Archives: 2010 December

Art by Ravi Zupa & The Pyre

Today we were delightfully surprised to receive a package in the mail by artist Ravi Zupa. In the package made from one of his prints, was a book of illustrations titled “The Pyre”.


According to Zupa The Pyre is a collaboration piece with writer Tim Holland. The seventy-two page illustrated epic poem, evokes the confusion, violence, hope, and voice of twelve thousand years spent digging in the mud.


Ravi Zupa is Denver’s rare resident poet-painter, sculptor, film artist, activist & intellectual. Through his refusal to commit to one discipline Ravi has built himself a broad tool box to draw from. Though his main focus and skill resides in drawing and painting, he is best known for his complex and stylistically varied music video work for several international bands including Sole, Why?, Themselves and Genghis Tron.

The visual inspirations for “The Pyre” come from the persuasive art of propaganda as it appears throughout history and in all geographical areas. It is a series of original drawings by Zupa that give added dimension to the text using familiar styles from the German Renaissance, Japanese Block art, Religious Iconography from Europe, Asia and pre-Columbian South America, & 20th century revolutionary propaganda. Holland’s far reaching story of civilization is told in the language of ancient myth. Drawing on influences as diverse as Keats, Villon, Debord, Byron & The Epic of Gilgamesh. The poem touches on everything from work, time, human interaction, invention, “progress,” & ethics. The result is a melting pot of past/present/future motifs, expressing the timeless theme; “the only craft we have perfected is the ungentle one.”







To learn more about Ravi Zupa visit his website at

Artist Feature: JR

The artist JR has been a topic of conversation amongst peers, the news and even in art history classes. He is the true definition of a urban street artist. Here’s some info and videos on the artist whose taking on the world to bring forth important topics on the streets of  Africa, Brazil, India, Cambodia and more.

“JR owns the biggest art gallery in the world. He exhibits freely in the streets of the world, catching the attention of people who are not the museum visitors. His work mixes Art and Act, talks about commitment, freedom, identity and limit.

After he found a camera in the Paris subway, he did a tour of European Street Art, tracking the people who communicate messages via the walls. Then, he started to work on the vertical limits, watching the people and the passage of life from the forbidden undergrounds and roofs of the capital.

In 2006, he achieved Portrait of a generation, portraits of the suburban “thugs” that he posted, in huge formats, in the bourgeois districts of Paris. This illegal project became “official” when the Paris City Hall wrapped its building with JR’s photos.

In 2007, with Marco, he did Face 2 Face, the biggest illegal photo exhibition ever. JR posted huge portraits of Israelis and Palestinians face to face in eight Palestinian and Israeli cities, and on the both sides of the Security fence / Separation wall. The experts said it would be impossible. Still, he did it.

In 2008, he embarked for a long international trip for “Women”, a project in which he underlines the dignity of women who are often the targets of conflicts. Of course, it didn’t change the world, but sometimes a single laugher in an unexpected place makes you dream that it could.

JR creates “Pervasive Art” that spreads uninvited on the buildings of the slums around Paris, on the walls in the Middle-East, on the broken bridges in Africa or the favelas in Brazil. People who often live with the bare minimum discover something absolutely unnecessary. And they don’t just see it, they make it. Some elderly women become models for a day; some kids turn artists for a week. In that Art scene, there is no stage to separate the actors from the spectators.


After these local exhibitions, the images are transported to London, New York, Berlin or Amsterdam where people interpret them in the light of their own personal experience.

As he remains anonymous and doesn’t explain his huge full frame portraits of people making faces, JR leaves the space empty for an encounter between the subject/protagonist and the passer-by/interpreter. This is what JR is working on. Raising questions…

Keep an eye out for JR’s documentary “Women Are Heroes” opening this January 2011 in the US, see for more information. JR currently works on 2 new projects: Wrinkles of the City which questions the memory of a city and its inhabitants and Unframed, which reinterprets in huge formats photos from important photographers taken from the archives of museums.

All photos and information came from the artist website, check it out!

