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Friday, August 27, 2010

ZSALON: Robin Lasser talks about (and takes us to) "Floating World", a temporary public art installation by Robin Lasser and Marguerite Perret

is a monthly event in San Jose and I've just attended my first one last Wednesday. It takes place at the headquarters of ZER01 The Art and Technology Network.
The place was packed and buzzing with discussions.
Danielle Siembieda, ZERO1 Social Media Manager and Barbara Goldstein, San Jose Public Art Program Director, introduced the night.

Artist Robin Lasser talked about "Floating World", a public temporary installation, made on the occasion of the 01SJ Biennial, which takes place in San Jose in a few weeks, September 16-19. The 01SJ Biennial is a major event, a burst of new ideas and technologies, a hub where artists, engineers, entrepreneurs, citizens and the city connect.
It's a world of possibilities. I cannot wait to experiment it.

Robin Lasser is an energetic, down earth, animated
(and modest) artist, talking about her work with a communicative enthusiasm. Her work is mostly in the public art sphere. Lasser definitely wants to address society problems, but being the positive person she is, the aesthetic solutions are definitely beautifully poetic.

"Floating World"

Ms. Homeland Security: Illegal Entry Dress Tent,
40" x 50", 2005
by Robin Lasser and Adrienne Pao (photo Robin Lasser)

She talked for about half an hour about "Floating World" which she created with Marguerite Perret. She also talked about The Dress Tents (nomadic wearable architecture) she creates with Adrienne Pao and which are sewed by Kimo Pledger and Elly Azaria. Her work implies collaboration with all sort of people. That's a huge part of the process and she loves it.

After the Zsalon, Robin Lasser took us to the site where the temporary installation is situated. It was really nice to walk downtown. Also it was Zombie night, so we saw a lot of zombies in the streets along the way! Should have take some pictures!

We arrived at the bridge at twilight. Perfect timing. Robin Lasser - who comes to the bridge almost every night to check on the installation - says that's the time of the day she prefers. The daylight was decreasing and the tents were starting to glow from the inside. I love that installation. The sounds. The voices. The mix of dream and reality. The beauty of the light and colors and what it makes think about.

Homeless' tents in Paris (photo AFP)

(photo AFP)

I had the chance to talk to Robin Lasser and I told her that her project reminds me of the homeless tents in Paris installed along the canals. I do not know if they still exist. But at night they were like small red paper lenterns. A beautiful vision of a sad reality.

If you are in San Jose, go see "Floating World". I'll take my kids this week-end. At twilight.

“Floating World” by
Robin Lasser and Marguerite Perret
The project is commissioned by the City of San Jose Public Art Program in collaboration with ZER01 and the 01SJ Biennial.
WHERE: on on the bridge that crosses over the Guadalupe River at San Fernando Street in downtown San Jose.

(408) 916 1010

152 N. 3rd Street
, Suite 210
San Jose, CA 95113

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Exploring the surroundings: Half Moon Bay and Buck's of Woodside

Half Moon Bay beach

A wonderful day along the Pacific ocean, going to Half Moon Bay and around. I've heard that name not a long time ago and I really wanted to go just for that, the beauty of those 3 words together.

Walking south from the beach

Surfer's beach, just North of Half Moon Bay beach,
on Hwy One.

Something tells me that we'll be back here soon.

Mavericks (one half mile from shore)

We walked to the point where one can see mythic Mavericks. Very calm right now, this can change radically during the winter.

"Mavericks is located approximately one-half mile (0.8 km) from shore in Pillar Point Harbor just north of Half Moon Bay at the village of Princeton-By-The-Sea. After a strong winter storm in the northern Pacific Ocean, waves can routinely crest at over 25 feet (8m) and top out at over 50 feet (15m). The break is caused by an unusually-shaped underwater rock formation."

At that same spot last February, at Mavericks surf contest, a rogue wave slammed into the jetty and injured spectators.

Salt Marsh Habitat on the trail to Mavericks

We left Half Moon Bay and decided to go to Woodside on our way back, taking hwy 92 and windy hwy 35. The day was super clear so there was no fog in the thick forest and no "mysterious ambiance", but the drive was still beautiful.

In Woodside we stopped at Buck's for a coffee. The place is covered from floor to ceiling with all sorts of heteroclite objects. The owner, Jamis MacNiven (student activist at Berkeley in the 60's, globe trotter, thinker,
reader and writer) was there, Hawaiian shirt and yellow/orange panther printed shorts (I did not take a picture!).
"The restaurant is also my canvas and I have created a somewhat wacky environment of things that take my fancy. Some of the stuff I build, like the 11-foot model of the Airship Macon, or I might find something I can't live without like the Russian space suit I picked up in Moscow recently. Sometimes people give me things such as the training module that NASA used to whip the monkeys into shape for their trip into space in the early 60's. I just acquired a collection of 700 Cracker Jack prizes from 1905 to 1930. They represent the total consumption of that estimable product by Gladdis Eammes during those years."
Jamis MacNiven

Buck's Of Woodside
3062 Woodside Road
Woodside, CA 94062
(650) 851-8010

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Distillations [Meditation on the Japanese American Experience] : Four Sansei Women Artists @ John F. Kennedy University / Berkeley

JFK University, Berkeley

"Reiko Fujii, Lucien Kubo, Shizue Seigel, and Judy Shintani: four Sensei women artists draw from personal, family, and collective narratives to explore the complex legacies of the Japanese American experience through collage, assemblage, glass, painting, photography, word, found objects, installation, video and performance."

