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Artist Spotlight: Jamie Vasta

Posted by BG Staff // November 22nd, 2016

Intrigued by the singular use of an unusual medium, Bedford Gallery Curator Carrie Lederer visits with Blade Runner artist Jamie Vasta in her Oakland studio.

Jamie Vasta  

I arrived at Jamie’s Oakland studio on a sunny day with a bright blue sky overhead. Jamie came down to greet and let me in, and the very first thing I noticed was a glint of glitter in her hair, sparkling in the sunlight. It was going to be a shiny day!

As I entered the studio, there was more shimmering—on her many paintings, of course, but also the floor, the vacuum cleaner, work surfaces, and more.  I was immediately struck by the intense content in Jamie’s paintings and her uncanny juxtaposition of glitter as the medium. I am drawn to the way in which she uses glitter to accelerate and accentuate the dramatic narratives in the work.

 

CL: Talk about your background—how did art become the centerpiece of your life’s work? When did you know that you wanted to be an artist?

JV: I knew from a very young age that I was interested in art, but I grew up in a small town where there wasn’t an artist community, I didn’t know any artists, and I was advised by both my parents and teachers that while art is a fun thing to do, it wasn’t considered a real career.  It wasn’t until a high school teacher advised me to explore the idea of scientific illustration, where I could get a job illustrating text books. I had another teacher who taught me how to paint with oils during the lunch period—which I loved—so before I was even out of high school, I was sure I wanted to focus on art.  My parents and I differed on this idea, and my dad (who was an academic) was dragging me around to colleges early on. I visited the University of Virginia at age 9. We finally compromised on the School of Fine Arts in Boston, an affiliate of Tufts—where you could get a BFA as well as all the academics.

 

Jamie Vasta_glitters and swatches collage

CL: How did you discover glitter and why do you work with it exclusively?

JV: In college, I wanted to make art all the time, but was looking around for something to do in my dorm room that wasn’t toxic. I was already developing a chemical sensitivity to oil paints—which I can’t use at all anymore. A few years into school I began to experiment with different kinds of crafting supplies—from embroidery to large crocheted flower sculptures. I was wandering the basement isles of Pearl Paint, when I came across these giant gallon-sized jars of glitter, and my first thought was: why would anyone need that much glitter? But I bought a few jugs and began to cover things with glitter, roll things in glitter.

During my time at college I did an assistantship for an art history professor who was focused on cataloguing Haitian sequined voodoo flags, and that had some influence. And while home for a visit in Rochester, NY there was a group of Tibetan Monks doing these incredible sand paintings, which was also an inspiration.  Both of these experiences spurred on the start of a series of glitter portraits of my friends, using my chunky craft glitter. I found the glitter process very meditative, in comparison to the anxious tenor of oil painting. The glitter was initially something I did in my free time, and it did take me a while to find some professors who didn’t think I was completely wasting my time with a crafty activity.

Eventually I started working with this amazing Cuban artist Maria Magdalena Campos Pons who was one of my professors at the time, and she gave me valuable and much needed support of my work. Magdalena really “got” the work, understood the medium, and encouraged me to move forward. My challenge was to figure out how to make big dramatic paintings using a medium that seemed to resist that. During that period of time I was painting a lot of fires, forest fires—I think because finally the content and material were starting to mesh in a way that they hadn’t before. Following my undergraduate schooling, I found my way to the west coast for grad school at CCA where I could push the work even further.

 

Jamie Vasta_photoshoot

CL: Your current work is very figurative at this time.

JV: I seem to move back and forth between the figure and landscape. To create my imagery, I like working with actors, dancers, models—people that I can work collaboratively with as I shoot my photographic images. Most recently, I was out on Coney Island beach for a photoshoot—which is what you see on my walls now.

 

CL: Talk about this series of photos on your studio wall: Is it a dramatic story line, and are the models and dancers moving freeform or are you directing a specific narrative? 

JV: To some extent I’m directing the movement, but I also like to get input on the idea or emotion from the dancers and actors—so it’s a collaboration. In this series, I knew that I wanted to explore the ancient tragic Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice* and through it explore ideas of grief and loss….  I was trying to capture the over-arching ideas of the myth’s story, so the dancers would use movement and pose to loosely interpret the myth. We took a lot of photos to capture this dramatic narrative, and then once I have the photos back in the studio, I cut them up to create compositions that fit the storyline or concept I’m interested in portraying. After I have the photo collage created, I use an overhead projector to transfer the image onto a wood panel with pencil.

 

CL: What’s your process for laying down the glitter?

