Special Programs create visibility, foster relational ties between community groups, support an organization and its mission, and build collaborative partnerships. They promote ideas that strengthen people, lives and communities. I believe that art is not just a commodity, it can be a tool that explores issues, opens minds, and fosters meaningful dialogue. Well designed programs actively engage individuals and provide them with alternative ways of exploring new subject matter. Essentially I serve as a catalyst to publicly activate your idea.
People digest information differently, this is when programmatic design can be a great asset. I work with leaders and project developers in order to expand and strengthen projects & initiatives. Resulting in increase audience participation and community support - programs help forge partnerships and networks for the future.
Oakland Works in Progress is a project of the Storefront Institute. We are working on a new creative space for life in Downtown Oakland that brings together innovative organizations focusing on cultural work for change.
This Interfaith Service took place at St Ignatius Church in conjunction with the Manresa Gallery exhibition – Under Cover: Liturgical Garb as Investment in Mystery. Under Cover was comprised of liturgical vestments from various faith traditions and highlighted many similarities among the represented religious groups. This community program brought each represented faith leader and their followers together for a shared service in hopes to experience a common vision of mutual respect. The main speaker was Rita Semel, the Founder of the San Francisco Interfaith Council. This service helped create visibility for the only "Interfaith" Gallery in San Francisco and as result other spiritual organizations have begun proposing gallery exhibitions and support.
Truly Sisters was a installation for Thresholds of Faith: Four Entries into the Beyond. Four artists from different faith perspectives were commissioned to make work for this exhibition and Lynn Marie Kirby was taking a closer look at Catholicism - a religion she grew up with and respected but had many questions about. As the curator of this exhibition I requested that each artistic activate their gallery alcove over the course of the exhibition as way to garner public participation with the projects. In my view, it was a challenge mixing the contemporary art world with religion and we needed people to know that important issues were being addressed at Manresa Gallery (a gallery inside the beautiful, grand, St Ignatius Catholic church).
Ali Naschke-Messing created See-Through-Silence as part of Thresholds of Faith: Four Entries into the Beyond. As a practicing Buddhist, she built a installation open to moments of quite reflection and offer to lead meditation "sits" each full moon throughout the exhibition.
At the opening reception quite a few visitors, from differing faith backgrounds, mentioned to me that that they had always wanted to walk inside St. Ignatius to see the grandeur, but they felt as if they might be intruding- simply because they were not Catholic. As a way to support open dialogue and extend the church's graces, Ali and I were given access to take some of the meditation sessions throughout "non public" parts of the church architecture. Walking meditations allowed people to focus on breath, foot cadence, the use of light and the changing sound patterns of the entire building - people could see that meditation practice has no spacial boundaries. In addition, the gallery was activated with curious and mindful visitors who were open to understanding the history of the space and able to experience the benefits of meditation.
Reverberations of Stone was a depiction of a Mehrab, which is a devotional niche marking the direction of prayer in a Mosque. Taraneh Hemami's installation for Thresholds of Faith: Four Entries into the Beyond was an experiment that collapsed spaces and overlapping systems of belief. Muslim visitors were invited to use the space for prayer - the jade niche was in fact facing Mecca.
Taraneh's event series was powerful and timely, as she included contemporary artists that could address several of the unjust and tragic events happening to Muslims around the world. She invited performance artist Amitis Motevalli to recreate a soundscape of a mehrab, which was historically designed to fill the space with a cacophonous chorus of spiritual folk songs depicting oppression, war and martyrdom. Motevalli overlayed rituals from multiple religions and traditions with the aim of offering consolation and bringing solace to the mourning families. It was the first time in many years that so many Muslims visited the church and it was the gallery and art that brought them. I learned that over 40 years ago, a Mosque existed in the basement of St Ignatius Church, it was created for Muslim students at the University of San Francisco. For reasons that are not entirely clear, the space has since been removed. This exhibition helped to establish new relationships between the two religious communities.
Recently hired in 2013 as the creative consulting director of Manresa Gallery, I noticed that there was very little gallery foot traffic that existed from the university students and faculty. The Nomadic Labyrinth established a playful dialogue with urban space and explored the relationship between art, spirituality and daily life. The San Francisco Arts Commission funded the creation of Calzada's project and the installation was the perfect bridge between Manresa Gallery and University of San Francisco. Huge crowds of students and visitors walked the Labyrinth each day and then visited the gallery. Manresa's Interfaith concept acknowledges the varied beliefs at the University and around the world. I am proud to report that there is now a partnership with the USF Museum Studies department and we hired a faculty member to curate an exhibition in 2016.
The Nomadic Labyrinth was a project presented by Manresa Gallery and was installed on the University of San Francisco campus by artist Paz de la Calzada. The interactive piece helped create a better understanding of Manresa Gallery's mission simply by marking the space on campus directly outside of the gallery. It tempted people passing by with a grand gesture to be playful, introspective and interactive.
Many people had questions about the Labyrinth and wanted to learn more about it so I created a hands-on education workshop in order get the Parish involved in supporting the gallery and its mission as well provide space to make their artwork. Paz was commissioned to create a public workshop where participants created their own finger labyrinth.