First visit to the JFK University Art Gallery in Berkeley. All the works in the show are very detailed, many of them are rather small.
This is a rich show - but there may be too many pieces for the size of the space. Most of the content is heavily loaded, an although some works are physically fairly light, they talk about citizenship and human rights, regrets, loss, painful memories and open wounds. The show is not only about that, but that aspect struck me and that is what I remember.

I took the journey, reading the labels, trying to understand the different paths of the four artists of American-Japanese heritage. ["Sensei": third generation Japanese American].
Here is a selection of the pieces I was particularly interested in.

Lucien Kubo, Ode to the Civil Rights Movement, 2004

20x10x2 in, assemblage, plaster, glass figurine, photos.

Lucien Kubo, Are you American?, 2005

15x28x4 in., assemblage, found objects, Van Dyke photographs.

"There have been many debates around immigration. At time, the tone becomes "mean-spirited". Let's remember that many of our ancestors were immigrants who came to this country looking for freedom and a better life." Lucien Kubo

Judy Shintani, Mary's Power, 2004

Ironing board, sharpened dole.

"This is a portrait of my grandmother who supported her family by ironing. She was a devout Christian and very proper and strong woman. The sharpness of the doles reflects her strength and her prickliness." Judy Shintani

Reiko Fujii, My Daughter's glass Kimono, 2009

48x42x7 in., glass, fused photo transfers, copper wire, muslin.

"The continuity of the past, present and future is symbolized by My Daughter's Glass Kimono, which included images of both her Japanese and Czechoslovakian ancestors.
Thousands of pieces of glass were cut by hand and fused together to make up two hundred thirty-eight frames, each displaying a picture of one or more of her ancestors." Reiko Fujii

Reiko Fujii is there, showing to some visitors the kimono. She moves it and it makes chimes-like sounds. So beautiful.

Lucien Kubo, In Silence, 2009

11x11x8 in., assemblage, book covers, ribbon, tag.

"After WWII, many of the Sensei, third generation Japanese Americans, never learned how to speak Japanese. My mother told me she went to Japanese School on Saturdays (before the war) and of course her parents both spoke Japanese. After the internment, English was the main language. This breakdown in language made it difficult for the Sensei, the grandchildren to communicate or even understand their grandparents, the Issei. Language is very important, and in this "silencing", many stories were lost forever."
Lucien Kubo

Judy Shintani, Pearls left Behind, 2010

10x10x2 ft, cardboard pizza flats, paint, wood, barbed wire.

"Over 3 years and 7 exhibitions, 133 viewers wrote responses to Japanese American internees and hung them on the bottom of the Remembrance Shrine. I selected 41 responses to highlight on this installation. The pieces is a conversation about war, peace, imprisonment, democracy, and responses to the Japanese American Internment. It is my wish that those who were imprisoned be able to read the many apologies and thoughts that usually never spoken or heard."
Judy Shintani

Reiko Fujii, Tags

participative piece

This piece by Reiko Fujii is particularly moving. Japanese American who experienced internment in camps in the spring of 1942 (the last camp closed in 1945), are invited to write a note on a tag and to attach it to one of the poles of the installation. Between the poles a clothe line displays clothing used by the deported families.

Some of the tags

Judy Shintani, Bottom Drawer, 2009

24x10x5 in., roots, photos, drawer.

"There are so many questions I am not able to ask my grandparents. They left this world before I knew what I wanted to know. How was it for them to leave their birth country? What was their internment experience? Unknown history, stuffed in the dark tangles of the bottom drawer. " Judy Shintani

Some past events of the American history are still difficult to talk about today (true for any country I guess, including France where I come from: the Algerian war is still a very sensitive subject for example). Bad decisions are made and the consequences are huge for the following generations. The hope is to be able to share, to discuss and finally to heal. That's why a show like this is very important.

Distillations: Meditations on the Japanese American Experience
Reiko Fujii, Lucien Kubo, Shizue Seigel, and Judy Shintani

John F. Kennedy University
2956 San Pablo Avenue, 2nd Floor
Berkeley, CA 94702

admission: free

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Discovering the Area

Last Saturday: my very first crossing of the Golden Gate bridge.
Next time I'll walk!

Muir Beach

Lots of beautiful places around San Fransisco and the bay. But lots of people too - in places like Muir Woods National Monument! We arrived there around 11:00am and the parking lots were all full, which did not gave us the desire to really wait to get a spot. Too many people!
We went to Muir Beach instead, a few miles away and we enjoyed a quiet space and wonderful sights of the Pacific ocean.

Hiking on the coastal trail, heading to Pirate Cove

Stintson Beach


At the end of the afternoon, following highway One, we went to Stintson beach and Bolinas. In my French guide it is said that people from Bolinas remove the road signs so that the tourists cannot find the village easily. And it seems to be true! No signs around. But it's not too difficult with a map!

Bolinas and Bolinas Lagoon, Wharf Road

Where Bolinas Lagoon meets Bolinas Bay

Bolinas Beach


A stop in Sausalito. Watching the marine layer coming down the hill.
On the way back, it was bumper to bumper on the Golden Gate bridge, reminding me of the Sunday nights on the highway, coming back to Paris.