ARTISTS CHALLENGE STATUS QUO AT CITY COLLEGE GALLERY SHOW
BY LARRY SIMPSON
Artist Dawn Black, flanked by her baroque oil portraits.
MICHAEL P. SMITH / GUARDSMAN
Just in time for Women’s History Month, the City Arts Gallery at CCSF will be hosting a show rich in vivid reflections on society from a female perspective. “Veils and Lamentations”, featuring artists Heidi Neff and Dawn Black, opened on the Ocean Campus in the Visual Arts building on February 28.
“On a decorative level, the beauty of the color and light in the paintings, and these artists' love of orchestrating an impressive range of art elements within each piece, will strike any viewer who walks in the gallery,” said Mine Ternar, curator/coordinator of the gallery.
“Veils and Lamentation” is an enveloping dialogue between Neff’s and Black’s works, with every painting and drawing filling in a line of conversation. The show, which will be on display until March 23, is peopled by Black’s florid yet haunting portraits and Neff’s medieval structural commentary. In each picture the viewer is invited to look through the past into the present, in search of voices that slip through the cracks.
“While their works are quite different from one another, both artists borrow heavily from the art of the past as they speak to current events and states of mind,” said Mine Ternar, Curator/Coordinator of the gallery.
Black, who resides in San Francisco, paints in-depth facial oil portraits of the women she knows best in the world: her family, her friends and herself. She then veils the woman in elaborate headdress, transforming pictures of historical costumes, mannerist paintings, and pictures from magazines like W, Harper’s Bazzar and National Geographic.”
“I combine, rearrange and integrate present and past adornments to create an aggregate portrait that explores female stereotypes and celebrates femininity and tactility,” Black writes in her artist statement.
She went on to say, “Adorning the portrait transforms the pictorial space, creating an otherworldliness where the laws of gravity, naturalistic depth, and value are skewed and often ignored. The portraits become possible caryatids of their raiment as the space shifts between their heads' ability to structurally support the weight of a culturally amalgamated headdress and their being engulfed or overshadowed by it,”
“Dawn Black's ambiguous portraits of women she knows well, contrast their facial expressions with the incredibly lush headdresses and adornments that she surrounds them with, and blur the boundaries of time in an art historical sense,” said Ternar.
Artist Heidi Neff poses between two of her paintings, which are inspired by baroque ceilings.
MICHAEL P. SMITH / GUARDSMAN
Neff, who resides in both Baltimore and San Francisco, contributes meditations on how human nature is misdirected by passion misplaced. In her smaller paintings she utilizes religious iconography from medieval and baroque tradition, injecting with modern text from new sources, sex manuals, pop icons and personal fantasy. Her larger paintings are actual studies for larger wall paintings.
As vividly dramatic as the baroque ceilings they mimic, Neff’s work pays homage to modern sensibilities with recognizable themes and characters. In her stark mixed media ceiling drawing “Just Violence and God” the artist depicts an isolated woman naked on the edge of a violent ring of prophets, gods and monsters.
“Al Jazeera”, one of Neff’s smaller manuscripts, is a direct jab at the Bush regime in the form of an Islamic painting from the middle ages. The words Aljazeera.net are encrypted into the composition, with a picture of the collapsing World Trade Center in the middle of the ‘a’. George W’s head is divine fashion above a painting that depicts the passing of Allah’s word between Islamic men.
Ternar, who has been curating the gallery since she became full-time staff in 2002, says
“Being in charge of the gallery program has allowed me to contribute to the cultural life of our campus community in a very special way by bringing in artists from greater Bay Area to exhibit their works on our campus, which helps maintain a lively dialogue on art that is being produced in the Bay Area at large,” said Ternar
AN OLD FAIRY TALE GETS NEW LIFE FROM THE CITY COLLEGE THEATER DEPARTMENT
BY DESMOND MILLER
The two leads of the musical Corey Lappier (left) ad Megan Dueck.
Photos courtesy of the Theater Dept.
The Theater Arts Department and the Music Department of City College present the Mary Rodgers and Marshall Barer musical, ”Once Upon a Mattress,” in the Diego Rivera Theatre.
The musical, based on the Danish fairy tale “The Princess and the Pea” by Hans Christian Andersen, tells the story of a kingdom forbidden to marry until the prince has found a suitable bride. The twist is the queen does everything in her power to make sure her precious son will never marry and leave the nest. The plan would have worked if not for a princess from the wrong side of the tracks.
Deborah Shaw directed and choreographed the musical. She started in 1987 and is one of many directors in the theater department.
