For over six years, I served on the Richmond Arts & Culture Commission (RACC) and Public Art Advisory Committee (PAAC). During that experience, I witnessed the long-lasting positive impacts of the arts in the community. Numerous interactions were with talented and incredible artists. As a result, advocating and supporting local artists is top priority.
My interest is local artists whose practice speaks to the human experience and condition. In traditional art institutions, sanitized aesthetics gaslights inequality. Where are the platforms that truly represent us all? With the upcoming election, I wanted to curate an exhibit highlighting a survey of Richmond artist perspectives.
In February, Bridge Storage and ArtSpace offered me a solo exhibition and it was an honor! As a result, I pitched the Bridge the Ballot exhibition idea of highlighting Richmond artists responding to the upcoming election. The venue agreed and the physical exhibit was supposed to open in April. COVID-19 entered and reimagining logistics was in order. The pandemic altered the platform and dates while only strengthening my resolve.
Concept: “2020 will be a crucial presidential election amplifying the responsibility of one’s vote. Bridge the Ballot connects the personal experience with issues important to Richmond artists. The exhibition goes beyond super PACs and propaganda back to the people. Participating artists include Jenny E. Balisle, Tiffany Conway, Rebeca Garcia-Gonzalez, A’aron Heard, Tatiana Ortiz, Robin D. López, Malik Seneferu, Tony Tamayo, and Irene Wibawa.”
Friday, September 25th at 7pm PT via Zoom is the Bridge the Ballot Virtual Reception and Panel Discussion! Participating artists and Richmond City Council District 6 candidate Claudia Jimenez will address these questions: What is an artist’s role in shaping policy and promoting civic action such as voting? How does art highlight issues important to Richmond? How can local government support the arts during a pandemic?
Starting Friday evenings in October, there will be 3 one-hour artist talks. The first talk on October 2nd features Robin D. López, Irene Wibawa, and A’aron B. Heard. Facebook: “Robin D. López is a freelance photographer focused on his hometown of Richmond and urban ecology. When he is not creating artwork, he’s working towards a doctorate in Environmental Science at UC Berkeley. Irene Wibawa is a multi-disciplinary artist dedicated to incorporating found objects into her artwork. She is donating proceeds from the sale of her artwork to several ecology-focused local nonprofits. A’aron B. Heard roots her work in love, curiosity and community. She creates poetry and visual artworks which express her passion for education equity, healing, and liberation.”
The second talk on October 9th features Malik Seneferu, Tiffany Conway, and Tony Tamayo. Facebook: “Malik Seneferu is a self-taught painter, draftsman, muralist, sculptor, illustrator, and instructor. He seeks to deliver messages of empowerment through his creative efforts. Tiffany Conway grew in her creativity from life experiences. She recently won an artistic achievement award as an exhibitor in the Art of the African Diaspora 2020 exhibit. Tony Tamayo is a Richmond digital artist focused on graphics and photography. Recently, he’s been focused on capturing still images of his hometown Richmond.”
The final talk on October 16th features Rebeca Garcia-Gonzalez, Tatiana Ortiz, and myself. Facebook: “Jenny Balisle is curator and driving force behind this exhibit! She teaches, lectures, writes and advocates for artists, as well as creating her own artworks, some of which have been featured in major publications. Rebeca Garcia-Gonzalez grew up in a working-class family in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico. Rebeca is a muralist, oil painter, teacher and children’s book illustrator. Tatiana Ortiz is a teacher, writer and illustrator with a nonprofit devoted to advocacy for children’s art and literacy. She works in polymer clay and acrylics.”
As a RAAC commissioner, I was amazed by Rebeca Garcia-Gonzalez’s 2014 An Installation on Wheels: Cinco de Mayo Floats Neighborhood Public Art (NPA) Mini-Grant project. In 2015, I was the assigned commissioner for Tatiana Ortiz’s 2015 The Scribbler Artist Neighborhood Public Art (NPA) Mini-Grant. That same year, I worked with Richmond Main Street for an Art in Windows exhibit featuring Malik Seneferu. In 2017, Tony Tamayo participated in an Art in Windows exhibit and he served as a RACC commissioner. In 2019, I met Robin D. López while he was taking photos at a Richmond Rainbow Pride event. Tiffany Conway, Irene Wibawa, and I exhibited artworks in the 2019 Richmond Art Center’s Right Here, Right Now. At the January 2020 Richmond Arts Salon and NIAD exhibition opening, I met A’aron Heard. Change starts together!
September 14th – November 9th, 2020
Virtual Events: (via Zoom)
Reception: Friday, September 25th at 7pm PT via Zoom
October 2nd 7pm PT (Lopez, Wibawa, Heard)
October 9th 7pm PT (Seneferu, Conway, Tamayo)
October 16th 7 pm PT (Garcia-Gonzalez, Ortiz, Balisle)
Bridge the Ballot. Bridge Storage and ArtSpace online and onsite. Richmond, CA. September 14 – November 9, 2020.