Ropetition: Cindy Hsu Zell


Rare Device is pleased to announce our first gallery exhibition for 2017, Ropetition, featuring artist Cindy Hsu Zell. On view from January 20 to March 6, 2017 with an artist reception on Friday, January 27 from 6-9pm at 600 Divisadero Street San Francisco, CA 94117.

Ropetition is a collection of material-driven sculptures that explore gravity’s influence on form. Individual pieces serve as studies on curves, drape, weight, and movement, reinterpreting traditional techniques in rope-making.

About the Artist:

Cindy Hsu Zell is a Los Angeles-based multidisciplinary artist who creates fiber-based sculptures out of handmade rope. She studied art and animation at USC and went on to work in retail display, gaining extensive experience designing and executing large-scale multi-media installations. In 2015 she launched a line of brass wall hangings and accessories called WKNDLA.


Studio Visit with Liz Robb & Anna Valdez


We're looking forward to hosting Liz Robb & Anna Valdez in our gallery for their collaborative art show, Texturally Speaking. We visited them in their studios and asked them to talk a little bit more about their work and themselves and we're happy to be able to share this with you!


GG: Liz, how did you become a soft sculpture artist?

LR: My background is in fashion design, and I’ve always enjoyed draping and creating three dimensional forms on the body. After volunteering a few years ago on a farm in rural Wisconsin, I became more interested in building from the fiber up, which has led me down the path to where I am today.

Liz in her studio (Photo by Dave Medal)

GG: What types of tools and materials do you typically use? 

LR: I typically use all natural materials such as wool, cotton, and linen, however recently I’ve been experimenting with resin, metallic, and paint. I love to experiment with different types of looms and brushes!

Liz at work (Photo by Dave Medal)

GG: You also dye your own materials; can you talk a little bit more about that process?

LR: I love the process of indigo dyeing, it’s like magic! I studied a few years ago under a master woad dyer in Provence, and ever since I’ve enjoyed creating vats on my patio and dyeing just about everything! It’s a very witchy process, and understanding the temperament and chemical components of indigo has kept me on my toes.

Indigo dyed thread (Photo by Dave Medal)

GG: What do you like most about your studio?

LR: My studio is where I can have all of my collections, inspirations, and artwork laid out in a manner that is entirely me. It’s a fun zone where I can view the East Bay while weaving on my floor loom! I can also jam with my fur son, Hank, which he loves because it’s messy and full of yarn.

Liz's loom (Photo by Dave Medal)

GG: Anna, how did you choose painting as a medium?

AV: I have always connected painting to tradition and the romantic history of art. However, I did not choose to focus on painting as my preferred medium until recently. In the past I have worked in various media such as video, animation, printmaking, and drawing but through this exploration I have found that painting works best for my needs as an artist.

GG: You also make your own paints. Can you tell us a bit about this process and why you choose to practice it?

AV: I think it’s wonderful to learn about materials through the process of making paint. While my work is not conceptually based around process, process is certainly considered as a large part of the finished piece. As a curious person, making paint and surfaces adds another layer of discovery to the act of painting, which I find to be quite satisfying.
Making paint requires a lot of patience but I can zone out and enjoy the physical aspect of making something. I also relate this process to cooking, as it becomes a recipe that I am constantly trying to perfect in order to get the paint consistency and value that works best for me. In addition to the practicality of having paint always accessible, it is also really fun to play with raw pigments and to see the vibrant colors transform into paint.

Anna's studio (Photo by Anna Valdez)

GG: You've been making a lot of still lifes lately. Why?

AV: My paintings are autobiographical and my environment depicts aspects of who I am through what I choose to surround myself with. In addition to painting objects and scenes that I have a personal connection to, I find that through a specific arrangement of things I am able to construct complex installations that allow me to create interesting compositions.

Some of Anna's work (Photo by Anna Valdez)

GG: What inspires your work?

