Conceptual Art Is Misunderstod.

Those that support conceptual art (performance art, video art, social sculpture, happenings etc.) art are mocked by those that do not understand it…and the myth of disbelief, shock, and awe is perpetuated by popular media.

Mimicry is common BECAUSE there is a long history of conceptual art, even when it’s lost.

Shovel by bsabarnowl

Shovel by bsabarnowl

The concepts surrounding this type of art are not new…specifically Praxis’ work MONA: Museum of Non-Visible Art is based on its predecessors. They generated support for their museum in a contemporary way through Kickstarter with the video below:

Even the name Praxis is a lifted reference.

The history of conceptual art that James Franco tries to explain (the fellow on the Jimmy Kimmel Show) has strong roots in the Bay Area, as does video art. That’s why I chose to study for my MFA in New Genres at the San Francisco Art Institute. The Bay Area boasts artists: Tony Labat, Linda Montano, Doug Hall (AntFarm), Sharon Grace, Paul Kos, David Ireland, Karen Finley, and many, many more.

The Museum of Conceptual Art was created by one of my mentors, Tom Marioni. Tom is a big fan of Marcel Duchamp and the Readymade. represents 12 years of conceptual art education and I’m constantly asked, what for?

Simply, as Cathy Malchiodi writes, the massively important restoring power of imagination.

The phrases “art heals” and “art saves” have become ubiquitous and will continue to circulate; like many catch-phrases, they are just too cool to go away. Like any popular slogans, they blur real meaning; in this case the actual purpose of art is often forgotten.

Cathy summarizes further synthesizes and interprets Ellen Dissanayake’s book What is Art For?

1) Makes life special.
2) Engages the senses.
3) Involves rituals.
4) Enhances community.

When was the last time you went to an art show and got an experience, a prize, a few bucks, and a great story and thought differently about the present moment you just experienced. Free Memory. Free Money. Free Ideas…and a 2 minute smile free from economic stress. Or was it referencing the financial collapse, throwing money in a hole, and making peons work for it doing crazy tasks that don’t mean anything by diverting their own lust for financial gain? Why did they follow the rules of the over arching system? The title of the piece of mine is “Free Money, Sticky Fingers” made at SomArts. Check out their open call for more art in the hole.

Sound like art?

Sound like MTV’s Jackass?

Sound like conceptual art?

Is everything art?

Is everyone an artist?

That’s why I can auction a crispy 100 bill and get $115.00 for it and be present in hundreds of people’s minds.

Thank you R. Mutt

When critiquing or defending artwork remember three core concepts: intent (what did the artist want to express), context (where, when, and who are they showing it to), and liability (will it put the artist or anyone else in danger, will it cost money from the artist or public, does it exclude anyone, does the artist take responsibility for the piece).

It all matters. Or maybe the medium is the message, or maybe the medium is the massage.

Free And Open Culture Mind Map

My passion: to empower some free-culture advocating, network-neutrality loving, FLOSS using, empathy having, critical thinking art students. Today we did a bit of brainstorming about what influences/passions can guide us as a group toward a collaborative project.

Keeping in mind the concepts of free and open culture, between now and the next session each individual will be color coding inter-student connections, rather than focusing internally.

Keep an eye on the Mindmeister mind map below to watch our project develop. You’ll probably have the best user experience if you click on the little box at the bottom of the interface controls to open the mind map in a new window.

Making History: Free And Open Culture

Basic black & white cartoon computer. Image contains computer monitor and base/case.

You can create art and beauty on a computer.


Making and Meaning – Making History Project
San Francisco Art Institute, Fall, 2010
Workshop Leader: Pete Ippel

Summary: Free and Open Culture refers to a wide variety of advocates who value free access, open information, and the sharing of knowledge. As a rapidly developing movement, Free and Open Culture has its roots in computer programming and hacker ethic from the 1950s-1960s.

Illustrates the path of software creation from source code to machine code.

Illustrates the path of software creation from source code to machine code.

Developments include Creative Commons licensing, FLOSS (Free/Libre Open Source Software), Network Neutrality, Open Government, and Copyleft.

Free Culture proponents are marked by acceptance of some general principles: (

  • Sharing
  • Openness
  • Decentralization
  • Free access to computers
  • World Improvement

Cultural Figures: Linus Torvalds (programmer, Linux), Richard Stallman (programmer, GNU), Lawrence Lessig (academic, Creative Commons), Jon Phillips (developer, Sharism, Fabricatorz), Femke Snelting (artist/designer, LGM), Simona Lodi (arts administrator, To Share Festival), Nina Paley (animator, Sita Sings The Blues), Negativeland (music), Ant Farm (art), Adbusters (magazine), The Yes Men (art)

Project:  Students will spend the first sessions studying the history and techniques of the Free and Open Culture advocates and artists. There will be tutorials on a variety of software, as well as an off campus outing to practice employing the Hands-On Imperative.

