Gallery Blog

Artist + Curator Interviews, Event Photos, and News

In honor of our show Heavy Metal Lover, here is a chance to get familiar with the artists. All are members of The PRISMA Collective which is a hand selected group of 30 international artists led by painter and curator, Kaspian Shore. Since the group formed in 2011, they have been regularly showing work at various galleries and exhibition spaces around the world. Read More
Sheri DeBow celebrated her newest collection of expressive dolls for Return of the Bubblegum Princess on March 3 alongside friends and family. Here are some photos from the opening reception! Read More
Sheri DeBow has graced our gallery once again for her show Return of the Bubblegum Princess. Her dolls are intricately crafted with the same love and passion that is seen when looking at them. Sheri draws great inspiration from the love and joy that her family brings to her life and the fabulous eccentricity that makes her who she is. Read More
Sarah Joncas is a Toronto based artist who has been showing in galleries since she was 16 years old. Her work has matured into a fine combination of highly skilled realism and whimsically graphic beauty. The following interview delves into her process, perfectionism, and continuous growth. Read More
Edith Lebeau's solo show When The Light Goes Out. Here, the Canadian artist opens up to us about what she calls her most personal work to date, soothing serious issues with serene pastel palettes and symbolic imagery. Below, she explains a thorough glimpse into her painting process as well as a list of current working artists whose faces you may notice in the series! Swing by the gallery soon to see the work up close. Read More
Sandra Yagi is a surrealist painter working out of her San Francisco studio to create highly informed works inspired by the dramatic realities of ecological dynamics. Here, Sandra has had the graciousness to share very thought-provoking statistics about modern wildlife and the human influence along with a glimpse into how she translates those discoveries into works of art. Read More
Emilio Villalba is a modern San Francisco based artist with an iconic painting style. His new series, Talk to Me features experimental portraiture rich in texture and distinctly muted palettes. Below, we were able to learn more about his investigative approach and the motives behind the work that he creates. Read More

Event photos from the opening reception of Crystal Morey's Delicate Dependencies and Emilio Villalba's Talk to Me on October 14, 2016. Thanks to everyone who made it out last Friday to celebrate, support, and take in all the incredible art by these two top Bay-Area contemporary artists. Both shows run through October 29 and can be viewed at the links above.

Crystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryEmilio Villalba at Modern Eden GalleryEmilio Villalba at Modern Eden GalleryCrystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryErika Sanada - Calvin Ma - Crystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryModern Eden GalleryCrystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryEmilio Villalba and Crystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryEmilio Villalba at the opening reception at Modern EdenCrystal Morey Sculptures at Modern edenCrystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryCrystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryCrystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryEmilio Villalba at Modern EdenWorks on view by Emilio VillalbaCrystal Morey and Emilio Villalba Opening Reception at Modern Eden Gallery, SFArt viewing with Emilio VillalbaCrystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryLeilani and Jay BustamanteNew Works by Crystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryCrystal Morey and crew at Modern Eden GalleryCrystal Morey and Emilio Villalba at Modern Eden GalleryCrystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryCrystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryMonty Guy at Modern Eden GalleryCrystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryCrystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryCrystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryOpening Night at Modern Eden October 14Crystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryPacked house at the galleryEmilio Villalba Talk to Me at Modern Eden GalleryModern Eden GalleryCrystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryJessica Violetta at Modern EdenCrystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryEmilio Villalba at Modern Eden GalleryEmilio Villalba New Works on view at Modern Eden SFCrystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryOutside view at Modern Eden GalleryGallery view at the opening reception of Crystal Morey's Delicate DependenciesSide view, opening night at Modern Edenart watching with Emilio VillalbaCrystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryCrystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryEmilio VillalbaCrystal Morey at Modern Eden Gallery

Crystal Morey is an Oakland based sculptor with a pristine and evocative new series called "Delicate Dependencies" opening tomorrow at Modern Eden. We are delighted to have had the chance to gain a glimpse into her studio process and the enlightening depth behind the work that she creates. 

Interview by Jessica Violetta

JV: “Delicate Dependencies” is a new body of work for you, can you tell us where the ideas for these sculptures began? Tell us about the imagery you chose to include.

CM: In Delicate Dependencies, I wanted to create a dreamlike, captivating space; one filled with emotive hybrid creatures, here to warn us of our current trajectory toward environmental downfall. These figures are meant to show the sinuous connections between all living creatures, and the balance that must excites, in a healthy natural world.

I like to research animals that I find relatable in their actions and intriguing visually. In “Delicate Dependencies” I decided to focus on animals from the western United States, creatures that have an interesting history or trajectory, ones closely affected by human expansion.

I am interested in what we consider to be “fringe” or “indicator” species. These creatures are often the first indicators and casualties of environmental change, and are often found at both ends of the food chain – small creatures being susceptible to minute habitat changes and larger creatures affected by disruptions in a long food chain. These interests led me to include creatures such as a brown bear, red fox, peregrine falcon, mountain lion and California bighorn to name a few.

