Sunday, May 1, 2011

Mini Interview with BayVAN artist Steven Barich

BayVAN artist Steven Barich has an exhibition titled Zen with a Kickstand and Other Work at Branch Gallery.

Artist Reception: Friday, May 27, 6pm-9pm
May 6 - July 1, 2011
First Friday receptions: May 6, June 3, July 1, 6pm-9pm

We took a minute to ask him some questions to get a little insight into his work, artmaking process and life.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I live and work in Oakland, CA. I pretty much grew up here, studied here…but I feel that I really cut my teeth as an artist by living in Europe for nearly five years in the mid-2000s. Currently, there is a strong and supportive community of artists in Oakland—and the SF Bay Area in general—and it makes me stick around. The thing about a good community is, as a member, you have to actively nourish it, grow it…so besides participating as an exhibiting artist, I started as well as curate shows now and then.

Tell us a bit about the works featured in the Zen with a Kickstand exhibit, back-stories on where/how the work was made.
The actual piece Zen with a Kickstand came out of the working process: I was working on another drawing in my studio, totally fixated on the work-at-hand and blasting music in my studio while trying out names for this upcoming exhibition at the Branch Gallery/BayVAN, when I just came up with an idea of a new stone shape in the form/action of a Zen circle (the Zen circle being a supposedly perfect moment/movement of drawing a circle in one single ink stroke). However, a Zen circle made of my mosaic patterns couldn’t just “stand” there on it’s own, nor would it be perfectly drawn in one single movement of the brush…so, I thought it would need a supportive kickstand! Voila! Zen with a Kickstand. And then of course, I had to draw the new piece right away.

Two important things related to the above comment: the working process of the artist—how being active in action and thought in the studio creates new ideas, new work—and how the title ‘Zen with a Kickstand’ really represents my current work: drawn objects that reflect our desire for perfect things, images and devices…but all require a certain help, assistance or “propping up” to be perfect. So much of what is thought as perfect from nature is often remade by Mankind’s own hand to be even better. I think this is both such an amazing and disturbing process in our collective human history…this idea is connected to why if I’ve been incorporating the idea of Chinese Scholar’s Rocks into my most recent body of work. Also, ‘Zen with a Kickstand’ is like a Koan…it doesn’t make any sense…but now I’ve drawn it and it exists on paper, so how amazing is that?!?

When/ how did you get into making art?
I wish I could remember that far back! But seriously, I think I was predetermined to make art: my mother was/is a huge influence on me, as she is an artist and I grew up in and around art schools for a majority of my youth…that creative/DIY spirit is just what I know.

What is your favorite media to use?
My true favorite media is pastels. Very immediate, with amazingly rich creamy color, and it requires skill and patience and gives back so much beauty. Just thinking about it makes me want to go make a drawing in pastel.

You are working on a limited edition print with fellow BayVAN artist Tallulah Terryll for BayVAN's new Print Registry, tell us a bit about the process and how this differs from your normal work.
Well, I’ve desired to make an intaglio print in the vein of my Logic Stones body of work for some time now…but I know first hand how challenging printmaking can be if you don’t keep the practice up, and it has been many years since I’ve worked on a plate. Working with Tallulah is great. I’m taking full use of her extensive knowledge, and I’m excited to get the end result: a hard ground/aquatint/spit bite combo image!

For me, this print really needs to have a high investment in terms of the hand-of-the-artist and the printmaking process itself, just as much time/energy investment as my drawings in the Logic Stones series. In this way, nothing is different from my normal way of working. However, because the print will be an edition, I’m not focusing on it as a true unique object per se…and the print image itself is an alternative take on the large Zen with a Kickstand drawing I’ve made for this exhibition at BayVAN. I decided to tie together the large drawing, the limited edition print and the title of the exhibition…something completely new overall. I like the idea of a tone of an exhibition being created from a single major work, and then giving the rest of the works space to feedback off that primary piece.

Tell us about
Artopic is a side-project in my artistic practice where I’ve tried to create a format where artists can reflect on their own practice or the practice of colleagues, and their artwork. The online blog-portal format is simple and effective, and has a far reach. I’ve managed to interview a number of great local/international artists about their artistic practice over the years, and I’ve kept up that activity in contributing to Artopic with interviews situated in the Bay Area. It is important to note that I am not the only contributor, that other artists and colleagues have given their time and energy to Artopic to really make it shine—Artopic is a great collection of essays, poems, videos that collectively create a recent history of artistic thought. And, Artopic is always open to new contributors who want to reflect on their own practice or find interest in documenting their local scene.

What is next for you?
Besides looking forward to exhibiting all this new work at the Branch gallery during the spring/summer, I have a small work in a CCA Alumni exhibition at the San Pablo Art Gallery in May, as well as having a nice work in the Southern Exposure MEGA MEGA MEGA auction on May 7th in San Francisco. This year so far has been a very busy and exciting time for me artistically. For the rest of the year I plan on focusing on different mediums that I think will expand my focus with the Logic Stones, taking a look at further abstraction of the current images as well as breaking out into subtle three-dimensional wall works. I could also mention those few videos and other collaborative projects I’m going to be working on, but then I’d have to tell you a secret…wait, I just did!!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Mini Interview with Branch Gallery artist Tabitha Soren


Tell us a little about yourself.
I started out thinking my pictures needed to be hard to love for them to be art. But then I remembered how much I respond to the beauty in J.W.M. Turner’s paintings and to Hiroshi Sugimoto’s photographs. I am patiently waiting for the sublime to come back into fashion in the art world.

