April Exhibitions: 4/2 – 4/27

Atelier

Martin Aguilar, The Space Between

Artist’s Reception: April 3rd, 5:00 – 8:00

Aguilar800Placing shadowy figures in stark metaphorical settings, Martin Aguilar stays close to the center of the abstract/figurative spectrum, embracing the freedom of abstract painting while maintaining clearly representational subjects.  Moving beyond an earlier interest in landscapes, his debut solo exhibit “The Space Between” focuses on the abstract human figure. Aguilar’s starkly limited palette and contrasting textures move beyond mere description and into the realm of examination.

“Painting fills me with a sense of accomplishment and integrity,” explains Aguilar. “I approach abstract painting with spontaneity, balancing form, color, and composition in my work.” Seeking above all to convey a sense of calm, the artist employs his figures in unconventional ways. Coalesced from layers of colors and varied textures, the figures are developed rather than drawn. Gestures are reduced to inclinations and movement is minimized into direction; the silhouette shapes quietly assert their form and solidity. Aguilar’s figures command a substantial presence, existing rather than doing, occupying as well as inhabiting their space, and revealing a steadfast insistence in their own validity.

Growing up in New Mexico’s bright landscape, Martin Aguilar developed an appreciation for color and light at an early age. Upon visiting San Francisco and discovering the abstract works of Hans Hoffmann and Richard Diebenkorn, he knew at once that he had found his new home and artistic niche. Aguilar completed his BFA in Painting and Drawing from Academy of Art University in 2010, while exhibiting in numerous group shows and auctions. His debut solo exhibit is the latest in Academy of Art University’s Emerging Artist Series.

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Cannery Suite 104

Whitney Lau, Simple Enjoyment

Artist’s Reception: April 3rd, 5:30 – 7:30

The title of Whitney Lau’s debut solo exhibition “Simple Enjoyment” provides the perfect approach to experiencing her artwork. Finding beauty and meaning in familiar, the people in her life and places she frequents, Lau reminds us that when we look too quickly we see to little. Whether they be children at play, boats at anchor, or waves on the beach, Lau’s subjects evoke a sense of unhurried calm, and invite us to take a break from the frenzy of modern city life.

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“The figures that I painted are people that I am familiar with in my life,”  explains Lau. “They could be my friends, my students in my pre-school art class, and the particular homeless that I pass by on the street.” By taking a straightforward approach with semi-loose brushstrokes, Lau keeps the focus on light and color and allows the inner beauty of her subjects to fully reveal itself. “I believe simple enjoyment could happen anywhere, as long as you are willing to open your internal eyes and look for it.”

Whitney Lau displayed artistic talent at an early age, but it wasn’t until she took a visual art class at her Hong Kong middle school that she discovered her “seed of passion.” She minored in art while completing a BA in Management at University of California, Merced, where she realized that painting was her true passion. Lau received her MFA in Painting from Academy of Art University in 2013 and today lives and works in San Francisco as a painter and art teacher.

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Cannery Suite 108

Nathan Nash, Neglected Spaces

Artist’s Reception: April 3rd, 5:30 – 7:30

Nash800Having spent his early life in rural Alaska, Nathan Nash grew up with little exposure to urban architecture. It’s no surprise then, that his move to San Francisco should profoundly influence his artistic vision. Combining artistic experience with a fresh viewpoint, Nash explores the structural aspects of architecture that pass beneath the notice of most city dwellers. His exhibition “Neglected Spaces” examines these unseen elements, the angles, corners, and surfaces that make up the urban environment.

“My paintings are an exploration of the subtle narrative between the planes and edges,” explains Nash . “Each plane is like an entity that interacts with other planes, creating an unspoken dialog as it encounters and interrupts other surfaces.”  Nash explores the unspoken dialog between intersecting surfaces, as well as the textures and edges that define them. Applying paint with various knives and grout applicators, he builds up texture rich layers that reflect the vibrant energy that inspires these works.

Nathan Nash received his BFA in Painting from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and has participated in numerous group and solo exhibitions in Alaska and California. He moved to San Francisco in 2009 to pursue his graduate degree, and completed his MFA in Painting at Academy of Art University in 2013. He has since moved back to Alaska, where he continues to work as an artist.

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Cannery Suite 110

Jason Halley, Morbid Landscapes

Return Engagement

“Some people probably wish never to see the things I’ve seen,” states photographer Jason Halley. “But I believe my experiences have made me who I am today.”

