Ever since I met Mara Galvao, amazing artist and former member of FSFA, I have wanted to take on weaving. I was inspired by the multitude of textures she combined into a vibrant, almost sculptural tapestry.
I first tried basic circular weaving a couple of years ago for an installation I designed to add a bit of pizazz to the exterior walls of the gallery during the 2018 holiday season.
Then this summer, after I volunteered to participate in a show dedicated to fiber arts with artists Celena Peet and Noemesha Williams, I decided to experiment with a real loom, if a very simple one.
I approached weaving with the same commitment I made in my other projects, that of utilizing what I already have, as well as discarded or recycled materials and tools whenever possible. So I dug out a refurbished frame loom from the depths of my garage. As for the materials, I started with the green plastic netting saved from months of purchase of avocados bags. Once the top and bottom parts of the bag discarded, I stretched its sides, creating long thin loops, that I attached to each other to form a long chain. With it I created a pattern that became the structure of the piece. I filled in the “boxes” with a bunch of ribbons recovered from an old project stored in my garage, as well as roving and ribbons gathered over the years.
The green netting inspired the color scheme of the work. More importantly, it pointed to its general theme: the Ocean, and our paradoxical relationship to it. It is essential to our very existence, and yet we, as a species, have so far failed to care for it, asphyxiating it with plastic, from literal floating islands of agglutinated plastic bags all the way to microscopic particles absorbed by everything living in and from the ocean, including us!
Ultimately, though, this piece is about hope, a minute example of the numerous solutions to this existential problem that everyone of us, at every level of society, and anywhere in the world can produce and promote.
Painting with full self and floating mindset
I am Prabin Badhia a member artist at 4th StreetFine Art in Berkeley. During my practice over the last few months, I created two paintings which stand out for a significant reason. While art can primarily be for decoration, I cannot ignore my emotional involvement in these paintings and the impact they have on me. These paintings taught me possibilities and fill the gaps of uncertainty.
My first painting is “Four Given”. This is four human figures interlocked and taking flight by loosening their attachment to the ground and their grip on reality. They are defying gravity and posed with big brush strokes to suggest the movement and dynamism.
My second painting is “Gyrate”. Human figures are forced to give up their individuality to form a spiral path for a bigger cause. Working together to play with a continuously shifting target. This continuous act of spiraling generates energy for new emerging lives.
In recent months I have also created numerous other works including landscapes, drawings and figure paintings. I’m fully dedicated to creating paintings at 4th Street Fine Art in Berkeley.
Let’s get together to know each other. Please visit.
Picasso: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”
Recently I’ve been working on learning to love something that I usually try to avoid at all costs: Failure. In most walks of life we understand that developing expertise takes time. We don’t decide to become a doctor and expect to be performing brain surgery two weeks later. But for some reason when it comes to our art, we expect to be making fabulous interesting work almost from the get go. I’ve had quite a bit of formal training in art, and if my results are disappointing, I tend to want to give up.
So, in order to make the art that I dream of, I’ve been trying to tap into the deeper parts of myself in order to express what’s inside. I know what makes a good painting technically, and I struggle with trying to achieve that every time. I’ve been giving myself more time and space to experiment and not always rush for results. I’ve been trying to approach things with more curiosity and humility.
My fear of failure has sometimes stopped me from taking chances. But once I’ve taken chances and failed in my art, I’ve learned that nothing really bad happens! The sky doesn’t fall down. I just made a painting that didn’t work…..but in doing so I learned a lot. I’m learning all sorts of things to NOT try again…. and maybe I am coming up with some ideas about what might work better. It’s hard. I keep failing. But I want to make amazing work and have fun doing it.I hope you enjoy what I and the other amazing artists at 4th Street Fine Art are doing.
- Hallie Strock
I’m Hallie Strock, and I’ve been involved with the 4th Street Fine Art group since 2006. I feel privileged to be a part of this wonderful collaboration of local artists. The diversity of work, the opportunity to learn from each other, and special friendships have meant a great deal to me.
