Continuously surrounded by art, I write about my experiences and their influences on my artistic practices. I am a starving artist that spends every minute I can being exposed to as many types of art as possible.

Posts tagged “Berlin

2012: Unpredictable and Exciting

This year has been exceptionally crazy and ambitious for me! I began 2012 by starting to write this blog. Not too sure what I was doing, my purpose was to document my self employment endeavors, encouraged by a friend. Looking back, the things I did this year amaze me. Five years ago, two years ago, or even just this past year, I could not have predicted the directions in which my career has been expanding. It’s an incredible feeling and I love the unexpected opportunities that constantly come up and having the ability to accept them.


Places I traveled to see art in 2012:

  • Fort Worth: Caravaggio and his followers in Rome at The Kimbell, Jan; Lucian Freud at The Modern, September
  • Houston: Moody Gallery, CAMH, Jan; Ai Weiwei Zodiac Heads at Hermann Park, MFAH, CAMH, May; Houston Fine Art Fair, Silence at The Menil, September; Houston Artcrawl, November
  • Berlin: Gerhard Richter Panorama at Neue Nationalgalerie, Hamburger Bahnhof (Museum of Contemporary Art), Berlinische Galerie, Judische Museum, March
  • Budapest: Marina Abramovich Eight Lessons On Emptiness, March
  • New York: Cindy Sherman Retrospective at MOMA; Georg Baselitz, David Lynch, David LaChapelle, & Frank Yamrus in Chelsea; March
  • Austin: West Austin Studio Tours, May; Hybrid Forms, Austin Museum of Art (AMOA), East Austin Studio Tours, November;
  • Marfa: Chinati Open House, October

2012 Art

I had a hard time listing them without going through my blog! That is the most travel I think I have ever completed in one year, ever in my entire life. But I hope it’s just the beginning. All of these trips have introduced me to new artists, new spaces, what is going on in the regional, national, and international art world, and best of all, amazing art. Ranging from major shows that have been written about to discovering many new wonderful artists that are local, I have spent the majority of this year seeing and absorbing as much art as possible. It has brought me much insight and inspiration.

My Travels 2012

However, I didn’t always have to travel out of town to see amazing art.

  • Andy Warhol, Fame and Misfortune at The McNay in April
  • Agosto Cuellar at Artpace in May
  • San Antonio Collects at SAMA in June
  • Governing Bodies at Gallery Nord in October
  • Franc-tober Fest at Bismark Gallery in October

Those are just a few of the highlights and a tiny portion of art that I viewed this year. I attended, as well, the majority of First Thursdays/Fridays, Second Fridays, and Second Saturdays. I would say 8-10 out of 12 monthly events of each. Then there are the additional shows at the numerous artist run spaces in San Antonio, I seem to meet new people/artists on a weekly basis. At least my pile of business cards, that I swear I will organize soon, keeps growing. The exhibitions I am hired to work at have not even been included. This year, that primarily consisted of the Southwest School of Art.

The end of the year brought a lot of mixed feelings for me. With my only regular part time job disappearing, I started to feel depression sinking in. Rejection is always difficult, and I am facing the fact that I don’t have another job lined up. The way I know I felt depressed was because when I would start to discuss all my ongoing projects (as I learned in my online class – never answer with just ‘I’ve been so busy’, be specific), it always ended with “and I don’t get paid for any of that.” I can’t say why I decided to be so revealing, I think some of the stress was starting to unnerve me. Apparently, I needed to vent and I’m glad that I did. The responses were amazing, such as being told that I’m doing a fantastic job, I’m doing things that nobody else is doing, and if I can financially afford to keep going, then do it. Overall, I received a positive response and people telling me they admire what I’m doing. I will always be the first to admit that I fall apart sometimes. The stress can be overwhelming, always believing in what you are doing and feeling confident you are heading in the right direction is not always easy. The trick is to learn how to deal with it, because it will not be ignored.