JV: When I’m painting with glitter, I don’t have the opportunity to make a lot of changes once the first layer of glitter is down—so I need to make sure that the base drawing is really solid, with delineation of shadows, textures—all of it. I can overpaint with glitter maybe 2-3 times, but it’s not like oils where you can apply layer after layer to render a shape or shadow. And to adhere the glitter, I’m using an archival bookbinders glue that is painted onto the wood panel with a brush.

 

CL: Let’s talk more shop: What kinds of glitter do you use and are there various grades to consider?

JV: I have a number of sources that unfortunately seem to come and go. For instance, I’m using a Martha Stewart glitter that I love, but it seems to be discontinued. With some colors I’m careful to test for light fastness—because many do fade. I like the glitter at Douglas & Sturgess in SF, and I used to get most of my glitter from Confetti.com but then they had a big factory fire so that source has dried up, at least for now.  I like Barbara Trombley’s Art Glitter, but it’s expensive, so I mix it up.

Jamie Vasta painting

Jamie Vasta, Tempest, 2016, glitter on panel, 60 x 48 inches.

CL: How many pieces are in this current series that you’re working on?

JV: At this point I’m about 10-12 pieces in, and still counting. I want to continue with this narrative until it’s run its course. I have so many rich images to work with—some are smaller, more intimate close-up portraits, while others include figurative, dramatic interactions with a landscape backdrop. We’ll see where it takes me!

You can view one of Jamie Vasta’s glitter paintings first hand in our current exhibition Blade Runner, closing November 27. Her work is represented by Spun Smoke Gallery in downtown Oakland.


 

Public Art Sneak Peek

Posted by BG Staff // November 18th, 2016

Exciting developments are popping up all around downtown Walnut Creek, including a fun new public artwork coming soon to Mt. Diablo Blvd: Bullman with Bulldog by Northern California artist Gerald Heffernon. At first glance, you might mistake this well-dressed figure for a ‘Creeker out for a stroll with his well-trained pup–until you realize that’s no ordinary man, but a human-bull hybrid cast in bronze. Evocative and humorous, the work references anthropomorphism in ancient art, Greek minotaurs, Egyptian mythology, and Picasso’s Cubist bullman drawings.

Generously donated to the city by local developer Brian Hirahara, this is one piece of public art sure to turn some heads (and fool a few four-legged friends)! Peek inside Gerald’s studio and process below to see the making of this sculpture.

Heffernon studio precast process 

Heffernon studio figures
Early stages using polyurethane foam, crude casting, and carving; last photo, right: nearly complete.

Heffernon studio Gerald with figure

Gerald in his studio (note the creatures hanging about).

Want more public art? Look for our Public Art information signs around town and check out the new mobile audio tour to learn more about the iconic artworks in the city’s downtown collection. Docent-led walking tours will be back April 2017.


 

Tools at Work

Posted by BG Staff // November 3rd, 2016

The artwork in our ReTooled and Blade Runner exhibitions showcase not only the beauty of tools, but their role in the artistic process itself. Bringing tools out of the workshop, the following artists turn to everyday hardware tools to craft their extraordinary masterpieces:

 

David Foster nail art collage_1  

David Foster

Instead of using ink for his stippling art (designs made up of tiny dots), this British artist uses nails. It can take Foster upwards of 100 hours to individually hammer the tens of thousands of steel nails in his portraits and realistic photo works.

David Foster nail art collage

Images: David Foster/Hot Spot Media

 

Franc Grom egg art

Franc Grom

Decorating eggs with beautiful, detailed designs is an Easter tradition in Slovenia, home of 72-year-old artist Fram Grom, but he was the first to carve the designs using a tiny drill. Typically, his eggs contain approximately 2,500 to 3,500 holes, though his personal best (a goose egg) has over 24,000.

Franc Grom egg art collage
Images: Franc Grom/Kate Afonina Gallery

 

Reed Bmore

Image: Ashley Cornell

Reed Bmore

Audiences often have to look skyward to find this Maryland street artist’s sculptures—his intricate wired works of art made with needle-nose pliers typically dangle from street lights and telephone poles.

Reed Bmore collage

Images: Reed Bmore

 

DettmerDemo008

Image: Brad Larrison

Brian Dettmer

New York-based artist Brian Dettmer carves into pages of books to create intricate, three-dimensional works of art. He first seals the outside of the book with varnish and then uses tools like tweezers, X-acto knives, and surgical tools to cut away at the still-loose pages inside.

Brian Dettmer book art collage

Images: Brian Dettmer

DON’T MISS! Brian will have a few works in our upcoming winter show Cut Up/Cut Out, opening December 18.


