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Ceci N'est Pas L'Art

By Michelle Lepori

I took my handicapped self to Bows and Arrows on a Wednesday night for happy hour. My guide for the night is Mr. Simpson. He aids in transporting my shattered-right-foot to the same cultural delights enjoyed pre-foot oblivion. Our objective? To assess curious Art Bar, Bows and Arrows. As I scooter (medical device--check it) on the blackened rain slick cement and look for trip hazard cracks, neon lights reflect in aqua blue and punch red. I see the sign, "Open", "Beer." Right on. Sky-high glass windows promise warmth from an eclectic blend of golden lighted chandeliers. Racks of clothes pushed to the storefront in an exotic retail funky blend of possible thrift. A briefly read A-frame sign says something about waiting to be seated, maybe. These exciting first moments trivialized reading, we wanted to devour the place. Upon entering I saw a multi-staged platform operating on several cohesive themes: vintage shop, art gallery, music venue, cafe and bar. I knew immediately to take my time, wheel this in slowly.
Bows and Arrows is a seller of "all things special" (self-proclaimed on and curated by co-owners Olivia Coelho and Trisha Rhomberg. Their selection of luxe leather is impeccable, and I visually ate the rich purple Italian clutch purse decoratively tucked into a mid-century wooden bookcase. I gleaned at an oily black patchwork stitched backpack and caressed soft skinned thick cut belt straps with sterling silver buckles. Lusted over a burgundy tight fit laser cut jacket. And all these treasures were around twenty dollars. I spied a rack of beige and white vintage shoes, sturdy heels and oxfords. No, I must not, I pulled out of the trance and realized my neglected male companion, Mr. Simpson.
Smack in the middle, rise two whitewashed walls with draping chain barriers. Like geometric legos, canvas and sculptural mache objects cover the walls in a wash of pink. Every piece in this gallery is shaded Pepto Bismol and arranged in a mash collective of dissimilar styled and unlabeled art. Two fuchsia papers hang with name and price info and alarmingly accessible $25 to $500 price tags. Each piece is a world of its own. One took us to an ice cream cone penis near the lips of a coquettish school-girl in a pink bedroom. Another to a Pollock-style drizzle with an off centered black-painted rip in a suggestive shape (it looked like a vagina with a face in it). These were dense arts and offset by neighboring stark designs.
All this salt and pepper style, I'm thirsty. In theme, we imbibed a non-Provence Rose. Wary of pink wine in mason jars, the charm of this place got me and the wine was perfect. Now in back of this blackened-jazz styled room, we sit at a magnificent tree-slab table, polished and showing rings of age. More art to be found here as well; a sketched woman lies naked and turned away.
Two older men laugh and talk at the bar top. A woman in the corner banquet is glowing from her Macbook. Three lively hipsters drink Miller High Life, The Champaign of Bottled Beer, out of a can. Chalkboards crown the bar with drink specials and a brief menu of popsicles, soups and sandwiches. These boards are hard to read. White hasty chalk and wiped-down grey. Mr. Simpson and I are struggling.
A band emerges slowly, sets up and flirts with girls. We amused ourselves identifying their clothing style which was eighties, relaxed Boy Meets World, Americana, punk-hippy blend. I picked up an illustrated band poster off the table. It was made on burnt aged paper and smelled like an ashtray. Sexy young people started to fill the place dressed to the nines and were seemingly unimpressed with their kind. They masked excitement with a subdued “lax” attitude, though slight posturing showed these groups of talking twenty-somethings to be tense and preening. Some looked mildly into the racks of clothes and we watched a girl come out of the fitting room to twirl in a floor length red dress.
Ridiculously high crash cymbals and amplifiers push to close to the white walls of the gallery. That little Pollock-styled painting looked pretty close to getting dented. I wondered about these kids being so close to the art. What if they bumped, bent or spilled on these little pink worlds?
It was time for us to go. Literally, went to the loo and behold... more art. They do an artist feature with works, a short bio and events list in the bathroom. These are interesting choices of high and low-brow concepts of curation. It is done with such ease and care, the maestro is barely recognized.
We took our wine to go and ran into co-owner Olivia Coelho. She wrapped our bottle up in a turquoise plastic bag and used masking tape as a cork. Her waist length straight brown hair, clean face, high cut denim shorts that resembled bikini bottoms, paired with long tan legs stemming ankle booties that rocked the look of Penny Lane. We talked briefly of her other ventures and concept ideas. The conversation was terse and dismissive.
Bows and Arrows is a paradoxical art bar, placing visitors on equal level to artists and musicians alike, while also undervaluing the art and the artist at the same time. This treatment and approach is unresolved in my opinion, if it is done on purpose or thoughtlessly. It is hard to imagine the same duo that meticulously decorated this building being so half hazard. Though I felt it was a cute and kitschy store, it definitely acts as a shitty gallery with poor treatment of artworks, has cheap and trendy low-brow cuisine, with decent booze and a ton of stupid hipster shit every where. Mason jars, Miller High Life and people that just aren't my people, albeit all is fun to observe. It tries too hard in some ways and not enough in others, and the co-owner is a beautiful bitch. I am hopeful for Bows and Arrows however; I felt like the store was a representation of the hearts of the owners and became an encompassing organ of performance art-there were levels of deepness if you wanted to see that far. Which in itself made it a beautiful place, but the experience is complex. See for yourself.
Bows and Arrows
Tues-Sat 11-11 , Sun 11-3
1815 19th Street
Sacramento, CA 95811
(916) 822-5668

