PROJECT 387

Artist Residency, Artist Community

Located on 150 acres of redwood forest, Project 387 provides a multidisciplinary residency program offering a community-based living and working experience for artists in all career stages. The residency is a unique opportunity to delve into the creative process in a focused, exploratory, and rigorous manner while removed from the clamor of urban distractions.

An Overdue Update

As the days have gotten longer and the weather has gotten nicer, we have realized it was time for our Project 387 blog to come out of hibernation. While on surface we may have appeared to be lulled into a winter stupor, still waters have been running deep. For the last five months, Project 387’s board met numerous times to revise and streamline the application process, read applications, select finalists and ultimately choose the 2014 candidates. It was another amazing and humbling process that allowed us a glimpse into the amazing work being created all over the world. In the end, we feel we selected a diverse, talented, and dedicated group to join our second year.

As we prepare the property for another round of residents, we have been reflecting a great deal on how much we learned and grew last year. We were so lucky to have a truly fabulous group of inaugural artists who were daring enough to jump into a completely new situation. In the next coming months, we’ll be reorganizing and reestablishing studio spaces to account for our different artists needs, getting accommodations set, and finalizing our dinner menus. I am sure we will have some excellent photos to share.

In the meantime, we would love to introduce you to our 2014 residents.

We are pleased to welcome:

Joseph Becker

Christy Chan

Kristina Larsen and Sebastian Martin

Cybele Lyle

Masako Miki

In the next coming weeks we will be highlighting each project to come. Stay tuned to hear more!

A Year's End Reflection

2013 will always be a significant year for Project 387. It was the year of creation, execution, and endurance. We are so looking forward to another exciting and inspiring year ahead. As we think back on this process, we are reminded of Claudia Biçen's piece "A Mediation on the Transience of All Things." It is a beautiful reminder to reflect on change and time passed. As we look at 2013, we are reminded that no time was lost- instead it was used. Used to it's fullest. On to 2014!

 

Alumni News: Stephanie Smith and Bryan Allen

We are pleased to announce that Stephanie Smith and Bryan Allen will be unveiling an installation titled Route 50 at West Coast Craft this weekend, November 16-17th at Fort Mason in San Francisco. smith|allen will also be displaying a new set of wearable design works. Read on to learn more!

Press Release: 

smith|allen is excited to be participating in West Coast Craft, a craft and design show in San Francisco at Fort Mason November 16 & 17, 2013. Within the weekend show, we will be displaying an installation, Route 50, along with a curated selection from our wearable design works.

Arranged in a long column on the floor, a grid of stark abstracted forms reflect against a black acrylic ground. The field of 3D printed “tumbleweeds” evokes the desolate Nevada highway, dubbed The Loneliest Road in America, traversing the segmented landscape of air force bases, test bombing areas and electronic warfare sites. Route 50 draws a parallel between technological impositions in the American landscape, and on the American consumer.

The installation recognizes the amount of useless tchotchkes and digital detritus generated by the growing accessibility of rapid prototyping tools, and invites the viewer to critically view the mass availability of “design” files and open source culture. Parts of the installation are free for the viewer to take with them -- a memorabilia of the consumer road trip.

smith|allen’s work challenges the traditional conception and use of consumer grade 3D printing to the use of design, art and architecture. Merging an architect and designer with a sculpture and installation artist, our practice combines an interest in installation, material and dimension with architecture, computer modeling, and novel technologies. smith|allen focuses on work that is visually, conceptually and experientially engaging for the viewer. The duo lives and works in Oakland.

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Alumni News: Claudia Biçen

Claudia Biçen has been popping up everywhere. You may have stumbled upon her work in one of the eleven shows she has been in this year alone or perhaps you were among the lucky visitors who got to see her installation at Project 387 in August. Since leaving the residency, Claudia has been awarded the Herman Margulies Award for Excellence at the recent Pastel Society of America exhibition at the National Arts Club in New York and her piece Raja was selected to appear at the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio-  America's oldest museum dedicated to American Art.

