Tag Archives: art in Sacramento

Sacramento Community Art Chest / JM Knudsen

JM Knudsen and Sac Free Art Drop are here to change your mindset


Maya Angelou wisely once said, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.” The idea is, with the right frame of mind, one can accomplish anything, and with a negative mindset, negativity comes back to you.

If unfailing positivity makes you want to barf, you better get a bucket ready.

JM Knudsen is a Sacramento-based artist who paints, tattoos, creates clothing, does graphic design and pretty much any form of art he can get his eager hands on.

But he’s not just in it for himself. As coordinator of American Gypsy Apparel and project manager of Sacramento Free Art Drop, Knudsen endeavors not only to create art, but to create new channels for other artists to share their art and collaborate.

Sacramento Community Art Drop

Sacramento Free Art Drop consists of a painted box that shows up in various locations throughout Sacramento and is filled with donated art, free for the taking to anyone who sees beauty in it. Participant Arturo Romero says he was, “… very intrigued by the idea of creating an art hub in the middle of an ‘art desert.’ This city needs color!”

Another participating artist, Ahlo the Alchemist, shares that, “It feels amazing to be a part of such a unique and positive project. It’s cool because you don’t know who is behind the artwork, unless you’re familiar with the local art scene, and [as an artist] you have no idea who can end up with your art.”

Knudsen’s own artwork can be found throughout Sacramento in public areas, free from the monetary ties associated with galleries. This is not because the artist does not accept payment for his art, but because there are other forms of intrinsic payment that Knudsen also values. Much of this artwork consists of paintings on wood that are held up with chain, temporary adhesive or U-lock.

As Knudsen explains, if you don’t like your local art scene, change your attitude and watch the scene change, too.

Sacramento Community Art Drop

Why do you think this project was started?
The SFAD was created to spread local art throughout the community of Sacramento in a unique, new way. It was created to get the art we create as Sacramento residents in the homes of our own people, to cover the walls of Sacramento homes with Sacramento art. To inspire artists young and old to create again, to create for the first time, to inspire future artists of Sacramento and instill a sense of pride in what we can do as people here. To create networking opportunities between artist and admirer. To create a platform for unknown artists to be discovered. To give those without the ability to afford a priced piece of artwork an opportunity to own art.

Artists of all skill levels and mediums are welcome to contribute. Not a single person knows how one drop can affect the course of their lives or the City of Sacramento, so no limitations should exist with who can participate. You truly never know the outcome when you give art without expectation.

And last but not least, you can inspire another to create. No dollar can match this … Without a doubt, art saves.

JM Knudsen

Have there been any issues with the project so far, or complaints? How is the project being received by the community?
To date, there has been only one real complaint, in regards to a single local artist stating that he wouldn’t drop art in the chest because he felt doing so would devalue his art. But besides that, this project has received nothing but praise from the community.

JM Knudsen

Describe other artistic endeavors in which you’re involved—from your own artwork, to other collaborative projects.
Outside of the SFAD I am the Creative Director/Artist for American Gypsy Apparel “One of a Kind,” an artistic collaborative involving more than 150 artists, including participation in several other U.S. cities and countries. The focus of this group is promoting the idea that we are all “One of a Kind.” The Instagram account has grown to more than 20,000 followers. Some people confuse AG with a brand, AG is not a brand.

For instance, a person in Germany will commission me to design a “One of a Kind” vest with a guitar on the back. I would create that item, text my friend James Cavern for a photoshoot with the vest, and post the photo on Instagram so people can see what James does through tagging him on Instagram, then I would ship the vest.

If an artist shot photography with me for AG, I would pay them with a “One of a Kind” item. Tattoos for sculptures, drawings for haircuts, playing music at an art show for a painting—we find a way to avoid using our currency and trade skills.

In 2016 I have a project with Peace Market around 18th and O streets, with more painting and murals, making art present inside and out. Working with local artists Goop Massta, BAMR and Arturo Romero, we completed a mural on Peace Market the first week of January and we have a group art show at Peace Market together in April.

JM Knudsen

How does tattooing integrate into your experience as an artist?
Tattooing is a major part of the artistic culture. Midtown Sacramento is saturated with artists and many residents are heavily tattooed. Things I want to express the most, I get tattooed.

