Tag Archives: art

Artist Exhibition: LightHouse Features Blind Painter Charles Blackwell

On March 23, we hosted the opening of painter Charles Blackwell’s art exhibition in our headquarters building lobby at 1155 Market Street. Blackwell is a longtime member of the LightHouse community, and we are thrilled to provide a platform for his bright and expressive acrylic and pastel paintings, along with braille descriptions of each one.

“My blindness, in a sense, gives me the originality,” says artist Blackwell of his lively, jazz-inspired paintings, which are on display starting today in the 1155 Market Street lobby. “Before, I was trained. I could do a sketch of you in a minute and a half. I could have been a courtroom artist. I can’t do that no more, so I just had to take another approach. I use my fingers, I use the bottom of a paintbrush, I pour paint onto the paper. I’d much rather do that. That’s what I’m after — that improvisation, that serendipity.”

Blackwell’s paintings will be up in the lobby until October. Get a taste of photos and descriptions below, or come by our headquarters and ask at reception for braille or large print titles, prices, and descriptions of the paintings.

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A shot of the lobby with paintings hanging on the righthand wall as you walk in.

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An image of three paintings, from left to right: 

73 Miles Away X the Speed of Light     

24 x 39.5 inches

$1,400

Acrylic on Canvas

Quick, bold strokes of paint form the uneven figure of a saxophonist in the right quadrant of the canvas. The figure leans into his yellow and orange instrument. Short blue, gray, tan and green brush strokes give the background depth and accent an ovular silver and yellow globe in the top left corner.

(#5) Drummer in the Thick of It    

20 x 24 inches

$350

Acrylic on Canvas

A drummer keeps time with wire brushes on a pair of golden cymbals. He is seated, wearing green pants and blue shirt. His face sports a classic drummer’s grimace — as though he just settled into a particularly groovy beat. The paint strokes are thick and bold — black outlines filled with jewel tones of blue, pink, gold, yellow and green.

(#20) Hummin’ Down That One Lonely String

2011

30 x 40 inches

$1,600

Acrylic on Canvas

A bass player in a blue suit plays on a textured stand-up bass. His loosely depicted face is jovial. The background is a patchwork of lines in primary colors with a large golden orb in the top right and a window in the top left. The number 3 stands out against the lines in the background.

A standing, bowed saxophonist emerges into the canvas on the right. He plays a golden saxophone that is almost the length of his body. A smaller figure playing a trumpet is behind him. Both figures play into a silver old-fashioned microphone in the bottom left-hand corner of the canvas. Two golden spotlights hang in the top left corner of the image. The background is a repetitive rhythm of short, blunt strokes of blue, pink, purple, yellow and maroon.

(#1001) After the Movement of the Blue Note Mystery

24 x 30 inches

$880

Acrylic on Canvas

A standing, bowed saxophonist emerges into the canvas on the right. He plays a golden saxophone that is almost the length of his body. A smaller figure playing a trumpet is behind him. Both figures play into a silver old-fashioned microphone in the bottom left-hand corner of the canvas. Two golden spotlights hang in the top left corner of the image. The background is a repetitive rhythm of short, blunt strokes of blue, pink, purple, yellow and maroon.

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(#14) Savory Smoky 1967 Night Club

2013

26 x 34 inches

$875

Ink on Paper

A freely depicted trumpet player, saxophonist and drummer are grouped at the right of the painting, all in smoky tones. Their instruments are accentuated with yellow. The background is a warm wash of yellow with a few red accents.

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(#1004) Downstairs in the Dark of Blue with Rahsaan Roland Kirk Inflated

57 x 38 inches

$3,800

Acrylic on Canvas

Jazz artist Rahsaan Roland Kirk wears sunglasses and plays three saxophones at once. Directly behind him is a trumpet player, and in the background, a small bassist and a drummer. A mask adorns the wall and a banana hangs from the sky to the right of Kirk. All of the figures are made up of bold lively pinks, purples, yellows, reds and blues. The background is a deep blue patterned with straight but variable lines.

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Kulu se Mama in Conference with Moe Betta over Lucy

16 x 22 inches

$750

Acrylic on Canvas Board

Three African-inspired figures stand, statue-like, in a row. The smallest, on the left, is a female form, perhaps in the distance. The figure in the center is indigo blue and the other two are covered in geometric patterns in bright red and yellow.

Stop by our headquarters at 1155 Market Street to view the full exhibition! 

Street Photography – By and For the Blind

Tim Tonachella’s voice is unmistakable. I’ve learned its texture, its subtle turns and the meaning behind the sounds. It’s got some gravel in it; it throws stones playfully. Over several phone calls with the Michigan photographer this past year, though, when we talked about his life, his approach and his raw, explorative photography – the main thing ringing in my ears was that he didn’t want the first bullet point to be that he’s blind.