But I would not trade any of this for anything in the world. While those moods set in occasionally, I know I am the girl in the car dancing and singing as I drive to work most mornings. I have also had a few personal career triumphs this year as well. Seven Minutes in Heaven was quite an accomplishment for my first huge public event, I couldn’t have been happier. Getting my own studio space outside of my house for the first time is something I have been dreaming about for quite awhile now. Biding my time and being patient really paid off – a 1000 sf studio space is pretty fantastic! Shortly after getting my space, I went to the East Austin Studio Tours and the Houston Artcrawl. I couldn’t help notice that I had a larger space to work in than 80% of the studios I visited. Of course, you don’t need to have a huge space to create great art, but it sure is nice to have it! So, do I have anything to complain about? Absolutely not!! The more I think about getting depressed about not making money, I laugh. Who am I kidding? I have been working on installation art pieces that are NFS (not for sale). I really haven’t spent too much time or effort job searching or applying, I have too many projects that I have created on my own to work on. I work on my own terms, and for 70% of the work year, I answer only to myself. I get told regularly that I could do portraits when people see the graphite drawing I did of myself as a student. Yes, I could make some money doing that, but it doesn’t interest me. I am a very lucky girl to have the support of my husband for all of my crazy dreams.

I have also realized I have an interesting audience for my blog. Every single day I have readers from around the world. Of course, the US has the most views, but the list of other countries that have viewed my blog is pretty large, 73 different countries, in fact, since I have begun publishing. I started writing my blog in January, but officially publishing it just 6 months ago in June. My most viewed blog entry this year was about Cindy Sherman in New York, followed by Kreuzberg, Berlin, Chelsea, New York, and Agosto Cuellar, San Antonio.


Concluding my first year of trying to document, well, at least, something about what I do, has been quite interesting. Many things get easily forgotten when trying to write a self employed resume. Am I any closer to creating a good, representational resume? Probably not. But do I have a better grasp on what I am doing and getting better at setting my future goals? Absolutely! I still have no idea where I will end up, and that is half of the excitement. If life where all planned out for you, what would be the point of living it? I will enjoy where the ride leads me, trying to take in all I can. This year has lead me on some great adventures. I just try to take advantage of the opportunities presented to me that fit and so far, that has led me to a pretty happy life. The main lessons I have learned this year are planning ahead and just going for it. My instincts have led me to an interesting place that I know I have just begun to explore. I am so excited for the upcoming year!

Kreuzberg, Berlin: Street Art

The last two days I decided to escape the art of the bourgeois and set off to seek art in the streets.  Heading to the neighborhood of Kreuzberg, I wanted to see where the real people eat, live, and create.  It is a poor community in Berlin, made up of artists, students, and immigrants. Surprisingly, it only takes me one train to get there, and I hop on the U1, starting in the ritzy area of Kurfurstendamn, where I am staying.  I leave behind more than Chanel, stepping into an entirely different state of mind, as I arrive in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Berlin.  It feels worlds away from the posh living of the Ku’Damm, and here the shopping bags are traded for backpacks.  Yet there is an electricity that sparks the air that is notably missing from the polished world of the rich.  The obvious disdain for tourist and money is graffitied everywhere with obscenities on these old, gorgeous, historical buildings.  There is no Starbucks here.

This was an extremely isolated area of West Berlin in the 1970s, quickly becoming one of the poorest.  The area had government regulated rent, which attracted immigrants and artists while keeping the investors out.  This has resulted in the creation of a unique community.  Independent Mom and Pop stores take over, or rather I should say never let any corporations in.  Second hand clothing and vinyl stores, Turkish and Vietnamese small restaurants, and real people – artists and writers, tattoos and piercings, where everywhere.  It was an odd world, another one I didn’t quite fit into.  While I am a starving artist myself, I have always had running water, have had a mortgage for 10 years now, and for the first time, I was actually a little embarrassed to be taking pictures with my iphone.  Here, I am obviously part of the system, something these residents refuse to partake in, existing in their own dream world, creating their own society, and living by their own rules.  Yet, when I head back into Kurfurstendamm, they know there I clearly can’t afford to shop at Louis Vuitton.