Interview: Todd Freeman

The work of Todd Freeman involves paranormal beasts, forgotten maps, botanicals and taxonomies. “For awhile my work ‘had’ to be about subjects that were at least allegedly real, but my cast of characters has grown to include stories from classic and contemporary folklore world too.” In this exclusive interview we got to ask him a few questions about his inspiration and process as well as heard some true stories of the abnormalities of real life that drive his work.



Gallery Hijinks: Please explain your process. What materials and methods do you use?

Todd Freeman: I make copper etchings using pretty by the numbers, traditional techniques. Intaglio printing is really methodical with a lot of variables to constantly keep in check, but for me the final rewards have always won over the more tedious aspects. The character and line qualities of etching are totally unlike anything else, and it’s reached a point where most new work I want to make I envision as etchings.


Etchings can be made using steel, zinc or copper, but I’ve always used copper. Polishing and degreasing the plate before starting is essential. This ensures the hard ground will have a clean surface to fully adhere to, and that my tiny etched lines won’t crumble or peel away in the acid bath. The hard ground is applied to the plate and heated, creating a thin seal over the entire top of the place. This solid layer of asphaltum and beeswax becomes the working surface for the etching. Its much easier to correct errors on paper then burnish them out on the plate, so I try to have all the elements of my drawing composed and finalized before its on the ground. The final drawing is then traced and transferred to the plate, so I have an outline placed exactly where it needs to be. I’ve always been iffy with aquatints, so I prefer to get everything I need on the plate only using etched line.

copper plate


Once the plate’s ready to etch, its placed in a Dutch Mordant (hydrochloric acid) solution, which eats through to the exposed areas on the plate and creates the lines. The Dutch gives a much slower bite then some other acids, but it also acts in a more uniform way that is ideal for etching tiny marks. Its hard to ever predict an acid’s timing with total precision, so that first time a new plate goes in the acid is always nerve-wracking. Generally the larger lines etch faster then the tiny delicate ones, so I’ve developed a sense of how things usually go. Many of my plates are exposed to the acid for 140-170 minutes, with check ups every half hour or so. When the etched lines look dark and true, the ground is removed with mineral spirits and the plate is ready to print. I’ve been using a mix of dry vine and bone pigment cut with Charbonnel Black etching ink instead of oil, which seems to set the fine lines off better and give a bit richer tone overall. After the excess ink is wiped off, a damp sheet of paper and several printing felts are placed on top and then rolled through the etching press. The finished prints are placed under boards in cotton blotters to dry for several days. For the final hand coloring stage, I use mostly watercolors, but concentrated watercolors and Copic markers are more ideal for certain colors and hues.


todd freeman

Jeffrey Kraus who assisted Todd Freeman in the print making for As It Was Before.

GH: The Wood Maladies is one piece that stands out to me. Can you tell us the story behind this piece?

TF: I found a photo of a bizarre taxidermy rabbit that had gnarled root like growths all over its face. It was such a sad, haunting image, and the context of the other museum pictures in the gallery told that it was also gruesomely real. The caption mentioned the rabbit had been afflicted with Shope papilloma, a disease that creates large horrific keratin growths in its hosts. ‘Horned rabbits’ have appeared in lots of different cultures, from old world bestiaries to the novelty ‘Jackolope’ mounts, and this virus neatly explained a lot of those stories. I was really startled to learn a disease like this could even exist, that these little spores of spontaneous transformation were just floating around. I’d later learn of the ‘Treeman’ of Indonesia, a person who went through a similar ordeal. He started developing strange, horned tumors all over his body after getting a cut on his leg, and living in a remote village, his condition went unchecked for years. He became something of a local sideshow act, eventually getting proper medical attention after appearing in Western TV documentaries. They determined he had some overactive immune disorder, and that the growths were essentially the same material produced by human papilloma virus- the common Planter’s wart.


