The March chapter meeting featured the viewing and discussion of the documentary video, Womanhouse. Our chapter is planning a year-end exhibition at Arc Gallery called Burning Down the House, in response to this seminal feminist show. Those of us who were young women in 1972 were reminded of the constraints and (now tame-seeming) rebellious, outrageous actions we performed while younger generations realized how much had changed for them and how much had not. Questions were raised about what our show should focus on, what groups might be invited to collaborate, and whether men should be included. Exhibitions Chair Leisel Whitlock is forming an exhibitions committee that will address these and other important questions and contribute their energies to make this a memorable exhibition. The committee will work on administration, publicity, managing of collaborators, documentation (catalog & video), installation and volunteer management. Those interested, please email us at email@example.com with subject line: Exhibitions Committee and tell us which of these activities you can help with.
Art critic Nancy Ewart wote the article below about her experiences in 1972 and her reaction to visiting Womanhouse. If you saw the original exhibition in 1972, I would love to include your essay in a future edition.
The March banner features a photograph by Judy Shintani on dolls she displayed at her Girls' Day festival gathering.
Priscilla Otani, Editor
LET'S MAKE POWER BUTTONS ON APRIL 10
by Nancy Ewart
“Representation of the world, like the world itself, is the work of men; they describe it from their own point of view, which they confuse with the absolute truth.” Simone De Beauvoir, 1972
In the early 70’s I was involved in the anti-war, civil rights and various other movements of the time. The only thing I wasn’t involved in was feminism, which had barely started on the West Coast. But I was uncomfortably aware of new ideas percolating through “The Movement,” ideas about the position of women. I resented Eldridge Cleaver’s statement that the only way women could serve the Movement was on their backs. But I had to keep my mouth shut for fear of being called a counter-revolutionary or worse, a racist.
Then I read about Judy Chicago's all-female art classes at Fresno State and wanted to be part of it. I understood that my already-fragile marriage would not survive any more attempts on my part at independence. Yet I knew that a project like this, indeed feminism as it was in the early 70’s, could change my life. I was already uncomfortable with traditional roles: to be the only breadwinner, housekeeper and provider. But I also knew what it would cost to give them up, to insist on equality in personal relationships. It wasn’t clear what I would gain; I could only foresee the cost but not the rewards.
I remember the arguments. The posturing males of the Movement had a lock on righteous theory and never hesitated to shout a woman down. I wasn’t analytical enough at the time to recognize their fear of change and their self-interest in keeping the status quo. Some said that this group of Fresno women artists, and other radical feminists were detrimental to the Movement because they represented a white middle-class sector of the public. Men of the Movement, with trust funds, student loans and working girlfriends or wives never saw their own position – as professional students – as a problem. But for women to have enough time and money to go to art school…the shock...the horror...surely the progress toward some unspecified revolutionary paradise would be stopped dead in its tracks!
There was a strong feeling that feminists and their ideas were unimportant to the “real issues” of the Women’s Rights Movement. These were usually defined in terms of supporting whatever group had the microphone at the time or supporting your man so that he could get on with the more important business of being a revolutionary.
To some extent, I agreed then about the class bias and I agree now. Class and access to money (either in the form of decent paying jobs with flexible hours, student loans or family support) is crucially important to students, whether art students or not. I wasn’t able to go to Fresno State. I couldn’t get loans and I worked for a living. I supported my husband and even if he had a job, he would never have agreed to let me go to art school. “Real” revolutionaries had more important things to do with their time. Then where was real change for women to start? It certainly didn‘t start among the sexist bullies that I knew. Both the French and the Russian revolutions had started with the intelligentsia and the middle class so it was logical, in retrospect, that feminism should start among young women with strength, energy, time and money. In the early days of feminism we were unconscious of class and race – issues that bitterly divided women in the decade ahead.
When I read about Womanhouse, nothing could keep me away. A group of women, the core of our soon-to-be consciousness raising group, decided to rent a car and drive down to Southern California. The project’s purpose – to raise consciousness of gender stereotypes – came home to us very clearly when we were relegated to cleaning up the office after meetings and making coffee. My husband and male significant “others” in the group decided, at the last minute to go with us. I think they wanted to make sure that the ideology of feminism was contained.
