Last Thursday, The Midway Gallery’s art director, Kelsey Marie Issel, participated in ArtSpan’s Pre-Auction Panel Discussion concerning San Francisco’s arts ecosystem.
During The Midway’s first intern-curated show last November guests were treated to Oakland-based artist, Jeffrey Yip’s multimedia installation, Shift.
Stepping into Robin Birdd’s studio reveals a collection of oddities ranging from the absurd to the unsettling. One corner houses a pile of breasts in a variety of sizes; from large sacks reminiscent of bean-bags to smaller, hand-sized pieces that tumble onto a nearby table. Birdd takes a seat at a desk, swiveling her chair to face me. Behind her a collection of milk crates store a variety of art supplies and notebooks, bowls containing paper cutouts rest on the tabletop beside a small sewing machine. Above the cluttered workstation are a number of shelves, which display drawings, masks, photographs and numerous vessels.
Mona Marcos’ makeshift studio is located on the ground level of her parent’s Daly City home, where one must journey through an overgrown garden filled with a variety of fruit trees and brush to reach the entryway. Holding aside a branch as she crouches beneath another, Marcos tells me her mother loves to let the garden grow wild because it reminds her of her home in the Philippines.
Q: What does the letterpress mean to you? How did you two meet?
A: What drew me towards letterpress was its history of democratizing art and the written word. Before letterpress, all books were hand lettered and were very expensive. With the advent of the technology, the common person could afford to have books in their home. Originally, it was the Bible, which led to the Reformation. Later, it was political manifestos. I wanted to be part of the continuous line of bringing these things to a wider audience. With the internet, knowledge and art can be spread faster and cheaper than ever before, so I’m more concerned with material, printed, limited edition Fine Art for the common person; to educate about what traditional printing is and why there is a value to it.
I found out about letterpress in college. We had an amazing little print shop and some dedicated people that loved the technique of letterpress. I was a Graphic Design major at the time, but after a summer apprenticeship at the historic letterpress poster shop Hatch Show Print, I switched majors and have been a pressman ever since.
Emerging artist, Jason Vo spends at least five hours a day in his cozy studio in outer Mission. Located at the end of a winding corridor within a larger complex, Vo’s space is equipped with the essentials: a computer for music and image references, painting tools, a window for fresh air, and a cooler of beers. In the hallway hang several “mess-ups.” The collection of rejects unintentionally provides a timeline charting Vo’s progression from geometric abstraction to realistic portraiture. Above the three steps leading away from his studio hangs an attempt at painting a seated woman, her face now crudely painted with a smiley face.