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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

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Let your mind take 'a darling walk' through Creativity...

Let your mind take ‘a darling walk’ through Creativity Explored’s latest

Named from a Lorine Niedecker poem, the nonprofit's retrospective wanders colorfully from intimate to nostalgic.

We’re more than halfway into 2020, and yet, many of us are still adjusting to major changes in our daily routines. For some of us, that’s included skipping out on in-person exchanges and spending longer periods of time indoors. Luckily, the Bay Area visual arts scene still offers online opportunities to lift our spirits, all while broadening our minds.

Creativity Explored, the gallery and studio space that centers artists with disabilities, offers one such opportunity. Its most recent exhibit, “The Park ‘a darling walk for the mind,’” is a thought-provoking collection showcasing artists it’s worked with, 20 years past and present, which you can enjoy virtually through September 3.

In preserving the magic of the curatorial tradition, the collection was also physically installed in the Mission gallery space. Curator and visual arts instructor Ajit Chauhan selected pieces for the exhibit and describes the “mostly intuitive” act of choosing artworks as “not just something on the wall. It’s looking back at you, and there is a really powerful experience that feels completely external and internal at the same time.”

Bay Area painter Alicia McCarthy also added colorful markings to the show—on the walls and various surfaces—creating a kind of connective tissue between images. The storefront window on 16th street offers locals a safe, socially-distanced glimpse at selected pieces, perhaps even while taking a “darling walk” through the neighborhood.

Alicia McCarthy’s colorful wall markings provide a connective tissue in the exhibition

The exhibit begins by inviting viewers to embrace a poem by Lorine Niedecker, which describes the surprise of “a sense of starling musings.” Niedecker’s text evokes a change in perspective, a nod to any artist’s unique gift of paying close attention. Next, we are drawn into an often abstract, intimate visual landscape, a “mixtape made for a friend,” featuring visits from Walter Kresnik’s white cat to Claus Groeger’s optic bursts, a flurry of shapes and colors. Viewers may be drawn towards the personally introspective “circus” penned by James Miles or Mary Belknap’s series of intricately framed windows.

Claus Groeger, “Untitled,” 2016

MaryBelknap, ‘Untitled (Ballpoint)’, 2010

“The Park ‘a darling walk for the mind’” also features works by Jose Campos, a beloved Creativity Explored artist from El Salvador who passed away last May. Campos worked with colored pencil, watercolor, and even sharpie, creating dense shapes, reminiscent of the muscular system. His images bring onlookers into both the body and psyche, reminding us that there is movement even in standing still.

If you’ve ever had the privilege of touring the Creativity Explored studio in the past then you know how much passion goes into cultivating the imaginative and liberatory atmosphere shared by artists and Visual Instructors alike. And as we adjust to online experiences, new avenues of growth are illuminating a path.

Lorine Niedecker’s poem, with makings by Alicia McCarthy

Art lovers, even teachers and parents, are invited to engage with “The Park ‘ a darling walk for the mind” and the important questions the exhibit asks, such as: “how great of a surprise can you tolerate” and “how small a surprise can you recognize?” (Don’t miss the Virtual Curator Talk and Exhibition Tour with Ajit Chauhan, which can be viewed on Creativity Explored’s YouTube channel and Instagram starting Thur/9.)

Through September 3, 2020
Creativity Explored, SF
See it online here (also installed for storefront viewing). 
More info about the show here

Maddy Clifford
Maddy Clifford is a writer, musician, and educator originally from Seattle. Currently based in Oakland, she’s spent the past 10 years teaching literary arts workshops to local youth.
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