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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Moving and Starting All Over Again

My friend Anna just moved from L.A. to Austin, Texas. She sent me an email. Here's what she writes:
"Moving also means starting all over again, find a way to introduce myself in the artists community of Austin and trying to break away from isolation. How did you do it in San Diego? And how did you manage to fight the solitary confinement that the artist's studio brings upon you?"

Those are interesting questions. I moved quite a lot. Each time I moved, I almost immediately got in touch with an association, a place, a group of people. Moving means losing the previous network, it also means of course new possibilities. But one needs a lot of energy to make a new network.

monotype (Santa Fe) - 26"x17"

In 2000, when I moved to Santa Fe, I did not have a studio. I left Paris with 3 boxes - all my artwork and material stayed in France. I had to find a way to work "somewhere". Someone told me about the possibility to work at the Printmaking Center at the College of Santa Fe. I went there, brought a portfolio of images and it worked: I could come to work every day for almost as long as I wanted to. And I only had to pay for the paper and the ink, in exchange of being available to talk to the students and share some time with them. I met other artists living in Santa Fe and I slowly started to have a network.
But I moved a year later...

monotypes - (Austin) - each of them: 23"x17"

When I arrived in Austin, Texas, I knew nobody there. I read the free papers, checked things on internet, and found a very nice place, The Flatbed Press (I had again to find a way to work without having a studio on my own). At flatbed Press I could print for a very reasonable price and meet artists. And that's what I did. The only odd thing was that they were almost exclusively working with black ink. So I worked with black. The place was linked to several groups of artists showing their work in Austin, and that's how I could show my work shortly after arriving in Austin.
I had my first child that year. And then we moved again.

C-Ville cover

When I arrived in Charlottesville, Virginia, it was difficult with a baby to really find any time to work for myself. But I did not want to be isolated and I met with the team who edit the free paper there, the C-Ville. With my background in graphic design I proposed to make illustrations. And it worked. It was not well paid but it was interesting and I could work at home with the computer. I would sketch on paper, scan and then finish the images on Photoshop. The only tricky part was to go to the meetings to submit the illustrations - with the baby! After a while, I started sending the images through email.

I had another child in Charlottesville, where we stayed two years. The illustrations are pretty much the only art work I did when I was there. I was too busy with two young children to really think about a personal work.

Rio Grande and Taos, 2000, made in Santa Fe,

Some Time in the Desert, made in San Diego,
, 2x[54"x54"]

We moved to San Diego in 2004. I installed a studio in the garage and started to paint again on canvas in 2005. My first to paintings were "new" versions of the last two paintings (made in Sante Fe in 2000), certainly a needed bridge to start over - I was not really comfortable.

Shortly after that, I had a conversation with a mother who told me about the San Diego Art Institute. I went there, took a membership ($100 for a year) and started submitting every month 2 paintings: one for the "one foot show" (12"x12" max), and one for the regional show. I attended every single opening, and met some very nice people and artists.

I had the chance to get quite a few awards and to meet some interesting jurors. At the end of the first year at the SDAI, I got enough "points" to get a solo show scheduled two years later. And then the following year I got enough points again to get another solo show. Same thing the third year. (How it works: one gets points each time a work is selected and each time a work gets an award. At the end of each year, the artists can submit their total number of points. The first 12 artists or so on the list get a solo show.)

So basically for three years, I was in my studio, submitting paintings to the SDAI and going to their openings. The rest of the time I was taking care of my little ones. The SDAI submission gave me a rhythm, I made a commitment to submit every month and I followed it, that helped me to build a fairly large body of work.

I need to have goals (like preparing a show) to work, otherwise I find it very difficult to create in a vacuum.

Then, I decided to branch out with some other venues, and to meet more people outside of the circle of the SDAI. I decided to start participating to juried group shows, like at the California Center for the Arts or at the Oceanside Museum of Art.

Landscape 2 - 2005, 2x(20"x20"),
prints mounted on wood.

One important thing I think is that I am flexible. One day at the SDAI there was this call for an "International Digital Juried Show" and I really wanted to participate. But I never had made before an artwork based on digital files. It opened a BIG new door for me. For weeks I worked on digital files based on the photos I was taking all the time. I explored all sorts of possibilities, knowing that I wanted to get "simple" images. That was a great discovery.

My entry was selected and I was thrilled.

