Susan R. Kirshenbaum

art and life - both the cherries and the pits

SFWA SOLO SHOW & ART TALK (SHOWS & TELLS ALL)

Susan Kirshenbaum1 Comment

Excerpted from: ART TALK FEBRUARY 23, 2019

“WOMEN IN SILK: NOT WHAT YOU THINK” AND “LIFE SQUARED” AT SFWA

I gave an art talk on 2/23/19 at SFWA Artist Salon Gallery. The exhibition closes soon - see it through March 1, 2019.

WHY I DO WHAT I DO

What drives me to create this work? When I was younger, I thought the world was progressive, moving forward, never backward.

Maybe four years old doing what makes me happiest. Sitting at the window drawing.

Now I’m both astonished and delighted that at long last there is another wave of increased awareness about the ongoing exclusion and mistreatment of women.

As a young person growing up in the 60s through the 80s I watched and participated in a wave of progress in human rights. Not knowing better, I believed that political and social change are continuous and progressive.

Drawing on the front stoop in Pittsburgh, PA, around 1961.

I thought with the women’s movement that our progress was leaping ahead and my generation would at last achieve equality - that the world would not judge us by our bodies and treat us like second-class citizens. I was wrong. Now I know this is not so. But I see now that the old cliché one step forward two steps back is apt for much of life and obvious in our political climate. This is why resilience is so important.

The fight is still on and there is renewed energy. I continue to play my part through my art.

At Miami Art Basel in 2017 wearing one of my handmade art dresses.

THE FEATURED SERIES

Three years ago I began this new phase of life as a full-time visual artist. I realized "It's never too late to do what you really care about - and it's important for me to create lively, provocative art".

The work on these walls (in the SFWA Artist Gallery exhibition) represents three series over several years. The first was the Silk Scroll series of seven scrolls (White and Color Block).

The Laundry Gallery: First exhibit of all of the Silk Scroll Series

“Red Hair Curly and Straight” white silk scroll - I have thing about hair…

“Red Kimono” from Color Block Silk Scroll Series (created at the same time as the White Silk Scroll Series).

“Reaching” from the Color Block Silk Scroll Series

Next came the site-specific series of five “Banderas” (flags in Spanish) .

Troll House Reception 2017

And most recently I produced the Life Squared series of small works on paper in shadowboxes, often they are collages and/or mirrored images.

One of the walls in the show at SFWA

One of the walls in the show at SFWA

A FEMINIST FIGURATIVE ARTIST

All of my work is purely figurative and unashamedly feminist. It’s about women, reclaiming our bodies, being proud and self possessed. It’s straightforward yet open to interpretation. My drawings are brisk, bold, gestural works made from short poses. I’m inspired by my models.

Here’s the graffiti I shot in Spain before it became a layer in the collage to the right.

Here’s the graffiti I shot in Spain before it became a layer in the collage to the right.

Left side of a planned diptych collage - not in print yet

Digital collage: produced in 2 unique editions: a metal print and a print on paper in a shadowbox.

Right side of a diptych collage - not in print yet

Golden Gate Bridge up close and a collage layer.

Golden Gate Bridge up close and a collage layer.

I often make multiple versions from one original. I choose the best of the bunch or there may be several editions that spring from the initial drawing. This is one way that I make the most of the digital drawing process and my need to experiment and see my options.

Every February I watch for the first signs of spring in Golden Gate Park (SF) such as the magnolia trees in bloom. Nature is often a theme in my work.

Every February I watch for the first signs of spring in Golden Gate Park (SF) such as the magnolia trees in bloom. Nature is often a theme in my work.

Original version without magnolia tree

Version as a single figure collage

Version as a single figure collage

Collage version with magnolia tree

This version becomes a pattern collage

Version as a single figure collage

Original drawing before multiplying

Original drawing before multiplying

Original drawing before multiplying

Two titles: “Head Butting” and “Let’s Put our Heads Together”

My Valentines day 2019 image

“Leafy Dreams” collage is a popular piece in the show

“Skeletons” - an example of multiple images also in the show

INTO YOUNG ADULTHOOD

That’s me teaching in 1978 at Ivy School of Professional Art.