“…essential lessons can be learned about the systems—about the world—from taking things apart, seeing how they work, and using this knowledge to create new and more interesting things.”
– Steven Levy

Students will pursue the following questions:

In the remaining sessions, students will be challenged to create with only the materials they have on hand – please bring an open mind and your own PORTABLE creation tools of choice to each session (mobile phone, laptop, sketchbook, notebook, watercolor, pencils, video camera, still camera, etc.).

We will be developing a collaborative community-centric studio (less) art practice out in the environment. The group will create their own art pieces in any media with strong consideration of Free and Open Culture. The end result will be an on-line repository (Mediawiki) documenting the projects. It is expected that the participants in this class will license their work under Creative Commons, and investigate the following issues:

  • I create everywhere because I have the network in my pocket.
  • If it’s not on the Internet, it doesn’t exist.
  • Objects are not important, information is.
  • I don’t need to know it if I know how to find it.
  • Online, nothing disappears, and everything is gone.
  • I feed the network, it feeds me.

Letter of Interest for Tournesol Award

So the Headlands Center For The Arts has a new online application program called “SlideRoom” it’s super easy to use, and it works great. I really hope more organizations start to use it. I imagine it would really work well in the art school application process…it makes a slide list receipt/confirmation of upload that you can print out as well. How handy.

The one thing that I wish was that it was more intuitive to shuffle the order around. Once uploaded, the images were not easy to move, so they stayed in the same sequence as they were uploaded.

I just finished up the application for the Tournesol Award ($10,000.00 and a studio in the Marin Headlands *my favorite place to bike*) below you will find the submitted letter of interest.

Dear Tournesol Award committee:

The Headlands has been an integral aspect of my life in the Bay Area. I am an avid cyclist, and last Saturday I was riding my mountain bike on the Miwok trail north of the stables, when I encountered a rough-skinned newt sauntering across my path. I took pause to study his movements and the intricate texture of his skin. It’s experiences like these that ONLY the Headlands can offer and inspire the way I think about the world.

I have an expanded view of works on paper, and as such I have executed projects that integrate digital drawing techniques, various mounting methods, collage, and found objects. My work is simultaneously influenced by technology, while intuitively responding to the embodied experience of life.

Each work has a self-contained reality and often a forthright sense of place. Through the choice of bright colors, condensation of space, and manipulation of visual cues, I create experiences that imply phenomena and images that exude their thing-ness. That is, the unique properties of the subjects depicted are emphasized. What my artwork lacks in verisimilitude, it gains in joyful complexity and honest wonder. I have been gradually getting larger with my practice. Presently I am working on an ambitious four by eight-foot piece of paper, and I want to move even larger, yet I have run out of wall space in my bedroom.

The beauty of our earth inspires me, and I strive to acknowledge the wonders of the natural world by expounding on intuition while maintaining a clear focus on my life as an artist.

As an athlete I understand the rigors of repeated practice, and it is undeniable that creativity and discipline go hand in hand. A residency at the Headlands Center for the Arts will have a profoundly positive effect on my artistic endeavors because I will have a studio that will be a consistent environment in which to work, as well as a nourishing community of peers that is following a similar life path.

Formerly, I have worked up to four jobs at once to pay for the extensive debt I incurred during my tenure at Cornell and the San Francisco Art Institute. I have continued to create new art through all of this, and still maintain an exhibition record complete with solo shows.

Starting in June, I will be working solely for the San Francisco Ballet as their residence manager, and as such, I will be free from noon to seven daily to work in the studio. It will be the first time since graduate school that I will have a block of time dedicated to artistic creation. I aspire to spend that time working at the Headlands Center for the Arts.

My commitment to pursuing a life as an artist is unquestionable. By winning the Tournesol award I will engage in a more complete art practice. It will be my distinct honor to represent the Headlands Center for the Arts as I continue to move forward with my professional art career. Thank you for your consideration.

Yours sincerely,

Pete Ippel

Press Release: “The Fantastic Solution to Global Warming and Other Conundrums” An art show by Pete Ippel


“The Fantastic Solution to Global Warming and Other Conundrums” An art show by Pete Ippel
May 16-31, 2008
Opening Reception: Friday, May 16, 6-9 p.m. with DJ music and indoor-jumping photo souvenirs for guests. EDITORS: You, your reporters and photographers are welcome to cover the event.