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Working as a Staff Photographer for his hometown newspaper, Jason Halley repeatedly found himself face to face with death in his own community. Documenting the locations where human lives had come to violent or unjust ends forced Halley to confront not only their physical aftermath but also the social aftershocks. As he witnessed his community disconnect and withdraw in fear, he felt compelled to examine the subject most people choose to ignore. His current exhibit, “Morbid Landscapes” is the result of these experiences.

Highlighting the pathos of figures reduced to stain on the landscape, Halley preserves memory and moment, giving voice to the impact and repercussions felt by those left behind. “I didn’t want this idea of murder being allowed to flourish in the shadows,” he explains.  Working alone and playing the part of the victim in his reconstructed crime scenes, Halley explores his own relationship to the issue that has taken on such significance in his life. The large format view camera captures high resolution images that preserve every detail at presentation size, and fully envelop the viewer in the scene.

Jason Halley first discovered photography in a high school elective class. What began as a hobby has grown into a successful career as a studio photographer and photojournalist. Halley received his BA in Communication Design from CSU Chico, and completed his MFA in Photography at Academy of Art University in 2013. “Morbid Landscapes” was his master’s thesis project.

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Cannery Suite 112

Duanyang Li, Time-Fade-Decay

Artist’s Reception: April 3rd, 5:30 – 7:30

Li800Present becomes past, past becomes memory, memories fade and change over time.  Duanyang Li’s debut solo exhibition “Time – Fade – Decay” is an exploration of the process of change, depicting the ephemeral nature of the present moment. Each of Li’s abstract environments records an evolving conversation with the canvas as the transition of time is realized through morphing abstract layers.

“My landscapes express memories and times of change, with each layer representing a fading memory and reflecting the process of Time – Fade – Decay,” explains Li. Old themes give way to new as each successive layer of paint moves the focus ever forward in time . Foundations of past layers remain intact and viable though they are permanently altered by those that follow. The result is a harmonious whole, a summation of these sequential changes into a geographical landscape waiting to be explored.

Duanyang Li found early inspiration in the Chinese brush painting “Eight Shrimps” by Baishi Qi, and as a child wondered about the possibility of an artistic life. With a view toward entering the family business, Li completed his BA in Interior Architecture at Hubei Institute of Fine Art University. But after a year as an architect, he began to remember the love of painting that drew him to art in the first place. Duanyang Li moved to San Francisco and entered Academy of Art University, where he received his MFA in Painting in 2013.

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625 Sutter

Cathleen Clarke, If You Ever Make it Home

Artist’s Reception: April 3rd, 5:30 – 7:30

ClarkeUsing old family photos and found images as models, Cathleen Clarke’s latest solo exhibition “If You Ever Make it Home” examines age-old ambiguities about our relationship with the past. Inspired by memories of her midwestern childhood, Clarke’s visions of figures standing in barren fields wrapped winter coats confront the viewer with the fragility of life and the beauty of solitude.

Posing for a snapshot is not the same as posing for a painting, and Clarke exploits the difference to profound effect. Informally captured moments are deconstructed through the painting process as Clarke reconsiders the subjects in relation to their common environment. Expressions suggest an acute awareness of situation and surroundings, and reveal thoughtful emotion that is not always readily apparent at first look.

Born in Chicago, Cathleen Clarke eventually made her way to a small town in northern Illinois. Inspired by the peaceful solitude of country life, she began to paint in oils but eventually felt the need to leave small town life behind. Clarke settled in San Francisco and is currently working toward her BFA in Painting and Drawing at Academy of Art University.

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Southern Graphics Conference – Opening Night Reception

Bridges: Spanning Tradition, Innovation, and Activism

SGC International Printmaking Exhibitions
Limited Engagement: Atelier and Cannery Galleries, March 26-29, 2014

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetWednesday evening, AAU Galleries were packed with enthusiastic art lovers, all taking in the latest and greatest works from printmaking artists. With so much great artwork, it’s no surprise that enthusiasm was high, but the degree of discussion between artists and newcomers to the field of printmaking was refreshing to witness. Artists were on hand to discuss and introduce their concepts, materials, and processes, in addition to having a conference kick-off celebration. For those who missed it, here are a few photos of the festivities.

Show runs through Saturday March 29th, so be sure to stop by The Atelier and Cannery Galleries before this amazing exhibition goes away.