The impetus for being an artist goes way back. I’ve always drawn people. From paper dolls to life drawing, my singular interest and focus is figurative. And I enjoy using all sorts of mark-making materials. I think I’ve tried just about every tool and technique out there. In fact the first art class I ever taught was called Marks on Paper to teach freshman art students about the many ways of using of art supplies and found materials.

Weekend at Kala making silkscreen prints in 2017 - I still like to explore all methods and mediums. My work sometimes looks like it was silkscreened.

GOING DIGITAL

As a creative director for many years I built campaign after campaign with teams of creatives. I conceived ideas and explored what words, images, and designs had the greatest impact. But I was not hands-on nor a techi.

I came around to using professional digital drawing tools for practical reasons. Without hauling around a car-load of art supplies I could switch from one tool or medium to another instantly. These are called “digital originals”. My process is the same for each piece, since I always start by drawing a live model.

Original - Version 1 in the “Tami Series” 2019

“Tami Series: 3x”, 2019

David Hockney made digital art and process videos famous. I too can add, test, and remove layers and lines. I can include my photography so that the work becomes a collage. I can make multiple iterations and series, like monoprints.

Sarah - original v1

“Obfuscated” - v3

“Obfuscated” v2

“Obfuscated” - v4

I edit my work, scale it, and apply my artwork to a variety of substrates, from tiny to huge, and paper to fabric and metal. It’s important to experiment.

The Laundry Gallery SF 2016 - a dialog about art at a wine tasting meetup at the gallery.

THE SCROLLS AND BANDERAS

The grand scale of these works makes the space feel alive with the figures. The fluidity of the fabric combined with the movement reflected in the drawings helps produce this life-like feeling, although the drawings are not intended to be realistic. They are meant to convey a personality and a relationship. They are not “model drawings” but more of a conversation with an individual.

A “digital original” drawing for the Banderas series.

A “digital original” drawing for the Banderas series.

This sheer series is meant to hang from the ceiling in an overlapping cluster

Production: Sewing the edges of the Banderas series

Production: Sewing the edges of the Banderas series

Production: Creating the Silk Scroll series in an upholstery studio

Production: Creating the Silk Scroll series in an upholstery studio

The “Banderas Series” at Radian Gallery in 2018

The “Banderas Series” at Radian Gallery in 2018

THE BANDERAS SERIES

When I originally created the Banderas series it was for a site-specific installation in response to my residency at the Troll house.

I needed to express and insert a strong female presence – to take up space and touch the tips of a tall person’s head – to have an impact on the young male residents of this co-work space in Pier 26.

Jack hanging the Banderas Series in a Pythagorean Triangle

Adam demonstrating the height of the Banderas

The arrangement of the five translucent banderas hanging from the ceiling creates a play of color, light, and shadow from the inside and the outside. Passersby could see this show while walking along the Embarcadero. The light filtered through the sheer chiffon and shifted the colors as they overlapped. I’d love to create a version of these pieces for an even larger space on a grander scale in a public building.

The installation at the Troll House on Pier 26

Besides light and shadow and content and form, color is a key factor in my work. I am in love with color!

From my Spanish Graffiti Series

A collage with my own textile art as a layer

From my Spanish Graffiti Series

Multiples and mirror images in a new series

COLLAGES & MIRROR IMAGES

When I create collages I combine my drawing with my photographs and painting to create a rich, layered affect. I continuously change the layers, photos, and colors until I’m satisfied. I’ve been photographing for decades, especially when traveling but now I have a place to include these images as part of a bigger picture.

Always photographing gardens you can see the flowers here.

This turned into fairy princess twins - harkening back to my youthful fantasies

This collage combines a photo of Spanish graffiti art that is also a sign for a shop.

