Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Vision and Art

One of the great art shows each year in San Francisco is held in the basement of City Hall.

It's presented annually by The Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired (click here for their website)...

...and the 35 artists are all either blind or visually impaired.

The handsome programs for "Insights 2006," as they're calling it, are printed in two editions, one in color and another in Braille.

Part of the interest of the show is also in the artist's statements that are printed next to the art, such as Dona Wilson from Richmond, CA who took the almost-abstract photo of a fishing boat at Malta above:
"Ten years ago I was diagnosed with Macular Degeneration. I now see much less but what I do see means a great deal to me."

Velma Stiers, "And Then Begin Again," oil on canvas above:
"I touch the surface of my work more now, whether they be in oils or pastels. I see the world in soft focus and have difficulties seeing in the distance, so my landscape paintings are from my memory long ago when I had perfect vision."

Annie Hesse, Bellevue, WA, above:
"The camera's lens enables me to "freeze" time and focus on the details that I wouldn't ordinarily see or which are otherwise invisible. In other cases, I am inspired by the play of light and shadows. My intention is to show the viewer not only what I see, but how I see it."

The pieces are fascinating not just because of the inherent pathos...

...but because they are all charged with the energy of people who are literally and intensely thinking about Seeing.

Kristi Dean, Richmond, CA has a couple of extraordinary sculptures made of Tinker Toys and toothpicks.
"I use my sense of touch instead of sight. I "see" by feeling the sunshine on my face of the textures of my art materials."

Some of the art seems to take the viewer straight into the world of diminished sight, such as this landscape by Ida Berkowitz from Tiburon.

Tara Arlene Innmon, Minneapolis, MN was one of the three major award winners of the exhibition, and it was easy to see why. Her series of paintings of bus interiors with people were wonderful.

Another award winner, Kurt Weston from Huntington Beach, CA had a series of large photographs with the major foreground figures crudely sketched out.

He writes:
"In 1996, I became legally 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."

All of the art in this exhibit is for sale, and it's priced at amazingly low prices, with everything under $1,000 and most of it under $400.

However, these two colored pencil landscapes by Lois Ann Barnett from Oakland are no longer available because I bought them this morning.

Thanks above all go to Sarah Millett, the Exhibition Coordinator, who is pictured above by one of her favorite paintings, Velma Stiers' "Road with No End." She took a check from me and made sure it would get to Lois Ann.


cookiecrumb said...

I'm stunned! Those are just beautiful works of art, and you showcased them so nicely.
My mom, a watercolorist, is in the early stages of macular degeneration, and she's really scared...
(See you in a couple of hours, eh?)

Anonymous said...

Hey Michael, Thanks again for presenting this show. I saw last year's show and it was long will it be going for? chris o

Civic Center said...

Dear Chris: It's up through the middle of November. And thanks for the comments, cookiecrumb!

Joe L. said...

There you go again! I'm used to criticism that reveals the lines that divide us from the other. You seem to find the ways we are united.

AlbGlinka said...

The art looks great-- you are right in your comments that these artists, challenged by vision issues, seem to push the envelope to explore some highly evocative imagery.