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SGC International’s 42nd annual conference in the San Francisco Bay Area is the first West Coast conference in the organization’s history.  The three-day event takes place at venues throughout the Bay Area and features exhibitions, panel and paper presentations, and printmaking demonstrations. Speakers include Kathan Brown, Founding Director, Crown Point Press, and Karin Breuer, Curator, Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco in conversation with David Kiehl, Curator, Whitney Museum of American Art.

Mor information at http://sgcisanfrancisco.org/

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March Exhibitions and SGCI Conference

625 Sutter

Mystery of the Female, Kristina Varaksina

Artists Reception: March 6, 5:30-7:30pm. Exhibition runs through March 31st.

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Having shifted to fine art photography after a successful career in advertising, Kristina Varaksina is no stranger to the concept of idealized feminine beauty as defined by popular culture. Her debut solo exhibition “Mystery of the Female” challenges this concept, moving the model from object to subject, and the focus from surface to substance. Taking a cinematic and often surreal approach, Varaksina adds narrative and depth to a traditionally shallow context. Glamorous mainstream ideals become slightly skewed, and new dimensions are revealed.

Never departing from the focus on female beauty, Varaksina examines the subject’s deeper issues. “In my early advertising career I had to use images of nice looking women to sell products,” she explains. “I kept asking myself if anyone was interested in what was behind the beautiful facade.” While each tableau remains faithful to the traditional grammar of beauty, the images compel deeper considerations of emotion, intent, and identity.

Kristina Varaksina grew up in Yekaterinburg Russia, and began drawing portraits of her mother at age four. Her parents recognized her talent and sent her to a children’s art school. Eventually earning her BA and MFA degrees in Graphic Design, she became an advertising art director at twenty-four. Drawn to the freedom of freelance photography, Varaksina enrolled in Academy of Art University and completed her MFA in Photography in 2013. Today, she lives and works in New York.

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 Atelier and Cannery Galleries

Southern Graphics Council International’s 2014 Bridges Conference

The SGCI is the largest print organization in North America. Its annual conference is the biggest annual gathering focused on the field of printmaking, and AAU is proud to be hosting exhibitions at our Atelier Gallery and all of our Cannery Gallery locations. Stop by during regular gallery hours and see the latest in the field of fine art printmaking. Exhibitions will run through the end of March, so be sure to make the rounds before they slip away.

Here’s a sneak peek from installation day.

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Opening Night Receptions

Atelier, Cannery, and 625 Sutter Galleries

DSC_0487Once again, the opening night receptions at the Academy of Art University galleries were an overwhelming success! San Francisco’s art lovers come out in droves for First Thursday, when local galleries stay open late and welcome the public. Many galleries schedule their artist receptions to coincide with First Thursday, and the AAU galleries are no exception. We enjoyed excellent turnout for all of our opening receptions, and our artists were on hand to greet visitors and discuss their favorite subject: art. It’s a great time for all, and there’s always something for everyone. Painting, photography, sculpture, jewelry, ceramics, installation art, our artists really covered the spectrum this time.

Thanks to all who came out and helped to make our opening night receptions such a great success. In case you missed it, here are a few photos to entice you for next time. Because that’s the best part – we do this every month!

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February Exhibitions: 2/5 – 3/2

Atelier

Energy In Nature, James Kroner

Artist’s Reception: February 6, 5:00 – 8:00

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It’s no surprise that San Francisco born James Kroner should find ready inspiration in his native city’s streets and hilltop views, nor that his palette should favor the subtle greys so prevalent in that city’s ever-changing light. Kroner’s straightforward approach to painting combines an impressionist awareness of light with a solid representational foundation, based on years of drawing and sketchbook practice. As a result, his scenes glow with an ethereal vitality, yet remain firmly rooted in contemporary realism — a calculated contrast that lies at the heart of Kroner’s work.

“To me, contrast is one of the most important things in painting,” he explains. “Not just between light and dark, but between ideas.” By contrasting hard edges with soft, rendered areas with abstract, and neutral values with saturated hues, Kroner captures the energy and emotion that set the tone each work. The energies of our environment, wind, sun, fog, rain, and snow, are key subjects in the paintings.

Energy in Nature is the latest in Academy of Art University’s Emerging Artist Series, on exhibit at the university’s Atelier Gallery from February 5 to March 18. Although this is James Kroner’s first solo exhibition, he has exhibited regularly since 2006 and completed numerous commissioned works. While working towards his 2013 MFA in Painting at Academy of Art University, he received several awards and scholarships, including First Place for landscape painting in the 2010 Annual Spring Show. Kroner is currently scheduled for a solo exhibition at Christian Daniels Gallery in June 2014.

