Tag: #art

Thomas “T-Money” Cressman in Living Form

Thomas “T-Money” Cressman in Living Form

In an ongoing series called “Gallery Exhibitions in Spaces but not in Space”, this past, past week (sorry to any readers out there looking forward to my weekly blog posts but life has been kicking my ass so they’ll basically come to fruition when they come to fruition), I delved into the work of Thomas Cressman and his final BFA show in where he displayed his large scale vessels, structures, and other goodies out of metals (such as a crab claw ring, made with real crab!).

Mr. Thomas Cressman or T-Money, Thom, Tommy, T, T-Bomb, Garlic T (by far the strangest and in my opinion, best nickname out of the bunch because it was given to him by the same Woodshop professor that called me El Tigre), Patina God, or what I like to call him, Big Boss (since he’s my boss after all) is a man with plenty of monikers but with one goal; creating the best damn art he can and showing the world his skills.

So the story goes like this, I was first introduced to Thomas when I was but a wee greenhorn in the field of metalsmithing and trying to carve my way into the Metals BFA. The head of the Department, Susanna, told me that if I were interested in this department then I should speak to the president of MAG (Metal’s Art Guild) which was a BFA student. I’ll always remember that first time I had seen Thomas because you know how you tend to have an image in your head of what the person is supposed to look like because of their position and status but end up totally wrong. Well, in my head T-Money was supposed to be this older, tall white guy with facial hair, and muscular build because he’s been blacksmithing for most of his life. Lo and behold, I only got the “white guy” part right. Thom might be an inch taller than me (I’m 5’3″ or 5’4″), so he wasn’t that towering 6′ man I was imagining. He had no facial hair (I’m pretty sure he shaves everyday) and he might be buff since he plays hockey but I don’t want to investigate that attribute any further (that’d be weird). Also, he has definitely not been blacksmithing for most of his life because as I found out, Tommy had actually planned to attend Northridge College for a Sound Engineer degree before finally choosing his real destiny of being a metalsmith at Cal State Long Beach.

T-Bomb had achieved what some of us, metalsmiths going through our program tend not to do; take almost every metal’s class offered at our school. This is quite the achievement since those classes that he partook in were not mandatory to his graduation. With that type of training it only meant that Big Boss would become one of the most skillful metalsmith in our school and his BFA show definitely demonstrates this. Out of the three galleries shows that week that displayed Metal BFA work, Thomas’ show can be described as a “classically, well-thought out, cohesive exhibition displaying the exploration of the theme of how organic biology thrive and develop within our world.” (See, I can sound extremely well verse when I want to be) Patina God’s (the reason why Thomas received the nickname of Patina God, well,  before I explain his name let me define patina first, patina is defined as “a usually green film formed naturally on copper and bronze by long exposure or artificially (as by acids) and often valued aesthetically for its color.” But to be fair, it can be any color on the metal. To make a long story short, Thomas started to master patinas during his time at school thus the name) works are colorful but mimicked the pastels pallets found in nature. The show consisted of pieces that were deep organic brown that mimicked mushrooms growing on the side of a tree to crustacean green that mimicked the color of rust from the great ships that have sunken in the seas for years to deep ocean blue that only the crustaceans could have produced due to evolution. Each piece in the gallery aesthetically speaking, harkens back to the object of inspiration for Thom but never fully duplicates the object. He gives you hints and vagues clues to as what it could be because Patina God doesn’t like to make his art obvious, he makes you work for it dammit!

As you slowly make the rounds to every object in the gallery space from large vessels, to ring size jewelry, to massive bending metal rods, you start to realize the Latin names and English titles placards for each piece. The funny thing is that T-Bomb kind of made up those Latin names for his pieces, for example he took the Latin names for colors and the objects that inspired his piece and then combined it into a title. It’s actually quite smart that he created latin names because it adds a flair of elegance and professionalism to his show. Speaking of professionalism, T-Money is one of the most punctual and responsible person I have ever met when it comes to school. This man used to take five or more classes while having more than two studio classes at a time and passed all of them with what I presume with straight A’s. He has multiple small notebooks that are filled to the brim with ideas, calendar of things that need to be done, and about everything else that he needs to remember. Another BFA student once told me that if I looked up to anyone in this metal’s program it was be Thomas because he knows how to handle his business and get it done.