LR: Traveling is a big part of my life, which certainly informs my work. I like to plan a trip every year to somewhere I’ve never been, and residencies have been a great way to explore new parts of the world!

AV: Curiosity inspires my work, as I am constantly learning how to paint and to see the world around me. For me, the act of painting is an action of discovery. 

GG: Can you talk about the work for your upcoming show at RD. What's the story behind it and what inspired it?

LR: This is the first time Anna and I have created together, and I couldn’t be happier! It’s truly a collaboration, layering drawing, painting and stitching. We deconstructed and reconstructed drawings in silk and cotton, layering paint, and pastel. This work looks markedly different from our normal individual work, and we hope to continue this series on a larger scale in the future!

AV: I was excited by the opportunity to work with Liz, not only through exhibition but also through a collaborative setting. We have had a great time brainstorming and working through our ideas. It been a wonderful learning opportunity for me to see how another artist works and to have so many fresh ideas introduced through a new process.

GG: You guys are making very collaborative pieces, with both of you working together on one piece. Can you talk about how that's different for you and what sorts of adjustments you've had to make for yourselves and for each other. 

LR: It’s been great getting to know Anna and how she works in the studio. We work together easily, and communicating ideas and experimenting has felt seamless.  

AV: I learned that I really enjoy working collaboratively. It’s been so fun to be able to bounce ideas off someone else and to also be presented with new perspectives.

One of Liz's gorgeous weavings (Photo by Dave Medal)

GG: What should we look forward to from you in the near future?

LR: I’m pretty jazzed about a new series I’ve been working on inspired by my summer in Joshua Tree. It’s full of desert brights, transparency, and opennness.

AV: More paintings!

Texturally Speaking: Liz Robb & Anna Valdez


Rare Device is pleased to announce our gallery exhibition, Texturally Speaking, featuring artists Liz Robb and Anna Valdez. On view from October 28 to November 29, 2016 with at artist reception on Friday, October 28 from 6-9pm. 600 Divisadero Street San Francisco, CA 94117.

This collection layers color, form, texture, & material. It is simultaneously a deconstruction and reconstruction of ideas, paper, & fabric. This collection, made for Rare Device, is an exciting environment of draping, drawing, stitching, and painting, producing an active and colorful experience.



Liz Robb's Artist Statement:

I work sculpturally to capture a moment in time using active processes that become meditations: dyeing, weaving, wrapping, compressing, structuring, ordering, & releasing. The repetition of these acts fosters a connection between the subconscious mind & the body, & these full body rhythmic movements allow my stream of consciousness to expand on certain conceptual ideas & develop more thoughtful conclusions.

My work is on the continuum of dialogue between the grid & its manifestations as form, content, & medium through threads, weaving, & painting. I utilize the power of the materials to construct architectural frames from which to build weighted objects in space. Localized patterns of organization translate unique spatial & physical relationships between the viewer & the sculptures. Parts of a sculpture can be compact & highly detailed, whereas others are unraveled & cascade onto the floor. Many can be installed in multiple configurations, hung from the wall or ceiling, allowing for multiple vantage points for the viewer to engage with two or three structural planes. I respond to the inherent energy of the materials & how they interact & form my decisions, balancing the tension between my control & relinquishment of control through the process. 


Anna Valdez' Artist Statement:

As a visual artist with an academic background in anthropology, and video, I view artists as cultural producers. In my work, I attempt to combine these practices into a specific investigation that cultivates not only personal identity, but also cultural meaning. Currently, I am working on various narratives that explore my own traditions and history through a visual format. This process has led me to rely on photographs, stories, family recipes, horticulture, and the tradition of crafting as something concrete in order to construct my autobiography. I consider this examination to be a rite of passage into a globalized society while simultaneously finding my niche within.

Recently, many of my pieces have been still-lifes. These arrangements have been composed from various household items such as my clothes, quilts, scarves, blankets, houseplants, drawings, paintings, books, records, and vessels. These items exist as a part of my domestic environment, and I have put them in my paintings to understand the domestic sphere as emblematic of both personal and collective experience.