We talked a lot about how describing things affects how they’re perceived, and my intention was not to congratulate him for being the first legally blind guy to pick up a camera (he’s not, in case you’re wondering).

I reached out to ask if we could use his work in an exercise to help explore the  process and practicalities of describing artwork for a blind audience. He was kind enough to say yes, and today we’re able to present never-before-seen photos along with a conversational, round-table audio description from a few folks who have spent time at the intersection of blindness and visual art: UC Berkeley professor Georgina Kleege, SFMOMA curator Peter Samis and San Francisco photographer Troy Holden.

Before we dive into the audio, a bit more about Tim Tonachella. He came to photography later in life, and when he first picked up the camera, everyone seemed to scratch their heads. He had gone to the Michigan School for the Blind with the likes of musician Stevie Wonder and our own Enchanted Hills Camp Construction Manager George Wurtzel, and though he still wryly jokes that he “never really liked blind people” much, his legal blindness was a constant throughout his life. When he picked up the camera in his fifties though, he suddenly had access to new worlds. The telephoto lens wasn’t, as many might assume, a confounding tool only for use by sighted folks, but instead opened up environments and enhanced his ability to see much in the way it would for those who clock in at 20/20 on the eye chart.

On January 27, Tonachella’s show “Growing Old On the Street” opens at the Downriver Council for the Arts in Wyandotte, MI. The collection is full of portraits, candid and posed, that reflect  the toughness of Tonachella’s human fabric. The show, which also showcases the interpretative works of dozens of other artists, reflects Tonachella’s core sensibilities: generous, honest and a bit rough around the edges. Tonachella’s process is a labor of love, and often involves sitting patiently to hear the stories and take in the realities of the quietly persevering souls that cities have left behind.

Listen to the whole discussion in the playlist above or click each image to be directed to its associated Soundcloud link. Find out more about Tim Tonachella’s upcoming shows at the end of this post.

Photograph 1: A man sits on a concrete ledge and leans his weight into wrought iron fence. His wears a bucket hat and the smoke from the cigarette curled in his right hand catches in the light. A bottle of hard liquor is perched next to him on the ground, slightly concealed by an angular concrete block. Click the image to hear the corresponding audio file.
Photograph 1: A man sits on a concrete ledge and leans his weight into wrought iron fence. His wears a bucket hat and the smoke from the cigarette curled in his right hand catches in the light. A bottle of hard liquor is perched next to him on the ground, slightly concealed by an angular concrete block. Click the image to hear the corresponding audio file.
Photograph 2: An old man clasps a cigarette in his wizened mouth, below his salt and pepper mustache. He wears a bucket hat and a worn polo. His eyes are closed. Click the image to hear the corresponding audio file.
Photograph 2: An old man clasps a cigarette in his wizened mouth, below his salt and pepper mustache. He wears a bucket hat and a worn polo. His eyes are closed. Click the image to hear the corresponding audio file.
Photograph 3: An old, closed-down, shuttered candy store. A clutter of old boxes and furniture appear through the gaping window. Click the image to hear the corresponding audio file.
Photograph 3: An old, closed-down, shuttered candy store. A clutter of old boxes and furniture appear through the gaping window. Click the image to hear the corresponding audio file.
Photograph 4: A man in a knit cap, denim jacket and hoodie looks at the camera with a steady gaze. Click the image to hear the corresponding audio file.
Photograph 4: A man in a knit cap, denim jacket and hoodie looks at the camera with a steady gaze. Click the image to hear the corresponding audio file.
Photo 5: The same man breaks into a toothy grin. The shot is farther away and reveals the piano he sits at, his gloved finger pressing into ivory keys. Click the image to hear the corresponding audio file.
Photo 5: The same man breaks into a toothy grin. The shot is farther away and reveals the piano he sits at, his gloved finger pressing into ivory keys. Click the image to hear the corresponding audio file.

Tonachella’s exhibition at The Downriver Council for the Arts runs from January 27 through February 10, 2017. Downriver Council for the Arts, 81 Chestnut Wyandotte, MI 48192

He’ll also be featured in two other shows in Michigan coming up in July and October this year.

July 2017: Village Theater at Cherry Hill, 50400 Cherry Hill Road, Canton, MI 48187 (exact dates to be announced)

October 2017: Tim’s solo show will Exhibit during National Visual Impairment month. Y Arts, The YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit, 1401 Broadway St, Detroit, MI 48226 (exact dates to be announced)

October 6 Through 8: Explore Street Art and Design Along San Francisco’s Market Street with the LightHouse’s New Free Tactile Map

LightHouse for the Blind has teamed up with a special partner to introduce an accessible element into one of San Francisco’s most intriguing new design-focused city art projects: introducing the Market Street Prototyping Festival Tactile Map. Join us October 7th at 5 p.m. to learn to use the map, and then go out and explore Market Street (RSVP to solsen@lighthouse-sf.org).

