Dream Architecture

This is my monthly art-related newsletter/blog. It tends to be about the new art I've made, news about exhibitions, and other art-related ideas I've been thinking about.

 

Art News

1. Biggest news of the year: my open studio weekend is THIS WEEKEND. If you'd like to see the artwork I've been doing for the last year in person, buy an original or a print, say hello, eat some homemade snacks, or pet some cute cats (I can't make any promises about the new kitten, who is a bit shy, but Buster is everybody's best friend), please stop by!

Please come to 110 Santa Clara Ave. in San Francisco (an easy walk from West Portal MUNI station, lots of street parking), on November 3rd and/or 4th, Saturday and Sunday. Stop by anytime between 11AM and 6PM on either day. San Francisco Open Studios is a public event, spanning five weekends, divided up by neighborhood. Some weekends are in very focused locations (Weekend Two was at Hunter's Point Shipyards, where I could just park and go wander through 40+ artist studios), and others are more spread out. My weekend—Weekend Four—is all over the place, from the Sunset to Fort Mason! To be honest, my studio isn't really close to any other studios, and I have no idea who (if anybody) will show up. Maybe some fancy gallerist will come by, maybe just my friends, maybe a whole bunch of strangers. Either way, it'll be good practice for presenting and talking about my art—a skill I will definitely need as I work towards a bigger online presence and/or gallery representation. So, come help me practice talking about my art! I promise to be entertainingly awkward.

 Moth X Iris X Columbine (top), Brimstone X Thistle (bottom), ink and watercolor on paper.

Moth X Iris X Columbine (top), Brimstone X Thistle (bottom), ink and watercolor on paper.

2. My favorite Insect/Flower painting, Cicada X Catalpa, is currently on display at SOMArts (934 Brannan St. in San Francisco) through November 11! The exhibition also includes hundreds of other gorgeous pieces by local artists participating in San Francisco Open Studios. Please stop by, and support your local artists (and catch some of them at Weekend 4 and Weekend 5)!

3. My tarot exhibition at Azari Vineyards is up! Azari is at 1399 Springhill Road, in Petaluma, and the estate, grounds, view, and wine is excellent. If you live in the area, they are definitely worth a visit, and fifteen of my favorite tarot paintings will be up through the end of the year.

 Azari Vineyards, Petaluma

Azari Vineyards, Petaluma


Anybody familiar with the kind of art I do knows that I make ample use of personal content—memories, fantasies, experiences, my favorite literature or music, and especially the bizarre ideas and images from my dreams. I’ve been sketching and thinking and preparing for my next art series about architecture and environmental planning. I am particularly interested in the philosophical and spiritual aspects of the built environment, and the ways in which they are designed to touch our collective desires for a better life.

The recurrent features in my dreams are almost exclusively architectural. Of the familiar places that pop up in my dreams, there are four buildings that appear with consistency. I am starting to use these buildings, which have come to have great and complex symbolic meaning for me, as a basis for designing other structures or architectural interventions. For instance, the “Bird Blind” below is a kind of analog to the Hostel. The “Sunken Ship” is my interpretation of the Outbuilding.

The prototypes:

1. The Bathhouse is a large white building, with neoclassical architecture and a grand staircase. Inside, there are many bathing rooms, often arranged in a "moat" with ferns and tropical plants hanging over the water while the bathers swim beneath them. The water is warm and steaming, and the baths are lit from within. There are two rooms on the lowest level with very deep baths called "cisterns", and which seem to be fifty feet deep or more. The deep water is never frightening; it is a gentle, intense blue, and there are weights available for free diving, which (in the dream) is meant to be therapeutic. I always see this building at night or in the very early dawn, when the sky is just barely light.

2. The Hostel is a large, barn-like building, set on a hill and illuminated by street lights. It is always late at night when I arrive, and I always arrive alone, as if for the first time. The Hostel generally holds a handful of transient strangers: artists, musicians, travelers, scholars, poets, and so forth. I never feel uneasy around these people, it's more like a feeling of comfortable isolation. There are sleeping rooms filled with cushions and blankets, rooms to store luggage and musical instruments, and large common rooms with kitchenettes and pianos and rough wooden desks and old paintings. I always feel a little lonely there, but I also feel a sense of complete belonging (a feeling I have never had in waking life).

 The Bird Blind, ink and graphite on paper.

The Bird Blind, ink and graphite on paper.

3. I always see the Outbuilding in daylight: the kind of lazy mid-afternoon sunlight, filled with buzzing insects, dandelion fluff, and swirls of dust motes. It is always located behind my childhood "home" (a house that never resembles the actual house I grew up in—moreover, we never had any kind of outbuilding). The Outbuilding is, without exception, a portent of something sinister. Sometimes I find myself inside it without knowing how I got there. I become aware that it has not been inhabited for many years, and this is followed by a feeling of terror and a need to leave (however, nothing ever happens to me there). However, if I see the Outbuilding from a window of my "house", I know that something very bad indeed is about to happen. The Outbuilding is a simple house-shaped structure, with grey shingles, few windows, and simple charcoal-painted wooden trim.

 The Sunken Ship, graphite on paper.

The Sunken Ship, graphite on paper.

4. The Temple on the Hill is an impossibly vast, palatial building, set on the tip of a very high hill overlooking a beautiful, green valley, which is sometimes partly filled with an inland sea. The climb up the hill is arduous, but shaded with trees and refreshed with cool wind from the valley. The Temple itself is a quiet, peaceful place, illuminated by many windows and skylights, and filled with objects of beauty and mysterious artifacts. I am generally there alone, or sometimes with someone I love. The dream generally ends while I am still in the Temple, standing before a certain large window that looks out over the valley. When I encounter this window, I know that I am about to wake up.

  

In the words of my artist's statement, the art I make is always about the miracle of shared private experiences. When I start constructing versions of the places I've only seen in dreams, and a total stranger looks at my art with a shock of recognition, it's like a broken circle completes itself. To me, that experience of familiarity and beauty, found buried within the howling wilderness of the world outside ourselves, is the best part of human experience.