Week 4 | Artist Conversation: Elmer Guevera and Robert Nehemiah

Exhibition Information:

Artist: Elmer Guevera and Robert Nehemiah

Exhibition: Immaterial

Media: Oil on canvas, Oil on unprimed wood, Oil on tarp, Oil on metal

Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Gatov Gallery West

Instagram: @wookieewarrior (Robert), @3lmski (Elmer)

About the Artists:

Elmer Guevera and Robert Nehemiah are both in their last semesters as CSULB undergraduates in the School of Art’s drawing and painting program working towards their BFA.

They are both in the LA area and are both figurative painters, however they have their own unique styles. They both started drawing and creating art ever since they were kids and always doodled in their spare time.

Formal Analysis:

Elmer works with fragmented images and paints them onto canvasses, while Robert uses unconventional pieces to paint on. Elmer’s pieces are fragmented and in a way, look like puzzle pieces fixed onto a canvas. The images are disoriented and positioned pointing in different angles and perspectives. The bright colors make it very busy as well.

Robert’s pieces are painted on rough, unprimed wood surfaces also on metal and tarp. His images are more straightforward portraits of people and it contrasts well with the unconventional canvasses he uses to paint on.

Content Analysis:

Elmer’s paintings are of homeless people he met in the streets. He took photographs of his subjects and their surroundings and created a collage which inspired his paintings. The fact that Elmer creates portraits using distorted and fragmented images gives you an idea of how his subjects might be or act like in real life. I think it is a very unconventional way to paint a portrait, but it gives a clearer message to the viewer. The viewer is able to look at all of the different images in a single portrait and piece them together to form their own ideas. The fragmented images also feel very chaotic and broken in a way that I imagine living without a home must feel like.

Robert’s pieces are rather straightforward at first glance, but then you notice the unique canvasses he uses to paint on. The oil painting in itself is very conventional, and it contrasts with the raw materials he uses to paint on. Although it contrasts with the paint, it also relates to his subjects and sort of gives his subjects more personality.

Elmer and Robert both explained that they were taught strict guidelines in art school and that breaking away from that is difficult at times. It can also be frowned upon to stray too far from those guidelines. They both aim to find their own styles even through all of those guidelines and connect with the viewers through their unique styles. I think that with their unconventional pieces, they certainly exceeded that.

Synthesis/My Experience

In Elmer’s piece “Greg,” you can see street signs and traffic lights. More interesting, is that Greg is portrayed with multiple arms and hands and looks as though he is jogging. There are also two sets of faces that create a sort of “double-vision” effect.

This piece gives me the impression that Greg is a very energetic person. The painting is sort of chaotic in a way and looks like everything is moving at a fast pace. I think that Elmer captured Greg’s personality perfectly because he explained to us that as he was interviewing Greg, he was fidgeting and moving his hands a lot. It also makes me think that Greg may have been nervous to be interviewed and so that may be why he was moving around a lot.

In Robert’s pieces, I feel like his portraits are very straightforward and easier to interpret. However, they are unique in the way that he uses unconventional canvasses to paint on. For example, for his piece, “Portrait of a Mother,” his mom is painted on a sheet of unprimed metal. The look in his mom’s eyes is serious, and her downturned smile is warm but stern. Her arms are crossed and her hands are overlapping each other. I think that the metal complements her personality because metal is sturdy and hard, yet it can make precious things like jewelry and other ornaments. The metal also goes well with her silver earrings. To me, I feel that his mom is being portrayed as being stern, yet loving and precious.

I think that Elmer’s and Robert’s way of depicting subjects in their portraits are very interesting and unique. It tells you a lot about their subject’s personalities. In some aspects, I can relate their portraits to people I know and compare them to some of their pieces.

 

 

Week 4 | Art Experience: Art Care Package

I had a lot of fun creating my art care package because it brought back sweet memories. I decided to send my aunt, Pa’ Lek, the art care package because I am her favorite niece and we shared a lot of memories together when I was growing up. She recently traveled back home to Thailand alone, so I am sure she will be happy to see my art care package in the mail.

