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Thursday, February 17, 2011

James Shefik, Hugh Leeman, and Ben Venom Win Masterminds Grants at Artopia

Posted on Thu, Feb 17, 2011 at 9:30 AM

click to enlarge James Shefik stands near one of his sculptures on display at Public Works. - KEITH BOWERS
  • Keith Bowers
  • James Shefik stands near one of his sculptures on display at Public Works.

SF Weekly announced that artists James Shefik, Hugh Leeman, and Ben Venom won $1,500 Masterminds Grants at its fourth annual Artopia event last night. The three artists were among 10 finalists competing for the grants and among more than 300 who submitted materials in the competition. More than 700 people gathered at Public Works for the event.

click to enlarge James Shefik's Workin' Hard
  • James Shefik's Workin' Hard
James Shefik, 49, has focused seriously on making art since 2003, but he told SF Weekly that he has worked with paints and wood most of his professional life, as a carpenter building stage and theater sets as well as a painter working on movie, TV, and trade-show sets.

Sociopolitical affairs are among Shefik's inspirations.

"Much of my work deals with how easily swayed we are and how fast we're moving (as a society), how we're losing things, like things made by hand, and the ability to think and work in an old analog way," he said.

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click to enlarge One of Hugh Leeman's large-scale works depicting Blue, who plays harmonica at the Powell Street cable-car turnaround.
  • One of Hugh Leeman's large-scale works depicting Blue, who plays harmonica at the Powell Street cable-car turnaround.
"Street artist" Hugh Leeman was another winner. Leeman creates t-shirts with images of San Francisco street people. He then gives the shirts to the people depicted, allowing them to keep the money.
click to enlarge Benz, who recently passed away, is another street person whose image Leeman has reproduced.
  • Benz, who recently passed away, is another street person whose image Leeman has reproduced.

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Ben Venom will receive the third Masterminds Grant. Venom was inspired to make quilts four years ago after visiting a quilting exhibit at the de Young Museum, the Quilts of Gee's Bend.

click to enlarge A Ben Venom Quilt.
  • A Ben Venom Quilt.
Venom's quilts are distinct, however, in that they're made from heavy metal t-shirts that depict bands such as Metallica, Slayer, Black Sabbath, and AC/DC.
click to enlarge Am I Demon? hangs on the wall of Public Works.
  • Am I Demon? hangs on the wall of Public Works.
"It's a little over the top, but at the same time it's entertaining," says Venom, 33.

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All 10 finalists made a great show of the event and reveled in the exposure regardless of whether they won. Some more images from the evening:

click to enlarge Pablo Cristi was among the 10 finalists.
  • Pablo Cristi was among the 10 finalists.

click to enlarge Finalist Laurel Shear interacts with her public. - KEITH BOWERS
  • Keith Bowers
  • Finalist Laurel Shear interacts with her public.
click to enlarge The hazy imagery and melancholy feel of Laurel Shear's paintings are based on the imperfect nature of cell-phone photos.
  • The hazy imagery and melancholy feel of Laurel Shear's paintings are based on the imperfect nature of cell-phone photos.


click to enlarge The head of Jeremy Rourke is visible in front of his stop-motion animated film Out to See.
  • The head of Jeremy Rourke is visible in front of his stop-motion animated film Out to See.

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