 

Catch DIY Fever at Bg Craft Fest 2016

Posted by BG Staff // October 20th, 2016

All the tool artwork in our current exhibition ReTooled has us in the DIY spirit as we gear up for our upcoming annual craft festival this November. Now in its 9th year, Bg Craft Fest is a two-day celebration of local handmade goods, a perfect one-stop shop for holiday gifts – and a whole month early, too!

 

Bg Craft Fest past events

Returning vendors to this year's event: Feed the Fish Co, Tula in Bloom

This year’s curated event features 28 vendors from the Bay Area producing everything from jewelry and home goods to soaps, ceramics, artisanal food, and more. Returning favorites include flavorful jams and jellies from Jake’s Castro Kitchen, elegant everyday jewelry for anyone on your list from Shimmer Jewels, and handcrafted seasonal soaps from Blue Nectar Soaps. Exciting new vendors include hand-dyed textiles by Modern Shibori, brooms worthy of display from Hannah Beatrice Quinn, and unique jewelry reflecting the natural world from Hart Variations. The level of craftsmanship and quality from our vendors this year is incredibly inspiring, and the smaller number of vendors ensures you can see it all without developing shopping fatigue.

 

Bg Craft Fest home goods

New vendors offering home goods: hand-dyed textiles from Modern Shibori, handwoven tea towels from Machine in Hand, and handcrafted brooms from Hannah Beatrice Quinn

Bg Craft Fest jewelry

New jewelry vendors S is for Sparkle, Creative Playware (you may remember these clever pieces from our LEGO show!), and Hart Variations

Along with shopping in the main gallery, we’re offering four hands-on, seasonal DIY workshops in our adjacent Learning Center. Each workshop is taught by a local maker with a passion for sharing their craft. Why not decorate your holiday home by making a felt garland with Erin Garcia of Feed the Fish Co or a verdant fall wreath with Lorena Diane of Home Sweet Flowers? Or for that extra special handmade gift, learn to block print with Danielle Broder of The Recoverie and create tea towels, scarves, or even hand printed gift wrap. Finally, make your holiday cards memorable with hand lettering skills in our class with Kim Roth of Bright Room Studio. At $80 or less (including all materials!), these workshops are a great gift themselves.

 

Bg Craft Fest workshops

Saturday:

10am–12pm: Festive Fall Garlands

1pm–4pm: Hand Lettering

Sunday:

10am–12pm: Seasonal Wreaths

1pm–4pm: Block Printing

 

Bg Craft Fest 

Bg Craft Fest 2016

WHEN: Saturday & Sunday, November 5 & 6, 2016, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

WHERE: Bedford Gallery, two blocks south of the Walnut Creek BART at 1601 Civic Dr, Walnut Creek, CA. Parking is easy and cheap right next door in the Lesher Center for the Arts garage.

Free admission to shop; Workshop tickets $45-$80 & RSVP required.  See our full list of vendors appearing at this year's event + sign up for the DIY workshops at bedfordgallery.org/craftfest 


 

Must-See Murals

Posted by BG Staff // October 6th, 2016

The artists in our Blade Runner exhibition don't just work with saws – besides being prolific artists in a variety of media, many of them have outdoor artworks as well. Below are some of their murals on display around the Bay:

Marcos LaFarga

This California native’s contemporary works blend together graphic design, typography, and photo realistic renderings.

LaFarga_Above-Beyond-WC

Above and Beyond

Walnut Creek Library

N. Broadway and Lincoln Avenue

Walnut Creek, CA

 

LaFarga_Refresh-Temescal-Brewing

Refresh

Temescal Brewing

4115 Telegraph Ave

Oakland, CA

 

LaFarga_Create-Telegraph-Oakland-Web 

Create

4228 Telegraph Ave

Oakland, CA

 

GATS

GATS is a graffiti legend (the Oakland-based artist’s name stands for “Graffiti Against the System”) with outdoor works done locally and abroad, including Palestine, Rome, and the Philippines.

GATS-Oaklandnew_crop

Corner of West Grand and Mandela

Oakland, CA

Image courtesy of Spoke Art

 

Kristin Farr

Kristin is a local artist who also works as an arts educator and journalist (she is the Deputy Editor of Juxtapoz Magazine). She's also the creator of the Emmy Award-winning video series, KQED Art School.

Farr_1016 Market St 

1016 Market Street

San Francisco, CA

 

Farr_Texas St

Texas and 20th Street

San Francisco, CA

 

Farr_Fell & Divis_SFMTA

Fell and Divisadero

San Francisco, CA

Image courtesy of SFMTA.

