Connect For...

I once attended an event hosted by Oakland's Impact Hub that featured entrepreneurial guru, Michael Bush.  During his presentation, he asked all the participants to split into smaller groups and engage in a discussion on various topics.  There was one topic in particular that sparked several thought-provoking discussions.  The question posed was, "How do you deal with feelings of self-doubt and isolation when you are a small business owner?"  Responses to this question ranged from creating short-term goals to participating in video chats with other business owners around the world.  

This question came to mind again during my recent visit to Yosemite National Park .  While taking in all of the beauty and sheer wonder of my surroundings, I was reminded that we are a part of a larger continuum and that our journey was never meant to be experienced alone.  Nature, in it of itself, is a collective.   It is the essence of syncopation, harmony, and partnership.  I have been fortunate as a new business owner to have met so many people that have been supportive and really want to see the vision of Art Is Luv flourish.  A big thanks to my family, friends, mentors, artists, and other business owners for your enthusiasm and genuine kindness.  Each of you continues to remind me that I am and here with a purpose and that I am a part of a rich and fertile community that is truly boundless.  

Source: 1 (Art is Luv), 2, 3, 4, 5 (unknown)

Face Painting

I believe that body art is oftentimes one of the most personal and public forms of artistic expression.  Be it an expression of tradition or culture, or statement of belief or beauty, it has the  ability to captivate, intrigue, inspire and sometimes silence those who cross its path.  Here are a few that captured my attention.  Good night all.

Source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (unknown), 7, 8, 9

Grits: Sarah Kersten

Hello Again,

I am a firm believer that life is a continuum of experiences and moments that connect people in a way that will ultimately be for the greater good.  About two weeks ago, I crossed paths with the beautiful and talented Sarah Kersten.  Sarah is a ceramic artist that specializes in pottery.  I came to know of Sarah by browsing Kickstarter on a hunt for inspiration for my own Kickstarter video.  Sarah's story felt so genuine, that I felt compelled to support her campaign.  I recently had an opportunity to meet with Sarah over tea at the Artis Cafe in Berkeley and learn more about her journey as an artist and her approach to creating timeless and covetable pieces.  One of the most interesting perspectives Sarah shared was that what she values most about her craft, is its function and that for her, being recognized as a fine artist pales in comparison to the lifelong memories of family and communion that are quietly transcribed into her vessels.

See more of Sarah's story in our interview and be sure to visit her Kick Starter campaign (  It's pretty amazing what people are doing to make a life out of what they love.  Let's show support!  Who knows who you will meet along the way.

Source: Sarah Kersten and Art Is Luv

Art Is Luv: Where do you call home and what makes home feel like home?

Sarah Kersten: At the moment, home is where I live in North Oakland/Emeryville. I live in a beautiful, historic home, and my housemates are the greatest.  It feels like home because it's my most familiar place; it's the longest I've lived anywhere aside from my parent's house. 

That being said, I spend a lot of time feeling homesick for Washington State and New York State. I was born in New York, and we moved to Washington when I was twelve. 

Art Is Luv: When did you begin practicing ceramic arts?  Were you introduced to the art form or were you the creative kid that somehow knew how to make more out of "Play Doh" than just a cookie?

Sarah Kersten: I started taking ceramics classes when I was thirteen at a pottery school in Seattle's Pioneer Square District. It was a way to stay busy in the summer.  I was definitely obsessed with it in retrospect; from the moment I started, I found a way to always keep working in clay. That being said, I never considered "being an artist" as a career path until I was 22.  

As a child I definitely liked to hang out in the sand box and play with play dough, but honestly, no one ever said I had artistic talent. I also remember that pottery was definitely not a hip form of art when I was in high school; it's had some kind of a renaissance recently, and all of the sudden it's cool. 

Art Is Luv:  I have always felt a personal connection with handmade items.  One of my earliest memories of this was actually in a ceramics class I took during a summer day camp when I was 11-years old.  I always felt especially proud of and enamored by my creations, even when it wasn’t always clear what they actually were.  Has that been your experience and why do you think working with clay evokes such a feeling?