Congratulations Claudia! Be sure to check out her work at 111 Minna Street Gallery this weekend in San Francisco. She is showing her work as part of ULUV.

 

Raja, Claudia Biçen, 2013

Raja, Claudia Biçen, 2013

Alumni News: Robert Wechsler

As fall descends on us here in the Bay Area, we have been reminiscing about the warm summer days at Project 387. In the few short months since we last saw them, the Project 387 Alumni have been deep into development of some very impressive things. Robert Wechsler is no exception. We are not at all surprised after seeing him work night and day during the residency. 

Robert's work appeared across the pages of the October 14th issue of the New Yorker Magazine. He was commissioned by this esteemed publication to do a series of sculptures for their money themed issue. It proved to be a perfect pairing. Robert's complicated manipulation of currency added an intriguing visual element to stories about such subjects as the San Francisco start up world and the science behind manufactured pop stardom.  

Take a look at some shots from the magazine and see more of the sculptures here at www.robertwechsler.com

New Yorker Magazine, October 14th 2013

New Yorker Magazine, October 14th 2013

New Yorker Magazine, October 14th, 2013

New Yorker Magazine, October 14th, 2013

New Yorker Magazine, October 14th, 2013

New Yorker Magazine, October 14th, 2013

After the End

Our pilot season wrapped on Sunday. All the studios were packed, living spaces cleaned, and sad goodbyes said.  We can hardly believe how fast the time flew. After two weeks of intense creative production, artist talks, communal dinners, and evening fun, it was a sudden change here to return to the natural quiet of the woods and ocean.  We could not have asked for a better start to our burgeoning program.

Saturday marked the beginning of an annual tradition, the Project 387 Open House. We had over sixty people from the community as well as friends and colleagues from the Bay Area come check out what had been happening here at mile marker 3.87. Everyone was thrilled to see the artistic process in action.

Project 387 aims to be a space for exploration and experimentation. Every artist who visited this year was able to delve into complicated new themes, push the boundaries of their existing practice, and produce new ideas. This is our measure of true success. We can’t wait to continue on next year.

Project 387 would like to thank a few people who made this year possible:

Sydney and Ray Feeney- without whom the project could not have happened. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

Sarah Koik- Social media maven and an all hands on deck-er

Betsy Partridge and Tom Ratcliff- Cheer squad and tour guides

Katherine Starros- fellow interviewer and taskmaster

Madeleine Wilhite- residency insider

Jeanette Stefani- The Intern, Snack Master, and Speed Racer

In-kind support provided by:

Kim DeFay and Rusty McBride

Cathi and Bill Mathews

Anna and Gary Grossnickle Hines

Betsy Partridge and Tom Ratcliff

Bob Baker

Jose, Hector, and Rita Luna

Greg and Jeanine Stefani

Susan and Frank Jackson

And of course our pioneer artists who were willing to dive in and create something truly memorable and special:

Bryan Allen

Rich Benjamin

Claudia Biçen

Sean McFarland

Stephanie Smith

Robert Wechsler

 

The Half Way Point

Sunday marked the halfway point for our pilot residency. We can hardly believe a week has come and gone. Everyone has been working steadily while still reserving a bit of time to get into the woods and down to the beach.

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Stephanie and Bryan have been printing, planning, digging, drawing, and designing all week. Seven Type A Machines have been running non-stop for seven days to finish Echoviren. This entirely 3D printed installation is derived in part from the microscopic patterning found in a sequoia cell.  The first layer of this installation is now in situ. We are looking forward to seeing the rest of it emerge as the week continues.

 

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Rich has been diligently working on a non-fiction memoir of his family’s history in Haiti. His work explores a complicated relationship between the country’s political history and his family’s connections to this tumultuous time. Switching between the cottage and the studio, Rich has been able to untie writing knots that might otherwise have proved to be roadblocks in Brooklyn.

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Claudia has been hiking the steep hills of Project 387 in search of the perfect in situ locations for her series of portraits that focus on the people most connected with the landscape of Project 387. She has successfully finished two full portraits and has plans for three more.  After spending time interviewing all her subjects, she finds both natural and human intervened areas to construct pastel portraits on natural materials. These beautiful, realist drawings will fade into nothing as time passes, returning them to the earth they emerged from.

