Praxinoscopes 1 & 2 by Ariel Springfield

The Queering of Seating:
Ariel Springfield
Earlier in their lives, the three chairs were just functional chairs — the simple wooden kind that people would sit on to have dinner or work at a desk. Now, piano strings crisscross the front of one, while lace contours another, and fur and fake pearls coat a third. Ariel Springfield calls her chairs Three Queer Bodies, a sculptural project designed to highlight cultural norms of body image, class, and sexual identity. Art-goers are encouraged to touch Springfield's chairs, and the chair with piano strings responds even without touch: It vibrates as you walk by.

"The chair is a reflection of the body — it holds bodies, and is designed to interact with our bodies — but it also has its own body and structure, with legs and feet," says Springfield, a Berkeley resident who identifies as queer. "With each chair, I was thinking about a different aspect of the body."

The lace chair, for example, reflects internal organs, and features a pocket of simulated salmon roe and a lace extension that juts up in back. Besides the chairs, Springfield repurposes other objects, like the bicycle wheel, cookie tins, mirrors, and other objects that were used for Praxinoscopes, a series that explores ideas of home, motion, and myth.

Springfield, 30, has exhibited work the past two years at the National Queer Arts Festival in San Francisco. "Art," she says, "can break down barriers in very personal ways. The viewers' permission to touch and interact with my art," Springfield says, "makes them intimate objects and restructures the narrative between art and voyeur."

Apache by Jeffrey Thompson

"The grid is appealing":
Jeffrey Thompson
"I'm emerging late." Jeffrey Thompson is referring to his age (57) and his newfound emphasis on grid paintings — alluring works that blend abstraction with patterns of squares, lines, and thin strips. He discovered his interest in grids in 2010, after a long period that emphasized more figurative work. "I felt the need to reinvent myself."

Thompson underlays his paintings with pieces of newspapers, magazines, and other printed material that take on new meaning in his oil and acrylic mosaics. In a recent untitled piece, he squeezes in truncated black-and-white word fragments like "rt" and "ike" and "ces," complementing the works' elliptical shading and giving it an appealing level of mystery. Thompson, who lives in North Beach, studied art at the San Francisco Art Institute, De Anza College, and California State University, East Bay, and has exhibited in Bay Area cafes and galleries. Next month, Southern Oregon University's Center for the Visual Arts is giving him a solo exhibit, and new audiences for his geometries. "The grid is appealing," he says, "because it's a central foundation of so many aesthetic areas, including textiles, architecture, and film. I work in commercial design, and the grid is a big part of everything that gets done commercially," he says. Much of what happens in two-dimensional work is based on the grid.

In middle age, Thompson has more time for his paintings. For many years, he devoted his days to helping raise his two sons and his autistic daughter. She's now an artist in her own right, and is starting to establish a career — just as Thompson is restarting his own. "A lot of people imagine artists as these young, hungry, talented and capable people — and frequently they are," he says. "But it's not the entire story."


Jonathan Curiel writes about art, music, film and other subjects for such media as SF Weekly and KQED. He has lectured at UCLA and been a juror at the S.F. International Film Festival.

Sherilyn Connelly curates the Dark Room Theater's long-running Bad Movie Night and writes about film for SF Weekly and the Village Voice.

Anna Pulley is SF Weekly's arts & culture editor.

Mollie McWilliams is SF Weekly's editorial coordinator.

Brandon R. Reynolds is SF Weekly's managing editor.

« Previous Page
My Voice Nation Help
©2014 SF Weekly, LP, All rights reserved.