I love stories like these that shake up our sense of order and restore a bit of fear and mystery to the world. Even knowing the science behind them, these kinds of phenomenon are no less magical, frightening or fascinating to me. In ‘The Wood Maladies’, I included the Treeman’s hands underneath the base of the rabbits’ platform, which also supports a ‘Terror Eye’ adorned tree. While my work is pretty representational, the scenes in my prints are very much manufactured and not real, so I’ve been playing up the design elements a lot more lately. The yellow ‘Terror Eyes’ are inflatable orbs used in crops and fields to scare away birds, they supposedly mimic the visage of a hungry owl or whatever. I would see them in blueberry fields and orchards growing up and always loved their design. I also really liked the idea of a man-made object affecting animal behavior, so I’ve co-opted them here as a general symbol of warning.


GH: When did you begin making prints?

TF: I starting making prints around nine years ago, I was first introduced to them in an intro printmaking class at Grand Valley State University. I had been taking illustration courses through school, but shifted over to printmaking pretty readily. While I basically liked the problem solving aspects of illustration, nothing I made ever felt my own. The craft and character of printmaking perfectly matched a lot my obsessive sensibilities, and let me figure out the kind of work I wanted to make.



GH: How does your installation work relate to your works on paper?

TF: The installation element is still very much something I think about, but I’m finding it’s often tough to negotiate a lot of the resources I really want. People like Mark Dion, Kiki Smith and Cai Guo Quang that can create these rich, fully realized environments have always enamor me. I acquire things here and there, but I’m still trying to figure out how to really flesh out those collections to match the scale and sophistication I have in my head.

installation todd freeman

Having objects of interest like field guides, taxidermy, hunting items, and other naturalist ephemera in the same physical space as my prints and drawings just feels more whole to me. This spring I took part in Paul Amenta’s ‘Land of Riches’ project, a group exhibition held in the old Grand Rapids Public Museum. The building had sat closed and unused for over a decade, and 167 artists were allowed in to make use of the stored collection, creating new displays and dioramas alongside the old museum exhibits. Being cut loose in a natural history museum and able to handle virtually anything I wanted was amazingly unreal and overwhelming. I eventually created this display as a tribute to Michigan’s bottomless lake legends, using a mix of stuffed birds from the museum and some maps, lanterns and other items I’d gathered. I also tried making my first diorama, something I’d always been interested in. I may explore affixing tiny trees and grasses again sometime; I think model making could play a bigger role in future work.

Sixty Foot Ghost

Sixty Foot Ghost
A Collaborative Tribute to Architeuthis dux, the Giant Squid. graphite, acrylic, watercolor & marker on paper. 42″ x 720″
by Todd Freeman & Meg Perec

installation detail

GH: What should we expect for January’s exhibition “As it was before”?

TF: I have a number of new etchings and drawings I made for ‘As it was before’, and some other pieces from earlier this year. The drawings are mostly pencil, ink and red carbon on book pages, and are almost all refined, slicker versions of things from my sketchbook. They started out initially as a break from my more formal etchings, and have become a good way to play around with textures and natural forms.

The Evil Animals

The new etchings follow a similar format to my earlier ones, but the scale has been amped up a bit for several of them. I’ve always loved geological diagrams and cross-sections, so some of the new etchings have those kinds of stylized landscapes and earth processes as their main subject matter. Stories from world folklore still inform a lot of what I make, and the Cadejos and Mawnan Owlman were a couple tales I was really excited to make prints about. This body of work introduced some new elements that have expanded the general vocabulary of my imagery, but I see myself pulling from these kinds of old places for a long time.

Curbs & Stoops & Yellena James


“Yellena James typically works on a small, intimate scale. She mentioned to me moths ago that she wanted to do something on a large scale for her upcoming show at Gallery Hijinks in San Francisco, but I had no idea how far she would run with the idea. Last week I had the distinct pleasure of visiting her home studio to see the new work before it was packed up to head to the Bay. I knew I was in for a treat, but when I walked into the studio my breath was taken away. On the wall was an unstretched canvas several feet wide. Possessing all the grace, balance and intricacy of her smaller work, Yellena’s large painting has a commanding, audacious presence. Yellena’s husband Andrew was kind enough to find me a chair so I could sit in front of it and soak in its presence for awhile. I’ve known Yellena since 2008, when she had a solo show, “Stasis,” at the gallery I curated for in Eugene. It has been an honor and a pleasure to watch her grow and explore and to see that her get the love and recognition her talent deserves. The fact that she was able to leap from drawing on a small scale to a painting of this size and make it look so easy is a testament to Yellena’s natural talent. She was nice enough to send us an exclusive studio shot of her working on the painting.” Read more here.

