Tag Archives: San Diego

Artist Feature: Nichole Speciale

We connected with San Diego-based visual artist Nichole Speciale through our friend Andrea Harris. Nicole goes in on Reflection and Response, detailing the graphic representation of these processes in her piece Repeat After Me, focusing on the interaction of various surfaces and mediums. Additionally, she delves into her fabric work, On Gravity, which provides two different viewing options that each inform the other to provide a complete understanding of the piece for the viewer. This is a visual artist that practices ill artistic and multimedia expression and we’re juiced to have her words and pieces represented as part of the LIFESTYLE Collective below!

Nichole Speciale

I’ve had this ongoing project called Repeat After Me, which is about considering the plane of the canvas or the paper as a closed system, and as soon as a mark or shape is made in an art material another reflection or translation of that shape is made in thread.

– Nichole Speciale

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

NS: I am originally from Boston, MA and about 3 years ago, I moved to San Diego to go to graduate school, which I am currently finishing up.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

NS: I would have to say that my practice is largely based on this concept. I’ve had this ongoing project called Repeat After Me, which is about considering the plane of the canvas or the paper as a closed system, and as soon as a mark or shape is made in an art material another reflection or translation of that shape is made in thread, which becomes a more difficult task because to make a shape composed of straight lines you have to move back and forth through the plane of the paper or canvas.

I have also been doing an ongoing project with a flutist where we have a continuous feedback loop where I’ll reflect on the music she has played and respond through the making of an object and then she will reflect on my work and respond musically. So, to define the terms for myself – I would say that Reflection is a process of seeing/hearing and then internalizing only to turn back to the original occurrence and present your own version, much like holding up a mirror to the original act. Response is something delivered that does not have to emulate the original, but can carry a thread of the original with it in the returned action.

Repeat After Me (in Response to Rachel Beetz, flutist)

Repeat After Me (in Response to Rachel Beetz, flutist)

How does your work fit in with that definition?

NS: I’ve included a drawing from the Repeat After Me series, which I touched on in the my last answer, and have included my piece On Gravity, which is a two-sided work on stretched fabric made with sewing pins and nails. I feel this work fits in with this definition in that you can only take in one side at a time, while knowing that both images exist at once. And in viewing each side you have to consider the other to make sense of the whole piece.  The front of the canvas creates one impression with subtle color changes and soft textures and in response, or maybe an inverted reflection, the back side with the colored heads of the pins is like a bejeweled surface, and is surprising, but can only be surprising because of the reverse side.

On Gravity (front)

On Gravity (front)

On Gravity (back)

On Gravity (back)

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

NS: I have been collaborating with a different musician than the one I mentioned earlier and we have been making ‘sound paintings’ where we embed speakers in stretched fabric or canvas to extend the surface of the painting via sound. The one I am currently working on is about 5.5’ x 3.5’ stretched canvas and I have been sewing 2 large coils of speaker wire onto the surface. We’ve got magnets that turn those coils into speakers. So we are working on figuring out what sound should be coming from that piece… very exciting.

Pie from Scratch - In progress (speaker wire and thread on canvas)

Pie from Scratch – In progress (speaker wire and thread on canvas)

Who or what inspires you?

NS: I am very inspired by investigation of the universe. So I will often read things by Carl Sagan or Neil deGrasse Tyson or Brian Greene. I also love watching NASA TV or poking around on their website. I also get really excited by 80s and 90s art that looks like it was the product of AV club, like Gretchen Bender or Nam June Paik.

Is there anything else you would like the Collective to know?

NS: Hmmm… Well, I recently learned that wasps basically make their nests from paper maché… how cool is that! They started it!

Shout out to…?

NS: Andrea Harris for suggesting me to the collective!

And my music collaborators: Curt Miller and Rachel Beetz!

Redshift Blueshift (ball point pins on speakers)

Redshift Blueshift (ball point pins on speakers)

Check out more of Nichole’s artwork on her website: http://nicholelizspeciale.com/home.html

Reflection and Response.

 

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Artist Feature: Matthew Potter

Matt Potter is a creative writer who grew up in Kentucky and Virginia before settling into San Diego, California. He reminds us that, as artists, we should try to avoid forcing our messages, and instead try to communicate our perspectives in clear ways. Matt also argues that reflection on both positive and negative responses is beneficial to artistic growth, and that past artistic pieces can serve as snapshots of captured Reflection and Response. Woven in throughout the interview below, Matt provides dope perspectives, scenes, and imagery in his poems ColleteCasey’s Last Bat, Night NoisesThe Day Timothy Died, and Three Thoughts on New Orleans. Check it!