I spent two days exploring these streets.  Kreuzberg is like the dark alley most tourists won’t go down, filled with the dangerous unknown.  But while no one is there to welcome you, at the same time no one will bother you either.  I just grabbed a beer and made myself at home.  There is no searching for the street art, it is welcomed by the residents and is everywhere.  The imagery used on the streets differs greatly from what is hung on the museum and gallery walls that you begin to forget here.  Untainted by the traditional ideals –  stenciling, papering the wall, and placing your stickers everywhere are common techniques these artists utilize to spread their thoughts and ideas throughout Berlin.  My exploration took me deeper into this private universe.  I have seen plenty of art in the streets in my travels, but never quite paid attention, studying it, they way I was here.  Much more impressive than mere tagging, I kept going, wanting to see more.  While the techniques varied, what remained the same was the unified freedom of expression.

Stenciling is an extremely popular method because it can be completed in seconds while having the time to design the image.  With graffiti, time is always of the essence.

Papering on the walls is one the quickest methods that allows the most details, since the piece is ready in advance.  The paper piece, glue, brush, and some darkness is all that is required for a rapid installation.

The wall murals were truly amazing!  Several stories high, I can’t even begin to imagine how a piece that large is completed.  I saw several pieces that have been included in graffiti books but found so many more than I had never seen referenced in pictures before.   I love that I just kept stumbling upon these amazing, huge art works as I explored further into this hidden world.  I wonder how many artists it took to create such a monumental piece and how long they spent making it.  I’m assuming to complete a project that large they must have the cooperation of the building owner, or at least the residents.

These artists really earned my respect.  While there were a few pieces done on store fronts, the majority of the graffiti pieces were done to spread their ideas and love of art.  It is common knowledge most artists don’t receive any regular type of compensation for the creation of art and this stands even more so for the artists of the street.  This brings up another issue, the anonymity

Exposed, 2012
Kreuzberg, Berlin, Germany
Jessica Garcia

of the artist, typically hiding behind an alias.  Yes, it is illegal in Berlin to vandalize public property.  But obviously ignored in certain parts of the city, such as Kreuzberg.  Some artists are recognized by their style without a tag.  Though in the UK, Banksy comes to mind.  He may be the most anonymous public figure, making a “documentary” that was nominated for an Academy Award, “Exit the Gift Shop”, where he blurred his face the entire time.  However, there is also Good Ol’ Texas boy, Ron English, an important, preceding figure to Banksy.   English differs greatly in the fact that it is very easy to find an image of his face just by googling his name.  Yet both artists leave their tongue in cheek opinions in the public, for all to see, comment on, and sometimes add to or alter their art.

But none of these issues have put a cap on the expression that explodes from the neighborhood of Kreuzberg.  Paint, paper, glue, stickers, doilies, fake fur…if you can make it stick or paint it, anything goes, anything becomes a canvas.  This excursion was very inspirational to me.  I am constantly trying to get fresh ideas and renew my thoughts on art.  I left with a lot to think about, which directions I can take my art.  My head is still trying to process everything I saw and experienced there.  This will definitely be a regular stop for me anytime I am in Berlin from now on.

Berlin Museums – Gerhard Richter, Panorama at the Neue Nationalgalerie

Betty, we meet again

As a huge fan of German art, I was very excited to see Gerhard Richter, Panorama, his retrospective at the Neue Nationalgalerie.  The entire ground level was dedicated to this show, in contrast to the last time I was here.  As I have mentioned before, Berlin’s permanent collections are constantly being moved around,

Gerhard Richter

so the massive Jenny Holzer that I had previously viewed here no longer took over the entire ceiling like a ticker showing the stock exchange.  At the time, that was the sole piece of art on this floor when you first entered.

Daydream Nation….

The space is now filled with over one hundred works from Richter, including his blurred portraits, grey paintings, and also included newer works he completed in 2011.  I cannot express what an amazing show this was!  One thing I learned about Richter is that he was still studying art when he was thirty, his success was not instant.  I find that very motivating, both in terms of my age and also in gaining recognition.  This show was in conjunction with Richter’s 8oth birthday.  Fortunately, he did not have to wait until after his death, like Van Gogh.

The exhibit also featured panes of glass layered to create the “Richter Effect”.  This instantly blurred the reflected image.  This was a fun look at how Richter began to see the world.  The blurry images he creates leaves the viewer in a state between dreams and reality.  Is this a real memory?

