Congratulations to our Eisner Prize winners!

Congratulations to the winners of the 2015 Roselyn Schneider Eisner Prizes, including, in Art, MFA candidates Tanja Geis, Lee Lavy, Michelle Ott, and Sofie Ramos, and, in Film and Video, MFA candidate Clement Hil Goldberg!

2015 Eisner Prize winners, L>R: Michelle Ott, Tanja Geis, and Lee Lavy. Not shown: Sofie Ramos and Clement Hil Goldberg.

2015 Eisner Prize winners, L>R: Michelle Ott, Tanja Geis, and Lee Lavy. Not shown: Sofie Ramos and Clement Hil Goldberg.

Eisner Prize: In 1963, Samuel Marks established an endowment of $250,000 for the advancement of the arts on the UC Berkeley campus, in memory of his stepdaughter, Roselyn Schneider Eisner, an artist and sculptor. The Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on the Arts recommended the money be used to establish prizes in each of the Creative Arts.

A review of faculty Allan deSouza’s exhibit, ‘Notes From Afar’

(Courtesy of the New York Times)

In 2011, the Phillips Collection in Washington commissioned Allan deSouza to create a photographic response to Jacob Lawrence’s 60-painting “Migration Series” (1940-41), half of which is owned by the Phillips, the other half by the Museum of Modern Art in New York (where the entire work is on display through Sept. 7). The Lawrence cycle tells the story of the great diaspora of African-Americans, beginning in World War I, from the rural South to the industrialized North. Mr. deSouza, who was born in Kenya of South Asian parentage and lives in California, has long made displacement and alienation a subject of his art and does so again in “The World Series,” his incisive update to the older work. (more…)

Faculty Stephanie Syjuco in the KQED video “Reframed: Artists Seeking Social Change Bring the Public into the Picture.”

We’re very proud to announce that Art Department faculty Stephanie Syjuco was interviewed as part of the KQED and SFMOMA “On the Go” (the museum’s project wing while the physical museum is shut down). It features interviews with Stephanie Syjuco, along with Oakland artists Chris Treggiari and Chris Johnson about publicly-engaged projects. It’s a fascinating and compelling video.

From the KQED Arts page: Syjuco understands that this type of art can be difficult for people to comprehend at first. “If it’s in a museum or a gallery, people seem to understand, ‘Well, that’s where art belongs.’ But when it goes out into the world and is sometimes indistinguishable from other things that happen, I think that can be really beautiful.”

You can find the video here.

Call for Submissions: Bridging the Arts Fundraiser

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UC Berkeley Department of Art Practice Students, Faculty, and Staff are asked to donate a small work to “ART WARRIORS” – the 2015 Bridging the Arts Benefit Exhibition at Worth Ryder Art Gallery March 13th – April 8th, 2015.

The submission deadline is Wednesday, March 11th, 2015 in the Art Office, 345 Kroeber Hall. Please fill out a submission form at this time.

Submissions are limited to works on paper with a maximum paper size of 5″ x 7″, as we will be framing each work. Selection is competitive.

Selected works will be offered for sale during the Opening Reception and Silent Auction event from 4 – 7pm, Wednesday, March 13th, 2015. All proceeds will benefit the UC Berkeley Bridging the Arts Program. Come support our program and bring home a new work of art!

The grand opening exhibition at Embark Gallery, featuring three of our MFA students.

Michelle Ott, 2nd year

Matt Smith, 2nd year

Jose Figueroa, 1st year

* * * *

When Michelle Ott heard that a San Francisco gallery would be opening specifically to exhibit the visual art of Bay Area masters of fine arts students, she knew she had the right work for the first show.

Both the gallery and the exhibition would be called Embark, and Ott, a student in art practice at UC Berkeley, deduced that nobody else had embarked on a journey quite like hers, which was to fly 17 hours on four separate occasions to create art about Antarctica. She was right, and her enlarged photos and wall drawings get their own corner of the group show that opened Friday at Fort Mason. The show’s theme, “Embark,” may not be original, but Embark Gallery’s mission is so refreshingly obvious that it’s a wonder no curator or academic has thought of it before — pick an all-star team of art grad students and throw them together for a monthlong exhibition. Then do it all over again with a new theme, six times a year.

“We hope to create connections between these seven different MFA programs,” says Embark Gallery Director Angelica Jardini, who put out the call to UC Berkeley, California College of the Arts, Mills College, San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco State, San Jose State and Stanford.

“There are so many innovative things going on at these somewhat isolated institutions,” Jardini says, “and we wanted to provide these students a professional space to show their work and also to get to know each other and to exchange ideas.”

Embark’s founder, Tania Houtzager, is an MFA student herself who got hit by a thunderbolt while managing the grad student gallery at the San Francisco Art Institute.

