AMBACH & RICE is pleased to announce a summer group exhibition highlighting artists from Creativity Explored, a San Francisco non-profit visual arts organization founded in 1983 where adults with developmental disabilities create, exhibit and sell their artwork. The exhibit will feature sculpture, painting and drawing by Peter Cordova, Ricardo Estella, Camille Holvoet, Andrew Li, Jose Nunez, Thomas Pringle, Evelyn Reyes, and Gerald Wiggins.
Located in the Mission neighborhood of San Francisco, Creativity Explored is a refuge of artistic energy. The open loft like setting serves as a hive of productivity. Artists diligently work side by side at open tables with a degree of urgency and sincerity rarely encountered in the art world. Guest artists are invited to host workshops that introduce the organization’s participants to various mediums and studio practices to further expand their means of expression. Each artist possesses a highly personal and idiosyncratic approach to art making which is fostered and validated by the organization. Creativity Explored challenges the perception of adults living with developmental disabilities by showcasing the range of humor, vision and insight inherent in their individualized art practices. The program further instills confidence and independence in the artists through the exhibition and sale of their artwork. Exhibitions organized at Creativity Explored’s public gallery provide a forum that enables the artists to directly contribute directly to and directly engage with their community. The seven artists in the exhibition range from figurative painters like Thomas Pringle and Andrew Li to the hard-edge abstractions of Evelyn Reyes. The exhibition avoids conceptual and aesthetic themes to instead provide a small overview of some of the tremendous work being produced at this visionary organization.
Peter Cordova (b. 1966) draws on images from his birthplace in the Philippines or his abiding interest in Native American culture. Cordova uses ink and watercolor to create detailed glimpses into various aspects of these ways of life. Within his artwork everything is permitted, from carefully delineated tools and instruments to accurate yet stylized depictions of topography, so that the completed composition emulates an eyewitness account. "I want to speak for myself through my art. I try to share my heritage with other people." The weight of his line varies to emphasize the important aspects of his complex compositions, but Cordova states "Your art doesn’t have to be perfect all the time. I like the hard ones, the difficult lines."
Ricardo Estella (b.1951) was raised in the Philippines. He is an accomplished artist and credits much of his inspiration to his father who taught him how to paint and sculpt as a child while living on the island of Luzon. He traveled to the United States in 1973, and created art at Creativity Explored from 1996 to 2006. Estella began working at Creativity Explored again in 2010. He has also been struck by lighting.
Camille Holvoet (b. 1952) tends to draw on remembrances of life’s anxieties and forbidden desires. Her luscious oil pastel drawings of cakes, pies, and pastries are an expression of her relentless introspection. Holvoet’s process is an endless discovery, in which—through the repetition of her sacred objects: dessert, Ferris Wheels, and crossed eyes—the pressures of the past are relieved by the joy of the creative process. She will definitely have her cake and eat it too. Fittingly, Recchiuti Confections, one of Creativity Explored’s community arts partners, chose her drawings of cakes to adorn their 2011 Artisan Series of gourmet chocolates, while CB2, another arts partner, chose her work as the basis for a large limited edition print.
Andrew Li (b. 1965) is a true product of his native Shanghai. Li’s most frequent subject matter is cityscapes, machines, and groups of people. These subjects, like the artist himself, are almost always in motion, moving through cities rendered with a precise, selective attention to detail and perspective. There is little distinction between the form and content of Li’s work. All aspects, from ink-splattered process to finished piece, are integrated. What emerges encapsulates how the eye reads the urban environment; how it latches on to certain details and summarizes others, how it makes sense of all the dizzying activity encountered on a busy street.
Jose Nunez (b. 1945) in El Salvador and moved to California in 1996. Shortly thereafter, he began making art at Creativity Explored’s studio in San Francisco. The flora and fauna of his beloved El Salvador occupy a large portion of his attention. The stroke used to delineate the shapes of his objects is simple, assured, and perfectly controlled. Often these subjects are repeated, or elongated, to fill the picture plane, giving his work a complex graphic arrangement. Hints and washes of color are added to punctuate and accent the strength and delicacy of his line.
According to Thomas Pringle (b. 1941), he got his first job at 1 years old picking fruit from trees. A few months later he was paid for collecting rattlesnakes in a sack, and a year after that he became the youngest fighter pilot in WWII. Once, he threw a line off Pier 39 and caught a shark using bits of squid as bait. To top it all off, at the age of nine he heroically, and safely, crash-landed an airplane into a large sandbox at a children’s playground. No children were harmed. Life is how you tell it, art is what you call it, and Pringle states, “What I see is what I draw.” But how can you trust a fabled raconteur like Thomas Pringle? You look at his work, and listen to what it tells you. His line is true; it is honest. The erasures of its early attempts are in plain sight. He’ll leave the three tries at an eye’s shape stacked above and below the best one. The multiple versions of a bent elbow move faintly beneath the solidified final choice.
For Evelyn Reyes (b. 1957) daily life mirrors the repetition and order that are central to her art making. All of the component parts of her meals are precisely arranged, then eaten in a deliberate sequence. The recurrence of holidays fills her with anticipation weeks before they arrive. Reverence for each aspect of the process defines her art practice. It begins with the selection of a piece of specifically sized paper. Next, the particular shade of oil pastel is chosen, the forms outlined then filled with a thick impasto. The finished piece is carefully examined, cradled in her arms, and taken to certain cardinal points in the studio. And finally, there is the ceremonial clean up and storing away of the completed work.
“I am not necessarily trying to say something to people with my art. I’m just trying to make them happy, because there is not enough happiness.” So states Gerald Wiggins (b. 1969) on his artistic motivation. He has been making the people happy since 2008, when he joined the Creativity Explored studio. Wiggins uses colored pencil, marker, graphite, and watercolor to create portraits and detailed natural iconography. His portraits are precise and use a sparse, controlled line and careful coloring to convey the features of a rotating cast of figures. Wiggins’ depictions of animal life are stunningly accomplished, precise renderings of creatures ranging from dinosaurs to birds and sea-life. There is always an uncluttered precision in his work, both in its meticulous draftsmanship and composition. Occasionally, key portions of a figure or natural element are left unfinished, or isolated parts are collected together in a single piece; these techniques add layers of mystery and visual playfulness to his style.