My design emphasizes the existing structure by making lines and forms more evident. Paint, some plaster and a custom sink that reflects those lines.
I was challenged by my instigator friend, Robin Brailsford - “Oh sure, we can all remodel. Now lets see you use only the things you already have”.
That comment made me decide to cast my own sink out of concrete. An inverted sculpture.
I decided that two sinks were just in the way, so I made one big one instead. One faucet that I purchased because that was just sensible (although in another bathroom design, they were all handmade and had rocks as the handles).
My friend Anna Cabo made the amazing fused glass tile. They are luminous jelly bean beauties and all different.
Seems we are all clearing our studios in the lull of the virus and perhaps considering the fast paces we used to have.
Personally, I now drink coffee in bed while doom-scrolling the news. Never, never have I done that sort of decadent laziness! I have even applied for SS. This remodel took longer than usual.
Some things I designed are ruff, deliberately. The Ikea dresser that my friends kids ditched got a new cover skin that was made from an old desk I made 19 years ago. I liked the contrast of brown shiny melamine and thin tan skin on 2 sides, held in place with copper washer/screws.
The floor is the same from the time that flooring contractors owned this house and sampled all manor of oddities here. I could have installed some something snappy, but this floor has cracks and places where past tenants had those terrible non skid carpets that left little rubber stripe stains. Fine enough. I don’t have to change my body movements to accommodate anything ‘good’ and can just use what I have in that country sort of way.
The light for reading while on the can (toilet): I did not want to put in new electrical lines, no, that would have stopped my creative forward-moving flow. Jerry-rigged discards and a puck light. Little chains support the hinge connection. Yes, you have to push it. Yes it wiggles when you do. But it has a nice mellow, directed light and cost nothing - I already had it in the barn.
There had been an electrical outlet from the past, now only a hole in the drywall from the former outlet. It's bugged me for a long time, it was so different and yet so close to the other one, but not a "just right" match. A few years back, I changed it’s location, leaving the hole. I have never been a symmetrical designer, but there you go, the plug was unacceptable to me. I made a little sculpted box and painted the interior the same color that dashes around the bathroom - a flamboyant electric turquoise. I still believe I gave the elderly paint mixer guy at the store a different color on the poetic-named paint strip. That mis-color and that he used a too big hammer to place the lid, thus smashing the can 1/3 down, well, I almost just left the store. Of course everyone loves that color now and it has grown on me. It ignited the mood of buoyancy and its insistence has kept me engaged - it's interior now matching the ceiling of the shower. The window trim sports the same color. All the other paint was from the storage.
The little bling-thing was a big mess of a necklace that was my mothers, something I "yard sale" bought for her years back because she likes blue. I rewired it and hung it to an old plant hook. The plant died years ago, and yet the hook remained.
The washing machine was purchased used and remained in that used category because this Maytag doesn’t drain well and molds up. At least the machine keeps on going. There is a dance of getting it to dry with every load. I can’t get rid of something that is still working.
I use no dryer. I have a clothesline in this chaparral (high desert) climate, it very much so "does dry for a living". I just love a stiff, exfoliating towel!
I'm stuck with a white particle board dresser that I would never have purchased. It came when my parents, moved in with me. I won’t give such a non-desired item to a landfill until it collapses.
Toilet makes a weird dripping sound. Two plumbers couldn’t find the issue. I had dreamed of getting rid of it in this remodel. Mineral stained. Me, with my multiple pee per flush policy, - its just ugly. Maybe someday I will get a new, low flush one, but not this time - that wasn't part of the original challenge by Robin.
The cabinets; original, made of dark wood that had an oily something on it. I tried lightening them by sanding, tried new crazy handles, I tried painting them. These were all failures that I even sent photos to friends about. I finally pulled off the covers and painted the gnarly particle board shelves white. Then used a gauzy white cloth that I had just sorted in the studio (and thus able to find). Not wanting to buy a curtain rod, I used PVC water pipe with the print turned to the ceiling and made some wall hangers of scrap wood. There is silver chain, sewn to the cloth and a bamboo rod to slide the fabric to find things. All that white feels clean. I’m certain it's not clean, but I can live with that illusion.
