Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Guest blogger Teresa LeYung Ryan, Author of Love Made of Heart

Teresa LeYung Ryan asked me to paint her story from her memoir/novel Love Made of Heart in a bookcase for her a few years ago. I did, so when I made my film Art and Gift, a voyage begins, I included her story and her photo in front of her bookcase, as well as her words regarding her request in the film, about giving away my art.  I asked her what she thought of the film, and she answered with a poem and a blog entry, presented here:

January 1, 2012
Chandra Garsson asked me today: “Teresa, what did you really think about my film?”
As I was telling her, she said “Could you say it in your blog?”
So, here goes… It took Chandra 9 months to create her documentary Art & Gift 2011.  9 months of work–being the film’s protagonist, camera person, director, producer, editor. What impressed me the most about this film is seeing Chandra’s generous nature on the big screen.  She could have been the sole narrator, presenting the conflict.  But, she did so much more.  She interviewed over a dozen fellow artists and writers to give us a chance to express ourselves.  She presents a story with fairness.  She listens to the other side; she even gives the other side the spotlight so that we can hear/see the other side without any filters. In the case of her film, the other side was the landlord.
During our conversation today, we talked about theme.  I was telling Chandra about just having finished editing a children’s novel and helping my client identify the themes in her story.  Chandra said  there is theme in her work too.  Yes, in deed.
The first time I experienced her art was when the fabulous Kim McMillon orchestrated authors’ readings during the5-week long exhibition of  Chandra’s Insomnia [Awakening] at Pro Arts in Oakland. I still remember what poet Mark G said about Chandra’s big pieces (Chandra had painted stories on doors).  “She understands trauma. I’m a vet.” That’s my recollection of what Mark said that day.
The plastic baby dolls in Chandra’s exhibit hooked my attention.  She understands broken child-within, I thought.
We’ve been friends since.
Please take a look at Chandra’s  film Art & Gift 2011!  I’m proud of my friend and her powerful work. I’m honored to be in the documentary with Lucille Lang Day, Mary Rudge, Pedro, and all the other artists/poets/musicians/writers who were invited to speak to Chandra Garsson’s camera.

December 24, 2011
My praise on Chandra Garsson’s latest film Art & Gift 2011
birds’ songs
dog’s barking
haunting music
You understand sorrow.
eviction.  Your losing your work space–to paint, to create, to sculpt, to work
from 2,400 square feet of artist’s space to 400
Your Insomnia [Awakening]
trusting Chandra Garsson to paint my dolls my ego my childhood symbolism onto Love Made of Heartbookcase
Your growth, blossoming, working with your hands, with colors, sounds, shapes.
Your masterpieces:  art-making; book-making; jewelry-making; film-making

Teresa LeYung-Ryan, author of Love Made of Heart
Chandra Garsson says of her film:  “Documents the gift of a lifetime of art-making after eviction from art studio. Interviews with recipients of art, including landlord. My goal was to save art from the dump, and I succeeded.

        I am laughing in joy, Teresa, to read your praise. Thank you! Yes, it is true, after you presented me with the poem you had written in your blog about Art and Gift, I did suggest a more conventional essay approach to blogging. The poem sparked genuine interest in finding out what you were actually saying about my film, hence my suggestion of a more formal approach.
     I present here an introductory six-minute short film by way of paratext, or as I say within the film ‘paratextural’ information on the film, a play on ‘paratextual’ emphasising the textural qualities of the surfaces of most of my art: Paul Digby on Art and Gift, a Voyage Begins
      Believe it or not, I dove back in to create a second version very similar yet different from the feature experimental documentary Art and Gift, this called Art and Gift, a Voyage Begins: Art and Gift, a Voyage Begins
       And believe it or not I am still far from satisfied, as there are some technical flaws resulting from sound problems that could not be avoided, given my lack of experience making films, given the film software I worked with, given compression inevitable in the upload. Still and all, I am satisfied. I documented the gift of nearly all my art work, and I was able to realize my goal, that of saving my work from ultimate destruction brought on by the vagaries of the state of commercial real estate in the state of California, and eviction. Frankly, I was done, I wanted freedom from what had become for me an ongoing untenable situation.

Photos show bookcase Teresa commissioned me to paint her story on. Photo of me taking photo taken by Teresa.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Art and Gift Part Three, Part two, A Voyage Begins

     I wrote last about the publication of my latest film in the making, Art and Gift. I remade that, and the result is somewhat different in sound, some added clips and images, more than that, the overall feel is in another realm not quite altogether, but there you simply must have it. My hope is that you will watch the new version, Art and Gift, A Voyage Begins, and that you might let me know what your thoughts are, either here or where it is posted.

    The third and final film in a trilogy telling of the gift of all my artwork to those who valued the work, thereby rescuing the art from landfill following one eviction too many from art studios, due to owner's plans for development of the property. After my eviction by a  landlord from the Dutch Boy paint factory art studios, I was given a much smaller space by my friend of twenty years, a friend who had collected much of my art. In order to make that move to a much smaller studio, I had to sell a great deal of my work at prices far below market value at the time of that move, which was almost six years ago. The space my friend offered me she offered at a price well below market value. Now ensconced in the old Bank of America building, my friend sadly died. Her son inherited, he "had other plans for the building," so once again I had to move. He kept the rent the same low amount I had paid his mother until the time of my move. He offered me another space in another building about 1/4 the size of the smaller space I had squeezed into after eviction from the Dutch Boy. With enough space for my work, the rent would have gone sky high, well beyond what I could have paid. Just finding space large enough would have been a dicey situation, one that I had explored to no avail, especially given that neither commercial nor residential rents have come down in my area, despite the near depression economy.
It is difficult to say in a situation like mine whether the tragedy is the loss of studio/gallery/work/storage (all of that is what a studio is or can be to a visual artist), or whether the tragedy is the necessity of saving work from land-fill by giving it to others. It is both. The loss is of countless hours of grueling intellectual and physical work that goes into the making of any art---in my case countless paintings, sculptures, works on paper, and the objects that go into the personal collection of an artist, all grist for the mill, all muse, all props that hold the theater together.

Paul Digby, Vincent Andelmoth, Aki Sasaki and friends, and Danny Zingarelli and friends created hauntingly beautiful music which graciously they allowed me to use in my film.

The poetry of Lucille Lang Day rings true and clear throughout the film.

Poet Mary Rudge speaks eloquently at film's end of changes and passages, "Every time a person dies, a book is lost."

I gave it all up for free!

Note: There are at least two places in this film where the sound got away from me in transit (upload)---my great desire is that these two places will be heard as very avante guarde sound sculpture.