Kathleen Henderson

We found ourselves at Pizzaiolo recently based on a friend’s recommendation. Awesome pizza (and other great food too) in Oakland. It’s a hip happening place so maybe best to have reservations or expect to wait. One of the highlights of this night besides the food was discovering the artwork of Kathleen Henderson. I loved her simple drawing style, her composition and thought-provoking work…as well as her sense of humor.

Frances Stark lecture at Mills

“Brazenly emerging from the delusion of her desired metamorphosis she contemplates the impossible fact of being herself at the same time she is herself.”
~Anonymous (referring to Frances Stark)

I had the great opportunity to hear Frances Stark lecture tonight at Mills College. I’m super lucky to be so close to Mills. It’s such a different experience not knowing of an artist’s work and then getting to hear about their process. I almost prefer it to seeing someone who’s work I’m more familiar with. I tend to go with some preconceived expectations. Having no expectations helps to open my eyes.

Frances Stark broached the question, if no one asked her to do art, would she do it?  I gasped. (Or what does it mean to do something that someone isn’t asking you?) Her whole talk felt honest and real and vulnerable. It was beautiful. She has a lot of writing that I’m interested in reading. She spoke warmly of Dennis Cooper, who she took a writing workshop from, and who helped her to see herself as an artist.

She shared Lydia Davis’ poem A Position at the University. It helped to make sense of what goes into her creative process.

She mentioned Sylvia Sleigh, George LaGrady, Cindy Sherman, Mike Kelley, Steve Prina and Silke Otto-Knapp who has a show at the Berkeley Art Museum until January 15.

I connected with her work Why should you not be able to assemble yourself and write? and appreciated her self-reflection.

These were my notes from her lecture. I realize now that I’ve written them down digitally I’ll find them more readily. Much easier than trying to remember in what notebook I scribbled them.

Recent discoveries

What gets me excited? Discovery. Here are some recent internet discoveries.

I came across the fabulous blog of Shannon G. Wright looking at the SJSU Faculty. In this post of hers I especially love this quote:
“There are, it seems, two muses: the Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the Muse of Realization, who returns again and again to say “It is yet more difficult than you thought.” This is the muse of form. It may be then that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction, to baffle us and deflect our intended course. It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.”
— Wendell Berry

In her post, she also mentions the sculptor Tony Cragg who I hadn’t heard of when I initially read this post. But just this past week Tom and I were at SFMOMA in their sculpture garden and his sculpture Guglie left such an impression on me that I had to go look him up. Tom also pointed out a newly acquired SFMOMA work by Sergej Jensen made up of hand-sutured off-white and white linen scraps that I really liked.

Just came across this intriguing SF blog about books: Curled Up with a Book.

Lisa Occhipinti’s blog turned me onto the sublime (great description Lisa!) work of Gwen Samuels.

In Lesley Riley’s email newsletter she mentions Mark Carder.  Mind you, I have no desire to paint realistically with oils but after listening to his free videos on The Carder Method, I wanted to buy everything he’s created on how to do just that. Really worthwhile.

I listen to a fair amount of interviews and one I particularly enjoy is the Lesley Riley’s Art and Soul Radio. Today I listened to her interview of  Darlene Olivia McElroy. Darlene has some fabulous videos on her site including one I want to try:  Gampi transfers.

Daily Practice and Poetry

Daily Book Page 3.23.11
©2011 Leah Virsik, Daily Book Page 3.23.11 found paper, wax paper, and ink on paper pages: 5 x 3 3/4 inches

This inspiring TED video featuring Sarah Kay really touched me. She creates incredible spoken word poetry. One thing I know to be true is the more work I create, the more I learn about myself.

And speaking of spoken word poetry, I came across this gorgeous typographic animation by Ronnie Bruce of Taylor Mali’s poem “Totally like whatever, you know?”.  via Alphabet Roadtrip.

Now, the Bowery Poetry Club is on my list of places to visit.


Daily Book Page 3.22.11

©2011 Leah Virsik, Daily Book Page 3.21.11 found paper, wax paper, and ink on paper pages: 5 x 3 3/4 inches

Much resistance this morning to getting up,  to doing this work above, etc. But I feel good having done it. It’s like a touchstone for the day. I realize this is probably how I best like to blog, jotting down short little snippets and random information about my day.

Really enjoyed listening to Ricky Gervais’ HBR interview on not having a real job yesterday. He’s the creator of the hit television series The Office. A couple of things that he said that stood out for me are to “write what you know” and that “the point of art is to make a connection”. Another great interview is that of Vidal Sassoon on Fresh Air.


Daily Book Pages 3.19.11
©2011 Leah Virsik, Daily Book 3.19.11 found paper, pencil and ink on paper pages: 5 x 3 3/4 inches

I had a wonderful day meeting with Marie Bergstedt and Laurel Shackelford. It was incredible to be around artists who are serious about their work and want to work together to find ways to exhibit. We discussed incredible fiber artists that I want to spend time looking up: Carol Beadle, Susan Taber Avila, Allison Smith, Victoria May, the Montalvo Arts Center, the Lithuania Biennial and the amazing Michael Swaine. They are all really amazing, it’s just that Michael Swaine’s work of mending people’s clothes in the Tenderloin really touched me.