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Cannery 104

Sculpture and Ceramic, Wenqing Cui

Artists Reception: February 6, 5:30-7:30pm

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“Sculpture and Ceramic” represents the recent figurative work of Wenqing Cui. Exploring the many aspects of facial expression, the artist takes different approaches for different pieces, allowing each project to develop as it progresses. The resulting wide range of emotionally charged faces takes on different meanings when viewed as a group, and the individual faces form a collective context.

Painted sculpture portrait busts are a trademark of Cui’s work. “I try to explore more fun expressions,” states Cui. “For these sculptures, I like to use very bright acrylic.” As the colors tint the portraits they also color the expressions that radiate through them, thus giving the expressions additional interpretive clues.

Wenqing Cui has an active background in cooperative artwork and art education. She completed her BFA in Ceramics at Academy of Art University in 2010. She is now continuing to work toward her MFA in sculpture.

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Cannery 108

Ocean Inchoation, Tiffany Laszlo

Artists Reception: February 6, 5:30-7:30pm

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An attraction to the beauty of nature as seen in the life of the world’s oceans is the inspiration behind Tiffany Laszlo’s “Ocean Inchoation” exhibit. Having traveled the world since very young, the artist’s global sensibilities are revealed through this series of abstract paintings.

“My series is about the life and movement of the ocean,” explains Laszlo. “I wanted to paint the ocean and have it feel like this force, the movement and mystery, something that feels like it could just suck you in.” Using a combination of techniques, such as layering, glazing, pouring, and washing, the artist taps into the rhythms and flows that characterize the ocean’s movement. Color, light, and consistency all come into play in the final realization, as Laszlo interprets and presents the ocean through the artist’s eyes.

Tiffany Laszlo completed her BFA in Fine Arts Painting and Drawing at Academy of Art University in 2013.

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Cannery 110

Home Front, Ryan McClymont

HomeFront

Bridging the disparity between romantic fantasies of toy soldiers and the realities of actual combat, Ryan McClymont’s 2013 exhibit “Home Front” unites seemingly irreconcilable viewpoints into composite analyses. Concept is realized through a parallel process; a color photos of an action figure and black and white portraits of a veterans are are combined digitaly, then printed twice – once in color, once in black and white. Both photos are then cut into strips and woven into a single image, representing the reconciliation of naive romanticism of childhood with harsh reality of military service.

“Most of the toys used in this project belonged to me as a child” explains McClymont. “The action figures also mirror the fact that individual service members are often no more than pawns following orders.” The portraits are of U.S. military veterans of different branches, eras, specialties, and experiences. The idea of combining imagery to create a new identity also parallels the military experience of creating a new persona to shield oneself from hardships.

Veteran of two tours in Iraq, Ryan McClymont has firsthand experience of the disparities between perceptions of military service and the realities of combat. He currently teaches photography as art therapy at the San Francisco Veterans Administration, as well as classes at San Francisco Photo Safaris. Ryan McClymont completed his MFA in Photography at Academy of Art University in 2013.

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Cannery 112

Self-Protection, Jo Wu

Artists Reception: February 6, 5:30-7:30pm

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Jo Wu’s sculpture series “Self-Protection” investigates the invisible defense mechanisms that we surround ourselves with in daily life. By realizing the boundaries and barriers that we create through such elements as thorns, spikes, and barbed wire, the artist depicts a concept at the core of personal relationships: our defensive masks can sometimes seem dangerous or menacing to the world around us.

“People like to put on a protective mask while interacting with others,” explains Wu. “It’s hard to tell whether we truly understand our co-workers, classmates, and friends, even though we meet each other every day.” Growing up in a small town in Taiwan, Wu experienced difficulty in adapting to urban culture, as she encountered it in university culture. Applying her artist’s insight, she took inspiration from her situation, and turned the result into her master’s thesis, which is the foundation of “Self-Protection.”

Jo Wu studied Information Communication at Leader University in Tainan, and received her Bachelors degree in Digital Media Design from Asia University in Taichung. She is currently working towards her MFA in Jewelry and Metal Art at Academy of Art University.