Finally, I’ll leave you, the reader, with Thomas’ future plans of before he leaves and after he leaves this school. He would like to make one more last final big, hoorah piece before leaving Cal State Long Beach and after he leaves this school he would like to translate his sculptures and vessels into smaller wearable pieces. So in the future, look for a top of the line original by Thomas Cressman’s, be it ring or necklace you better act fast before his art starts to raise in price as he starts to raise in fame.

The “Rocks” In Our Lives

The “Rocks” In Our Lives

In an ongoing series called “Gallery Exhibitions in Spaces but not in Space”, this past, past week, I delved into the work of Bailey Francis who created a truly meaningful show with rocks, branches, and wood based on her experiences when she was vacationing at her grandparents’ home. Although the experiences she had based the show upon was less than a joyful one.

I first met Bailey in Blacksmithing class, she had a hat equipped on her head and wore a “G4” shirt so I knew she was my kind of people (for those of you that don’t know what G4 is, it was a channel on basic cable that was all about technology and gaming. One of my favorite channel until they went under). Also, she was a new face in the metal scene and I was sure that she belonged to a different department/program. So I did what I do best, I got information. I found out she was part of a rare breed at our school that belonged to the elusive Wood BFA program (I didn’t know that the Wood program at our school only had like one BFA during the time I met Bailey, I thought each program had at least five BFA but hot damn I was wrong). Shortly thereafter we got to talking and became good friends because again she was my kind of people, geeky in nature, knowledgeable, and friendly.

And so the story goes like this, when this semester began and as I started this blog, it came to my notification that Bailey would have a gallery show on campus so I jumped the gun the week before she would have it and asked for an interview. She gladly said yes to my request. So fast-forward to the week of the show, I was completely clueless to what she would do for it. Knowing Bailey, it would be something functional, simple, and conceptual but not too artsy-fartsy where I didn’t know what the hell I was looking at. Let’s just say I was partially right with my assumption on the show. For first time visitors that walked into the Merlino Gallery, they were greeted with the doors swung wide open, nothing would be hidden and Bailey welcomed them as they enter. There were rows of tables that she had made from Douglas Fir Pine, the cheapo wood that you can buy any day of the week from Home Depot (there is a story to why this type of wood was used). Upon these tables and under them are compositions of rock, bits of trees and branches that she had arranged all around the gallery. The show’s rock/wood composition actually kept changing right up until opening day because as Bailey stated, when she thinks about a project’s concept too much she would get caught in a loop of self-questioning and constant change until she realized that all she needed to do was get her hands on the material because once she did it would be “nuts” (in a good way). However, before I delve deeper into this show, there was a problem that kept arising with some of the visitors. They simply did not read the artist’s statement which in turn led to no deeper impact of realization, ultimately missing the ah-ha moment of the whole show. Look at the blog’s image and then give the artist’s statement a read (it’s conveniently placed below for your viewing pleasure).

The show Returning to Nature is a tribute to Walt Schirmer – Pa – my grandfather. Growing up, I was incredibly close to him and loved spending time with him in his workshop tinkering away and finding out how things worked. On June 12, 2015, he was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia, a cancer that spreads rapidly and is typically fatal within weeks. I began collecting rocks and wood from his driveway, a coping mechanism that allowed me to free my thoughts and to take my minds off things, if only for a little while. I was fortunate enough to spend time with him before he was gone and those are the moments I’ll cherish forever. Pa passed away July 27, 2015 quietly in his sleep. With his last act on Earth, my grandfather was still able to teach me that in order to truly experience life, you must experience death.

Returning to Nature represents the life cycle of the Earth in various stages. Everything from plants and animals to rocks go through a constant cycle of change and destruction and rebirth. Although virtually impossible to detect, rocks are constantly changing; due to the driving forces of the rock cycle, plate tectonics and the water cycle, rocks do not remain in equilibrium and are forced to change as they encounter new environments. A rock may break down and dissolve when exposed to the atmosphere or melt as it is subducted under the continent. Wood as a living form grows, dies, and decays but creates a new ecology for other living organism such as lichen and the termites that currently reside within the tables. The cycle has continued for billions of years and will continue long after we too are gone.”