Icthus Gallery
1769 15th Street (between Valencia and Guerrero), San Francisco, CA
Gallery hours, weekdays, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; weekends, by appointment
Admission, Free

View Larger Map

For more information, contact, Pete Ippel, artist
Phone, (415) 425-8863
E-mail, pete at
Web site,
The Fantastic Solution to Global Warming
“The Fantastic Solution to Global Warming”, 40 x 60 inches (101 x 152 cm), gouache, ink, pencil, and watercolor on paper

SAN FRANCISCO, Monday, April 28, 2008 – The Fantastic Solution to Global Warming and other Conundrums is an exhibition of new artwork by San Francisco based artist and athlete Pete Ippel. In this collection of drawings, photographic prints, and videos he explores themes ranging from nuclear waste processing to the pairing of art and sport.

In Ippel’s brightly rendered, fantastical 2-D world, a box of lightning, some incandescent light bulbs, and a gigantic, biological-organic turbine are coupled with wind, tide, hydroelectric, nuclear, volcanic, solar, and geothermal power sources to sequester carbon dioxide. Under intense heat and pressure, in a star-powered fusion-cooker, diamonds are produced, thus solving the dilemmas of green house gases, vacant mines, and human rights issues associated with diamond mining.

The exhibition also highlights artifacts, photographic prints, and video informed by Ippel’s work as an athlete and a coach. After completing a successful collegiate track and field career as a high jumper in New York, Ippel made the move to San Francisco to pursue a Masters of Fine Art in the New Genres Department of the San Francisco Art institute.

It was here in the Bay Area, inspired by local artists Tony Labat and Tom Marioni, where Ippel began to craft projects that married his passion for jumping to his artistic practice.

“When I saw that Tony had devoted a year of his life to boxing, and Tom was drinking beer with friends in the name of art while making movement based drawing and prints I felt empowered,” said Ippel. “And I’ve been fortunate to spend time with both of them here in San Francisco. I really respect their work,” Ippel added.

“The Jump Series” grows out of the tradition of New Genres where actions are performed for the camera. The body of work is based on the premise that to push of one’s self off any surface and into the air by using the muscles in one’s legs and feet is a glorious and enjoyable act; essentially human flight. The modes of lift-off on display include skateboarding, high jumping, jumping off of architecture, leaping into panoramic scenes, jumping over objects, and choreographed jumps with other individuals. Ippel utilizes a tripod and a remote control or the camera’s self-timer to execute this body of performative photographs.

TSP Athletics, also on display, is a competitive vertical jumps team, social club, and acts as a collaborative vehicle to generate images of athletes in flight. It blurs boundaries between art and sport while acting as a vehicle to temper the shock of moving away from traditional competitive athletics.

“When you have something obscure like the high jump that has been your top priority for so many years, it’s foreign when it’s gone,” says Ippel. “Because I went directly to SFAI from Cornell, it was quite a challenge to no longer have the support of my team, nor be able to celebrate my athletic gifts in competition. I went through a real period of grief.” Ippel satiated his needs by creating a one-person team and traveling alone to meets a few times a year. “I made a uniform, started a website, and I kept in touch with my jumping peers. When I was at the meets after being away for so long, I started to see the beauty of the action and the camaraderie and wanted to capture it, and still keep it active in my life.”

The project has developed as an answer to what collegiate athletes do upon graduation to keep in touch, keep jumping, and make art.

Since its inception in 2004, TSP Athletics has grown to include former NCAA qualifiers and university record holders. Ippel’s plan is to produce limited-edition prints with participation by distinguished jumpers who are invited to be athletes-in-residence for TSP. In the frame of social sculpture these artists/athletes will each, contribute to the TSP Archive to add to its expanding collection of images and memorabilia.

Pete Ippel was born in Oak Park, Illinois, USA and has been surrounded by the arts since birth. He moved to Morris, Illinois in 1989 and started to participate in athletics rather than dance. After high school, Pete attended Cornell University where he earned a BA in psychology and a BFA in photo / digital art making. He continued to follow his sporting dreams in the high jump, which culminated in a school record leap of 7 feet 1/2 inch in 2001. In May 2004 he attained an MFA degree in the New Genres department of the San Francisco Art Institute. Presently Pete is a practicing artist whose work is in numerous private collections. He’s also the residence manager for the San Francisco Ballet, a fitness professional, coaches basketball and track at University High School, and still high jumps from time to time.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,