Archives: 2010 September

Artist Feature: Yellena James

Yellena James’ ethereal images take the viewer through an imaginary subaquatic world. Preferring pens, inks, markers and acrylics, she combines complex abstract forms into dazzling images which take on lives of their own. Her colorful arrangements of organic shapes and tangled lines are at once floral and alien, organic and sci-fi. Each intimate world she creates possess its own ethos and its own special ability to radiate emotion.




“My latest works further explore the intricate and delicate forms of an imaginary ecosystem, twisting and floating together in an alluring environment.  I attempt to create an ethereal place which is hauntingly familiar and yet hypnotically exotic, adding tiny little details in a sort of compulsive meditation, until a perfect balance is created.  The intricacy and high detail, along with hints of existing organic shapes lend to the intimacy and believability of each new world.” -Yellena James




James is often inspired by microscopic worlds, plants, fungi, underseas and aliens. “They spark my imagination and often inspire me to invent my own flora and fauna. I try to create new shapes based on what I imagine to exist within the unseen world around us, and attempt to suggest movements in my designs that we’re not accustom to seeing in our everyday lives, to sort-of pass that spark of inspiration on to others as they complete the movements within their own minds. Also, moss. I’m inspired by moss.

Yellena James’ work will be featured in Gallery Hijinks exhibition titled “Biosynthesis” opening this November with installation by Pete Belkin. Together they hope to transform the space with synthetic over-saturated color mixed with organic forms and light.





Yellena James grew up and attended art school in Sarajevo, Bosnia. At the age of 18 she moved to the U.S. After gaining her BA in painting and graphic design at UCF, she eventually made her way to Portland, OR. James has participated in shows around the U.S., as well as overseas, including: solo exhibitions at Giant Robot (San Francisco and Los Angeles, CA), the Here Gallery (Bristol, UK), the Grassy Knoll (Portland, OR) to name a few. Her illustration work has been sought after by companies like Anthropologie, Nike, K2 Snowboards and many others.






“I’m Here Now” Video Premiere

Joe Lumbroso spent a short afternoon with his best friend Mark Warren Jacques to talk about the upcoming show at Gallery Hijinks titled “I’m Here Now”. Watch as Joe interviews Mark about what influences his art and finds out what “I’m Here Now” even means.

Photos from Sebastian Wahl

Sebastian Wahl came from New York for the opening reception of Highly Contagious. It was such a pleasure having him in SF and being in his wonderful energy. Not only is he one of the most unique artists I’ve met, but he’s also such a sweetheart. While in town he bounced from place to place and got some pretty sweet photos of San Francisco and the event. Check them out.











Pictures from installation week.


Austin McManus, curator at Free Gold Watch and founder of The Flop Box, stopped by before the show to take some quick snapshots and give us the finger. We love you too!


Chris Blackstock sculpting in the back of the gallery, finishing up the last touches before the sculptures get fired.




Big ups to Rex for coming through and helping make the installation extra colorful and bringing beer.


ChrisBlackstock_sculpture_galleryhijinksphoto: Sebastan Wahl

Chris Blackstock with his piece in progressphoto: Sebastan Wahl

King of The Tenderloin Crack Headsphoto: Sebastan Wahl

ChrisBlackstock_sculpture_galleryhijinksphoto: Sebastan Wahl



The night before the opening, getting ready and fixing the lights.

The night before the openingphoto: Sebastan Wahl



Joe, Jillian & friendphoto: Sebastan Wahl

Interview: Peter Gronquist

Growing up in a creative family, Peter Gronquist began drawing and painting at a very early age.  This led to obsessive art making throughout his childhood that continues today. Peter Gronquist has recently returned to his childhood stomping grounds in Portland, OR, after spending a few years in the Bay Area. We were lucky enough to see his studio and spend some time getting to know him before he left. Guest blogger, Karanina Leigh, grabbed a few quick questions in the midst of Peters move and preparation for his two 2011 solo shows.


Karanina Leigh: What kind of music do you generally listen to that gets you going (in the morning, while you’re working, to get you inspired, etc.)?

Peter Gronquist: Usually hip hop, although i listen to a lot of old stuff too. I dig old soul and jazz, I love Nina Simone.


KL: I love the collaboration you create between two impenetrable objects, such as your gold plated antlers with a gun held sturdily in their grasp. These specific two mediums reappear in a number of pieces; what drew you toward the usage of these?

PG: I’ve been into taxidermy and guns forever. I guess this is what horned animals would have looked like if I were in charge. I think it started along the lines of, “dude I bet that caribou would look rad with some machine gun antlers.”


KL: What is the reasoning behind your choice of animals incorporated in your pieces?