It changes the whole show doesn’t it? Also, remember the type of wood that was used to make the tables, Douglas Fir Pine, Bailey used to go to Home Depot with Pa when she was a kid and he would pick up that very kind of wood to do home projects. (Fun fact, in the show Bailey has favorite rocks that she displayed and those were her favorite because those rocks helped her take her mind off of the situation the most)

I’ll be honest with you, the reader, that when I first entered the show that it held me in an emotional muddle. We have all lost someone dear to us (a lot of the visitors spoke to Bailey on her lost and their own, which was a powerful thing to witness), and when I spoke to her about the subject, she spoke about how unreal it is. Near the end of finishing up the setup for the entire show, it don on her that when the show had reached the end of the week that Pa was finally gone because the show was going to be over. After hearing her feelings, I wanted to help her feel better and I have a way for you, the reader, to help too (more on that later). It’s this theory I have, so if you’ll entertain me and hear me out, the theory goes like this. People don’t truly part from us in this world because sometimes we only look at the physical measurements of what makes a person live, such as the time on this earth, our health, our appearances, etc. but this make us forget about the emotional magnitude that carries on with person that we love so much and this is what allows them to continue to live on beside us. The stories we shared with them, our laughter that followed their joke and vice versa, the smiles we participated in with each other. We tend to always remember what the measureable things about someone were, but we should remember what we couldn’t measure such as the love, respect, and memories we experienced with that person.

So this is where you, the reader, come in by kicking down the door and screaming “How can I help?”.  See, I don’t believe people completely die as long as we know about their existence and what they chose to do with it. So here is the solution to my theory, the more of us that know something about the life of Pa, Walt Schirmer, the more he lives on. Naturally through natural conversation mind you, Bailey told me a story or two about Pa. Walt and his wife, Marg lived in Northern California, in a home that wasn’t close to other homes(the kind of homes that people get to have privacy and get closer to nature, you know big yards with the driveway that could park, oh let’s say, about 20 cars) and had a road with a sign named “Walt and Marg Pl.”(how badass is that? I strive to have my name on a street sign in my future now) that led up to their home. One day, Bailey took longer than her usual 30 minutes of collecting rocks and wood to get her mind off of the situation. The next time she went out on her collecting escapade, Pa told her that she should be careful since it was unsafe due it being snake season. Pa in his own badass way told Bailey to take his pistol on her walk, (this man is dope because think about it, he probably had to shoot a skinny slithery snake before on a walk and that takes some skills since your target is a skinny slithery snake) of course she laugh and told him that it wasn’t necessary but he insisted that she have some sort of protection so he offered her the next best thing, a machete (she took the machete on the walk by the way, it actually helped on her scavenge since she could poke and prod at stuff).

There you have it reader, you have helped Bailey (thank you for helping me as well in trying to cheer her up) by knowing a little bit about her Pa because at the end of the day we all have those people in our lives that are our rocks, part of our foundation that we were built upon and like rocks, when that person is gone they leave us feeling shaky and uncertain but just like rocks they leave an imprint with us that others also get to witness.

(Thank you Bailey for sharing a phenomenal person with us, and for you Mr. Walten Schirmer, take it easy, you deserve it.)

“Disposable Thoughts” on Disposable Materials

“Disposable Thoughts” on Disposable Materials

In an ongoing series called “Gallery Exhibitions in Spaces but not in Space”, this past week I delved into the works of (and when I say works I mean 1000 pieces of work to be specific, they drew 500 each) Tidawhitney Lek and Daniel Antonio Rivera Echeveria. So the stories goes like this, Tida and Daniel are both friends of mine that I had the luxury of meeting in art classes. Tida was in my first ever art class at CSULB which was Foundation 2D but ironically(not very ironic, since I was extremely shy freshman year) we didn’t talk to each other until later in life when we had other art classes together (however she was one of the few people in that first ever art class that ultimately became a really good friend of mine, so she has a special place in the heart). She’s the deep thinker type and you can up talking to her for hours about philosophical topics. In Daniel’s case of when I first met him, it was actually just last Spring semester in Mold-Making class that I made his acquaintance. He is one of the friendliest people you can meet and one of those hardworking kind of guy where he operates on minimal sleep but puts in optimal work all, the, damn, time. They do have similarities that ended up making their show such a success, from their shared determination, to having an eye or should I say eyes for detail, and the amount of work they put into their art is insane and I mean that in the most respectful way.

