We, Wee Children

Maria Kanevskaya is a Russian-born photographer still very much in her youth, specifically twenty-six years old, and only a year into her career as a professional artist. She currently resides in Oakland, CA, and recently got a TV, so she doesn’t have to play Monopoly all the time.

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We, Wee Children

It was a Thursday afternoon, right at the precipice of slanting light. It’s a time when color and hue are saturated, and every side is a good side. Strangers and movement become poetic and slow with shadow silhouette. Downtown Oakland was in brief dance.

I met Maria outside her home studio. She took me through the winding corridors of her building, until we finally got to her personal space.

It was intimate, minimal furniture, but the pieces seemed to be alive. Alive with history, nostalgia, texture, tone, smell, and in all sense sensory memory. It was as if every object in the apartment was a worry stone, riddled with exhaust emotion and decorated signs of use.

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Props from Maria’s sets were scattered in the space.

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“There’s a story,” she began, “I don’t know if there’s a translation in English, but I remember from my childhood…a story, a man, he wasn’t a prince, just a poor guy, he would play a flute and rats would follow him…I got these mice from the Halloween store, I dyed them in white because I thought I would decorate.” But, like many of the things Maria buys from party supply stores, they eventually became part of, if not the inspiration for, her shoot. After the fake mice, “we got live mice too, I thought (the model) would play the flute and they would follow her… but mice aren’t that cool. They were so jumpy and stinky.”

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I asked about her process, both in concept and technical craftsmanship.

“I do a sketch, it looks terrible…the bees, this was the sketch for it”

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She continued, “I found the bees at a toy store. I’m just going to get them and see what we can come up with.” We is a collective reference to her and her declared partner-in-crime Nicole, a professional make-up artist and an imperative part of her artist-cohort. “I’m so lucky (to have them), extremely blessed, I don’t know how it happened.” “So, yeah, I drew a sketch and talked with (Nicole)…she was like, I don’t know what (the concept) is, but I’ll do whatever you want…”

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Maria paused, adjusted her hands, and spoke louder, “We are like children, we want to play all the time. I’m 26, but I feel like I’m 15.”

It became clearer and clearer, as I talked with Maria, that her artistic process was about finding and happening. It was once considered that genius was exterior to the self, in Latin roots, genius (verb form: gigno, genui, genitus) was tied to guiding spirits and tutelary deities. Creativity would, sort of, descend via epiphany onto a person. Inspiration was a ghostly given. I have no doubt that Maria Kanevskaya’s talent comes from within, but because she is, self-described as new and awkward, ideas, images, concepts consistently surprise her. For her, she is just beginning to speak with passion.

“Sometimes I look at my pictures and I can’t believe I created them.” “For my self portrait, I was alone at home. I had this beautiful dress…I took three shots.” “The subject was more about the rose and the photo. It was the first flower my fiancé, boyfriend at the time, gave me. He found that photo in a thrift store…on the back was George, his name is also George…it was mystical.” “Things were so fast, in the beginning, with him. I wasn’t using my head…(you should always) follow your heart and the objects around you.”

Even when she first moved to the United States, Maria decisively followed in an effort to understand herself and others. “I didn’t know English before, I decided for myself not to hang out with Russians, only Americans and Internationals.” “Before I would just nod and say yes, I got into a lot of troubles, a lot of adventures because of that. Like that movie with Jim Carrey, Yes Man.”

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Again, her art is inspired by the act of impromptu, finding, whimsy, and reflection. She literally lives, because of her home studio, with her art, pre and post-processing.

“I try to shoot a new concept every week, (though)…I never take my camera anywhere, I never take any pictures outside, I’m too stressed and confused.” Maria’s portraiture is inherently immersive and intimate because she sits, stews, and carefully sleeps on her ideas and then personally builds the sets for her shoots.

It isn’t all calculated though. She recounted, “we were shooting the photo for the boat, and they were doing makeup, but I was like, “can we stop for a second, I need to glue these butterflies,” then I took two shots and there.”

When I asked her the typical question of how her style was evolving, she said, “…seeing work around me, I get inspired to create something different. Maybe it’s getting more wild…I would like to illustrate books though.” “It’s all personal,” she said, and from her resolve I can only imagine that it will continue to be personal, private, and strictly hers, even if she does expand into a wider sea, whatever sea that may be.