In 2006, the series "Undocumented"
(face-mounted prints with plexi, 3x[20"x20"])

was accepted in "Cultural Fusion",
a juried show at the California Center for the Arts.

After that I continued working on digital files based on the photos I take. And I still do. It changed the way I paint. because at that time I started to incorporate in my work portraits of my family, portraits of people, of friends. I never thought: "I am a painter, the "International Digital Show is not for me." I just tried. I was excited by the new possibility.

About the isolation in the studio, I rarely suffer of it, but, yes, sometimes it feels odd. I like to be by myself and to work on my images. But it has to be balanced with some nice social time. For that I am going to openings. It is good to support other artists in their efforts, good to support the galleries and the community. Also, more and more I have the feeling that my work is going to include other people -like scientists-, to be less of a "solitary" adventure and more of a social one. I love to share ideas and to put energies together. I am thinking about how to do that a lot these days.

It takes a long time to build a network. That's why right now I hope to stay here for a while! Otherwise I would have to do it all over again!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Stephen Curry: "Next to Nothing" at the Athenaeum La Jolla

Stephen Curry

During the opening Reception, Friday, November 20, 2009.

Next to Nothing, 2009, Drawing pair,
Two panels, each 11'8" tall, 8' wide. NFS.

Next to Nothing, 2009, Drawing pair,
Two panels, each 11'8" tall, 8' wide

Stephen Curry, through "Next to Nothing"

Untitled, 2009
Charcoal drawing / cut out, 24"x30".
$1200 - sold.

Constellation #21, 2008
oil on canvas, 72"x96", $22.000.

Negative Construct #1
2009, enamel on birch plywood, variable dimensions.

Negative Construct #1 (detail)

Negative Construct #3
2009, enamel on birch plywood, variable dimensions.

Stephen Curry: "Next to Nothing"
The Show runs from November 14 to December 31, 2009.
Athenaeum Music and Arts Library
1008 Wall Street
La Jolla, CA 92037

Kelsey Brookes: "Bigger, Brighter, Bolder" at Quint Contemporary

During the opening reception, Friday, November 20, 2009.

Kelsey Brookes: "Bigger, Brighter, Bolder"
November 20 - December 19, 2009
Quint Contemporary
7739 Fay Avenue La Jolla CA
(alley entrance only - between Kline and Silverado)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Way He Sees Me!

Kid # 2's diary about the family (He just turned 7)

Have to finish the press release for the show. It is time to send it. Tonight my friend Jane is helping me, fortunately. She is a great writer! She will also write a text about the show, like she already did for my past two solo shows at the San Diego Art Institute.

Saw Jason Feather this morning. He is cutting the decals for the window of the gallery for the show - he has the machine to do it. Great to talk to him. Actually, I went there because we had a problem with a color. I wanted some decals "army green", but the green he showed me was to strong. So we decided to go all black: back to the first idea. Much better. Also I was surprised to realize that the decals will be on the outside of the window!

Back home I sent to Jason another document for the decals because there was a typo in the text. And it gives me the opportunity to make some changes. A chance Jason did not start yet to cut the letters!

Have to answer to some emails.

Called my mom to see how things are going AND to remind her not to bring too many things for us from France: she is coming in a few days to visit us. She wants to be here for the opening of the show, which is great!

Went to pick-up the transparent print at Moebius Color. I will have one transparent print in the show, in one of the square windows on the side of the gallery. It should look good. But those prints are expensive! $50 for a 20x20". And I cannot sell it, it will be sealed on the window box. I liked to go to Moebius when a guy named Mike was working there. Now he is gone and I have the feeling that I am a way-too-small client! But their prints are really good!

I stopped at Von's this morning to buy some food. I hate doing this during my work time but the boys almost refuse to go shopping (except at Toys'R uS).

Took some pictures I need for the blog.

Took back to the store a pair of shoes that does not fit. Nobody likes to shop in the family but I am the one who pretty much buys everything we need. Sometimes it would be much easier and faster to have the boys with me!

Starting thinking more and more (although I should not) about my next solo show at the San Diego Art Institute, in June. It's coming fast, and I have a project in my head which I am very excited about!

Took my car 2 days ago for an oil change. They found out that I have to change the front brakes. I have to take the car back to the garage tomorrow morning. I want to be sure it is done asap. In a few days we are going camping in the desert in Anza Borrego.

