Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Hidden away in the bowels of the basement of City Hall, between the Department of Elections and the public bathrooms on the other side of the building, the San Francisco Art Commission puts up various shows on the walls.
The amazing thing is that some of these shows, though clumsily presented, are the best art exhibitions in San Francisco, bar none. They just put up another stunner, which is an annual show sponsored by the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired by artists who are just that.
I don't usually read the bios of the artists at exhibitions, but in this case, they added immeasurably to the interest so I'm going to quote them.
James Cadiz: Claremont, CA -- "I have been blind since birth. I feel through my hands. My hands act like my eyes. I have a vision in my mind, and I imagine what I want to create. My imagination goes wild and motivates me to creat and explore many things."
"My mental vision shows me when a particular work is finished. I like to choose mediums I can touch, feel or easily move around. My theme is about movement. I like the viewer to explore my work with thier minds, not just their eyes."
Annie Leist: Brooklyn, NY -- "I have been legally blind since birth. The most effective way to describe my extreme nearsighteness is as a very low-resolution, two-dimensional image, with shapes, movement, light and color, but without detail, depth and clarity."
John Ednoff: Belmont, CA -- "A retinal doctor declared me legally blind and told me that I have Macular Degeneration."
"I can see and distinguish forms but no detail."
"When I am lost in my creative world, it keeps me busy and I forget my vision loss."
"I work in all media depending on space, time, and the availability of materials at hand."
"I am experimental."
"My art keeps me from insanity."
Bobbie Gray: Fairfax, CA -- "I've been legally blind for almost five years due to Macular Degeneration. I have enough peripheral vision to see most objects in good light. Edges are fuzzy. Only contrasting colors are visible to me so I like to use strong, vivid colors in my work."
Ida Berkowitz: Tiburon, CA -- "I have been visually impaired for five years due to Diabetic Retinopathy and Macular Degeneration. For my paintings I need to focus on simple things. I can only do landscapes or still life - no faces or people."
Pedro Hidalgo, Oakland, CA -- "I have been legally blind all of my life from Myopia. My vision allows me to delve into space, time, dimension and light; to touch reality."
Mari S. Newman: Minneapolis, MN -- "I am totally blind in my right eye and legally blind (20/200) in my left . I was born with brain damage due to complications in the birthing process. To help me with my art, I use magnifying lenses.
Keith Rosson: Portland, OR -- "I was born with Optic Nerve Hypoplasia or "tunnel vision." Throughout my childhood, I was either drawing incessantly or running into things. By the time I was officially diagnosed as blind, my involvement in art was strong and I chose not allow this diagnosis to alter my decision to work in a visual medium."
Laura Landry: Condordia, Kansas -- I was born blind in September 1980 from the eye disease known as Peter's Anomaly, which clouds the corneas. I don't wake up every day and think about being blind - I just live my life."
Bobby Hightower: Richmond, CA -- "I have been legally blind since I was 12 years old, and I am also hearing impaired. My paintings express the feeling of a real life adventure. I love art!"
Kurt Weston: Huntington Beach, CA -- "In 1996 I became legaly blind due to AIDS-related CMV retinitis. I see the world very differently than a sighted person, very blurred with speckles of light, like an impressionist painting.
"I have found photography to be an excellent medium for expressing my artistic vision, which is influenced by my physical sight. My work incorporates graphic signs and symbols, taken out of context and juxtaposed against ambiguous textural backgrounds."
"My way of seeing has permitted me the ability to perceive in this abstract manner and transform mundane signs and symbols into contemporary works of art."
Rosemarie Fortney: Milwaukee, WI -- "I have been legally blind since the late 1970's due to Retinitis Pigmentosa. Since my visual field is small, I am to create the maximum impact on the visual perception of whoever views my artwork."
Tara Arlene Innmon: Minneapolis, MN -- "I've been legally blind since 1986 and totally blind since 1994 from congenital Glaucoma."
"I did much of my painting and drawing from 1987-1990 while losing my vision. It was like being in a fog that got thicker and thicker and now I have plastic eyes."
The 'Doctor's Waiting Room' series was done in the ophthalmologist's waiting room after each laser procedure to document the change in my vision. I also want to show what the world looks like to a person who is losing vision and how the feelings of grief and anger lead to transformation and acceptance."
This exhibit, in case my photos don't make it clear, is extraordinary. There's going to be a public reception next Wednesday, August 31, 2005 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. with many of the artists in attendance. Be there or be square.