“This production took about six weeks to mount with a 5 and a half week rehearsal period,” Shaw said. “We also have a full 14-piece orchestra. Unfortunately with this set design they are hidden.
Students predominantly come to the auditions, but we also serve the outer community so we have a nice blend of cast member,” Shaw said.
The production overall was a good one. A few small things that could have helped the show. In some parts the chorus was overpowered by the orchestra. The leads didn’t have this problem, probably because they were had small microphones on their costumes.
“For some people this is the first show they have done,” Shaw said. “Others have come back and have been in many shows.”
Megan Dueck, played the boisterous Princess Winnifred, the only one who can save the kingdom from a life matrimonial celibacy. Dueck, who started doing community theater in 2003, showcases her vocal range as she belts out songs with the grin of a Cheshire cat.
Dueck had no microphone when she was in her sleeping costume and she was still able to sing loud and strong.
Corey Lappier, who played the mousey Prince Dauntless, was just as entertaining.
“This is my third show here,” Lappier said. “It is nice to be involved again and get to see Megan take the bulk of the responsibility for this show, because last year I was the lead in Pippin with Megan and this year she is the lead. It’s nice to have the chemistry set all ready.”
Several of the other cast members have been in other shows so it feels more like a regular company. New students are always coming in, some come as far away as San Jose. Shaw also does the choreography because some students are not dancers so they have to do steps that are easier to learn.
Another thing that could have been better was the synchronicity between the orchestra and the performers. Sometimes it felt as though the singers were singing to fast during some songs in order to keep up with the orchestra.
Overall the direction and performances were very good and the problems were really minor and honestly don’t detract from the enjoyment of the musical.
There are three more shows this weekend so don’t sleep through this run.
STATE YOUR FASHION CITY COLLEGE
BY LARRY SIMPSON
Tyla Jones, the "Angelheaded Hipster"
MICHAEL P. SMITH / GUARDSMAN
We found the idyllically vintage Tyla Jones absorbed in literature and sunshine behind the Diego Rivera Theater. Illuminated in her brown 60’s day dress with brown leggings, vintage shoes and aviators, her outfit is classic without feeling retro. An English major, who cites Jack Kerouac’s “Dharma Bums” as her favorite novel, says she dressed that morning in honor of the sun. The former buyer for thrift-store chain Crossroads Trading Co., says she avoids what her old co-works dubbed ‘hipster chic’, in favor of garments that reflect her different facets of her personality. What inspires Tyla is the idea of recycling style, giving new life to discarded fashions, and having enough diversity in her wardrobe to match her mood.
Indie punk musician Alexi Alexandra
MICHAEL P. SMITH / GUARDSMAN
We found Alexi, garbed in updated grunge, cranking out tunes on his acoustic behind the Diego River Theater, oblivious to all else around him. This guitar player for local indie punk band Pigeon has a grey scale astsetic close to the ‘dirty birds’ his band is named for. . For a hard knocks rocker kid who could careless about fashion, his outfit was pretty trendy. The striped sweater and dry denim with parched black wash are staples on the streets of San Francisco these days. To Alexi their just new clothes, particularly ones his girlfriend really likes. Besides allusions to Freddy Kruger sweaters he was less enthusiastic talking about fashion, than his recent fascinations with bands like Microphone and The Cure.
"Sean Price - Jesus Price Superstar "
Sean Price a.k.a. Ruck from Heltah Skeltah is back with more “ignorance at it’s finest.” The brokest rapper you know isn’t so broke no more, but his grimy sense of irony is potent as ever. His 2005 solo debut “Monkey Bars” named Independent Album Of The Year by Allhiphop.com, garnered him a heavy underground following. Delivering his punch lines with perfect timing, Price might be the last great emcee to make you laugh at gun busting and drug selling. On “Violence” Sean P waxes murderous over an almost ambient 9th Wonder track, laughing at his irreverence the whole way. “Mess You Made” is easily the albums emotional climax, where the emcee recalls his life’s’ greatest screw-ups.
"Nikki Giovanni - Acolytes"
In the Black Arts Movement of the 70’s, Nikki Giovanni’s “Ego Trippin” poetry gave an authoritative voice to the search for self-awareness in the black-is-beautiful era. Thirty years later she’s back to update the struggle with insights that have only grown more compelling with time. “Acolytes” is a collection of 80 poems in which the poet asks of herself “How You Gonna Save’em?” With the same brash but effective touch she had in her twenties, Giovanni’s re-investigates the murder of Emmit Till, re-ignites the spirit of Rosa Parks, request just one more tune from Nina Simone and challenges the waters of New Orleans. The poet also cinematically presents the events of her life that shaped her perception, and shares poetic renditions of her favorite recipes.