Interviewed by: Adam Pratter
Back in July, I got word of a new and exciting event unfolding along Adams Avenue called Art Around Adams, a community-sponsored event that pairs local artists with local venues, shops, and business owners. It was designed to give artists an opportunity to display their work to the public. So far it is a quarterly event happening each season. In November they will be presenting their autumn show, which will include many more local artists and venues.
I had a chance to speak with its creative director Papaha, who owns a small
gallery here in Normal Heights and asked him about the event and his work. I
was intrigued by his views on art. "I am really fascinated by brand new
mediums. I try to find mediums that I can use or have not been exploited to
their artistic potential. Personally, I have enjoyed painting on canvas, but
I just don't find it that exciting anymore. I would rather paint on new
materials, such as glass, brick, cardboard, or even records," said Papaha.
Papaha's gallery features his latest body of work, which includes paint on
glass. These pieces take on a life of their own as you move across them.
They seem to alter and shift depending on the angle of light hitting them.
They are truly dynamic pieces.
Viewing Papaha's work, I wondered how he got started in art. "Art was more
of a hobby going into college and I took up computer engineering at UCSD,
but did not enjoy it or the people. I decided to take a class about 20th
century art and had a really inspirational teacher who awakened me, so I
switched to the conceptual art program. It was amusing how everyone would
stand around a piece and ponder 'now is that art?' I started creating highly
conceptual art. I was really excited about the process. I was even awarded
a grant to create cardboard sculptures. Those pieces blew the medium wide
open for me."
Papaha became fascinated with using unconventional materials for his pieces.
"There is an excitement in using brand new mediums and concepts to get someone
out of the their usual paradigm of who they are and what they are looking at
as far as art."
Papaha tries to transcend the confines that limit the concept of what art is.
"It's about changing the whole process when you walk into a room or a gallery
space. The entire space affects your senses and perceptions. Not only the
art on the wall, but also the people in the gallery. People talking around
you and everything that you're absorbing will affect your aesthetic experience
dealing with art. So saying that this one 2x2 square of canvas on the wall
here defines the art is sort of a limiting concept."
Papaha began to evolve as his art did. He came upon his spiritual path. That
is how he was granted his spiritual name Papaha. "I have been studying with
a meditation teacher for many years now. What he does with his students is
get a real clear intuition as to what their most powerful spiritual qualities
are and then finds a Bengali or Sanskrit name to define that quality. So my
given name was Papaha, which means eager to destroy my own ignorance,"
With a spiritual rebirth and a new spiritual name, he has pushed forward
with his artistic evolution, exploring new concepts of how to redefine one's
experience with art. "Personally I feel the ultimate goal is to evolve art
from a mental state to a spiritual one. I always have a concept or spiritual
quality when I do each piece and imbuing that piece of art with that quality
is the intended result. I want my work to hold more of that essence to it.
In creating pieces of art that I feel have something inwardly to offer and
not something mentally or conceptually dynamic, redefines art."
Papaha continued, "You have to ask yourself as an artist, 'what do you
really want to offer people?' Do you want to offer them something
entertaining or something that is a beautiful offering to their spiritual
awaking as an audience? The final evolution of art is for the audience to
find their own search for creativity, spirituality, inner truth, and light
with each piece or experience."
This powerful message inspired Papaha to move forward with his own goals as
an artist, which led to the creation of Art Around Adams. He acquired his first
gallery, which also serves as a studio. The gallery is set up with both
design space and an exhibition area for his and other artist's work.
Papaha relates how the concept for Art Around Adams got started. "While I
was setting up my gallery, I was meeting so many artists in the area. They
all had very inspiring art and such diverse mediums. These were quality
pieces and so I put forward the idea that we should get together and pool
our clientele to have more people exposed to our work. And so that is how
Art Around Adams was born." He continued, "It sort of all came together.
We knew we had a lot of talented artists and some really nice venues to
show off the artists' pieces. We never imagined that the community would
be so interested and we were graced with a fair amount of success and that
enthusiasm has helped us to propel ourselves forward."
After the second event, it was clear that Art Around Adams was attracting
more attention with a larger audience of attendees, venues, and artists.
Papaha said, "I want to make this a great art event and a great community
event. A celebration of art, people, and the many treats Normal Heights
has to offer. We want to include everybody and it has been an organic
growth these first few events." Papaha has wonderful plans in store for
Art Around Adams in the future and hopes that the individuals involved
as well as the event will grow exponentially.
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