Much love to Curbs & Stoops for the wonderful words. You guys rock!

Interview: Martin Machado

You might have seen Martin Machado‘s paintings this month at Southern Exposure, read about his travels online at FecalFace, or maybe you have never heard of him at all. We got a chance to ask Marty some questions about his paintings, photography and lifestyle as a merchant marine. Check out what he has to say and make sure to stop by Gallery Hijinks January 8th, 2011 from 6-10pm to see his new works at the opening reception of “As it was before”.


Martin Machado at sea.

Gallery Hijinks: You’ve insinuated your art is not always about the destination but the journey. “Searching for piece of mind. Searching for the exotic. Searching for answers. Time slows at sea and life is stripped to its necessities.” Does this translate in your most recent body of work?

Marty: Ha, that quote was kinda tongue and cheek, but sure I think it translates, I guess in the sense that for me I’ll always fail when creating my pieces, they’re never going to be as perfect as the real world, they’re never going to completely capture the magic of a moment in time, the experience of being in that place. But to me that failure, or I guess attempt could be a better term, is what is interesting. Over the years I’ve tended to accentuate the “mistakes”, leaving evidence of the process of creating the composition/painting/etc. In a lot of ways this recreation mirrors the way we recreate moments in our mind, twisting them into something better or worse or whatever, to be able to wrap our brains around our own story or existence….Hmmm, could be getting a little heady here so I’ll stop…

Small Tender 35mm

Small Tender 35mm

Drifters, Bristol Bay, AK 2007 Oil, Fiberglass Cloth, Panel, Epoxy 18x36"

Drifters, Bristol Bay, AK 2007 Oil, Fiberglass Cloth, Panel, Epoxy 18x36"

Drifters, Bristol Bay, AK 2007 Oil, Fiberglass Cloth, Panel, Epoxy 18x36"
Goin Under the Richmond Bridge

Days on the Bay 2009 Gouache, Oil, and Spray paint on Panel

GH: How does the work that you are exhibiting in “As it was before” this January differ from your previous work?

M: I’m trying to get away from working with as many nasty chemicals these days, because I was using so much epoxy before, and I’ve enjoyed working on found materials, which to me just adds to the story of each piece.

Napkin Art

Napkin Art

Napkin Art

GH: Nice. So what kind of materials are you using to create this current collection of works?

M: There is a group of small paintings on Arches paper with Gouache, a couple acrylic/oil paintings done on cardboard boxes that I found in an abandoned salmon cannery in Alaska, and possibly two pieces that were done just before these on fiberglass cloth and epoxy which are painted in oil.

Martin Machado box painting

Martin Machado box painting

Martin Machado box painting

GH: You are in a unique situation, where for most of the year you are out at sea. How has your profession as a commercial marine affected your art? Did you start painting seascapes only after you starting spending so much time at sea or was the interest always there and your profession just fueled it further?

M: Well not to get all snotty, but the term is “Merchant Marine”, but don’t feel bad nobody really knows it, as times have changed it has become a relatively unknown occupation in the US because its so small these days. I’ve worked on boats and ships for over a decade now, but it was only recently during grad school that I finally started bringing my personal “work” life into my painting. I don’t know if it was just me, but I felt the early 2000’s seemed kinda cynical, and I always thought I’d get made fun of or my work wouldn’t get taken seriously, if I painted the sea. But eventually I realized that I should paint what I’m passionate about and I began to see how painting a subject that is usually seen as “beautiful” could be an interesting challenge in the context of the contemporary art world. Maybe people think that is a cop out, but that is really how I feel about it. Its easy to make fun of everything, but to celebrate beauty, the sublime, I think that is a challenge. But I think I’m seeing a shift. My prediction for the next decade is POSITIVITY! Mark my words.

night sea

martin machado container ship

martin machado container ship

working on a container ship

working on a container ship




GH: Who are some of your biggest inspirations in the art world?