“It made me realize that so many of these programs don’t have opportunities to show your work before your final thesis show,” she says. “The only shows you can get are ones where you are competing with mid-career artists.”

These pre-career artists put some intriguing twists on the theme, which Jardini describes as “journeys, new beginnings, change of any kind. That was the prompt we gave the artists.” CCA student Omar Mismar’s twist was to create a red neon map of the routes he has taken while cruising men in San Francisco, using the Grindr mobile phone application.

“I would choose a guy on Grindr that I desired and would try to get as close as possible to him using the app,” says Mismar, in describing “The Path of Love #3,” which is front and center at the gallery entrance. Toward the back is SFAI student Matt Goldberg’s “Cadillac Treadmill,” made of a walking machine he found on Mission Street and tricked up with a front end in turquoise and a hood ornament. On the floor, looking real enough to trip over, is a parking curb in San Francisco livery, made of foam by Courtney Sennish, a student at CCA.

‘Phenomenal’

“This is so phenomenal,” says Lee Gregory, a Fort Mason board member, watching the treadmill belt move at high speed. “What they are doing here is bringing the future of art to a great space.”

Houtzager, 26, and Jardini, 25, met at Sartle.com (See Art Differently), an art history database founded by Houtzager. The startup started up at Fort Mason, and in walking the halls they noticed a vacant room that was the perfect size for a gallery, 1,500 square feet, offering full western exposure to dramatic sunset views of the Golden Gate. They got the lease at a discounted rate and chose the name Embark because Fort Mason was the port of embarkation for 1.5 million troops headed into the Pacific Theater in World War II.

“This is an organization supporting emerging artists as they embark on their careers, and it’s very exciting,” says Nicholas Kinsey, director of external affairs for Fort Mason Center. “They wouldn’t be able to pay market-rate rent if they went out into the city, so we’re happy to have them here. This is our core mission, supporting the arts.”

The core mission of Embark is to showcase work from the seven local nonprofits, all of which are rated among the top 100 graduate programs in the country. Eliminated from consideration are the city’s two for-profit graduate programs, the Academy of Art University and the Art Institute of California — San Francisco.
The gallery is supported by the Kabouter Foundation, which also funds Sartle.com. There won’t be a return because they are declining to take the gallery cut (usually 50 percent) of whatever sells. Associate Director Carolyn Nickell, 26, designed the catalog, which is printed on a classy paper stock.

Outside jurors

At the opening, all the requisite perks of a commercial gallery are covered. There is a uniformed bartender pouring both red and white wine and issuing little individual bottles of Pellegrino. A table is stocked with grapes and fancy cheese and crackers. For first-timers, they got it right, and also got it right in not presuming to be qualified to select the art. They jobbed that out to a jury of three, consisting of commercial gallery owner Catharine Clark; Julie Lazar, a freelance curator who helped open the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles; and performance artist Michael Zheng.

The judging was blind to the names of the applicants and their schools. From a pool of 50, eight were selected. UC Berkeley has three artists in the show and Stanford has none. Also shut out were San Francisco State and San Jose State.

Among the artists, school acronyms are flying around the room as if it were an air traffic control tower.

“Before I began the MFA program at CCA, I did a post-doc at SFAI,” says Houtzager, in describing her academic trajectory. Jardini has a master’s degree but not an MFA from SFAI.

As the opening roars on, the crowd holds steady at 50 to 100. The event ends at 8, but people are still there at 8:45. Along the way, gallerists Jardini and Houtzager are asked a mundane question about gallery hours and are momentarily stumped. They shoot each other a “we hadn’t thought of that” look, and then Jardini improvises by saying it’s “by appointment for now.” The hitch is that Sartle.com has moved into the gallery space, eating up the regular weekday hours. Weekend hours for Embark will start in April when the follow-up show, “What Grows Here,” will open.

“We hope to do this,” Houtzager says, “until the end of time.”

Sam Whiting is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: swhiting@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @samwhitingsf

Embark: The grand opening exhibition at Embark Gallery runs through March 22 at Building B, Suite 330, Fort Mason Center. Hours are by appointment.

“It’s the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine)” 2/25/2015

The Worth Ryder Art Gallery presents:

“It’s the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine)”

An Exhibition of Professor Allan DeSouza’s Advanced Photography Class

Wednesday, February 25th – Friday, March 13th, 2015
Opening Reception: 4 – 7 pm Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

Worth Ryder Art Gallery, 116 Kroeber Hall, UC Berkeley Campus
Gallery Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 12  – 5 pm
Free, Accessible, and Open to the Public

Declaring the Major DEADLINE!

The deadline for declaring the major this spring is 5pm on February 2nd. This deadline is firm, so please do not miss it if you’re interested in declaring the major this semester.