In my envelope, I included photos of my two younger brothers, Justin and Jason. Pa’ Lek adores my two little brothers and always reminisces about us being little. In one of the photos, my brother Justin is riding a toddler bike. It’s the same bike my aunt would always push us around in, so I know she will recognize it and it will put a smile on her face. I also included that picture of my brother Justin because he will be leaving for the Navy soon, and she is sad to see him go. The other photo is of my brother Jason, and it’s her favorite photo of him because she says that his ears look like big elephant ears and she always thought his large ears were very cute.

The next thing I included in the art care package was my rose quartz crystal pendulum. My Nana actually gifted this to me when I was a young girl. The pendulum is a tool used to communicate with spirits by accessing your higher self. By doing so, you can ask questions and receive a yes or no answer. My Nana was very spiritual but she gave me the pendulum as something to do for fun. I once showed Pa’ Lek and she loved the beautiful rose quartz and had fun asking the pendulum silly questions.

Another thing that I included was my music note keychain. Singing is one of my hobbies that I am very passionate about and Pa’ Lek has always loved that about me. I come from a background of a family full of musicians and when Pa’ Lek was younger, she was a singer. Pa’ Lek loves going to all of my performances and watching me sing because she says I remind her of herself when she was younger.

I also included the thimble game piece from our Monopoly board because I taught her how to play years ago. It is now her favorite board game and she always wants to play when she stays at my house. Her favorite piece from the game is the thimble.

Last but not least, is my sash from winning a Thai pageant in 2014. I think that this will be Pa’ Lek’s favorite item in the art care package because she was so proud of me when I won the title of Miss Noppomas 2014 Wat Thai Los Angeles. Every time she introduces me to someone, she loves to introduce me as a beauty queen and it always makes me laugh! She always told me how she wanted to be a beauty queen growing up and loves reminding me how proud she is of me for winning the title.

I think that sending Snapchats to someone is similar to an art care package because you can document what you are doing or what you are seeing. You can also send pictures of an ephemeral object and remind them of that event or memory.

The difference between Snapchat and the art care package is the physical aspect of it. On Snapchat, what you see is virtually there and you can’t physically touch what is in the photo. Not only that, Snapchat only lasts up to 10 seconds and disappears forever. In an art care package you can feel and even smell the objects in front of you. For example, you can smell the pages of an old book or even feel the paper slide between your fingers. Also, Snapchat is an instant documentation or almost a live feed of what you are doing in that exact moment. An art care package contains objects that has a longer history behind it.

I think that ephemera is precious and its value is subjective. I think that the value of the objects in my art care package depends on who is receiving it and what our relationship is like. I know that my aunt will value these items because we have a very close bond and she can relate specific memories to each of these items. Someone who doesn’t know me may find my envelope and look inside and say that it looks like a bunch of worthless junk. However, if one of my grandkids saw my sash, they would find it interesting and hopefully cherish it. I think that generations past my grandkids would not find my objects very interesting or valuable because it’s probable they might not get the chance to know me very well.

I think that art can be anything you want it to be no matter if it is seen by many people like  a painting in a museum, or if it seen by one person, like an art package. The only difference is how people might perceive or interpret your art. If my art package were to be placed in a museum, most people would think it is random junk thrown into an envelope. However, people close to me will look at it and relate the pieces to my personality and my experiences. They will be able to see the artistic qualities in my art package, whereas someone who doesn’t know me might not understand it.

Sending a photo to someone through Snapchat takes seconds, whereas sending an art package to a friend will take days. I think that the time and effort put into it means a lot, but it isn’t everything. The art care package takes more time and effort and there is something special  about receiving personal packages or letters in the mail in a world where most people communicate virtually. However, with Snapchat, you can share a special moment with someone almost instantaneously and can respond within seconds of receiving a photo. It can almost feel like you are experiencing that moment with that person even if you are time zones away. So as much as I think that time and effort is important, I think the content in your art package or your Snapchat is where it matters most.

I think that the love you receive through an art care package and a Snapchat is different. In a Snapchat, you can send a shot of something to remind your boyfriend or friend that you are thinking of them. For example, I can send a picture of the sunset I am watching to my boyfriend and share that with him even when he is not with me. To me, the love in an art package is a little different because you are able to feel the objects with your hands. I think that by using senses other than sight, you can relive memories more vividly and can feel the emotions associated with that memory more intensely.