Matthew Potter

It is important to reflect on both the negative and the positive responses. Both are going to drive you and hone your craft.

– Matthew Potter

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

MP: Well, I am an Army Brat, so I bounced around a little. Not as much as some, though. I was born in Fort Knox, Kentucky, but spent my formative years in Newport News, Virginia. I’ve been in San Diego, California for the last thirteen years. I was only supposed to be here a year, but California has a way of dilating time.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

MP: In writing, I take it to mean reflection in your own work, or the reflection of others on your work. Often, it takes someone else’s reflection and response to initiate your own. I think as a young writer, it is extremely hard to self-edit (for an old writer too), because you try to put a piece of yourself in that work, and when it doesn’t sync with someone then you want to dismiss them.  When I read my own, or others’ work I ask myself, “What is this trying to tell me?” Not just on the surface but on a deeper level. The point of all art forms is to communicate, so you want the message to be clear. When a poem or story doesn’t work, often the writer’s message is muddled, and the same when my work doesn’t work for others. The best advice I received was from a Creative Writing professor in college. She told us “You can’t jump out of the page and tell your reader, ‘No, you’re not getting it! I meant you to read it this way!’” So, I try to approach everything in that manner, even work e-mails. Granted, there are going to be times where you and your reader are just on different trips, and that same piece will resonate with so many others.

I think it is important to reflect on both the negative and the positive responses. Both responses are going to drive you and hone your craft. Also, I think it is important to go back to old pieces. I have come across pieces I have written years ago, that I thought were great, and came away thinking, “God, did I write this existential piece of crap?” But I won’t throw them away. It is like having a time capsule of your very specific thoughts at that moment.

On a personal level, I probably spend too much time reflecting. It is easy to get caught up in the past and believe you should have done something different. As Jack Kerouac said, “Accept loss forever.” But having said that, I think it is important to take a little time to reflect on your mistakes so you learn from them.

Collete

Oh how I long for a thin-legged French girl named Collete. She would take long drags of her cigarette. Shoot a stream of smoke pushing it through the air, as she rolled her cold black eyes toward a paint-chipped ceiling–exhaling all the stupid things I just breathed into her.

And when she was mad she would huff and stammer in French as she kicked my empty wine bottles across cold wooden floors. She would always be in bed before me, and I would lie on top of the sheets beside her–staring up at our paint-chipped universe alone. Watching Paris spin around me.

And in the morning the sun would breath through pale wind-rustled curtains as shafts of light pry our eyelids open. She would roll over and bury her head in my chest, and we would lie there for an eternity as I engulfed her long dark hair.

How does your work fit in with that definition?

MP: Probably one of the hardest things I find in writing is to have a title that fits your piece, but doesn’t give so much away to your reader. This is probably why I title my pieces after I have written them. It is reflection during the creative process. Occasionally, a title will come to me and I’ll build on it, but it is not the norm. I want to set the tone or a mood with the title, without telling the reader exactly what [the piece] is about. Some of the best poems I have read, Charles Bukowski immediately comes to mind, are ones that have me go back to the title after I have finished reading the poem, and find that the titles are one-line poems themselves. The good ones always make you have that first sip of coffee reaction (the “mmmm. . .” effect). I would love it if my titles could have that response on my readers. I think it is a bit of a cop-out to have too many of your works untitled or have the title be the first line of the poem. Not only for your readers, but for yourself in not reflecting on your piece before you send it off.

Casey’s Last Bat

Every spring, in Havana, when the sugar cane stalks became thick and green

and America still held such promise,

the Dodgers would knock the red clay dust from metal spikes.

Hemingway would breath in the salt soaked air and

run rumrunners down a thick bearded sun burnt throat.

He and Casey would decide who the

Heavy Weight Champion of the World was that night.

Maniacal roar of the home team crowd,

pleading of a Hemingway’s wife,

“Life should be different than this.”

Genius soaked in alcohol and pain,

but he held her tight on warm spring nights

and told her that life was beautiful and worth fighting for.

Shared drinks would bleed into morning,

day’s tomorrow would begin again.

