Category: News

After Oakland Ghost Ship Fire, Cities Need Solutions To Cultural Witch Hunt

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oakland_witchhuntThe recent Ghost Ship Warehouse Fire here in Oakland, CA. has ignited a Witch Hunt by city officials across the country from Oakland, Richmond, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, Nashville, Philadelphia, Baltimore to New York and counting. Unfortunately for hundreds of artists this tragedy is being used as an excuse for city officials, in an attempt to save face, by making examples out of residents in creative living environments. The sad reality of this is that it is unfairly targeting artists and treating them like a scourge on society by pushing them out onto the streets while not really addressing the real issues in a productive manner. The stampede to shut down artists’ warehouses is burning through creative communities red tagging buildings in a wholesale fashion. It is good to note that not all artists spaces/warehouses are out of compliance, contrary to the narrative being pushed by media outlets.

Another issue at hand is the assumption by city officials that only artists occupy spaces that may be out of safety code compliance. Let’s face it folks – there are small churches all across this great nation that are housed in buildings that do not meet fire safety compliance codes or have assembly permits. Walk down the street in any disadvantaged community and you will see a string of churches in old store fronts, theaters and similar buildings that have been transformed into houses of worship. How about all the garment warehouses? How about all the unlicensed automotive shops? Are city officials going to treat them in the same manner they are treating artists?  Are city officials calling out the owners of those buildings for not being compliant? The answer is an emphatic No! At least not until it benefits them politically. Where is the fairness and wisdom in the recent actions across the country against the arts community?

Speaking of disadvantaged communities – why are they only targeting the disadvantaged? Do you think that possibly some buildings in upper scale areas may be out of compliance. Well we may never know because they aren’t on the Gestapo Compliant Lists.

Why is everyone, outside of the artists community, standing around saying nothing while there is a rounding-up of artists, galleries, and DIY spaces being booted from their homes and studios where they make their livelihoods?

Here’s a good idea it’s the Holidays! (start X-Mas background music)No better gift than the gift of eviction! How about the cities send inspectors through the neighborhoods shutting down homes who have their Christmas tree wired up with a crazy menagerie of cheap extension cords and old Christmas lights. While you are at it make sure the toys don’t pose a fire hazard. Little Bobby’s racecars might cause a fire too!

This post isn’t meant to cast aspersions on the seriousness of fire safety, the usefulness of code compliance and the good work that city officials do on behalf of all city residents. The Ghost Ship Fire was a horrible tragedy that ended the lives of 36 amazing human beings that were loved by their friends and families as well as the artist community of which they were a part of. These actions against the artists communities dishonors the memory of those who perished in the fire and sadly uses their deaths as a political tool to hurt artists across the country.

The Ghost Ship building was a problem that had a long list of issues that made it unsafe and sadly it flew under the radar, but in the artist community it was the EXCEPTION rather than the rule.  The majority of artists spaces in Oakland (the greater Bay Area and beyond) are run by responsible people who care enough about themselves and others to create a safe environment and to be conscious of fire dangers. Kicking people out as a reactionary reflex (based on infractions that can be repaired by owners when given notice, the time, and the opportunity) is flat out wrong.

There are better alternatives. The mayors of all these cities need to throw up a stop sign with inspectors and mandate that the insanity be stopped right now. We can find better solutions to these issues. For example, the city can work with owners in a manner so that buildings can be brought up to compliance on a time frame that is reasonable and doesn’t require that they evict the artists from their homes and studios. Cities can create a program that will help building owners do this without going broke or having to raise rents to exorbitant levels. There can also be initiatives to work on solutions that help the current creative community stay in their spaces and make them safe at the same time. This is the role of government is it not? The path of scapegoating and targeting good people in the city by just shutting them down and demonizing them as hazards is not productive nor compassionate.

Artists communities incubate the cultural advancements that make our world a better place. When you go to the museum remember, that painting on the wall was made by an artist who most likely started out on in an old warehouse space. When you hear your favorite band remember they were practicing in a makeshift studio for a long time and playing shows at artists warehouses before they hit it big. When you go to see a circus remember that those performers lived life in a warehouse where they could practice their craft day in and day out. When you go to the movies remember that the filmmaker lived in an old warehouse space projecting his/her films on the walls for friends before they ever got funded to make that blockbuster that you love so much.

