ART hound

Geneva Anderson digs into art

Chalk Hill’s Fall Open Studio introduces Ayla Nereo, its latest artist in residence, Sunday, December 11, 2011, at Chalk Hill Preserve

Video still, artist and musician Ayla Nereo at Chalk Hill Preserve, Windsor. Nereo was one of five artists selected this year for the Chalk Hill Artist's Residency. Photo: courtesy Chalk Hill Artist's Residency.

Ayla Nereo is a Windsor musician and artist who has released two full-length albums and is working on her third.  Her melodies are woven into complex electro-acoustic compositions, guitar ballads and intricate harmonies layered in vocal looping and projected visuals that create an epic journey into poetry and the struggles of contemporary living.  She sings with wry humor about topics like fatigue, mothers, and relationships, and often creates accompanying animated videos.  Nereo is also one of five artists who were selected this year for the Chalk Hill Artist’s Residency at the Warnecke Ranch and Vineyards, near Windsor. For Nereo, that meant she could live and work in Hazel’s House on the extensive Warneke ranch for ten weeks and also utilize their re-purposed barn for creating her art.  This Sunday, Chalk Hill is having its fall open studio and the public is invited to take a walk around the gorgeous ranch, have a cup of tea and to meet Nereo and experience her amazing creativity.  Nereo will show three of the music videos she created while in residence at Chalk Hill and will also give a 20 minute live performance against a video backdrop. 

2011 was the Chalk Hill Artist’s Residency program’s inaugural year and five artists were selected: cellist, composer and sound installation artist Hugh Livingston; multimedia and performance artist Tramaine de Senna, who was also the recipient of an Emerging Artist grant in 2010 from the Arts Council of Sonoma County; painter Naomi Murakami, Jeff Glauthier; and Ayla Nereo.  

“There is a loose emphasis on artistic projects that interpret the land, but we basically invite artists whose work we like to come here and live and create,” said Alice Warnecke, the residency’s program director.  “Ayla’s enthusiasm is nice to be around.”  The selection committee has four members from the Warnecke family, a board member, and an investment consultant.  Warnecke, an artist herself, has high hopes for the program.  “We are learning as we go and want to plan more events that involve the artists with the community.”

“It’s been amazing,” said Nereo, “challenging in all the best ways (like being alone for whole days at a time) and wonderful in all the best ways (like learning how to really enjoy — and then adore — all this alone time).  This is really my first opportunity to fully dedicate myself to my music and poetry and art-making and it’s helping me launch my career by just having that space, time and solitude in nature to devote to my creativity.  It’s been huge and wonderful and it’s really grown me and connected to me why I am on this planet. ” 

In her seven week stay at the rustic Hazel’s House, Nereo created two new music videos (one an animation), a book of poetry, new live video projections, and lots of drawings.  She’s also been moving in a new direction musically, away from the folk elements which characterized her first album “Floating Felt” and Sunday’s open studio attendees will have a chance to hear some of the new songs that will appear on her forthcoming third album, “BeHeld.”  Click here to see a video of Nereo’s new work, which includes Chalk Hill footage, and to support her new album through the IndieGoGo funding platform.  (IndieGoGo offers anyone with an idea—creative, cause-related, or entrepneurial—the tools to effectively build an online money-raising campaign.)

“The newer stuff is a lot more with a loop pedal (into which she feeds vocals and guitar) which produces interesting vocal layering and harmonies and beats and you are really building structure into the track,” said Nereo.  “I’ve been told that I need to figure out what genre this is because it’s no longer folk but it’s really getting to who I am now.”

Ayla Nereo, still from "Wasted Hours" animation. Photo: courtesy Chalk Hill Artist’s Residency.

The Warnecke Ranch:  The Ranch was purchased by the Warnecke family in 1911.  Architect John Carl Warnecke (1919-2010) expanded the original boundaries and ran the ranch for many years before passing in 2010. The property is now run by Margo Warnecke Merck and Fred Warnecke, with help from the 4th generation of Warneckes on the Ranch: Alice, Pierce, Grace and Tess Warnecke.