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625 Sutter

Angel Island: The Oblivious Wasteland, Liaoyi Wang

Artists Reception: February 6, 5:30-7:30pm

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Angel Island’s U.S. Immigration Station was the point of entry for the majority of approximately 175,000 Chinese immigrants between 1910 and 1940. Immigrants were detained anywhere from two weeks to two years, before being either admitted or deported. Today a National Historical Landmark, its troubled history is revealed through its museum and guided tours. Liaoyi Wang’s photo series “Angel Island: The Oblivious Wasteland” attempts to look deeper. Examining the crumbling walls and peeling paint of the empty and overgrown barracks halls, Wang searches for clues and traces of the lost dreams of the thousands who found themselves trapped between two cultures.

As a Chinese student living and studying abroad, and having no direct relatives with U.S. citizenship, Wang is familiar with feelings of uncertainty and transitivity, and is well suited to undertake such an elusive task as to depict the feelings of loss and wonder through through photographing the station’s ruins. Conscious of his evolving photographic esthetic, Wang favors a straightforward approach. “Style comes with time and is a difficult thing to force. I think more important than style is being aware of the literal nature of the image.” By allowing the subject to have its say, he lets its full narrative come through, and the resulting images reveal much more than just dilapidated architecture.

Born into a musical family, Liaoyi Wang received his Bachelor’s degree in Musicology from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music in 2009. It was not until his senior year that he bought his first digital SLR camera and considered becoming a photographer. Wang entered the graduate program at Academy of Art University, and completed his MFA in Photography in 2013. This is his first Solo Exhibition.

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January Exhibitions: 1/1 – 2/2

Atelier

I-Chin Liao, Ways of Seeing

Artist’s Reception: 1/9, 5:30 – 7:30

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Facial expressions in their infinite variety and interpretation of meaning set the stage for I-Chin Liao’s “Ways of Seeing.” Physical clues in the abstract compositions provide an occasional reference yet quickly abandon you to a sense of ambiguity regarding their hidden meaning, and that is exactly what the artist intends — to explore different interpretations of facial expression. Ambiguous thoughts lead to ambiguous expressions, which can be interpreted in a multitude of ways.

“I often struggle with opposing thoughts which bring out a different side of my nature,” explains Liao. “Combining contrasting or analogous abstract facial expressions conveys emotion, both conscious and unconscious, for seeing this world and myself.”

Having grown up in Taiwan but living now in America, Liao had to adapt not only to different surroundings and culture, but different ways of thinking. “Ways of Seeing” represents the artist’s inner exploration of a changing environment. Liao adopted abstraction while an undergraduate at Tainan University of Technology, and progressed while completing an MFA in Painting at Academy of Art University. This is I-Chin Liao’s first solo exhibition.

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Cannery Suite 104

Tibor Simon-Mazula, Fidelity

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For those who may have missed it the first time around, and certainly for those who would like another look, Tibor Simon-Mazula’s “Fidelity” is back for a return engagement. Those works that did not sell in his debut at the Atelier will be on exhibit at The Cannery through January. His expressive large-format paintings convey an existential universality, and invite quiet contemplation of the subtleties of daily life.

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Cannery Suite 108

Maria Yakovleva, The Flow

Artist’s Reception: 1/9, 5:30 – 7:30

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Dance movement is the starting point and inspiration for the abstract compositions of Maria Yakovleva’s 2014 exhibit “The Flow.” An early awareness and sensitivity to the expressive power of dance led the artist away from figurative representation toward the open universe of abstraction, where gesture and motion are freed from the duty of literal description and become tools of unlimited possibility. A narrative emerges, of the evolution of an artist’s perception and the conquering of her fears.

“It’s scary to release yourself to dance while painting,” confides Yakovleva. “The choice of colors and intensity of directions of a brush stroke speak the words for you, words which are screamed by your heart.”

Maria Yakovleva chose painting at an early age, but was always fascinated by dance. Attending classes and gradually overcoming shyness to participate in social balls, she benefitted from an artist’s power of observation and courage to explore new realms of experience. She received her MFA in Monumental and Decorative Painting at the Moscow State University of Industrial and Applied Arts, and her second MFA in Painting from Academy of Art University. “The Flow” is Maria Yakovleva’s first solo exhibit.

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Cannery Suite 110

Van Hong Nguyen, Immigrant–Home?

Artist’s Reception: 1/9, 5:30 – 7:30

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Van Hong Nguyen draws on her personal history as an immigrant from Vietnam as the genesis for her sculpture and installations presented in “Immigrant–Home?” By posing the title of her exhibit as a question, she highlights the insecurity of an immigrant point of view. When one leaves a country for another, are either their true home? If we are citizens of a global society, to what degree are we accepted by it? Using boats and doors as thematic elements, both of which have aspects of conveyance and barrier, the artist suggests questions that have no simple answers.