The plastic baloney sandwich on the toilet tank always reminds me why I’m a vegetarian.
At the California Center for the Arts in Escondido, where the exhibit of Public Address artist are having the show called DesEscondido- a group of us were doing a special talk. Doris Bittar, Ruth Wallen and Nina Karavasiles. Gerda Govine was doing a poetry project just after our talk. The back story (scroll down) is that Gerda and I worked on the Rosa Parks Transit. We had a group of students in a life sized photo with roses over their hearts. I mean, scroll down and coincidentally the photo is just perfect, okay so I see this guy who looks familiar and I ask Gerda if its the guy from the image. She's not sure. I finish my talk and ask him. Indeed, it was Hermes Castro! Like a homecoming we were so happy to see each other again.
The Agency of Art, UCSD University, Mandeville Gallery, La Jolla CA
Opening Reception: Thursday, April 12, 5:30 – 7:30 pm
In the Spring, Visual Arts @ 50, our two-year long series of exhibitions Anniversary of the founding of the Visual Arts Department, turns its focus from past to the future. The Agency of Art highlights the role of Visual Arts alumni/ae from the past two decades who are shaping the way art engages with social practice, the environment, science and technology. British social anthropologist Alfred Gell held that “visual art objects are not a part of language . nor do they constitute an alternative language” and thus should not be treated simply as illustrations or visual texts. Instead he argued that they are tangible indices of social interactions that act as social agents. To conclude the Anniversary series of exhibitions, The Agency of Art spotlights how the Visual Arts Department is committed to using art to reshape the world in which we live. The idea that art can change the world for the better not just by enriching the life and spirit of those for love it, but by proposing new solutions for problems uncovered by science, engineering, and social critique was a major theme of the work of Visual Arts faculty Helen Mayer Harrison (b. 1927-2018) and Newton Harrison (b. 1932). Their award-winning collaboration began at UC San Diego in 1969 -70, when Newton Harrison was an assistant professor and founding member of the Visual Arts Department and Helen Mayer Harrison was the Director of Educational Programs at UC Extension. It was then and here that they made the historic decision to form an artistic partnership, including sharing a professorial appointment, and adopted the principle that they would do no work that did not benefit ecosystems. To this end, they began to collaborate not just with each other but also with UC faculty experts in a wide range of disciplines: biology, ecology, engineering, history, architecture, urban planning, social activism, and art. The Harrisons’ commitment to collaboration, to making the world better through art, and to engaging with science, social policy, and the environment is foundational for much art today, and it might also be considered a precursor to the emerging artistic fields of socially engaged practice, Environmental Art, and Speculative Design. The Agency of Art places representative works by eighteen alumni/ae in juxtaposition with five panels from a major work by the Harrisons, Peninsula Europe, which has not previously been exhibited in San Diego. Peninsula Europe is an in-depth analysis of the fresh water system of Europe, which proposes transforming the highlands stretching from Portugal and Spain, over the Pyrenees, across the Central Massíf, to the Carpathians and beyond into a vast forest which would serve as a buffer against drought and global warming. This visionary project from the 2000-17 will serve as an introduction to the work of the younger artists who graduated from our program in the last twentyfive years or so, whose work in painting, sculpture, architecture, photography, performance, video, and new media proposes new ways to reframe and re-imagine the critical problems of the environment and society today and so to improve the world and our interactions with it and one another. Taking the Harrisons’ work as a point of departure, The Agency of Art explores how recent leading alumni variously contributed to the growing field of Conceptual Art and Speculative Design. Defining visual art as complex objects, UC San Diego artists have broadened tremendously our understanding of traditional art practices while insisting that visual art can fascinate, compel, and entrap the spectator. Katie Herzog, Jean Lowe, Heather Gwen Martin, and Jesse Mockrin, have challenged the expectations of painting in numerous ways by employing the traditions of figurative and abstract painting to reflect on the politics of identity, power structures, and knowledge economies through clever appropriation, humor, subversion of historic styles, and a unique synthesis of fashion past and present. Exploiting the paradigm that art objects can be effective as social agents, the works of Sadie Barnette, Igor Vamos, and Ruth Wallen address root causes of epic-in-scale social and environmental issues and urge younger generations to work proactively towards solving emergent problems related to the issues of human rights and social justice. Artists such as Rob Duarte, Nina Karavasiles, Virginia Maksymowicz, Roy McMakin, Roman de Salvo, and Allison Wiese have also employed design, installation, sculpture, and language to reveal and challenge social hierarchies, hidden political ideologies, and technological determinism. Others like Owen Mundy, Tim Nohe, Tim Schwartz, and Nina Waisman have furthered the concept of art made with technical expertise and imagination of a high order, art that exploits the intrinsic mechanisms of visual cognition with subtle psychological insight.