JV: There seems to be new, natural elements in your sculptures, can you tell us about the use of leaves and what they mean visually?

 

CM: The leaves are a completely new addition and one I am really fond of. I have been thinking about adaptation, natural evolution, and human driven environmental change and the addition of plant life into my work became the next step. Human and animal relationships have been very important in my work and thinking about the entire biosphere led me to this inclusion. I am interested in a chain of elements, of all living things being interconnected and dependent on each other for long-term viability.

I also find that the leaves speak to the delicacy and balance of our rapidly changing environment. They represent the inescapable cycle of growth, fullness and decent, a theme I am very interested in exploring.



JV: I love the phrase that you use when describing part of your influence as “human interdependence with the land and animals around us”. Is it possible for you to elaborate on how exactly this influences you?

CM: So much of what we see and hear about the state of our world is very upsetting. With humanitarian crises, natural habitat destruction, and wildlife devastation at the forefront, I think we can become desensitized, making us unable or unwilling to take in more information. For these reasons I choose a different method. I see “beauty” and “emotion” as having a power to reach people, to share a poignant, delicate and human moment. My hope is to create empathy for our environment and the creatures that live within it. I hope to stir a curiosity rooted in our relationship to plants and animals around us, and that we are here to share this planet together.



JV: You mention in your biography that you had an “alternative upbringing” and I can only assume that, by this, you are referring to being raised in the Sierra Nevada's, can you explain?

CM: Many of my inspirations and interests in the natural world stem from an alternative upbringing, one I closely connected to the landscape around me. For much of my early childhood we lived in unique dwellings without modern amenities such and electricity or pluming and chose not to indulge in television or mainstream radio. This lifestyle allowed for plenty of time to explore the forests, lakes and river canyons of the area, creating a strong relationship in the way I saw myself as a tiny component in vast sea of natural landscape.

As I have become older, with new life experiences, now living in an urban city, my perspective has changed and the world doesn’t feel as large, wild and free. Through living in an urban environment, manipulated and controlled by humans, the fragile quality of the natural world has become more apparent to me. I no longer see natural landscape as an expansive, never-ending space, I see it as a finite, irreplaceable space we must nurture and protect.

Nostalgia, memory and longing also play a distinct role in my work. I often find myself wishing I could return to the naïve child I was, engulfed in the magical wood, filled with imagination and wonderment, unburdened by the realities of today. And yet, I choose to live in the city of Oakland because I don’t want to ignore modern life. I want to be part of the art culture and environmental conversation about what is happening now, and how we as artists can use our voices to encourage ideas to change.



JV: About how long does is take for you to create one of your pieces? Is there a part to the process that you enjoy the most and/or least?

CM: I build all of my sculptures by hand, using porcelain clay. I start with a composition and gesture in my mind, I then visualize the piece with the emotion and thoughts I would like to convey. From there, I source photographic references for human and animal components to reference as I sculpt. I usually start by sculpting the legs, then move to the torso, the head and onto the arms and hands. Once all of the elements are in place, I then work up layers of detail. I love the intricate details like toes, horns feathers, fur, teeth, and the gestural composition I can create in the arms, hand and fingers. Porcelain is a very delicate material that takes time to set up and dry, this means I can often work on multiple pieces during the same time period. Once a piece has been sculpted, it must completely dry before being fired to roughly 2200° F in a ceramic kiln. From start to finish, including drying time, a piece can take about two months. Creating sculptures with porcelain can be very challenging, but I love the history associated with material and the delicacy and translucency I am able to achieve.



JV: Your current work is so gentle and provocative and we are so excited to see it in person. Any ideas of where your art will take you next?

CM: As a full time studio artist, I am continually trying to challenge myself with new projects. I find it important to deepen my interest, themes and concepts while also pushing my abilities. Through this new collection of work, I have enjoyed the new addition of trees, leaves, leading me to new adaptations of plant and animal. In the next year I hope to continue to expand on these ideas and can’t wait to see where I end up!

I really appreciate your time and interest in my work and I am so happy to share my thoughts and work with you! For more information, please visit my website at www.crystalmorey.com or follow my work on Instagram @cmorey! Thank you!

***

Delicate Dependencies is on display from October 14–29, 2016 at Modern Eden Gallery in San Francisco.

 

Tracy Lewis is another fantastic artist among many who are currently on display for the “Femme to Femme Fatale” Beautiful Bizarre group show this month. Known for her delicate yet evocative watercolors, Tracy’s art has understandably become highly sought after in galleries and the homes of her admirers. She graciously extends her knowledge to those interested via workshops in California, where she lives, as well as vacation destinations.

Interview by Jessica Violetta.

All images courtesy of the artist.