What is the state of the art scene in Sacramento currently, in your opinion? What’s going well and what’s lacking? How would you like to see it change?
In my opinion, the state of the art scene in Sacramento is stronger than it has ever been since I’ve lived here. Artists are really starting to come together to do tremendous things, and it’s beautiful to witness—holding events like Launch and TBD Fest that bring in big name artists to our city, and show our artists off to the city. This is bringing us forward in a major way.

The Warehouse Artists Lofts are a great addition to the community as well, a place where artists can afford to live, create, thrive and collaborate. Establishments like the Hacker Lab are a valuable resource where we can learn the tools that can get us to the next level as an artist.

Murals are popping up all over downtown where businesses are becoming more accepting of the artist’s ability to attract through art. Coffee shops like Old Soul and Insight are giving artists a chance to showcase art for 30 days.

With technology, times have changed drastically for artists—many artists who don’t use Instagram are missing out on a free platform to showcase their ability, to network with other artists, to sell their craft and to see what other artists are doing around the world.

JM Knudsen

How can people find out where the art box is going to show up and when?
To track the whereabouts of the Community Art Chest, follow the Instagram account @sacfreeartdrop. The Chest is set to be at Peace Market on 18th and O every second Saturday of the month for the Art Walk. But the chest can pop up anywhere in Sacramento.

Follow Sacramento Free Art Drop on Instagram (@sacfreeartdrop) to find out where it may pop up next! You can also learn more about American Gypsy Apparel at Americangypsyapparel.com or on Instagram @americangypsyapparel.

David Ligare

Artist David Ligare’s Timeless Paintings Subject of Exhibit at Crocker Art Museum

California Classics

Visitors who want to get as much out of the David Ligare exhibit at the Crocker Art Museum as possible may want to approach the artist’s pieces with a notebook and possibly a Greco-Roman history book in hand.

It’s easy to float through the exhibit mesmerized by the 70-year-old Classicist’s beautiful symmetry, seascapes and elegance. His home on California’s Central Coast and his travels of the Mediterranean have inspired some of the most beautiful watercolors and oil paintings of the balance of water and land to depict life and death, chaos and calm, shadows and light, that you leave feeling serene. But that’s not all that Ligare wishes—of art lovers or of humans in general.

He sees his work as a “social project,” a push for the viewer to dig deeper into the Greco-Roman stories, landscapes, architecture and mythology from which he finds inspiration, and see how to apply this knowledge to modern life the way he offers modern narratives and twists.

Those serene images of white drapes flying above the Pacific? They are inspired by the alabaster Greek statues that have long lost their limbs and heads and of which only draped clothing remains.

David Ligare

{Penelope, 1980 | oil on canvas, 40 x 48 in.}

“It is often said that art should reflect our time, but it can reflect other times, and we can learn from history,” he explains. “When I began making narrative paintings I didn’t know anything about Classicism at all. I didn’t know these stories or myths, so I just started reading. It was just wonderful to do. It was so incredible to be completely submersed in these ideas that are so rich and so surprising.”

Ligare read the great philosophers of that ancient time and was amazed with the depth of knowledge they and others discovered, whether it was being able to measure the distance to places in the solar system or setting up a democracy.

“It’s the fact that somebody like Lucretius could understand that we are made up of atoms, and we’re talking about first century B.C. there,” he exclaims. “It’s just a crazy idea somebody would have without all the microscopes and modern technology. They were measuring the distance to the moon and the circumference of the Earth. And it wasn’t just ancient Greeks and Romans but other ancient societies like the Egyptians. They were inspired to think, and maybe that’s the key right there—inspiration. Any group of people, no matter what ethnicity or location, has the potential for doing really extraordinary things. It could be fifth century Athens or 15th century Florence,” but he notes that there was leadership that inspired thinking.

David Ligare

{Magna Fide, (The-Great-Belief), 2014 | oil on canvas, 60 x 80 in.}

Ligare doesn’t necessarily call himself a leader, but his belief that the central purpose of art is to inspire does then call on artists to lead in some way. He also specifically believes that the function of art and culture is to fulfill a social need, and viewers will realize that his art fulfills that need by depicting equality, the struggles of the homeless and the sick and the ideal that all things and beings can live harmoniously together.