The truth is that Art is not made in the clean cellophane environment that the mainstream consumes it in. Art is birthed in places where people struggle, make concessions with their level of comfort, and place their focus and resources on creativity above all else. Those who support it are other artists who with a gaggle of their friends in a old warehouse will sit on uncomfortable chairs to watch a play, listen to a unknown unsigned band, look at paintings made by someone thought to be insane, or engage in one of a million other artistic happenings. Without these people and creative spaces…life would lose its luster, wine would have no taste, and our walls would be bare.

Let’s let cooler heads prevail and have all parties involved come together for the greater good. City officials, mayors, building owners, and artists can do the right thing and work in unison, instead of in opposition. Through a positive community strategy all creative living spaces can be brought up to compliance without evictions and financial punishment on building owners. We can make the world a safer place and our cities can retain our cultural incubators. Everyone wins!

To help the Victims of the Oakland Ghost Ship Fire Please consider giving to the:
Fire Relief Fund for Victims of Ghostship Oakland Fire

 

Free Speech Retrospect: Don’t Draw That réspondez s’il vous plait

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dont_banner300 It has been a while since I posted. I have been occupied with completing art works for a display at Art Basel , follow up show at AutoBody Fine Art, and a movie project.

My first show in 2015 is participation in a group show at Works/San Jose, a community art center in downtown San Jose, CA. This is my inaugural showing in San Jose, CA. I honestly cannot recall the reason it has taken so long for me to have a show in San Jose, because it is one cool city. I used to come here yearly for Game Developers Conference and I always visited their modern museum of art which never failed me with a brilliant show.

Don’t Draw That: réspondez s’il vous plait is a group show at Works/San Jose gallery with a wide variety of work that responds to the recent events—including the murder of artists by terrorists in Paris, and the calls from many in reaction, including from some world leaders, for artists not to create provocative work on religion or other subjects that might offend—have spurred a wide range of responses from creative individuals and communities. The show includes work that touches the subject across all lines and pain points.

One of the art works I have in this show is a painting I did in 2009 titled “Jihadi Martyr in the Golden Pussy of Heaven.” I am not placing an image of it here, as I wish for patrons to attend and see it in person (March 6th – 21st, 2015). However I did wish to take the opportunity to write a few words on my thoughts about my participation in this exhibition. The painting in question is a classic example of my influences from religious art, cartoons, and Mad magazine style satire. This work was originally part of a series called “Die for Allah.” It was a defiant reaction to Islamic extremists attacks on innocent people. There were 5 paintings which displayed images that were satirical views of what some people, may consider to be absurdities of extremists interpretations of the Islamic faith i.e. promises of paradise for killing innocent people, virgins to tend to the sexual desires of martyrs, …etc.

This series of work was shown in a gallery exhibition and then posted on my web site.  A few years later, I submitted a proposal to a contemporary art space in another state for a completely different series of paintings. I was told that the curatorial committee was interested in my show but saw the “Die For Allah” works on my web site and decided to decline my proposal. Their decision was based on the idea that they felt that the “Die For Allah” series would be viewed by their patrons and their association with me would jeopardize the art centers funding and make them a target for Muslims who would be offended that they were displaying my work.

I was quite irritated that they were judging my proposal on work that wasn’t even part of my proposed show – in addition I felt they were spineless and self censoring their program out of misdirected assumptions and fear. On the other hand, it was their decision and they have the right to display work that fits within the framework and guidelines of their program. This is their Free Speech and I respect and support that fully.

I believe, as many artist do, in exercising my right to Free Speech and defending it for others whether I agree with their viewpoint, find them offensive, or otherwise valueless. Free Speech at all costs is a tight rope and delivers a challenge to a society in global multicultural system. Dialogue and tolerance are paramount. In addition there is still the possibility that you may cause offense…that is the price we pay.