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Interview and Photography by Britt Goh

Maria’s Opening Reception at CROWN NINE will be held FRIDAY, March 1st from 6-9pm.  DJ, Food, and YOUTH BUILD will be present for an inspiring evening.

Event Details and RSVP >>>

This gallery contains 1 photo.

Chilly morning run to start Sunday. #redwoods #inspiration #nature #thisisoakland #oaklandloveit #visitoakland #exhibitoakland (at Stream Trail)

+++THE FIND

The sculptural textiles of Ealish Wilson have developed through her travel,  fascination with a variety materials, architecture, photography and traditional sewing techniques. Ealish combines her inspirations into constructed and deconstructed pieces creating one off textile works.

The work represents a collection of experiences & observations from her daily life and travels.  Although the places are different the natural process of development is always the same, inspiration captured by photographs, sketches and collecting ephemera. Architecture plays a pivotal role within the work.  The juxtaposition of old and new provides intriguing contrasts of texture, ideas for form, shape and colour combinations. Through the computer her collected inspiration is developed and manipulated to create prints which subsequently influence the pleating and shaping of her textiles.

An intriguing aspect of the work is how the eye is deceived through her influencing the fabric texture both physically and creating surface images.  The observer is challenged and captivated.  The viewer initially sees the colours and the surface texture.  Closer observation slowly  reveals an apparent three dimensional image emerging from the two dimensions present.  This creates a depth which suddenly assaults the senses.  All these aspects are combined through smocking and pleating which gives a physical surface texture,then the printing which provides the decoration to render complex and unusual sculpted textiles.

Ealish’s work will be opening FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 7th at CROWN NINE at 9th and Broadway in Old Oakland as a part of Oakland Art Murmur and will run until October 4th.  $35-1600. 

INTERVIEW WITH EALISH WILSON

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Fashion Designer

What are you currently obsessed with?

Dying Cable Ties

What was/is your most unexpected source of inspiration?

I have always looked to architecture for inspiration. I enjoy both the form and scale of all types of buildings. Recently I have started to look more closely at nature through my photography. Taking close up shots highlights a plant’s structure, providing me with new ideas for designs.

What is your favorite tool or process?

Manipulating materials is my favorite process. I start off with something flat such as fabric, paper, leather, etc. Then I manipulate it’s original form to create textures & structure. I use a variety of techniques such as printing, pleating or smocking to name a few.  I also adore the marathon of manipulating large amounts of a material. There is something very therapeutic about being immersed in a process. I like to call them smockathon’s!   

How do you get through a creative rut or block?  What do you do to get creatively re-charged? 

I walk away for a few hours and do something totally different. Walk the dog, pick up groceries, etc. It’s very mundane but this is when I find the solution to a problem. For example dying cable ties. I didn’t want to dye the ends and I couldn’t think how to do it. I pottered about the house for a bit tidying and I put cotton buds in a cylindrical container and there was the solution! 

To creatively re-charge I go to exhibitions, it’s always inspiring to view other artists work. For me travel is the best fuel for my creativity, it opens my eyes. I am always inspired by the color and light in a place. I enjoy returning home too because it makes you look at your daily surroundings differently, for a while at least! 

What creative or business related dream do you wish would come true?

To have gallery representation in Japan. 

Finish this statement:  If I wasn’t an artist, I would be:

A Stunt Driver 

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Ortolan is a design studio founded by Kim Ngo and Jasper Kirsch, a couple based in San Francisco. 

Kim and Jasper both collaborate together on the design and fabrication of each work by bringing their own perspectives to the studio. Kim’s background in Architecture is seen in Ortolan’s subtle yet provocative forms and textures. Jasper’s experience and studies in Industrial Design push the Ortolan aesthetic into innovative directions with his love for technical experimentation.

Ortolan Designs are available online and at Crown Nine | 461 A 9th St | Oakland.  $40-$250.

INTERVIEW WITH KIM AND JASPER

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Jasper: I wanted to be a formula one race car driver.
Kim: I wanted to be scientist, then musician, then graphic designer…all over the place.
What are you currently obsessed with?
Jasper: vintage Japanese motorcycles
Kim: Lately, I’ve been re-obsessed with watercolor paintings. It started with us trying to incorporate watercolor artwork into our wedding invitations. Now I’m hunting for watercolor paintings on etsy to fill up our walls.
What was/is your most unexpected source of inspiration?
Jasper: Although our work may appear rigid, many of our inspirations come from organic patterns…insect wings, water reflections…
Kim: we try to find a balance between simple forms and intricate details.    
What is your favorite tool or process?
Getting creative with unorthodox tools…finding tools around the house to shape and texture metal.
How do you get through a creative rut or block?  What do you do to get creatively re-charged? 
We step away and take a road trip or even a trip to the nursery helps.
What creative or business related dream do you wish would come true?
It would be a dream to create work that inspires other artists.
Finish this statement:  If we weren’t jewelers, we would be:
Bored with our day jobs. Ortolan gives us a creative outlet as well as business experience which in turn inspires our regular office work.