“Many of us are not able to explore the meaningfulness of place amongst the peoples of the world. Many of us still haven’t explored the important relationship between the self and others.”

Nguyen’s artistic training and experience span continents as well as schools. After receiving her BFA in Visual Communication from Virginia Commonwealth University, she went on to artist residencies in Arlington, Virginia and LaForge, France. All the while continuing her studies at various schools, she completed her MFA at Academy of Art University in 2013. Public art works include a Community Space Sculpture at the San Francisco Zoo, and a mural for the Presidential Entertainment Palace in Vietnam.

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Cannery Suite 112

Kaijing Jin, Transmigration

Artist’s Reception: 1/9, 5:30 – 7:30

15A deep appreciation for ancient Buddhist motifs, such as the spiral and the wheel of life, guide the work of Kaijing Jin’s “Transmigration.” Patiently creating coils from woven wire, Jin incorporates the Buddhist symbol into artistic process, which becomes meditative practice. “My metal sculptures undergo a ritual of fire,” she explains. “In the heating process, the metals melt and reform, while the flames create rainbow colors on the surface. This feels like seeing the Buddha in my dreams.”

Jin uses modular casting, jewelry fabrication and welding techniques to make small sculptures and wearable jewelry. Early training in figurative sculpture left her artistically unsatisfied, so she began to explore abstract sculpture, and eventually jewelry and metal arts. Jin received her MFA in Sculpture and Art Education at Nanjing Normal University in 2010, and completed her MFA in Jewelry and Metal Arts at Academy of Art University in 2013. Throughout her work, her Buddhist background serves as an anchor and a focal point that informs her choices and processes. Jin’s jewelry has been featured in Sculpture Magazine. “Transmigration” is her first solo exhibit.

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625 Sutter

Ryan McClymont, Home Front

Ryan1Bridging the disparity between romantic fantasies of toy soldiers and the realities of actual combat, Ryan McClymont’s 2013 exhibit “Home Front” unites seemingly irreconcilable viewpoints into composite analyses. Concept is realized through a parallel process; a color photo of an action figure and a black and white portrait of a veteran are are combined digitally, then printed twice – once in color, once in black and white. Both photos are then cut into strips and woven into a single image, representing the reconciliation of naive romanticism of childhood with harsh reality of military service.

“Most of the toys used in this project belonged to me as a child” explains McClymont. “The action figures also mirror the fact that individual service members are often no more than pawns following orders.” The portraits are of U.S. military veterans of different branches, eras, specialties, and experiences. The idea of combining imagery to create a new identity also parallels the military experience of creating a new persona to shield oneself from hardships.

Veteran of two tours in Iraq, Ryan McClymont has firsthand experience of the disparities between perceptions of military service and the realities of combat. He currently works for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as well as volunteering his time to teach photography as art therapy at the San Francisco Veterans Administration. Ryan McClymont completed his MFA in Photography at Academy of Art University in 2013.

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December Exhibitions: 12/4 – 12/29

ATELIER

Extended Reality, Nicholas Gutierrez

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Nicholas Gutierrez’s 2013 exhibit “Extended Reality” finds its origins in four films that inspired the artist at a young age. “I saw these films for the first time between the ages of nine and thirteen years old,” he explains. “During the years I revisited these movies many times and always found something interesting in them.” Building on the films’ visual cues, themes, and social dynamics, Gutierrez explores new dimensions within the original contexts. In the process he examines the relationship between art and popular culture, particularly that of the appropriation of existing images as the basis of new creation.

Approaching photography more in the manner of painting or collage than capturing reality, Gutierrez uses digital composites to construct his scenes, combining the film’s original elements with his vision and inspiration to arrive at images that are meaningful in both contexts.  Old elements are used to tell new stories, and the films “Dangerous Liaisons,” “La Ley del Deseo,” “Mad Max, Beyond Thunderdome,” and “Metropolis” provide the settings for the artist’s new narrative elements.

Nicholas Gutierrez has been working in image creation for 13 years both in Colombia and the United States. He received his BFA in Visual Arts from Los Andes University in Bogotá, Colombia, and completed his MFA in Photography at Academy of Art University in 2012.

