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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A series of Monotypes / Artifact Gallery

Rio Grande, monotype on paper,
Santa Fe, NM, 2000, image size: 26"x17"


Back to la Cienega

Four Corners

I am very glad to participate to "Abstraction at Artifact", a group show where I have a series of monotypes I made in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 2000. In a solo show I had in Paris before leaving France, I shown a series of monotypes made in Santa Fe in 1999. The ones which will be exhibited at Artifact Studio has never been exhibited before. After the solo exhibition in Paris in 2000, I left France, I moved a lot for a few years, and did not show my work for a while. Then I started a new series of work. For years the monotypes stayed in a nice box.

Not a long time ago, after a couple of friends in Santa Fe decided to buy some monotypes after seeing a few of them on my website, I decided to take the box out and take pictures of all them to send pictures to my friends. Then I put a series of the photos on my website. And although the images are very small, they were noticed by Lauren Carrera, the owner of Artifact, whom I met a few weeks ago. She asked me to show her some monotypes and then decided to include a series of them in her upcoming show: "Abstracted at Artifact".

I went to New Mexico to visit archeological sites, to see the Native American petroglyphs and to enjoy the landscapes. I was lucky enough to be accepted as an artist to work freely at the Printmaking Center in the College of Santa Fe, in an excellent environment (nice settings, excellent paper, very good quality inks) and with very nice and knowledgeable people. I shared the studio for weeks at a time, in 1999 and 2000, working at my rhythm, sometimes late at night.

A few words about the process:
I created this series of monotypes with a set of plastic plates of identical size. The process allows to separate the colors and obtain layered images. First I paint an image on each plate. Then I put one plate after another under a press, on the same piece of paper. Because the plates are not engraved, it is possible to reuse them endlessly to create new images. I do not clean the plate before painting another image, therefore one can see "ghosts" sometimes: an image printed for the second time on a different print, but much lighter (there is almost no ink left on the plate). Once the process is complete, the original images painted on the plates has been transferred to the paper.

Artifact Studio in South Park - entrance

Abstraction at Artifact
opening reception Saturday, October 4, from 6 to 9pm.

Artists: Claire-Lise Matthey Anderegg, Warren Backley, Sue Bakley, Joseph Bennett, Jennifer Bennett, Lauren Carrera, Rod Engel, Stacie Greene, Michele Guieu, Anna Stump, Gerry Thiebolt, Maura Vazakas.

Artifact Studio

2234 30th Street (South Park)

(619) 972 3727

Thursday, September 25, 2008

"Plongee dans les Calanques"


My sister loves her custom bag made by Rebelle! The theme is Ocean-Oceanography. Rebelle used lots of different vintage fabrics, printed with maps, anchors, fish and symbols. One piece is entirely embroidered and represents kelp, jellyfish, shells and corals. I a happy that the bag is now in France and will certainly travel with my sister around the world!

and back (the boat, the net)

detail of the back - hand painted

detail of the inside - entirely embroidered

The certificate for the custom made bag

"Plongee dans les Calanques" means "Dive in the Calanques". The "Calanques" are a very special place. My sister and I were born in Marseille, where the Calanques are situated. Those white dry calcair hills plunging into the blue of the Mediterranean sea offer beautiful hikes, impressive walls to climb and hidden beaches nested at the bottom of steep cliffs. There are also very specific species of plants and animals that one can find only there. It represents a very unique ecosystem.

La Calanque de Marseilleveyre,
one of my favorite places in the Calanques

For years now, different associations and nature lovers struggled to save that beautiful landscape from becoming the land of sprawling housing projects. They want the whole area to become a National Park. My mom, within her association "Un Parc National Pour les Calanques" (site not translated in English), participated in many demonstrations in the street in Marseille
, she organized conferences with geologists, oceanographers and other specialists. She wrote articles and spoke on the local radios. Like many other people in Marseille and elsewhere, she dedicated a lot of her time to "save the Calanques".

It seems that the creation of the National Park should be finally announced
December 17 or 18, by the President Nicolas Sarkozy, during the EuroMediterranee Conference in Nice. We'll see what exactly the perimeter of the Park will include . A lot of associations are worried that the perimeter will allow constructions very close to the preserved land. But the announcement of the creation of the park is great news.

