Saturday, January 10, 2009

Interview by Christine Brenneman in the Marin Independent Journal

Here is an Interview by Christine Brenneman in the Marin Independent Journal in connection with Front + Center at the Headlands Center for the Arts:
Working artist: Pastine focuses on physicality of objects
Christine Brenneman
Posted: 01/07/2009 07:16:07 PM PST

Francesca Pastine's ArtForum series of excavated magazines will be displayed at the Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito.
To hear local artist Francesca Pastine tell it, her artistic life began practically at conception. Her mother and father were both working artists, and her childhood was spent immersed in a milieu of paintings, sculpture, art studios and constant talk of the creative process. Pastine, a multimedia artist and painter, now lives and works out of her home in San Francisco's Mission district. There, she creates paper-based sculpture and realistic paintings, often using ordinary materials in her artworks.

This month, Pastine and 19 other California artists will be featured in a group exhibition, "Front + Center," at the Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito.

Each participant applied for the center's prestigious artist-in-residence program for 2009; though these applicants did not get the residency, their work was chosen for the annual kickoff exhibition, which showcases up-and-coming artists in a variety of visual media.

Four pieces from Pastine's ArtForum series of "excavated" magazines will be on display.

Q: There's an overarching theme in your work of calling attention to the physical nature of your materials - whether you're painting shopping carts used by the homeless, cutting snowflakes out of the New York Times or chopping into an ArtForum magazine. Can you talk about why that's important to you?

A: In those specific bodies of work, I wanted to work with things that were immediately at hand. I'm interested in the physicality and materiality of objects:
the object-ness of the shopping carts, for example, the piles of things, the ways in which they were covered and piled with blankets. That theme runs through, wanting to deal with what's at hand, things that I'm engaged with on a daily basis. With both the ArtForum and the New York Times, I like how the pages feel, and all those little peripheral marks on the edge of the pages. I'm interested in all of these things as physical objects.

Q: The hand of the artist, and clear evidence of that,
Francesca Pastine's ArtForum series of excavated magazines will be displayed at the Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito.
seems paramount in your work. Why?

A: I was very inspired by the women's art movement of the 1970s, which emphasized craft. I got into paper-cutting and paper crafts, and I liked cutting into them and trying to have the trace of my hand in the actual object. This brings the viewer to the present, into a richer experience of seeing. The viewer can have an embodied, visceral experience with the physical act of making when I bring that aspect forth. That's the reason I don't want to laser-cut them.

Q: Can you talk about the pieces you'll have in the "Front + Center" show?

A: There will be four of my ArtForum works (in which she cuts into the venerable art magazine). I consider them an archeological excavation, a dig. I'm digging through the current history of art making and stripping it and exposing it in a physical way, not an abstract way. The reason I was attracted to them was that they are square-shaped. A rectangle represents a portrait or landscape. But with a square, your eye kind of stops, it reads more as a real object.

Q: You teach art at the college level, and have done so for much of your career. How does that feed back into your own art practice?

A: I think it's important to get back to the fundamentals of art, to touch base with that all the time, so that you don't get too far into the conceptual realm. Through teaching, I go back to the reason that art's exciting for me in the first place. It's really gratifying to open up the possibility and potential of art on all levels. People get so much out of this experience; it's gratifying to see how people connect with creativity.

Q: What's your favorite color?

A: That I don't have - but I do love orange.

Q: What is your most prized art possession?

A: The art I have that was made by my parents.

Q: What's the most inspiring thing you see daily?

A: My first cup of coffee.

Q: What one word best describes you as an artist?

A: Dedicated.

Q: What you would do if you didn't make things?

A: There's really nothing else I can do. I'm hopeless at anything else.


What: Front + Center, a group exhibition guest-curated by Kimberly Johannson with featured artists: Francesca Pastine, Tamara Albaitis, Brice Bischoff, Todd Bura, Matty Byloos, Ajit Chauhan, Joshua Churchill, Lori Esposito, Mayumi Hamanaka, Taro Hattori, Rachel Mayeri, Jennie Ottinger, Erik Parra, Alison Pebworth, Tara Tucker, Paul Urich, Lindsey White, Noah Wilson, Mary Elizabeth Yarbrough and Ayelet Zohar.

Where: Headlands Center for the Arts, 944 Fort Barry, third floor, Sausalito

When: Noon to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and Sundays, Jan. 18 through Feb. 22. Public performance and reception Feb. 8, time TBA.


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