Tech: Cyborg Artist

Neil Harbisson is a cyborg.

Here, dressed in C-major, he talks about how using adaptive technology opened up his world, and allowed him to explore new paths of artistic expression.

As we approach the 1-year mark of our exploration of new technology for artmaking, research, and interacting with amazing people, communities,  and resources, via the world wide web, this TED talk seemed super-appropriate.

Becoming a cyborg is so totally human.

The Right Way

Ask ten artists, trained or untrained, for input on a particular medium or technique, and you’ll get ten different suggestions about the right way.  The ways may differ slightly or drastically.  The artists may be hardcore insistent, defensively indignant, or “whatevs” ambivalent about their way.  Get those ten artists together, and they’ll discuss and debate for an hour (which is great).

At the EC, this happened most recently while five of my staff asked me for input as they discussed the right way to apply an acrylic wash.  My response was derived from a video I found after a similar conversation about the right way a few years ago.

I was surprised to discover that we each had a different way. Discussion among the six of us revealed that some use water to thin the acrylic. Others use a medium.  Some apply the wash very thin.  Others apply it rather opaquely.  Some use a tone which matches the overall color temperature of the palette being used. Others use a contrasting tone.  One prefers a gray.  Some cannot abide brush strokes, and others tolerate or even like them.  … and…  Some don’t use a wash at all.

The truth is that there is no right way.  None of these artists is so oblivious that they set themselves up for failure every time they paint.  Each of these artists is using a way that works for them.  Yes, yes, yes. It is possible that there may be more efficient, productive ways—ways they may not care for or know about.  But right now, their way is the right way for them.

The Internet Knows

As the director, I will eventually be expected to make a decision about the right way for the program.  How will the artists on staff mentor the EC artists?  Which way will be the right way?

Too lazy to consult the shelves of art books behind me, I turned to the internet.  (Send me answers, internet.  I need to know the right way to apply an acrylic wash.) But the internet knows that everyone has a different way, and there is no one right way.  (Hence, a million results instead of, like, five.) Fortunately, among the million, the internet sent me a video which, in addition to the video above, sort of sums up a few different ways, lending options to the EC artists (and staff) and a sense of legitimacy to my decision.

As usual, the EC’s approach is that art is not about right ways and wrong ways.  There is always a way.  Be creative.  Find the way that works for you, and get to work.

Thank you, internet.

DIRECTOR'S ESPRESSO is a bi-monthly post from Shannon-- Director and fanatic of coffee, chocolate, economics, and expression through the arts.

DIRECTOR’S ESPRESSO is a bi-monthly post from Shannon– Director and fanatic of coffee, chocolate, economics, and expression through the arts.

February Prints

Prints and note cards being released in February.  The artworks are themed with love, romance, and relationships.

5″ x 7″ matted to 8″ x 10″ —  $12 each
8″ x 10″ matted to 11″ x 14″ — $20 each
Discount:  $2 off each print, when you buy more than one.

NOTE CARDS (blank inside, w/ envelopes)
5.5″ x 4.25″ — $2.50 each
Boxed sets of 8 are $12 each
February’s boxed set of 8 is called COUPLES and features 2 each of the 4 featured images by ANNE MARSH

Anne Marsh

Denise Saelee

Shirley Brizendine

Continue reading

On Exhibit: VESSELS and HOUSES

On the 3rd floor landing, the DIA DE LOS MUERTOS exhibit is coming down to make room for HOUSES.  VESSELS will be featured on the 2nd floor landing.

VESSELS and HOUSES are exhibits of ceramic works made of paper clay.

You may have seen paper clay in your local arts and crafts store.  That paper clay is generally for air drying.  That’s all good, but the EC artists need a lot of material, so we can experiment.  We made our paper clay for firing in the kiln, from a combination of our regular firing clay and a cellulose paper product.  It was a job and a half to make, but Kristine, our Clay/Ceramic Arts Teacher, was on it!


VESSELS started as balloons dipped in paper clay slip.  It was a tedious process of dipping and drying… and dipping and drying… and dipping and—well you get the idea.  Layer by layer, day after day, Continue reading

Opening Reception for Reality Unchained

The reception this past Thursday was a huge success! We had just short of 100 people show up and see the results of our hard work. Thank you to everyone who came out to show their support. In case you missed it, here are a few pictures from the reception. You can still come see the exhibition, which is located in the second floor gallery of the Merced Multicultural Arts Center.