PG: I’ve been toying with the idea that some animals in nature evolve in a way that tricks their predators into thinking they are more intimidating than they really are. I also like the idea of what I call Nouveau Americana, joining two or more distinctly American objects to form a newer, mega American object. It’s a sort of parody of certain peoples’ in this country obsession with patriotism. I think my success will be complete when W buys one of my jackalopes with gold machine gun horns and puts it up at the ranch.


KL: I’ve read that you find your work “a parody of [yourself] because you also like ridiculous things for no logical reason,” and that you are “a victim of the rampant consumerism” that you parody. I find this very refreshing to hear; along this note, what do you think about Lady Gaga?

PG: I don’t know that much about her. I know she’s wacky. I like that she can basically act crazy and get really famous. I guess she’s doing something right.


KL: Does your personal habitat inspire your creative process, e.g. television, your supermarket, your neighborhood, your family?

PG: It depends on the piece. I think it would be imppossible not to, everything I do is either directly or indirectly influenced by my environment.


KL: You once said you were given a ton of money to produce more paradoxical sculptures about our American society. How has your work over the years affected your personal and public life?

PG: I really only make the gun pieces any more because people buy them. It sounds lame, but they pay the bills. It gives me more time to work on what I really like doing, which is painting and sculpting. I don’t think my work has affected my public life because I don’t really have one.


KL: Any thoughts on the explosion of bike culture within the general American public?

PG: I think it’s great. I’ve been living in Oakland and am in the process of moving to Portland, both of which are huge bike cities. I think it’s a very positive trend in the right direction. Also I wan to give a shout to my bike gang the COBRAS! We only have like 3 members but we’re hecka tough.

KL: Ha. Big-Ups to the COBRAS! That’s awesome. So tell us, what is the next big thing you’d like to do, or are already working on? Artistically or otherwise…

PG: I’m working on two solo shows for this year, one in SF and one in LA, and a bunch of group shows, and i’ll probably be gold plating some random shit.


KL: Maybe we’ll see a gold plated bike floating around Portland in the next couple years. Thanks so much, Peter!

Sketchbook Tuesday: Andrea Wan

Born in Hong Kong and raised in Canada, Andrea Wan went to Emily Carr University of Art and Design where she received a degree in Film, Video and Integrated Media. With a strong passion in storytelling and image making, she went on to study illustration and design at Designskolen Kolding, Denmark. Andrea is currently working as an illustrator and visual artist in Vancouver, BC.

Here’s a look inside the sketchbook of this emerging artist.






Check out a few of her finished works below or visit our artist page to see what’s featured in the Highly Contagious group exhibit at Gallery Hijinks.

Andrea Wan water color painting

Andrea Wan montecristosAndrea Wan hippie

Andrea Wan selfportraitAndrea Wan boyz

Kevin Taylor Remakes History

UK based gallery, London Miles invited my friend and artist Kevin E. Taylor to contribute to an upcoming group show this November.  Each artist was asked to reinterpret a painting from pre WWII art history.

Kevin chose to remake the famous painting by Jean Francois Millet.

Kevin Taylor's Peasants Bringing Home a Calf Born in the Fields Painting

Kevin Taylor’s reinterpreted version titled “New Specimen”.


Interview with Langdon Graves

Guest blogger, Karanina Leigh, recently conducted a fabulous interview with New York based artist, Langdon Graves. After receiving three large graphite drawings for the upcoming group exhibition Highly Contagious at Gallery Hijinks, we were all very curious to understand the concepts and motivation behind these amazing works of art.

Langdon Graves Gallery Hijinks drawing

Karanina Leigh: I find myself having a closer, more personalized relationship with the subjects in your latest drawings. What has been your primary consideration in the creation of these new works?

Langdon Graves: My work is always about the body and transformation – aging, degeneration, healing – and the role of belief in these processes. I research a lot for my work in the areas of scientific medicine and religion – two systems we’ve developed to try to understand ourselves – and it leads me down some interesting paths. For this work, I found myself seeking out origin myths and became particularly interested in superstitions & folklore, which is where much of the imagery in these drawings came from.



KL: Explain to me the involvement of animalistic imagery in these recent drawings.

LG: It started with hares. I read a North American Indian myth about a hare who tricked a woman into becoming pregnant with twins, and in anger she struck his lip and split it. There are many versions of the story, but in all of them the hare represents duality. I was already making some drawings with twins and doubled imagery, so I was attracted to these stories. The hare shows up often throughout folkloric and religious art and literature from all around the world, symbolizing fertility, lunar cycles, even the Virgin Mary. The use of animal symbolism is logical – animals are close to us in that they think and feel, but lack the consciousness to process those experiences, which puts us at a safe distance from which we can blame or worship them for our actions, appreciating them as an imperfect reflection. I started a birds series this summer, which has been fun to research.