“There’s a passion for knowledge we don’t really have right now and I would like to see that, to inspire people to want to learn, about everything,” Ligare says.

Education is how Ligare became an artist in Classicism in the first place.

“I thought it was important to begin exploring the origins of some of the ideas we were dealing with,” he says. “For instance, with homelessness, [it was important to me] to learn about what the Greeks felt about hospitality, or Romans, and what some of the underlying concepts were there and one of the concepts I’ve used most is ‘symmetria’—the idea of symmetry.”

Some of Ligare’s paintings at the exhibit depict this concept, which came from his research of Polykleitos and the harmonious integration of the disparate parts of the human body.

These paintings show the diversity of society and things in nature and how they fit together in a harmonious way.

David Ligare

{Mountain, 2013, oil on canvas, 60 x 90 in.}

“That is such an important ideal in modern society that I think it’s important to date back historically,” he says.

To discuss modern issues that society has seen over the last few decades, Ligare painted his perfectly symmetrical Vitruvian Man black, to coax people to talk about integrated as opposed to segregated society. The male body is harmoniously in proportion to the architectural structure behind it, which is harmoniously in proportion to the environment behind that.

Ligare says his concepts sometimes become very esoteric, but that’s where the fun is for him. His massive, attention-stealing painting Arete, for example, is a naked black man on a white horse, and caused many museum visitors to pause and stare.

The layers behind the painting bring much perspective. Arete in Greek has to do with the idea of excellence of the human spirit. The quote scrawled below the horse comes from a fifth century B.C. poem written about an athletic event, and Ligare wanted that athletic excellence idea to carry over to excellence in knowledge. His reason for using a black man also has to do with the two kinds of ceramic pots used in Ancient Greece, in which earlier pots were black figure vases, and the poet he references in the painting came from that period.

“For me, all of these paintings are so wrapped up in ideas and it’s difficult to boil them down to just a few words. But in that case I wanted it to be a man who had a great amount of integrity about him and carried himself as an excellent human,” he says.

David Ligare

{Still Life with Cactus and Oranges, 2001 | oil on canvas, 40 x 48 in.}

Ligare’s latest pieces hang at the very beginning of the exhibit before entering the room, and focus on architecture. The artist—who used to teach drawing at architecture schools in Wales and at Notre Dame—also finds great inspiration from past and current architects, especially the New Urbanists.

“I use history to recreate a narrative into art that way they [New Urbanists] were trying to create a narrative into cities to bring back a sense of character that would make them more livable,” he says.

Ligare doesn’t limit himself within a painting to a certain time period or place, which adds yet another dimension to each piece.

“One of the things I really like doing with all this stuff is being flexible and fluid in time; being comfortable with moving from 18th century to 17th through the Renaissance to even beyond to cave paintings in the neolithic era, and not be fixed to contemporary ideas or contemporary culture,” he notes.

That fixation to what might be acceptable in a specific place or time frame is something Ligare continues to rebel. It’s almost epitomized in one of his pieces—Ligare painted a male diving into a sea to show the balance of opposing forces of order and chaos, something he says he’s put into his work for the last 35 years. The painting of the diver was influenced by a tomb in southern Italy, which he says was likely not belonging to a diver, but was a representation of a person moving from air to water and from life into death. The painting is based off a photograph of Ligare as well, diving into the Aegean Sea.

David Ligare

{Seascape, 2003 | oil on canvas, 60 x 90 in.}

Ligare said he couldn’t help but laugh and include a new angle to the diver story when he found out that the main painting on large billboards advertising his exhibit in Gdansk, Poland, was the nude male diver. However, when he mentioned this to the Crocker, they didn’t seem to agree with the use of the painting for public advertisement.

You can see the infamous diver and dozens of other equally intriguing, educational works from Ligare at the Crocker Art Museum through Sept. 20.

David Ligare, California Classicist is on display now through Sept. 20 at the Crocker Art museum, located at 216 O Street in Sacramento. You can find hours of operation, as well as purchase admission tickets, through Crockerartmuseum.org.