Between Thursday, October 6th and Sunday, October 8th, Market Street will be transformed. Imagine installations all along the wide sidewalks and broad pathways, each with its own engaging purpose – whether it’s to pique your interest, make you laugh, calm you down, or just plain fascinate. That’s the job of the Market Street Prototyping Festival, an annual fair which takes over more than a mile of San Francisco’s iconic main drag each year to give pedestrians something a whole new glimpse into the potential of engaging design. Produced by San Francisco Planning and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the sidewalks between 7th Street and the Embarcadero will be filled with temporary installations ranging from performance spaces and relaxation zones to dynamic art pieces and more.

Market Street map, large print version

Our free map, which covers three festival districts – Central Market, Retail Heart, and Embarcadero – shows, through tactile lines and symbols, all the different attractions of the festival. The maps are made with tactile, braille, high-contrast ink print, and large print text in order to be universally accessible.

To get a free copy of our map, email Esmeralda Soto at esoto@lighthouse-sf.org.

As part of the weekend, our community services team will also be hosting map orientations and walking explorations of the festival for those 18 years and older. These tours will help blind and low vision individuals get acquainted with our map standards and develop a comfort level with using our maps as an effective wayfinding tool.

To sign up to explore the new Market Street art and design installations with the LightHouse, email Serena Olsen at solsen@lighthouse-sf.org.

More about the Market Street Prototyping Festival:

Established in 2015, the Market Street Prototyping Festival (MSPF) is using community-led design to make Market Street more a vibrant and engaging destination for the people that live, work and play along its path. An equal partnership between Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and the San Francisco Planning Department, the Prototyping Festival was born out of their shared desire to make Market Street a more vibrant, connected destination; one that brings together different people, communities, and neighborhoods.

This year, over 100 local citizens and organizations submitted ideas for how to improve Market Street’s street life. Thirty of these ideas were selected to become temporary design installations (prototypes), which are breathing newfound joy into Market Street during this three-day festival. After the festival, several prototypes will be further considered for permanent installation under the city’s Better Market Street initiative.

This festival is more than public art; it’s a new way of thinking about urban design. These ideas will help shape the future of this legendary street, and set a model for how our city engages the community in the civic process.

Join the LightHouse to take in the festival October 6, 7 and 8. Email esoto@lighthouse-sf.org for more info.

Dinosaur: On Drawing While Blind

LightHouse Interpoint is the regular literary supplement from the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Read all of the previous installments here, and if you’re a blind or visually impaired writer, feel free to pitch us.

sketch of a dinosaur in front of blue sky

“Draw with me,” my five-year-old son Langston insisted. He picked up a coloring book of the easy and cool things to draw collection and dumped out a box of crayons. They skittered across the table, and one jumped to the floor.

I stooped, picked up the crayon from the floor and handed it back to him.

“No,” I told him as gently as I could, “you can draw by yourself.”

I couldn’t tell him the complicated truth: a confession of just how unprepared I was to draw with him. He knows his color now, so I hadn’t labeled the crayons in braille. More importantly, I can’t draw.

This was something I thought he knew. Whenever we were out in public with sighted friends, waiting in diners with menus and crayons, he always asked them to draw with him, not me. Now he was issuing a challenge:

“But I want someone to draw with me!” he wailed.

My shame deepend as my voice became firmer. “No,” I said with the questionable authority which came both from my position as a parent and the fear which drawing would uncover. the fear that he would see me at my very weakest, “You can do it.”

He burst into tears. No drawing happened that day.

 

***

It was Friday afternoon, I was in third grade, and it was once again time for art class. The art room reverberated with a hum of activity. The tile floors, metal chairs, high ceilings and noisy classmates made it feel both vast and crowded. Continue reading Dinosaur: On Drawing While Blind

A New Year, a New Surge of Classes at the LightHouse

Have you made a New Year’s resolution yet? How about resolving to try something new at the LightHouse this year?

Beginning in 2016, LightHouse is launching an array of new classes. These classes will refresh every quarter so you’ll always want to visit us and try something new. Here’s a sampling of what we have to offer, through the end of March. (To stay updated on the most current happenings, call us on our event line at 415-694-7325 or sign up for Beth’s List by emailing Beth at bberenson@lighthouse-sf.org.)

Business of Blindness with Mike Cole
Every Wednesday beginning January 6, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon.
Over a cup of coffee, discuss and debate, converse and philosophize with Mike Cole, former director of the Orientation Center for the Blind, on anything related to blindness. Meet successful blind guest speakers and learn about current happenings in the blindness community.