KL: I’ve read in a recent interview that you have an interest in epigenetics and quantum physics. Can you explain to me what your relationship with these fields of study has been/is?

LG: Well, I mostly relate through endless fascination with what little I can get my head around. What these sciences represent for me is the ongoing search for truths – or the dismantling of what we thought was true – that continues to generate theories about energy, matter, higher consciousness, and how we make meaning.

I listen to the radio a lot while I draw and one of my favorite programs is To the Best of Our Knowledge, which is like a bibliography for more reading and listening. Through this program I came across the research of Bruce Lipton in the field of Epigenetics, which proposes that our genetic code is not as static as we thought, but that it’s susceptible to its environment – like we are – and that our bodies can be altered at the cellular level in reaction to changes made at other levels. What I enjoy so much about Lipton’s research is the parallel he draws between the affects on cells by their surroundings and how our bodies are affected by our day-to-day surroundings, which we create and control. One of his suppositions is that there is a measurable correlation between mind and body, which is a step into murky territory science shares with philosophy and religion. Honestly, I don’t have the right kind of brain for this stuff – it wanders too quickly. Luckily I’m in a profession that permits me to make poetry from it.


KL: How do you portray your interest in these subjects through your works, specifically in your drawings?

LG: Big ideas are fed from smaller streams and within those are the personal accounts and human factor. Though I want to communicate universal ideas, it’s the individual narratives that make them real. In order to relate to anything we need to be able to empathize, and I want the subjects in my drawings to deliver empathy. Art has always served as a cultural illustration, so in a way I’m contributing to the tradition of using it to externalize and objectify our beliefs and values. But beyond presenting ideas and symbols, I’m interested in applying them directly and perversely to the human body to signify the power of belief to create and alter reality.


KL: How long does it normally take you to execute a new work?

LG: Depending on the size and complexity of a drawing, it could take a week, two weeks, three… Sculpture is all over the place – I might make a piece in a week but sit on it for two months before deciding it’s done. I like to work in series, so the pieces feel more complete when they are surrounded by one another.

KL: What is the reasoning for keeping so much negative space in your drawings?

LG: The white space around the subjects in the drawings is meant to isolate them. It also creates a clinical environment for the imagery, since I often think of the subjects as patients.


KL: Have you been working with any new materials or colors lately with either your sculptures or drawings?

LG: A lot of the new work features a faded aqua green, which is a departure from my usual palette of more bodily hues – pinks, reds, beiges, yellows, whites. It’s a nice contrast. Color is powerful and conjures immediate associations, which can steer a viewer into the wrong direction. My sculptures tend to be more colorful than my drawings because there’s a good relationship between the textures and colors of the materials I work with. I use color with a lot of restraint in my drawings because it feels like a different language than the graphite. I use it when the graphite can’t communicate what I want to say.


KL: Are there any upcoming projects you are involved in that we should keep an eye out for?

LG: I’m going to be collaborating with a friend who is a product designer on a project in Sweden early next year. I like the thought of blending our two practices and playing with definitions of art, design and function. And I like Swedish meatballs.

To see more of Langdon Graves work please join us for the opening reception of Highly Contagious at Gallery Hijinks this Saturday, September 18th 2010 from 6-10pm.

Artist Feature: Jing Wei

Jing Wei is a modern artist who practices one of the oldest methods of making prints. Having been used in China to decorate textiles since the 5th century A.D., woodcut is a relief printing technique in which an image is carved into the surface of a block of wood. The areas to show ‘white’ are cut away with a knife or chisel, leaving the characters or image to show in ‘black’ at the original surface level.

Jing Wei Woodcut Bear

Jing Wei  - Bear - woodcut on paper  -  9" x 10"

Jing Wei was born in a sub-provincial city in China and raised in the suburbs of Northern California. In the fall of 2004, she attended the Rhode Island School of Design and developed a great affinity for printmaking, snow, and pizza.

Jing currently resides in Brooklyn, with one cat and two humans. Jing spends most of her time making artwork, and part of her time helping babies be bilingual.

Jing Wei Poster

Jing Wei Inoculist Poster

Jing Wei Owl woodcut

Jing Wei  - Owl  - woodcut on paper  - 9" x 11"

Jing Wei Mountain Goats woodcut

Jing Wei Mountain Goats

Jing Wei Armadillo woodcut

Jing Wei Armadillo

Inaugural Exhibition Photos

The Inaugural Exhibition was deinstalled today. First one down, many to come. Just in case you missed this months exhibition here are some quick snap shots we caught before the packaging and shipping madness began.

Morgan Blair and Charmaine Olivia

Ryan Riss and Lisa Congdon

Pakayla Biehn

Gallery Hijinks · 2309 Bryant Street · San Francisco, CA 94110-2810
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