I am a painter, printmaker and quilter, and, for the past couple of years have been diving into collage and mixed media. I tend to focus on imagery, vibrant color and strong composition. I find elements in daily life that touch me, and invite the viewer to look and linger. I continue to explore, learn and look for breakthroughs
My collage technique has evolved from purchased decorative papers and magazines to hand-painted art papers. I can create my own paper palette and have more control over color, value, textures and pattern. I paint, stamp, stencil and make marks. I can even embellish purchased and found papers. Combining painting with collage lets me capture the transparency of watercolor, the brilliance of acrylic, the unpredictability of monotype.
I don’t plan my collages too carefully. Most of the time I just start and see where it takes me; I choose some papers that are “calling” to me at the time and start cutting and tearing shapes. Then comes the absolutely engrossing experience of laying the pieces out in pleasing and gratifying ways.
I learn from my mistakes. I’ll start something, and it’s a disaster, then I’ll correct it and it will look great, then I’ll do something else and it will be ruined! Every twist and turn makes a difference, until I feel the joy and optimism that happens when it all comes together.
Recently I have been studying the work of San Francisco artist Rex Ray. He takes the vocabulary of mid-century modernism and lets it splash and crash together in bold color combinations, and he reconfigurations things that already exist like imaginary plants, bottle shapes, flames and spinning ferris wheels. Other influences come from the work of Kurt Schwitter, Anne Ryan, and Perle Fine: all artists doing their best work in the 50’s and 60’s, and who were part of the Dada and Abstract Expressionist movement.
People often ask us which is our favorite season for photographing wildlife and we would have to say it is a tie between spring and fall. Spring is the rebirth of new life! There is a cacophony of sounds-birds singing to attract a mate or to protect their territory. The trees are leafing out and flowers are blooming, the lush green grasses and fields of mustard grass and poppies are intoxicating.
In the early spring we search for birds displaying courtship behavior and then revisit those areas every few days. This spring we have been fortunate to locate a Western bluebird nesting cavity, an American kestrel nesting cavity and a rookery filled with nesting herons and egrets. We also spent time with a family of river otters.
We will never compromise the welfare of an animal just to get a shot. Although it is tempting to stay at a nest site or den for hours, we know our presence can be unsettling for the wildlife doing their best to survive. We photograph with long lenses and often crop our images rather than inching closer to wildlife-we know they appreciate not having humans too close!
We believe spending time with wildlife is sacred time and the goal for every photographer should be to be a voice for all animals and never compromise their welfare.
Our images tell a story about the occurrences in the lives of various animals. We try to capture shots that are often not seen by many people, so the images are all the more distinctive.
We think the medium of metal prints enhances our wildlife photos and we can customize our images to meet your needs. We also create unframed custom sized giclée prints on hot press watercolor paper. Please come visit us at 4th Street Fine Art and the eighteen other talented artists that display their work in this gallery.
Camille Torres is one of the resident jewelers at 4th Street Fine Art. She has been with the gallery for about two years, showcasing her nature inspired work, which re-imagines the the geometric forms found in monarch butterfly wings and the simple beauty of celestial skyscapes. However, Camille is ready to turn a new leaf.
When Camille bought her home in San Pablo, she was immediately enchanted by the many stories the previous owner, Brenda, shared about growing up in the house and her fond memories of living there with her mother. At one point Brenda brought out a small treasure chest of gemstones, which her mother had procured but never had a use for. Camille was deeply honored that these gems were offered to her and she purchased them without a second thought.
It took four years to find the inspiration to use these gemstones. "They were just so special. I wanted to create something that felt right," Camille explains. She kept the chest in plain sight where the contents constantly called to her, but she just couldn't bring herself to make anything with them. The idea finally came to her one spring morning while she was looking out at the many colors of her blooming garden.
Gems in Bloom is her latest project. An amalgamation of stackable rings fashioned after the flora and fauna found in her backyard landscape. "I've wanted to tackle a project with stackable rings for awhile, but I've been looking for an angle that I haven't seen before. The little spots of color in these gems remind me of the bursts of color confetti that you see when spring is in bloom. For good measure I have designed some gem-studded insects as well."
