“Life’s beauty is magnificent as it hangs at the edge of death, insisting upon its relevance.” – Ran Ortner
The sea is not art. It is utilitarian and free. It exists with or without us. Although it can be (and is being) altered by human activity, it has no need for us to comprehend it. It will be here after we are gone in whatever manifestation it can muster.
A painting of the sea is different. It is a monument. It is representative. Like any painting, it holds its own meaning beyond the nature of its subject. There are reasons to view a painting of the sea besides just wanting to look at waves.
Open Water No. 24, a painting of the sea by Ran Ortner recently won the $250,000 grand prize at Art Prize, the world’s most lucrative competitive art show.
(To see more of Ran Ortner’s work, visit the Tikkun Daily Art Gallery.)
“I feel that it’s irresponsible to beat the drums of revolution if you’re only half-informed.” — Christopher Reiger
A small sample of the images of the natural world, or rather the destruction of the natural world, gracing the walls of art spaces today feel like warnings being shouted in hopes that disaster might yet be averted. But so many others appear to reflect cynicism and celebration of cruelty’s surprising beauty, merely revealing how aesthetically interesting it can be to explore the narrative of impending ecological destruction and the doomed existence of animal and plant life. It is a bother to me that I cannot usually decide which is which, or how to feel about either.
The recent work of Christopher Reiger is an exception. Reiger’s paintings feature imagery of beasts and flora intermixed with symbols of technology, science, industrialization, and human presence. Although emanating a potent awareness of the state of affairs of our embattled ecosystem, his work feels less like a condemnation than an invitation to a deeper understanding of humanity’s community with nature.
(“Without Maps Or Manifest,” 2009, watercolor, gouache, sumi ink and marker on arches paper)
Visit Tikkun Daily’s Art Gallery for more of Christopher Reiger’s work.
“To me, art is a commitment to asking questions and proposing alternatives to the status quo. Art should be integrated into life. It is empowering to work with your hands, to understand how elements of your surroundings fit together, and to try to use resources more wisely. That opportunity should be more public than elite.” — Alison Wilder
The immediate response I feel to Alison Wilder’s work is one of play. A warehouse full of massive, soft, bright, colorful objects made of reclaimed fabric, metal, and wood. Immense fabric balls large enough to crawl inside. Transmogrifying conflagrations of strangeness and delight hanging from the ceiling and climbing the walls.
(To see more of Alison’s work, visit the Tikkun Art Gallery.)
It seems intended to inspire happiness and experimentation.
“At a certain moment the canvas began to appear to one American painter after another as an arena in which to act. What was to go on the canvas was not a picture but an event.” — Harold Rosenberg, art critic, who coined the term “Action Painting” in 1952 (later called Abstract Expressionism).
Standing barefoot atop a long, white strip of paper laid out on the ground, the artist holds a mop-sized paintbrush dipped in black paint. She quiets her mind, remembering everything and then letting it go, her whole life, the entirety of existence. She surrenders to the moment. She lowers brush to paper and makes her mark, a single, swift, dynamic black stroke across the length of the massive page. Finally trading the black brush for red she lashes out again, a single shriek of red amidst the vivacious black, a splatter of blood upon the earth.
“With thoughtfulness. And, when relevant, with joy.” — Nancy Katz (on how she hopes viewers respond to her work)
Nancy Katz is a textile artist whose creations hang in museums in Israel, Oakland, and Berkeley. She is famous for her breathtaking chuppot, Ark curtains, and torah covers, and she is a world-renowned maker of tallitot. Visit Tikkun Daily’s art gallery to see some of these beautiful pieces of art.
Tallitot are prayer shawls, traditionally worn on the shoulders or over the head, adorned with 613 knots, a reminder of the 613 commandments making up the code of Jewish law.
“I am aware that several of my tallitot are worn by non-Jews who are drawn to them for reasons they are unable to articulate,” says Katz.”People wear tallitot in settings where nurturing a personal relationship with the Divine is the intention.”
“Answers are limiting.” — Lanell Dike
Years into a successful career as a fundraiser, Lanell Dike informed the people in her life that she was leaving her job to live on her savings and create art. Having no formal training as an artist, Lanell sought advice from experts on how to make a living in her new career.
