Southwestern College Art Gallery presents a retrospective of the work of Payson R. Stevens. Trained in both art and science, Stevens is a San Diego resident who divides his time annually between the Indian Himalayas and Del Mar, California. ENERGY LANDSCAPES will show paintings and drawings going back to the 1970s in the Main Gallery, as well as Stevens pioneering Interactive multimedia work, computer generated graphics, books and posters in the Student Art Gallery. The Southwestern College show is the first major U. S. exhibit of Stevens work. He has shown his work extensively in India, most recently at the US Embassy, American Center in New Delhi.
Originally trained in molecular biology at the City University of New York and in oceanography at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Stevens studied at the Arts Students League and the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He has been involved with traditional and new media as an artist, designer, writer, and film maker for 40 years.
Stevens founded two award-winning companies, InterNetwork, Inc. and InterNetwork Media, Inc. and was a 1994 recipient of the Presidential Design Award for Excellence from Bill Clinton. He was lead author of “Embracing Earth: New Views of Our Changing Planet,” printed in four languages. He was also contributing author and artist/designer to the award-winning college textbooks “Geology Today” and “Biology Today.” His film credits include a CINE Golden Eagle Award for a National Public Television broadcast script on Antarctica. From 1981 to 1995, Stevens and his company helped develop a series of award-winning Earth science reports, brochures, posters, and multimedia projects for the major U.S. science agencies.
Stevens has continued to do fine art in both traditional and computer-generated formats since 1970. His electrographic art was in many group shows in the 1970s and was published in the first book on this art form, “Copy Art.” His computer art was featured on the SIGGRAPH 83 Art Show Poster and exhibited at SIGGRAPH and other group shows. His computer art was published in the book, “Computer Images: State of the Art,” and is found in corporate and private collections. Stevens is currently painting and drawing in his studio in Del Mar and during annual trips to the Kullu Valley, India where he lives part of the year with his wife, the writer Kamla Kapur.
While living in India, Stevens witnessed the impacts of rural poverty: pervasive child malnutrition, limited immunizations for childhood diseases, and few doctors. Moved by these conditions, he helped found the US and Indian NGO, My Himachal (www.myhimachal.com) with a focus on child health care, education, and environmental conservation. Stevens and My Himachal were recipients of San Diego’s Project Concern International’s “Hands Across the Borders” award in 2008. He has been an advisor to India’s Great Himalayan National Park since 2000.
Opening Reception: January 28, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Artist Talk: January 28, noon – 1 p.m.
Southwestern College Art Gallery
Stevens will discuss his paintings and the synthesis of science, technology and fine art that his characterize his career.
Special Reception: My Himachal Fundraiser: February 21, 2010, 2 -5 p.m.
Join the SWC Gallery as it hosts a special reception to raise funds for Stevens’ NGO, My Himacal. Well-known adventurer, television personality and Fortune 500 motivational speaker Dr. Jeff Salz will host the event and discuss Stevens’ work in India. All proceeds from the sale of the artwork will be donated to My Himachal to help fund childhood health, malnutrition projects and preparing rural villagers for the impacts of climate change.
The exhibit will be open to the public from January 28 to February 24 (Monday-Thursday 10:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. Wednesday/Thursday 6-8 p.m. Parking is free on the day of the receptions. The gallery is closed on college holidays).
Southwestern College Art Gallery
900 Otay Lakes Road
Chula Vista, CA 91910-7297
Gallery: 619.421.6700 ext. 5383
Chapel Hill, Carrboro, North Carolina, USA: Dr. Des Kashyap a scientist at University of North Carolina and general secretary of My Himachal was invited for a radio show called “Jazz Incognito” on a local radio station 103.5 FM, WCON. This show invites talent that could play and sing Jazz songs that are inspiring examples of improvisation and innovation. North Indian music especially Himachali music is one good example where improvisation plays a significant role. As Himachali music is all about imaginative improvisation right from the world to go, this was a good opportunity to present Himachali folk music for the first time on American radio.
This was one of a life time opportunity where I got a chance to promote Himachal and explain to the world how beautiful my state of Himachal is how peaceful we are and how much we love music and how much importance music hold in our lives explains Dr. Kashyap. This show was aired on Sunday November 16th 2008. It was for the first time ever that you could hear pahadi songs playing on radio on American soil. In an hour long show, he started with explaining the difference in singing style and music tastes between North and South part of India. He played couple of his music compositions and pahadi songs like “Parliyan dhara mor jo bole”, hatu ri teere and chandaniyan rattan ra nazara from his upcoming pahadi song album that he is currently working on.
Dr. Kashyap also took this opportunity to promote the non-government organization “My Himachal”. He took a couple of minutes to explain what kind of activities this organization was involved in. He also requested the donors to come forward and help the cause of My Himachal in whatever way they could.
I don’t think this has happened before and will ever happen again. The experience was incredible and I felt so proud of myself to be part of this historic event says Dr. Kashyap.
Weaving has been the mainstay of every Kullu-ite’s livelihood for generations now. A month long study by Anoop H, Shilpa Kendre, Jyothsna Sekar, Shilpi Baral from SP Jain Institute of Management of Research (Mumbai) in association with My Himachal reveals startling facts on the health of the traditional Kullu weaving industry. The advent of technology and the opening up of numerous employment avenues has left this industry reeling.