And when October winds had whipped

the baseballs clear of the diamond fields,

Casey’s glove, beaten and worn‐‐sad with the past,

lay stored in an unmarked box in the dark closet.

Casey gathered his strength and lifted not a bat,

but a shotgun and calmly put the barrel to his throat.

Hemingway said, “He did it like a man.”

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

MP: I have several poems that have been published here and there. I would like to get a collection published. Either a chap book or a complete collection. I’ve found it difficult to gather the ones I wish to see published in a collection and come up with a title for that collection. I would say the majority of it is making the time to make it happen. I certainly use the excuse of life’s minutia getting in the way.

Night Noises

You start to hear everything after midnight

in the middle of the week maybe,

when the summer air is thick and heavy.

The buildings are still.

Breeze pushes trees-rustle of leaves,

loud whispers in the night.

Lonely birds that sing at 2 am,

just when you thought everything was asleep.

The hurried scatter of gravel as the cat rushes through,

chasing a cricket or the moon.

 

I focus on my breathing, as if hearing it for the first time.

Thinking about every molecule rushing in and out of my mouth.

Squeaking protest of the bed as I try to get comfortable.

The refrigerator suddenly awakened-hums itself back to sleep.

The faucet that rains tepid drops–pling, pling, plop.

A stray car’s tires rolls across cool asphalt.

And somewhere in the dead streets and abandoned beaches

a barbaric yawp tears through the night,

as morning starts to awaken the rest of the world.

Continue reading

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Feature: Keenan Hartsten

For this week’s installment in the Feature Series, we’re honored to present one of our true inspirations: artist Keenan Hartsten. First off, just know that if you’re open to experiencing something new, this one will touch you. The organics of Keenan’s feature are pure and well cultivated—Reflection and Response really gets moving here! It may take a little bit longer to process the energy, but when it hits it’s sure to activate appropriately. You may find yourself off balance at first as it bumps you off the rhythm of the everyday hustle and bustle – don’t sleep though, cause it pounds a direct message—this one packs a big punch. Independence is at the core of the LIFESTYLE movement and the dude Keenan is definitely putting down his indie grind as he creates new spaces and waves in the world. So sit back, kick aside the stress of the week, put on some chill tunes if you please, and digg on his interview along with photos of his various creative endeavors. This one deserves two green-thumbs-up in approval…enough from us though; enjoy and watch it blossom. Peace.

Keenan Hartsten

Reflection and Response is really part of a larger set of processes including absorption/assimilation, digestion, and growth…I feel that to be a well rounded person/artist/liver/lover, you are constantly receiving, receiving, receiving.. especially if you are consciously open to it. I feel like life is there always willing to give, whatever it is that you need to see, hear, think, taste, and ultimately feel…I think that the most interesting thing is the way in which one takes all these seemingly disparate bits and actively responds with whatever is right there, here, now.

– Keenan Hartsten

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

KH: I originally hail from a town in the middle of the state of Oregon named Bend. It was a beautiful place to grow up with an abundance of opportunities to be close to nature… rivers filled with trout, crystal clear lakes, epic mountains, overall a really amazing place to cut one’s teeth. Needing to see new sights and meet new people I moved to San Diego 7 years ago and have worked to make this place feel like home.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

KH: Well, for me Reflection and Response is really part of a larger set of processes including absorption/assimilation, digestion, and growth. I think you could liken it to the act of eating. In order to fuel my body I take in calories through my food consumption. So I’m eating, eating, eating, everyday, all day, chewing, chewing, chewing. Chewing along with saliva, which helps to start digesting the starch in the food, are the first acts of accepting consumable molecules into my body—the first acts of digestion. Once the food is sufficiently chewed, my internal systems start to work by taking those larger molecules and breaking them down into smaller more manageable bits. These manageable bits are then further broken down and ultimately used for their energy potential. I think Reflection and Response are the second and third bits of a trilateral experience of being alive, especially for someone pursuing creative endeavors.

I feel that to be a well rounded person/artist/liver/lover, you are constantly receiving, receiving, receiving.. especially if you are consciously open to it. I feel like life is there always willing to give, whatever it is that you need to see, hear, think, taste, and ultimately feel. For me, the Reflection part of the tertiary equation is that process of digestion; taking these different particles and breaking them down into smaller bits, being present to and appreciating what I have received by letting those things not only come into me but also become one with me. We are given much in life to reflect on and the feedback is always there if I want to look. The Response part of the equation is that process of using what I have taken in and doing something with it. What is interesting for me about Response is that there are all these little bits banging around from all of the time that we are all tapping into. I saw something when I was five, or had a particular experience, only to find that years later in my twenties that experience is still with me and I am responding to it at some level, consciously or not. I think that the most interesting thing is the way in which one takes all these seemingly disparate bits and actively responds with whatever is right there, here, now.

