I'm Kenney Mencher. I'm an artist who left a tenured professorship in 2016 to pursue making art full time. This blog is about art, art history, with a emphasis on human rights. I make homoerotic art featuring bears, otters & other gay wildlife.
Friday, April 14, 2017
Djerassi Artists Ranch
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Session One | The Ranch in Winter| Comings/Goings
Creative Confidence for All
Recently I had the good fortune to hear David Kelley, Founder of IDEO (ideo.com) and Stanford's Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (dschool.stanford.edu/) speak. His new best-seller Creative Confidence describes his approach to instill ALL students regardless of declared major with creative confidence. What a concept!
I often bemoan the fact that children will dance, sing and draw at the drop of a hat. Their work graces every refrigerator in the nation. But at some point someone tells the children they're not good or won't succeed at art; then they get self-conscious and shut down that part of their soul. And even if they keep the dream to BE, gasp, an artist, we whisper to them at Thanksgiving, "At least, get a minor in business."
Where Residencies Come In
Residencies provide artists with physical and psychological space to revisit and maintain their creative confidence. As we welcomed our April/May artists (see below) during orientation, I described the characteristics of successful sessions, of artists who leave here happy. And, the rare handful that were not so successful.
We function spectacularly well because we invite artists with creative confidence. Artists who have a vision and the skill set-honed through years of risk-taking-to execute it. Artists not driven by the expectations of others but those who trust their own instincts and creative paths. Artists who take themselves and their work seriously. Artists not necessarily "famous," but, as I say, "We host the most remarkable artists you've never heard of."
Which brings me specifically to the Djerassi Program staff and Board of Trustees.
The Djerassi Program succeeds at providing transformative experiences for artists-thereby shaping cultural landscapes worldwide-because of our staff, the bulk of whom are artists themselves. Terra Fuller, Development Manager, recently had a show of her textiles in Philadelphia (interview below). Bookkeeper Carolyn Bush creates dramatic wearable art; Tim DeVoe, Facilities Manager is a long-time 'Burner' (Burning Man devotee) who has worked with David Best to construct his iconic temples in the Nevada desert and Nepal; Residency Coordinator Judy Freeland is a landscape painter; Chef Dan Tosh is a ceramicist (his artistry with food is WELL established: [article below by Melanie Bishop (2016)] Moreover, half of our Board members are artists: writers Ingrid Rojas Contreras, Karl Soehnlein, and Peter Fish; visual artists Binta Ayofemi and Lauren DiCioccio and our new Chair, Jeanne Finley; architect Cass Calder Smith and filmmaker Dale Djerassi. Easily googlable and gifted artists all, who find the time to support other artists.
We pride ourselves on trusting artists. No small thing in a world more inclined to simple answers that marginalize the nuanced work of artists and intellectuals. We have the board leadership and staff skills and aptitude to continue to do so. Which makes this particular former actress (long off-stage) and writer (with no time to write) VERY satisfied with her job.
Care & Respect,
Margot H. Knight
Our 2017 season begins, logically, with:
Session One April 5 - May 3 David Adjmi, Los Angeles, CA. Playwright Natalya Burd, San Jose, CA. Visual Artist
Session One, photo Terra Fuller
Leland Cheuk, Brooklyn, NY. Writer Christy Chow, Hong Kong. Visual Artist
Tori Lawrence, Iowa City, IA. Choreographer Esther Lee, Atlanta, GA. Poet Zibuokle Martinaityte, New York, NY. Composer Emily X. R. Pan, Brooklyn, NY. Writer Robert Plowman, Halifax, Canada. Playwright Allison Warden, Anchorage, AK. Writer Rukhe Zaidi, Lahore, Pakistan. Visual Artist
A Special Evening of Art and Science Thursday, April 20, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Pace Gallery, 229 Hamilton, Palo Alto. In addition to the Gallery's exhibited art, selectees of Scientific Delirium Madness 4.0 (Session 3) will be announced. Admission free. R.S.V.P. here.
Ready, Set - Hike
See beautiful works of art in a truly spectacular natural setting. We open a second registration link on our website at 9 AM PT on Monday, May 15 for free-to-the-public hikes. Online registration only. Click here.
TWO-MILE HIKES and STATIONS LOOP (limited to 2 places per person)
7. Sunday, June 25, 10 AM, Stations Loop hike
8. Saturday, July 8, 10 AM, Stations Loop hike
9. Saturday, July 22, 4 PM, two-mile hike
10. Saturday, August 12, 4 PM, two-mile hike 11. Tuesday, August 22, 4 PM, two-mile hike
12. Sunday, September 10, 4 PM, two-mile hike
Women ballet choreographers have been considered "missing" from the dance scene. Now you can take part in this workshop event for women mentored by Kathyrn Roszak (1993). Participants will present their works and dances in open rehearsal. There is one day open to the viewing public: Sunday, May 7. Click for more details.