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Jo Boyer is a San Francisco-based ceramicist who creates one-of-a-kind nature and nostalgia influenced works of art.  Each little pod is meticulously crafted, resembling something out of a dream— they are both otherworldly and completely familiar.  They somehow belong everywhere at once: they belong in the trees, under the sea, and in the sky.  Each special little world is absolutely captivating with the mixture of textures and glazes, shapes and holes.  Jo’s unique and lovingly-created works are beautiful additions to any home.  

You can see a collection of Jo’s work at Crown Nine in Old Oakland or online.  $65-$200.


INTERVIEW WITH JO BOYER

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

       
I’m always amazed thinking about this question because I’m actually “being” what I’ve always wanted to be. Since the age of 5, I’ve known I want to be a ceramicist. My Opa, who was a ceramicist in the Netherlands before immigrating to the U.S., died when I was 5 and though I can’t prove it, I think maybe his passion for ceramics must have left his body and found mine. I was always really obsessed with him and his creations and though I don’t have many clear memories of actually spending time with him, I have had this very romanticized understanding of his life and struggle. His dream was to immigrate to the United States and start up his pottery business here, but what actually ended up happening was that he worked as a school custodian and never touched clay again. Though I know he had other things that brought him joy, like family and fishing, it’s always made me sad to think that he never got to do what he dreamed of doing. Maybe a part of me thinks I’m here to carry out his legacy. But, then again, maybe I’m a bit of a romantic. 

What are you currently obsessed with?

 I’m currently obsessed with the unknown
 
What was/is your most unexpected source of inspiration?
My newer work with ravens was inspired by a really intoxicated, unnervingly clairvoyant gay man who walked up to me at a club and told me things about myself that only I know and then proceeded to tell me more things I had yet to know about myself. 


What is your favorite tool or process? 
I live for throwing porcelain on the wheel! It is the most amazing feeling in the world. It took many years for it to feel so incredibly good but now it’s the most consistently gratifying thing that I do (that scene in “Ghost” makes a lot of sense) After throwing the forms on the wheel,  my process then involves  altering and texturing them with a needle tool. Besides my hands and the wheel, the needle tool is the only tool that I use. This part of the process is very meditative for me. 

How do you get through a creative rut or block?  What do you do to get creatively re-charged?
 

I haven’t had a creative rut or block for a while now and I feel very fortunate for that because they are undoubtedly one of the most frustrating, unsettling and disorienting aspects of life. And yet, they ARE a part of life and seem to always turn into a good opportunity for for me to learn about my own neurosis. Usually once I come to terms with them being a purposeful part of the process, I am able to get through them. 

 

What creative or business related dream do you wish would come true?

My current dream that I’m working on making a reality is to have my own live/work studio with exposed brick and a large retail window in the front where people can get a glimpse of what ceramic art involves. My dream is to create and sell and live in the one space. 
 
Finish this statement:  If I wasn’t a maker, I would be: A marine biologist or a WNBA basketball player.

+++THE FIND

Fresh out of an intensive master’s degree program at the Savannah College of Art and Design, Alexis has built a line that is both beautiful and meaningful.  Alexis is inspired by the love of all things lively; nature, movement, music and dance and expresses these qualities using the body as the free-form canvas.  Alexis uses traditional techniques with innovative designs frees Lexiebec to connect the two worlds.  The Lexiebec passion is to create uniquely handcrafted one-of-kind adornment.

Crown Nine now carries a small collection of her work in a few series, some hand died leather, pieces from her shark collection, and four of her large scale statement pieces that are absolutely fascinating.  $65-$250.  Buy Online or visit us at 461 A 9th St | Oakland.

+++ INTERVIEW WITH ALEXIS REBECA TURNER

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

As a child it was a toss up between a maid and an artist. I wanted to be a maid because I loved to clean. I was extremely detailed oriented to the point of making sure the rug fringe was separate and straight. Jewelry is a blend of both when you think about it.