M: Honestly other than painters like Friedrich and Turner, who are obviously not super alive these days, I’m more inspired by photographers like Corey Arnold or Ryan McGinley, or even writers like Hunter S Thompson or Jack Kerouac. I like people who get out in the world and look outside themselves. I hate art about art. Art should reach out to people, all people, to some core, and aim to unite, not alienate ourselves into some pretentious circle jerk. I have been inspired by a lot of amazing folks I met at SFAI though, Ryan Beavers, Ben Venom, Peter Cole, Carrie Hott, so many others

Corey Arnold photography

Corey Arnold photography

Corey Arnold Photography

Corey Arnold Photography

Corey Arnold photography above

GH: Where and when are your next adventures at sea?

M: I’m not sure, definitely fishing again next salmon season, probably won’t be on a container ship for a little while, but I am really looking forward to spending a long chunk of time in the studio this spring. I have so many reserves of piece ideas that I need to hash out. I actually did a lot of traveling this fall, finally non-work related, using some money I saved from working so much last year, I was carrying a suitcase full of art supplies, actually a lot of this work was painted on the go, which is tricky but kinda exciting. But very happy to be home now in SF, I’m a total Christmas nerd and was in the middle of the Pacific last year, so I’m stoked to see the city all lit up. Happy Holidays, hope you like some of my work!

Marty in his element

Marty in his element

out to sea

night lights


“Somewhere in the classroom of my youth a larger person told me that the best work is forged out of what you are familiar with. I agree with this and have tried my best to live up close and personal to any subject that I want to make art about. And like the land artists Andy Goldsworthy and Richard Long, I think that it is not just the resulting creation, but the most ridiculous path you take to make it, that makes something great.” -Martin Machado

Marty + friends

Marty + friends

New Prints: Handmade & Magi

Chris Blackstock just released two prints on our online store TODAY. These original prints are made in the traditional fashion of lithography and are an edition of 12 each (although there are only a few for sale). The prints are 11″ x 15″ on Reeves printing paper, titled and signed by the artist.

Handmade print by Chris Blackstock

Handmade print by Chris Blackstock

Magi print by Chris Blackstock

Magi print by Chris Blackstock

At first glance the print might seem similar to a graphite drawing but the process of creating a lithograph is much more complex. Lithography was invented by Alois Senefelder in Bohemia in 1796. In the early days of lithography, a smooth piece of limestone was used (hence the name “lithography”—”lithos” is the ancient Greek word for stone). After the oil-based image was put on the surface (usually applied using a wax litho crayon), a solution of gum arabic in water was applied, the gum sticking only to the non-oily surface. During printing, water adhered to the gum arabic surfaces and avoided the oily parts, while the oily ink used for printing did the opposite.

The printing process is arduous and can take a few hours just to make a few prints. All the printing is hand done and rolled through a press that applies 1200 pounds of pressure onto the limestone block. If there is any debris on the stone it can cause the stone to split in half.

Here are some detail shots exhibiting the complexity of Blackstock’s work. These prints are priced at $50 each, a steal. Feel free to come to the gallery to see them in person or order online here. Click on image to see high rez.

Handmade print detail

Handmade print detail

Handmade print detail

Handmade print detail

Handmade print detail

Handmade print detail

Magi print detail

Magi print detail

I never realized there was a second set of eyes until I took this detail shot.

Magi print detail

Magi print detail

Magi print detail

Magi print detail

Secret Handshake; A Group Show by Artist Randy Colosky


Fellow art nerd, Lori Zimmer, recently hooked me up with No New Enemies, an international network of artists, designers and creative thinkers, a European non-profit association in Brussels, Belgium. The No New Enemies network was founded as a structure to support artists and work towards the social exploration of media aesthetics. It’s creation was inspired by a traveling community of artists in the spirit of friendship and fraternity with shared fun as initiation.