More current work from Gerhard Richter

His more recent work has left the image completely.  Another contrast is the bright colors he has chosen to incorporate.  This is much different from his previous work, in particular, the Gray Series.  The main subject is the composition itself.  However, common themes are still carried across his works.  The most prevalent is his trademark blurry atmosphere.  Representative of an image or not, Richter still uses this device to conceal the reality of these dream like worlds, often war-torn and chaotic.This is actually the second Gerhard Richter show I had seen.  A few years ago I went to a Surrealist exhibition at the Dallas Museum of Art and there was a small Richter show that didn’t seem to be advertised too heavily.  At that time I wasn’t familiar with his work and saw Betty for the first time.  I thought she was amazing.  It was great to visit with her again, but this time in this extraordinary exhibit, getting to see so much more of his work.

While obviously, Gerhard Richter was the star, I cannot ignore the great art on the lower level.  Another rotation of the German permanent collection, it was a very impressive exhibit.  Bruce Nauman, Picasso, Andy Warhol, Max Beckmann, Basquiat, Christo …all great examples of art.  It is always an amazing experience to study art that you had only seen in books or in slides.  Being a part of something so big, full of expression and creativity, that has been my goal in life.  I know that sound simplified, but this is what gets me up every morning.  And I love every minute of it.

Sigmar Polke

Berlin Museums – The Hamburger Bahnhof

Time in Berlin for me will always include visiting the fantastic museums and galleries here.  One of my all time favorite museums that I have ever visited is the Hamburger Bahnhof, the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin
It’s a little bright, but that is a Dan Flavin hanging around

Berlin’s art has a turbulent past since Hitler stole most of the art work in both private and public hands and distributed them throughout Europe.  That was in the 1940’s, and I still today read articles about art pieces in dispute that often end up in court.  The courts side with the heirs, and the art is returned or an agreed upon amount is negotiated for a permanent purchase.  Generally if it is a government run museum, it rarely goes to court, the museums will normally return the piece once the provenance has been established.  Due to a number of issues, the massive collections owned by the state of Germany do not all have a permanent homes and have been moved around every time I return to Berlin, the Hamburger Bahnhof being one of many rotating locations.

Anselm Keifer

The Hamburger Bahnhof has an amazing collection of Anselm Keifer,

Anselm Keifer

Robert Rauchenburg, Dan Flavin, Joseph Bueys, Andy Warhol…the list of contemporary masters could go on and on.  The first time I visited in 2008, the huge changing front room was exhibiting their full collection of Keifers and it was amazing.  His imagry is very haunting and powerful.  The second time I came in 2009, it was filled with a huge sound installation by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller titled The Murder of Crows.  Coincidently, last year they did a residency at Artpace in San Antonio and I experienced several more sound pieces by the duo there.

Huge Sound Installation, db (decibel) by Ryojii Ikeda

I was a little disappointed with the upstairs this visit.  The amazing contemporary collection including several Bruce Nauman and Matthew Barney pieces was replaced by a huge sound installation titled db (decibel).  All the art was replaced with a white room, black paintings, and the loud, constant buzz from a speaker about 5′ x 5′ at the other end of the room.  While I love sound installations, this one was a little too far for me to appreciate.  This piece had to do with symmetry and complementary relationships.  However, I was not inclined to visit the other side of the second floor, apparently a black room with a white search light.  So I did not ever discover what that sounded like.  At least many of my favorite artists were still on display in other rooms.

Dan Flavin

Joesph Beuys

There are quite a few Dan Flavins on display, both inside and outside of the building.  I have noticed when Flavin is included in a collection, he is INCLUDED in the collection.  I don’t believe I have ever seen just one Flavin displayed.  If the Museum likes him, they love him.  They will purchase several pieces, including many permanent pieces incorporated on the outside of the buidings, as the Hamburger Bahnhof had comissioned.

