You may be in for a fun day when you find a hawk feather coming in to work. You may be in for a fun day when your first visitor in the studio asks great questions and listens to the answers. It's been a fun day when a mom tells you that you 'made everyone happy' with some oil pastels and butcher paper (grinning kids and interesting drawings and all).
Ok, so we aren't always brilliant are we?
We only had a very few folk in today, so we both got a good deal of work done and talked about bad Native themed movies. Well, we talked about different kinds of movies, but we talked most about what I call 'Bad Indian Movies'. These would be films with glaring cultural errors, stereotypes or other faux pas. It was a hoot.
Last Friday I did a poetry reading elsewhere, so I had not yet experienced the gallery on a Friday evening. Wow. Just wow.
After questions about my background, my religion and alternately about my inspiration and vision, the most commonly asked question I've had in the gallery so far is 'How did you learn to do this stuff?' I'm sure that other Native artists have other answers to that question but here is a bit of an answer for me. I use a number of different beading techniques in my work. In order of most to least common as of this week: bead applique, flat peyote stitch, flat round peyote stitch, cheyenne brick stitch and loomed beading. Now to take them utterly out of order...
Someone asked me today where I got my beads. I have two stores I like to order from online. I have one place I like to go and poke through. I have a serious bead collection myself. When community members see me bead they often donate things they think I'll like. Finally, I am often given collections of beads from people who have passed. None of this helps the fact that seed beads come in certain colors and not really others. Glass is a picky substance.
June 4—A second foop
A few years ago I was given a set of meditation bells in a rosewood box. You were meant to tip the box over and some number of ball bearings inside would adhere to these sticky disks on the top of the box. Then when you flipped it back over the balls would gradually fall in varying patterns of sound. The reality was that you'd get the balls stuck and flip the box and about half of the balls would fall in one foop (foop here meaning flurry) then some time later another foop and so forth. I have not tipped that box in over a year but there are still some hold out bearings that every so often release and sound a bell. That happened this morning. I also got damp basement that had to be dried immediately. Today was pretty interesting, even before I got to the museum. I suppose that everything informs the work eh? So we had a massive foop on tuesday moving in, now we've had another foop. I imagine that at this point the balls fall more slowly.
June 3—What is that smell?
No fewer than 4 people came into the gallery today with a pressing interest in the smell that our presence here is creating. In fact, the building guy came by to see what the smell was. A primer: really good hides are generally smoked. Both Michael and I are working on hide. He is working on a buffalo skin, I am beading on deerskin. My skins are smoked. Smoke smell is one that I don't even really notice anymore, but if anyone ever comes up with a perfume oil called "Wow that traditional dancer is hot looking" it will have sage and sweetgrass notes with a finish of smoked hide.
June Artist in Residence Kim Shuck will be sharing her journey with us in the Kimball Education Gallery over the next month. Please check back soon to see how how her and Michael's experience unfolds...
June 2—Opening the Show
The day began with a gathered group of friends in the Kimball. My dad even came, and he's usually a bit of a rumor at my shows. I'm aware that the de Young is a world class museum, what I also know is that museums in general are trying for a less imposing vibe. Frequently when Native people have been in museums it is in the form of unattributed work and/or ethnographic displays. This month is very different. No one is taking this residency lightly. Having said all of that, we managed to create the atmosphere of a fairly laid back household celebration. Well-known flute player, Ogi, started us off with some music. It was, as usual, inspiring. Kanyon Sayers-Roods welcomed us to Ohlone territory and sang her version of the Grandmother Song. Cathrine Hererra, local Native and filmmaker was present as friend and event archivist. Additionally, there were many friends/artists/family present to help us 'warm' the space. It was stellar. We had guests all the way through really... Jerry Ferraz, local poet, curator of readings and guitar virtuoso made us some music. Our good friend and elder Dav Pate was present in spirit and in the form of some of his work, which will be on display on a rotating basis throughout the month. Mary Jean Robertson, current holder of a Native Local Hero Award and DJ, came around with music on CDs for when the party died down. It really didn't today, but the time may come... I could not have hoped for a better "first real day in the gallery".
Frances Escobar will be retiring this month after 25 years of proud service in the accounting department at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Escobar moved to San Francisco in 1957 from Seattle, Washington where she lived and studied for two years after moving to the United States from Tokyo, Japan. She started her career in accounting at Foremost (McKesson). Escobar is a lover of music and a longtime performer with the Ina Chalis Opera Ensemble.
We would like to thank Frances for her service. She will be truly missed. We hope to see her around the de Young and Legion of Honor for years to come.