The Residency:   Chalk Hill Artist’s Residency is devoted to supporting artists of all types and at all levels by providing open space and free time at Hazel’s House on the Warnecke Ranch.  2011, the centennial year of the Warnecke Ranch and Vineyard, marks the opening of the Residency. 

The concept for the Residency is based on the vision of the late John Carl Warnecke.  In 1983, he laid out plans for an artist retreat on his 280-acre property near the town of Healdsburg, bordering the Russian River.  The plan included multiple houses, conference rooms and studios.  He established a 501 c3 non-profit and began a master plan for the property to fulfill his vision: artists could live and work together in what he deemed the most beautiful place in the world. Key parameters for the residency come from JCW’s extensive writings about his vision around spending time with friends and fellow architects and artists:

Why not, he wondered, set up a retreat for artists on his own ranch land? But not just for his established professional friends, the architects, but also for established writers, composers and other visual artists, as well as those artists who were just starting to be recognized in their fields. This would give the younger, promising architects and artists an opportunity to mix and work with their peers. Few artists enjoy the luxury of full-time devotion to their work, and most have to work at odd jobs or seek subsidies. An Artist’s residency has long been one form of subsidy.~ JCW  

(Click here to see ARThound’s previous coverage of Chalk Hill Artist’s Residency and photos of the Warneke Ranch)

Details:  Sunday, December 11, 2011, 4:30 p.m. 13427 Chalk Hill Road, Healdsburg, CA  95448.  Please RSVP to Alice Warneke at (415) 218 – 4912 or alicewarnecke@gmail.com .
For more information about the Chalk Hill Residency, visit the website: http://chalkhillresidency.com/

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December 9, 2011 Posted by | Art | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Chalk Hill Artist Residency launches with “Un-Sound 1,” an afternoon of new music sounds

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The Chalk Hill Artist’s Residency at the Warnecke Ranch and Vineyards, near Windsor, may have been the best kept secret around but, with last Saturday’s official launch, the word is out.  ARThound was lucky enough to attend “Un-Sound 1: Outdoor Sonic Investigations,” a series of performances and installations using the natural environment of the Warnecke estate, located on the Russian River, for auditory exploration.  Cellist, composer and sound installation artist Hugh Livingston is the program’s first official resident and, earlier this year, was invited to live on the property and create in a uniquely beautiful natural setting.  In response, he created “River Triptych,” three distinct but harmonious sound environments installed on various hills on the sprawling estate.  (Click here for amazing video of the 3 installations.)   There’s always some provocation to Livingston’s creations which tend to involve computer-enhanced recordings of sounds found in nature.   His delicate wooden “Birdcages,” filled with imaginary birds, hung from oak branches overlooking a majestic ridge and were equipped with small speakers that played improvisational elements based on fragments of bird songs he recorded on the property.  The songs overlapped and repeated in odd, yet lyrical, ways.   Another sound work, installed on an adjacent hill, involved about two dozen cones emitting a collection of sounds he had recorded underwater with a hydrophone at the Russian River.  Livingston also hung several windows, framing distant vistas, from tree branches.  Instrumental sounds made with pinging and clinging glass were combined with texts written and read by Fred Euphrat about creeks that feed the Russian River.  Livingston has been so inspired by his time in nature that he has also written “River Opera,” an opera about the natural history of the Russian River that he expects to perform next spring. 

Livingston was joined last Saturday by visiting sound artists Gino Robair, Louis Laurain, Max Abeles, and Pierce Warnecke, who were invited to perform improvisationally or to create a sound installation inspired by the setting.  50 invited guests roamed the property, taking in the mini-concerts amongst the trees, lake, and vineyards.

Gino Robair is a percussionist and composer who has been a major force in the Bay Area experimental music scene for over twenty years.  He invited guests to join him in an improvisational performance of a portion of his opera in real time “I, Norton,”  based on the life of Norton I, Emperor of the United States.    The opera, which has been performed throughout the U.S. and Europe, is derived from the first published pronouncement of Norton I, a quite colorful and progressive, perhaps insane, figure Joshua Abraham Norton, (c. 1819-1880), who lived in San Francisco and proclaimed himself “Imperial Majesty Emperor Norton I” of the U.S. and subsequently “Protector of Mexico.”  Guests were asked to pick up stones and rocks and use their “instruments” in various ways to make short and long rhythms indicated by Morse-code like notations that were given out.  The libretto was put into graphics form so that non-musicians could participate.  Robair conducted several rounds, each more complex than the next, and a rousing time was had by all.