And as usual, Joseph Beuys has taken over the entire lower level with his huge sculptures of fat.  One of my favorite Beuys pieces to experience is watching him talk to a dead hare in his famous piece, How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare.  The museum posesses a copy of the original peformance in 1965.  A couple of years ago I saw a recorded re-creation of this performance by Marina Abramovic.  For the Guggenheim, she re performed seven pivital performance pieces by those preceding before her (which also included Vito Acconci’s Seedbed).  A great performance piece should evoke emotion from the viewer, to affect them in some way, even if it’s just more questions.  The Hamburger Bahnhof is an incredible museum.  I would never miss an opportunity to explore their collection and temporary exhibits.

Berlin – Arriving in the City of Art

Being in Berlin is exhilarating!  We arrived today after an eight hour flight from New York.  I have known I would be taking this trip for the last six months or so.  However, there had been no chance to really think about it as I was running full speed organizing Seven Minutes in Heaven.  Trust me, I EARNED this trip!  Why am I here now?  To refresh, to get inspired and to figure out what’s next.  I have been fortunate enough to visit Berlin a few times when I was in school.  Now my husband is finishing up his studies and signed up for the same graduate class.  What that means is a big chunk of our trip is paid for with scholarships specifically for travelling abroad.  How lucky am I to get to benefit from these scholarships again, as a non student?!  And since we have been on this trip before and done the required stops, we are free from the class to set our own itinerary and explore on our own.

Jessica Garcia
Reality is Ephemeral, 2012
Berlin, Germany

How does a starving artist gets herself to Europe?  By taking any opportunity that presents itself!  I have to say, I was always impressed with the amount of opportunities I found going to a state school.  I went to Germany several times while I was at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), both with the art department and the German department.  I am always surprised when I talk to people who skipped that experience because they were scared.  Or amazed at people who went to “better” or private schools that never took opportunities that were there.  What  are they waiting for?

Berlin is one of my favorite cities in Europe, so alive and vibrant!  It has been considered the art capital of the world for a while now.  The world-class collections combined with the number of galleries and artists makes this a fantastic center for creativity and inspiration.  Travelling here has been a very important part of my development as an artist.  I have always been reminded of New York, both major art cities that are very metropolitan.  And it is always exciting being in another culture, exploring the unknown.

Let’s go to work…

Because of the time change, we arrived around 8 am.  We dropped our bags at our hotel, ate breakfast and went for a walk to explore the neighborhood.  Staying awake is the only way to break yourself of jet lag, which you have to do if you want to function at all!  8 am in Berlin = 1 am in Texas.

I had never been in the Kunst Akademie (Art Academy) before, it was surprisingly close to where we were staying.  There was very little art on display, but I have come to notice that is not an uncommon scene in an art building.  I had first realized this when I was going to school, the art building was the only place on campus that didn’t have any purchased art on the walls.  That includes the financial aid office.  I assume it was to display student work, but that doesn’t happen frequently enough to actually grace the walls with art on a regular basis (and what about the caliber of the art?).  Although, I will note both art buildings have an art gallery in them.  The structure itself probably dated back four or five hundred years and had beautiful architecture.  I think I would be inspired roaming these halls, it’s hard not to draw beauty from such a gorgeous building.

Every turn brings something unique and interesting.  It is a combination of old and new, the bombings of World War II made rebuilding a necessity.  The architecture is always something to take notice of, lacing the streets with beauty.  Of course, there are famous structures such as the Brandenburg Gate, the Olympic Stadium, and the Victory Column.  There is also the amazing Reichstag, the Parliament building, made famous by the art duo Christo and Jean-Claude, when they proceeded to wrap the entire, huge, building in material.  The Wrapped Reichstag was an incredible challenge they took on.  I know many of their projects took years, sometimes decades to come to fruition.  Their projects normally involve a public building or structure in a foreign country and it takes several years to gain complete permission.

Even though I have been here before, Berlin will always excite me.  I did take a couple of years of German in college, so I can speak it (somewhat) and read it (much better).  I have always been

One cannot buy culture

amazed at how many different cultures there are in Europe, or even just in Berlin.  It is a melting pot, a chance to experience more of Eastern Europe than I might have otherwise.  The art, the food, the architecture, the people – everything about Berlin is an adventure.  Every time I have ever visited, I still find new things, have new experiences.  I am excited at the prospect of what can happen this trip.  I am ready for another adventure.