Sarah Kersten: I think it's pretty amazing to manipulate tangible, earth based elements, and to watch them go through a transformation into something that is different, but permanent and solid. It's very grounding. That's probably why people experience a lot of wonder when they look at their finished pieces. It marks the passage of time, and it shows that transformation is real. That's cool. 

Art Is Luv:  I think there was a period of time, especially in the 80s and 90s, that people thought of a piece of pottery as only a decorative item, but I have noticed a shift within the last 5 - 10 years that seems to inspire collectors to rediscover the utilitarian value of pottery.  Has that also been your observation and is this a movement that spans generations (e.g. Has mom also decided to move the good dishes out of the china cabinet?)?

Sarah Kersten: This is the story as I know it, but I'm not a historian.  The market for handmade pottery started to slow down in the 80s and 90s, as mass produced inexpensive modern dishes became abundantly available. Tastes and aesthetics changed during that time too, and many people started to prefer the clean look of manufactured work. 

Today, there is obviously a revival in interest in all things handmade and locally made. Handmade dishes can be used multiple times a day, and I think that feels really good for people. It gives them a tactile connection to a meaningful object, and it ties into food consciousness as well. 

As for my mother, she was never particularly interested in pottery, but she understands it more now. She uses work i've given to her often. Using my work gives my parents a connection with me even though I'm far away, and I'm grateful that my craft can do that. 

Art Is Luv:  Honestly, I've never thought to ferment anything but I would be lying if I didn't tell you that I would entertain the idea of eating all gut healthy foods just so that I can use one of your beautiful fermenting jars.  If someone asked you to recommend a piece of pottery to start a collection or include in an everyday arsenal, what would you tell them?

Sarah Kersten: Bowls and mugs are nice because they're useful every day. An assortment of different vases for different flowers is nice too. 

Art Is Luv: Who are some of your favorite ceramic artists?

Sarah Kersten: Recently I've been admiring Erin McGuinnes's work most often. She happens to work in the building where my new studio is located. 

Historically, Lucie Rie. 

Art Is Luv:  As I am sure you are aware, California has been home to many of the first pioneers of ceramic arts, some of which have gained both national and international notoriety.  However, as a whole,  do you feel like ceramic art is as widely recognized in the fine arts world as other visual arts forms?  If not, what do you think is the missing link?

Sarah Kersten: First off, I'm not particularly hip to the fine art side of ceramics. From what I have observed, no, it isn't as widely recognized as other fine art mediums, but that isn't universal. Ai Weiwei's sunflower seeds comes to my mind. I don't think there is an inherent bias against the medium. 

Art Is Luv: What's next for you and where can we see more of your work?

Sarah Kersten: The best place to find my work right now is in my Kickstarter campaign, which runs through October 17th. (  After that campaign finishes, we're going to quickly get to work assembling the studio. I'm planning to be at West Coast Craft and at the Remodelista Holiday Market this year, both in December. 

As for my work, I'm planning to continue making functional work, more fermentation jars, and hopefully some smaller fun stuff. I would love to start working on bigger pieces more often. 

Art Is Luv: Finally, what's for breakfast?

Sarah Kersten: I eat a lot of frittatas with eggs and leftover roasted veggies that might be in my fridge on any given morning. In a similar theme, this summer I found a recipe for baked eggs over a bed of roasted cherry tomatoes. I've been pretty into that. 

Connect For...Breast Cancer Awareness

I was driving to work today and I nearly gasped when I heard the most recent statistics for breast cancer in women.  Are you ready for this?  One in eight women will develop breast cancer within their lifetime.  October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Everyone, please make it a point to see your physician for regular screenings.  It's a matter of life and death.  I love you all.  Charmin

Source: 1 (unknown), 2, 3, 4

Grits: Ian Johnson

Good evening good people,

Today I am pleased to introduce the Grits Series – a collection of artist interviews over breakfast.  Each of the artist featured in this series possesses  a spirit of fearlessness and tenacity that is translated into their work in a raw, inspiring and captivating way.