 

Farr_BAC

Berkeley Art Center

1275 Walnut Street

Berkeley, CA

 

Max Kauffman

Born in Chicago and now based out of Oakland, Max has shown his work in galleries across the U.S. as well as internationally. He studied both ceramics and anthropology at university, and his anthropological studies continue to inspire his work.

Kauffman triptych mural details 

Triptych for LeQuiVive Gallery’s project in Oakland, 2015 

Thomas Berkeley Way, between Telegraph and San Pablo

Oakland, CA

Images courtesy of the artist and Brock Brake.

 

Brett Flanigan

Brett is an Oakland-based artist with a background in science and math—and these themes often work their way into his paintings, photography, murals, and sculptures.

Brett Flanigan mural collage 

Webster Street at 21st Street

Oakland, CA

 

Randy Colosky

An Oakland-based artist with a BFA in ceramics, Randy's studio practice is material-driven. His 2-D and 3-D work has been show widely around the US and internationally, and he just finished an artist residency this year at Facebook in Menlo Park. 

Colosky_Ellipses in the key of blue

Ellipses in the Key of Blue

Folsom at 4th Street

San Francisco, CA

 

All images courtesy of the artist unless otherwise stated.


 

Art Collector: A Profile of John Hechinger

Posted by BG Staff // September 22nd, 2016

The artwork on view in ReTooled are select pieces from the Hechinger Collection, a private collection from hardware store magnate John Hechinger. Originally founded by his father in 1911, Hechinger Hardware grew under John’s leadership (with his brother-in-law Richard England) to a renowned chain with over 200 locations throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. A strong supporter of the “do-it-yourself” spirit, John helped to transform the neighborhood hardware store into a destination for home owners looking to improve and renovate.

 

Hechinger vintage collage

Left: Hechinger President John Hechinger with Chairman Richard England, photo credit Laura Levine/The Washington Post; Right: Hechinger store in Rockville, MD, photo courtesy of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C.

With the growth of the business came the need for new company headquarters in 1978 and an opportunity for John to showcase his love of art and craftsmanship. He began acquiring tool-inspired artwork, many of them quirky and reflecting John’s own sense of humor, to beautify the new building and inspire his employees. “(We) hoped that by surrounding employees with artistic expressions of the same objects they handled in the tens of thousands would bring a sense of dignity to their jobs,” he said. Not only a savvy businessman, he also had an eye for art and bought what he liked, so the collection reflects not only tools as art subject but his personal taste as well. The tools as subject in these pieces are easily recognizable domestic tools like hammers and wrenches, a nod to the common tools found in the Hechinger hardware stores.

 

ReTooled collage

Left: Walker Evans, Wrench, 1955, gelatin silver print. Right: Hans Godo Frabel, Hammers and Nails, 1980, glass.  Photos courtesy of Edward Owens. 

There are more than 350 pieces in the Hechinger Collection, representing a diverse range of primarily post-WWII modern art including painting, drawings, photographs, and small and large-scale sculptures. After John’s passing in 2004 (on his 84th birthday), the collection stopped growing and became a kind of art “time capsule,” says collection curator Sarah Tanguy, as it’s comprised of more traditional media like works on paper and sculpture rather than digital or new media. The works in the Hechinger Collection highlight the ubiquity and beauty of tools as objects of beauty, magic, satire, and extensions of self.

 

Jim Dine Tool Box collage 

First piece in the collection: Jim Dine’s Tool Box, a set of silkscreen prints.

A fourth generation Washingtonian, community patron and activist, John Hechinger was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson to be the first chairman of the D.C. City Council. He used his position to advocate for civil rights and diverse neighborhoods. In seeking a posthumous home for his beloved collection, he chose International Arts & Artists (IA&A) because of its commitment to preserving the integrity and public access of the collection. John Hechinger and his wife June Ross Hechinger gave their collection to IA&A in 2003. 

 

Parts of this post have been excerpted and condensed from an educational resource packet from IA&A and can be found in our exhibition guide in the gallery.


 

Art Matters: Become a Member at the Bedford!

Posted by BG Staff // September 8th, 2016

Bg member 

Be part of something special.

The Bedford Gallery at the Lesher Center for the Arts has evolved over the last 40 years to become a premier art venue exhibiting local, national, and international artists with the support of people who value the presence of art in our community. We connect over 30,000 visitors a year across the greater Contra Costa County region with the world of contemporary art through our exhibitions and public programs.

By becoming a member, you help us to produce exhibitions that are inspiring, engaging, and educational. Thousands of children discover art – many for the first time – at the Bedford through our dynamic tour program. Your support ensures that visual arts always have a home in Walnut Creek.

Visit the Bedford and find out why art matters!

 

Annual Membership Levels

individual member collage 

Individual: $50

Enjoy free gallery admission for you and a guest to all our exhibitions for a year, get invited to member-only events, and receive discounts on shop merchandise and artist workshops.

  • Free unlimited gallery admission for you + 1 guest for an entire year
  • VIP passes to exhibition openings and special events
  • Invitations to member-only events
  • Discounts on select merchandise and workshops
  • Waived entry fee for one juried show per year ($40 value! See our current Call for Entries.)    

 

donor membership

Donor: $100

Support art education and enjoy all the individual membership benefits along with recognition on our donor screen + free gift!

  • Free unlimited gallery admission for you + 1 guest for an entire year
  • VIP passes to exhibition openings and special events
  • Invitations to member-only events
  • Discounts on select merchandise and workshops
  • Waived entry fee for one juried show per year ($40 value! See our current Call for Entries.)    
  • Recognition of your support on our digital donor board
  • Bedford Gallery tote bag designed by local artist Marcos LaFarga

 

inner circle membership

Inner Circle: $500

Be an active part of your local arts community and enjoy all donor membership benefits + free gifts!

  • Free unlimited gallery admission for you + 1 guest for an entire year
  • VIP passes to exhibition opening receptions and special events
  • Invitations to member-only events
  • Discounts on select merchandise and workshops
  • Waived entry fee for one juried show per year ($40 value! See our current Call for Entries.)    
  • Recognition on our digital donor board
  • Bedford Gallery tote bag designed by local artist Marcos LaFarga
  • Limited edition signed artwork print featured in the past Bedford Gallery exhibition season

2015 member gifts

join now button

 

Diablo Regional Arts Association (DRAA) is our non-profit fiscal sponsor. Through this partnership, your membership is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. DRAA’s 501(c)(3) ID number is 23-7043920.

 

 


 

Get Schooled

Posted by BG Staff // August 25th, 2016

Back-to-school season brings with it a hope of growth and learning something new—but it’s not just for kids. The Bay Area boasts an incredible number of maker spaces designed to meet up, create, and get inspired, with offerings for kids, adults, teens, and everyone in between. Held at libraries, galleries, rec centers, and crafter spaces, here’s a roundup of great East Bay places to pick up some new skills this fall:

DIY Walnut Creek 

DIY Walnut Creek (Downtown Walnut Creek)

Organized by Walnut Creek Recreation, this curated DIY maker series at Civic Park Community Center offers a great mix of hands-on workshops for the foodie (canning, cheesemaking, beer brewing), crafter (indigo dyeing, spoon carving, floral design), and urban farmer (backyard chickens, beekeeping). Workshops will run most Saturdays, September through early November, but check the full schedule and registration details on page 90 of the fall Arts + Rec guide.

 

make and mingle 

Make and Mingle Open Studio (Walnut Creek)

Along with their extensive selection of art classes, the city’s Center for Community Arts organizes a fun monthly meet up for hands-on making at the downtown Walnut Creek library. Projects are varied and led by a teaching artist, suitable for beginners and crafters of all experience levels, and last only 90 minutes. Drop in or pre-register—next meet up dates are Sep 28, Oct 12, and Nov 16.

 

handcraft-studio-spotted sf leslie 

Photo by Spotted SF

Handcraft Studio School (Emeryville)

Founder Marie Muscardini is all about sharing knowledge and building community by uniting artists and craftspeople with students eager to learn from their experience and expertise. There are regular offerings in traditional handcrafts like fiber arts, ceramics, and printmaking, as well as inventive and unusual workshops like kitchen medicine, stop motion filmmaking, and natural perfumes. Be sure to subscribe to their newsletter to hear about new workshops as they’re listed—many sell out within days!

 

rock paper scissors

Photo via Oakland North

Rock Paper Scissors (Oakland)

In the true spirit of DIY, this collective is volunteer-run and dedicated to serving a diverse community with a love of skill sharing. Their class offerings are accessible and inexpensive, ranging from crafts like sewing and silkscreening, to writing, programming, bike repair, and American sign language (and more!). Be sure to check out the art on view in their gallery and pick up a zine in their shop.

 

sticky art lab

Photo via Sticky Art Lab

Sticky Art Lab (Berkeley)

With open labs, craft and movie nights, after-school time for kids, even clay classes, this family-friendly art space is all about exploration. They’ve got a treasure trove of diverse materials and tools to share for a variety of projects, and most of the classes are facilitated by the avid crafters and makers known as the Sticky Crew (above).

 

craft makers studio

Photo via @craftmakersstudio on Instagram

Craft Makers Studio (Pleasanton)

Looking to throw your own craft party? This cute crafters haven is run by designer Rocio Sofia Ordonez and is a welcoming option for makers down south. Workshop offerings include Dia de los Muertos-inspired crafts like hand embroidered Frida dolls, paper flowers, and decoupage skulls.

Stay tuned for details on our own workshop series at this year’s Bg Craft Fest, our annual festival of local handmade goods and artisanal foods November 5 + 6. We’re still accepting vendor applications to participate in this two-day event through August 31.

For early updates on classes, exhibitions, free events, and juried shows, sign up for our monthly newsletter


 

Go for the Gold: Art in the Olympics

Posted by BG Staff // August 18th, 2016

LeRoy Neiman Opening Ceremonies 

LeRoy Neiman was the official artist at five Olympic Games, doing live sketches for tv. Had the Olympic art competitions continued, he might have become “the Michael Phelps of oils.” Above: LeRoy Neiman, Opening Ceremonies-XXIII Olympiad 1984, serigraph.

As the Olympic Games in Rio come to a close this weekend, we’re reflecting on another era in the games: when the Olympics awarded medals for art. The modern revival of the games in 1896 brought with it a vision of competitions that celebrated both body and mind, combining athleticism and aesthetics as the ancient games did, led by the founder of the IOC and father to the modern games, French aristocrat Baron Pierre de Coubertin. From 1912 to 1948, medals were awarded to artists in five categories: painting, sculpture, architecture, literature, and music, with the requirement that all art be original works inspired by sports. Perhaps unsurprisingly for the times, the top countries earning medals were Germany (though the controversial 1936 Berlin games certainly added to their medal count), Italy, and France.

Following the suspension of games during WWII and the appointment of a new IOC president Avery Brundage, there was much debate about professionals in the games; Brundage was an advocate for strict amateurism, and the “no professionals” limitation placed on the art competitions made it difficult for artists who needed to sell their work to survive, resulting in few submissions and an erratic quality of work—in fact, some years saw no medals awarded at all in a few categories. Without a clear resolution to the professionalism debate and little support from art-world insiders, the competitions were discontinued after 1948. The 151 medals already awarded to artists were also removed from their country’s medal counts. Stricken from official record, it’s no wonder little is known about the art competitions today and even less about the artists themselves.

 

Pierre de Coubertin sketch

An early hand-colored sketch of the Olympic rings on a letter from Pierre de Coubertin to a colleague.

Art never left the games, however, persisting in costumes and uniforms worn by athletes and medal designs. The Olympic rings have remained the most recognizable symbol of the games, also designed by art champion Pierre de Coubertin. The five rings represent the five inhabited continents (combining the Americas) and their colors—plus the white of their background—can be found in every national flag design. They’re also often a key feature in the official posters selected by the Organizing Committee of the host city. The first official poster contest took place prior to the 1912 summer games in Stockholm, and the winning designs are chosen for a cohesive “look and feel” to symbolize that year’s games.

Olympic poster collage old-new 

Left: First Olympic poster design from the 1912 games in Stockholm; Right: winning poster design by Beatriz Milhazes for the 2016 Rio games, Rosa de Ouro.

This year brings an artist-in-residence program to “further strengthen the blending of sport and culture at the Olympic Games and in between” as part of the Olympic Agenda 2020, outlining the future of the games, including more emphasis on sustainability and gender equality.  The 2016 residency program featured French artist JR, German graphic novelist Tilman Spengler, and American viner (yes, that Vine) Gerald Andal:

 

 

What can we look forward to in the next Olympics? Baseball, skateboarding, and surfing will all be new additions to the 2020 Tokyo games, bringing with them long-standing art traditions of celebrating the body. Since most of these new sports take place in urban environments, we may see a shift from the natural forms of bygone eras in favor of street and digital art with a vivid, youthful edge.

Olympic new sports 2020 collage

Artists in past BG exhibitions, from left to right: Jennifer Ettinger, Ted Williams, Color Field, 2007, acrylic on canvas, 18 x 14 inches; Winston Tseng, International Superheroes, 2009, silkscreened wood skateboard decks, 31.25 x 7.75 x 2 inches each; Book cover for Raymond Pettibon’s collection of surf artwork Surfers 1985-2015, published by Venus Over Manhattan/David Zwirner Books 

 

DIY Walnut Creek: Monaluna Organic Fabric

Posted by BG Staff // August 12th, 2016

Monaluna-10 

A DIY spirit is in the air as we gear up for Bg Craft Fest 2016 this November, our annual festival of local, handmade goods and artisanal foods. The Bay Area is a hub for crafters and makers of all kinds, well sustained by art supply stores and creative maker-run shops. We were delighted when the new fabric shop Monaluna opened in downtown Walnut Creek last fall, a welcome boon for sewers and crafters this side of the tunnel. Monaluna’s outgoing founder and owner Jennifer Moore began designing for textiles at home but quickly outgrew her online shop as her wholesale business expanded. With its blend of Jennifer’s own colorful fabric collections and a thoughtfully curated selection of home goods, jewelry, and bath and body products from other small makers and designers, it’s no wonder Monaluna won Best of the East Bay Shops by Diablo Magazine this year. We caught up with Jennifer to talk about opening the studio-shop, finding creative balance, and the future of sustainable fabric.

 

Monaluna-1

Tell us a little about yourself – how did you first get started working in textile design, and what led you to start Monaluna and eventually open a shop in Walnut Creek?

I’ve worked in various aspects of design for a long time, and many of my jobs dealt with textiles in some way. My first design job was designing soft toys for a company in Minneapolis called Manhattan Toy, and I learned a bit about textile production there. Then I did artwork for children’s clothing for Target, and finally moved back to the Bay Area to design decorative accessories for Pottery Barn Kids.

Finally, in 2007 I was working as a freelance designer, and spending a lot more time sewing, and I started to think about applying my artwork to fabric for “home sewing,” which was a whole new world for me. I started out by licensing my artwork to a large fabric company, but as I became more committed to the idea of producing organic fabric, I realized it was something I needed to produce on my own. When I designed the first collection, I was really thinking of it more as a little side project rather than a new business. When the first shipment finally arrived at our Walnut Creek home 15 months later in 2010, I had a 3-week-old daughter, and a clear realization that selling all that fabric was going to be more than a “side project.”

Over the next five years, I went from selling one collection a year to three, and then six. At first, all of the fabric was delivered to our home, and my husband Dave and I would lug it up the ladder to our attic. Finally, after one collection of 18,000 yards of fabric was delivered on a rainy November day when the whole family had the flu, we realized we needed a warehouse. Two years later, we realized we really needed an office outside the home, and my search for a studio was on. When I found the spot on Mt. Diablo Blvd., I was immediately drawn to it, but found that it was zoned for retail and not office space. That gave me the push I needed to open up the retail shop, and now we have the shop in the front of the space, and our studio and office in the back.

 

What about the city appealed to you and your business?

I live in Walnut Creek, just about five minutes from the shop, so the convenience is nice, but I can’t think of a better spot to have a store. I love the community, and the downtown area is bustling, but still has a small-town feel.  Plus, although there’s a ton of shopping, there are relatively few independent boutiques, and no fabric stores (gasp!), so we can offer something unique to the area.

 

Monaluna-3

Jennifer designs fabrics suitable for both quilting and garments.

 

Eco-friendly and sustainable fabric is a big part of your business; can you tell us about your decision to use organic cotton? What are the challenges of working with and designing for sustainable materials?

I first started thinking about organic cotton after hearing a radio program on NPR about the health effects of cotton production on farming communities in India. I was listening to the radio while painting the designs that would become my first fabric collection, and the connection really made an impression on me. As I learned more about the environmental and social impacts of fabric production, I decided that if I were going to be contributing to the industry, I wanted to be able to offer more environmentally and socially responsible options. It turned out to be trickier than I expected! The first company that I worked with already had an organic line, which was one of the reasons I chose to work with them, but they were selective about what designs they chose for their organic options. They ended up running mine on conventional cotton, and after several collections, I realized that if I wanted to have my artwork printed on organic cotton, I needed to do it myself.

For a very small business, as mine was when I started, going organic presented some challenges, but also some opportunities. The fabric is more expensive to produce, and the minimum order quantity is higher. Also, all of our fabric is GOTS-certified, which ensures that the production meets very strict environmental and social standards throughout the production process, and that adds an additional cost. However, it also gave me a strong niche market with enthusiastic and committed customers. 

 

studio collage

Half of the shop is Jennifer's design studio and office for running the wholesale side of her business.

 

Now that you’re a brick-and-mortar business owner, how do you balance your creative work with the day-to-day operations? How often are you designing vs running the shop?

Good question! I’m still figuring that out as I go. I have three wonderful co-workers at the shop – Mindy, Janet and Anita – and they help me keep everything running while I work on the design and the wholesale part of the business. I absolutely love working in the shop and meeting our customers, and I often wish I could just do that, but I love the design work as well.

 

You release a 4-6 design collections a year – what are some key or unusual sources of inspiration for you?

Many of our collections have a Scandinavian feel, and I’ve been very influenced by mid-century design, traveling, and a year living in Denmark. I also do a lot of my brainstorming while walking and hiking around Walnut Creek, and I draw a lot of inspiration from our natural environment. 