Coffee with the Ambassador

On the art of Danny Scheible
Words by Bobby S. Gulshan

In the last few months of 2010, Sacramento’s Second Saturday Art Walk emerged as a hotly contested locus of debate. People wondered out loud if the event had strayed from its original mission; was the benefit to Midtown businesses and artists enough to justify the risks? Because opinions abound on both sides, we will likely not see any significant change to the Second Saturday event any time soon.

One thing, however, stood seemingly beyond contention: the art community is an important and integral part of the Midtown scene and of Sacramento in general. The amount of activity within the visual arts in Sacramento defies the notion that a vibrant art community that generates meaningful and important work can only exist within the major metropolises of New York or Los Angeles. To be sure, those cities remain important cultural centers if for no other reason than the sizes of the markets they inhabit. Yet, as artist and sculptor Danny Scheible tells it, there is something special about making art in Sacramento.

“You meet people here and they want to help you,” he says. “There is a community already there. Having been to bigger cities, it’s very much an exchange, what can this person do for me?” This sense of community, of art as the beginning of a practice of going beyond oneself, or perhaps toward some more complete version of the self, resonates centrally in Scheible’s work.

In sculpture, materiality and spatial context play vital roles in the interaction of the art object and its observer. As Danny and I spoke, he crafted flowers and other more abstract objects from rolls of masking tape. “Tape is something that everyone has in their house or wherever, so it’s something people can immediately identify with,” he says. “But it’s also about taking that everyday object and seeing the aesthetic potential in it.”

This intentional choice represents a movement toward the audience, toward their cultural and social location. With respect to spatial location, Scheible sees the importance not just of the gallery setting but of public space. While it brings with it some level of anxiety (things being damaged, openly criticized) venturing into public space is a further gesture toward the audience. In this case, it is to de-familiarize the everyday and punctuate it with an aesthetic gesture. “I might put a small piece out somewhere and then stand across the street and watch and see how people react, or I may leave things along my walking paths,” he says. Scheible will chronicle reactions, and these impressions further inform his process. In this way he is, as he says, “constantly creating myself as a person through my art.”

Scheible is the self-proclaimed “Art Ambassador of Sacramento.” His primary diplomatic function seems to be to inject into the experiences of his artwork–and thus himself–a dialogue or process by which further discovery can be made. “It’s a spiritual or meditative practice,” he says.

Many of our notions concerning modern sculptural works come from either our experience of sculptural objects in a gallery setting or the placement of sculptures in public places such as parks or commercial centers. These experiences tend to remind us of a kind of critical distance that exists between the object and the observer. In the case of minimalist sculptural works, the movement of the observer is a sort of theatrical gesture, but the object remains mute, having no specific relation to the audience other than its spatial fixedness. Scheible’s entire practice, and indeed process, seeks to reinvigorate this relationship with a certain kind of intimacy. In the works that he has given away, Sheible has encouraged others to produce drawings of his work that may subsequently be used as screen-print images, or alternately as hand drawn images, which again become the subject of his own process, as a sort of perpetual feedback loop. And this is key: The constant dialogue, or even dialectic, that generates the self through the process of offering forth the piece, having it reflected, and then taking that reflection as the starting point for the next iteration of work.

Scheible tells me, “I was born and raised in Curtis Park, and I live here now.” Locality is key to his process. The dialogue with the audience requires an immediacy that his interventions in space reveals. However, I don’t suspect that if Scheible keeps it up for long his bounds will be geographically limited. There exists a crucial point at which his art dares to reach into a universal realm: “An artist isn’t something you are born as, it’s something you make yourself into.” For Sheible, this is as much material and spatial as it is social. As he tells it, his strength lies in getting other artists to work together, to show together, and to promote together. This is a fundamental characteristic of anyone who dares to push the art that they believe in to the fore, and make it geographically and socially relevant.

We could have spent hours talking about the importance of public versus private space, or how hard it is for an artist to fix the damn scooter when it’s wrecked. But I look forward to an upcoming solo show, and the show he is curating, all here in our ever-vibrant Midtown arts scene.

Danny Scheible’s latest solo show at Lauren Salon will have its opening reception during Second Saturday in March (March 12, 2011). Scheible’s curated show will take place at FE Gallery and will also have its opening reception on Second Saturday in March from 6 to 9 p.m.