For my part I must declare, I don’t feel the same way I felt, when I first painted “Jihadi Martyr in the Golden Pussy of Heaven.” It’s not that I think the painting has lost its impact or that the satire is wrong in anyway. Many things like religion have an inherent power, and power always corrupts. For this reason we must allow for them to be criticized, otherwise we will be overcome by them with the establishment of institutionalized oppression. Now at the time I made this painting my motivation was fueled by a need to react against the actions of extremists by exercising my right to satirize their actions and religious beliefs, and this painting does just that – it very poignantly takes a comical jab at Muslim extremists who feel that it is their mission to kill those who don’t agree or live by their standards. The political statement behind the works very strongly raises the flag of opposition to any group who would use violence, coercion, threats or murder to limit Free Speech in a free society.

In retrospect, I see that the deeper devilish danger threatening Free Speech is not the actions of extremists. For ultimately their impact is shallow against nations who have liberty embedded in their constitutions and culture. Au contraire, the real threat is the reactions of democratic governments who use the actions of extremists, taken against artists, to pass legislation that usurps the very freedoms for which artists use to create art.

Post Charlie Hebdo, there was a call for more police power and surveillance. The Orwellian lie was repeated by media outlets, that we need to be protected from extremists and the only way is to allow government to remove more of our freedoms.  Democratized governments are increasingly turning their eye toward their citizens and using the actions of extremists as justification for building a police state and increasing reductions of privacy and the deterioration of personal freedoms. The Snowden revelations are concrete evidence of this direction coupled with politicians loudly parroting the message  “We need the power to listen in to conversations, we need the power for home searches, we need the power to comb internet records…”

This all pales the threat from extremists on the soil of democratic nations. My goal in writing this, is not to diminish the lives of the artists in Paris or any others who have suffered at the hands of extremists for exercising Freedom of Speech, without doubt this is tragic. I only now realize that perhaps I didn’t tell the whole story.

Perhaps, my painting didn’t go far enough…perhaps it should have included elements that detail how democratic governments are stealing the freedoms of citizens and using Muslim extremists as an excuse to rob us of our Free Speech, privacy and personal rights. For that would have been more accurate in focusing on the real danger from the Hebdo murders.

As an artist, the final act of creation is displaying your work to the public. This is the moment when what you have created becomes a permanent part of the cultural landscape. I am a fan of satire and my work has always had humorous elements. Much of my art has been an exercise in button pushing. When you see “Jihadi Martyr in the Golden Pussy of Heaven,” you will either love it or hate it. Some people have viewed it and thought is was in poor taste, and others have seen it, and laughed uncontrollably! Ultimately, I hope that this art work creates a dialogue that encourages viewers to explore the complex Free Speech issues we are faced with.

To other artists I say, express yourself to the fullest and use your tools freely but examine what you have wrought. Examine it closely, because there are many who will use it to fulfill their purpose and it may very well be the undoing of your freedom to create.

Review: Art Hazelwood and William Wolf @ ArtZone 461 Gallery

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Steven Lopez and Eric Koehler at ArtZone 461 Gallery : Art Hazelwood and William Wolf Print show
Gallery Director Steven Lopez and Eric Koehler at ArtZone 461 Gallery : Art Hazelwood and William Wolf print show 2014

San Francisco, CA. – Up now at ArtZone 461 Gallery March 1 – April 6, 2014 is a two man show of printmakers Art Hazelwood and William Wolf. This show is produced in conjunction with the SGC International 42nd Annual Conference in San Francisco. ArtZone is the host gallery. Both Artists have incredible artistic vision and technical mastery to match. This is a posthumous show for Wolf who passed away in 2004. Wolf was one part of the early bay area figurative movement. Hazelwood worked with Wolf over the last years of his life as archivist and friend.  Wolf’s works on display are truly poetic. Many are a collage of body parts disjointed and visually bound by their eloquent composition. Subdued colors along with exquisite print textures exude a harmony which runs through all of his work. His modus operandi included repeatedly re-working plates so that there was an unending evolution, resulting in one plate having many different print incarnations. In contrast Hazelwood’s prints of political inspired themes, with rich black ink and melodious line quality, speak volumes of his interest in bell ringing the injustices of America. His figures are beautifully drawn, and orchestrated into scenes which touch upon the political pain points with a style that is reminiscent of satirical cartoons. There is much theater in Hazelwood’s work and his vision and characters come to life on the paper. This is a unique opportunity to see two masterful printmakers side by side. I recommend you take the time to go by and experience the work for yourself. The show is up thru April 6 at ArtZone 46 Gallery. Located at 461 Valenica St. San Francisco, CA.