I was sharing my work and Marie commented that my piece Simplicity is similar to a passport shape,  like a “flight of mind to different places”. I liked the visual of the words.

I’m trying to learn how to categorize information so I can come back to what interests me. I write notes in books. I don’t read the notes necessarily and they’re chronological by day. I’ll take action on the things that I most want that I’ve written down but besides that, the books just serve as something to write down what I find fascinating. Above is a page I created today.  What’s written underneath the envelope interiors are the names of the artists I wrote above. I’m writing notes and then pasting down papers on top of my words… an experiment currently. We’ll see what evolves.

Art Every Day Month and Sketchbook Project: Day 3

Day 3 Spread

©2010 Leah Virsik, The Sketchbook Project Nov 03 2010 found paper 17 x 5 1/2 inches The Sketchbook Project and Art Every Day Month Challenge

Enjoying listening to Citizen Cope this morning.

I’ve struggled with note taking since I was really young and have always been amazed how some people are able to organize their thoughts or others’ words in a beautiful manner.

Inspired by Aimee’s lists of artysville.blogspot.com, I recognized how much my own notes are such a great representation of how my brain organizes information and how it’s similar to what I create without words. Pretty fascinating.

Self-Promotion Ideas for Artists

Mapping My Current State of Affairs
©10.04.2010 Leah Virsik, Mapping My Current State of Affairs.
Found paper, acrylic, thread, muslin, glass, wood 59 1/2 x 46 x 1 1/2 inches.
(middle panel in photo is detail of image on left hand side of window screen)

Below is a list I started on some self-promotion ideas. This is an incomplete list for sure… have any great ones to share? Leave a comment.

Carry around a business card, promotional postcards and/or a mini-portfolio. I’ve used and am extremely happy with the printer PSPrint.

Start a blog. If you’re consistent that’s great… if nothing else, it’ll help you get a sense of yourself and give you writing practice.

Set up a Twitter account. It’s helped me connect with other artists. You can also find out what’s going on in your local art scene. People can be really responsive on Twitter with the short character limit. Sub-Studio Design blog featured me as a result of me following them on twitter.

Ask people how they find out about you.

Write a manifesto and publish it. These are a couple of my favorites: How to Be Creative (pdf download) by Hugh MacLeod and Bruce Mau Design’s Incomplete Manifesto for Growth.

Submit your work to be purchased in public places. CaFé is one place to find online calls for entry.

Take classes from other artists whose work you admire. I came across Lisa Kokin’s work in the County of Alameda Clerk-Recorder’s office and I knew I had to take classes from her. Her mentorship and critique group that I’m participating in are making a tremendous difference in my art making.

Teach a class at SCRAP or at Frank Bette Center for the Arts. Or really anywhere… I taught some great classes at Frisbie Street, an alternative art space in Oakland after meeting Lanell Dike through Pro Arts.

If you teach, ask another artist to be a guest speaker. Artists, Michele Pred and Dona Turner graciously said yes to me.

If you teach and want people to know, make sure it’s listed close to your art. Ask your students if they might help promote your upcoming show, class etc. by giving them fliers/postcards to put in prominent areas.

Submit your art event, exhibition or class to Happenstand, Craigslist, Squidlist, Bay Guardian, SF Gate, Fecal Face, Flavorpill, and local newspaper and magazines in your area.

Submit your art for Flavorpill’s banner.

Put your artwork on Flickr. Visit my photostream here. A good bet is that you’ll connect with other people through your art.

Write an article for an art magazine and submit it.

Submit your work to Uppercase magazine or another artful magazine.

Get to know a writer who enjoys writing about artists. Victoria Smith wrote an article in Uppercase magazine on Genine Zlatkis. Now, she’d be a great person to know. 🙂

Participate in Pro Arts Open Studios. For me doing this made an incredible difference in my work and got me geared up towards teaching.

Participate in art auctions. There’s are a lot of reasons why to do this or not. I’ve found it to be beneficial for me at this stage in my career.

Contact your favorite gallery and ask them to consider doing podcasts of their artists talks. If they’ve never thought of it, they may appreciate your suggestion.

Start a podcast. Some of my favorites are Ricë Freeman-Zachery’s Notes from the Voodoo Lounge, Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood’s Craft Sanity and Steve Miller’s Book Artists and Poets.

Participate in craft fairs or specialty niche fairs. I’ll be participating in the Book Arts Jam at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA on October 16, 2010. Come meet me there!

Write to artists whose work makes a difference to you. I wrote Lisa Occhipinti from an article she wrote in Cloth Paper Scissors magazine and I’m really enjoying our correspondence.

Have someone else, like Seth Godin promote your work. Lori Koop was very successful at this as well as Chris Guillebeau and Hugh MacLeod.

Give away your art for free. I was introduced to Jonathan Santlofer via his story of  “artistic tragedy with unexpected benefits” that he told on the Moth podcast. It was so compelling that it led me to his website and then to a free podcast of his best-selling book Anatomy of Fear.