arthead sf

arthead sf blog was created to bring readers the meaning behind the art. These are not critiques or interviews with artists. Each feature is written entirely by the artist, revealing only what they feel and want readers to know about the featured piece. If you see a piece of art you'd like to know the meaning me. And subscribe to my blog below to get updates when new features are posted!


Friday, September 29, 2006

Sarah Spitler

" Cuz it wasn't always what it was but it was always somethin' "
36H X 42W
Acrylic, latex, ink, spraypaint, and graphite on Mylar

"So this, like alot of my work is, in essence, me trying to figure out my own language and re-interpret it visually. I am really influenced by Chaos Theory - what that basically means to me is the potentiality of things. It's really inspiring to think about how small things can have a huge impact down the line, when thought about in terms of contingency, or cause and effect. Everything has the potential to affect everything else in the universe, so I really enjoy paying attention to the way elements in a painting touch each other - it's kind of a reflection of human existence on the planet, but also works in innumerable microcosms - from the prescence of a single strand of DNA in a cell, to the precise position of a planet within a solar system - each defines itself and its contingent elements due to a small variation deep within itself.

The Mylar serves as a kind of "plasma" for all the elements to exist within, yet still remain connected to the world outside and within itself - it's easy for me to imagine tiny worlds that make up the translucency of the material. That, and its milkyness is really attractive to me.Overall, I guess this particular piece is about change, evolution, and potentiality, so that sort of what the title is pointing at."

By Sarah Spitler

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Tony Guaraldi-Brown

"The Cut"
pen & ink wash

"This is a piece I did for a graphic novel I'm working on with a friend called The Cut. This image was inspired from a book of crime photographs from the 1920's and 30's that I look at for reference of strange body positions or to get into that darker frame of mind. I wanted to touch on the theme of nostalgia and powerlessness. After things are done we have no way of changing those actions that we created and we have no way of changing how we are perceived/portrayed by other people, yet we always wish we could. Ambiguity is another card I like to play in my work while also trying to present a clear story. Who is this tragic soul lying dead next to his neatly placed shoes? Was this man trying to kill someone else, was he trying to defend himself, was it some sort of crime gone bad? Don't know, never will, and that is the fun of most of it, making up your own story to these images.

Even though I use the ambiguity card, i really feel that it is important to stay connected to the viewer with the work. I don't want to give it away, but i don't want to present something that is so ridiculously out there that no one even understands it. I have a job to do and that job is to tell whatever story I'm trying to tell and still make it interesting. "

By Tony Guaraldi-Brown

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Matt Furie

3 inches by 3 inches
micron005 ink pen,
prismacolor marker,
prismacolor pencil

"So i started this drawing in the airport as i was waiting to get on a plane from columbus ohio back to san francisco california. there were people all around in different shapes and sizes. as i was drawing i was thinking about how us humans rule the world and how we eat so much stuff. the view from the airplane window always reminds me of our dominance over the world- how much the earth is transformed to house and feed us homos. anyways, kids were running around the airport drinking cokes as big as their heads and some big ol' midwesterners were eating sandwiches and watching tv. so i just kind of drew the outlines of the figures only half thinking about what i was doing (doodle-style). after i got back to my bedroom in sf, i colored the picture in. i made the parent and child look kind of like hotdogs and i made the background a flat, vast wasteland (my standard background). the parent is manhandling the child. umm...they don't have mouths or noses or ears or clothes because they look better that way."

By Matt Furie

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Andrew James Jones

"Nice tits" (2006)
230mm by 330mm
Ink on paper

"I'm not one for pining down precisely what these things are. I may sometimes give them names to pull them closer to the realm of our consensual reality, but I don't wish to cut off the viewers interpretation of what they are by dictating that they are one particular thing. This play between the viewer's imagination and my own is an important component as the ambiguity requires the viewer to invest more of themselves into the work.

Personally it's the notion of the grotesque I find of most interest, I find the idea of the seemingly impossible way it clashes, opposing emotional responses within the same visual signifier, fascinating."

By Andrew James Jones

Friday, September 22, 2006

Joshua Krause

Untitled, Part of "What's Left to Ponder?" Series of Assemblages on books
Acrylic, stain, frame, sand, resin, foam, egg shell,comic, string, found metal and nail on book

"The entire "What's Left to Ponder?" ongoing seriescame about in a few ways. Firstly, it was the title ofa 3-man show I did with Jason Sherry and TimMcCormick at Thinkspace in LA and Voice1156 in San Diego. I was looking for a title that, on the surface, seemed deep and penetrating, but was really just a cleverly stolen line from one of my favorite movies, "Zoolander." As the debunked Derrick is staring at his reflection in a puddle, he poses the age-old question: "Who Am I?"...The emerging Hansel ("He's so hot right now, Hansel") responds rhetorically with the nonchalant, nomadic title phrase as he scooters by, chick in tow...