Free Soloing and Its Connection to

Art Generally

By Adam Gillanders

It may seem strange that the act of rock climbing can really be connected to art in any way without being pretentious, or over-reaching. Although there is an aesthetic aspect to climbing generally, free soloing in particular has a connection to art for me, in both enjoyment and the creation, which I find hard to dismiss. Free soloing is the act of climbing without the aid of equipment, and is a sub-set of Free climbing, the act of climbing while only using equipment to stop a fall. It opposed to bouldering in that you are not doing the most difficult movements on small rocks, but are climbing large walls, where the consequence of a fall is typically death.

I used to free solo, it's something that many people don't know about me. One of the first things that people assume about free soloists (aside from them being is insane) is that they are just adrenaline junkies much like many other 'extreme sport' enthusiasts (this term and how it is ridiculous deserves an article of its own). Although there is definitely a certain amount of adrenaline involved, it's surprisingly small. The connection that free soloing has to art for me is two-fold. Like art it is about a certain kind of focus, and like creating art it is extremely personal.

If I think back to the first time I saw a Rauschenberg piece or a Van Gogh painting in person (two of my favorite artists), there was a very clear sense of focus. I think that most people can relate to this if not with fine arts, then with movies or music. The kind of focus that occurs from aesthetic beauty is a particular kind of focus, one that doesn't just force someone to see, or hear, but to have a heightened sense of the self as an observer. Art makes us conscious of ourselves, and our actions in the world. The same goes for free soloing. The beauty of the route you are climbing along with the rest of the environment sets a stage for self-awareness, the way you are thinking about the climb, and the way your body moves through the sequences. This kind of focus is crucial, if you don't have it you're much more likely to die.

The route you choose, the speed at which you do it, and the particular mind set you put into the climb… it's a very personal thing. It's rare that you hear free soloists speaking to each other of technical grade as being the most vital component to this act (although this is important to a small degree). The concentration instead is guided towards other aspects of it. For instance one of the big questions two free-soloists will ask each other is 'why did you choose that route?' To me this seems equivalent to one artist discussing with another 'why did you choose this subject?' or one supporter to another 'why do you like this piece?'

The focus and personal aspects to free soloing seem to carry out, though clearly not perfectly, to both the creation and the appreciation of art. Although there is not a perfect equation between soloing 'traitor horn' and looking at Rauschenberg's 'Erased DeKooning' for me soloing has touched me in a deeper way than much art ever could, still I see the similarities these experiences have had for me.