Friday, March 11, 2011

Creativity Explored copies the old masters

Located on a busy stretch of 16th street between Delores and Guerrero, Creativity Explored has been helping artists with developmental disabilities since 1983. Their motto is "where art changes lives, " and if the sunny, vibrant space, packed with colorful art is any sample, they are only stating a simple truth. As visual arts instructor Pilar Oblarria exclaimed, 'there are so few resources for people with disabilities. The closing of so many mental hospitals and facilities over the last decade has made the situation go from problematic to critical to catastrophic.' That's why what Creativity Explored does is so important and they do it with heart. 

'Where in San Francisco can a visual artist (with disabilities) find a great art studio, six hours a day of painting, sculpture, mixed media, conceptual art, performance, unique conversations, and sweet dispositions? At Creativity Explored, of course.'

 After Picasso. Hanh Chau and Pilar Obalarria. @ Creativity Explored

More than 120 studio artists work in their two dynamic, fully-equipped studios in the media of their choice. Completed artwork is sold through the gallery. The place is vibrant with art works, sunny and cheerful and many of the artists are only too glad to chat with visitors. Their latest exhibit is a take on an traditional practice, learning how to be a painter by copying the old masters.

Venus on a clam shell. After Botticelli, Alan Ku. @ Creativity Explored.

There isn’t an artist in the world who hasn’t been influenced by a master from the art canon. Looking at and recreating the artwork of others is not only how artists gain inspiration, but also how they enhance their visual repertoire and sharpen their technical skills. Appropriation, now considered a genre unto itself, remains a significant component of art education programs and an integral part of many artists’ practice.

The Masters is an exhibition that celebrates this long tradition of learning from art greats and also one that encourages participation in the ongoing debate about authorship and copyright in the visual art world. Ann Kappes, Creativity Explored Marketing & Business Development Director and curator of this exhibition says, “Creativity Explored artists have not been immune to the complicated issues of ‘authorship’ as some of their works have recently been licensed for mass production and others have been under scrutiny for referencing the names of brands or celebrities.”

Girl with a pearl earring. After Vermeer by Walter Kresnik. @Creativity Explored. 

Walter Kresnik created his own Girl with the Pearl Earring (c. 1665) after Johannes Vermeer’s revered painting. Kresnik lent the bejeweled young lady an expression refreshingly more lighthearted than the original, and used a loose, expressive hand – characteristic of his many portraits – to draw her with colored pencil and watercolor on paper. 

 "Cakes, " after Thiebaud.Camille Holvoet. @Creativity Explored.

Camille Holvoet has been working at the Creativity Explored studios since 2001. Her preferred medium is oil pastel, and she is best known for her drawings of luscious cakes, pies, and pastries. An obvious parallel can be made between her work and the work of Wayne Thiebaud, and her tribute to Thiebaud’s Lemon Cake (1964) is in the exhibit, along with other colorful delightful works. Holvoet's works bear a resemblance to the original but have a fresh, colorful and sunny charm that is all their own. 

 Gabrielle d’EstrĂ©es et une de ses sours (c. 1594). Andrew Bixler. @Creativity Explored.

Says Kappes, “I want this exhibition to demonstrate that CE artists, just like other practicing artists, like to have fun with art history while also showing off their skills and creativity.” 

Artist Andrew Bixler perfectly illustrates her point. His work in The Masters is a spirited ink and watercolor portrayal of Gabrielle d’EstrĂ©es et une de ses sours (c. 1594) – the anonymous yet recognizable painting of a woman pinching her sister’s breast in the bathtub. Bixler fully animated the original characters, adding fluidity to stiff gestures and whimsy to stoic facial expressions. It’s just what the painting needed – a touch of modern humor.

Exhibition Dates and Times: March 3 through April 20, 2011; Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, Thursday from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm, and Saturday from 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm

Creativity Explored Gallery, 3245 16th Street at Guerrero Street, San Francisco CA 94103   (415) 863-2108 (all images courtesy of Creativity Explored)

1 comment:

A Cuban In London said...

Your post reminded me of a similar scheme I helped develop (although I didn't deliver the actual workshops, I'm not a visual arts person myself) with a local stroke action group. The chief exec at our arts organisation taught the course and the result was an exhibition at our arts centre. It made such a powerful change in people's perception about stroke sufferers.

It's projects like Creativity Explored that help understand how human can create even in the most challenging of circumstances. I love their motto.

Many thanks.

Greetings from London.