The number of weavers has reduced by around 50% over the last decade. More and more weavers are leaving the profession to jump over to occupations that promise them greener pastures. Those still sticking to weaving are migrating to Ludhiana, where they have the opportunity to work in a more organised environment. The power looms in Ludhiana, are swamping the industry with their mass production and low cost capabilities. A short survey amongst locals, tourists, weavers revealed the following startling facts. Read the rest of this entry
You never know what you have been missing until it arrives. This adage can’t be more apt than for the weavers here. The folks in this valley are just plain contented. Either they have very little aspirations or very high levels of self satisfaction.
According to the 1995 census, Kullu district had 28,500 weavers. 12 years hence, officials can only approximate the number to around 11,000. Is the industry dying? Read the rest of this entry
The scenic landscapes of Kullu beckon avid travellers to visit the hinterlands of this small town. Shopping does take a top priority on the itinerary of these tourists who come from all across the globe. It is observed that most foreign tourists acquaint themselves to the location by investing a great deal of time in reading about it through travel guides like the Lonely Planet and Thomas Cook. The internet has also recently been one of the popular media through which tourist information is disseminated. Indian tourists on the other hand, normally come via package tours and are spoon fed by their travel guides. Read the rest of this entry
For tourists from across the globe, the hilly terrain of Manali-Shimla is a shoppers’ paradise for woollens. The heart of the weaving industry is in the small town of Kullu, 40Kms away from Manali. As one enters this scenic valley, colourful traditional Kullu shawls dot the sideways of every market street and one can see huge signboards atop tiny shops flashing ‘Traditional Kullu Shawls’. This is bait to the blind crocodile. Many of these shawls are not handcrafted, sometimes not even made in Kullu. They are mostly machine made shawls sourced from other towns in the country.
Is it that one doesn’t care enough to make an informed decision while buying or is it that one fails to see the value in a handcrafted product?
I am afraid it’s both. On one hand, tourists have little or no time on their itinerary to go searching for an authentic store and are more often than not directed by their local travel guides or the rickshaw drivers and cabbies to one of the numerous bogus shops that sell machine made shawls at hefty discounts (sometimes as high as 50%). A setup of a few handlooms in the periphery of the store serve as a perfect backdrop to disguise the machine made shawls as handmade shawls. While the tourist walks out of the store with discounted shawls, the local guide walks away with his share of commission, thus making this whole money making act a farce in the name of tourism.
On the other hand, as consumers, we fail to recognize the value of a handcrafted product. The value of art does not reside in the price we pay for it, but in the efforts that have gone into making that masterpiece; that masterpiece which is born out of the dexterity of the weaver, his eye for weaving an intricate design from his own palette of colours, the long hours of adeptly crossing the warp and woof to create kaleidoscopic patterns on the fabric, creating designs which by no means can be replicated on a programmed machine that churns out batch after batch of immaculate shawls at the press of a button. The power looms can produce a shawl in a couple of minutes while the weaver spends an average of four days to weave an elaborate design on his handloom. We must learn to appreciate the beauty of inherent imperfections in a handcrafted product that renders it it’s exclusivity. No price is too high to pay for unadulterated art, be it for the purity of the wool, the sanctity of the natural organic dyes or the simplicity and genuineness of the heart of the person who is making it.
The campaign will carry a series of articles dedicated to the Traditional Kullu Shawl Weaving industry. The art of weaving is a part of the Kullu tradition and pride. Many here believe this art would die with the turn of the generation, as it is no longer considered lucrative by the locals. In our efforts to revive this industry, we present a hotchpotch of views, ideas, opinions, facts and ground realities. The main intention of this campaign is to spread awareness about the state of this industry, its bottlenecks, brainstorm possible ways of removing them and to generate enough interest amongst the public to help the weaver regain his lost glory.
SAVE THE WEAVER
…help him weave colour into his life again
Are we crucifying Art at the altar of Technology?
Are the benefits of development restricted only to those at the top of the pyramid?
Are those at the grass root level being exploited?
Do we as consumers bestow enough faith in the genuineness of the product that we buy?
Do we think twice before we buy?
Do we value the beauty of a handcrafted product?
My Himachal advisors Payson R. Stevens and Kamla K. Kapur gave a presentation at the San Diego Museum of Art on March 10, 2007.
They described their life in the Kullu Valley where they live half of the year. Known as the Valley of the Gods, it is a unique region filled with old-growth cedar forests and ancient devta and devi (male and female deities) religious practice. The slide presentation discussed aspects of the devta culture, the natural environment, and issues living in a region where people still carry on daily activities the way their forefathers did hundreds of years ago. Examples of Kullu Valley crafts, including shawls, woven slippers, wollen putti and topis were shown. Kapur read from her new book, GANESHA GOES TO LUNCH (www.kamlakkapur.com). The talk was well received and Stevens discussed My Himachal’s efforts to improve the lives of people in the Kullu Valley and Himachal Pradesh. Flyers of the My Himachal’s recent projects were handed out.
In addition, artwork from the The Museum’s Edwin Binney 3rd Collection of South Asian paintings from the Kullu Valley were also on exhibit. The Museum has over 1,450 paintings and is one of the finest and most comprehensive collections of South Asian paintings outside of India.
THE SPEAKERS: Stevens, an earth scientist and artist (www.energylandscapes.com), and his wife Kapur, a writer and playwright (www.kamlakkapur.com), spent three years building a home in a remote free mp3 download area of the region. Stevens has been
an advisor to the Great Himalayan National Park since 2000, working on issues of sustainable livelihoods for villagers. Kapur’s new book, Ganesha Goes to Lunch: Classics from Mystic India, is a re-creation of Hindu myths (Mandala Pubications April 2007).