This is a young project, only a couple weeks in the making, but stay tuned to Instagram to see the new pieces as they make their way to the shelves.
By Georgiana Krieger
Like many artists the shelter-in-place of 2020 brought with it a change of focus and some new work. People mostly know me as a sculptor who has another life as a saxophonist. So it is surprising that during the pandemic I have produced a series of paintings. I have been painting in recent months because I had some painterly ideas occupying my mind and some time to explore that.
Reflections is my new series of oil paintings on discarded mirrors. My goal was to take these discarded objects and turn them into something with organic beauty. The paintings depict a mysterious and imaginary biome of growing things. Small areas of the mirror show through to reflect the real world, but only in tiny bits. Mostly these works are an escape.
In my studio today there is a sculpture in progress on my workbench. This is a small piece depicting the earth supported by two polar bears. I’d like to cast this piece in both cement and glass. I began casting in cement a couple of years ago and then painting the surface in bright colors. I became interested in this technique after reading about the bright colors that the ancient Greeks and Romans painted their marble sculptures with.
Here is an example. Water is Life, 2020 is inspired by water activist Autumn Peltier. The blue palette of Water is Life transcends traditional portraiture and sybolizes inner strength and moral clarity. She is supported by the earth. In her gaze, there is determination, in her heart, there is truth.
Being creative in different media is all about making the work I really want to see! (or hear) Sometimes what I’d really like to see is a sculptural idea, sometimes it's two dimensional, and sometimes it’s music. Moving between different media keeps me thinking in different ways while each work informs the others. For instance, my work in fused glass gave me the inspiration for painting on mirrors and my work in painting informed my work in brightly colored sculpture. I don’t allow myself to be reigned in by an arbitrary definition of what type of artist I am. I just strive to make the things that occupy my imagination.
Please introduce yourself. Who are you? Where did you grow up? Where do you live?
I'm Vera Totos, I'm a handweaver and textile artist. I grew up in Hungary, and have lived in the US for 17 years. I live in the East Bay near Berkeley, with my husband, two kids, cat and a dog. A lot of what I do in art is influenced by the relationships around me - some of my works start as art lessons for kids; or with an idea about a community project, school fundraiser, a wrap to make a friend battling illness feel better; table linens that take on additional meaning after being used for particularly memorable holiday, and so on. I couldn't make the same art in a vacuum; it's all about people and experiences together.
Tell us more about what you create. What style(s) do you work in, mediums, etc.
I do weaving, felting, spinning, dyeing, and whatever techniques my current project throws my way. Right now I am experimenting with 3D structures in weaving and through fabric sculptures using stiffened fabric.
How long have you been creating?
All my life! I started fiber crafts around 7 or 8, when my great-grandmother deemed I was old enough to start learning sewing and embroidery. I have been "collecting" fiber crafts since then, adding knitting, spinning, weaving, shibori dyeing etc. Right now I am flirting with paper sculptures and woven basketry fiber sculptures. I have never done basketry, but it sounds intriguing!
When you're not making your art, what do you do?
I teach weaving to adults and integrated STEAM to young children. What that means is that we use art (the A added to STEM) to explore art and craft techniques along with scientific concepts. It may be a project using colorful lights, creating light play and explore additive color mixing at the same time; or an engineering challenge to build the most stable structure out of common art materials.
Is creativity a luxury or necessity for you? Tell us more about that.
I tried to put aside making things by hand for a while in college and graduate school and focus on reading and writing - I didn't last very long! I picked up knitting to keep myself sane, because it was portable and could do it during lectures.
Where do you find inspiration?
People and important events in our relationships. Weddings, shared meals, friendships, babies and children, bouts of anxiety, pandemic isolation have all inspired pieces I made. I rarely separate art from functional art - a wearable shawl commemorates a wedding; and set of napkins becomes backdrop for important memories; a jacket carries self-expression, fabric designed for a garment ends up mounted on a panel and hanging on the wall - things become experiences and experiences become entwined with things.