What we were visiting was the collaborative project, led by artists Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro, which focused on the intersection between women's domestic and artistic lives. After searching Los Angeles for an abandoned house that was large enough for the project and that could be used without charge, the group located a dilapidated house at 553 Mariposa Avenue in Hollywood. The elderly woman who owned it was intrigued with the concept of Womanhouse, and the demolition of the house was postponed until the spring of 1972. Twenty-one women artists were granted space and given a voice to present and perform work about stereotypically "feminine" tasks, including scrubbing floors, ironing sheets, cooking, sewing, crocheting, and knitting; cycles, such as menstruation; and forms, such as eggs, breasts, lipstick, and so forth. The whole thing from soup to nuts, carpentry, wiring, painting and artwork was done by women who were not only going to school but had other jobs as well. So much for the myth of the stay-at-home, supported by men, middle class woman.
It was an ambitious undertaking and it was stressful. Schapiro described the atmosphere in her article on Womanhouse published in the Spring 1972 issue of Art Journal as follows:
"It became obvious that the kitchen was a battleground where women fought with their mothers for their appropriate share of comfort and love. It was an arena where ostensibly the horn of plenty overflowed, but where in actuality the mother was acting out her bitterness over being imprisoned in a situation from which she could not bring herself to escape, and from which society would not encourage such an escape."
I remember walking up the pathway toward the house, where the words “WOMANHOUSE” were written over the handle. I remember the kitchen all painted in shiny, Pepto-Bismol pink. I remember the small sculptures of sunny-side up eggs fastened to the ceiling, eggs that morphed into breasts that became eggs again as they approached the stove. The breasts were made of some soft material that you could squeeze; you can just imagine the male jokes. I remember the portrait of Angela Davis, one of my heroines at the time (ironically the wife of Eldridge Cleaver). Her portrait made that aspect of the room acceptable to the men in the group; otherwise, I could see that they were uncomfortable. I don’t remember their words but I remember the knot in my throat and stomach. I knew that this place was saying something to me about how I had to change, how I was changing and what that change would cost.
I remember “THE BATHROOM.” Oh God – the tampons! The red, red color everywhere. The menstrual blood on the tips. The “feminine hygiene products!” The guys in our group were uncomfortable and made sexist jokes.
The other room connected with the nurturing theme of food was the dining room, the most elaborate group effort of the entire project. Everything in the dining room was produced by the group, from the vinyl chandelier to the bread-sculpture fruit. The focal point of the room was a mural that reproduced a still life by the nineteenth-century American artist Anna Claypoole Peale (1791- 1878). Schapiro's idea "was to introduce them [the students] to the Peale family, especially to the women who were artists." Obviously, the women liked the vaginal connotation of the sliced watermelon with its centric imagery. Linda Nochlin (in the same interview) said, "What really surprised me was that there was not any sort of really wild painting." But then she remarked that the Peale mural was "probably more appropriate." The Womanhouse artists, by copying Peale's painting, were not only celebrating her talent but also positioning themselves within a legacy of American women artists.
The Womanhouse website (http://womanhouse.refugia.net/) has a review of the time by William Wilson of the LA times. He’s quoted as saying that the work is “cheerful and disarming” but, as the webpage points out, he missed the sharp critique of the confinement of female creativity to a limited sphere. He ignored the social and political realism of the piece and didn’t recognize its impetus for much of the autobiographical and personal art of today.
Many of these works were destroyed, lost or stolen following the close of Womanhouse; it is thus emblematic of the historical erasure of women's cultural contributions. While still considered a profoundly important episode in the nascent feminist art movement, Womanhouse is poorly documented and sometimes regarded as no longer pertinent to contemporary feminist experience. On the contrary, new generations of artists are struck by just how relevant the ideas expressed in Womanhouse are today. The exhibit WACK! shown in LA two years ago demonstrated what just how influential the work coming out of that exhibit had been.
When I saw the film two years ago and read about it, I felt like Proust’’s narrator. He dipped his madeleine in a cup of linden tea, which brought back a whole meditation on time and memory. I feel that the years between the me then and the me today are bridged. I lose my objectivity as an art historian. The story becomes not only Her Story but also My Story.
Help NCWCA make 100 POWER art buttons on April 10. POWER buttons will be handed out randomly during the Open Engagement Conference in Oakland from April 29 - May 1. Make some wild and wacky buttons and be part of our social practice art project!
Drop in Arc Gallery at 1246 Folsom St, San Francisco on April 10 between 10 am and 4 pm. Art materials will be provided but you are welcome to bring your own. Bring sack lunch and your creativity.