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Sean has been busy working on visually connecting a series of work all derived from a similar conceptual background. Focusing on the idea of artifice in both landscape and photography, Sean has been using collage, cyanotype, and digital photography to explore what we think we see compared to the reality behind the image.

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Robert has been building a number of different projects all based around the US penny. After completing a cube lattice structure, he has moved on to working with the word Liberty punched from individual coins into grain-sized slices.  With indefatigable patience, Robert has designed beautiful patterns laced with challenging symbolism. 

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A Message from the Kitchen

Not just for the resident artists, Project 387 has given us all a chance to push our creativity. For me, it was testing my culinary and time management skills.  Cooking for a large crowd has never presented too formidable a task; however, doing it for several nights consecutively, I discovered it is simply a lot of work especially while trying to devise diverse meals that will satisfy both the vegetarian and omnivore palate.  Even though we had come up with a menu prior to the project, it was remarkable how my inefficiencies in the kitchen added to many more hours of prep than it should have. Fortunately, with the help of my very essential sous chef, Jeannette Stefani, most of my short comings were eclipsed.  Cheerfully, she picked up the slack, made repeated trips to town for missed items, chopped, cleaned and made entire dishes.  During the first week, we made tacos, pork tenderloin, mushroom quiche, nightly salads, roasted vegetables, enchiladas, lasagna, and numerous fruit desserts. Our garden provided squashes, greens, onions, lemons, limes, apples, cabbage, blackberries, raspberries, carrots, kale, beans, snap peas, and gorgeous watermelon radishes.  It is beyond satisfying serving food you have grown. 

Week one is over and on to curry chicken for tonight. We could not have asked for a more wonderful inaugural group of artists. It is an honor to be feeding  their creative spirits!

 

-Sydney, Resident Chef

At the Project 387 dinner table

At the Project 387 dinner table

A Work in Progress

Project 387 has been underway for five days now. Everyone has settled into a steady routine ending in lively evening dinners. Last night’s conversation ranged from Gordon Matta-Clark all the way to Larry Clark as we shared the artists we admired.

 

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Claudia Bicen begins work on a series of portraits in the woods. 

Claudia Bicen begins work on a series of portraits in the woods. 

Stephanie Smith arranges pieces of the Smith|Allen sculpture underway printed using Type A Machines 3D printers. 

Stephanie Smith arranges pieces of the Smith|Allen sculpture underway printed using Type A Machines 3D printers. 

Bryan Allen adjusts a piece on one of the 6 Type A Machines printers working to produce the Smith|Allen sculpture

Claudia Bicen prepares surfaces for her portraits in the woods.

Claudia Bicen prepares surfaces for her portraits in the woods.

Rich Benjamin researches his latest project. 

Rich Benjamin researches his latest project. 

Sean McFarland hikes the coast while on a short break from the studio. 

Sean McFarland hikes the coast while on a short break from the studio. 

Today's view. 

Today's view. 

Introductions: Sean McFarland

Sean McFarland, 2013  

Sean McFarland, 2013

 

We caught up with Sean McFarland in between teaching this summer, exploring the Sierra Nevada, and coming to Project 387. Here is what he had to say about his process and his work.

1. Tell us briefly about the focus of your work.

I make photographs and drawings. I’m interested in interrogating the representational image; and revealing how it alters our perception of the landscape.

2. What themes are you currently exploring?

In the simplest terms, my practice is about looking at and actually seeing the environments that we inhabit. There are several modes of viewing the landscape—in person, through books and magazines, and through the work of others; to me, no one form of sight is more pure than another.

I am less interested in the landscape as seen by the early photographers of the American West, than in the landscapes that they created through their images.

Sean McFarland, 2013

Sean McFarland, 2013

3. What are you looking at, reading, or listening to right now that is influencing your work or process?

This week I’m working with a landscape camouflaging crew in the wilderness areas of the Eastern Sierra Nevada, just started reading Believing is Seeing (Observations on the Mysteries of Photography), by Errol Morris, music changes daily.

