Saturday, October 8, 2011

Fall Open Studio, Oct 14-16


Friday, Oct 14

Open Studio:
Saturday, Oct 15, Sunday, Oct 16
11am to 6pm

ARC, Studio #205
1246 Folsom St.  San Francisco
between 8th and 9th
Civic Center BART station
Come to my studio on October 14th, 15th or 16th to see my new work.  I will be showing mixed media pieces and artists books made with glass, resin, handmade paper, fiber, found objects and ephemera. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Once Upon An Other Time
Tanya Wilkinson and Kristine Mays 

FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 23, 6pm to 8:30, talk at 7pm

ARC Project Gallery,
1246 Folsom Street
between 8th and 9th
San Francisco, California

Exhibition dates:  Weds, Aug 31 - Sat, Sept 10th
Gallery Hours:  Weds, Thurs & Sat 12-5pm.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fairytales & Mythic Moments

Old Wives
Once Upon An Other Time
A visual exploration of Fairytales, Myths & legends by Tanya Wilkinson and Kristine Mays

"Such stories... open a door on Other Time, and if we pass through, though only for a moment, we stand outside our own time, outside Time itself, maybe." — J.R.R. Tolkien (On Fairy-Stories)

Exhibition dates:  Weds, Aug 31 - Sat, Sept 10th
Reception: Saturday, September 10th from 4-7pm
Gallery Hours:  Weds, Thurs & Sat 12-5pm.

Location:                                                           Contact:
ARC Project Gallery, between 8th and 9th
1246 Folsom Street
San Francisco, California

 When a story is foolish and fit only for the gullible we call it, misogynistically enough, an "Old Wives Tale".  In my opinion, the "Father of History", Herodotus, was the first Old Wife to publish. The many strange stories and the folk-tales he tells also earned him the title of 'The Father of Lies'.  If you want a good description of the Phoenix rising from it's own cremation, or of the strange Scythian ability to fly, you can't beat him.

detail, Old Wives

There is a collection of tales from the Middle East that is, in a way, a paradigm for story-telling. 
1001, detail
The One Thousand and One Nights of Scheherazade is a compilation of Middle Eastern, South Asian and Mesopotamian folktales and legends.  It presents the human compulsion to narrate as, literally, a lifesaver.  The collection is framed by the story of Scheherazade's nightly effort to avoid execution by telling a good tale.  Framing devices are incorporated throughout the tales themselves. Some proceed from this original tale; some are framed within other tales, while others begin and end of their own accord. Layers of archetypal reality overlap and intersect as the nights unfold. These are detail sections of a 7 foot long scroll named "1001".

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bluebeard and other tales

old lessons, still unlearned
I'm working on a new series inspired by old Fairytales.  Here are the first two pieces.  Ondine is a response to Irish and German stories about water creatures that become women.  These tales are a bit like "The Little Mermaid" in that the water-women fall in love with men and try to live on dry land.  Disney, of course, gave it a happy ending, something the old stories never have.  Old Lessons is a rumination about the many versions of "Bluebeard".  Most European cultures, and a few Asian ones, have Folk stories about a serial wife killer.  My favorites are the ones in which a "wily" potential victim turns the tables.

This series will be part of a pop-up show I am going to do with Kristine Mays at ARC in September.  Kristine's work is wonderful, check it out at

Monday, March 21, 2011

2011 Spring Open Studios, April 1-3

mixed messages
joy of cooking
Please Join Me for Spring Open Studios 

ARC Studios 1246 Folsom, SF, between 8th & 9th Civic Center Bart

April 1st, 6-10PM - Friday Night Reception---Eat, Drink and be Foolish
April 2nd & 3rd, 12-5PM - Open Studios

Some new work, some old work, some troublesome work. My theme for this year, or perhaps for this decade is:

I have also put together a photo book of my visual ruminations on this topic from the last 3 years and you can find it posted on both my blog (March 11) and my Facebook Wall. Or just come to Open Studios and see the originals.
lingering ache

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Curator's Talk for Telling Tales and Mixing Metaphors

Telling Tales and Mixing Metaphor
s, a show I curated, opened on January 7th. at the Danville Art Galley. I gave the following talk that evening.
I chose these works for three reasons: First, each piece tells me a story I need to hear; Second, each piece is beautiful and; Third, I thought that if they were all in one place they might tell a bigger story together than they do separately.