Curated by Tatiana Sizonenko, Ph.D., ’13
Professors Emeriti Helen Mayer and Newton Harrison
Visual Arts Alumni: Sadie Barnette, Roman de Salvo, Rob Duarte, Katie Herzog, Nina Karavasiles, Jean Lowe, Virginia Maksymowicz, Heather Gwen Martin, Roy McMakin, Jesse Mockrin, Owen Mundy, Tim Nohe, Sheryl Oring, Tim Schwartz, Igor Vamos, Nina Waisman, Ruth Wallen, and Allison Wiese
For more info http://www.visarts.ucsd.edu
Ralf Willruth took the photo of Nina's eyes and we laughed about it for weeks.
Talmadge Gateway is a senior complex in San Diego. It is special housing for homeless residents who have illness. An amazing demographic that really needs this special architecture (Studio E). I’m happy to be involved with it through Wakeland Housing and Jonathan Taylor as the Project Manager.
The piece is located between two bioswales and is visible from many locations within the complex. Its brightness catches and holds attention and for me, its a great focus to train the mind into a calm yet somehow vibrant state.
COMM22 -Public Art
Public Art for a new affordable housing-mixed use development and for the city of San Diego. Along the trolley tracks on Commercial at 22nd (hence the complex’s name, COMM22) this community – based project boasts a large mural and a large sculpture.
30 feet long, a double-sided painting by master muralist Mario Chacon along with his assistant Hector Villegas. Titled “Flowers for My Loved Ones”. They mentored students from San Diego Unified School District, who created a number of offshoot images, maintaining the same sentiments. The back plaza has a liveliness and welcome. In fact, many gatherings happen in front of this art.
Out on the front face corner is a large sculpture by the de la Torre brothers (Jamex and Einar), “COMMTRON 2000 “, a 16 foot tall robot. Not just any post ww2 toy robot, but one that is clad in carved stone with a cross between Mayan glyphs and contemporary image. What? So picture this classic Mayan profile of a guy who is watching TV, like that. “COMMTRON 2000” has a backpack, gauges, lights and a feeling of forward, innocent movement. The optimism of that time gone by is back. We collectively reboot. er robott, pardon me.
There are two plaques that read; “Everything good that has happened to me is a direct result of helping others” Danny Trejo, Actor and “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together” African Proverb. They are on a wall that complements the student work and then there is something else. There is a keyhole shape cut through the wall. Kids go through it and when they do, their entire dimension changes, they become tiny. Their mothers see it too, by the exuding joy. Okay, so maybe it’s the joy of doing laundry, which is really close by. Mums sit on what looks like tumbled concrete cubes and wait for the tumble to finish. A flash of orange paint flickers through the cluster.
So then there is also the input from me, Nina Karavasiles, who was technically, the arts consultant. Benches and sidewalk plaques. Safe territory, but here I partnered with an off the shelf bench factory to produce this limited edition bench that sports a stainless steel half moon shape that has a special graphic. Sizable round sidewalk pavers set a stage for the bench images. 8 benches, 25 word phrases. A walking poem if that’s acceptable to say, but the cool thing is that everyone got the chance to vote on both the graphics and the word play. A Facebook voting page was established and accepted the curating votes to mold the neighborhood feel.