The Warnecke Ranch:  The Ranch was first purchased by the Warnecke family in 1911.  Architect  John Carl Warnecke (1919-2010) expanded the original boundaries and ran the ranch for many years before passing in 2010. The property is now run by Margo Warnecke Merck and Fred Warnecke, with help from the 4th generation of Warneckes on the Ranch: Alice, Pierce, Grace and Tess Warnecke.

The Residency:   Chalk Hill Artist’s Residency is devoted to supporting artists of all types by providing open space and free time at Hazel’s House on the Warnecke Ranch.  2011, the centennial year of the Warnecke Ranch and Vineyard, marks the opening of the Residency. 

The concept for the Residency is based on the vision of the late John Carl Warnecke. In 1983 he laid out plans for an artist retreat on his 280-acre property near the town of Healdsburg, bordering the Russian River.  The plan included multiple houses, conference rooms and studios.  He established a 501 c3 non-profit and began a master plan for the property to fulfill his vision: artists could live and work together in what he deemed the most beautiful place in the world. Key parameters for the residency come from JCW’s extensive writings about his vision:

“He wanted to spend time with friends and fellow architects and artists. Why not, he wondered, set up a retreat for artists on his own ranch land? But not just for his established professional friends, the architects, but also for established writers, composers and other visual artists, as well as those artists who were just starting to be recognized in their fields. This would give the younger, promising architects and artists an opportunity to mix and work with their peers. Few artists enjoy the luxury of full-time devotion to their work, and most have to work at odd jobs or seek subsidies. An Artist’s residency has long been one form of subsidy.” ~ JCW  

For more information about the Chalk Hill Residency, visit the website: http://chalkhillresidency.com/

August 13, 2011 Posted by | Art | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thursday is Lunchtime in the Sonoma County Museum’s New Outdoor Sculpture Garden!

Ned Kahn's Vapor Fountain (steel, aluminum, 2011) happily bubbled away at last Sunday's inauguration of the Sonoma County Museum's new outdoor sculpture garden. Kahn is an internationally recognized artist who frequently works with water and natural elements. The fountain marks the entrance to the garden which also contains the works of 6 other Northern CA Artists. Photo: Geneva Anderson

The Sonoma County Museum’s new Outdoor Sculpture Garden, its latest in a series of planned upgrades, was dedicated last Sunday at festive reception for donors and museum members.   The community is invited to embrace the new space by having lunch there on Thursdays through September when entrance to the garden will be free.  The new garden is located in a previously empty third of an acre lot at A & 7th Streets in Santa Rosa, next to the Sonoma County Museum (SCM) and features 10 works by 7 North Bay artists– Carroll Barnes, Roger Berry, Edwin Hamilton, Bruce Johnson, Ned Kahn, Pat Lenz and Hugh Livingston.  

The project cost roughly $200,000 and the garden was designed by San Rafael architect Fred Warneke.  The grounds themselves were landscaped by JLP Landscape Contracting of Santa Rosa with native trees, shrubs and grasses supplementing the magnolia and redwood trees already there and a back iron fence with a trellis gate entry surrounds the area.  The artworks are on long-term loan to the museum from the artists with the exception of the sound installation by Hugh Livingston, which was commissioned, and Cazadero sculptor Bruce Johnson’s enormous wood and copper “Sequoia” (2,000), which the museum owns.  “Sequoia,” is a split open old growth sequoia tree whose interior was milled out with a chain saw and lined in copper and is meant to be walked through.   The 16 foot tall piece required an upgrade in its retrofitting before it could be relocated from its east site on the museum to the new garden locale on the west.  (Click here to see a SCM photo album devoted to “Sequoia’s” move.)  

