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Masterminds 2010 

Meet the talented Bay Area artists competing for our $2,500 grants.

Wednesday, Feb 17 2010

Page 4 of 4

How blue can Van Note be? Well, on her Web site, she proudly provides a link to a short essay she had published in Clean Sheets Erotica magazine, titled "How to Give Head in the Men's Bathroom of the Church You Were Baptized, Given First Communion, and Confirmed in."

Van Note says that she will always view standup as her main art. (She is passionate about comedy being received as an art — "I go through all the trials and tribulations of being an artist," she says, unironically.) For her series — a 10-episode show starring Van Note and often featuring her S.F. comedic pals Brent Weinbach and Moshe Kasher — she achieved a measure of local notoriety for her single-minded focus on our fair mayor, Gavin Newsom. She even got the word out to him.

"When I was doing a show at Purple Onion for the show [Love Letters to Gavin], I guess a guy who works for his office, some assistant, took a flier to Gavin and said, 'You should go to this,' and Gavin, I heard, said, 'Oh, I'm not going to go to that because it would ruin the joke,'" Van Note says, "He gets it! He totally gets it."

Gavin Worth
Ideas can come from the most banal surroundings, like a hardware store. That's where visual artist, designer, and sculptor Gavin Worth, 29, got the notion to make work from bendable wire. (Well, that and seeing whimsical sculptor Alexander Calder's work at SFMOMA.) The result is immediately captivating: expressive, stark bits of metal that show two intertwined hands or a woman's naked back. Some, like his three-part "Sadness" series, use a spray-painted background to enhance the color palette of the work.

"They are wire drawings," Worth explains, an extension of his other artistic interests. Visual art, though, wasn't his first love: The New Mexico native trained as a Shakespearean actor and performed in summer theater companies after college. But he says he eventually grew tired of performing the same things over and over. "There aren't a lot of new Shakespeare plays," he dryly notes.

He now splits his time between his studio and a part-time job that gives him access to a wood saw. In addition to the wire sculptures, he also designs marketing materials for a Los Angeles art festival, stencils, and works in set fabrication.

But wire works are close to his heart. He plans on expanding on his wire repertoire in the coming year, bringing it into the third dimension with new shapes. "Is 'curl' a shape?" he asks. "Well, if it is, that's the shape I'm starting to work on."

Lucy Puls
Installation artist Lucy Puls, 54, has long been interested in the detritus of American culture. In the '90s, she began visiting thrift stores, looking for materials. "It was very striking how everyone throws away the same thing at the same time," she says.

From there, Puls, who teaches sculpture at UC Davis, decided to add another constraint to her acquisitions: They had to be things found for free, usually what people would put out on the corners in her neighborhood. As many Bay Area residents know, there's an active free market exchange happening on the sidewalks and stairwells of homes and apartment buildings. Puls has had no trouble gathering objects.

But her skill isn't just in her eye for collecting. The installations, like in her series "Ad Hunc Locum," are an eerie lot. She assembles tableaux from both the objects and photographs of them which she has transformed somehow: Images get screenprinted on fabric and hung on car parts, for instance. The essential loneliness of the discarded, unwanted bits of American consumer culture are nakedly on display, laid all the more bare by Puls' artful manipulations.

Her latest ongoing work takes on an even bigger discard. With the help of a real-estate agent friend, she's been taking photographs inside foreclosed homes, and has started assembling pieces to be installed in future shows. The homes themselves aren't always sad, but each place tells a story. "Oh, some are filthy," she says. "Some are completely filthy. I love it."

View more works by these artists, visit

About The Author

Reyhan Harmanci


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