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SEPTEMBER EXHIBITIONS: 8/30 – 9/28

Cannery Suite 104

William Chad Willsie, I AM

Artist Reception September 4, 5:30-7:30pm

William Chad Willsie, I AM

Since 2013, William Chad Willsie has been inspired by the the concept of self expression within a defined subculture. His painting series “I AM” illustrates his explorations of individuals who strive to express themselves through the tattoo and body modification phenomena. Examining the fine line between adhering to a cultural identity and expressing individuality, Willsie documents the extreme actions undertaken by individuals to differentiate themselves while still identifying with a specific subculture.

“There is no absolute method to my madness,” says Willsie. “Each painting is conceived through a chaotic moment, and/or shared experience with the subject.” Beginning with hundreds of reference photos, he limits himself to just one before beginning the life size oil painting. By letting the dynamics of the figurative form dictate the dimensions of the canvas, Willsie allows the subject to assert its irregularity in the finished work.

Canadian born William Chad Willsie earned his BFA in Drawing from Alberta College of Art and Design, then came to Academy of Art University to complete his MFA in Painting. He exhibited at Miami/Basel in 2010 and currently exhibits along the west coast in San Francisco, Portland, and Vancouver, Canada. Willsie currently lives and works in San Francisco.

 

Cannery Suite 108

Yi Shin (Nora) Chiang, Half Empty, Half Full

Artist Reception September 4, 5:30-7:30pm

Yi Shin (Nora) Chiang, Half Empty, Half Full

Nora Chiang’s “Half Empty, Half Full” is a portrait series that examines the critical moment when two opposing emotions coexist in competition, the depiction of an unresolved dilemma as revealed in the facial expression of someone paused at a turning point.

“This ambiguous moment is both optimistic and pessimistic at the same time,” explains Chiang. “There must be times in life when you hit a crossroads. Any kind of decision you make can change your life completely, but there would be no turning back once the choice has been made.” Chiang works exclusively with close friends and family, taking countless photos in preparation before executing a life-size study, then the final portrait.  The figurative paintings represent earlier explorations of a similar theme in which ambiguity is expressed through the suggestion of motion, yet encompasses emotional ambivalence as well. Comparison of the two series provides insight into the maturing of the underlying concept.

Born and raised in Taiwan, Chiang always liked to put colors on paper but had no opportunities for formal art instruction before attending Academy of art University in 2006. Chiang began her studies in fine art but later switched to illustration,  completing her BFA in 2010.  Still feeling a need for more expressive capability, she returned to fine art studies and stayed on to achieve her MFA in Painting in 2014. Her diverse art education has inspired her with an urge to pass on what she has learned. “If I now have any change in my career, I would like to become a drawing teacher for K-12 students; and thus there would be more children to have the opportunities to learn and gain the skills they need in drawing and hopefully cultivate their  knowledge of art.”

Chiang has received numerous awards and participated in several group shows in recent years. “Half Empty, Half Full” is her solo debut.

 

Cannery Suite 110

Martin Aguilar, Before We Met

Artist Reception September 4, 5:30-7:30pm

Martin Aguilar, Before We Met

Placing shadowy figures in stark metaphorical settings, Martin Aguilar stays close to the center of the abstract/figurative spectrum, embracing the freedom of abstract painting while maintaining clearly representational subjects. Back for a return engagement at The Cannery, “Before We Met” picks up where his April exhibition left off. Focusing on the abstract human figure, Aguilar continues to explore his subject, where starkly limited palette and contrasting textures move beyond mere description and into the realm of examination.

“Painting fills me with a sense of accomplishment and integrity,” explains Aguilar. “I approach abstract painting with spontaneity, balancing form, color, and composition in my work.” Seeking above all to convey a sense of calm, the artist employs his figures in unconventional ways. Coalesced from layers of colors and varied textures, the figures are developed rather than drawn. Gestures are reduced to inclinations and movement is minimized into direction; the silhouette shapes quietly assert their form and solidity. Aguilar’s figures command a substantial presence, existing rather than doing, occupying as well as inhabiting their space, and revealing a steadfast insistence in their own validity.

Growing up in New Mexico’s bright landscape, Martin Aguilar developed an appreciation for color and light at an early age. Upon visiting San Francisco and discovering the abstract works of Hans Hoffmann and Richard Diebenkorn, he knew at once that he had found his new home and artistic niche. Aguilar completed his BFA in Painting and Drawing from Academy of Art University in 2010, while exhibiting in numerous group shows and auctions. His debut solo exhibit in April 2014 was part of Academy of Art University’s Emerging Artist Series.

 

Cannery Suite 112

Agnieszka Bernastein, A Moral Code

Artist Reception September 4, 5:30-7:30pm

Agnieszka Bernastein, A Moral Code

At first glance we might be tempted to approach Agnieszka Bernstein’s “A Moral Code” in terms of traditional still life paintings, since they are composed of toys and everyday objects. Further consideration reveals a much more complex dynamic at work. While traditional still life remains calm and passive, these arrangements of toys and objects display an inner vitality that is anything but still.

“I don’t paint toys; I paint Ideas,” says Bernstein. “Unlike traditional still life paintings that depict banal, everyday objects, the toys in my paintings are actors on the stage of abstract concepts.” By suggesting the active potential in inanimate objects, Bernstein infuses them with life and purpose. Rather than highlighting only physical beauty, Bernstein looks deeper in search of narrative, as revealed in the nuanced arrangements where toys and everyday objects seem to spontaneously assert themselves through deliberate tableaux.

Born and raised in Poland, Agnieszka Bernstein moved to the United States in 2001. She recently completed her BFA in Illustration at Academy of Art University, and is now studying at Sadie Valerie Atelier in San Francisco. She pursues a career in fine art painting while working on a graphic novel.

 

625 Gallery

Bonnie Rae Mills, Acquaintances

Artist Reception September 4, 5:30-7:30pm

Bonnie Rae Mills, Acquaintances - Christina

As a photographer, Bonnie Rae Mills strives to present things as they are, not as they could or should be. Her portrait series “Acquaintances” attempts to strip away everything that is not absolutely native to the subject, revealing instead what is genuine, essential, and true. Working with friends, as opposed to strangers, Mills has to overcome familiarity in hopes of catching something alien, the inner struggle between the known and unknown.

“Faces are funny things,” says Mills. “”They move and twitch, each little micro-expression telling a million stories. It can be a little overwhelming.” Mills sees the studio photography experience as a great equalizer, leveling the playing field between creator and muse. “In an empty room there is no hiding behind a pretty sunset or field of flowers. There’s just you staring back at me.”

Bonnie Rae Mills fell in love with photography in high school, and after graduation went to work as a freelance photographer for her local newspaper. It was while covering the Seattle music scene that she decided to make photography her career. She came to San Francisco to attend Academy of Art University, where she graduated valedictorian with a BFA in Photography in 2013. Since then she has worked as a full time photographer, and is currently engaged in a documentary/editorial with “A Better Way,” a local non-profit that strives to aid foster children and families in Alameda and San Francisco counties.

Bonnie Rae Mills, Acquaintances - Rose