EC artists Hilda Cotta (l) and Maria Chavez (r) with local performer and EC friend Moon Trent

EC artists Hilda Cotta (l) and Maria Chavez (r) with local performer and EC friend Moon Trent

EC artist Yesenia Vargas found her drawing, while her niece danced through the photo.

EC artist Yesenia Vargas found her drawing, while her niece danced through the photo.

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Upcoming Gallery Exhibition

Over the past few months, we’ve been so wonderfully busy that we have neglected to keep you informed. For that we apologize, though we think you’ll agree the wait was worth it. Tomorrow we are unveiling our newest exhibition, Reality Unchained: Portraits of Human/Nature. The collection of 18 works from 14 artists provides an engaging look at the ways we see the world around us, unhindered by a need to strictly replicate what is technically there. Instead, you’ll see portraits of the feelings and influences we experience from our environment and ourselves.

The reception will be Thursday, July 24th, from 5:30 PM to 7 PM. We hope you come out to see the exciting result of all the work we put in. Bonus: we heard there will be cheese.

Denise Saelee, Armando in a Purple Shirt, acrylic/canvas panel, 2014


Friday Opinion Poll #2

The County Election by George Caleb Bingham

The County Election by George Caleb Bingham

Introducing the new Enrichment Center Opinion Poll. The artists are curious about other artists and art lovers. So, every Friday, we will be asking a new question. Last Friday, we asked what your canvas preferences were– pre-stretched canvas, canvas panel, or stretch-your-own.  Here is a link to today’s opinion poll, which asks about your FAVORITE ARTIST.


Paint-Your-Own Pottery

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Unfinished pottery (bisque) on the shelf, waiting to be painted.

Our Art for the Heart workshops were so popular, with participants reporting so much enjoyment from the experience that we decided to start a   new project:  Paint-Your-Own Pottery workshops.

Links to some of our flyers for the workshops:
130412_PYOP_flyer_red            130329_PYOP_flyer_simple            130407_PYOP_flyer_dads_02

Just in time for Mother’s Day! The Enrichment Center will be hosting two pottery painting workshops at the Multicultural Arts Center, 645 W. Main St. in Merced, CA.

Thursday, April 25th     6-8pm

Saturday, April 27th    12-2pm

Since this is our first workshop, we weren’t sure how much of what type of bisque to order. However, Mother’s Day seemed like a safe theme to focus on cups/mugs, vases, and frames. We designed our selection to provide participants with a variety of styles and prices to choose from. The EC will provide an introduction to the materials, guidance throughout, and everything you need to paint your pottery– glaze (paint), brushes, water, towels.

130414_PYOP_red flyer thumb for webHow it works:

Step 1: Register for one of the workshops.
$9 member / $10 non-member
Register a table of 8 and SAVE 20%
$57.60 member / $64 non-member

Step 2: Purchase your pottery at the workshop
Prices will range from $5 to $20 plus tax.

Step 3: Choose your colors. We’ll give you an introduction to glaze
(paint), how it works, and how to get the results you’re
looking for. We’ll set you up with the colors you’ve chosen,
and everything you need to start painting.

Step 4: Paint your pottery. Workshops are 2 hours long. We’ll be

available to provide guidance throughout the workshop.  At the end
of the workshop, leave your pottery with us, along with your
contact information.

Step 5: We’ll fire the pottery in our kiln.  Finished pottery will be ready for pick up
by Saturday, May 4th.

Be prepared for Mother’s Day, upcoming birthdays, even get a jump on Father’s Day.

Register now! Space is limited, and we will not be taking walk-in’s.

To register, pick up or print the April 2013 Paint Your Own Pottery Registration Form and bring it in with your payment to the Multicultural Arts Center, 645 W. Main St., Merced, CA.   The Enrichment Center office is in room 6 on the 3rd floor, but you can also register in the Arts Council’s business office on the 2nd floor.

For more information, email us at or call us at (209) 388-1162.