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

The Prince of Artaud

Perhaps as much as any of the artists at Project Artaud, Pico Sanchez embodies the spirit of the storied San Francisco artists’ commune.  The original live-work artist space in San Francisco has been around since the early 70’s.  When you enter the building from Alabama Street and walk past pico-sanchez-mission-district-murals-san-francisco-2007-06-08-121the Building Manager’s office (appropriately enough, that would be Pico, who is also the ten-time President of Artaud), your senses are immediately assaulted by a joyous cacophony of color and shape.  The courtyard is Pico’s playground.  Pico has been a fixture here for twenty-five years; moving here from Wisconsin and living in the parking lot for three years while waiting for a studio to open. It was and is the place where he was always meant to be.

I asked Pico to describe his art.  He said it was sophisticated and naïve.  It is his goal to be as naïve as possible, but it is a constant battle because of his years of training as a professional artist, or as he put it “contamination”.  pico-sanchez-mission-district-murals-san-francisco-2007-06-08-54From as far back as he can remember, Pico has always been mesmerized by the colors, shapes and shadows surrounding him.  He grew up in Mexico City and many from his mother’s side of the family were artists in one way or another.  There were constant gatherings filled with music and art.  There were also a few oil paintings hanging on the wall in his house that had been purchased in Europe.  As Pico described them, it was almost as if he was looking at them at that moment:  sunset in the coliseum in Rome; a caravan of camels in the desert – these were the original images that captured his imagination. 

As a young man, he went on to study art formally at the Academy of Fine Arts in Mexico City.  He was also a “Muralista Mexicano”, an experience that we are all beneficiaries of when we walk in the Mission around 19th Street, where many of the buildings have been painted by him.  For years, Pico has been talking the shop owners of “his part of the Mission” into commissioning him to beautify their buildings.  The photos in this article are a sample of those murals. pico-sanchez-mission-district-murals-san-francisco-2007-06-08-126

 After graduating the Academy of Fine Art, Pico attended the University of Wisconsin in Green Bay.  As he noted, he moved from the tropics to the tundra.  He studied art there and stayed for thirteen years, finally moving to San Francisco in 1984.  Interestingly, for one of the January internships, Pico returned to Mexico on a field trip to the Yucatan.  It was his first real encounter with Mayan art.  He was the only Spanish-speaking member of the group and this lead to him guiding that tour for eleven years, an experience that has greatly informed his art.  He loves the way objects are simplified and abstracted in Mayan art; the way that their meaning morphs depending on context.  His folk art is filled with ritual and illusion.  If you take the time to really look, there is a world to be discovered. 

pico-sanchez-mission-district-murals-san-francisco-2007-06-08-101Project Artaud is open Saturday & Sunday, 4/25-26, as part of the Mission Spring Studio Stroll.  Come and celebrate Spring Open Studios.  And, be sure to pause in the courtyard among Pico’s creations- it was Pico’s birthday on the 24th.  Feliz cumpleaños!