At 16 feet tall, Cazadero sculptor Bruce Johnson's "Sequoia" is a focal point of the Sonoma County Museum's new outdoor sculpture garden. The hollowed-out old growth sequoia was relocated from the east side of the museum to the new garden on the west side with much fanfare. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Sunday’s celebration was also a fundraiser to support the museum’s Collection Initiative, a long range program developed by Diane Evans, the museum’s executive director and Eric Stanley, its history curator, to manage the museum’s collection which encompasses some 20,000 artworks and historical pieces.  Currently, the vast majority of this collection is in storage due to lack of space.  

In April, 2011, the museum was awarded a $300, 000 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) five-year Challenge Grant, designated for its Collection Initiative.  This was quite an honor as just two of these challenge grants were awarded in all of California for 2010.   According to Evans, the grant requires SCM to raise $900,000 over the next five years in matching funds.  The grant and matching dollars together will total $1.2 million, which will be designated toward an endowment for the support of staffing to care for and manage the museum’s extensive collections, as well as funds to ensure safe long-term collections storage.  The museum must raise $60,000 by July 31, 2011 to meet the grant’s first stage.  Evans reported Sunday that the museum had raised about $20,000 so far.  All of the funding raised must be allocated to the Collections Initiative and cannot support other museum programs or campaigns.

Meanwhile, the museum’s expansion plans are on track for occupying space in the former AT&T building after its remodel is completed next year.  Contemporary artworks will be displayed in that new space and the present locale, the historic old post office building, will then be devoted to the museum’s vast collection of historical objects.  Highlights of the SCM’s collection include the Song Wong Bourbeau Collection of some 200 photographs and artifacts which represents the rich history and culture of Santa Rosa’s Chinatown, and the Tom Golden Collection of artworks by Christo and Jeanne-Claude.

Hugh Livingston's subtle 16 Channel Sound Installation is a work in progress at the Sonoma County Museum's new outdoor sculpture garden. Livingston placed 16 (round green) units around the garden that emit gurgling water sounds recorded at the Russian River over the past year. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Those visiting the new outdoor sculpture garden this month will have the chance to see Hugh Livingston tweaking his 16 channel sound installation which uses sound bites captured from the Russian River.   The piece has the most conceptual angle among the ten and also corners the market for humor–  it looks and sounds like city water infrastructure on steroids.   In fact, many guests at Sunday’s reception didn’t even realize it was art, which is fine with Livingston who likes making a “subtle point”.   Livingston explained that it was “too noisy” with all the landscaping and irrigation set-up going on to actually hear what he was doing, so he will be adjusting his 16 gurgling green ports over the coming weeks.

Lunchtime: Every Thursday, from June 30 through September 29, 2011, from 11:30am – 1:30pm, Ultracrepes mobile family-operated food truck will be on site selling gourmet savory and dessert crepes made with natural ingredients for $5 to $7, along with a variety of refreshments.  Visitors are encouraged to sit and eat and linger in the garden, taking in the works which have been loaned to the museum on a long-term basis by the artists. 

Upcoming activities in the garden:
June 30: Claire Gustavson Art Class
July 7: Jessica Jarvis and partner (Jazz duo/acoustic jazz guitar and singer)
July 14: Katie Godec (singer)
July 21: Claire Gustavson Art Class

Details: Admission is FREE for Lunchtime in the Garden; regular museum admission applies to visit current exhibitions.  The Sonoma County Museum is located at 425 7th Street, Santa Rosa, CA 95401.  Museum Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 11am-5pm.  Information: 707.579 .1500

Current Exhibitions:  Gertrud Parker: An Artist and Collector and Pat Lenz: Nobody’s Poodle, both through September 11, 2011.

Directions: Sonoma County Museum is just steps away from Downtown Santa Rosa and Historic Railroad Square.  From Highway 101 Heading North, take the 3rd St/Downtown Exit from Hwy 101, turn right at 3rd Street and then left at B Street. Travel 3/4 mile and turn left at 7th Street.  The museum is on your right.

June 29, 2011 Posted by | Art, Sonoma County Museum | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment