Location: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Front Door Gallery
As a culmination of the public programming associated with the current Room for Big Ideas project, Conceiving Place, Bay Area-based writer Dorothy Santos will be in conversation with Mabel Negrete on her work and ask questions that focus on social practice, defining place, current social and political climates, as well as how the project has evolved since its inception. The conversation will be for one hour between artist and writer and 15–30 minutes of facilitated Q&A.The evening’s program will open with a ceremonial workshop led by Khalil Anthony: SONGS FROM PLANET ZERO
Join artist Khalil Anthony on a voyage in creation and song creation. Through this interactive workshop, participants will breathe together, and create music with only their bodies and voices as instruments. Learn to use your inherent rhythm and beat making ability to conjure songs as a group and by yourself, in this improvisational based workshop that pull songs from Planet Zero; a mythical place where all things are possible, as long as imagination and vulnerability meet.From writer Dorothy Santos – “We all carry the burden of punishment in our everyday lives. But at the economic, social, and cultural level, these burdens remain invisible. Whether they are through the taxes we pay perpetuating the prison industrial complex to surveillance technologies, we live in a world where we are unable to truly navigate away from digital and physical landscapes withoutconsequence. MabelNegrete coined the term ‘invisible punishing machines’ as a response to narratives around imprisonment, political oppression, and systems of government. Her work relies on vulnerability, storytelling, and experiential practices that have resulted in works such as The Weight I Carry with Me (2010 – Ongoing) to her founding the research initiative Counter Narrative Society (CNS). The breadth of her work has served as an impactful project that aims to reverse dominant narratives that diminish the untold and often obscured stories of underrepresented and vulnerable populations.”See the entire August 2015 workshop schedule at http://thinkeringschool.sparkmakers.org/july-aug-2015-thinkering-activities/Part of the exhibition, Conceiving Place:
Through a series of public workshops, Conceiving Place will engage the Bay Area community in a conversation about our personal and societal narratives; ultimately turning the weight we individually carry into a communal work. This ever-evolving installation will also frequently include “hands on, minds on” experiences. See more at http://ybca.org/conceiving-place
Artist Mabel Negrete, the founder of Counter Narrative Society (CNS), is a multi-disciplinary artist exploring counter narratives about bio-power, urbanism, culture, and technology. Her project The Weight I Carry with Me is a reaction to the invisible punishing machine, an idiomatic, science fiction-esque research concentration she designed to examine the spatial and technological causes that produce inequality and invisible punishment — a consequence of mass imprisonment, political persecution of individuals, the prison-welfare system, urbanization, neoliberal policies, and social-urban control in the USA. She is a recipient of several recognitions including MIT Presidential Award 2009-2010 and MIT Architecture Department Fellowship 2009-2011, Zellerbach Family Foundation & W.A. Gerbode Foundation 2006, and Osher Memorial Merit Scholarship – San Francisco Art Institute 2003-2006. Her work has been presented in a variety of public spaces and cultural institutions: Boston City Hall, MA; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MA; Art of this Gallery, MI; De Young Museum, CA, The Intersection for the Arts, CA; Galleria de la Raza, CA; Primo Piano Living Gallery, Lecce Italy; New College of California, CA; San Francisco World Affairs Counsel, SF; and University of San Francisco, CA.
On a clear, breezy evening on any given opening exhibition night, glowing lights emanate into the street from Meridian Gallery, revealing an exquisite exterior as well as an equally timeless and beautiful interior on the 500 block of Powell Street. The 100-year-old Victorian building certainly perseveres through the city’s constant evolution. Architect C.A. Meussdorffer designed the structure in 1911, and it remains the only single-family home left in such a bustling and highly trafficked area of San Francisco.
Even though the original design and construction was not of a gallery, the space is not too dissimilar to a home. Although, in a different context, Meridian is a home—to artists, educators, writers and young, budding art professionals, as a place to nurture existing skills and learn new ones. Based on the function and architecture, it’s probable that Meussdorffer didn’t intend for the space to become one of San Francisco’s beacons for art and cultural awareness. Yet the staff of Meridian Gallery makes it a home for the San Francisco arts community. The gallery is an exemplary reflection of the city’s diversity and rich, growing culture. As Imin Yeh, assistant director, states, “The space becomes this beautiful analogy for the architectural, political and critical history of San Francisco, and the home is a container for Meridian Center for the Arts’ numerous contributions and relationship to San Francisco’s Past and Future.” But the Financial District is not necessarily known for its alternative art spaces. With its beautiful hardwood floors and three levels of visual arts, Meridian remains one the most unique art spaces in the city. From its location to its architecture, it proves itself as a perfect place for cultivating ideas and serves as fertile ground for artists.
Meridian is widely known for helping break down racial and cultural barriers by showcasing artists with the same goal, in both their works and their art practices. From poetry readings to performing arts, many of the artists work with San Francisco youth to help bridge gaps and bring awareness through the arts. The Meridian Interns Program (MIP) assists high school students in learning more about the business of art, the community and art’s relationship to culture. Yeh reflects on the program’s objective: “It provides San Francisco low-income teens a safe space to work after school that combines real-world arts and administrative job skills with studio practice led by amazing teachers who are also working artists. Participating youths are often faced with complex challenges, including the need to provide financial support for their families. With MIP, they are not only getting the space to engage in artistic projects and job skills, but getting paid wages for their participation.” The program facilitates disciplined practice for students interested in pursuing a career in the arts as well as practical skills for those wanting to learn more about the administrative and curatorial side of running a gallery. MIP enables students to foster a sense of responsibility and to learn valuable business skills.
Although Meridian Gallery was established in the 1980s, the physical space seems to have been made especially for this gallery and community. In looking back, it’s also important to ponder the future, and between the wide array of diverse artists, scholars, curators, volunteers and students, Meridian will certainly see another 100 years in San Francisco.
Upcoming exhibitions include The Painted Word: Paintings, Drawings and Collages by Poets From the Beat Generation Era. To learn more about this exhibition, please visit meridiangallery.org.
On June 16, Zina Al-Shukri and Maja Ruznic will be on exhibition in To Draw, to Transpose.
Originally posted to Asterisk SF Magazine. Please view here.
I went to the Night Light: Multi-Media Garden Party at the SOMArts Cultural Center. It was great seeing friends and meeting some wonderful artists. Below, you’ll find some footage I shot of Radka Pulliam‘s piece, Up and Down the Street. It’s quite clever in that the viewer must “look in” the building to “look out” at the street view. The placement was spot on since it was in a relatively inconspicuous place towards the front of the entrance. I noticed people stopped when they noticed someone looking down and ponder the location of the projection.
One of the memorable performances of the evening was the Spanish Contemporary dance routine of Elias Aguirre and Alvaro Esteban. They are amazing. The isolations and articulation of their bodies is best seen in person. If you were at Night Light, you would know exactly what I’m talking about. Fortunately, there is a video of this phenomenal Spanish Contemporary Dance duo.