1 minute of video is worth 1.8 million words: Misinformation or Hyperbole?

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Screen shot 2013-12-22 at 12.59.25 AMThe other day I sat in on a marketing Webcast and the presenter made the statement “1 minute of video is worth 1.8 million words.” He attributed this to no one. When I heard it I thought, “Woa- that is an interesting stat.” So I googled it, and indeed I found the quote all over the web and many people attributed it to Dr. James McQuivery of Forrester Research. I searched further because I wanted to find the white paper or report in which this statement first appeared. Alas I couldn’t find it. Nonetheless I tweeted it out. Shortly after a friend tweeted back on it and said “@gpbprince Wow, amazing! Do you have a link for that?” But I didn’t.

This statement had been quoted hundreds of times (maybe more), included in countless Powerpoints, a bullet point in gobs of marketing materials, used in ads, regurgitated by marketing pros who use it to back up their reasons why companies should use video to market their products…but the source is nebulous. For all the times this statement is used not a single one links back to the original statement. So I emailed Dr. James McQuivery of Forrester research and asked him to share. I am still waiting for a response (intermission music plays) and I’m still waiting.

I actually don’t like be part of the misinformation feed and when backing up my marketing, I do my best to use reliable resources. On my drive into SF this morning an annoying thought came to me. How could Dr. Quigley measure video in such a manner as to determine that 1 minute of video is worth 18 million words. What was his formula? Then it came to me. Duh!

It IS a formula. 1.8 million, 18 is divisible by 6 and 3. There are 60 seconds in a minute and a standard frames per second for video is 30. There is no research, there is no white paper, there is nothing. This statement is just an extrapolation of the statement ” A picture is worth a 1000 words.”

1 second = 1 picture in video media, 30 frames per second x 60 = 1,800 pictures x 1000 words = 1.8 million words

So the statement, often quoted, should be prefaced by the statement “If 1 picture is worth 1000 words, than …”

Even that statement is a made up stat that has been peddled since as far back as 1911. “Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.” appears in a 1911 newspaper article quoting newspaper editor Arthur Brisbane discussing journalism and publicity – Wikipedia

This statement had been used over and over to describe the strength of pictorials in marketing/publicity and advertising. Is it scientific – no! Does it sound believable? Apparently so, because since 1911 that message has been hammered into marketing statements and the public consciousness.  We could make the argument that a picture (and symbols) relay ideas very strongly and indeed in a more concise manner than the written word. Why have a road sign that say “Drive slowly there are school kids crossing the street frequently at this intersection.” When we can post a silhouette of small stick figures and the word “school.”

So in a process of truth in advertising it is better to say “If a picture is worth a 1000 words, than 1 minute of video is worth 1.8 million words.”

This statement is clear and honest and most certainly makes the argument more believable than willy nilly stating that 1 minute of video equals 1.8 million words.

Of course if you are shooting at 60 frames per second and in HD, than one minute of video must be worth a heck of a lot more than 1.8 million words.

 

 

 

Aqua Art Miami 2012

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This year my work was displayed at Aqua Art Miami during Art Basel through Jacqueline Cooper Fine Art. Aqua Art has been operating during Art Basel Miami as a satellite show for 8 years and has developed a solid following as well as a reputation for displaying great art from West Coast galleries with a highlight on emerging and mid career artists. The show opened the evening of December 5th with a VIP event that was(putting it lightly) a complete blow out- attendance was through the roof and the vibe and excitement was fever pitch. The high energy has remained and the show runs through December 9th. Most of the galleries have a distinct vision to their stable of artist and a few seemed discombobulated. This Isn’t a criticism as the same can be said for Art Basel. News was also released yesterday that Art Aqua was purchased by Art Miami. Word from the galleries was that the Art Miami folks went around to make introductions and to ensure exhibitors that all is well and they are looking forward to working with them in 2013. If the Art Miami folks can keep the momentum going and continue with bringing in the edgy west coast galleries than Aqua Art will continue its rise on the Art Basel radar as a destination to find fresh art unfiltered by the Basel big gallery hubris.