Talking Art: Residencies Within Reach is the topic for the San Jose Institute for Contemporary Art on April 23. They'll discuss which residences may fit various artists' needs. See their Facebook page.
Staffed by Talent
Read an interview with Djerassi Development Manager Terra Fuller featured on the TextileArtist.org website. Terra discusses her worldwide travels, artistic background and influences. Her recent textile work was on display in Philadelphia gallery GrizzlyGrizzly in November, 2016.
Books by Djerassi Alumni Viet Thanh Nguyen (2008) - The Refugees - and Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich (2016) - The Fact of a Body - caught the attention of Huffington Post's 2017 book preview. They are among "33 Titles to Add to Your Shelf."
Kara Maria (2003) designed a wine label for Imagery Estate winery in Glen Ellen, California...Richard T. Walker (2010), San Francisco-based media artist, received a 2017 Eureka Fellowship Grant from the Fleishhacker Foundation, a group seeking to improve the Bay Area's quality of life...Lauren DiCioccio (Trustee) exhibited sculptures at Jack Fischer Galleries at the Minnesota Street Project in San Francisco...Cathy Tempelsman's (2015) play, The Eleventh Hour, written in part at Djerassi, was presented at Luna Stage in West Orange, New Jersey.
Messenger #1, A New Ancient Greek Tragedy, written by Mark Jackson (2003), was performed at the Paradise Factory Theater in New York, and produced by the Hunger & Thirst Theatre group...In January Melissa Wyman (2015) went Rolling for the People, a program to encourage self-defense and community engagement. Players survived a "Grapple-athon" and other fund-raising (and fun-raising) activities...Melissa also showed mixed media works entitled Navigation Obstacles at Incline Gallery in San Francisco.
Mark Reeves (1987, '88, '89) worked on his iconic Estaciones de Luz/Stations of Light to add many more years of wonder to our resident artists and sculpture-hike visitors...Jennifer Scappettone (2003) has written The Republic of Exit 43 - Outtakes & Scores from an Archaeology and Pop-Up Opera of the Corporate Dump...Roberto Paci Dalo (1987) played a composition, For Morton Feldman, on ORF Kunstradio from Austria. He also participated in January's Arte Fiero festivities in Bologna, Italy...A.S. Fomina (1994, 2011) performed at The Bauhaus Universitat Weimar, Weimar, Germany.
In March, RAWDance (Wendy Rein/Ryan Smith, 2011) presented the premiere of Art is a Guarantee of Sanity at Modern American Dance Company (MADCO) in St. Louis, MO. Also featured was music by Surabhi Saraf (2012)...Camille Utterback (2012), presented Sustaining Presence, interactive installations, in March, at the Thomas Welton Stanford Art Gallery.
Earlier on exhibit: Jim Haynes (2012) "18 Films About Ted Serios, Chapters 8 & 9" at the Gray Area/Grande Theater, in San Francisco...Catie O'Leary (Program partner 1997-2011) collages, Jack Fischer Gallery...Lenora Lee (2013) presented LIGHT, a film shown at Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Minneapolis, MN...Stacey Steers (2014) Trilogy, 3 most recent films:at Robischon Gallery, Denver, CO... Gao Xia (2010)Reside, textile installation, Mariani Gallery, University of Northern Colorado.
The Ranch Never Sleeps
This 'off-season' the Ranch has hosted the Playwrights Foundation and brought the Stanford Global Health group on a hike. In addition, Ann Fisher-Wirth (2005, 2016) led a workshop for environmental writers. Other workshops were hosted by Jane Vandenburgh (2010, winter '13), novel crafting; Sara Shelton Mann (1995, 2002, multiple winters), choreography; Heidi Durrow (2005, 2013), becoming an author the non-MFA way; Stanford Creative Writing Class (new initiative); and Robert Buelteman (1996, multiple winters), photography.
And there's more: executive director Margot Knight presented at the Associated Writers and Writing Programs in Washington, D.C., in February. Also in attendance were Nova Ren Suma (2012), Cheryl Tan (2012), Camille Dungy (2014) ...and probably innumerable Djerassi alumni we missed (sorry).
Many artists made their voices heard around Inauguration Day, January 20. Mel Day (2010) participated in the Wall of Song Project, a group singing of the song Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen. More performances are planned. See Mel's website: www.mmd.ca .