Week 3 | Artist Conversation: Kelvin Lopez

Exhibition Information:

Artist: Kelvin Lopez

Exhibition: Scry Baby

Media: Lithography, Watercolor transparency, Gum Arabic

Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Dr. Maxine Merlino Gallery

Website: facebook.com/klart760

Instagram: @klart760

About the Artist:

Kelvin Lopez is a senior undergraduate student in the School of Art’s Printmaking program. Kelvin is currently working towards his BFA in printmaking and is planning to go to graduate school after that.

Kelvin is originally from Oceanside and now resides in Long Beach. Growing up, he was always interested in art, but never had the resources to pursue it until he started high school and took some art classes. In his high school art classes, Kelvin said he wasn’t that great at it. He said he remembered when students had to draw each other from across the tables, and he had the worst drawing out of all of the other students. This only encouraged him to take more classes and learn more art skills and become a better artist.

Kelvin’s interests include spending time with his two dogs, a purebred Siberian husky and a German shepherd mix. He also enjoys drinking beer, hanging out with friends, going to shows and listening to music where he can meet other people with similar interests.

Before transferring to CSULB, Kelvin was in the drawing and painting program at a community college. He came from a painting background and believes that when it comes to painting, there is no such thing as messing up until it is finished. But now, with printmaking, Kelvin says that he has learned to be more precise with his work and carefully align the layers.

Formal Analysis:

Scry Baby is a solo exhibition by Kelvin that features different artworks that reflect his personal life. Kelvin brings 3d into 2d by printmaking. In his works, he uses printmaking and water colors to layer “crystals” over images. This mimics the practice of scrying and gives us the idea that we are looking at his life through crystals. The watercolors are transparent and overlay the images. There are lots of geometric qualities to his works that resemble the geometric lines and shapes you see in a crystal.

Content Analysis:

Scry Baby is inspired by crystals and by the practice of scrying. Kelvin grew an interest for crystals when his ex-girlfriend introduced them to him. Kelvin was also inspired when his professor brought him a green onyx crystal from Argentina. Kelvin says that each crystal represents a different kind of belief. He researched “scrying” and incorporated that into his works. Crystal scrying is crystal gazing and it allows one to see psychic visions in the crystal.

In one of his pieces, you can see a photo of him from early childhood and another photo of him that is recent. Crystal images are overlaid on the photos. It is almost like you are gazing into a crystal and seeing into his past and present. Kelvin said that he pulls two images together and integrates crystal imagery to symbolize scrying. He said that he uses images from his youth and present to symbolize scrying into the past and present. The ideas that his work explores is his personal life and his experiences. He does this by using crystals in his artwork and allowing us to catch a glimpse into his personal life. In his artwork, his nephews and his dogs are also featured.

Synthesis:

I really enjoyed looking at all of Kelvin’s artwork and I liked that everything was inspired by crystals. It is interesting how Kelvin incorporated the ideology of scrying into his works. After I researched a little about scrying, I looked back on his artwork and it really felt as if I were gazing into a crystal and seeing his life. Kelvin uses photos of his family, his past life, and his dogs and I think that everyone can relate to that on some level. Kelvin said that what motivates his work is to connect with his viewers and I feel like he really accomplished that with Scry Baby.

 

 

 

 

Week 3 | Classmate Conversation: Obed Martinez

In our third week of class, I met Obed Martinez who is a 2nd year student at CSULB. For now, his major is undeclared but he is considering a major in human development or getting into the psychology field.

Obed currently lives in Lakewood, where he also went to high school. He also works at a Five Guys in Lakewood. I found that really cool because I also lived and grew up in Lakewood until I moved to Los Alamitos my junior year of high school! Obed did not play any sports in school but he plays soccer or basketball at the park with friends.

Obed is taking Art 110 to fulfill a general education requirement. Obed thinks that he isn’t very good at making art and instead appreciates others with artistic ability. I asked him what his favorite color was and he said red, which is also my favorite color! To him, he said the color brings up the emotions of rage and anger like the bulls in Spain.

Obed is an awesome guy and it was cool to meet someone who also grew up in Lakewood because I have so many memories of living there!

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Week 2 | Art Experience: Landscapes with a Corpse

This week’s art activity was called Landscapes with a Corpse inspired by Izima Kaoru. At first, I had no idea of how I was going to “die,” but I knew I wanted it to look bloody and gory so I could have some fun with fake theatre blood. I am also a very clumsy person so I incorporated that fact into my “death.”

