My Afternoon with the MFAs

The scene at Richmond Field Station.

On Saturday, 12 November 2011, I went over to UC Berkeley's Richmond Field Station at the invitation of the Berkeley Art Museum to see and hear presentations by MFA students in the Art Department, some of whom have studio space there. I'd never been to RFS, which is a ramshackle, sandbox kind of place that attracts engineering students as well as artists. The buildings are of all different types and sizes, probably ex-WW II military. They have a weathered, rough-and-ready look.

Presumably this is Building 118.
The students showed a mix of work. Many of them work in several media, but there are also sculptors and photographers. What follows is a quick visual run-through of what I saw. (I'm sorry that I can't also document what I heard.)

Amy Rathbone uses an entire room as her art space.
Her hanging sculpture uses pieces of asphalt or bitumen.
Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck works in video.
He uses clips from a family's home movies from the 1950s.
Jennie Smith was next.
Her paintings address myths like the turtle carrying the world.
Brett Walker is a photographer.
He sometimes stars in his own photos.
Kari Marboe works with text and images, drawing on Roland Barthes' A Lover's Discourse.
In this work, she collaborated with a sculptor.
Kari Orvik works in photography, including tintypes, and video.
These are a series of tintypes, including portraits.
Tintypes have to be developed immediately. She has a darkroom in car.
Frank Marquez-Leonard is a sculptor.
This is the work he showed us.
A lot of the studios had beautiful light.
Some of them had interesting work by other artists, like this.
And like this.
After hearing the presentations, we gathered in yet another building at RFS for refreshments. One of the artists, Jennie Smith, gave me prints (from Kinko's, not the artist's kind) of two works that I'd admired during her presentation. I'm not sure how to describe them.
Prints of two drawings (?) by Jennie Smith.
I was invited to this event because I joined Berkeley Art Museum as a patron. BAM/PFA is an amazing benefit of living in 94708 (and elsewhere in the Bay Area), well worth joining and supporting. Meeting the MFAs, seeing their work, and hearing the ideas behind it was energizing. There will be an exhibit of their final projects at BAM in May 2012. Look for it!


  1. How exciting this all looks! I wish I could have gone with you! thanks for posting.


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