I feel so fortunate to kick this series off with the very talented Ian Johnson.  Ian is an artist living and working in San Francisco. His work has been exhibited around the country and internationally.  Much of his work is heavily rooted in music and celebrates the artists that brought the music to life.   Ian’s drawings and paintings demonstrate his ability to capture an explosion of complex rhythms, forms, and personality, in a way that is both eloquent and familiar.  Ian and I discussed a myriad of topics ranging from his beginnings as an artist to his opinion on what it means to stay relevant as an artist.  One of things that stood out most in our discussion was the importance of understanding the value of an artist’s work and determining one’s personal means for investing in art.  Ian notes, that as collectors one of the many ways we can support artists is by “meeting them at the price they or their gallery sets”.   The take home for me was that buying art is a choice just like buying a pair of shoes.  You just have to find a pair that speaks to your aesthetic and your budget.

And without further ado, “Grits”…according to Ian Johnson.  Thanks Ian!  It was an honor!

Art Is Luv:  Where do you call home?

Ian Johnson: I live in San Francisco, I've lived here since 1993.  I guess it is more home than anywhere else at this point.

Art Is Luv: What is your earliest memory of painting and/or sketching and what did you create?

Ian Johnson: My earliest memory is drawing with pens on yellow legal pads my grandmother had in her desk drawer for work.  They were usually long battle scenes of some kind with random characters from cartoons and toys.

Art Is Luv: For many artists, art as a career is often an indirect pathway.  What were some of your oddest and most memorable detours along the way?

Ian Johnson: I can't really think of any specifically odd detours per se.  I never intended to make a living in art so i guess it has all been pretty odd.   Well, one time my mom got me a job doing a logo for a comedy club that was opening inside a strip club in manhattan.  That was only time i've been in a strip club to meet the owner and it was pretty early in back room of the club.  While we were talking a few of the dancers were eating dinner before work.  They were in their show gowns, all made up and housing very large steaks.  It kind of killed the illusion for me.  I don't know why, but I never thought strippers ate at work.  It was kind of stupid thing to assume, but it just struck me as odd.

Art Is Luv: I noticed that many of your pieces are inspired by jazz artists.  Are you often inspired by music?  If I pressed your Pandora play button, what would I hear?  

Ian Johnson: I primarily work from portraits of jazz musicians so music is my primary base of my inspiration.  Of course music influenced by the lives of those that made it so it is also filtered through the context of thinking of their lives and the time period in which it was created.  You couldn't push play on my Pandora because I don't use it, ha.  But like most people I listen to all sorts of music.  The musicians I'm working on painting or drawing like Sun Ra, John Coltrane, Yusef Lateff, Bill Evans, Nina Simone, etc.   More contemporary things like King Krule, Sachillpages, Shabazz Palaces...  Classical sometimes...  I listen to podcasts a lot now as well, comedy, npr, sports, history and science ones mostly.

Art Is Luv: How do you stay relevant as an artist?  What advice would you give to an emerging artist?

Ian Johnson: I'm not sure how to stay relevant as an artist.  I don't know if I am, ha!  I'm not sure you actually can either.  Opinions sway and artists come in and out of fashion.  The ones that last connect to base human emotions, feelings and aesthetics in a unique way i suppose.  As far as advice I would say not to worry too much about how you fit into the art world at large.  Just do work you like and are into and if your good you'll probably find a fit.  However, you might not, life is complicated and timing is a delicate thing and it doesn't always work out how you think it will.  To be successful in most anything you have to work very hard.  For art you usually have to do that have a solid aesthetic, be stylistically fashionable, have an bullshit intellectual subtext for your work and play the political game of the art world.  Even then it still might not work.

Art Is Luv: What was the last piece of art you purchased?  Why do you think it's important to invest in art?  Who is one of your favorite artist?

Ian Johnson: I buy art books and prints and trade other artists for work.  I haven't bought a piece of art work in a long time unfortunately.  I haven't really had the disposable income to do so and now I have a child and still I can't really afford it.  I think it's important to invest in art if you like art and want to see more of it from that person or want to show your appreciation for what they have done so far.  I don't think its more important that food or shelter but if you have the means and enjoy it its worth supporting.  Some of my favorite artists are Jules de Balincourt, Francesco Igory Deiana, Harley Lafarrah Eaves, Alicia McCarthy a bunch of people... If I ever get a lot of money I will buy stuff from them and others, ha

Art Is Luv: What direction do you think your paintbrush will take you next?

