Susan O’Malley, Be Here Now, You Are Exactly Where You Need to Be and Listen to Your Heart, Rapackiego Square, Art Moves Festival, Toruń, Poland
February 13–April 5, 2014
Reception: Thursday, February 13, 6-8pm
Artist Team Presentations: Wed, April 2, 6-8pm
Kala Gallery’s Barclay and Sharon Simpson Conference Room
2990 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA
Join Kala’s PRINT PUBLIC artists – Susan O’Malley, marksearch (Sue Mark), Swell (collaborative duo Ali Naschke-Messing and design studio ScrapD), and Taro Hattori – for a preview of working materials and plans for their forthcoming public projects. Meet the artists, hear about their upcoming events in the neighborhood, and get involved in PRINT PUBLIC.
PRINT PUBLIC is an innovative place-making project partnering UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design, Department of City & Regional Planning, UC Transportation Center, Kala Art Institute, and local businesses to create art installations, pop-up projects, print kiosks, and innovative acts of culture to activate San Pablo Avenue in West Berkeley. Four artist-teams are developing distinct projects within the San Pablo Corridor, creating an arts-integrated approach to urban planning and community activation.
Swell (collaborative duo Ali Naschke-Messing & design studio ScrapD) presents Well, Being, their first public work together. Swell will ask “What does well-being look like communally? Does demonstrating well-being have an impact?” Silence (in some form) is a practice that supports well-being. It is common to many traditions and it is central to Swell’s Well, Being project. In collaboration with stakeholders of the San Pablo Ave corridor – specifically spiritual and community service groups, Swell/Kala will host semi-monthly silent walking meditations. Part flash-mob, part vigil, part Zen, these walks are investigations into the nature of reality without the usual pomp of ceremony. Meditations will be led by community members; they will frame the shape and character of each gathering. The inner quietness (amidst urban noise) will illuminate the natural and built environments and the historical context of the community to participants and observers alike. As part of the collaboration Swell/Kala will host flag making workshops, introducing participants to printmaking while producing tributary objects to support the project. The flags will serve as route markers and announcements to bring awareness to the walking events and San Pablo Corridor appreciation. The Well, Being project is the experience of communal silence and the discovery of its impact.
Cultural researcher Sue Mark of marksearch is developing Communities’ Crossing: Echoes Along Historic Route 123, an interdisciplinary exploration of San Pablo Avenue’s early history as it transverses Berkeley, Emeryville, and Oakland, CA. Communities’ Crossing uses image and text-based signage along San Pablo Avenue, one of the Bay Area’s oldest existing transit routes, to explore community identity. Mark will translate historic imagery and community stories from this section of the San Pablo Corridor into print-based public interventions. By reaching back to the late 1800s, Mark will pictorialize the area’s influential founding entrepreneurs, their enterprises and society of the time in relation to contemporary gentrification issues. The research and exploration with be shared in phases with the community in these tangible ways: hand-printed collectible bookmarks and a panel discussion at the local public library; ‘human billboards’ carried by dancers and choreographed into a series of improvisational interactions at city limits, crossings, and transit shelters designed to resuscitate pedestrian activities; still and video recordings of the performances as well as project research to form an archival website. This project is also supported by the Oakland City Council and funded by the City of Oakland’s Cultural Funding Program
Susan O’Malley’s Advice from my 80-year-old self will ask a simple question: “What advice would your 80-year-old self give you?” O’Malley will gather this information with volunteers from a neighborhood youth organization through interviews along San Pablo and beyond, from people of all ages. She will also seek to develop relationships with senior communities in the area, such as Berkeley Adult Day Health Center, to engage in this conversation. Excerpts from the recorded interviews will be translated into a series of graphic text posters that will be displayed throughout the community – in storefront windows, schools, public spaces, and if possible, a billboard. A website URL will be included on the posters as well to further contextualize the project.
Advice from my 80-year-old self is a continuation of O’Malley’s interest in people, language and optimism. In many projects she employs simple and recognizable tools of engagement—offering a Pep Talk, staging a debate, distributing flyers in a neighborhood’s mailbox—to offer entry into an understood, and sometimes humorous, interaction of everyday life. “I am also interested in asking this question because I think it’s easy to forget how wise we can be. We resist our internal wisdom because of fear, fatigue, inconvenience or any number of reasons. Hearing other people’s advice reminds me that we are different versions of each other. And sometimes other people’s words magically express exactly what I’m thinking but can’t seem to pull together. While the posters will range from earnest declarations to funny observations, I can only imagine there will be a deepness of experience present in these simple phrases. My hope is that these community-authored public service announcements will reflect back our inner brilliance and perhaps allow a brief space to gently listen to our own advice.”
Taro Hattori’s community engagement commission Swan Songs will combine audio recording and sculpture inspired by, collected within, and displayed in Kala’s immediate neighborhood, where West Berkeley connects with Oakland and Emeryville. For Swan Songs individuals in the community will be asked to recall a song, which someone they personally know, sings or has sung to them in the past. Efforts will be made to approach individuals from various walks-of-life and with diverse ages, backgrounds and ethnicities. These songs will be recorded, along with the personal recollections related to the song. These recordings, along with print material displaying song lyrics and context will be installed at various locations in the neighborhoods along the San Pablo corridor, along with city-scape like sculptures made of corrugated cardboards, also created by the artist.
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