Tana Quincy Arcega: Development and Maintenance

November 1 – November 29, 2017


Red Poppy Art House Exhibitions Presents: Development and Maintenance
Curated by Elena Mencarelli

Development and maintenance are the systems at the base of every kind of revolution; the “development” is the creative act, the new, the progress, while the “maintenance” is what preserves the creation from degradation, making sure that the new remains innovative, renewing the excitement.

Development and Maintenance, the new solo exhibition by Tana Quincy Arcega at the Red Poppy Art House, revolves around the meaning of these pivotal systems within our culture and within contemporary art. The artist turns mass-produced, functional, and disposable items (such as spackling compound, aluminum window screens, shellac, and upholstery fabrics) into artistic tools, giving them new existence through the poetic vision.

We usually see development as the goal of our run towards a successful life, without thinking about its driving force, maintenance—but there’s no success with no awareness, nor progress without care. The care with which Quincy molds raw materials reminds us to stop and look, with likewise care, at familiar objects turned into unfamiliar forms. The act of observation requires time many of us don’t seem to have, but what would happen if we stopped to look at the simple activities that build our society’s ecosystem? We might realize how important it is to prolong evolutionary processes, protect individuals to bolster the community, and use our small acts to sustain global improvement. To do so, however, we must slow down.

Reading through the lines of appearance requires patience. As artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles used to say, “maintenance is a drag; it takes all the fucking time.” Quincy’s rough surfaces teach her—and us—survival techniques for these chaotic times; slow down, and between the lines, you’ll hear a prayer to the course material.

OPENING RECEPTION: Monday, November 6 @ 6:30pm




Tana Quincy Arcega has a BFA in painting and sculpture from the University of Nebraska and an MFA in figurative painting from the New York Academy of Art. She has had several solo exhibitions at venues including the Foundry Art Center in Missouri and the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art in Nebraska. She has shown locally at CounterPulse, Root Division, and Adobe Books Backroom Gallery amongst others. Her story “Overcoming Obstacles” along with her mouth paintings were featured in Her Living magazine in 2013. Tana has worked professionally as a children’s book illustrator, muralist, portrait artist, and educator. She is currently busy being Ramona’s mother, teaching in the Public Education Department at SFAI, and making art at her 1890 Bryant Street studio.

For the past four years I have set aside my practice as a figurative oil painter to explore alternate materials and mark-making processes. I have co-opted utilitarian products from hardware and industrial fabric stores in order to develop new vernaculars in my painting repertoire. These items are mass-produced for maintenance work and not intended to draw attention to themselves. They play a functionally supportive role and almost always operate in the the background. These paintings, however, bring them to the center of the viewer’s gaze.

I work intuitively to allow the materials to dictate my direction. I look for visual rhymes (correlations in texture, color, pattern, or luminosity) between disparate materials and pair them together. Subtle painterly variations direct the flow of the work. Compositional choices are made in order to emphasize dialogues between substrate and surface. In my search for new mark-making vernaculars, I have developed a process in which viscous paint-like media are extruded through porous, gridded substrates.

As a new mom who’s taken on the role of managing the household and caring for my daughter, I am doing a lot of maintenance work that layers into the background–unseen. My art practice is the inverse of my daily life. Through this new body of paintings I am exploring the dichotomy between our culture’s lack of esteem for these maintenance roles and their inherent worth.
















Elena Mencarelli moved to San Francisco after concluding her Master Degree in Visual Arts at the University of Bologna, Italy. Previously, she was the artistic director of the Make Your Mark Art Gallery in Melbourne, Australia. In addition to her artistic practice and curatorial background, she is also engaged in art criticism. Elena is the co-writer of the catalogue of the double exhibition Maria Rebecca Ballestra – Alan Sonfist, a better landscape (Unimedia Modern Contemporary Art, Genova, Italy) and is the author of Maria Rebecca Ballestra, a phenomenology of posthumanism, soon to be published in both Italian and English.




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