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CANNERY SUITE 108

Phosphorescence, Shannon Brett

S_Brett_2a“In a world full of mundane routines, I am drawn to the uncommon,” states Shannon Brett of her 2013 exhibit “Phosphorescence.” Combining two series of paintings, the artist emphasizes the unifying theme.  Two approaches, one focusing on subject, the other on process, explore the artist’s quest: “I am more interested in the unexplained and become fascinated with developing theories that may answer the many questions.”

Blending Dutch Golden Age chiaroscuro with modern disregard for representational color, and using both for impact as much as for description, Brett takes a direct path to an emotional response. In her circus paintings, subjective elements such as naked flame and sharp sword provide the emotional cue; color is heightened or subdued to suit the narrative element. In her galaxy-inspired works, the pictorial process takes over; color is freed from realistic representation and brought center stage. In each case, the emotional result is as important as the visual experience.

Shannon Brett began her art education at Monroe Community College in her native New York. Moving on to Alfred University, she explored various media, including glass, ceramics, and metal,  while completing her BFA. She is currently working towards her MFA at Academy of Art University. Brett has exhibited her work in galleries in New York and Italy, in addition to San Francisco.

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CANNERY SUITE 110

Balanscapes: San Francisco ’12-’13, Beom Jun Lee

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From across a city street, an architectural facade can be viewed as an arrangement of geometric elements. But to our real-world eyes these elements will always appear distorted by perspective, and the only square close to true is one directly in front of of us. In his 2013 solo exhibition “Balanscapes: San Francisco ‘12-’13,”  Beom Jun Lee frees us from the confines of perspective vision, then moves on to analyze the shapes and rhythms, frame them in the camera lens, and balance them with the addition of a human subject.

“I spend thirty minutes on average waiting for the desired alignment of people within the frame” explains Lee.  Working with just a tripod and DSLR camera, he concentrates on the subject rather than the process. Refusing to add any additional elements in the editing process, he adheres to traditional practice while using contemporary techniques. This approach further underscores the artists quest for balance; symmetry with counterpoint, organic with mineral, camera with computer.

Korean born Beom Jun Lee received his BA in mathematics from Boston University before coming to Academy of Art University, where he will complete his MFA in Photography this year. Although Balanscapes is his first solo exhibition, Lee has been featured in numerous exhibits in Korea and San Francisco, and has received numerous photographic awards.

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CANNERY SUITE 112

Graffiti + Fashion, Orly Ruaimi

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Energy is the motivating force behind Orly Ruaimi’s 2013 exhibit “Graffiti + Fashion” and the common entity that binds her creative cycle into a unified artistic expression. Energy of life, urban culture, graffiti expression, all contribute to the underlying power that bridges the gap between painting and wearable art. The cycle begins with bold exploration, working into a coherent expression, is then transformed into the third dimension to be re-assessed and realized. The final jewelry piece speaks of its parent painting, and goes on to inspire future paintings, thus renewing its own creative cycle.

“My art is a statement of the moment, bold and daring” says Ruaimi. She begins with graffiti-inspired lines in a wide range of media. “I often paint this aspect blindfolded to ensure that energy will dictate the piece, not limited to perception, shape or composition.” The artist will eventually analyse the final painting and extract its motivating elements, which she will translate through laser-cutting of Oroglass into a finished jewelry piece. Wireless NFC chips are embedded, which will direct any smart device to an online destination, making them in effect “smart accessories.”

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625 SUTTER

Home Front, Ryan McClymont

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Bridging the disparity between romantic fantasies of toy soldiers and the realities of actual combat, Ryan McClymont’s 2013 exhibit “Home Front” unites seemingly irreconcilable viewpoints into composite analyses. Concept is realized through a parallel process; a color photo of an action figure and a black and white portrait of a veteran are are combined digitally, then printed twice – once in color, once in black and white. Both photos are then cut into strips and woven into a single image, representing the reconciliation of naive romanticism of childhood with harsh reality of military service.

“Most of the toys used in this project belonged to me as a child” explains McClymont. “The action figures also mirror the fact that individual service members are often no more than pawns following orders.” The portraits are of U.S. military veterans of different branches, eras, specialties, and experiences. The idea of combining imagery to create a new identity also parallels the military experience of creating a new persona to shield oneself from hardships.

Veteran of two tours in Iraq, Ryan McClymont has firsthand experience of the disparities between perceptions of military service and the realities of combat. He currently works for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as well as volunteering his time to teach photography as art therapy at the San Francisco Veterans Administration. Ryan McClymont completed his MFA in Photography at Academy of Art University in 2013.