BRIDGE Housing, MAAC, MVE+ Partners Architect, Cannon Constructors and Hazard Construction. Project Manager Jeff Williams. Ivy Landscape. Art Consultant Nina Karavasiles
Quilting Bee at Poway Villas
13001 Bowdon Road, Poway, CA 92064 California
Based on the theme of The Quilting Bee, I created this sculpture for the garden. It stresses the importance of honey bees for our future. The top piece moves in the wind on a bearing. The platform is made from 3-Form environmental resin that shimmers in the sunlight (like honey) the honey comb steel is cut to reveal this honey.
A stone motif starts at the front gate (metal with a single rock), pebble mosaics in three places, and metal and stone arches to enter the motor court.
I did a reverse pebble mosaic due to ADA concerns (pebbles cut in half with the flat side up). The imagery in all three locations is of DNA double helixes. I wanted a long term record of what science was thinking about now. The motor court has a cell division.
The arches are metal with the rock held in place with a X. I think the light contrast from the darkness of the motor court to the center of the complex really works with the arches. It was great luck.
Nothing in the Desert
Due to a few friendly nudges, the plaque has been refurbished.
Here are the differences from when it was first installed in 1998:
It was an area of solitude. A place to stop for historic and easy pull out reasons. Now the stone obelisk is surrounded by a government agency. A traveler may glance, but is so focused on passing the area that the obelisk location goes unnoticed. (I believe the desert will shake off this encampment like it does everything else and soon we will be back to desolate again).
I changed the material from plaster to cement-all so it might last a bit longer. I sand blasted rather than cast and used paint to infill.
This is a photo of Elizabeth Hamilton and myself sitting on the bus stop bench of Rosa Parks Memorial Transit Center. I chose this image so I could talk about her involvement. She was the ‘wild card’ professor who called Rosa Parks on the phone and invited her to the campus, at her own cost, so many years ago. It is refreshing to see someone who worked around a heavy bureaucracy to do something so wonderful for the community. Do it.
The life sized photo mural with exemplary students is a permanent feature of this project. The students have a rose over their hearts. For the opening event, I had rose buttons made so everyone could wear Rosa on their hearts. If you want a button of your own, send me an e-mail.
Art is special. Yes, but I would like to talk about the different kind of special that happens when art is in public spaces. Somehow, during the planning, it calls attention to itself, not as a way a viewer might gain insight to thoughts or beauty, but rather as a scary thing. Municipalities are afraid of content. They want to be contemporary and have art because they know they are supposed to, but it seems all they want the content to reflect is the word nice. (public artists know that fiery today -topics do not stand in time unless they are working in a temporary venue). Builders and developers are afraid that someone will get hurt. They rarify the art as something unlike the sharpness of the metal corner of an everyday object. If one were to examine an apartment they would see cords, corners, even the solidness of the floor to be potentially lethal to a child, no, those are normal dangerous items (and I agree), but when you put art within grasp, all levels of demise are put upon the art. I have some examples; I once designed a bed that had some surfaces that were powder coated steel, along with fabric bolsters, but the comment I received was “someone could commit suicide by rubbing their wrists on the metal” death by friction, seems unlikely, would they have thought of someone rubbing their wrists on the kitchen table? Next is a shade sculpture I designed that had rocks, it was nixed because someone could climb on it. What can’t be climbed upon? Could not someone climb on their car? Can we ban automobiles because someone might climb on them? Recently I was asked to modify a wall piece because two pieces of wire extended from it in a casual loop, because a child might shimmy up the wall and with some assistance, get their head behind the loop and strangulate. No concern was placed on the curtain blinds cord that are in every room a child is. What would motive a person to become so creative and self destructive when in the presents of art? Art is special.
Welcome to Nina’s Blog I am quickly classified as a public artist, generally meaning art for the public realm. It is different than a gallery/museum way of thinking. My way of making public art has manifested more traditionally as a site specific sculpture for a fire station. It encompasses some gorilla installations, Some home and environmental designs and most recently many apartment developments. Usually having a theme, like; solar powered, low income, green, educational. Apartment complex art is not interior design. The viewing audience is a hybrid of the general public and private art in a public space. I enjoy the variety.