Ian Johnson: Not really sure.  I plan on continuing on painting and drawing and hopefully getting better at them both.  What that leads to, I guess I'll find out when it happens.

Art is Luv: Where can we see more of your work?

Ian Johnson: On Instagram @ianmjohn. I try to post things once i finish them on there now.  My website has a sample of work.  As far as physical shows, the next one have is a Park Life in San Francisco, October 17th through November 9th.

Art is Luv: Finally, what's for breakfast?

Ian Johnson: I don't have much time anymore in the mornings so I usually just have coffee and toast.  Sometimes my lady has some extra time and makes me chia pudding or something more time consuming like a frittata or portuguese sausage, rice and eggs.  I'm ashamed to say I don't really cook much unfortunately, but she is a fantastic cook.

Upcoming Local Art Events

Happy Tuesday or at least what's left of it!  I just wanted to pop in quickly to let everyone know about two upcoming local art events taking place this weekend.  The first event will be hosted by one of our very own artists, Joshua Whitaker, at his brand new gallery space, Spirithaus in Oakland...should be a fun time.  The other event is hosted by Oakland's own Loakal as part of Art Beats, a free art and music experience.  Check them out folks.  Let's support the art movement!  

Connect For...

Today's Connect For entry is an ode to summer's end.  Saying goodbye to summer is all too often bittersweet, unless you live in California, where summer gets an encore called Indian Summer.  So far all of my fellow Californians out there, "Party On!" and to the rest of the gang, "Enjoy the beginnings of a beautiful harvest."  Be blessed and talk soon.

Source: 1, 2, 3, 4






Welcome to September lovelies! I have great things in store for you this month.  In September, I will be launching two new series; the first is "Through the Looking Glass" where I will feature a local gallery and the second series is called "Grits" which will showcase a local artist interviewed over breakfast.  Should be fun and delicious!  I hope you will join me.  Stay tuned...

What's Your Soundtrack?

This is what I'm diggin' today (play me)...

Source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

And him (play me)...

Source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

What Moves You?

Today I wondered what it really means to be moved by something or someone.  Often we are moved by things that elicit an emotional response but what happens after we smile, cry, or laugh?  Do we act on those emotions?  Do we move?  Whether the subject matter is related to nature, the human spirit, or the architecture of a bustling city, art compels us to feel something and hopefully act in a way that will help the world become a better place.

Connect for...

I have always found it fascinating how a piece of art can provide the perfect opening to any introduction.  It is often the impetus that moves us to engage with one another despite our differences.  Although seen through many different lenses, art has the ability to evoke a sense of community and spark endless conversations that appear almost effortless.  It beckons our senses and invites our inner artist to collectively hear, taste, feel and smell the creativity in the things that inspires us the most.

Source:  Share Design

Source: Share Design

Source:  Camille Styles
Source:  Flickr

Source: Flickr


May 29, 2014

Andy Denzler

Andy Denzler

I am amazed at how we are often controlled by fear.  So much so that it can paralyze our footsteps and silence our voices.  Imagine how much of the world we never see or hear simply because of our own inhibitions.   One of the things I remember most about my childhood is that my enthusiasm and curiosity were the catalysts for new adventures and meeting friends along the way.  I watch my two 4-year olds and am amazed at how fearless they are even in foreign, uncharted territory.   For example, they are currently learning Spanish at their pre-school.  When the three of us are out, I encourage (also known as force) them to initiate conversations with Spanish speaking strangers.  Although my children are native English speakers, with only one year of Spanish under their belts, they typically oblige my request and sometimes make a new friend in the process.  

Whether learning a language or embarking on some other new adventure, (like publishing your first blog post!) taking a first step can sometimes feel like a daunting task...unless of course you are 4-years old.  Well, I'm not...surprise!  Nonetheless, today is the day that I will summon the courage of my adolescence and follow the example of my children.  Today is the day that I will commit to being fearless.  My name is Charmin Baaqee and I am the owner and founder of the Art Is Luv Movement.  Thank you for joining me on the beginning of this fantastical journey.

¿Listo?  Absolutely!