WOMEN & THEIR APPLE LAPTOPS WORKSHOP
Take a class with Alicia Vargas to learn basic functions of the Apple MAC operating system. Class covers system preferences overview, file management, saving and optimizing photos for the web, and navigating between personal computer and online servers (google drive and dropbox)
April 2, 11:30 - 1:45 at 5826 Fremont St, Oakland
Class size limited to 8 people.
NCWCA Members $35
ART TAG = INSPIRE
Congratulations NCWCA artists in the Art Tag = Inspire exhibition at the Danville Village Theatre & Gallery at 233 Front Street in Danville!
Elizabeth Addison, Lindsay Alsadir, Victoria Cormack, Miriam Fabbri, Judy Johnson-Williams, Nancy Margulies, Laura McHugh, Jane Neilson, Priscilla Otani, Carla Periat, Lainey Ste Marie, Judy Shintani, Mary Shisler, Pamela Spears, Tanya Wilkinson, Marian Yap.
Exhibition runs from April 29 - June 18.
PASSAGES: MARY MAUGHELLI
Mary Maughelli, an NCWCA member since 2007 and a prominent feminist passed away on October 25, 2015, just shy of her 80th birthday. Ms. Maughelli was a contemporary of Judy Chicago and taught at Fresno State from 1962 to 1998. She was invited by Ms. Chicago to show her work in the 1973 opening exhibition at the Womanspace gallery in Los Angeles, and at the Woman’s Building in Los Angeles in the ’70s and late ’80s. She was a mixed media painter and loved drawing figures in motion. In addition to NCWCA, Maughelli was a member of the Southern California Women's Caucus for Art. Readers may view and listen to Mary Maughelli discussing her work through these YouTube links:
, La Femme, San Francisco Women Artists Gallery, 647 Irving St SF, Mar 8 – Apr 7
Melissa Shanley, International Group Show, Galerie Kunst aan de Kade
in Delft, The Netherlands, Jan 22 – Apr 14. Also Art Square Amsterdam 6th Edition at the Hermitage, Amsterdram, Netherlands, Apr 14-17.
Universe in the Round, Café Society, 522 Main St, Half Moon Bay, Mar 7 – Apr 29.
Universe in the Round, Cafe Society, 522 Main St, Half Moon Bay, Mar 7 - Apr 29.
Identity, Arc Gallery, 1246 Folsom St, SF, Mar 22 - Apr 30. (see right)
Spectrum Indian Wells, Contemporary Art Projects USA gallery, Mar 16-20.
Identity, Arc Gallery, 1246 Folsom St, SF, Mar 22 - Apr 30.
Bonnie J Smith
in Water is Life: Clean Water and its Impact on the Lives of Women and Girls around the World, UN European Headquarters Building, Geneva Switzerland, Mar-Apr.
Elizabeth Addison and Pamela Blotner,
artist-curators of Crossing to Safety
. At Abrams Claghorn Gallery, 1251 Solano Ave, Berkeley. Included are NCWCA artists Judy Shintani, Judy Johnson-Williams, Salma Arastu, Patricia Montgomery, Priscilla Otani.
, West Coast Best Coast, Blue Line Arts, 405 Vernon St, Ste. 100, Roseville, Mar 4- Apr 2. Also What Lies Beyond NYC, Temporary Storage Gallery, 119 Ingraham St, Brooklyn, NY, Mar 25 – Apr 15. (see left)
The Known Universe, Root Division, 1131 Mission St, San Francisco, Mar 9-26.
The Alchemist, Root Division, 1131 Mission St, San Francisco, Apr 6-21.
in Dreams and Divinities Peace Across Europe, Atelier Gustave, 36 rue Boissonade, Paris, Mar 22-26. Also beinArt Gallery Inaugural Exhibit
, Brunswick, Victoria, AU, Mar 19 – Apr 28. Also The Known Universe,
Root Division, 1131 Mission St, San Francisco, Mar 9 – 26.
in solo show, Heroines of the Civil Rights Movement,
African American Museum & Library, 659 14th St, Oakland, Feb 13 – Jul 16.
in Celebration of Calligraphy
, Peninsula Museum of Art South Gallery, 1777 California Dr, Burlingame, Jan 17-Apr 10. Also in Language of the Quran
, SF Public Library & Islamic Art Exhibit, SF Public Library, 100 Larkin St, SF, Jan 16 – Mar 20.
Judy Shintani in At Home in the World, 516 ARTS, Albuquerque, NM, February 6 – April 16.
Laurie Edison in Ecce Home: Behold the Contemporary Human Image, National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan, Jan 16 - Mar 21
Members, get your shows and workshops listed in News & Notes, NCWCA Calendar and on the NCWCA website! Send jpg image of your work in the show and information about the show to firstname.lastname@example.org.
|WELCOME 2016 MEMBERS!