4. What does a typical day in the studio/office look like for you?

It’s always different.

5. Is there anything unusual that helps you stay focused while working?

Nothing too crazy, just headphones and good music.

6. What's the best advice someone has giving you about your work? The worst?

Someone once told me that I might be a magician, then asked me if that was enough. It was the best advise I’ve ever received.

7. Are you involved in any upcoming shows/events/happenings?

I’m working on a book project and an installation. I’ll keep you posted about the details.

8. Is there one particular thing you are most looking forward to at Project 387?

There are 3; work time, meeting good people, and the Pacific Ocean.

 

Sean McFarland, 2013

Sean McFarland, 2013

A Studio Transformation

This past weekend, the Project 387 team spent some time building, erecting, and finishing off our studio walls all in preparation for artists to arrive on August 4th. Check out the work in progress:

 

Board member Katherine Starros herds some gate crashers away from our pristine white walls. 

Board member Katherine Starros herds some gate crashers away from our pristine white walls. 

Board member Ray Feeney finishes securing the 2x4 frame around our walls

Board member Ray Feeney finishes securing the 2x4 frame around our walls

Project 387 intern Jeannette Stefani and board member Sarah Koik finish up the framing. 

Project 387 intern Jeannette Stefani and board member Sarah Koik finish up the framing. 

And the first wall goes up!

And the first wall goes up!

A good reminder to measure twice and cut once... 

A good reminder to measure twice and cut once... 

Bracing

Bracing

raising

raising

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Introductions: Stephanie Smith and Bryan Allen

Meet Stephanie Smith and Bryan Allen, the collaborative duo behind Smith|Allen. Here is what they had to say about their process and coming to Project 387:  

1. Tell us briefly about the focus of your work.

Smith|Allen 2013

Smith|Allen 2013

As a collaborative duo, Smith|Allen brings together an architect and designer with a sculpture and installation artist. Our work responds to site, form, structure, and interaction. We are focused on creating site-responsive, large scale works.  We are interested in investigating the relationship between nature and technology. We explore this dialectic through different lenses of man, machine, and environment.  We seek grafts, transmutations, and transfigurations within the space of the forest: transforming a ubiquitous landscape in Northern California into a hybridized, supernatural experience. A comment on the true nature of the forest, not as a natural system but a palimpsest and juxtaposition of temporal experience. 

2. What themes are you currently exploring?

Our practice is conceptually based in ideas of translation and recontextualization, specifically exploring a relationship between nature and technology. Our work successively abstracts natural forms through analog and digital means: from hand drawings, digital representations, and computer analysis to a re-physicalized 3D form.   

3. What are you looking at, reading, or listening to right now that is influencing your work or process?

Being on the site and drawing inspiration from the natural growths and unnatural interactions that we see there. Our work is inherently site-specific and we are interested to be making work at a site. We  took a weekend trip up to the Project 387 in early June, so that we could map out potential locations for our project. We were able to explore the geography, from the lower grounds to upper, to find a site that fit the goals of the project. Amid a synonymous landscape of redwoods, we mapped the site and filled our cameras with photographs of textures and landscape. We have created a scale model of the chosen site, and used the images as source material for the structure of the piece.

We are influenced by the remote installation work of Sixteen-Makers, the grandeur and comprehensiveness of Jean-Claude and Christo, the visions and theory of Liam Young, the ephemerality of Robert Irwin, and the architectural grafts and corruptions of Lebbeus Woods.  We are inspired by those who recognize conflicts and interactions of the natural and technological world, and instead of glossing over them, choose to dig in, to investigate, and to use these outliers as critiques, as foils, and as fuel.

4. What does a typical day in the studio/office look like for you?

We work together and live together, which allows for constant creative interchange between us. We both have day jobs so the majority of our work happens in off hours.