If you want to see the work of mine that Jacqueline took to Aqua Art go to my website at BarbosaPrince.com and look at the “Mexican Drug War” series. So instead of just promoting myself I want to name a few notables.

Edward Del Rosario produced some exquisitely painted works that were mysterious and playfully dark. His work “Contest of Champions” hints of the gender interactions of love and social circumstance.

Dickson Schneider and his “Free Art Cart” bucks the Art Basel aesthetic by giving away the valuable commodity to the masses. Schneider has built a cart that is reminiscent of the old style ice cream carts. He sets up in front of the Aqua hotel and offers his “free art” to any and all who ask for a work. The artwork is part art display and part performance. This is the second year he has produced this work and it has also been shown in Oakland, Ca. at the now recently legended Oakland Art Murmur in Oakland, Ca.

Finally Helen Bayly my fellow artist at Jacqueline Cooper fine art produces incredible drawings inspired by decadence, lust and deep seated sexual desires. Blending religion, mythology and classical drawing, Bayly creates work that draws in the spectator and excites the senses. There is dark underpinnings and Bayley’s execution is alluring and delicious.

All in all Aqua Art is a unique part of Art Basel and has made it mark as a must attend event!

Adobe MAX 2011

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Right now is one of the most exciting times to be a designer/developer. Adobe MAX is Adobe’s premier event where they roll out new products and test the waters with their core group of design and development partners. I’ll be there with Adobe Press and Peachpit. Adobe is set to make some big announcements – so keep your eyes peeled for the news on Adobe.com.

Actor Rainn Wilson will be emcee at the Adobe MAX Awards which should make for quite a ceremony. The awards will be broadcast live so if you are not there you can still catch it here.

There is also the big news that Weezer will be playing at the Adobe MAX Bash. This year promises to be a big Hoooha!!

Also check out Peachpit’s MAX page for cool deals on Adobe related learning products.

If you are not going this year make plans to attend next year in the meantime you can stay connected with MAX social media resources below:

@AdobeMAX: The main account from which we’ll send conference highlights, news, and even a few surprises.

@AdobeEvents: The account that will address event logistics and answer general MAX questions about rooms, sessions, WiFi, and food. This account will be following the conversation around #MAXhelp closely.

Hash Tags:

#AdobeMAX: The main MAX hashtag. Make sure you include it in all of your tweets.

#MAXhelp: Use this hashtag to notify us about event logistical issues.

Product Twitter accounts for updates during the conference.

Oakland Underground Film Festival

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This September 22-24th is the Third Annual Oakland Underground Film Festival. Live music, DJs, Taco Trucks, Beer a true Oakland style event.

Opening Party: September 22 @ 10pm
Closing Night Party September 24th
All Shows $10

Located at: Grand Street Tavern
3200 Grand Avenue
Oakland, CA 94610
510-452-3556

Check out there Website for details
Oakland Underground Film Fest

Puppy Tweets – Keep tabs on Fido

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Okay this is for the person who has a pet and is obsessed with their pet’s shenanigans. In addition they have to also love Twitter messages that are more mindless than most and we know Twitter is not a place filled with mindless tweets, cough!

Introducing Puppy Tweets! The good folks at Mattel are teaching kids the value of K-9 social media, well thank God someone is! Apparently after you hook the tracking puppy tag, any time your dog moves or barks you are sent a tweet. I am a firm believer that once I leave the house my dog puts on my bath robe, turns on the stereo, and gets on the computer and browses the web all day in addition to ordering the occasional home delivered pizza.

Of course some dogs may sleep all day- in which case you won’t get many tweets. However in the case of the all day yapper- you may get 100’s of tweets that say “your dog just barked.” Perhaps there will be an occasional tweet that says “your dog just drank water.” As you can see this is a fascinating and incredibly rich experience. The prize jewel of tweets will be when you get one that says “Your dog just pooped on your rug and tracked it all over house.” That is sure to brighten your day and give you something to look forward to when you get home.

Puppy Tweets is PC and Mac compatible so everyone can jump in on the fun. In closing, the one thing I love about technology is taking it and subverting its intended use. I think the device and software for puppy tweets, may have some other sinister use and I can’t wait to find it!