This is the human question, and therefore, the ultimate art question. These themes can be found in seemingly "low" culture in such films, and in other "high" forms such as "The Love Song of J. Afred Prufrock." In T.S Eliot's 1915 poetic masterpiece, Prufrock asks "Do I Dare Disturb the Universe?" So,without any further intellectualized jerking-off, that is the origin. Art should ask who we are, as individuals and as a collected people; if you can throw a bit of love and humor in the mix, you may have something. But who knows. It’s all everything and nothing at the same time, and I think that’s the whole point. I am intrigued by how many books are written that are never read. I figure these pieces are another way to share discarded books with people, while telling a different story through someone else's "words". I seal the books to create a good strong surface to work and build from, and I've noticed something done out of necessity for process both intrigues and frustrates people. It constantly reminds me that part of searching for answers should frustrate us, and no matter how far we probe (or more aptly "ponder"), certain mysteries will always remain.

In this particular piece, which came about over a few weeks of mania-induced art forging, I tried to make art in this delicate middle. I had the idea of framing the egg in a book, but it wasn't until the walk home from the thrift store that I found the metal and nail...and it just clicked in my head and I knew where it had to go.The original piece had a whole egg, but when it fell off the table and crushed, I accepted it as a happy accident, and realized I had really wanted to explore the inside of the egg all along. So I fabricated it to look like a fossilized remnant with a mixture of sand, scraps of text from the book and foam (I even painted little white veins from which the red veins emerge).The red strings wrap around the book, and penetrate the sealed pages.

My goal in this series is to make new relics, and their meanings and symbols are to be studied and decoded as an archeologist would. Or, they can also be jokes a comedian is trying to string together for his act. Are they religious, and are they homage or offerings to a deity? Are they old, and does their antiquity give added value? And if it’s new and fabricated, what value does it really have? Are there inherent meanings in that they are books or are they meaningless artifacts, remains of someone from somewhere? Or, like most things, is it all just overwrought bullshit? Can it exist as nothing more than an object/idea that takes itself too seriously on one end, and tongue-in-cheek on the other, in a world that is simultaneously absurd and reasonable?"

By Joshua Krause

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Derek Weisberg

Untitled, part of "This Desert Used to be Sea" series
21" x 8" x 5"
Ceramic and found wood

"My most basic and simplest inspiration is life. I know, cliche, but actually important. But to be more specific, two main themes for inspiration are, first human emotions and conditions and the second is contemporary culture, primarily the hip hop culture. I choose human emotions based mostly on my personal experiences and feelings, so my work is really self portraiture, inspired by my life. However, I also try to reflect on emotions of our current world. I feel that emotions are the most powerful force in life. They control our actions and decisions daily. The viewer does not need to know my story or my personal experience, instead they can relate to their own experiences and hopefully have an impactful and deep connection with the piece. As far as being influenced by hip hop and youth culture, this is the culture I participate in. It represents the time and place that I am living, it is life again. It is important to make this distinction, I am not commenting on hip hop, rather I am using hip hop to help create content and comment on other issues.

Saying my inspiration is life, is actually very important and not corny because its influence plays a major part in my philosophy of how and why I make it. I don't what my work to be about some high concept or specific idea which only the elite or educated can understand and relate to. In fact I want my art to be and do just the opposite. I want it to be accessible, down to earth. I want any viewer to be able to relate no matter, the age, social class, race, etc. I don't want a specific viewing audience who has to be trained or educated in a certan manner to "get it" nor do I want them to have to read a paragraph on the wall next to the work to understand it. I believe in content over concept. Content deals with various issues, it is more general, it deals with life and in a sense is more real. Where as a concept is something a person has thought up, it is an idea, it is abstract, it deals with specifics, etc. In a way I want it to be very simple, and simple does not mean boring, or shallow, or meaningless.

I also think art history is very important, and many artists are inspirational to me as well. The list is very long and broad, just quickly and off the top of my head: Egyptian art, 15th century christian art, illuminated manuscripts, 14th century spanish sculpture, Sandro Boticelli, Hans Holbein, Monet, Rodin, Van gogh, early Picasson, Egon Scheile, Marisol, Peter Voulkos, Robert Arneson, Stephen Desteabler, Lucian Freud, Cy Twombly, Phil Frost, Barry Mcgee, Clayton Bros, Thomas Campbell, Andrew Schoultz, my good friend Mike Simpson!

Also really inspirational are groups or movements that have "made something out of nothing" or just done creative stuff that was innovative and fresh. I always wish I was smart enough or had the insight to be part of one of those groups. And music is very inspirational, I would rather listen to music than go see art any day.

