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Phillip Barcio
Phillip Barcio is a writer living in San Francisco's Mission District.

Color Theory: The Most High Art of Peter Lewis


by: on February 17th, 2010 | 1 Comment »

During a recent inventory count in the bar where I work, I was surprised to see my boss taking sips from various juice bottles in order to determine their contents. He later revealed to me that he is colorblind.

This revelation that someone I interact closely with every day literally does not see the world the same way I do made me question some things, the least of which concerned who should count bar juices from now on. I realized that in my role as someone who writes about art I have taken for granted that my experience of color is the same, or nearly the same as everyone else’s. I wonder now in what other ways people experience art differently than I do. Do we all see shading the same way? Do we see shapes the same? Are some of us blind to levels of meaning the way my boss cannot see levels of color?

Consider the inspired work of Peter Lewis. The color palette conjures a mixture of psychedelia and the colors of the flags of Africa, evoking in me feelings of mind-expansion, rebellion, and human interconnectedness.head_creator

(Head Creator, oil on canvas. To see more of Peter lewis’ work, visit the Tikkun Art Gallery.)


The Art and Activism of David Bygott


by: on February 3rd, 2010 | 2 Comments »

Ultimately I would love to be able to produce art which helps people respect and connect with the natural world in a more realistic way. To make them aware of their dependence on it and the way their choices and actions affect it. It’s not something to fear, or to control, or to endure while we wait for some Great Hereafter – it’s the only home we’ll ever know, and we’re doing our best to wreck it for our kids.–David Bygott

Did you realize the giraffe antelope has the ability to stand upright on its hind legs?

Did you know there was any such thing as a giraffe antelope?

Chances are you didn’t. And chances are there won’t be much longer. The giraffe antelope is one of thousands of species that have existed for millennia on the African continent that are being threatened by human folly.

Thankfully, for we billions who have not yet had the chance to contemplate their beauty or their importance, Artist/Zoologist David Bygott has been working diligently for more than three decades photographing and sketching the giraffe antelope and the rest of Africa’s disappearing animal companions.

Recently in an effort to expand further his means of self-expression, Bygott began participating in digital photography manipulation contests on a website called Freaking News in which artists compete to create doctored images relating to current events.

A frequent winner, Bygott uses the Freaking News forum to express his sensitivities toward consumerism, vanity and the other unsustainable human values which threaten the animal diaspora.


Breaking Out of the Box with Beverly Naidus


by: on January 27th, 2010 | 3 Comments »

“I wanted to speak to the lie that we can all wear the right thing or buy the right thing and then we can be American. They said, ‘This is what an American eats and this is what an American looks like.’ I wanted to insert stories about people who don’t fit in or can’t fit in.” – Beverly Naidus to Tikkun Daily, September 2009

Today, on the heels of the Supreme Court’s decision to end limits on corporate campaign spending, we check back in with Beverly Naidus, a culture-jamming artist we profiled in September 2009.

Beverly’s work commandeers the imagery of corporate marketing campaigns, adding provocative text and altering the imagery in an effort to compel viewers to address the ways they are manipulated by advertising.


(To view more of Beverly Naidus’s new work, visit the Tikkun Art Gallery.)


One City’s Trash: Artists in Residency at the San Francisco Dump


by: on January 21st, 2010 | 6 Comments »

“If there is one place that never sleeps, it’s the dump. Being the final output of society, it constantly has to keep up with our waste.” — Erik Otto

Just south of America’s littlest big city, across the highway from where the 49ers play, a raucous city of refuse rages 24 hours a day, fed by a never-ending river of San Francisco’s garbage.

This is Recology, also known as the San Francisco dump.

Recology is on the front line of an effort by the city of San Francisco to achieve a state of garbage transcendentalism known as “Waste Zero” (nothing wasted, nothing buried, nothing burned). One innovative approach they have taken is to create an artist residency.

Artists are given studio space at the dump and given free reign to scour the landscape collecting whatever is useful to them in their process of creating artwork crafted from materials scavenged from San Francisco’s waste stream. Since 1990, 79 artists have participated in the program, transforming a generation’s trash into treasure.

The two current artists in residency, Erik Otto and Christina Mazza, will show their work this weekend at the Dump’s studio at 503 Tunnel Avenue in San Francisco.

During the residency, Christina Mazza photographed the many piles of raw materials she collected at the dump and posted them on her blog. One of those photos inspired Mazza’s wall mural of shredded packing paper (below).



Positive Outlook: Art and HIV


by: on January 13th, 2010 | 2 Comments »

“I hope that there is a change in consciousness, but how could it ever be claimed that it came from me? Any change will do, even if it just pisses the person off! That could be a beginning to something great. Right?” — John Neilson

It is the gift and the burden of each of us to live the life we are given. If during the course of that life it happens that we become an artist, then the whole world is blessed. Because an artist not only lives each day, but also sings it, writes it, paints it, documents it, offering a unique and precious perspective from which the wise may learn and heal.

When Sharon Siskin founded Positive Art in 1988, she built a foundation from which a generation of HIV+ artists have been sharing their point of view with a world hungry for understanding.

By providing classes and materials, studio space, grant facilitation, and a sense of community to artists living with HIV/AIDS, Positive Art has enabled powerful images and sentiments to be brought forth into the culture, empowering expression from artful souls uniquely qualified to communicate about fear, loss, and rebirth.

Says Siskin,

When I teach art in educational institutions, I often tell my beginning art students that every mark that they make is a physical record of what they were doing or feeling in their life at that moment.

The process and the art object are about making meaning, both privately and publicly.

That search for meaning is evident in John Neilson’s blood paintings, works created using infected human blood as a medium.

(My Bloody Self, John Neilson, mixed media and blood. To see more work by the artists of Positive Art, visit the Tikkun Daily Art Gallery.)