Tell us a little bit about the works featured in the Dreamtime exhibit.

YOU CALL THAT DARK? was made on a dirt driveway in Hawaii. I dragged my 9 year old daughter out of bed before dawn, drove her to the end of the driveway, turned on the rental car’s headlights and asked her to run back and forth in her flip flops. It was her idea to put her nightgown on backwards. She felt like she was too old to be wearing Disney princesses in a picture. To her chagrin, the picture we liked best shows her and the prin cesses from the back.

When/ how did you get into photography?
I was born into a US Air Force military family but grew up all over the world. I left behind homes, friends, schools and neighborhoods every 3-4 years. Taking snapshots was the only way to remember the people, places and things that c ombined to make me turn out the way I am. After getting married, I ended up at Stanford University. The wonderful professors (Joel Leivick, Bob Dawson, Alex Nemerov) in the Art and Art History departments, encouraged me to make time to fall in love with photography all over again.

What is your favorite camera to use?
After a decade of shooting film with a simple Hassleblad 501cm , I have started projects that really do n’t work with a square format. I have been renting a bunch of different cameras as of late to see which one to buy to use for the next 10 years. YOU COME TO MIND from Dreamtime is one of my first rectangular images that I felt deserved to be in an art gallery.

Which artists inspire you-either in your artmaking or in life.
I really like Elizabeth Peyton’s portraits and Gerhard Richter’s paintings of people. Kara Walker has also been a huge inspiration. I have learned a lot from Director Phil Morrison (Junebug) and Producer Rick Rubin (Dixie Chicks, AC DC, LL Cool J, System of a Down). But lately, it’s comedian Aziz Ansari is who really keeps me going.

What is next for you?
My work is currently in group shows in a bunch of cities in the United States: Seattle, Washington, Santa Barbara, Minneapolis, Brooklyn and of course, at Branch in Oakland. I have two new series in the works. One of them is a series of ocean landscapes called PANIC BEACH. I don’t really care for the outdoors so this is a stretch for me. The catalyst for the second new project is YOU CALL THAT DARK? from the Dreamtime show. The projects look very different but they are about the same thing: what people survive and what they don’t. Life can be rough and reckless with human beings. I am continually struck by the amount of misfortune catastrophe people can endure in a lifetime.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Branch Gallery closed for Frist Friday July 2nd

Branch Gallery will be closed this Friday July 2nd,
both day and evening, due to concerns of safety in Oakland and respect for public protests that may occur.

Please note we will also be closed this Saturday July 3rd

We will re-open regular hours July 8th.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Latest Exhibit at Branch Gallery

If you find yourself in Uptown Oakland now thru August 7th stop in to Branch Gallery to check out the latest exhibit Everyday is Not the Same, featuring stunning minimalist works by local artists Hadley Williams and Pablo Manga.

Beyond the impeccable attention to detail, what also sets these works apart from traditional minimalist works is the fact that both artists are using unconventional materials. Pablo limits his material to industrial tapes and Hadley uses many kinds of materials including hang tags, tissue paper and correction tape.

This an exhibit worth checking out in person, images online do not do it justice.

The exhibit runs thru August 7th.

The gallery will be open late from 6-9pm for First Fridays July 2nd and August 6th.
regular gallery hours: Thurs- Friday 12=6pm, Saturday 12-4pm.

PLEASE NOTE: we will be closed Saturday July 3rd.

455 17th St, suite 301, oakland, ca 94612..1/2 block from 19th BART

Friday, June 4, 2010

First Friday happenings at Branch Gallery

Branch Gallery is open until 9pm on the First Friday of every month. Join us June 4th for the closing reception of No Man’s Landscape by Jessalyn Haggenjos.

Many great things to see and do on First friday in Oakland. Take BART and get off at the 19th St. Station to walk to Branch Gallery 455 th 17th St. between Broadway and Telegraph, walk over to the Crucible Gallery, then hit up Pro Arts, Awaken Cafe, Joyce Gordon or head north to 23rd St.

Restaurants close to us include Flora, Spice Monkey and more. Find out whats happening in the Midtown Arts District at the website

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Branch Gallery closing at 3pm today

We will be closing the gallery early today to head over to the SF Arts Fair.

Special Announcement!

In a partnership with Artcards SF, we are thrilled to offer you & your friend free VIP access to the San Francisco Fine Art Fair. Free drinks will be served at Artcards private reception next Saturday, May 22, 4-5pm.


If you are not already an Artcards subscriber please check them out here: and subscribe to the Artcards weekly email update about openings and art events around the Bay. I hope you can join Deputy Editor of Artcards Jason Benson and representatives from BayVAN for a private drink, while seeing the artwork at the fair.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

We Won!

BayVAN and The Compound Gallery won and Indie award last night in the "Ripple Effect" category.
We are so excited and thankful to all that nominated us. Thank You! yay!

There were many, many great nominees in all categories. We were very excited to be in such great company and a special congrats to Joyce Gordon Gallery for winner an Oakland Soul award!!

It is events like the Oakland Indie Awards that remind us how great our City really is.

and if you have been looking for good news about Oakland, stay tuned there is a new website being produced called "Good News in Oakland" right now they have a Facebook page and from reading it the website should be up and running soon... that is good news...