Note that the background image matches the stance of the model.

POLITICS AND ART

Now some of my work is outright political and maybe even a little subversive, such as my “Burma Series”. This series comments on religious oppression, targeting a group of people as “the other”, and massive ousting of the Rohingya people by the Buddhist majority.

I photographed ancient temple walls in Bagan, Burma.

Aluminum dye-infused archival print, ed. 1/1 , 20 (w) x 25 (h) Burma Series

I have a series that features the struggle for Catalan Independence too. I spend a lot of time in the region and know it well, so I have conversations about the topic frequently. Most my work is not obviously political but still attempts to illicit a response.

“THIS IS MY MANIFESTO”

Backsliding, covering up, and our hard-won battles are still coming undone. Every expose is important for building a case to protect women from religious, sexual, political, social oppression, and abuse. We are all humans and we are all equal, naked, and striving to be free.

My work celebrates women.

I will see my narratives grow into gallery-size installations. In my upcoming art residency I have space to expand my scope, scale, and impact.

Catalan independence poster in Girona, Spain

“Filled with Poppies” -a California version of the collage above right.

Collage with Catalan poster changes the meaning

New Year New Plans

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Golden hour in Golden Gate Park January 2019

Golden hour in Golden Gate Park January 2019

New Year’s Resolutions

This is how the year started out - with my arm still in the shoulder surgery sling, so it didn’t seem like a good idea to line up too many art shows. I’ve just been liberated from the sling and now I can step back and see where to focus this year. I figured out my goals for 2019 include: apply for and get Art Residencies and Grants to be able to work on bigger projects/installations. I’d also like to collaborate more with other artists, find a good-fit crit group, make some public art, and enjoy my new role as Exhibitions Director for SFWA. I hope to win over new Patrons via Patreon - ideally adding folks who don’t even know me personally.

“Color Block Silk Scroll Series: Jade Reaching” 2016

“Color Block Silk Scroll Series: Jade Reaching” 2016

“White Silk Scroll Series: Red Hair Curly and Straight” 2016

“White Silk Scroll Series: Red Hair Curly and Straight” 2016

TWO SF ART FAIRS

I’m still feeling inspired by the shows I attended in SF last week - FOG and Untitled.

Untitled VIP entry was great fun at Pier 37 this year, despite the overpriced cocktails. It was also an entertaining fashion show for our city which is not especially fashionable. I felt like a tourist so we went to eat afterward at Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39!

FOG is all about beauty and luxury. The best of the best and an extension of SFMOMA. So it’s great to just go, look, and learn! And attending with a few different friends lent several fresh perspectives. Here’s a peek into their Gala: https://hauteliving.com/2019/01/fog-design-art-fair-2019/665573/

A FOG installation that was popular with the photographers.

A FOG installation that was popular with the photographers.

Gorgeous displays abound at FOG.

Gorgeous displays abound at FOG.

BOUGHT AND SOLD!

At the same time that I sold my piece at Arc’s SNAP!” show I bought a painting by my creative director, curator, painter friend Joseph Abbati.

“Graffiti Wall Series: Break Dance” sold at SNAP! the annual Juried show and sale at Arc.

“Graffiti Wall Series: Break Dance” sold at SNAP! the annual Juried show and sale at Arc.

EAST MEETS WEST

Crazy to add to so much stimulation in last several days but I had a free hour so I blasted through the Legion of Honor to see a simply stunning show: https://legionofhonor.famsf.org/exhibitions/east-meets-west

Incredible to think that these royal men decorated and bejeweled themselves as much or more than their female counterparts.

Stormy gray SF winter skies. The Legion always reminds me of the Louvre.

Stormy gray SF winter skies. The Legion always reminds me of the Louvre.

SIGNS OF SPRING!

I started my Friday afternoon walks again, mostly in Golden Gate Park. I’m reminded how much I love this city! I get inspired by the rain-fresh air and springtime beginning in January. Reflections in Stow Lake abound. Pink and white Magnolia trees are coming into full bloom in the Botanical Garden.