 

shop collage

The shop has lots of ready-to-wear items for kids and sewn samples.

 

What’s next for you and Monaluna?

When I first opened the shop, I knew we would be selling our fabric, but I was also interested in offering other eco-friendly and sustainable products and gifts. I found some great jewelry designers, and added in housewares and bath products, as well as products made by our wholesale customers – small manufacturers and designers who use our fabrics to produce their designs. Now that the shop is up and running, I’m planning to add those items to our website and expand our offerings there. I’m also planning to expand the shop offerings to include more sewing and craft notions, and more gift items as well.

 

Local Tip: What’s your favorite lunch or coffee spot in town? Any other local gems (or hiking recommendations!) we should check out?

Ah, there are so many! One of the things I love about Walnut Creek is its many great restaurants. My go-to lunch spots are Tender Greens and Lettuce, but my daughter and I had a great lunch at Babalou’s yesterday, and I think that’s going to be a regular spot. Kanishka’s is another favorite.

For hiking, we recently started going to Briones, but there’s a perfect (6-year-old friendly) hike at Shell Ridge, and my daily walk is the trail that passes through Larkey Park and up to the open space ridge.  I love it that we have so much great outdoor space and a bustling downtown in the same city.

 

monaluna collage

Many thanks to Jennifer for the interview! Her latest fabric collection ‘Wanderlust’ is now available in the shop, inspired by a fated trip to the American Southwest. Visit Monaluna at 2061 Mt Diablo Blvd in downtown Walnut Creek – happy crafting!

www.monaluna.com


 

Attention, Art Lovers: New Season Preview

Posted by BG Staff // August 4th, 2016

Our upcoming 2016-2017 exhibition season will bring you sensory surprises and the unexpected, from celebrating the beauty of tools and paper to exploring what defines “cute.” “We’ll trace the edges and fringes of art,” says Bedford curator Carrie Lederer. Mark your calendars!

Up Next

ReTooled collage 

Images: Claes Oldenburg, Jacob Lawrence, Stephen Hansen, Arman

ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection

Sept 18 - Nov 27, 2016

Tools are often seen as utilitarian objects – but can they also be beautiful, funny, and symbolic? John Hechinger certainly thought so, and as his chain of hardware stores grew ever more successful in the 1980s, he set about acquiring tool-inspired, imaginative artworks in a diverse range of materials to beautify new company headquarters. He was also an arts advocate active in his community, so he collected works that would be accessible and engaging for the uninitiated in modern art. The 28 visionary artists in the Hechinger Collection deliver plenty of surprises and spark new dialogue in our digitally-dominated age.

 

Blade Runner collage

Images: Max Kauffman, Jamie Vasta

Wait, there’s more!

For a local take on tools as art, we're showcasing 20 artists from the Greater Bay Area who use saw blades as their canvas, with several making new work for this ancillary invitational in our Alcove Gallery. Blade Runner: ReTooling the Saw as Art will exhibit in conjunction with ReTooled – definitely a must-see display of local creativity!

 

Winter Break

Cut Up Cut Out collage 

Images: Jen Stark, Tord Boontje, Justine Khamara, Wim Delvoye

Cut Up / Cut Out

Dec 18 – Mar 5, 2017

Papercutting has a long, global history, dating all the way back to 6th century China. Often intricate and highly detailed, this art form has expanded to just about every conceivable medium, including wood, cloth, rubber, and metal. Cut Up / Cut Out promises to be a massive show of astonishing artworks with mega WOW-factor.

 

Next Spring

Material Girls collage

Images: Lynn Aldrich, Sabina Ott

Material Girls: Lynn Aldrich & Sabina Ott

Mar 23 – Jun 4, 2017

Lynn Aldrich (Los Angeles) and Sabina Ott (Chicago) are two nationally known artists who transform ubiquitous materials found at hardware and office supply stores, Styrofoam, mirrors, and more into wildly creative and astounding artworks, often large-scale and sculptural. Material Girls will focus on their process and broad range, giving Bay Area art lovers a rare chance to see their work locally. 

 

Summer Fun

sweet n low 

Sweet n Low: An International Juried Show of Cute

Jun 25 – Sept 3, 2017

“Cute” can take many forms, from sweet and cuddly, to creepy and funny. One thing’s for sure - this group show will definitely be a colorful art extravaganza to make you say “awwww.”

 

Interested in a tour? We offer FREE gallery tours for all schools in Contra Costa County, and adult group tours are as low as $45. Perfect for teachers & field trips, or a welcome break from the office to get you out & inspired! Click here for more info.

 

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