|Gay artists Michael Johnstone and Jim Winters shake the raffle jar at the Visual AID benefit. Photo by Rink.
What better place to celebrate Bastille Day than Hotel des Arts, and what better charity for both the arts and AIDS than Visual Aid?! The July 14 event was co-presented by the Alliance Francaise of San Francisco, the San Francisco French-American Chamber of Commerce, and Artnewsextra.com to benefit Visual Aid. On this holiday celebrating liberty and the struggle against oppression, the Hotel des Arts saluted Visual Aidâ€”inviting the public to join them in supporting and empowering artists, whose freedom of expression is a vital cultural treasure.Â
DJ Bustamante spun cool French beats while partygoers enjoyed an evening of art, cocktails, wine, light hors dâ€™oeuvres, and a silent art auction as well as artists Jim Winters and Mr. Tina selling raffle tickets.
The mission of Visual Aid is to encourage artists with life-threatening illnesses to continue their creative work. Visual Aid helps produce, present, and preserve the work of professional artists whose careers are challenged because of a serious disease. The organization serves professional artists from the nine-county Bay Area, providing artists with direct services from art supplies to exhibitions and career development.
The Hotel des Arts is San Franciscoâ€™s newest boutique hotel. Located in the French Quarter, the Hotel des Arts is at the crossroads of Union Square, the Financial District, and the Chinatown Gate. Many of the rooms at the Hotel des Arts have been designed by emerging artists, who have created unique murals and art integrated into the overall design of the space.Â Especially that night, partygoers had the opportunity to tour three new painted rooms at the hotel, which have been done floor to ceiling by local artists. These rooms appear to have been decorated by urban street artists, with a rough feel to them. Some are cartoon-like and all are very avant-garde.
Fun, contemporary artwork was featured in the silent auction, including paintings by David Huffman, Tim Yankosky, Anders Barth, Mitch Confer, Inez Storer, and Roni Feldmanâ€™s â€śSpace of Heavenâ€ť series with acrylics airbrushed on panels. Feldmanâ€™s pieces deal with large spaces viewed from the ground floor looking way up to the top windowsâ€”such as seen at Nordstrommâ€™s, the Getty Museum, and the Guggenheim, for example.
The Hotelâ€™s gallery space was filled with â€śFireworks,â€ť a solo exhibition of oil paintings by French born Visual Aid artist Martine Jardel.Â In these works, Jardel explores abstraction through richly layered color fields of vibrant hues. Jardel describes these works as â€śa process of sedimentation.â€ť Thin layers of paint let the light seep out from within the painting. The effect of color transparenciesâ€”light and darkâ€”helps create a mood or an atmospheric quality that enhances the reading of marks, lines, and colors as loose depictions of elements in nature. These are glowing, jewel-like colors composed of multiple, small, individually painted canvases into loose, grid-like forms.
Recurrent shapes: a tree or a body ? Sky or water ? But ultimately they are but tracesâ€”remnants of images with no fixed identity,,â€ť says Jardel. â€śI like to see my paintings as spaces of ambiguity inviting the viewer to a patient contemplation.â€ť The series â€śMorceaux dâ€™espacesâ€ť consists of groupings of small oil paintings. This process of juxtaposing canvasses that have been painted individuallyâ€”often weeks aparttâ€”facilitates what the artist calls â€śthe questioning and playing with the conventional pictorial sign systems.â€ť It disrupts any intentional symbolism and at times the illusion of spaceâ€™s depth becomes a disorientating force. But ultimately, says Jardel, painting is a dialogue with color.