What are you currently obsessed with?

The three things I am always obsessed about are kombucha, shoes and jewelry.
I love to walk and make. Right now the wedge shoes especially the sneakers and hidden wedge are super fresh. I found this shoe company 80%20, the concept is that you wear 20% of your wardrobe 80% of the time, the company designs only that special twenty percent.  The tag line really resonates with my lifestyle as well… ”CeCe designs shoes as “tools” to wear while pursuing your dreams.”

What was/is your most unexpected source of inspiration?

Communication is my most unexpected source of inspiration. Conversation is a big part of my life. I love to chat especially with random people at the laundry mat, grocery store or post office. The simple but meaningful interactions always seem to create inspirational pictures in my mind.

What is your favorite tool or process?

Anything with fire and heat! Lost Wax Casting is probably number one.

How do you get through a creative rut or block?  What do you do to get creatively re-charged? 

The creative rut, I like to cook and garden. Taking a trip to a farmers market or nursery helps re-charge. The arrangement of the plants, fruits and veggies inspires the jewelry components and colors. The cooking/cutting/digging grounds and soothes my diminishing energy. I just keep it moving!

What creative or business related dream do you wish would come true?

Both the creative and business dream is to live/work/sell on both the West and East coast. I would like to keep studios in both areas and enjoy the freedom of moving from one to the other. I love the energy of both coasts.


Finish this statement:  If I weren’t a jeweler, I would be:

Wow, I am not sure. Perhaps something to do with nutrition and exercise or, I guess I could straighten fringe rugs.

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Featured tomorrow at our First Friday opening reception is San Francisco based fine artist, Michelle Tholen.  The artist draws inspiration from the natural landscapes of Northern California—we connected with her charcoal works, a collection of scenes that are dreamy and stark.  She brings out the ethereal and evokes a sense of place, real or imagined, playing with contrast and emotion without fussing or overworking her pieces.  

Michelle’s pieces are created to bring form to her inner world. “During a difficult time in my life, I experienced a moment in nature that brought me the greatest joy,” says the artist. “On a dark and cloudy day a small opening in the sky enabled the light to escape and reflect upon a small body of water below a mountaintop.  Beyond luminescent that singular spotlight brought meaning to a dark time in my life.     In this dark time I had discovered light.  I understood that life was a mirrored reflection of nature’s ups and downs and that without darkness there could be no light.   One existed because of the other.   Both bound together. ”  



When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?



When I was a kid I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up.  I lined my stuffed animals, including Dad when he wasn’t busy working in front of a chalk board that resided in my closet.  As teacher, I read stories, taught math, science and English to my make believe students.   When I was ten I started teaching the neighborhood kids school.  I taught them performance art and crafts.   Family and friends gathered for scheduled performance shows that I curated.  Everyday mom would encourage me; “Michelle someday you are going to be a teacher”.   



What are you currently obsessed with?


I am obsessed with playing cards.  I am addicted to the unending challenge and strategy, winning or losing.

What was/is your most unexpected source of inspiration?


Automobile paint color.  Driving to my climbs in search of inspirational rays of lights, clouds and rivers I was surprisingly inspired by colors of cars on the road and consider how I might incorporate that car color into my painting.  

What is your favorite tool or process?


A camera is my favorite tool.  The creation from a camera is instantaneous seemingly a breeze compared to the hours spent working with paint and it’s slow process.

How do you get through a creative rut or block?  What do you do to get creatively re-charged? 


To get through a creative block I force myself to “start” if only just applying paint brush to canvas.   I try to imagine an idea and break it down to it’s simplest form such as color or sketch.   I use this to-do list or formula to get through a creative block.  Thinking about the steps rather than fear in the uncertainty and apprehension of creating a ground breaking new art.


What creative or business related dream do you wish would come true?


My dream is to create, promote, sell and share art.  Supporting and sharing my art and other artists’ work gives me great satisfaction.   As an art adviser, I desire to help patrons find tastefulness in what they love while providing artists a bridge to sell.

Finish this statement:  If I wasn’t an artist, I would be:


A residential interior designer.  I enjoy simplifying arrangements that open up a space that emphasizes quality not quantity and provides for an environment of positive thought, movement and visual stimulation.