Keenan Hartsten - When To Water

How does your piece When to Water fit in with that definition?

KH: Well, “When to Water” is an installation/exhibition I have up now at my buddy’s coffee shop, the Coffee & Tea Collective. The exhibition is twofold in that I have made an installation on the walls of the space consisting of these floating shelves that accommodate planters which contain all these different variety of plants that work together to create a very crisp, alive essence in the space. The name of the show “When to Water” is very in line with this notion of Reflection and Response. When one is attempting to nurture and take care of a plant, a very important thing to know is when to water. That water is crucial to the energetic functionality of that plant, without it it will eventually wither and die. When you water that plant, the plant is involved in its own version of Reflection and Response: the taking in of that life giving substance to the plant, its cells pulsing with new liquid, and its response in the form of lifting its arms to the sky and driving its roots deeper and further into the soil. The connection between human beings and plants is amazing. There have been countless scientific studies that have pointed to the fact that there is no separation between us and plants; we are both completely sentient beings, and interconnected, affected by our surroundings, in the process of reflection at all times, and responding to all that we are feeling, sensing, etc.

Keenan Hartsten - When To Water

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

KH: I’m also currently working on some large private garden commissions. I really love that, helping people live with more aliveness in their lives.. plants and creativity and all.

Keenan Hartsten Installation

Keenan Hartsten Installation

Keenan Hartsten Installation

Keenan Hartsten Wood Wall Design

Keenan Hartsten Wood Wall Design

Keenan Hartsten Plant Installation

Too, as part of the exhibition I have currently, “When to Water,” I am throwing a musical gathering and making a crazy handmade instrument to be a part of the event. For the instrument, I have been going to thrift stores buying all kinds of kitchenware/utensils that will be transformed into a percussion instrument. Pots, pans, lids, cookie sheets, silverware, cups, dishes, and utensils are all coming together to form this original percussion instrument. For the gathering I am hosting, I am inviting a bunch of talented musicians to come together and play a percussive set on this instrument, them having never played this instrument before, completely improvised. I am really excited to see how this turns out, the way that all these different pieces sound are amazing.. Wish you could be there to hear!

Besides that, I have a line of limited edition clothing, one off clothing I am making called ffiisshh, which can be found at ffiisshh.com. I am taking retro patterned sweaters and cutting them up and remixing them into one of a kind creations.

Keenan Hartsten - ffiisshh sweater

Keenan Hartsten - ffiisshh sweater

Keenan Hartsten - ffiisshh sweater

Who or what inspires you?

KH: I am inspired by much… I think we live in a pretty wondrous world. I am inspired by the hummingbirds that I have been seeing nearly every day without fail. Wow, those little creatures are magic to me! I am inspired by music, always. I am inspired by the people I encounter each day that just seem to be open to connecting, whether through a smile in passing, a quick conversation, or a heart to heart with a friend, sibling, or parent. I know I have talked a bit about this but I am really inspired by plants, I think they are magical and worth being close friends with.

Is there anything else you would like the Collective to know?

KH: That I am proud of what you guys are up to!

Shout out to…?

KH: My mom: Probably first on the list because without her I wouldn’t be half of me.. or me at all in that case!

My dad: Thank you for being a barometer in my life!

My sisters: You always give me room to be but are amazing and supportive.. Thank you!

My roommates: For being great inspiring people to be closely related to.

My Teachers: The many they may be, for helping and encouraging my growth.

Vicken: You’ve been a crystalline example of what a solid man can be in this world.. keep doing your thing and thanks for inviting me into the collective!

Driftwood Wave installation

Reflection and Response.

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the Cove

the Cove. Study of a funky tree at La Jolla Cove in San Diego, CA.

This is a section of one of the many trees there that are all gnarled and twisted up. I think all the unusual forms and shapes are really interesting because they don’t look like “regular” trees. Taking it out of context, like the section here, moves it even further from what “regular” trees are “supposed” to look like. A different outlook, complicating the categories.

Reflection and Response.

V.

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