currently taking a trip back to Ohio to reconnect with a former bandmate, Neon Don. This is their first jam session upon reuniting: https://soundcloud.com/neondonb/make-it-in-the-world-eva-neon, and I can’t stop smiling when I listen to it. Also here’s a picture of them today:
It’s been THIRTY years since they’ve seen each other. That’s how long I’ve been alive. And I say that with admiration and respect, because the thought of being so passionate about something for as long as they have fills me with so much hope and inspiration– that I can honestly say I know someone who has lived the life of creativity. Someone who has undoubtedly seen so much, being a fiery, five-foot-nothing, female punk rocker from back in the day, who stayed true to herself and still rocks to this day.
These are the types of stories that inspire me everyday. Stories of incredibly talented, creative, and passionate everyday people who, despite never getting recognized by the mainstream or gained monetary success in their artwork, just keep waking up every day and plugging away. And guess what? They keep getting better. I’ll leave you with this gem of a song that’ll keep you rockin’: https://soundcloud.com/eva-dilcue/usa.
Eva, no matter what you do, don’t stop kicking ass, and if you guys manage to do a reunion show in SF, I’ll be there, front-row, dressed in my best punk outfit. 🙂
Yeah, wow…I totally killed it in October. I wrote this big long blog post about how awesome it was, how much of a learning experience it was, and how absolutely exhausting it was, but WordPress decided to erase it. Maybe I should put more naked people in it next time. 🙂
Anyway, here were the shows (in no particular order):
- “A Time to Reflect,” 33 Gough Gallery. Exhibition Dates: October 9th to November 27th, 2012
- “From the Darkness Creeps,” Big Umbrella Studios. Opening: October 12th, 2012
- “Provocations,” SF Raw at 1015 Folsom. Opening: October 25th, 2012
- Student Exhibition at Fort Mason Building B, October 30th to November 14th, 2012
Thanks to everyone who made it out to see my work. I am so, so, incredibly grateful to have such amazing, supportive friends here with me throughout this crazy process. I just hope that I can continue to build on these small successes and just keep getting better.
Here are some photos from my shows this month:
I was a featured artist at SF Raw, “Provocations,” October 25th, 2012. That show was a blast! Check out my photos from the SF Raw “Provocations” Facebook Album.
Solo Art Show. 33 Gough Art Gallery, “A Time to Reflect” October 9th – November 27th, 2012
Group Show. “From the Darkness Creeps,” at Big Umbrella Studios. Opening Reception October 12th, 2012
Here’s a write-up they did for me!
Student Exhibit, Fort Mason Building B. (My piece is on the bottom left)
Project: Post Art All Over San Francisco = Complete.