Evelyn Williams: Love Actualized


by: on December 31st, 2009 | 4 Comments »

“I am only too relieved to see my work going to hang on other walls – with its departure I shed my responsibility.”

–Evelyn Williams

So often we dwell on the calamities of our world without imagining a better way forward. The purpose of this Tikkun art gallery is to seek out artwork that presents a hopeful and positive vision of this life while still conveying a sense of intellect and awareness of the ways our world and our nature cause suffering and grief. We are not trying to be quaint. We believe that there is a real possibility the world can be, and is being, transformed for the better, every day, by art.

It is lovely that this, our last post of 2009, examines the work of Evelyn Williams. Evelyn fits in particularly well with our mission statement at Tikkun.

Her painting “I Went to the Garden of Love” (below) speaks to the depth of human tenderness, transcending irrelevant, barbaric notions of gender and sexuality bias and presenting instead an alternative vision of compassion, humility and true love.


(To see more of Evelyn William’s work, visit the Tikkun Art Gallery.)

Says Evelyn,

I don’t believe there are any boundaries to love. This painting was inspired by William Blake. The figures are not confused by the restrictions normally occurring between men and women, but only through a feeling of fondest love where nothing is asked and nothing is expected.


The Art of School Lunch


by: on December 16th, 2009 | 3 Comments »

“My hopes were that the viewer would just take a minute or two to find out who these people were.” -Kai Klaassen

I love it when I am given the chance to examine carefully the face of a true hero – the eyes, the laugh lines, the stress creases of someone known for being brave, accomplished, influential or wise.

I also love pie.

How wonderful to indulge two passions at once.

On a recent trip to Mission Pie, a local “farm to table” café in my neighborhood in San Francisco, I had the pleasure, over a slice of walnut pie, of admiring Kai Klaassen’s recent portraits of lunchroom employees of the San Francisco United School District.

Memories flooded back to me at the sight of their iconic uniforms and the good humor and quiet dignity emanating from their eyes.


(To see more of Kai Klaassen’s lunchroom portraits, visit the Tikkun Art Gallery.)

Says Klaassen,

When I look at all the drawings together and see the smiling workers with their hairnets on I think they are a symbol of America’s promise. The promise that, in 1946 when Harry Truman signed the program into law in an attempt to keep children from going hungry, we were as a country concerned with giving every kid a chance to realize their full potential by providing food and an education to all.


Emergent/Submergent: The World of Kim Keever


by: on December 9th, 2009 | 1 Comment »

“I love beautiful things and beautiful artwork so my first goal is to create that in my own way.” – Kim Keever

The feeling I have when I view one of Kim Keever’s photographs is one of serenity and astonishment at the richness of earth’s wilderness. Then I realize Keever’s process and serenity turns to irony, that a manufactured landscape has made me feel so heart-warmed.

The nature scenes in Keever’s photographs are constructed by Keever inside of a 200-gallon tank in his studio in New York City. He fills the tank with water, submerging the miniature landscape. Then, illuminating the scene with colored lights from outside the tank, Keever adds paint to the water, creating a temporary, vibrant, colorful, dynamic environment that he quickly photographs.


(To see more of Kim Keever’s work, visit the Tikkun Daily Art Gallery.)

I feel a little like I am visiting the zoo. Like the manufactured realms built for elephants and tigers in the heart of many cities, Keever creates enclosed, controlled nature spaces for humans to look at. They can enjoy them in relative calm and detachment even though they have failed to protect such spaces in the wild.


Art for Earth’s Sake: Jackie Brookner’s Biosculptures


by: on December 3rd, 2009 | 7 Comments »

“Fifteen years ago, I couldn’t convince people there was a water problem. Now things are different in a good way in that people are more aware that there is a problem, and in a bad way in that the problem is so much more dire.” — Jackie Brookner

Jackie Brookner is a revolutionary among revolutionaries.

All environmental art is inherently revolutionary in that it challenges viewers directly to rethink the ways they interact with nature and to take ownership, for better or worse, of the ways they affect and alter the ecosystem.

Brookner’s Biosculptures–living works of art whose porous surfaces are inhabited by carefully selected organisms whose job it is in nature to clean and filter the toxins out of aquatic ecosystems–raise the bar by presenting that challenge not only to viewers but to the environment itself.


(To see more of Jackie Brookner’s work, visit the Tikkun Daily Art Gallery.)

Biosculptures inhabit a community’s nature space, and often the built environment, becoming a living part of the larger ecosystem. They need no witness to establish their relevance. They are active members of their environment. Through their example they teach the simple, complimentary lessons of self-reliance and interdependence. They are inspirational not only because of their exquisite form but because of their transformational function.


Nothing Is Wasted: The Art of Aurora Robson


by: on November 25th, 2009 | 4 Comments »

“The forms in my work are derivative of nightmares I had when I was a child. My fodder is junk mail, litter, waste, and nightmares. My job is to transform these things into art.” — Aurora Robson

When something terrible happens, it might someday somehow be transformed into something less terrible — this is the personal belief to which I most stubbornly cling.

This isn’t idealism. It’s alchemy, the transformation of something of no value or little value into something useful, something beautiful.

Honeybees are alchemists. Sewage plant workers are alchemists. Anyone who has ever picked up litter, watered a seed, raised a child, started a business, or strung words together into a meaningful sentence is an alchemist.

It is in that core of my basic optimistic nature, in that tiny place where I believe alchemy is true, that I am beholden to the creations of artist Aurora Robson.

Robson’s dynamic, flowing installations and sculptures are constructed from discarded plastic bottles reclaimed from the wastebasket of America’s streets.


(To see more of Aurora Robson’s work, visit the Tikkun Daily Art Gallery.)