Movie Club
Every Wednesday beginning January 6 from, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.
Watch an audio-described film and discuss the its high and low points.

Art with Ruthie
Every Monday starting January 11, from 9:30 to 11:00 a.m.
Explore your inner artist with Ruthie and learn new ways to express yourself.

Dental Hygiene Workshop Series
Every Monday starting January 11, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.
UCSF Dental School is hosting a series of workshops on dental hygiene and the affects it has on your overall health.

Yoga with Kimberley
Every second Tuesday of the month beginning January 12, from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Yoga instructor Kimberly—who is legally blind—provides her students with a playful, core-focused vinyasa, designed to promote strength, flexibility and focus. Her creative sequencing encourages students of all levels to try something new.

For information or to sign-up for these classes, contact Molly Irish at mpearson@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7320.

Emilie Gossiaux, More Blind Artists Featured in New SF Exhibit

Emilie Gossiaux

“The Mind’s Eye” is open from 12-5 p.m.,  Oct. 1-6 at StoreFrontLabs, 337 Shotwell St., San Francisco.

This weekend a new exhibit called Indigo Mind opened at the StoreFrontLab space in San Francisco’s Mission district. The six-week rotating exhibit features the artwork of 45 individual artists, all exploring themes and ideas from the work of the late great neuroscientist Oliver Sacks. Coming up in week two of the exhibit, beginning October 1, we’re particularly excited for the presentation of some very special blind artists.

Some of our favorite artists, both familiar and new to the scene, are to be featured in Week 2 of Indigo Mind, entitled “The Mind’s Eye.” These include our board member and blind architect Chris Downey, artist and educator Jennifer Justice (also a judge for this year’s Superfest Disability Film Festival), and a relative newcomer to SF’s galleries, Emilie Gossiaux.

Gossiaux is a promising name not only in the sculpting and visual arts communities but for blind and deaf art enthusiasts everywhere. The first deaf-blind graduate of The Cooper Union school of art in New York City, Gossiaux had a deep desire to practice art from a young age, and didn’t let her lifelong hearing loss, or the accident that caused her sudden blindness derail her mission. As a student, she received national awards of excellence, while her story was told everywhere from Radiolab to the New York Times. Today, Emilie is not only thriving as a sculptor and tactile artist, but using cutting edge technology to re-access a world of brush and pen strokes that she once thought she’d lost.

Video: Emilie Gossiaux paints with a BrainPort tongue sensor:

In honor of Emilie’s arrival in San Francisco this week, we asked the LightHouse’s George Wurtzel to tell us a bit about her. Wurtzel, who is blind himself, had the opportunity to instruct Emilie early on in her adaptive process, and has been a longtime supporter of her artistic journey. He was the first person to engage the newly blind Gossiaux with woodworking, sculpture, or show her how to work a lathe. Wurtzel was, as Gossiaux recently told Paste Magazine, “the one who really taught me how to use my hands again.”

Here are George Wurtzel’s thoughts:

You meet some people in your life that have a profound impact on you and the way you look at the world: Emilie Gossiaux is one of those people. I met her while teaching at a rehabilitation center for the blind. I was the industrial arts teacher. Emilie was the first student that I had who was an artist, and I realized that I had to Get It Right. I needed to make sure that she knew that the art was still inside of her.

Emilie GossiauxEveryone has experienced a rough day and the feeling of not being sure of wanting to go on. Emilie had had a bad day about one year before I met her. The world as she had known it had changed and was not going to change back ever again. There has been lots written about Emilie by herself and by other people, so I see no point to talk about it, except to say her bad day was very bad. My job was to help her get back to where she wanted to be, which was the same thing she wanted to be all of her life–an artist. Our first joint project was a wood carving. I wanted her to think about where she was and where she wanted to go. I took three pieces of wood and joined them together. The center piece was to represent a wall; the side I carved was Emilie, like a bird crashing into the wall. The side she was to carve was what she was going to be now coming out the other side of the wall. Emilie in her quest to return to art carved her side into a knife form to cut loose all the things that were keeping her from returning to her passion. Over the next eight months we carved wood, ice, and played in clay and every day I saw her regaining her confidence to return to her life’s dreams. And now we get to see the results of one persons love for what she does presented in a way that will let you and me see a little glimpse into the mind of someone who, no matter what life throws at her, will strive to make others’ lives richer. After you see her work and learn her journey, the way you look at the world will be changed forever- not from the pain of her accident, but from the journey of a person who will let nothing stand in the way of her wanting to make beautiful things to be enjoyed by you!
Learn more about Indigo Mind and get the schedule at StoreFrontLab’s website.