The timeline of my “death” begins when I wake up in the middle of the night to get a glass of water downstairs. I walk down the stairs and I almost reach the last steps when my foot slides on my little nephew’s scooter toy. As I slide off the scooter, I lose my balance and fall backwards. I end up hitting the back of my head on the stair steps and cracking my skull open. My little nephew wakes up after hearing me scream and goes to investigate. He sees me from the top of the stairs and feels guilty that I died by slipping on one of his toys.

The setup for my “death” was pretty simple. All I did was pour fake theatre blood next to the stairs and had my younger brother take some photos. Izima Kaoru’s subjects are usually dressed in beautiful clothing so I thought I would dress in a light, pretty pink color. My brother shot me from different angles–some up-close shots, and some from the top of the stairs.

In one of my photos, my nephew is watching me from the staircase. My nephew being incorporated in my photo was actually unplanned! We tried to keep him in his room because we didn’t want him to get scared, but he was being a stubborn little kid and escaped from his room anyways. As we were shooting my “death,” he was actually curious and not at all scared! He watched me from the top of the stairs and that’s when I got the idea that it would look interesting if we got a photo from his perspective too.

The main idea of this story is that my little nephew should put his toys away because someone could seriously get hurt! He always leaves his toys scattered all around the house and everyone is constantly tripping over them and hurting themselves. My “death” is an exaggeration of that, but it is still somewhat realistic. I am also the clumsiest person to exist and I feel like I would die in some kind of freak accident like this (haha).

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Up-close shot of me with my skull cracked open.
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My corpse laying next to the scooter that killed me. Shot from the 2nd story.
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My nephew’s perspective when he sees me dead after slipping on his scooter.

 

Week 2 | Classmate Conversation: Maria Romo

This week I met Maria Romo, a first-year college student who graduated from Warren High School in Downey. While she was a senior in high school, she applied to all of the Cal State universities in the area and also to a few UC schools. Maria narrowed it down to Mount Saint Mary’s University and CSULB and eventually decided that she wanted to attend CSULB.

Maria is currently majoring in psychology but has come to a realization that she is no longer interested in the subject. Maria is considering switching to a communications major with a minor in political science because she is a good public speaker. When I asked her where she saw herself in 5 years, she said that she wanted to be a lobbyist working for a company.

Another thing that I found was really cool about Maria is that we both like the same shows. We are both fans of the shows Supernatural and Sherlock, and we talked about our favorite episodes. I also asked Maria if she had any pets and she said that she has always wanted one but her mom won’t allow a pet in the house.

Maria is a really awesome person and I am glad to have met her this week!

Maria Romo! Also peep Miriam Nyback photobombing us…she was my last week’s classmate convo!

Week 1 | Art Experience: Plaster Casting

Today I picked up Miriam from the dorms and we headed to Seal Beach to do the plaster casting activity. As we were reading the instructions, we thought the activity was going to be difficult but we decided to just dive into it and give it a go. We both took turns helping each other out and started with my mold first. We started by digging a hole until we realized the sand wasn’t wet enough, so we moved closer to the water. I stuck my hand in the hole and Miriam filled it up with sand. I could feel, however, that the sand wasn’t exactly “molding” around my hand, so she poured just a bit of water into the hole. The most difficult part about the activity was trying to remove my hand gently out of the sand without breaking the mold. After successfully removing my hand, I mixed up the plaster in my bucket and carefully poured it into the sand. After waiting 30 minutes, I started digging around the plaster and carefully removed it from the sand. At first I was concerned about how the the plaster sculpture would turn out, but I think the best part about the project was the unpredictability of the result. When I was digging my sculpture out of the sand, it was sort of like opening a wrapped present–I didn’t know what I was going to get! My sculpture didn’t exactly look like my hand because the fingers came out a little stubby but I still think it looked awesome. Just because it didn’t exactly look like my hand, doesn’t mean I wasn’t successful in making a piece of art. The sculpture had a unique shape and when you look at it it makes you wonder, “Is that a hand?..Or maybe a foot?…Hmmm.” The fact that you can’t really make out what my sculpture is is the best part. My piece allows you to think and use your imagination to fill in the blanks. In my opinion, there is no such thing as standards when it comes to art or a piece of “perfect” art. Even when the result isn’t what you expect it to be, it can still impress you.