Papaha
Tuesday November 21st, 2017
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Art Around Adams & Papaha
Art Around Adams

Interviewed by: Adam Pratter
July 2004

   Back in July, I got word of a new and exciting event unfolding along Adams Avenue called Art Around Adams, a community-sponsored event that pairs local artists with local venues, shops, and business owners. It was designed to give artists an opportunity to display their work to the public. So far it is a quarterly event happening each season. In November they will be presenting their autumn show, which will include many more local artists and venues.

I had a chance to speak with its creative director Papaha, who owns a small gallery here in Normal Heights and asked him about the event and his work. I was intrigued by his views on art. "I am really fascinated by brand new mediums. I try to find mediums that I can use or have not been exploited to their artistic potential. Personally, I have enjoyed painting on canvas, but I just don't find it that exciting anymore. I would rather paint on new materials, such as glass, brick, cardboard, or even records," said Papaha.

Papaha's gallery features his latest body of work, which includes paint on glass. These pieces take on a life of their own as you move across them. They seem to alter and shift depending on the angle of light hitting them. They are truly dynamic pieces.

Inner Circles
Viewing Papaha's work, I wondered how he got started in art. "Art was more of a hobby going into college and I took up computer engineering at UCSD, but did not enjoy it or the people. I decided to take a class about 20th century art and had a really inspirational teacher who awakened me, so I switched to the conceptual art program. It was amusing how everyone would stand around a piece and ponder 'now is that art?' I started creating highly conceptual art. I was really excited about the process. I was even awarded a grant to create cardboard sculptures. Those pieces blew the medium wide open for me."

Papaha became fascinated with using unconventional materials for his pieces. "There is an excitement in using brand new mediums and concepts to get someone out of the their usual paradigm of who they are and what they are looking at as far as art."

Dinner Plates
Papaha tries to transcend the confines that limit the concept of what art is. "It's about changing the whole process when you walk into a room or a gallery space. The entire space affects your senses and perceptions. Not only the art on the wall, but also the people in the gallery. People talking around you and everything that you're absorbing will affect your aesthetic experience dealing with art. So saying that this one 2x2 square of canvas on the wall here defines the art is sort of a limiting concept."

Papaha began to evolve as his art did. He came upon his spiritual path. That is how he was granted his spiritual name Papaha. "I have been studying with a meditation teacher for many years now. What he does with his students is get a real clear intuition as to what their most powerful spiritual qualities are and then finds a Bengali or Sanskrit name to define that quality. So my given name was Papaha, which means eager to destroy my own ignorance," Papaha smiles.

With a spiritual rebirth and a new spiritual name, he has pushed forward with his artistic evolution, exploring new concepts of how to redefine one's experience with art. "Personally I feel the ultimate goal is to evolve art from a mental state to a spiritual one. I always have a concept or spiritual quality when I do each piece and imbuing that piece of art with that quality is the intended result. I want my work to hold more of that essence to it. In creating pieces of art that I feel have something inwardly to offer and not something mentally or conceptually dynamic, redefines art."

Papaha continued, "You have to ask yourself as an artist, 'what do you really want to offer people?' Do you want to offer them something entertaining or something that is a beautiful offering to their spiritual awaking as an audience? The final evolution of art is for the audience to find their own search for creativity, spirituality, inner truth, and light with each piece or experience."

This powerful message inspired Papaha to move forward with his own goals as an artist, which led to the creation of Art Around Adams. He acquired his first gallery, which also serves as a studio. The gallery is set up with both design space and an exhibition area for his and other artist's work.

Papaha relates how the concept for Art Around Adams got started. "While I was setting up my gallery, I was meeting so many artists in the area. They all had very inspiring art and such diverse mediums. These were quality pieces and so I put forward the idea that we should get together and pool our clientele to have more people exposed to our work. And so that is how Art Around Adams was born." He continued, "It sort of all came together. We knew we had a lot of talented artists and some really nice venues to show off the artists' pieces. We never imagined that the community would be so interested and we were graced with a fair amount of success and that enthusiasm has helped us to propel ourselves forward."

"Arty Guides" Saran and Cindy help a passerby
After the second event, it was clear that Art Around Adams was attracting more attention with a larger audience of attendees, venues, and artists. Papaha said, "I want to make this a great art event and a great community event. A celebration of art, people, and the many treats Normal Heights has to offer. We want to include everybody and it has been an organic growth these first few events." Papaha has wonderful plans in store for Art Around Adams in the future and hopes that the individuals involved as well as the event will grow exponentially.

If you're interested in being interviewed by NormalHeights.org or have suggestions or comments about these or future interviews please feel free to contact Adam@NormalHeights.org
 
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