“I was meeting with an art consultant, and I took a class about how to sell your art,” she says. “Neither of those experiences resonated with how I wanted to live my life.”
The art consultant advised Lanell to create limited editions of her work. Here’s how Lanell describes her reaction to his advice:
It’s hard for artists to make a living on art, so one of the ways artists have done that is to use limited editions. We are constantly placing limits on ourselves and on each other. We are so focused on scarcity as a reality more so than abundance.
When you look at money, it doesn’t really exist. It exists in our mind and as a concept, but when you look at this piece of paper, it only has value because you and I agree that it has meaning. I don’t want to create the illusion of limitation for something that is technically unlimited. We play so many psychological games on each other in the global marketplace just to make money. I’d rather not do that.
“How Do We Live in this World”, Lanell Dike
“I am not sure I would call my work revolutionary. I think I would call it transformational. I do believe that if openly perceived it can unlock new ways of seeing and being to the viewer.” — Helena Tiainen
In Finland, in the long winter months in the part of the country that lies above the Arctic Circle, the sun does not rise at all for weeks on end.
It is during this time of extreme darkness each November that Finland’s capital city of Helsinki is transformed by the festival of Valon Voimat, “Forces of Light.”
For more than a week artists converge on Helsinki, filling the city’s urban spaces with light-filled installations, glowing, mechanical sculptures, fire-ridden street performances and imaginative, luminous creations of all sorts, bringing the city temporarily aglow.
Valon Voimat challenges the Zen kōan that it is impossible to study the darkness by switching on a light.
Helsinki-born artist Helena Tiainen is no stranger to the contradictions raised each dark November by Valon Voimat.
Through the intuitive paintings and drawings she creates, Tiainen shines a light on the darkness of her viewers’ preconceptions by challenging them to “not take things for granted, to question perception and push the boundaries of what might be.”
“Freedom of Speech” by Helena Tiainen. To see more of Helena’s work, visit the Tikkun art gallery.
“We need some more visions about how in the light of impending disaster we can still strive for a better reality. I am neither a scientist nor an engineer. I am simply an artist. My job as a visionary is not only to focus on what is feasible today, but instead to imagine further, more ideal possibilities, and to inspire people to aim higher.” — Mona Caron
In 2006, the San Francisco Bay Guardian commissioned San Francisco muralist Mona Caron to illustrate the section headings of their annual “Best of the Bay” issue, where the editors ask readers to go online and vote for the best the city has to offer. Best Laundromat. Best karate school. Best art gallery. Best breakfast.
(To see the rest of Mona Caron’s Utopian San Francisco Series from The Bay Guardian’s Best of the Bay 2006, visit Tikkun Daily’s art gallery.)
Imagining the best that San Francisco could be was nothing new for Caron, who was already well known in the Bay Area for creating large-scale, utopian public paintings, often featuring optimistic imagery of the future of the city. For example, in Caron’s mural at the intersection of 15th and Church Street she portrays a historical timeline of the street beginning on one end with an image of the early days of San Francisco and ending with a glimmering, futuristic vision of what the street may someday become.
“Advertising can be seen as a trope. Its multiple metaphors can sell you ecstasy, joy, something else besides the actual product.” –Beverly Naidus
Click on the picture to explore Beverly Naidus' series "What Kinda Name Is That?"
The work of artist Beverly Naidus takes many forms. She is an accomplished site-specific installation artist and painter. But it is her work in a medium referred to as “culture-jamming” that has brought her to our attention at Tikkun. Editor’s Note: to see more of Naidus’ work, visit Tikkun Daily’s art gallery, which is currently featuring Naidus’ series “What Kinda Name Is That?”
In Naidus’ words, “Culture Jamming is an aesthetic which transforms an image from popular culture, in this case an advertisement, so that it breaks the trance of the image; acts as an antidote to that trope.”
A trope is something akin to a metaphor. In Naidus’ view that is advertising’s essential nature. An advertisement is a thing that means another thing.
In her series “What kind of name is that?” Naidus manipulates mid-20th Century advertising imagery by photo-altering the images then adding original text from a narrative she created from her own experience as the progeny of immigrants.
“One of the things that interested me in particular about the images in these advertisements was that they weren’t only about a particular product that a consumer might wish to purchase. They had to do with what being an American is.