About the artists:

Liz Robb's art practice focuses on soft sculpture. Based in San Francisco, she works sculpturally to create textured surfaces & forms with natural materials such as wool, cotton, jute, & indigo. She completed her BFA in Fashion Design at the University of Cincinnati & her MFA in Fibers at the Savannah College of Art & Design. Robb has exhibited her work both nationally & internationally, & has most recently completed a residency at the Icelandic Textile Center in Blönduós, Iceland.

Anna Valdez received her MFA in painting from Boston University in 2013. Her work has been exhibited in museums and galleries across the United States. Valdez’s work has been featured in New American Paintings (Issue No. 105, 115 & 127), Fresh Paint Magazine (Issue No.3) and she has been featured on numerous art blogs. Her work has recently been exhibited at the Bedford Gallery, Masur Museum of Art, the Danforth Museum, Boston University Art Galleries, Hashimoto Contemporary Gallery, The Tappan Collective, The Rebecca Hossack Gallery, Parts Gallery and En Em Art Space.


Rare Device Staff Retreat 2016


Tons of fun was had by the Rare Device crew as they set upon sunny adventures across San Francisco! The annual Rare Device staff retreat took place on Wednesday September 14th with Giselle, Adrina, Lexi, Jessie, Kayla, Dave, and Rachel in attendance.   

The day started off with a scavenger hunt through the lush landscape of the San Francisco Botanical Gardens prepared by Giselle’s husband, Phurba. The challenge was composed of several riddles and puzzles that had to be solved by the crew, taking us to different locations of the park for fun photo opportunities. 

Jessie, Giselle, and Adrina (from left to right) complete the challenge of hugging the largest tree!

Once the challenge was complete, the crew collected ubiquitous looking leaves and grass to take to 3 Fish Studios for a monoprint class taught by the ever so charming Eric Rewitzer. A hop, skip, and a jump from Golden Gate Park to the Beach Chalet for lunch, and then we we’re off to 3 Fish Studios! Eric, Annie, and Orlie greeted our crew with open arms. Eric wasted no time in beginning the monoprint lessons. With a quick introduction on materials and techniques, the crew began making their very own creations using the leaves and grass collected from Golden Gate Park.


Giselle, Lexi, Adrina, Dave, and Kayla (from left to right) scavenge through leaves to find the perfect ones.


A variety of ink colors were provided, including this fun rainbow effect!


Creativity was flourishing as many of the crew members created layered and multicolored prints!

The crew show off some of their favorite finished pieces.

A huge thanks to 3 Fish Studios for having our crew and treating us with such generosity!

As the sun set, we said our goodbyes and headed off in different directions. It was time to get back to business and keep the artwork and memories we made that day in our hearts forever. 

Chroma Recap!


Lisa Solomon and Christine Buckton Tillman in front of their freshly finished wall!

Lisa and Christine are all smiles after completing the install!

A fun time was had by all who attended the artist reception for Chroma. Artists Lisa Solomon and Christine Buckton Tillman were on hand to great family, friends and fans. This was also a happy celebration for the 20+ volunteers who glued every piece to the wall over the course of 3 days. Our own Alice Wu created a Chroma inspired food spread to add an extra dose of fun for the night.

If you didn't make it to the party, don't worry, Chroma is up through Sept. 6 at our gallery at 600 Divisadero Street in San Francisco. This installation is a must-see if you are in the area. Also, check out the hashtag #rdchroma for all the awesome pictures that our customers have taken the last few weeks. Original drawings and screen printed posters are also available for sale on our website. 

Guests enjoying the unique intricacies of Chroma 

Any angle of the wall makes for an excellent photo opportunity!

Chroma inspired merchandising

You can color code anything!

Guests meeting one of the artists, Christine

The successful installation in its entirety!