Welcome new members Lorraine Gayle, Maureen Green, Elaine B. Myers and Deanna Taubman. Thanks for renewing Robin Apple, Vicki Cormack, Laurie Toby Edison, Laine Sainte Marie, Sally Ruddy, Arielle Seidenberg, Pallavi Sharma, Ruth Terrill, and Leisel Whitlock.
We hope to see you soon at our monthly meeting or one of our special events.
Work by Lena Shey
HATE TO SAY GOOD-BYE
After March 30, members who have not renewed for 2016 will no longer receive our monthly news and activity emails. You can keep your subscription going by clicking here to renew. We hope to see you in 2016!
ART TAG PARTY
Join us for the annual Art Tag Party on March 20 from 10 AM - 1 PM at the Sawtooth Building, Bay 3, 2547 8th St, Berkeley. The event is hosted by Mary Shisler.
Bring 3 Art Tag pieces to share.
Those who have never participated or heard of ArtTag, come and find out what the excitement is about. Art Tag is a signature NCWCA activity.
ArtTag piece by Julie Mevi (Heart Round)
2016 MEETING LOCATIONS & DATES
Chapter meetings are on the second Tuesday of each month. Look for details on our webpage. Let's carpool! Email email@example.com if you need a ride or can offer a ride.
Apr 12: San Francisco
May 10: San Mateo
Jun 14: Oakland
Jul 12: San Mateo
Aug 9: San Francisco
Sept 13: Oakland
Oct 11: San Francisco
Nov 8: San Mateo
Dec: Year-end Party
WOMEN ARTISTS TO KNOW
To join this Facebook group, go to the Women Artists to Know
page and click Join. A moderator will add you to the group. Share your favorite artists! We now have over 1000 participants from all over the US and abroad!
March - painting
April - eco/land art
May - drawing
June - performance/dance/music
July - photography
August - installation
Sept -political focus/community engagement
Oct - print making
Nov - collage
Dec - sculpture, assemblage
March artist Leonora Carrington
March 20 10 am - 1 pm,
Art Tag Party at Sawtooth Building, Bay 3, 2547 8th St, Berkeley
deadline for Social Justice submission Click here
deadline for 3D/3Seasons submission. Click here
11:30 - 1:45 Woman + Their Apple Laptops workshop at 5826 Fremont St, Oakland. Pre-registration is required.
10 am - 4 pm, drop-in POWER button workshop at Arc Gallery, 1246 Folsom St, SF
6 -9:30 PM, Chapter Meeting at Arc Gallery, 1246 Folsom St, SF
April 22 deadline for Vision submission. Click here
Open Engagement 2016 - POWER! At Oakland Museum
ArtTag Exhibit Reception at Danville Village Theatre Gallery
TIPS FOR FORWARDING NEWS & NOTES TO YOUR CLIENT LIST
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MGP Anderson next to her award-winning painting at the La Femme reception
Mido Lee at March meeting
COMING IN APRIL...
Mary B. White will share her wonderful experiences at the WCA Conference in Washington DC.
MEMBER SPONSORED WORKSHOPS
Judy Shintani is offering these workshops at Kitsune Community Art Studio, Half Moon Bay. Pre-registration required by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
March 18 1-4 PM or
April 1 1-4 PM
Cost $25-30 sliding scale per class, $3 material fee or bring your own.
The process of art making opens many doorways. Tune into your inner wisdom and creativity through meditation, silent art making, journaling, and sharing. I have a studio of materials to create acrylic painting, collage or assemblage. Available to all artists at all levels.
Sacred Time and Space for You
March 14 7-9 PM or
April 4 7-9 PM
Cost: $5 drop-in, snacks provided
Sacred time is time and space you reserve for your self.
Meet others in a like-minded community to create, to laugh, to share. Whether it is painting, sewing, drawing, collaging, or anything else, you are invited to bring your materials and create to your heart's desire! I'll provide the safe and cozy space and tea and a snack, and you can drop-in. It's a time to chat and share ideas, or immerse yourself silently in your work. The only stipulation is whatever you do must be for yourself!
Monoprinting with Gelli Plates
March 19 10 am - 2 pm or
April 3 10 am - 2 pm
Cost: $50, includes lunch
Try out a new way of playing in the moment! You'll work with acrylic paint creating monoprints without a press. We will be working with layering, working on existing prints, creating your own tools, and collages.