Community Outreach: Klari Reis
Klari Reis is an SF-based artist whose materials are anything but conventional. She works with epoxy polymer and pigment in a process that yields glossy, colorful abstractions that are both beautiful and curious. On her blog, The Daily Dish, Klari posts a painting a day, each one cleverly contained in a petri dish. We recently had a chance to visit Reis’ SOMA studio to chat about her work, the art scene in San Francisco, and all of those baby strollers popping up in The Mission.
Q: What made you decide to take on the Daily Dish Project?
A: I am always working on petri dish paintings. I started the project originally in 2009, and it was just so satisfying, being able to see them all on one page together as a grid. This year I noticed that, wait a second, I’m getting better at this! So, I decided to launch another variation of the daily petri blog for 2013. Because I’m making them daily, and they end up traveling to different places as set groups, to clients and exhibitions, documenting them individually wasn’t something that I planned on doing at first. For the past few years I have sold the installations in groupings of 30, 60, or 150. I make each piece to be strong enough compositionally to stand on it’s own, however documenting them as groups became more time efficient. These days I photograph each petri painting for the blog, for fun, and for my own archiving purposes.
Q: The petri dish paintings seem so organic, how much control do you have in the way they turn out?
A: When I first started painting with the material in 2003, there were a lot of unknowns. I’d leave a project, and then the next day it would look completely different. These days, with countless hours of practice, I understand the material much better. With the three variations of this epoxy polymer that I use, I have a better idea of what it will do. There are always factors that come in, such as temperature and humidity, a very hot low moisture day is ideal. I have multiple heaters in the room to try and get the temperature up and I use a blow torch, and a hair dryer. To get this effect to happen, this kind of intestinal look, it’s a combination of a great deal of pigment, specific quantities, and knowing that the combinations are very temperature sensitive. It is very hard to put into words. Effects occur due to chemical reactions to temperature, type of epoxy, and kind and quantity of dye and pigment. My studio becomes very much of a science lab.
Q: You’ve shown all over the place, what’s special about San Francisco?
A: San Francisco’s definitely a close-knit community, I love it. You go anywhere and you see people that you recognize, or know. I grew up in the South Bay, and the city has always felt like home. It wonderfully changes and morphs constantly. I have been fortunate to watch the SOMA change before my eyes. I went to the Mission last night and couldn’t believe how many baby strollers I saw. It seemed like just yesterday that the Mission felt just a bit dangerous.
Q: How do you think SF’s art scene compares with a city like, say, NYC?
A: Yes, it’s very different. There (NYC) seems to be more serious, there seems to me more rules as to way the art scene should function. It is a much bigger city with many more patrons, galleries, and artists. There seems to also be more of a tradition of art in New York with a vast history of successful artists. Here we have our Mission scene, there are many scenes and styles, which is fantastic, but there’s also just more people with the funds and appreciation for art in New York. The SF art scene is changing constantly too, becoming more like New York, but definitely with it’s own sense of San Francisco style, and character.