Our works begin with dialogue, where we bounce back ideas to each other: playing proposing, and imagining.  We do small models and drawings, sketches and other ways to simply explore ideas.   Then our process becomes more of an exchange, we break up and work independently, and then reconvene and reconfigure based on critique and feedback. 

Our loft is now full of drawings,  models, site photographs, and 3D printers, which constantly run the large scale installation we are making for Project 387.  The hum and buzz of the eight printers provides  a constant backdrop for creativity, a grounding and an imperative for the progress of the project.

5. Is there anything unusual that helps you stay focused while working?

Stephanie: It keeps me focused to have my studio in our loft, to have the materials at hand all the time, it is a constant reminder to keep working. But, what keeps me focused above all, is the fact that I live and work with my collaborator! 

Bryan: Staying focused and staying creative is always a challenge, it takes work and rigor to stay sharp.  Luckily, Steph and I are always thinking about ideas in the backs of our minds, and at random moments, our conversation might be interrupted by ‘hey what if we did...” with the solution from a problem hours before.   This open ongoing dialogue keeps us going.  It also helps to have the printers constantly running in the background producing parts for the project.

6. What's the best advice someone has giving you about your work? The worst?

Bryan: That all work has to tell a story, to involve the audience and get them into it. It has to mean something to someone, to be perfomative and useful.  It Doesn’t matter what it says, but your work has to say something.

Stephanie: The best advice someone gave me came a few months out of art school, during a crucial time where I no longer had resources to create on the scale or with materials I was used to,  with no more consistent exhibition opportunities on the horizon. The advice was to keep producing, to keep making, and that anything can be an exhibition opportunity, whether in a coffee shop or your living room. 

Stephanie: The worst advice I received was that I should be a painter.

Bryan: I don’t usually listen to advice of any sort. But the worst would have to be to ‘get a job’ coming from a professional architect.

7. Are you involved in any upcoming shows/events/happenings?

We are just wrapping up a show at the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, where a sculpture has been on view for the past month.   We recently had one of our sculptures featured in the 7x7 magazine’s best of tech section.   Our work is being displayed online by Type A Machines, the company that makes the 3D printers we use.  We are working to continue building a body of work, get a website up, and start applying for other exhibitions and residencies.

8. Is there one particular thing you are most looking forward to at Project 387?

We are looking forward to this as a creative retreat, an intensive ascetic adventure into the forest.  An immersion into a creative microcosm with a multiplicity of artists and visions, united by a single drive to create great work for the site.   We are excited by  the chance to escape our jobs, the city, and the outside world, and just focus on craft, making, and creating. 

 

Smith|Allen 2013

Smith|Allen 2013

Introductions: Rich Benjamin

Over the weekend we heard from Rich Benjamin about life as a writer. Read on to learn about his process. 

 

1. Tell us briefly about the focus of your work.

I’m focusing on a book right now, as opposed to short-form writing projects.

2. What themes are you currently exploring?

Money.  Power. Power rivets me—as a problem, as a weapon, as a dynamic, as a positive tool.

3. What are you looking at, reading, or listening to right now that is influencing your work or process?

Photos of people in families – they are very revealing documents of how people relate

Seamus Heaney’s poems

French films (non-linear storytelling)

The Wall Street Journal – an un-ironic mouthpiece of corporate wealth. The financial Establishment’s daily statement of how things should be.

4. What does a typical day in the office look like for you?

No such thing as a typical day!

5. Is there anything unusual that helps you stay focused while working?

Nope.  If I’m unfocused or distracted, that’s a substantive problem, not a procedural one.  If what I’m working on can’t sustain my own focus, certainly it won’t sustain the public’s.  The point isn’t to discipline my focus, the point is to make my work compelling. 

6. What's the best advice someone has giving you about your work? The worst?

Find the heat.  Go where I am most passionate; where the stakes are highest; where there is the most danger and depth.  Don’t linger on the surfaces, go to the hot, molten core. 

7. Are you involved in any upcoming shows/events/happenings?

This fall I will be guest hosting an episode of "After Word" on Book TV.  And please follow me on Twitter: @RichBenjaminUSA

 8. Is there one particular thing you are most looking forward to at Project 387?

 My work.  Some good fellow travelers.