Articles, Works, Books and Awards
Footnote: "Here the change of tense indicates the moment...,"Cintia Santana, 2016.
Viet Thanh Nguyen (2008) recent Pulitzer prize winner, recommends books by other Vietnamese authors in an article entitled Vietnamese and Vietnamese-American Lit: A Primer from Viet Thanh Nguyen. Click here for the LitHub article.
Julia Wolfe (1994) is a 2016 MacArthur Fellow. The Associate Professor of Music Composition, at New York University was among 23 outstanding awardees. Julia was cited as "synthesizing various musical styles in highly physical, large-scale narrative compositions that reimagine folk traditions and lore and address issues of the American worker."
Mare Hieronimus' (2015) ANTLERED EARTH a pictorial journey through landscape and life photography e-book, "was made possible by [her stay at] the Djerassi Resident Artists Program." A print version is also in the works. The e-book is available at: http://www.blurb.com/b?ebook=612202.
Examples of Angie Wilson's (2013) fiber craft are included in a new book Queer Threads: Crafting Identity and Community by John Chaich and Todd Oldham for Ammo Books, available on Amazon.
Melanie Bishop (2016) glowingly describes the great food chef Dan Tosh serves our artists on the website Edible Silicon Valley. Entitled Djerassi Resident Artists: feeding and nurturing creativity, readers can learn about the Ranch, our outstanding chef and what a wonderful opportunity a Djerassi residency (or visit) truly is.
"If I could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint." - Edward Hopper. Still, we'd appreciate it if you could put your upcoming exhibitions, performances, premieres and/or book tours (as far in advance as possible) into words and tell ART///SKY readers all about your event.
Thru Apr 22Sue Ferguson Gussow (1982, '83) Recent Work, paintings and sculpture, FRONT art space, 118 Chambers St. #2, New York City.
Apr 22Christy Funsch (2006, '12) ensemble improvisation, at Spreckels Lake, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, part of Bay Area Dance Week.
Apr 25Peter Stein (2013) documentary world premiere: Jacques Pepin: The Art of Craft, Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., San Francisco. 7 p.m. Attended by the chef with onstage conversation following. See also: May 26.
Apr 26Luca Forcucci (2015) Betwixt 2, experimental live music, Muizenberg, Cape Town, South Africa.
Apr 28 - 30April Sellers (2013) The Animal Corridor, inspired by female icons Janis Joplin and prize fighter Ronda Rousey. Commissioned by The Right Here Showcase. JSB Tekbox, The Cowles Center, 528 Hennepin Av., Minneapolis, MN.
Apr 28Kathryn Roszak (1993) and Danse Lumiere, Moving Forward: Women Ballet Choreographers East and West, 92nd St. Y, New York City.
Apr 29Mark Foehringer (2012) and eponymous Dance Project, Dancing in the Park dance festival, Band Shell in the Music Concourse, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. Admission free.
Thru Apr 30Jonathon Keats (2014) The New Look of Neuroscience, perceptual alterations for enhanced self-regard, Modernism Gallery, 724 Ellis St., San Francisco.
May 4 - 7Pamela Z (2010) with Donald Swearigen, Pascal's Triangle, Royce Gallery, 2901 Mariposa St., San Francisco.
May 5RAWDance (Wendy Rein/Ryan Smith, 2011) Special Benefit for RAWDance, 836M Gallery, 836 Montgomery St., San Francisco.
Thru May 6Val Britton (2014), Seeking Civilization: Art and Cartography, group show, Gallery Wendi Norris, 161 Jessie St., San Francisco.
Thru May 7Sarah Klein (2005, 4 winters) Oppler, visual art, Transmitter Gallery, Brooklyn, NY.
Thru May 13Ann Weber (1999) Sculpture, TransVagrant and Gallery 478, 478 W. 7th St., San Pedro, CA.
Mygon, Ron Fondaw, 1984.
May 18 - 20 Joanna Kotze (2013), This home is with us, dance performance, Danspace Project, 131 E. 10th St., New York, NY.
May 19 - Jun 11 Adam Zaretsky (2016) photos and prints exhibit at 11th Audiovisual Arts Festival, Corfu, Greece.
Thru May 20 Blane de St. Croix (2003) Weather or Not, That is the Question, Children's Museum of the Arts, 103 Charlton St., New York, NY.
Thru May 20 Carole De Pasquale (2003) Altered Book Show, book auction featuring a wide variety of artists' reinvention of 'books.' Marin Museum of Contemporary Art, Novato Arts Center at Hamilton Field, 500 Palm Drive, Novato, CA.
May 26 Peter Stein Jacques Pepin: The Art of Craft, PBS American Masters series. Check local listings.