Thinking about participating in the upcoming show "Women by Women: from a SoCal viewpoint", curated by Anna Stump. I am not sure if I want to be in any group but I like the individuals in that group and I appreciate Anna a lot. The "women only" aspect of it I don't know. I participated in women shows in the past. It always feels odd to me!
My SoCal viewpoint is linked with my immigrant status, so my piece will be about that.

Have to stop at the library to take back all the books I borrowed (3 times in a row) for my show. They are all about Evolution, Lucy and Darwin. It's been 3 days they are in my car.

Have to buy corn muffins for the Thanksgiving party at school tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Culture and Identity in Art / San Diego Museum of Art: videos by Art As Authority

Part one - Introduction: Alexander Jarman, Manager / Public Programs and Amy Galpin, Project Curator for American Art.
Michele Guieu (beginning)

Part two - Michele Guieu

Part three - Michele Guieu / Shadab Zeest Hashmi

Part Four - Shadab Zeest Hashmi / Marisol Rendon

Part Five - Marisol Rendon / questions

Art As Authority
San Diego Museum of Art

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"United and Severed: That Window of Time" / Video Screening

View of the show from the outside of the gallery -
one can see both screens installed in the second room.

I went to Art Produce Saturday night, for the screening of "United and Severed".
There were two screens installed in the second room. One was at the entrance of the room - to be seen from outside. The second screen was on the rear wall.
Small crowd. Nice exchange in the end: a good conversation with two of the artists who created the work:
Kristine Diekman (writing-audio-videography) and Anna O’Cain (sculpture-installation). And I even asked some questions!
Always nice to see that show at night, it does not work so well during the day with all the light coming through the window. The light boxes obviously loose their intensity.

United and Severed: That Window of Time
October 17-December 6, 2009

Art Produce Gallery
3139 University Ave.
San Diego, CA 92104

Talk at the San Diego Museum of Art: Culture and Identity in Art

Saturday morning I was ready for the talk at the San Diego Museum of Art: From Art History to Art Making: Emigrant/Immigrant: Culture and Identity in Art. Stressed but ready. The power point presentation was a first for me but I found the process really interesting and flexible. One can do pretty much anything with that software. Very nice! The talks I gave before about my work always took place during a show, with the art around.
Marisol, Shadab and I arrived early. Everything was ready; Alexander Jordan organized everything very well.

It was really not easy to have only 15 "slides". There were a lot of things I wanted to say, I had to cut a lot but I guess the exercise was very good to me - I have a tendency to talk too much!
My presentation was chronological. I took some time to select the images, to organize them into a dynamic progression.

I am grateful to have been invited, I thought the presentation by Marisol Rendon was very interesting and smooth and funny. Shadad Zeest Hashmi read us an illustrated poem, beautiful.
I really liked the way Amy Galpin, the curator for American Art at the SDMA, introduced our works. I must say that the three artists were paid for their participation, which is normal in theory but certainly rare in reality. In that way, I felt much respected as an artist and it was good!

The presentation was very well attended, around 80 people. It took place in the boardroom in the museum. Kevin Freitas and Richard Gleaves, from Art As Authority came to the talk, I thank them very much, I know they are super busy going to a lot of openings and talks!

Janine Free and Lori Lipsman came too. Lori talks about the talk in her blog and Janine told me on the phone later that day that the talk gave her the desire to go straight to her studio and work on her art! Thank you both for coming.

San Diego Museum of Art
1450 El Prado Balboa Park
San Diego, California
(619) 232-7931

Monday, November 16, 2009

"Collaborations" and Jett Gallery

From left to right: Andrea Chamberlin, Ellen Dieter,
Tim Field, Shahla Dorafshan
Richard Messenger
and Kerstin Robers

I Went Friday night to the San Diego Art Institute to see the "Collaborations" show at the San Diego Art Institute (see my previous post). I took a series of photos of the six involved in the portraits: the three portrayed and the three artists. It was not easy but quite fun, a lot of excitement was in the air!

San Diego Art Institute
1439 El Prado San Diego, CA 92101 (619) 236-0011

I left the SDAI quite late, but I still had time to go see Sean Brannan and Joshua Krause at Jett Gallery, on Kettner Street (it was Kettner Nights). Never been there before, beautiful space.
I talked to a friend from the preschool were my children were going to a few years ago. She and her husband are close friends to the owner of the gallery and artist Joey Vaiasuso. She is very enthusiastic about the gallery, which is always good to hear. So I met him and we talked for a while. In the show he has two large minimalist sculptures. I am always wondering how an artist can be
at the same time the owner of a gallery, it's certainly quite an amount of energy and also a little bit like having two heads!