"War Days" at the Cygnet Theatre

"War Days", 2006, 36"x48", mixed media on canvas

The war in Iraq has been an important recent source of inspiration for many of my paintings and digital pieces.Through my process of simplifying images, I try to provide a view of the essence of the event, moment, or place to connect ordinary people to extraordinary situations. Showing this series of work in conjunction with “Dying City”, a play by Christopher Shinn, directed by Francis Gercke, at the Rolando Theatre, is an exciting experience for me.

"Middle East", 2007, mixed media on canvas, 36”x60”

So much is said and discussed about the Middle East, and there have been so many attempts, and so many failures, at peace. The text contained within the painting provides a rather formal description of the region and why so many conflicts have occurred there. The viewer of this piece may recognize within the text many familiar words that come to mind when reflecting upon the region in question. The children and women of the Middle East have paid, and continue to pay, a heavy price as a result of these conflicts. And these prices are primarily a result of the significant reserves of oil that have placed the region front and center in the world economy.

"Landscape (here)" and "Landscape (there)", 2008,
acrylic on canvas, 2 x[30”x30”]

Eyes expand

Through landscapes that hold no desires
Through the plane vying with the cloud for beauty
Through the death that gestates in its hold
Through the gut of a painting
Through the painter’s fertility

Ivan Sigg, March 25, 2008
(English Translation Gabrielle Kauffmann)

"x-POW Edgar Hernandez, Iraq, 2003", 2006, 12"x12", acrylic on canvas

Edgar Hernandez was just months from concluding his military career when he was swept into war. On March 23, 2003, enemy forces ambushed his U.S. Army maintenance company in Iraq. Afterwards, Hernandez was one of 12 members from the Fort Bliss, Texas-based 507th Maintenance Company to be listed as captured, killed or determined missing. Three weeks later, Hernandez was one of seven missing U.S. troops freed by advancing U.S. Marines north of Baghdad.

"Ex-POW Shoshana Johnson, Iraq, 2003", 2006, 12"x12", acrylic on canvas

In Iraq on March 23, 2003, U.S. Army Spc. Shoshana Johnson was captured by Iraqis just days after the war started. Her company was ambushed and she was one of 12 from her group to be captured, killed or determined missing. She was eventually rescued April 13 after 22 days in captivity and is now out of the military.

"Jill Carroll, Iraq, January 2006", 2006, acrylic on canvas, 12”x12”

Painted while Jill Carroll was a hostage. American reporter Jill Carroll was set free Thursday, March 30, 2006, in Baghdad, Iraq, nearly three months after she was kidnapped in a bloody ambush that killed her translator. She said she had been treated well. Carroll, 28, was dropped off near offices of the Iraqi Islamic Party. She walked inside, and people there called American officials, Iraqi police said. "I was treated well, but I don't know why I was kidnapped", Carroll said in a brief interview on Baghdad television.

"Here it’s Peace", 2008, mixed media on canvas, 36”x60”

An aura of empathy unites them
Their eyes gape at the world

Their pupils dilate their bodies

Absorbed in the moment

In the generous light of day

The juice of being flows through them

Ivan Sigg, March 25, 2008 (English Translation Gabrielle Kauffmann)

Ivan Sigg is a French poet/writer/painter and a very good friend, who wrote a series of short poems especially for some of my paintings.

"March 17, 2008", 2008, mixed media on canvas, 36”x36”

March 17, 2008, was a “normal” day. I chose it randomly. I copied all the headlines from CNN online and stamped them in the background of the painting. On top of the portraits, I stamped again some of the words. But despite the litany of the words we all hear every day when we listen to the radio or when we watch the news, we are living our daily lives.

Here is the beginning of the text in the background:
"Updated 7:03 p.m. EDT, Mon. March 17, 2008 - Latest News - Poll: Three-quarters think U.S. in recession - Ticker: Obama confronts racial rhetoric head on -Seventh body pulled from crane collapse site - American film crew kept from China protests - Olympic boycott possible? - Stakes are enormous in Iraq for McCain - Iraq war and your family - Ex-Beatle to pay $50M in divorce settlement 39 min - Up to 14 tornadoes hit Atlanta - Foreclosure family forced to live in camper8 women win $276M lottery - Pilots investigated for falling asleep - Gas spikes to $5.20 a gallon at one pump - Online campus gossips won't show faces - Naked man runs amok in grocery store - Majority of Democrats prefer Obama - New York crane collapse caught on camera - High-speed chase - No new primary for Florida Democrats… etc..."

