Making Friends @ NIAD

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NIAD Director Timothy Buckwalter asked me to curate a show at the NIAD Art Center in Richmond, CA. I’ve curated at NIAD before back in 2010 with a large lineup of curators. This time it was just yours truly and I decided to focus on portrait or character-based artworks. I chose the title “Making Friends.” Featured in the exhibition are works from Saul Alegria, Julio Del Rio, Luis Estrada, Sylvia Fragoso, Shana Harper, Shirley How, Erica Martinez, Ann Meade, Dorothy Porter, Maria Radilla, Dorrie Reid, Danny Thach, Jonathan Valdivias, Jonathan Velazquez and Billy White.

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Here is my statement for the show: “As an artist and character creator, I see many parallels between NIAD artists, who create images of people and animals, and my own work. I am intrigued by NIAD artists’ vibrant and genuine rendering of figures and faces. Sometimes the simple placement of facial features can generate so much life and personality in a work. I try to find the freedom to play with these elements in my work, purposely altering or misplacing a nose, mouth, or eyes to add an emotional tone to a piece. NIAD artists do this quite intuitively. Body gestures can convey struggle, pensiveness, or joy. Animals can be welcoming, powerful, shy, or frightening. There is a potent honesty in all the work produced at NIAD, but I find the most compelling images are those of people and animals. The animals are pretty much people here. The portrait can be a famous person—Michael Jackson, Elvis, or Kiss (yes, I was a member of the Kiss Army in middle school)—or they can be important folks in an artist’s life. The portrait can be painted, drawn, or sculpted. Subjects can be an invented person or creature. But all-in-all, these beings are a reflection of the artist, a little piece of them, a way to replicate oneself, to make a new, imaginary friend. I have had the exhibition title “Making Friends” bouncing around in my head for some time. When Timothy B. invited me to curate a show of NIAD artists’ work, I realized I should use that title for this exhibition. These invented friends form one big tribe, a big, extended family.”

I was also asked to curate the annex gallery space with an artist who is new to the Bay Area. I chose Ashley Hinceman, whose frenetic portraits of the NIAD artists complimented the MF portrait show nicely. Unfortunately I did not get many photos of her work but you can see them on her website here.

Me and Ashley Hinceman

Me and Ashley Hinceman


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