On Thursday, May 16, 2013 the funky and hip Phoenix Hotel in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco was jam-packed with local art enthusiasts as they attended the ArtPadSF Opening Night Preview benefiting the SFMOMA SECA Art Award. The SECA Art Award provides recognition to innovative bay area artists for their artistic talent and served as a platform for emerging artists to introduce themselves to the community. The SECA Art Award was created by The Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art (SECA). SECA was founded in 1961 and its purpose is to support contemporary art and to bring together art enthusiasts and art professionals through a variety of events such as ArtPadSF. ArtPadSF was first launched in May 2011 at the Phoenix Hotel by Maria Jenson, Founding Director of ArtPadSF and Chip Conley, Founder of Joie de Vivre (JDV) Hotels.
This event creates an opportunity for galleries to showcase art from artists that they are passionate about and a chance for art enthusiasts to connect creatively, emotionally, and passionately with art pieces from these artists. This eclectic crowd was taken on an artistic journey as they enjoyed their cocktails and made their way through over 40 hotel rooms that were transformed into galleries. There were over 40 galleries that came from the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, and even Alabama to participate in this fantastic event!
My own artistic journey started when I stopped to admire the exterior of Room #28 which housed The McLoughlin Gallery. The exterior door was made completely out of cardboard materials and seems extremely sturdy. Even before I entered, I instantly felt immersed in creativity. Upon entry, I was greeted warmly by Joan McLoughlin from The McLoughlin Gallery in Downtown San Francisco and was introduced to the artwork of Cristobal Valecillos and Desire Obtain Cherish (DOC). Cristobal Valecillos is a Venezuelan native, L.A. based multimedia artist who is passionate about metamorphosing what is ugly into something beautiful by using recycled materials and transforming it into functional objects. My attention was captured by something beautiful when I spotted Olga, a piece from Valecillos’ photographic debut, A Card Board Life in 2011. The interior design of the set and the model’s glamorous dress were entirely constructed from recycled cardboard and exude glamor and luxury. In A Card Board Life, Valecillos provides us with snapshots of domestic family life. In Valecillos’ latest body of work, American Family, he mixes various cultures for the purpose of depicting the ever-changing modern American family in our society. Valecillos’ American Family can be viewed at The McLoughlin Gallery from now until June 22.
Another art piece from The McLoughlin Gallery that caught my attention was the designer drugs series from L.A. based artist Desire Obtain Cherish (DOC). His designer drugs series is a depiction of our society’s addiction to consumerism. Consumers are constantly under the influence of drugs (in this case, the drugs are the brand-name labels) and consumers keep getting their fix by spending more and more and they cannot stop because they are addicted to consumerism. In his work, DOC explores commerce, drugs, sex, desire, gender, pop culture, and fame.
After feeling inspired creatively from The McLoughlin Gallery, I made my way next door to Bash Contemporary Gallery based also in San Francisco. The first piece that captured my attention was a piece called A New Beginning by David Stoupakis. Stoupakis is a New York based surrealist Gothic artist and most of his work focuses on themes such as life, God, rebirth, and playing with the idea of what is real and what is unreal.
As I left pondering about David Stoupakis’ work and surrealism, I entered Electric Works, a gallery based in San Francisco. Robert Minervini‘s piece, As the Wick Burns is a piece that caught my eyes as Minervini uses very vibrant colors in this piece. However, do not be deceived by the beautiful vibrant colors as there is a deeper message to these still life paintings from the artist Robert Minervini. Robert Minervini is a painter that uses still life to depicts the fact that death is inevitable as represented in the painting, As the Wick Burns, with the wilted flowers. Robert Minervini’s After Glow: As the Wick Burns can be viewed at the Electric Works Gallery from now until June 29.
My artistic journey at the ArtPadSF ended with a visit to the Mirus Gallery based also in San Francisco. What captivated my attention was a pair of mesmerizing eyes staring straight back at me. These piercing eyes belong to a woman from the piece called, La Cage et l’intranquillité heureuse by painter Sandra Chevrier. This piece is part of the series called Cages. Cages is a series that represents the cages that women are trapped in in this society. It represents how women in this society are imprisoned by what others believe they should or should not be. In this particular piece, the woman’s face is covered with strokes of paint all over her face. These strokes of paint covering her face depicts the fact that she is hidden behind all these masks that society imposed on them. Her true self is trying to seep through and reach the audience. The engaging gaze from her piercing eyes draw the audience in and makes you want to learn more about her story. This was truly an inspiring piece as I am a woman myself and I find the meaning behind this piece very inspiring , relatable and close to my heart.
This was truly an amazing experience and my mind is blown away by all the creativity, talent, and messages that are convey through these exquisite art works from these brilliant artists. It was a lovely way for artists to connect with art lovers on a deeper level and a fantastic opportunity for art lovers to connect emotionally with pieces from these artists. This is absolutely an event that art lovers must attend so get ready for ArtPadSF when it comes back around next year in 2014!