There is no opening night
for the show, the paintings are viewable in the lobby of the theatre every days except Mondays and Tuesdays. The theatre opens every day at noon.

Cygnet Theatre Company/ Rolando Theatre
September 27 - October 26, 2008

6663 El Cajon Blvd, Suite
San Diego, CA 92115
(close to San Diego State University, off Interstate 8)

A memorable "Samourai Dinner"

Do what you see, not what you know

A self-portrait project with my son's kindergarten class. It is the beginning of the year and I am already doing art projects with them! But they are growing really fast and it is quite a pleasure to spend some time in their company. Yesterday they finished a series of self-portraits. I worked with two children at the same time, after lunch. We took our time, so I needed to be at school for quite a few sessions.

Our material was colored paper and glue. The idea was to use shredded paper and not crayons. Each children had a mirror and looked at their face. I asked them to really look, to try to see the different shapes of the different features. I asked them to try to do what they were seeing in the mirror, not what they knew about a nose, a mouth, an eye or an eyebrow. It was interesting to watch them looking intensely at themselves in the mirror, touching their mouth or their nose, following lines and also making all sorts of faces.

I do not have much time these days, very interesting things are happening to me and I do not know how to do all the things I have to do. But one thing is certain: I will find the time to give some of my time to the children.

On our way to school

The children and I are fascinated by what is going on on the car's windows while we are going to school. We listen to Octopus's Garden, we are having a good time together.

When I come back home I cannot help thinking about the huge financial mess this country is in and what will happen next.
I cannot believe that no one saw that category 5 hurricane coming.
Greediness and dumbness are in a boat...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Before Fall Comes

This morning I participated to the walk around the neighborhood of the school with the children. The teacher compared deciduous trees with evergreen trees. It was just about that: looking at the trees, at the leaves, walking around. No rush, no pressure. The children were happy to walk together. And I felt lucky to share that time with them.
Soon, when the leaves fall, there will be another walk in the same
They were all wearing green today - they have to wear a different color every day this week!

Day One

At the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park

I don't feel different today but I keep thinking about my new citizenship and what it means.

Oath Ceremony

Kyle is out of town, Milo is not feeling very well (I gave him some medication at 5:30am), Harper has to go to school on time and I have an appointment for the Oath Ceremony at 7:30am downtown I cannot miss... Fortunately, a fairy and her husband came to my rescue and I could leave the house at 6:30 and go to the Oath Ceremony.

I arrive at 7:00, the line is already wrapped around the corner of the building on C street. I would like a coffee! I start waiting. The line grows really fast behind me. As the time goes by, I see people coming and looking in disbelief at the stretched - longer and longer - line: - Oh, no! - Oh, my god -Oh my gosh - I cannot believe it... and other things I do not understand because they are said in foreign languages... People came with family members, kids. It seems I am the only one by myself! At 7:30 the line starts slowly moving, in 15 minutes we get into the building.

Before to enter the room, applicants are separated from the accompanying people who have now to go upstairs and stay there for the whole time remaining. We arrive in a very large room. There, we get in lines and we have to show our N-445 form and our permanent resident card. There are several lines. Some are faster than others. I am a little bit nervous, I went through so many lines during the immigration process that I cannot help thinking it cannot be simple. But it is, the officer takes the form, verify in a list that I am there, takes my resident card, throw it in a cardboard box at his feet, and handle me a leaflet "We, the People", a "message from the President of the United States, a small American flag and a piece of paper with an assigned number to come back later to pick up my certificate of citizenship. Mine is #5.

We have to fill the seats starting with the front rows, the empty seats will soon be all taken.
Now the waiting game starts. We have to wait until everybody gets through the lines to have their N-445 verified. I takes forever - almost two hours. I do not have a book or anything to read! Everybody is very calm.

Finally, by 9:30 the room is filled.