Critics and art historians talk about what art is but artists, when they consent to talk, talk about what art-making is. There are a number of artists in this room and each one would probably have something different to say about the nature of art-making. However, since I curated this show, I get to say what I think first. I think art-making is story telling.

Telling stories is universal to humankind and there is some reason to believe that this fact is rooted in the structure of our brains. Studies of those who have suffered brain- injuries show that, when an injury causes someone to lose the ability to construct and understand a narrative, that individual becomes unable to maintain a sense or image of self. This seems to indicate that, if you ask me who I am and I say “I am an artist”, I am telling you the conclusion of an internal story. If I lose my capacity to track that story, I lose my capacity to answer your question.

Stories tell me who I am, who we are together, what the world is. Stories are part of the way that human beings form and maintain a sense of community. A community can be seen as a collection of interwoven stories, told in every possible way--conversations, plays, actions, architecture, art. The storyteller and the listener are changed by each story told. Communities need new stories and new perspectives on old stories in order to stay vibrant. Visual art can portray aspects of the human story that are hard to put into words give new insight into old tales.

Maat by Tricia Grame
Up this ramp you will see four paintings by Tricia Grame that address some old tales, old stories about women and about spirituality. She has taken in these old stories and given them back with new meaning.

Black Ice by Kirk Brooks
The artist takes in experience, sorts it, reconstructs it and gives it a shape. All of the artists in this show have used their experiences to build, elaborate and refine a world inside themselves. When they are painting, pasting, constructing or photographing, they stand on a threshold between that inner world and this outer world, trying to make some part of their internal narrative visible.

On this wall and up the ramp you see two abstract paintings by Kirk Brooks. What story is he trying to give shape to with these brushstrokes? Something about the emotion he was feeling when he painted? Something about the gloriousness of color? Perhaps a little something about growing up with a Father who was a painter?

We participate in the artist’s narrative. All story-telling is participatory--you must have a teller and a listener. Art is participatory--you must have a maker of art and a viewer. When a piece of art works for you, it draws you in, it evokes feeling, you become a part of the story of the piece. In that moment the interaction between the artist’s act of making art and your act of responding to the art produces a new piece of art, something unique that may only last for the moment that you stand and look.

Judy Shintani's Elderly in America, foreground
The first time I saw Judy Shintani’s “Elderly in America” I was overcome with a feeling of poignant loss, a feeling intimately connected to the fact that my brother’s mother-in-law, a woman I grew up with, died at 98 on Christmas Day. Today I looked at the same piece and saw instead a story about bravery, perhaps because I always wonder, before a talk, if I will have the courage to talk to a room full of strangers.

Good works of art do not force meanings on the viewer; meaning emerges, adds up, and unfolds. With the best work the viewer is moved through a process of discovering meaning.
Floating World, Priscilla Otani
With some art the process of discovering meaning flows and with some the process needs more of your attention and insight. Some of the art work in this show is generous with its story. Not everyone here will see the same story in a piece like this (Priscilla Otani’s "Lost Face") but I think that almost everyone will readily find a narrative thread in it. On the other hand, the same artist gives us “Floating World” a piece that is more demanding, both visually and intuitively. The intentions of a piece like this seem mysterious. It gives us the feeling that it is telling us a number of overlapping stories.

I will finish with a quote from Maya Angelou “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” That is very true but, I would add, speaking of my own art-making, that there is no greater joy than to have told a good story.

Tanya Wilkinson

Tanya Wilkinson