Before I jump head on into the interview, I’ll paint a picture of the show the best I can to you, the reader, of what I witnessed at the show. The gallery that Tida and Daniel was located in for the week was the Dutzi and it can be best described as a very spacious but modest rectangular room. When I attended the opening night of the gallery, I overheard some people in the gallery reacted to the 1000 napkins that were sewn together and hung from the ceilling with, “I just want to sleep on it” and “It looks like a massive cloud” to which I agreed because I just wanted to throw my body into it and take a long thoughtful nap. Here’s why, it looked like a giant canopy and as strange as it sounds, it was welcoming to the visitor. If it could talk it would have a super chillax voice, “Hey, welcome, come in, relax, enjoy this art at your own accord.” If you look at the featured image, you’ll only get a jest of what visitors walked into because that was only a section of the hanging napkins (yes you read that right, napkins) compared to the actual full-scale size of it. As you traverse the gallery, there was a cave (for a lack of a better term or because I’m too lazy to find a better word) formed by the hanging napkins in where the visitor was welcomed to walk under to explore it’s underbelly. If you continued to walk all around the work, you’ll realized the uniqueness of each napkin. The images on the napkins ranged from a picture of the Batman symbol to a self-portrait to a free form quickly-drawn pattern to exactly 997 more images.

Full disclosure, this is going to be one of the few blog post in which I’ll format it in an interview blog post style but bare with me here because I promise you I’ll add the Tony charm to it as I do so well. So I decided to ask the both of them a series of questions, the classic five as you would have them; how, what, when, where, and why in a not so classic way. The purpose of this type of questioning is because I honestly wanted to know what lead to how and then to where which finally escalates to when and you have to ask why these two people or anybody in life would want to team up and create art together.

Let’s start. (Note, I interviewed them separately)

Me: How did you and Tida/Daniel meet?

Daniel: Tida was working on a huge canvas in one of the painting rooms and that caught my attention. Seeing a girl work on big paintings here at school ain’t common so I thought I better befriend her.

Tida: The first time we met was before we had any classes together. He had stopped by room 202 because I was painting a six-foot painting. It was awkward because he came in and just sat and watched me paint. We then had class for the first time together in advance painting.

How did you two come together to devise a show?

Daniel: I don’t recall who decided to work on a collaboration. But I do know that we both wanted to do more than hang paintings on a wall but yet keeping it in the realm of drawing and painting. So we both agreed on an installation.

Tida: I can’t honestly remember who brought up the idea first but I do remember saying that i wanted to do a collab with him because he was producing art in other ways I thought would broaden my knowledge of what I already new in terms of art making. For sure I told him no paintings. He was down for it.

What was it like to work with someone else on such a big project?

Daniel: It was interesting and fun since we started with one idea and that lead to another idea until we arrived at napkins. We both agreed on napkins because they’re inexpensive and the idea of disposing out thoughts related to napkins in the idea of materiality.

Tida: It was definitely a great experience, it taught many things. I would love to do it again and its worth it. There is a benefit to this.

Are there any fun story about the visitors that stopped by the gallery, any profound feedback from them?

Daniel: While installing (the work) this old couple stopped by and were curious what we were doing. Ends up being that the husband was an artist and had recently had a show about napkins, he did portraits on those napkins. He made about 300 of them.

Tida: We had a crit with a couple of professors that brought up interesting perspectives that I didn’t anticipate, and so that widen my eyes even more about what art can be and where it can lead to.

What was the one thing you wanted people to walk away from the show to feel, think, to know?

Daniel: Personally I wanted the audience to experience the importance of one’s own ideas. and how easily we leave ideas up in the air if we don’t capitalize on them. Also to show a different approach on what drawing could be.