Color plays a role in the work, although it is a minor role. I try to use it to increase and continue the emotion that I am portraying. Symbolism, I am kind of a hypocrit when it comes to symbolism. I like it because it can create an interesting narrative, mystery, added layers to the content, and just some cool looking elements. However it goes against what I want my art to be which is accessible. Sometimes, a lot of the time, when an artist uses symbolism it is like you need a dictionary or decoder to "understand" or relate to the work, and if you don't know the symbols or don't have the right dictionary you are alienated. A perfect recent example, Matthew Barney, if you missed the show, or don't know his work, it's Christian Art. If you're not Christian good luck "understanding" the story in the picture. However the interesting thing about symbols, and the part where I get really confused, is that some people can relate to symbols and can attach their own meaning to them. In this particular piece there are no symbols. Well I guess the shelf/pedestal is kind of a house like structure which can be viewed as a symbol, but I guess I will say it acts as an object which sets the figure in an environment.

This piece, since it is small, took me about 4 hours, to build sculpt, glaze a few times, and build the shelf."

By Derek Weisberg

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Casey Jex Smith

8" x 6" Paper
Ball Point Pen

"I have been an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons, LDS) my entire life and as such have attended Sunday service almost every week of my 29 years. During this time, I'm not sure if there was one Sunday that I did not draw something at church.

The sketchbook comes out for various reasons, but probably the most to keep me awake and attentive. Since I have a formal art practice now, I call this series "Church Drawings". They are all on 8" x 6" paper with ball point pen. This drawing, like most of them, has representational objects that I see at church; the fold-up metal chair, lillies from a Biblical narrative painting, John the Baptist's head, scribbles from a blind contour, and some decorative pattern that could have been on a tie or dress. They are built up together to make some visual sense or nonsense. Either one is okay with me. In the end, they are concerned with that environment and it's sights, sounds, and impressions."

By Casey Jex Smith

Monday, September 18, 2006

John Casey

"Beantown Boy"
9 inches tall
Polymer Clay

"As a general rule I think artists should be exempt from defining or explaining their work. The best art, in my opinion, generates an intriguing open-ended narrative where the viewer brings his or her perception to the art. A dialogue begins between the artist and viewer through the art. Many artists "speak" visually without the need of a literal interpretation. So when I am asked "What is it about?", as the artist, I can ask the viewer the same question.
Okay, all that blibitty-blab aside, I do occasionally make a piece that has some literal meaning to me. One such piece is the Beantown Boy. This little feller is a self portrait of my formative Boston years. A nice thing about relocating across country is that you have the opportunity to remake yourself and discard (or at least attempt to) some old bad habits. Check out his dim-witted expression, his lifeless, shark-like eyes, and his devil-may-care footwear. These features, combined with his arms replaced with decapitated heads (victims of his callous nature), represents a careless, selfish, damaged, oaf. The Claddagh marks him as a townie and provides him with at least the idea of having functioning hands and a faded heart of gold.
Now I know this character is an extreme personal stereotype, and I was never this guy in all his glory, but he is a sort of exorcism, a talisman formed by all of the things I never liked about myself. The demon I've tried to leave behind. It's certainly not meant to dis Boston or it's inhabitants. I actually miss that town and my friends living there. I have fond memories of the place (violins swell). As with many of my works, if I can distill a perceived state of being into a physical piece of art, I can take control of that perception and recognize it for it's absurdity.
I don't expect anyone to "get" this piece. My Boston friends recognize the Claddagh and bring their experience with that symbol to the work. Others are disturbed by the heads or the wet, drooling mouth. Most folks laugh, which is very good, because it is an absurd piece."

by John Casey

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Kelsey Brookes

"Snake Eyes"
Acrylic and India ink on canvas

"I like to use the internet and books for images of subjects that interest me… lots of other people I’m sure but for this painting there is a specific story. I was out with a few friends at a bar a few weeks ago. It was one of those sports bar type places with a million TV’s situated so you have full view of at least 10 no matter where you are sitting. On one of the TV’s I caught a glimpse of these 2 giant men wrestling in thongs on a little sand covered ring in front of thousands of very excite but reserved fans. I couldn’t stop watching it. Something about the very controlled chaos of what was happening reminded me of exactly what I want my art to feel like…..controlled chaos. So I thought it would be the perfecto subject for one of my paintings.

The painting has no direct or purposeful meaning. I am not trying to say anything or evoke any response except aesthetic pleasure and intrigue.

I had finished a painting just prior to this one using the same quilted background that I used here but the colors were very rustic country colors, closer to period quilt colors, and I wanted to see what the pattern would look like with an updated pallet. I like the way it turned out…..very light and easy to look at. I always know the colors are right if I have the urge to bite the painting. I haven’t quite figured out what this means or why this happens…..but it’s a very real desire I get when I see things I like….this paintings included.

The entire painting is full of symbols that don’t really mean anything. I know this sounds all arty and lame…..but it’s true. The quilt patterns have meaning as do the headdresses and jeweled accessories (historical meaning) but I don’t know the meaning. I just like the way they look. However the tattoo on the Sumo’s belly has both a subtle and very literal meaning. It reads “Pig Pen” and speaks to the corralled chaos and the very large size of the Sumo Wrestler. I would love to see one of these guys enter the Coney Island hot dog eating contest.

This piece took 3 days to make. I'm sad that I am done but excited to start another piece."

By Kelsey Brookes