Just outside the DeYoung Museum (SF)

Just outside the DeYoung Museum (SF)

Stow Lake early evening reflections, Golden Gate Park (SF)

Stow Lake early evening reflections, Golden Gate Park (SF)

Golden Gate Park magnolia tree trunk.

Golden Gate Park magnolia tree trunk.

The permanent display at the Asian Museum (SF)

COLOR COMBOS

Whenever I wander into the Asian Art Museum I linger over their collection of delicate, multi-colored snuff bottles. I love the color combinations especially all the coral and jade…Stay tuned for my visit to the next show at http://infocus.asianart.org/kimonorefashioned/ at the Asian Museum (SF).

SAVE THESE DATES!

> SFWA Gallery Receptions: Thurs 2/7 & Sat 2/23

> City Art Coop Gallery (SF) Reception: Fri 3/1


ENTIRE SILK SCROLL SERIES

It seemed that I didn’t have so much going in the way of art shows booked for the year so when the opportunity arose to rent the entire rear gallery at SFWA for February - I took it! I will show my entire series of seven silk scrolls. This might be the last time I will show them. I’m feeling an itch to move on…

So I’ll be taking down the three scrolls pictured here (below). This is the last week of “Advanced” so I led a group of art-loving friends through the exhibition, curated by Joseph Abbati, at Senator Scott Weiner’s office. It’s a great show in a great space!

I’m in the center with painter Usha Shukla and textile artist/curator Deborah Corsini. My scrolls are in the background.

LITTLE SQUARES

“Mirror Series: Offering” is one of a large group of square images that are also included in my new book. There are three styles within this little square series. They are: (1) simple, clean single figures, (2) mirrored or multiplied figures, (3) drawings that are photo collaged. This series debuted at City Art Gallery (SF) in November and three were featured in “Small Presents” at SFWA at the end of 2018.

“Mirror Series: Offering” is an image I shot in Burma then collaged with a mirrored life drawing.

“Mirror Series: Offering” is an image I shot in Burma then collaged with a mirrored life drawing.

SELF-PUBLISHED!

Interested in my first book of work with 30+ pages of art? Many works are included from the square series plus others which I haven’t printed yet. I still have several in this limited edition: Inquire at srkirshenbaum@gmail.com

GRAPHIC POSTER SERIES

In March 2019 I’m launching a Poster Series at City Art Coop Gallery in the SF Mission. I have the front space in the gallery window!

“Graphic Nudes: The Poster Series” are my latest grouping of figurative works in bold solid colors.

“Graphic Nudes: The Poster Series” are my latest grouping of figurative works in bold solid colors.

MISSED THIS EXHIBITION?

It was just at the DeYoung Museum (SF) – my favorite SF museum. If you didn’t have a chance to catch this eye-opening show it just ended. It was beautiful, surprising, and thought- provoking. I believe you could try to see it in Berlin…

How do fashion designers modify their high-end designs for a modest wearer? Apparently there’s a whole fashion and art movement including super-cool artwear too. Note the leather jacket below.

My neighbor saw this exhibition and she was artistically inspired: “It was awesome and exciting to see and learn about such exotic works and people and the pride they have in their culture and religion. I also learned the word #mipster (a Muslim hipster) who are so fun and relatable.” -Brooke S.

There’s photography and video in the show too. I saw this (same?) series of artistic scarf photos at the Jenkins Johnson booth at the Untitled show.

“Agony or Ecstasy”

“Agony or Ecstasy”

DAY-TIME DRAWING

This month I started attended a day-time drawing group. What a novelty! It’s located right in Golden Gate Park in Sharon Art Studio.

Big, graceful men - here are some sample works with the latest male models, bodies curving in their own ways, made into collages or left as simple gesture drawings.