Tida: Particularly, I wasn’t concern with audience. This was an engaging art project that was meant to explore the possibilities of art making. And this was an excellent opportunity to show works on this kind of massive scale.

So out of your 500 drawings which do you remember doing the most?

Daniel: I saw myself scratching my head for more ideas. Seriously, I noticed that I was drawing these abstracted figures.

Tida: Out of the 500 drawings. I remember doodling and these doodles would comes back in swirls, many, many of them combine together to form different compositions. I suspect them to be the next set of paintings series that would make.

Final thoughts on the matter, it was extremely fun to interview these two and their show blew my mind. Furthermore, it always great to see friends succeed in their shared goal of finding a new way to approach art-making and they did it as a collaboration, which is an achievement in itself (take it from me, I’ve seen people melt from the pressures of team-based art projects).

The show left me with the view of it being surrealist, from the concept of thoughts to the display of how thought accumulate in mass and flows within mind but now come to think of it, it also touched on realism. The realism behind how fragile our napkin thoughts can be, it flees from us, it stays with us, it hangs high, it hangs low, it occupies a space, our gallery (well, Tida’s and Daniel’s gallery) and sometimes it can become tangible because we make it tangible.

The Show was Called Damascus and Two Other Words That Are Very Unpronounceable to Me (Gallery Exhibitions in Spaces but not in Space)

The Show was Called Damascus and Two Other Words That Are Very Unpronounceable to Me (Gallery Exhibitions in Spaces but not in Space)

In a new ongoing series called “Gallery Exhibitions in Spaces but not in Space” where I talk to artists that have a gallery space at CSULB, this week I delve into the work of my friend William Brigham and his multi-medium show. So this entry is kind of Back To The Future-ish because even though I made this blog site just yesterday the art show I attended was actually last week’s news. Almost like I’m riffing on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

So the story goes like this, my friend and sometimes “act like my asshole bigger brother” William Brigham had an art show at Cal State Long Beach. For a quick summary, the show was great. Will had at his show the Damascus knives that he completed (one was a gift to his buddy 25th birthday in which Will used the wood from his friend’s broken speargun for the handle of the knife), Mokume Gane vessels that he had perfected that summer and a ceramic technique called Nerikomi that has a resemblance to Mokume Gane technique. That night a lot of people came out, a lot of people ate food (generously prepared by the artists or their families”, and a lot of people talked to the artists about their work. However, Will had a lot more people talk to him than the other galleries and when I say a lot, I mean a lot. I strolled into the show late to see a smoke from a BBQ grill fill the air next to his gallery, the Merlino. His dad was BBQing that day because well, that’s Will for you. Go big or go home. The Merlino Gallery is not a big space by the way, it can be compared to as having two hallway length space (if that even makes sense to you guys). Of course it didn’t matter because it was packed in by people. At the center of this art can of sardines was Will talking his head off to everyone. I could have swore when he finished talking to someone or a couple of someones more someones would have been hovering around in the back, waiting to swoop in to ask him the same question someone else must”ve had asked him before. This would have drove me insane, to be asked the same questions over and over again but not to Will. In his own kooky way, I think he actually enjoyed talking about his art over and over and over again.

When I got the chance, I quickly became that someone who swooped in to talk to the man of the hour. I had to pay my respects to the artist after all, I went in for a handshake and instead I got a hug. This was the kind of man Will was, a weirdo. I’m only half joking at his expense here, because he’s not a weirdo for the hug but he is a weirdo. To be fair, who isn’t in there own unique way, right? In truth, the hug to a friend rather than a handshake was because he was extremely proud of  what he had achieved in that gallery space that day. He was more than happy to share the space, knowledge, and experiences with his friends. Simply put, he was more than happy to share art with his friends and visitors that day.


After-story-mint-story, I ran back into Will that night to say goodbye and he giddily tells me that the woman and her assistance that he had been talking to for almost an hour (that is my time estimate, not his) was from a fancy-pants art collector (and I do mean fancy-pants) that was very interested in his work. Amazing right? Good luck to you Will!