Occupy: The Plein Air Story in Oakland at Joyce Gordon Gallery


Occupy: The Plein Air Story

When: November 2 – Dec 1st, 2012
Opening Reception: First Friday, November 2nd, 6-9pm
Occupy Poetry: Saturday, November 3rd, 3-5pm
Panel Discussion: November 24th

Where: Joyce Gordon Gallery
406 14th St (12th St. Bart Exit)
Oakland, Ca. 94612

Who: Anthony Holdsworth, Jessica Jirsa and John Paul Marcelo
with guest artists, Tomye and award winning photographer,Rick Rocamora

For more information please contact:
Curator: Eric Murphy - eric.aioakland@gmail.com
Gallery: 510.465.8928

Joyce Gordon Gallery presents “Occupy: The Plein Air Story”, an exhibition marking the anniversary and historical events of the Occupy Movement from the perspective of three Bay Area plein air painters.

More than two years ago, movements around the world challenging the economic inequalities of a “Pareto Principle” like system resulted in what we now call the Occupy Movement. As major movements emerged in San Francisco and Oakland, Ca., three plein air painters entered the scene to bear witness to these local movements with a synoptic view on canvas; an organic step away from the commonly respected graphic design posters and photographs that normally offer a visual account of social and political struggles. Their painted stories reflect an onerous and yet more intimate viewpoint from which to understand the voices of the encamped movement. They gained notable press recognition for their Jim Pollock (Vietnam War Combat Artist) approach to recording history.

"In the past year, Americans have become more aware of the injustices of our ruling class. With actions such as illegal foreclosures, the use of tax money to bailout failing companies, union busting, the disappearance of basic public services, and growing economic inequalities, the percentage of the affected population grows. On a wider scale, this awakening of the American people is interwoven with the ongoing struggles of people all over the world. Even anticipating setbacks, major changes are coming that will affect us, and even more, the next generation." – John Paul Marcelo
"I have been occupying the streets of Oakland and San Francisco as an urban painter for forty years, so 'Occupy' immediately resonated with me. I grabbed my easel and headed for the encampments. I was surprised and delighted to find two other artists painting there. Our combined viewpoints from inside the camps paint a more accurate picture of Occupy than the limited coverage offered by the press. The emergence of the Occupy Movement is a sign that the ‘street’ is re-entering the political dialogue. It is a good time to be out, on site channeling this populist energy." - Anthony Holdsworth

“I’ve learned it is a magnificent duty to be able to capture the day-to-day happenings of extraordinary events where basic humanity is typically overshadowed by the extreme and destructive. I have so much pride in the citizens of Oakland and their unrelenting devotion and dedication to fight for the right of the pursuit of happiness for all. I also thank the Occupy movement for bringing me together with my new plein air friends, Anthony Holdsworth and John Paul Marcelo, whose friendship and support is a priceless gift.” - Jessica Joy Jirsa

Anthony Holdsworth, a native of England and current resident of Oakland, Ca. embarked on a painting career while working as Head of Outdoor Restoration for the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy after the flood of 1966. He continued his studies at the Bournemouth College of Art in England and the San Francisco Art Institute. In 1984 he and his partner, Beryl Landau, organized 'The Artists Tour of Nicaragua '84' to bear witness to the Sandinista Revolution in a major exhibition at Southern Exposure Gallery in San Francisco. He has also participated in exhibitions at the Oakland Museum. His work is currently in corporate and private collections around the world.

Jessica Joy Jirsa, a graduate from New York University, recently made her big move to Oakland from Sioux Falls, South Dakota in 2010. Her passion for painting on location would come from the influence of two South Dakota Plein Air artists, Jim Pollock and Stephen Randall, who both were also Combat Artists in the Army during the Vietnam War. Jessica met them in 2004, they were actively involved in organizing Plein Air Paint Outs across the state of South Dakota, and both encouraged Jessica to paint the outside world as much as possible. They later became three of seven South Dakota artists that were invited to paint the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra on stage during a live performance of “Pictures at an Exhibition” in 2005. It was that moving experience that took oil painting past being her hobby to being her duty and obsession. However, it was when she started painting at Occupy Oakland that she found a real connection with her mentors’ experience of being Combat Artists and understood the power and privilege of of interpreting history as it happens.
John Paul Marcelo is a plein air painter who moved to California in 2002. A graduate of Columbia College in Chicago, he studied fine art, graphic design, and photography. He decided to trade the computer for an easel and take his office outside. He has painted the scenery of San Francisco, Southern California, and Chicago. Subject matters often range from the pristine nature that still exist to scenes of urban decay. Past documentary projects have lead him to places such as post-Katrina New Orleans, the San Bruno Fire, and the Union Carbide Factory in India.

John Paul is witnessing a creative revival of styles that echo from bygone eras here in Oakland. With a city that embraces old analogue, urban homesteading, and grassroots awareness, he feels at home with his easel, brushes, and oil paints. Hopefully this movement, along with future ones, will forever be remembered. More importantly, civilization must learn and build upon it.

Curator’s Statement – As this exhibition opens on the anniversary of Occupy Oakland’s “General Strike”, many will look back to ask what have been accomplished and where do we go from here and more importantly did our actions make a difference. What does it mean to be part of a struggle and how do we identify the one percent from the ninety-nine percent (a slogan that address the growing income inequality and wealth distribution in the U.S. between the wealthiest 1% and the rest of the population) through this course of action we call Occupy?

We witnessed a great shut down of the Port of Oakland through an Anti-Capitalist March demonstrated by thousands representing the 99%. As a result, casualties of war took place when the other 99% were directly affected due to their income based on delivery of goods to the Port and not a base pay as most working class take for granted. This dichotomy of the 99% was also relevant through the down turn of small businesses near city hall to the closure of a nearby coffee shop. Perhaps the biggest irony was the constant defacing and renaming of a plaza (Frank Ogawa Plaza), which bore the name of a man who knew encampment and injustice more than any of us would ever experience in our lifetime. The late Frank H. Ogawa was a civil rights leader and prisoner of the Japanese Internment camps in Utah for 3 1/2years during World War II prior to becoming the first Japanese American to serve the longest seat of the Oakland City Council.

This local contingent received praise and condemnation as their support came by the thousands both locally and internationally. We are now left with these questions, can some justify an antithetical view of the Occupy Movement; or has the media averred a negative view, causing our sense of reality to be based on credulity? Perhaps our most reliable source would be the artistic voice of the community that witnessed this great movement first hand. One thing is for certain; solidarity has never illustrated a better definition in the face of the oppressed than in this movement we proudly call the Occupy Movement - Eric Murphy
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