We have some demonstration of folkloric dances by a group of dancers from the international Cottages in Balboa Park. Because today there is a large group of Filipino people, we get some Filipino dances, including the "Coconut Harvest", which is, I have to say, rather silly. We also have some Peruvian dance performed by a young couple and a contemporary Indian dance, performed by a very young girl.

At almost 10:30, the judge enters the room and talks. She says there are 864 people from 81 different countries today who become American Citizens. It is very moving when she says thelist of the countries.
People from each country raise. Countries include Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Jordan, Pakistan, India, China, Syria... There are only 3 French people. When the judge says: "Mexico" 3 quarters of the people raise and scream with joy!

it is the time for the Oath of Allegiance. The right hand on the heart, we all repeat after the judge:
"I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God."

Then we get some more speakers and some more folkloric dances. It is the end of the ceremony and it is time to go and get our certificate of Naturalization. We get in lines again but it only get a few minutes. "Verify the information on the certificate, tell us if there is a mistake. Sign the certificate at home if you want, but sign the same way you signed your photo which is on the document".

I ask someone who just got hers to take a picture of me inside this room where I will certainly never come back to. It is 11:15 and I am officially an American citizen.

Right outside there is 2 booths to register as a voter. Here's McCain's booth....

And here's Obama's! - No comment!
I am on the list now, I feel like a citizen and it is a great feeling!

Tonight I got a bottle of French Champagne and a collage by Joey Burns from our dear French-American friends (we will drink the Champagne together when Kyle will be back!)!
J'aime bien comment ca commence cette citoyennete Americaine!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tout va Bien

Guillaume Cherel is going back to France tomorrow, his trip is ending and his blog on Liberation's website, too. J'espere que nos chemins se croiseront a nouveau.

My mother and her friend left yesterday. They went back to France too, after three short weeks spent with us in San Diego. On their luggages: travel labels signed "Rebelle" - made especially for them. There is something I will talk about in a few days that I asked Rebelle to make for someone in France. I cannot talk about it before the person gets it!

I took the kids again to the doctor tonight, we left at 6:00 and came back at 8:30. It is the beginning of the school year and they get easily sick after a summer outdoor. At the last minute I had to cancel the meeting about the DADA diner I am organizing with my SDVAN partners. And I canceled the babysitter too.

I am still working on how I will frame the series of monotypes I will show at the gallery Artifact in South Park in a few weeks. I saw different framers, they talked to me about all sorts of different material and of course everything is expensive... I went everywhere.
I am very excited to show that series because it represents an important step on my path. I had a lot of pleasure working on the series in a place which means a lot to me: Santa Fe, New Mexico. It was a special time, and the series is, indeed, very special to me.

In the show at Old Town Gallery inTustin, organized by Patrick Merrill, "Left, right and Center", all the prints will be push pinned on the wall, I like that idea. Speaking about that, I went many times to Kinko's where I printed the two black and white pieces on the cheapest paper. At last I have what I need now and I will be able to ship them soon. Now I am building a special box because the prints have to be rolled - but not tightly - , and I cannot find a tube large enough. So I am making this heavy duty box made of cardboard from a refrigerator I found at a warehouse - by the way it is a very interesting warehouse at grant Street and Sherman Street off of Morena Boulevard in San Diego - they usually have huge cardboards.

Today, at noon, I installed the show "War Days" with Jack Wade at the Cygnet Theatre on El Cajon Blvd: 9 paintings inspired by the Iraq war. It did not take long and I was on time at the school to pick-up the kids. I think it looks good, I really like the idea that the show is in conjunction with the play "Dying City" - which I will go see.

A picture of the (one night!) show at the Union Bank during Ray at Night last Saturday. I shown a series of ten fairly large paintings. At first I did not like the idea to have the paintings on easels but the bank has no wall. Because he space is so big, it nice to be able to see the series with a lot of room around. I like the idea to create a "wall of paintings". I do not have a photo with the whole series.

Tomorrow morning at 7:30 I have the oath ceremony, I am becoming an American citizen!
I will take the form N-445 that I filled, my resident card and my immigration documents with me. I will go there alone, it is weird but it's like that. I am happy anyway, it should be the end of a complicated journey and also I will be able to vote for the first time here.