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Studio Visit

James Kroner, AAU Emerging Artist for February

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We were lucky enough to get a studio visit with AAU’s James Kroner, who is hard at work preparing his master’s thesis presentation as well as completing works for his upcoming exhibit at the Atelier in February. James takes a distinctive, yet straightforward approach to his landscapes, whether they be plein air studies or fully developed studio pieces, and demonstrates the value of a solid foundational education.

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Opening Night Receptions – First Thursday

Five New Exhibits at AAU Galleries in December

BYg4fQkCIAEtD7v.jpg-largeOnce again, it’s our favorite time of the month; that magical evening when you can wander from gallery to gallery, visiting all the latest opening night receptions and rubbing elbows with fellow fellow art lovers and artists: First Thursday. And this month the AAU galleries are back in full swing with five new exhibits you simply have to see. From 5:30 – 7:30 you can stop by, check out the latest work from AAU’s rising stars, and meet the artists in person.

At The Cannery, we have three exciting exhibits in one location. Orly Ruaimi’s “Graffiti + Fashion,” graffiti themed paintings and the jewelry they inspire, is in Suite 112. These pieces are all “smart” artworks that you can scan with a smart device for additional information. Ruaimi’s work is energetic and exciting, and you’ll have plenty of questions for her.

Next door in Suite 110 is Beom Jun (Jason) Lee’s “Balanscapes.” As you move through the series of photographs, you’ll quickly see what makes them so special. Jason finds an interesting architectural facade, waits for the exact moment when a passerby reaches the perfect point to balance and complete the picture, and snaps the shutter. It’s a fun and imaginative look at our familiar city.

Moving into Suite 108, you’ll encounter Shannon Brett’s “Phosphorescence,” a dazzling display of paintings that glow with inner light and vitality. Some of the paintings are of circus performers, taking daredevil risks to entertain. Others are intense portrait pieces that shine with the light of galaxies and nebulae. All of them make a powerful impression.

DSC_0304Downtown at 625 Gallery you can see Ryan McClymont’s “Home Front,” a photographic project unlike any other. Combining portraits of actual veterans with photos of toy action figures, then cutting into strips and interweaving them into complex and thought provoking images, Ryan draws on his own experience as an Iraq war veteran coming to terms with the complex issues of military service.

At The Atelier, Nick Gutierrez’s “Extended Reality” begins with themes and settings from his favorite films, and uses them as a starting point to explore new dimensions. Creating new characters and narratives, he builds luxurious movie-still scenes that recall aspects of their original film inspiration. Intense and sometimes surrealistic, the photographs all proclaim Nick’s characteristic appreciation of beauty.

Feeling ambitious enough to try for all five openings in a single grand slam? With a little ingenuity you can do it! Start downtown, where The Atelier and 625 Sutter Galleries are within walking distance, and taxis are plentiful. Then grab a cab to The Cannery, and enjoy the rest of the evening at Fisherman’s Wharf.

For more information on the individual artists and exhibits, follow the gallery links at the top of the page.

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Alumni Interview

Conversation with Alvina Wang

MFA in Photography, 2012

Alvina Wang Nov 2013 143After a successful opening reception at AAU’s 625 Sutter Gallery, we had the opportunity to sit down and ask Alvina a few questions about her life growing up outside of the U.S., her work, and any advice she would give to new photographers.

What was it like growing up in Taipei?

Growing up in Taipei is like growing up in New York combined with San Francisco…but with a slower pace.  I’d go out with my friends almost every week.  We’d go out to shows and galleries, we were updated a lot. I think it’s a very artistic city.

Do you come from a family of artists?

Not exactly.  Both of my parents are teachers.  My dad is a PE teacher, but he used to be a professional Judo [athlete].  My mom is a mathematics teacher. My mom and my grandpa like photography.  When I was young, my grandfather had a darkroom…which I don’t really remember much…but I think some of [my inspiration] comes from that.

What was it like transitioning into Western culture?  Are those experiences captured in your work?

I had been living in Taipei for 24 years… almost all of my student life.  One of [my] strongest experience was when I first moved [to San Francisco] in 2006.  For the first year I was living here I would joke that it felt like living in the ocean.  I can’t get along here, and I didn’t know what to do here, but I couldn’t go back.  I sometimes didn’t feel like an adult, that I had to rely on other people. Not knowing how to do things [here] was frustrating.  It was a struggle.  I had a very bad period of time where I was depressed, and I wanted to show that in the way I was shooting. Continue reading

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