2018: Year In Review

Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

 
Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

 

Spending these final weeks of 2018 reflecting on what has happened over the past year. I began January engrossed in building out a studio in my garage after leaving my rented warehouse space. Change has basically been ongoing since then; everything about living and working in the Bay Area is tinged with uncertainty. I've reacted by nesting. I bought a desk and put it by the window and smothered it in beautiful books. I purged junk from the closets. I painted over all the awful beige walls in the apartment. I am now a person who buys candles, apparently.

I have taken a deep dive down the rabbit hole of learning ceramics this year, consequently giving less attention to painting. Although, in the spring I did show some paintings. Anna Valdez put together a great show, Reading Between the Lines, at Hashimoto, and it was a real treat to show with friends and artists I admire. Also preoccupying me this year was, strangely, photography. I finally bought a proper camera to document work, but have enjoyed traveling with it and just generally using it as another daily observational tool. After the cinematographer Robby Müller passed away in July, I tried to track down all his films. In particular Paris, Texas and Barfly have spurred me on in trying to take better photographs.

C and I travelled to Annecy this summer for the film festival. Seeing Ce Magnifique Gâteau! there was my art-viewing highlight of the year. The short film Dreamland by Mirai Mizue was also a favorite. Other peak France experiences: swimming out alone in that cold, crystalline, alpine lake, then drying myself out on shore in the warm sun; in Paris, huddled together with friends under the awning of Du Pain et Des Idées eating fresh croissants and looking out onto the rainy streets; walking briskly across town at dusk among the dizzying incandescent lights of the Left Bank. Also curt Parisian waiters, forever.

In autumn, just following the terrible Camp Fire near Chico, C and I spent time in the Pacific Northwest where I thought a lot about rural environs. I took note of the sort of existence older artists have been able to carve out for themselves in the small towns clustered around Seattle. I wondered about our future in Oakland. In Portland I became utterly nostalgic marching around the Alphabet District in the rain with C; all our old haunts, all the new high-rise condos, our old friends, their new kids, everything that's different and the same. All the ways we are different and the same. I was surprised by my own animal energy, hustling to get around, in constant anticipation. Am I one of those abrasive Californians now?

So here we are in late December. Maybe this notebook is another manifestation of my obsessive nesting. It's doubtful that social media is going away any time soon, but I'm beginning to feel the outer limits of its usefulness. Or, put another way, I'm realizing it's incompatibility with the sort of observations I'd like to get down. I don’t remember where I read it, but someone once described social media as like being at a large dinner party where everyone is shouting over one another, competing to be heard but not really hearing anything. The effect, he said, was that he just wanted to stare at his plate and eat his food in silence. I think I’m tired of the noise for now. I need to make a little more room.

 
Still image from    Ce Magnifique Gâteau! (This Magnificent Cake!)    a film by Emma De Swaef & Marc James Roels

Still image from Ce Magnifique Gâteau! (This Magnificent Cake!) a film by Emma De Swaef & Marc James Roels

 
Lake Annecy, France

Lake Annecy, France

 
Experiments with porcelain

Experiments with porcelain

 
Oakland, California with smoke from the nearby Camp Fire

Oakland, California with smoke from the nearby Camp Fire

Various clay experiments in the studio

Various clay experiments in the studio

 
Oakland, California… bye beige.

Oakland, California… bye beige.

 
Photo JournalMeghan Jean