 

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Introductions: Robert Wechsler

Introducing Robert Wechsler, an LA based artist finding beauty in the ubiquitous. We caught up with him via email and here is what he had to say:

 

Robert Wechsler, 2013

Robert Wechsler, 2013

Tell us briefly about the focus of your work.

My current work focuses on the U.S. penny. In production since 1909, the penny has been one of the most familiar objects of daily life in this country for more than a century. Rendered practically worthless by inflation, the penny is now nearing the end of its life. Still produced but without purpose, exceptionally common but rarely used, ubiquitous to the point of invisibility, I see the penny as fertile ground for surprise.

What themes are you currently exploring?

Much of my work involves the appropriation and manipulation of objects in the public sphere. I am interested in adding value to the public’s perception through unsanctioned creation.

The trickster archetype, as described by Carl Jung, is the symbolic figure who reveals psychic truths through mischief. The trickster employs jokes and pranks, his armaments to puncture through hubris, in order to enlighten. Bringing meaning to the meaningless, he reveals the truth behind collective symbols while simultaneously demystifying collective conventions. Analogously, my work seeks to awaken undiscovered virtue in everyday objects and spaces by challenging commonplace associations through careful intervention.

I focus on the familiar. Comfortably accustomed to everyday objects and spaces, we are blind to their unseen beauty and elegance. Who looks at a shopping cart or a toaster for the object itself? This state of static expectations is fertile ground for surprise. A conscious re-examination of my subjects re-instates the novel back into the

familiar. This is the moment of surprise, the moment we discover what is unseen in what we always see. In reverence for what initially appears modest we get a small glimpse of the boundless elegance of our world.

Robert Wechsler, 2013

Robert Wechsler, 2013

What are you looking at, reading, or listening to right now that is influencing your work or process?

I am impressed with the work of Tim Hawkinson, and Ann Hamilton. I appreciate their intuitive understandings of materials, and mastery of space and scale. I am inspired by the natural rhythm of Hawkinson’s structures, and intrigued by Hamilton’s command and integration of Language.

I am also interested in design magazines and websites. There is a celebration of problem solving, innovation, and accessibility in the design world that I find sadly lacking in the world of fine arts.

I am currently reading an essay/testimony by a fellow artist and close friend Gregory Michael Hernandez, in which he explains his religious philosophy and relationship to the church. I have also recently reread Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein, and Lamb by Christopher Moore Both of these books are entertaining fictions critiquing contemporary religious conventions and exploring the validity of Faith. I am not a religious person but I am interested in religion and faith as fundamental ingredients of our culture. It is a theme I often visit in my work.

I am always listening to audio books, podcasts, and music while I work, and I believe it all has some informative effect on my own practice. Recently I have been listening to comedian Pete Holmes’ podcast “You Made It Weird,” in which he records one-on-one conversations with his peers discussing intimate details of their careers, relationships, and religious beliefs. This podcast touches on many of the serious ideas I think about in my life and in my work, while remaining a source of delight and amusement. As an artist I value the amusement of my audience. At once earnest and entertaining, this podcast represents a generosity toward the audience that I value and aspire to in my own practice.

What does a typical day in the studio look like for you?

I use my garage as a studio. A typical day begins around 8 am and ends around 10 pm, with frequent breaks for coffee, cat petting, and contemplation. I usually listen to audio books or music while I work. My studio activities vary greatly from project to project. I may be working with power tools, or drawing on the light table. Often my work involves tedious assembly or repetitive activity. When this is the case I will break regularly for short walks around the neighborhood.

Is there anything unusual that helps you stay focused while working?

I often wear protective headphones, even if I’m not using power tools, to block out ambient noise and help me stay focused. I also tend to have ear buds in under the headphones so I can listen to an audio book or music. If I’m having a particularly hard time concentrating, I will listen to a single song on repeat all day. This helps me loose track of time and is especially helpful while working on complex and physically demanding tasks. If I am feeling frustrated I will listen to recordings of Martin Luther King Jr.

