Profile in Art: Sidnea D’Amico

”Warm colors, shapes and lines drive my work.  I like to work in series, and enjoy being playful with the subjects I have in mind.  I work with acrylics, often incorporating resin, Polaroid transfer, transfers or collage in my paintings.” -Sidnea D’Amico, Artist Statement

I recently visited artist Sidnea D’Amico in her San Francisco studio, where she was busy getting ready for San Francisco Open Studios this October.  Her work at this year’s Open Studios will feature recent collage-based paintings.  Working with a brightly saturated palette, Sidnea is concerned with her urban environment.  Her experience growing up in Sao Paolo with its particular graffiti style has been particularly important in her art.  Because graffiti is seen as a subversive act on the urban landscape, as an art form, it retains a traditional ‘outsider’ aspect to it, akin to 1960s counterculture and ‘bad boy’ personas.  The 21st century, however, has enjoyed a validation of graffiti with the work of artists such as Blek le Rat and Banksy, resulting in appreciation and enjoyment by artists and the general public of previously perceived vandalisms.  Sidnea has responded to São Paolo’s graffiti by re-purposing the visual memory of it in her paintings; creating a set of images that remind her of home, while pursuing her artwork and supporting her family in her newly adopted California home.  Such was her appreciation of graffiti, that, on a recent trip to São Paolo, while driving around with her parents, in response to their despair at the blight and urban decay symbolized by São Paolo’s prominent graffiti culture, Sidnea pointed out that the graffiti represented hope and beautiful imagery.  By the end of that trip, her parents began to appreciate their new discovery and pointed out their favorite instances of graffiti to her.  Skilled at representing abstract contemporary ideas, Sidnea addresses her environment using a visual vernacular that is contemporary and of the moment.

Born in Brazil, Sidnea studied photography and jewelry design.  When she settled in the USA, she began to develop her career as a visual artist.  Well read, literate, and articulate, Sidnea’s current reading reflects her love of biographies with a list that includes Lives of the Artists and Interview vols. 1 & 2 by Hans Ulrich Obrist.  She is multi-lingual, including Italian, Portuguese and is pursuing conversational French.

Among her many accomplishments, some of the highlights include:  California group exhibitions; shows in Dubai, Greece and Italy; an invitation to speak about her work at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts exhibition for Visionary Women; representative of Brazil at the Florence Biennale for Contemporary Art; and recently a third place award (while representing Brazil) at the Dubai International Art Symposium.  She has been invited twice, in 2007 and 2008, to participate in Hearts and Heroes, a public art project to benefit San Francisco General Hospital.  One of those works is now part of the Stanford permanent collection where it can be viewed at the Stanford Outpatient Center in Redwood City, California.

Visiting an artist’s studio offers a glimpse into a much more personal and intimate space than a gallery or museum. Sidnea’s studio, a bright compact space in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District, is a colorful, vital place, full of paint samples, small paintings, sketches and most importantly, light. She showed us a few works in progress, a few pieces prepared for the recent group exhibition, FourSquared, at ARC Gallery; and, also, her more recent work forming the vernacular of her series addressing the urban landscape.

Meeting with Sidnea was very pleasant.  Young, pretty and bright, a parent, and a working professional, she was open and easy to speak with.  Recalling a recent residency in Serbia, she spoke of the beautiful rural landscapes and environment.  But she also noted her realization that her heart was firmly entrenched in urban visual culture.

Just for fun, I asked Sidnea to answer a few personal questions for our Profile in Art:

Where were you born and where do you live now?

I was born in Brazil, live in San Francisco

Education and occupation?

I studied photography and Jewelry design in Brazil, here I start architecture but drop to do fine arts.  Now I am a visual artist.

Charity?

I always donate my work for non profit organizations that I believe is doing something important for the community. I absolute believe that when you have your heart into helping others, your life is enriched in all meanings.

High point(s) of your life?

While at JFK airport (New York), enroute to Brazil, after living in Switzerland, at the last minute I decided to change my path, got my luggage, and caught the last flight to San Francisco.  I had never been to San Francisco before but felt it would open my future…

When I quit architecture to pursue art, determined to never give up.

When my daughter was born – I will never forget that moment!

Travel?

I used to love to travel by myself, discover new places, meet new people.  Lately I enjoy traveling when art is involved, meet other artists and show my work

I have been invited to Dubai, Greece, Hungary, Serbia and next year I will be showing my work in Poland.

Do you like music?

Brazilian jazz is my favorite

What defines you?

Passion.

Are you a fashionista, cerebral, both, why?

I am impulsive, instinctive and emotional.  Inexplicably, I care about fashion only when on vacation. Here, in my daily life I just like to wear the same old jeans and t-shirt.

What entertains you?

I am entertained by my work. I deeply enjoy painting. My studio is my playground.  Also, I enjoy a good biography, the movies, watching my daughter play volleyball, walking in G.G. Park listening to music.

What is the best thing about your life?

That I am able to do what I do, Paint! I am thankful everyday that I do what I do.

-Micaëla Van Zwoll, 09.2010

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Containers of Information – The Art of Monika Steiner

The rich oil paintings by Monika Steiner investigate subtle relationships between perception and material reality. Her paintings are meditative by virtue of color, shape, and multiple layers. Using ideas of surface and dissolving shapes, she creates a metaphor for the cycle of appearances arising out of, then returning to, states of pure potential.

Steiner is a beautiful woman with a refined appearance.  At a recent visit to her studio, she was friendly and expressive, lighting up when discussing her work.  Currently on exhibition at Micaëla Gallery in San Francisco, Steiner’s work studies contemplative relationships through a detailed visual landscape.

She states, “All forms of matter are containers of information.  Particles come in and out of existence, through our intention to observe them, passing from the inchoate into the physical and then back into the realm of potential.  Referencing this, my paintings feature emerging and dissolving spheres, Nature’s most efficient shape, floating in empty space.  This concept allows an investigation of relationships between perception and material reality. Harmonious background colors interacting with the energetic floating spheres create a balance that it is delicate and powerful, dramatic and serene.”

The ongoing exhibitions of Steiner’s work possess obvious kinship.  In a three-woman exhibition at Micaëla Gallery (through October 30), Steiner’s work is a presentation of color and geometric harmonies, while her recent exhibition at ARC Gallery (through September 18) is a distillation of her summer residency in Greece this year.  Both exhibitions present artwork conforming to painting formalities and visual agreement.

Born in Switzerland in 1972, Steiner holds various degrees.  In 2005, she received her BFA (Magna Cum Laude) in Painting from Sonoma State University.  Steiner’s painting was recognized early during her studies as a painter, resulting in professional acceptance of her work in galleries while still a student.  She earned recognition for her work as a goldsmith in Interlaken, Switzerland, and was awarded a Teaching Credential from the University of Bern.  She resides in Switzerland and the San Francisco Bay Area, where she teaches painting and is devoted to her practice of painting and sculpture.  Steiner has shown her work (and enjoyed successful exhibitions) in Switzerland. She is currently represented by galleries in the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Santa Fe.   -Micaëla Van Zwoll, 09.2010