by Madeleine Kane
Artists in Residence:
Cindy Shih & Tsungwei Moo on IVG SAN FRANCISCO
by Jeremy Lewis
“Working in-studio and doing live art in front of an audience is like having an art opening reception every thirty-five mins, eight hours a day, and five days a week.”
“Artists can make art anywhere, but having a dynamic, diverse community of artists that is constantly learning, challenging the status quo, and trying new things always inspires me to push forward, improve, and take risks in my own art practice.”
by Jeremy Lewis
Amidst the summer heat of San Francisco, we encounter an artistic oasis in the canvases of two artists who took up residency at Immersive Van Gogh. For the month of June, Cindy Shih and Tsungwei Moo shared their unique collections and performed live painting sessions for visitors to the Bay Area exhibit.
Shih, using a delicate hand, embraces monochrome on white canvas to illustrate plant life. Her intricate gallery possesses the symbiotic calm and chaos of nature. Moo’s brushstrokes and use of colour range from delicate, sweeping details, to heavy palette knife acrylic petals. Moo’s still lifes of natural and structural scenes vividly parallel Van Gogh’s style.
We sat down with Shih and Moo as they wrapped up their tenure at the exhibit to reflect on their residency and what lies on the horizon for these captivating artists.
Five Questions with
Cindy Shih & Tsungwei Moo
C.S. I’m expecting my first child in September 2021, so I guess I’d like to try being a Mom, because that’s something I haven’t tried yet!
T.M. Paint a mural and make a mosaic mural.
Something new you want to try in what’s left of 2021?
C.S. “Flight,” by Sandra Yagi, which features a flying skeleton with rainbow butterfly wings. It will be the first piece in the baby’s collection.
T.M. “Moments and Decisions,” I exhibited this piece at the de Young Museum in 2020. It's a portrait of my ex-boyfriend who was a victim of gun violence and lost his life.
Favourite piece of art that you’ve acquired?
C.S. You are an artist, no matter what you choose to do for a living. Just keep doing art.
T.M. I am so proud of you and I love you. Keep doing art.
If you could say one thing to your childhood self, what would you say?
C.S. This isn’t a fair question, since there are so many I admire. I appreciate artists who don’t compromise their values.
T.M. Ben James, an African American printmaker and a ceramic artist based in San Francisco.
A contemporary San Fran artist that inspires you?
C.S. a Mano in Hayes Valley, a no-fuss neighbourhood spot with homemade pasta and Italian wine.
T.M. Villa San Francisco. I enjoyed cooking, eating, and watching the sunset during my residency at the Villa San Francisco.
Your favourite dining spot in the city?
What is your takeaway from the experience of working in-studio at IVG San Francisco?
C.S. People crave a good experience. There is still a strong desire to engage with art, as evidenced by the hundreds of people who came through the exhibit everyday. IVG did a fantastic job ensuring everyone had a safe, approachable, and memorable experience. As an artist working on-site, I had the unique opportunity to engage with a broad cross-section of art appreciators, and was able to speak with people from various walks of life who may otherwise not have visited a more typical art establishment.
I also enjoyed creating artwork live, talking to folks about the show, explaining why I use the materials I use, and generally discussing my Art with people who were interested. I also loved being able to give away some of my art materials to young artists who were inspired by my work, and even taught a little girl how to use a sumi brush. It was great to have a direct interaction with people who obviously cared about art. I have live-painted at various types of events, and IVG really provided a great experience around the art and for the artists.
T.M. Life is art. Being an artist is who I am and it makes my life meaningful. I’ve always believed in myself; fifteen years ago, I quit my Art Director job at an advertising agency in Taiwan and came to San Francisco to pursue my art career. Because I know that if I never followed my dream, it would be the biggest regret in my life. Participating in the Artist-in-Residence program, co-created by Villa San Francisco and Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit, is proof to me that I made the right decision.
Working in-studio and doing live art in front of an audience is like having an art opening reception every thirty-five mins, eight hours a day, and five days a week. As an art instructor who taught Plein air pastel drawing at the Yosemite National Park for nine years, I was confident and excited to create live art in front of visitors.
In my real life, I can’t afford to have a studio in San Francisco. This opportunity gave me the space to create bigger artworks and exhibit them immediately. I got a chance to show the public how I developed the images and my creation process, and completed seven pieces during my residency.
I got so much positive feedback from the visitors and I saw an increase in followers on my social media. People want to learn how to paint from me and want to join my future artwork shop at the Golden Gate Park. Young artists asked me art career developing questions, and parents told me they want their children to be like me one day. I feel honored and grateful that I have been given this opportunity to meet so many people and show them my passion and my creations.
What inspiration do you get from artists around you? What advice would you give to future artists in residence?
C.S. I get so much inspiration from my community of artists here in San Francisco. In short, they are the reason I still live here. Artists can make art anywhere, but having a dynamic, diverse community of artists that is constantly learning, challenging the status quo, and trying new things always inspires me to push forward, improve, and take risks in my own art practice.
My advice to future artists-in-residence is to maintain an open mind. The post-pandemic world is rapidly changing, and the art world is no exception. As artists, we can stay true to our practice while adapting to changes in the way art is consumed or experienced. There is no one way to be an artist, and not just one way to experience art. Giving people a good, lasting impression of you and your practice is just as important as maintaining the quality of your work.
T.M. Art is how I connect with the world. Life itself is my biggest inspiration.My favorite subjects are someone or something that I love and care about the most. Usually, my human boyfriend, cat boyfriend and mother nature are my most important inspirations. I also care about social issues such as anti-gun violence, human rights toward marginalized communities, and animal rescues.
Sometimes I get inspiration from other artists around me or visiting museums and galleries. I always open my heart to learn new techniques and the stories behind the artwork. My advice to future artists in residence is: don’t put any unboxed food on the site overnight. Some creatures might come to steal your food. Enjoy your residency.