What's the best advice someone has giving you about your work? The worst?

Robert Wechsler, 2013

Robert Wechsler, 2013

Good Advice: My college professor Kim Yasuda told me to stop worrying about “If it’s been done before because it has all been done before.” She helped me realize it was more important that the idea was new to me than new to the world, and that an idea could be unique without being wholly original. This piece of advice is in no way new, but it was new to me, and it has shaped my creative practice for the better ever since.

Bad Advice: A fellow artist told me years ago not to make a website for my art because no one would take me seriously as an artist.

Are you involved in any upcoming shows/events/happenings?

I am working on a book project and website. I hope to launch in early November

Is there one particular thing you are most looking forward to at Project 387?

I am most looking forward to meeting the other residents, building relationships, and contributing to a new creative community.

 

Introductions: Claudia Bicen

Claudia Bicen is a San Francisco based artist who hales from London. We caught up with her to ask a few questions about her practice and her history. Read on to learn more! 

Claudia Bicen, 2013

Claudia Bicen, 2013

1.     Tell us briefly about the focus of your work.

I have no formal education in art and instead graduated with a BA in Philosophy and Psychology and an MSc in Cultural Anthropology. Studying these subjects has played a huge role in the direction my artistic practice has taken. Through varying styles of portraiture, both realist and surrealist, my artwork is focused on the human spirit. I am captivated by how conscious, sentient beings have evolved from physical matter to be able to communicate and understand one another. Drawing portraits is a further exploration of this phenomenon: an extraordinarily intimate process where a three-dimensional illusion of another thinking, feeling human being is created with a two-dimensional medium.

The pursuit of realism as an artistic technique is an obvious one for me because it is the detail of life that really holds my attention: the subtle shift in light across the curve of a cheek, the tissue paper folds and creases of old skin, the glint of an eye and the individual hairs of a beard. It is in these details that I find the highest degrees of beauty and it is through these subtleties that I try to capture my subjects' vulnerability and honesty.

2.     What themes are you currently exploring?

I am currently working on a series of surrealist portraits that juxtapose the vibrancy of human life against its essentially ephemeral nature by combining the intricate detail of realism with the disintegration of form. My work at Project 387 will be a continuation of this theme but more specifically focusing on the Japanese aesthetic principle of 'mono no aware', the idea that true serenity arises from our ability to embrace transience. Moving away from traditional mediums and settings, the portrait project will utilize the unique objects at, and location of Project 387 to create a walking meditation. The project will engage the viewer as a witness to the process of change and provide them with an opportunity, if they choose to take it, to embrace the dissolution of beauty.

3.     What are you looking at, reading, or listening to right now that is influencing your work or process?

Some of the big influences for this project have been the Buddhist meditation teachings of S. N. Goenka, the existential psychotherapy publications of Irvin Yalom, the cinematic masterpieces of Fricke and Magidson and the 'memento moris' embedded in 16-17th century European art. The musical lubricant for my recent work is the dreamlike soundscapes of Gold Panda, Evenings and Clams Casino. My visual influences are always the people around me: the woman on the bus, the man on the street.

4.     What does a typical day in the studio look like for you?

My current studio is in my kitchen where the lighting is best. A typical work day is placing myself in the center of the room surrounded by pastels while the world goes on around me and the music plays loudly in my ears.

5.     Is there anything unusual that helps you stay focused while working?

The realistic style of my work only serves to feed my obsessive nature (and provide a socially acceptable forum for it). My bigger problem is being able to pull away from my work. I often work for many hours without a break only to suddenly become aware of my body and realize that I'm famished, thirsty and exhausted.

6.     What's the best advice someone has giving you about your work? The worst?

Best advice: don't stop.

Worst advice: draw celebrities.

7.     Are you involved in any upcoming shows/events/happenings?

The opening reception of my first solo show will be held on August 2, two days before the Project 387 residency starts. The exhibition will be at FM Gallery, one of the main galleries at Oakland's Art Murmur, and will showcase work from the last year.