The dinner lecture program began in 2006. As the Co-Director and Curator of the gallery, it was important to provide context to the work that many of the emerging artists were making. I created a dinner series that would educate the local community and give weight to the ideas the artists were exploring. Guests were curious and the dinners not only attracted people interested in learning more about the exhibition artist's work but also those interested in culinary arts. Speakers were invited from various disciplines to visit the gallery exhibition and then connect the artwork with their discipline- each talk was varied and unique. Similarly chefs were asked to view the exhibition, and then create a menu inspired by their experience in the artist's Triple Base installation.
Interdisciplinary artist and experimental designer Mel Day used the work of a group of healthcare and wellness leaders who were committed to breaking the taboo regarding conversations about the end of life. They launched the website and interactive adventure, “Let’s have Dinner and Talk about Death.” As a way to engage people on their varied viewpoints towards death, I commissioned Mel Day to host a Death Over Dinner at Manresa Gallery. The dinner was designed to transform and empower seemingly difficult conversations about the unknown- about absence, ambiguity, and uncertainty-into an experience of generous engagement, radical empathy, and presence. The event included various artists and community member.
In 2011 I was elected as the project coordinator for the Andy Warhol Foundation convening in San Francisco. I essentially got to help play host and help design the large-scale foundation events. My food and wine knowledge from the Triple Base Dinner Lecture Series proved helpful, this was around the time when the culinary world in San Francisco was at its peak - Mission Street Food was popular, farmers markets were really expanding, Blue Bottle coffee was still pretty small and food trucks were not yet housed in eating lots.
Social events and dinners were designed for the artistic and programmatic directors of non-profits across the United States to meet and share ideas.
24th Street Promenade put artists into a dialog with the immediate community of Lower 24th Street in the Mission District, where Triple Base was located. We commissioned ten Bay Area artists to present dynamic new work in storefronts and public sites along the 24th Street working alongside business owners, community organizations and public spaces to create mutually beneficial installations and interventions. Artists included: Clare Haggarty, Jerome Waag, Abner Nolan, Matthew Rana, Zachary Royer Scholz, Forrest Lewinger, Amber Hasselbring, Elaine Buckholtz, Kelly Ording & Jetro Martinez. - Support from the Lower 24th Street Merchants. 2006, 2009
The Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development, the San Francisco Arts Commission, and Triple Base Gallery sponsored the Art in Storefronts program Over 30 artists were selected and commissioned to create inventive art installations throughout four neighborhoods in San Francisco. Art in Storefronts was a pilot project that was part of the Mayor’s initiative to reinvigorate San Francisco neighborhoods and commercial corridors and I was the lead curator to develop this project.
The intention of the AIS was to instill community pride, support local merchants, improve streetscape conditions and safety, revitalize the property’s appearance, increase foot traffic, and support local San Francisco artists. AIS was a celebration of the role that the arts play in community-building and economic growth. 2009
The Seed: exhibition ran concurrently with Amy Franceschini's Victory Garden Project which transformed San Francisco City Hall Plaza into a public community garden. Slow Food Nation held their annual event here and as a San Francisco city employee and Curator of the project, I worked with the artists to design conversation sessions addressing the public about the potential for implementing ideas inherent in the exhibition proposal. The conceptual installation at the SFAC Grove Street Gallery was a proposal for a new branch of the San Francisco Library dedicated to seed exchange, as well as the loaning of gardening tools and literature associated with farming, gardening and urban greening.
I developed a coinciding Event Series called “Sunday is for Lovers” that supported Elyse Mallouk’s exhibition, Notes for an Open Score which was an experiment in the limits of sentimental expression. Mallouk reduced romance novels and pop love songs to their most basic elements: words, rhythm, tempo and intonation, so that their sentiment was made to bleed, silent and be suspended. The event series included live music and poetry readings that revolved around the theme of LOVE. Performances included: Little Wings, Magic! Magic Roses, Assateague, The Old Thunderhearts, The Lambs, Heidi Alexander, [45isdistance], and Marc Dantona,. Roger Niner led the closing of each Sunday evening with karaoke sessions where attendees could serenade the public from the gallery's storefront windows.
As the director of Triple Base we partnered with Noise Pop Industries to help develop and conceptualize the art program for the Treasure Island Music Festival for three consecutive years. We created a sumi ink drawing event, instrument making workshops, silk screening projects, round table discussions with local Bay area makers and a six word poetic drawing station.
Artist Michael Rakowitz to hosted a dinner lecture for Triple Base. Rakowitz is the creator of the project called Enemy Kitchen and he presented at my home in conjunction with the exhibition at Triple Base called Abiden Travels.
With the help of his Iraqi-Jewish mother, Rakowitz compiled Baghdadi recipes to teach to his audience. Preparing and then consuming traditional foods opened up a new route through which Iraq can be discussed—in this case, through that most familiar of cultural staple: nourishment. Iraqi culture is virtually invisible in the US, beyond the daily news, and Enemy Kitchen created cultural visibility to producing an alternative discourse.