Jett Gallery
989 W. Kalmia
San Diego, CA, 92101

United and Severed: That Window of Time at Art Produce Gallery

Here are a few photos from the show taken October 29, when there was an interesting panel discussion at Art Produce Gallery with the four artists: Kristine Diekman, Karen Schaffman, Richard Keely and Anna O’Cain.

United and Severed: That Window of Time
October 17-December 6, 2009

Art Produce Gallery
3139 University Ave.
San Diego, CA 92104 619-584-4448

Thursday, November 12, 2009

"Collaboration": large portraits on paper for the Movers and Shakers project, at the San Diego Art Institute

The people portrayed: Tim Field, Kerstin Robers and Andrea Chamberlin, (San Diego Art Institute and San Diego Art Department)

The artists: Richard Messenger, Ellen Dieter and Shahla Dorafshan
photos courtesy Richard Messenger

"Collaborations" by Richard Messenger, Ellen Dieter and Shahla Dorafshan
Opening Reception at the San Diego Art Institute:

Friday, November 13, 2009 from 6 to 8 pm.

The show runs from November 13 to November 22, 2009

SDAI members: free
non members: $3

San Diego Art Institute
Balboa Park
House of Charm
1439 El Prado

Contact: Marc Pickett, Public Relations
(619) 236-0011

Hours: Tuesday - Saturday 10 am - 4 p.m.
Sunday 12 - 4 p.m.
Requested Gallery Donation: Adults $3.
Senior Citizens, Military and Students $2.
Children under 12 admitted free.

More about the Movers and Shaker Project (Phase II)

New Work by Sean Brannan and Joshua Krause, @ Jett Gallery, Nov. 13

New Work by Sean Brannan and Joshua Krause

Opening reception, Friday November 13, from 6 to 10pm.

Jett Gallery
989 W.Kalmia St.

San Diego
, CA 92101

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lecture: From Art History to Art Making: Emigrant/Immigrant: Culture and Identity in Art @ the San Diego Museum of Art, Saturday, Nov. 14

Mark Rothko
No. 7 (Orange and Chocolate), 1957
Oil on canvas

69 5/8 x 43½ inches (176.9 x 110.5 cm)
Collection of Kate Rothko Prizel and Ilya Prizel
courtesy SDMA

This Saturday, November 14, on the occasion of the exhibition "American Artists from the Russian Empire", I am participating in a lecture at the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park. I was invited by Alexander Jarman, Public Programs Manager for the museum. It is very interesting for me to work on the presentation, it makes me go through a lot of photos of my work, including the earlier work. it's exciting to share this presentation with Marisol Rendon and Shadab Zeest Hashmi!

From the SDMA website:
Lecture: From Art History to Art Making: Emigrant/Immigrant: Culture and Identity in Art. November 14, Saturday Saturday, 1:00–3:30 p.m.
Museum Boardroom and Art School

The Museum is proud to host a panel discussion about identity, place, and culture in art inspired by the special exhibition American Artists from the Russian Empire. Join Michele Guieu, Shadab Zeest Hashmi, and Marisol Rendón—artists originally from France, Pakistan, and Colombia, respectively—as they discuss the impact their cultural identity has had on their work.

After the discussion, join Museum Educators for a workshop inspired by the art of Russian-born American abstract sculptor Louise Nevelson.

Lecture: Free after Museum admission.
Workshop: $5; reservations are recommended and can be made by calling (619) 696-1978.

San Diego Museum of Art
American Artists from the Russian Empire
October 24-January 17, 2010
"American Artists from the Russian Empire features nearly 70 paintings and sculptures by many of the best-known artists working in America in the postwar period, among them Louise Nevelson, Jules Olitsky, Mark Rothko, and Ben Shahn."

1450 El Prado
Balboa Park
San Diego, California
(619) 232-7931

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


From a series of colors photos I took of organ pipes and saguaro cacti, during a family trip to Southern Arizona (Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument - on the Mexico border, Saguaro National Park - near Tucson, Tombstone).