Mini Bar on Divisidero: A Little Gem for Art
Mini Bar at 837 Divisidero opened its doors during the 2008 recession and kept locals well lubricated during those difficult times. As most bars open in the city, Mini Bar had its ups and downs, now, 7 years later, it still attracts locals and decent artists. I have seen the works of a few artists on the walls consistently, while others seem to have a new show every few months. I reached out to the current new artists shown at Minibar, Kundan Baidwan and Carrie Cottini, and asked them what their inspiration was in regards their work.
Some may know her as one of the bartenders at Aub Zam Zam in the Haight, but Kundan is also an artist. What I discovered at Mini Bar, was a beautiful array of Kundan’s art, with perfectly colored walls to accent each piece, and many sold sticker dots next to them. I mentioned to her that her work reminded me of Agnes Martin, where the process is very much the meditative, and there is a shift away from the pictorial representative, and her response was, “I feel about Agnes Martin the way I think Mid-Westerners must feel about avocado – where have you been all my life?!? Unfortunately, I hadn’t learned about Martin when I studied her contemporaries like Barnett Newman and Rothko – whose work I know influenced me. I only recently learned of her approach, her isolated process. There is very deliberate process in my work that becomes almost meditative, but Martin’s mindfulness & discipline creates an almost vibrating humm that resonates from her work. She was genius – I’m just trying.”
Well, her trying is working, as she has sold almost all of her pieces in this group show. As for my appreciation to her work, I must say that many years ago in art school, I would have dismissed it, because I didn’t like minimalism or deconstructivism. I found it a post modern dilemma to art, where nothing was new anymore, and art should give, not take. I was highly skeptical to this genre of art before, however, now, after seeing Kundan Baidwan’s art, the body reacted to this more than my mind, and it resonated with a warm, cozier than your furry electric blanket feel. The textures of paint and the cocentric circles radiate off the surface, as if Baidwan circumnavigated around each painted dot as purposefully as a monk, without the heaviness of a Rothko. When I asked her what her inspiration was, she informed me, “My inspiration for this series in particular came from working on a mandala inspired painting a few years ago, I called ‘Mental Center’ and wanting to simplify it. While in my studio, I was listening to one of my favorite bands, My Morning Jacket and in the song ‘Slow, Slow Tune’ there is a lyric which is repeated:
“‘God’ll radiate the gold. God’ll radiate the gold…’ and that made my direction clear.'”
Juxtaposed right next to Baidwan’s art is Carrie Cottini’s, whose work has a bubblegum playfulness to it. Unlike Andy Warhol’s lipstick paintings, where he actually painted with lipstick, Cottini shows the female glam, writing on canvas in cursive as if writing lipstick on a mirror. All her works are meant as terms of endearment, even with the “obsolete, slut-shaming words” she includes in a few of her pieces. Although this show specifically focuses on her smaller works, some of her other pieces, can be viewed at www.etsy.com/shop/carrieann22
I should also note, the staff was exceptionally friendly at Mini Bar and not like your typical dive bar, where you may run into some snobbery amongst the locals. Sure, there is always some arrogant hipster trying to tell you what you should be doing, but as for the staff, great, friendly, and fun, overall. Other, more permanent installation artists on view were Whitney Sanford, and Kevin Leal. The next show will be on view, Thursday, Dec. 3, ‘Goldfarbs’s Black Velvet Paintings“ featuring artist and Mini Bar resident bartender, Genevieve Coleman as well as Emily Fromm & Jennifer Hale!