“Weighted Stance”, digital drawing 2019

“Thrust Forward”, digital drawing 2019

“Sunset Years”, a digital collage 2019

“Mountain Man”, a digital collage 2019

“Balance and Gesture”, digital drawing 2019

“Woman Warrior”, a digital collage 2019

“Woman Warrior”, a digital collage 2019

MARCHING ON THE SIDELINES

A Political Note:

The Women’s March took place last weekend and I watched it roll into The Embarcadero (SF). I loved the energy, clever signs and creative costumes. I choose to put aside the controversies surrounding the organizers of this march. I’m delighted there’s so much force behind the rejuvenation of the “Women’s Movement” (which I grew up in). I didn’t march this time due to my arm sling - getting bumped around in crowds is painful…

In my heart and in my art I march for women every day.

Simultaneously, the government shutdown painfully effected my family directly, and I’m glad that at the point of this writing that it’s over for the time being.

As 2018 Winds Down - Wishing for Rain and Wind

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What’s Happening Now

What a year! Just a couple more shows and then a shoulder surgery - so out of commission for a bit.

2018_smoke_view_kirshenbaum.JPG

I am sitting in my home/studio looking out at our smoke-filled sky. They say it’s like 10 cigs a day. I already smoked mine decades ago and don’t need more. It is so darn sad!

“In Conversation” is one of three large silk scrolls hanging in Senator Scott Weiner’s office in Dec 2018-Jan 2019.

“In Conversation” is one of three large silk scrolls hanging in Senator Scott Weiner’s office in Dec 2018-Jan 2019.

Life for some goes on…

I’m just wrapping up a couple shows now (Spark Arts Open Studios show was extended) and at City Art Coop November show. I’ll be in “Small Presence” with a series of three pieces at SFWA for December.

Now I’m super excited to be showing three of my color block silk scrolls in Senator Scott Weiner’s office gallery Dec-Jan. Okay, it’s kind of a funny theme - ADVANCED, curated by Joseph Abbati. Yes, that term is about in age, and other factors, like where you are in your career...

Reception: December 14 from 5-7pm with refreshments and snacks.

Thanksgiving feels especially powerful this year. So much to be thankful for. We host, and it’ll be rather small for us. We expect our desperately needed rain this Thursday.

Shout-Outs

I’d like to thank Rhiannon MacFaden who has been my art coach for several years now. That’s right, I have an art coach - and she’s wonderful (and I’m willing to share).

And here’s a shout-out to San Francisco Women Artists Gallery. We’ve been in SF since the late 1800’s! I especially love to support women’s organizations and always have done so in business as well. Now I’m joining the SFWA BOD as Exhibitions Director for 2019. So looking forward to learning a lot and being able to contribute strategically and hands-on with our art shows! This lovely gallery has themed juried shows every month. Located in the inner Sunset, it’s a hidden gem. All Bay Area artist friends - consider joining us! The organization just keeps getting better.

Thanks, too, to my newest galleries where I had a chance to show my work this year: Back to the Picture, City Art Coop SF, Abrams Claghorn Gallery (Grove Salon), Spark Arts, Secret Agent, and Radian Gallery.

Thank you Nigel and Reginald for keeping me company throughout all this.

Thanks to the many friends (old and new) who came to so many shows! It’s really important to have your support. I hope it’s fun for you too. A gazillion thanks to Jack who hauled, hung, selected, schlepped, and attended oh so many exhibitions.

Exciting news! I just launched my Patreon page! It’s all very new to me, but I encourage you to sign up to be my Patron - even at the lowest tier, so that others will follow suit. Thank you! It’ll be full of fun arty treats. Become a patron here: www.patreon.com/srkirshenbaum

Until mid-January, I’ll continue to post updates on my Instagram page, my Cherry Pits Facebook Page, and on my website. But no more blogging in 2018. Thank you all for actually reading and giving me feedback on my posts! Happy holidays to you! I’m looking forward to a healthy, productive, and artful 2019.

And remember, art books make excellent gifts! http://www.cherrypits.net/shop