Covid has drastically altered Jeff and Wendy’s wildlife photography. Typically, they are traveling to different parts of the world and within the USA photographing a wide variety of animals, but Covid has allowed them to focus on all of the amazing wildlife that can be found locally. It has also provided Jeff, who does wildlife drawing, with the opportunity to devote more time creating charcoal drawings of animals that are near and dear to his heart such as a gray fox, great horned owl and a river otter. Giclée prints of these animals are available for sale at the gallery.
Wendy and Jeff at Work in the Field
This fall, Jeff and Wendy enjoyed spending time with two juvenile great horned owls, who allowed them to capture some very breathtaking images of owl behavior. One image is of one of the young raptors taking flight and another image captures one of the owls having a stare down with its parent as it begged to be fed! The adult won the stare down and flew away!
Juvenile Great Horned Owls
Bobcats and river otters are two of their favorite subjects and over the past six months they have been able to observe and photograph these two apex predators on many occasions. They have also spent time photographing a variety of shorebirds and songbirds often capturing images of them in flight.
They are also very involved in conservation efforts and time at home has allowed them to create Zoom presentations and write articles about conservation issues and ethical photography. They donate their images to Lindsay Wildlife, Sea Otter Savvy and River Otter Ecology Project to support nonprofits that are doing tremendous work promoting awareness and support for wildlife conservation issues.
Jeff’s limited edition charcoal pencil drawings are also available for sale at the gallery.
Please visit Fourth Street Fine Art where you can view their photographs and Jeff’s drawings that are on display or spend a little time exploring their website and step into a world of wildlife wonder www.jeffandwendyphotography. If you find an image you would like to purchase, please contact them and they will create a custom metal or giclée print produced just for you!
Jeff and Wendy’s goal is to capture images which promote an awareness and respect for all wildlife and provide people with a piece of art that reminds them of the importance of connecting with wildlife on an emotional level. So why not bring a little wildlife into your home- we know it will sooth your soul.
Cindy has been preparing for a show that she will display with a botanical painter, Sal Petru, in January, 2020. Due in part to Covid, she has returned to an early love, painting flowers in watercolor. This is the story of one piece for the show.
While she usually uses her own photos, the photo which she used as a springboard for this painting is a stock photo:
As she thought the coloring was a bit florid, and she decided to tone it down. Also this painting technique is more controlled then the techniques she used in some of the other watercolors for the show. In this technique, the petals are separately painted, with a large brush and very little pigment. Sequential layers use more pigment, are applied with smaller brushes, and vary in hue, e.g. color:
The three large flowers are the focal areas of the painting, so she decided to paint around them with more neutral shades of the pink, as the red in the photograph would have come forward too much:
Last, she decided to have some fun with the pistils. The result reminds her of 18th-century wallpaper. She calls it “For Ms. Delany”:
Why did she call it “For Ms. Delany”? In the late 18th century, the 72-year-old Mary Granville Pendarves Delany (1700–1788) began making cut paper collages in the manner of a botanical painting, or as she described it “…a new way of imitating flowers”. Over the next ten years, she created roughly 1,000 of these paper “mosaicks” that are of such accuracy and artistry as to be compared to the great botanical illustrations of the day. When completed, they were bound into ten volumes to become the Flora Delanica.
Delany’s method was to form the plants from pieces of wallpaper or hand-colored paper that she had cut with a scalpel and small scissors. (11/15/15 issue of periodical "Desert Breeze”. )
The show goes up on January 10 through February 28 and there is a reception from 1 to 3 PM on January 31st. Looking forward to seeing you there!
Streeters share studio news
Recommended Artist Resources
Frames - Cheap Joes
Matboard - REDImat
Paint - Blick Art, Cheap Joes
Plastic bags - Clearbags
Shipping supplies - Uline
Shoe Making - blog
Supplies - ASW Express
Postcards - PS Prints