Their website provides contemporary art and culture news with a focus on action based practices and community engagement in the art of living. Recently they published an art review on Secret Handshake an exhibition by Randy Colosky.


If Secret Handshake were to be read like a book rather that an exhibition viewed in a gallery it would be a novel. An honest story, or rather documentation of time, romance, obsession and humor, grounded with a nostalgic sense of craft and history.

The story begins as most good novels do, with a manifestation of events and in this case a retrospective of the past. “While the original objective of the show was to explicate an art practice that defies easy categorization, something bigger happened along the way. The process of revisiting old work uncovered themes, opportunities and issues that propelled Colosky to create a significant body of work that, in and of itself, reveals the multivalent nature of his practice” says curator Tracy Wheeler. Read the entire review here.


The exhibition is only up for a few more days so if you get a chance make an appointment to see the exhibition at Ampersand International Arts.

Art Basel Miami & Pulse Art Fair

Here’s the last of it. Coverage of Art Basel and Pulse Art Fair, as if you haven’t seen enough from Miami 2011 in the past three weeks. I’d like to thank our amazing friend and artist Sebastian Wahl for contributing his wonderful pictures from Art Basel.



Evan Penny

Evan Penny

Barry McGeeBarry McGee

Richard PrinceRichard Prince


Ray SellRay Sell


Mondongo sticker detailMondongo sticker detail


lorraine-shemesh-detailLorraine Shemesh

Lorraine Shemesh detailLorraine Shemesh detail

James RosenquistJames Rosenquist

Kehinde Wiley


Ron English muralRon English mural


Last but not least, Pulse Art Fair (plus a few random good ones from here and there.)

Mark Wagner

Mark Wargner

Mark Wagner

Mark Wagner detail

Mark Wagner detailMark Wagner detail

Christopher DavisdonChristopher Davidson

Jung-Yeon Min

Jung-Yeon Min

Andy Diaz Hope tapestry Andy Diaz Hope tapestry


Jan FabreJan Fabre

Kevin Cyr

Kevin Cyr

Erik Tho Sandberg

Erik Thor Sandberg

jorge mayetJorge Mayet

jorge mayetJorge Mayet

Gregory EuclideGregory Euclide

Up Close & Personal: Works by Yellena James

Yellena James surprised everyone when she showed up with a 95″ x 52″ acrylic on canvas painting to San Francisco for her most recent exhibition Biosynthesis. We’ve joked that this piece gave her carpal tunnel syndrome, but the truth is that her dedication and attention to detail at this scale is a real step up in her artistic career. If you’ve come into the gallery this month you know the extent of the piece and the sheer labor that goes into her work. For those who might not get the chance to see her work in person, here are some detail shots of Strike as well of some others from her collection. Click on image to get up close and personal.

Detail shot of StrikeDetail shots of Strike

Detail shot of Strike

Detail shot of Strike

Detail shot of Strike

Detail shot of Strike

Detail shot of Strike

Detail shot of Strike

Detail shot of Particle

detail shot of Particle

Detail shot of Synthesis


Detail shots of Prefix



Detail shot of Range


Art Basel Miami: Scope Art Fair

Scope Art Fair brought together collection of dynamic works from some of my favorite galleries, as well as an array of alternative mediums and styles. This particular fair had a great selection of sculptural work and installations. Click on image to see a higher resolution.


Dennis Mcnett sculptures



Tony Curanaj oil painting



Jen Stark hand-cut paper & foam core




Treasure Frey collage


Yigal Ozeri oil painting on canvas



Patrick Hughes oil painting on wood construction






Ian Francis




Ricky Allman





Enrique Gomez de Molina


Li Wei, 29 Levels of Freedom photograph


Enrique Gomez de Molina, Pandora



Olek yarn installation



Robert Crumb




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