8.     Is there one particular thing you are most looking forward to at Project 387?

I am most looking forward to turning off my electronic companions/crutches, disconnecting from the  constant flow of distractions that dominate city life and being able to embrace the stillness and presence of the natural world that I hope will facilitate my creative process.

 

Claudia Bicen, 2013

Claudia Bicen, 2013

Introductions: Sydney Feeney

Being a new organization, there doesn't seem to be much out there in the world about who we are and what we are doing. We thought it was about time we changed that. For the next few weeks we will be posting small interviews that will help introduce Project 387 staff and residents to all who are interested in learning.   

Meet Sydney Feeney: Landowner, Board Member, Arts Supporter, and Powerhouse.

Prepping the home garden. 

Prepping the home garden. 

syd and ray.jpg

Sydney and Ray Feeney own the the Project 387 land. Splitting their time between Southern California and Northern California, they make the nine hour voyage by car with three dogs in tow every month. Most days in Gualala, you can't get a hold of Sydney because she is never sitting still. She maintains a great deal of the land herself-- mowing the acres of meadows, tearing up and replacing irrigation systems, chainsawing, clearing brush, and chopping wood. 

We met up with Sydney late one evening (don't try to take any of her daylight hours away) to get a few answers about her relationship with Project 387. Here's what she had to say: 

 

When and how did you fall in love with this area?

In 1970, I came up here during spring break while I was at UCSB. My boyfriend at the time had a family ranch and rustic cabin which produced in me the instant love for the trees, land, and freedom one associates with Mendocino County. Regardless of the distance from Southern California, I found myself returning whenever I could. Although the nine hour trip from Southern California is arduous, crossing the bridge that leads into Gualala has never failed to produce a sense of well being and an instant smile.

 

When did you acquire the land? Did it look pretty much the same as it does now?

In 1989,  Ray and I took our children on a trek to visit the area and rented a vacation house. In a moment of, we could do this for real; I suggested that we look around for something of our own.  Within a year, we found ourselves with 90 acres of overgrown, inaccessible land perched high on a hill with views of the expansive Pacific. It generated a sense of absolute wonderment and adventure I had never felt before. Little did we know what lay ahead. As the years passed we acquired more parcels of land, built several buildings, added a bridge, restored a creek,  paved roads, and undertook the massive project of getting rid of past logging slash and removing underbrush. As the land’s caretakers, we are proud of what we have done and love to share it.

 

How do you find the energy to maintain 150 acres?

My sister and I swear that there is truth in the philosophy that being among tall trees gives you energy. I find myself at the end of eight to ten hour days running out of light before my energy gives out.  I think it also has to do with loving what you are doing. Perhaps our visiting artists will experience this magical phenomenon.

What made you want to share this opportunity with artists?

We always had a vision of sharing this place with as many people as we could. When the idea to create a residency was proposed, we felt like it was a great opportunity to utilize the property to its full potential.

 

How has it been prepping for 6 artists to come and live here for 2 weeks?

You know when you live in a place day in and day out, you rarely notice the faults in your home. Things like spider webs in the sky lights, windows that could use a little cleaning and those pesky tasks you've been putting off for ages. I am a stickler when it comes to making my guests feel welcome and comfortable so we have been upgrading and trying to make things sparkle for everyone.

 

Summer Residents

Project 387 is proud to officially announce its summer residents:

Bryan Allen and Stephanie Smith- Visual Artists, Design and Sculpture

Rich Benjamin- Writing

Claudia Bicen- Visual Artist, Portraiture

Sean McFarland- Visual Artist, Photography

Robert Wechsler- Visual Artist, Sculpture

Honorable mention goes to:

Erin Johnson- New Media Art, Video

Rachel Khong- Writing

Carey Lin- Visual Art, Painting

Jesse Malmed- Performance Art

Simon Pyle- New Media Art, Digital

Thank you to all the applicants! We were amazed by the overwhelming response to our program. We are very much looking forward to seeing it in action. Stay tuned for more updates.

-Project 387