Tracy Lewis in studio

JV: Tracy, it is great to speak with you again and in a bit more depth than we could at the opening for “Verdant” where you had a lovely piece in the group show here. As you know, I am a huge admirer of the way you have mastered watercolor painting in all of its unforgiving nature. What originally drew you to working with this medium?
TL: Thank you Jessica! Yes, it can be a somewhat unforgiving medium, but that’s one of the things I love about it. The challenge to get it right the first time. I love the transparency and luminosity you can get with watercolors by letting the colors mingle on the paper and by using thin glazes and letting the light of the paper show through. 
I first fell in love with watercolor when I saw some of Jeannie Vodden’s paintings at a county fair. They were so rich in color, yet delicate and dreamy…I had never seen watercolors like that before and I was hooked! At the time I was china painting, and even though that medium is oil based and has to be fired in a kiln, the visual qualities are similar, so it felt like a natural progression for me. I was fortunate enough to take watercolor lessons with Jeannie and then studied with Gary Pruner at American River College in Sacramento. They are both amazingly talented and generous teachers and really gave me a solid foundation with watercolor. 

I also find watercolor to be very meditative and I love juxtaposing the soft colors with somewhat darker themes and intensity. It’s a wonderful contrast that continues to fascinate me.
Tracy Lewis Watercolor Process
JV: In your bio, you mention a tendency to portray “beautiful contemporary women that are intense and a little mysterious”. This is interestingly specific. Is there any depth behind choosing this specific characteristic? Perhaps a personal resonance? 
TL: It has always been so hard for me to describe my portraits. I think I’m figuring them out as keep painting them. There was never really been a message that I consciously tried to portray, but as I keep painting them I’m listening to what they're trying to tell me. I’ve always been drawn to an intense look, mystery and melancholy. I just love silent movies and how the actors had to say things without words, one piercing look said it all. 
I’ve noticed over time that my woman are in a kind of contradiction of disquiet and harmony, they long to draw you near, yet keep you at arms length. I feel like they are fierce protectors of and at oneness with nature.
 
I guess in a way they are all self portraits, not physically… most of them are actually my daughter, but what they are trying to say. The fragility of our environment and the innocent souls that are harmed every day with no regard is always heavy on my mind. At the same time there so much beauty and joy in the world that it is sometimes wonderfully overwhelming. I think my paintings convey some of that feeling.  
Tracy Lewis in Studio
JV: It seems there was a bit of a stylistic transition for you in which you dropped the heavy (ink?) outline you had been using and began working entirely in lovely watercolor. Was this intentional and/or what made you choose to do it?
TL: I’ve always enjoyed working in ink. In high school I did a ton of pen and ink copies of Mucha’s and other Art Nouveau illustration. It was fun and gave me a real feel for organic line. When I started painting in watercolor I mainly worked with it alone, but I could see that the two mediums would give me a lovely contrast of hard line and soft watercolor washes, so I’ve gone back and forth. I still like to work this way occasionally. Some ideas just seem like they where made for the pairing.
Tracy Lewis Original Artwork
JV: Watercolor paintings seem to typically be on the smaller side (than, say, oil paintings). What is the largest size painting you have ever made or sold? I have always thought it would be super cool to see your work in a large size!
TL: The largest watercolors I’ve done have been 22”x30”. That’s a standard full sheet of watercolor paper. I generally work smaller than that, about half that size or less. They do make larger sheets of watercolor paper and even huge rolls. Actually, you might see some larger work from me soon! I did a large floral commission the first of the year and it was fun, made me want to more that size or bigger.
Tracy Lewis Workshop
JV: It is fantastic that you have made workshops available to those interested in learning from you. Do you have any pointers you can share with us for watercolor beginners?
TL: I think the main thing is to get a feel for the medium before trying to create a finished product. Watercolor can be frustrating if you try too hard to control it. Learn what it wants to do and let it happen, then you can use it to it’s full advantage. Take classes or watch online tutorials, there are a ton of them out there. If you end up really enjoying working with watercolor do yourself a favor and get professional quality supplies. You don’t need a ton of colors, as they can be mixed, even just a few of the right pigments can give you a full range of color. Most of my paintings are a very limited palette. I get a lot of watercolor questions on my Instagram page, so I’m setting up a new page just for watercolor tips and mini tutorials ~ TracyLewisArtStudio. 
Tracy Lewis Watercolor Studio
JV: We are so glad to have you here again this month for the group show. Can you tell us a little about the piece you have on display and how you were inspired by the theme?
TL: I’m thrilled to be a part of such an amazing show and had a great time at the opening! The idea of “Femme to Femme Fatale” has been recurring theme for me and one that just fits so perfectly in my body of work. I wanted to portray with subtle symbolism a woman that is both of these contradicting natures. My painting “Omniscient” represents the quintessential female. She is a balance of the nurturing feminine and the seductive femme fatale. With her lush blossoms and impending thorns, attracting bees and ladybirds, she is self-reliant, yet nurtures community. She is secretive, intuitive and filled with eternal love.
***

 

Omniscient by Tracy Lewis

  • Watercolor 
  • 10.5 x 13.5 in.
  • © 2016

On view through October 8, 2016 at Modern Eden Gallery in San Francisco for Femme to Femme Fatale curated by beautiful.bizarre Magazine.

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