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Artist Klari Reis works in epoxy polymer In her light filled South of Market studio next door to a leather fetish shop, artist Using a medium more often associated with surfboards or terrazzo flooring, Reis pours her mixtures into Plexiglas petri dishes and waits for the chemicals to react.
Each pouring produces a high gloss organic surprise: Some come out looking like galactic explosions, others evoke cells seen through a microscope, others embryos, sea coral or the inside of an orchid. "A lot of artists feel they have to work the way they are taught," said Reis, as she took a break from a piece for kate spade outlet sale dates a Microsoft building in England. "Art schools are filled with oil painting classes, but kate spade shoes sale why not paint with tar? Or mud?" Reis, whose artworks fetch up to $30,000 and hang in biotech firms, hospitals, restaurants, a cruise ship and private collections around the world, has been painting for only nine years. She was supposed to be an architect. She followed her parents' advice to channel her artistic talent into a "practical" career, and studied architecture at UC Davis. kate spade luggage for sale But when she started working, she found the only part she enjoyed was drawing the houses. On a job during construction of a new terminal at, she found herself distracted by the workers installing the thick terrazzo flooring, mesmerized by the way they used industrial dyes and flecks of colored rock and glass to create designs in the high gloss flooring. Inspired, she quit her job at the architecture firm, took a job with an art gallery in Palo Alto and decided to apply to graduate art programs. She didn't have a portfolio, but she made some architectural paintings, varnished them with rubbery terrazzo material and applied. Several art schools wanted her, and she chose City and Guilds of because it was half the price, and one year instead of two. "It's assumed when you show up to a master's program in art you already know how to paint," Reis said. "I felt like I sort of snuck in. I had never learned, so I had nothing to lose by painting with epoxy. I just went for it." She began by painting abstract, cellular type images with bold colors on small canvases. She dripped the epoxy with a plastic spoon, and used a blowtorch to smooth out the plastics and pop the air bubbles. Then her body rebelled. She was rushed to the hospital, and diagnosed with Crohn's disease, an inflammation of the bowel with no specific cause other than some possible links to stress and diet. Her doctor, who knew she liked to create biological paintings, let her watch her cells reacting to different anti inflammatory drugs through an electron microscope. The fluorescent dyes used to isolate parts of the cells were beautiful to her. The way the colors popped gave her an idea: put plastics together in petri dishes and see what happens. Two weeks later, she was released from the hospital, eager to get back to her plastics. But soon after, in 2005, British customs officials blocked her epoxy shipments, after terrorists bombed two London Underground trains with liquid explosives. She began making trips to Italy to get her materials, sneaking them back in her suitcases. She continued to put plastic on canvas, stashing her petri dish idea until she could get more epoxy polymer. Art fair success As she neared graduation in London, she won the prestigious Artists' Magazine competition reserved for two students to show their work at a London art fair. She sold everything she hung 20 works and made enough to pay off her school debt. After school, Reis returned to San Francisco to be closer to her epoxy supplier. She set up shop in her South of Market studio, and poured her first petri dish. The result was electric. "I didn't sleep for two days," she said. She installed the petri dishes in clusters, attaching them to the walls with screws. Her work took off, and her gastrointestinal troubles subsided. While in school, Reis caught the attention of London gallery owner, who now represents Reis, sending the San Francisco artist's petri dish installations annually to some of the most prestigious collectors' art fairs in the world: Art Miami, Art Hamptons, Slick Paris, Art Chicago, Scope Basel, Art Dubai. Reis has been painting with epoxy polymer on aluminum and wood, creating 8 by 4 foot "street anatomy" aerial maps of San Francisco, the Bay Area, Manhattan and Paris. Other works look like urban graffiti. The commission she's finishing for Microsoft in Cambridge, England, is a series of five cellular synapses, each constellation a different color to represent each research division in the company. She uses a glue gun with colored glue sticks and melted wax to make textural bumps, and hair dryers to accelerate drying and create interesting effects. She's also experimenting with molds, seeing what happens when she pours lots of epoxy and dye into a vessel. In one corner of her studio, two inverted hazard cones lined with garbage bags hold drying acrylic. "I want to see what texture I get from the folds in the garbage bags," she said. Now Reis' parents think art is a kate spade sold practical career. Reis and her new husband, Michael, are renovating a property around the corner from the studio into a live work space. They will live on the top, and the ground floor will be a studio and gallery space for Reis.
"I've been very fortunate," Reis said. "I get so many requests to speak at schools, but I can say everything in one sentence: 'Follow your own rules.' ".
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