+++THE FIND

Just voted Best Artist 2012 by the East Bay Express, Oakland based maker John Casey is powerhouse of talent.  His mostly pen and ink work mixes beautiful yet disturbing motifs of distorted self-portraiture, over-sized hands, flowers, and tangled and labored little creatures.  Casey explains the one of his favorite descriptions of his work, ”as ‘little exorcisms’… The idea that I expel my inner demons in the form of drawn, painted, or sculpted critters appeals to me.” 

“In my work I see beings that are both powerful and powerless. They struggle with their ugliness and debilitation but are also somewhat at peace with it. I see a tension within these characters, and when two or more are juxtaposed together that tension only increases. The result may evoke a burst of laughter or yelp of fright.” 

“You’re either a genius or completely nuts.” — John F. Casey, Sr. [my dad]

John is also a lover of beers and can often be found savoring rare brews at local favorite beer meccas The Trappist and Beer Revolution.  He created the label for the Evil Twin Wet Dream brew, and he has designed shirts for The Trappist.

John is a fellow artist with Kate Ellen at The Hive Studios in Jack London Square, and shows some of his original pencil artwork and two books at Crown Nine.  

1. Flapper       2. Picnickers     3. The Phone Call      4. Icarus       5.  Target Practice  6.  Peter Moss         7.  Scarecrow Book       8. Monument




+++ INTERVIEW WITH JOHN CASEY



When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A police officer like my father. But since I could draw, I sort of always knew I would be an artist. It wasn’t until I was older, did I understand what that meant and entailed. 


What are you currently obsessed with?

Archery occupies some of my free time these days. I wouldn’t call it an obsession per se, more of a relaxing hobby. I have been reading Adrian McKinty’s Irish gangster books. 


What was/is your most unexpected source of inspiration?

Flowers. I’ve always been drawn to the dark and visceral so I never imagined flowers could be so interesting to draw, so expressive. 


What is your favorite tool or process?

I’ve fallen in love with my battery-powered eraser. I use it like a pencil in heavily rendered areas of my work. The subtractive process becomes additive, the negative the positive. 


How do you get through a creative rut or block?  What do you do to get creatively re-charged? 


I clean my studio and organize my materials. If I’m still blocked, I go for a walk. 


What creative or business related dream do you wish would come true?


I’d like to win the SECA award, show in prominent galleries in New York and Chicago, and have a show at the SFMOMA. 


Finish this statement:  If I wasn’t a maker, I would be:

A nurse, like my mom. 

This gallery contains 1 photo.

ARTISTIC INSPIRATION: RADIOLAB A question I like to ask other artists, is what is your most surprising source of inspiration?  For me, I get inspiration from all kinds of sources— nature, music, industrial shapes and tools… but the most inspiring … Continue reading

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MEET A JEWELER

Amanda Bassolino’s San Francisco based jewelry line Voce Keen is one of the select few we have curated and featured at Crown Nine; her beautiful and relevant work is truly exceptional.   As a metalsmith and dancer, Amanda brings a lifelong passion for art, performance, and the creative process to her designs.  Voce Keen is the culmination of her experience exploring the connection between art and sentiment and it’s evolving aesthetic revolves around her belief that jewelry can carry memories, energy, and magic. With this in mind, each piece is created to not only adorn the wearer, but to also create a unique bond with them.

What we love the most about Amanda’s work are the layers of soft, natural texture and the simple and thoughtful engineering behind each piece.  We love how steeped in mysticism and symbolism her work is; even though she uses tried and true symbols and shapes such as the serpent, pyramids, talons, and teeth, she somehow makes them entirely her own.  Women who are drawn to Voce Keen tend to have a range of personal styles, but share a common quality of a penetrating confidence and a deep-thinking & feeling nature.  

Crown Nine carries a range of her work in bronze and sterling silver, and can also be found in our online shop.

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++++ INTERVIEW WITH AMANDA BASSOLINO

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?  
A Ballerina…and I was!
What are you currently obsessed with?
The book “Women Who Run With the Wolves” by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.  It’s inspiring my next collection. 
What was/is your most unexpected source of inspiration?
Loss of a loved one
What is your favorite tool or process?
Wax carving
How do you get through a creative rut or block?  What do you do to get creatively re-charged?
I read or go camping
What creative or business related dream do you wish would come true?
One of my favorite musicians photographed wearing my jewelry
Finish this statement:  If I wasn’t a jeweler, I would be:  
A dance teacher