Art for Healing

 Author (left) with artists Rex Dacanay and Nannette Nemenzo in 2016. (Photo by Sharon Freeman, UCSF)

Author (left) with artists Rex Dacanay and Nannette Nemenzo in 2016. (Photo by Sharon Freeman, UCSF)

The creations of two Filipinos, sculptor Rex Dacanay and painter/illustrator Nannette Nemenzo, were among the works exhibited at the 29th annual UCSF ARTshow, which ran for one week in October. It was presented by the UCSF Visual Arts Club.

The University of California San Francisco, one of the top medical institutions in the US, offers its doctors, faculty, students, retirees, alumni, volunteers and staff a way of sharing art, creativity and community. The university, which also runs its own hospitals and medical centers, has been incorporating art with treatment modalities as a way of helping patients through recovery. The art show is a way of sharing artistic endeavors of the medical and scientific faculty and staff.

Dacanay and Nemenzo, both working as analysts in the UCSF Department of Pediatrics, have been participating in this exhibit for the past years. Their newly completed artworks are among the few selected from many entries all over the university. Their pieces have been put on display at this yearly art show.

Nannette Nemenzo, Painter & Illustrator

Born in the Philippines but raised in the San Francisco Bay Area by two scientist parents, Nannette Nemenzo, it became apparent to her family early, was on a path to art rather than science.

 Nannette Nemenzo with her painting “Bloom” at the UCSF ARTshow in 2016. (Photo courtesy of Nannette Nemenzo)

Nannette Nemenzo with her painting “Bloom” at the UCSF ARTshow in 2016. (Photo courtesy of Nannette Nemenzo)

“I began at a young age to express myself creatively through my early experimentation with a variety of media including graphite, colored pencil, and pen and ink,” she says.

“I studied illustration at the Academy of Art University while working for the fine art printing press studio, Hine Editions/Limestone Press, in San Francisco. Not quite knowing what I was getting myself into, I began my journey as an artist introduced to the craft of lithography, etching and letterpress printing. This experience opened my eyes to a whole world of artists and theories. Numerous visits to the studio by contemporary artists such as Ed Ruscha, Nathan Oliviera and Joan Mitchell influenced my decision to move beyond commercial art and venture into fine art.”

To sustain her practice, Nemenzo worked in the biotechnology and information technology industries while concurrently pursuing a career in arts administration and non‐profit management at the San Francisco Center for the Book and SF Museum of Modern Art.

  Un amour d’ete (A summer love)  by Nannette Nemenzo, Gesso, acrylic and gold leaf on cradled Masonite, 20” x 24”, UCSF ARTshow 2017 (Photo courtesy of Nannette Nemenzo

Un amour d’ete (A summer love) by Nannette Nemenzo, Gesso, acrylic and gold leaf on cradled Masonite, 20” x 24”, UCSF ARTshow 2017 (Photo courtesy of Nannette Nemenzo

Her painting “Bloom,” which shows blooming tulips in vivid, vibrant shades of fuschia, was selected for last year’s ARTshow. The composition clearly reflected Nemenzo’s skill in working with colors that speak volumes.

“Painting is a meditation on a subject. My curiosity is drawn to objects that make my world larger and more colorful. To me, my subject is not a cold scientific fact, nor a documentation of my feelings about the subject. I approach each new work with no expectations or formula. This allows me to see what a new collaboration between media, surface, subject matter and attentiveness would produce each time. I work until a painting breathes on its own and speaks its own truth,” Nemenzo explains.

For her recently finished painting that was shown this year, Nannette describes Un amour d' été (A summer love) as “a reflection of a love of summer, the intensity, the rush, and life experiences and memories of summer.” Which fits perfectly with this year’s art theme of “Love.”

 Detail,  Un amour d’ete (A summer love)  by Nannette Nemenzo (Photo by Manzel Delacruz)

Detail, Un amour d’ete (A summer love) by Nannette Nemenzo (Photo by Manzel Delacruz)

Rex Dacanay, Sculptor

Rex Dacanay’s family emigrated to Guam before he was born, but he has made San Francisco his home. He has been sculpting for the past several years and has shown his collection at the SOMA Art Studios, the annual UCSF ARTshow and other exhibits in the Bay Area. Prior to sculpting, Dacanay was a painter and illustrator, but as a hobbyist. “I did not seriously pursue art as a part-time career until I met and was inspired by my mentor, Tebby George, and by my fellow sculptors. I call myself a figurative artist because my preferred subject matter is the human figure,” he explains.

 Imagine” – Raku fired clay on wood base board by Rex Dacanay.  The sculpture was one of the artworks shown at the UCSF ARTshow 2016 (Photo courtesy of Rex Dacanay).

Imagine” – Raku fired clay on wood base board by Rex Dacanay.  The sculpture was one of the artworks shown at the UCSF ARTshow 2016 (Photo courtesy of Rex Dacanay).

A large majority of Dacanay’s sculptures are glazed using the raku glazing technique, which is mainly associated with pottery that produces beautiful cracks or luster metallic finishes.

Dacanay explains his choice of technique: “I love the antiquated look raku gives my sculptures, as if they were dug up from an archaeological dig, which I suppose would be my ‘schtick’ as a sculptor.”

He draws inspiration from his roots. “Growing up I had always been enamored with the sculpted deities of many ancient cultures, particularly the Greeks and the many incarnations of the Virgin Mary. And, it is interesting to discover, looking at my body of work, how much that heavily influenced my style.”

 “ This Precious Love” by Rex Dacanay, R  aku fired clay on wood base board,   UCSF ARTshow 2017

This Precious Love” by Rex Dacanay, Raku fired clay on wood base board, UCSF ARTshow 2017

Last year’s theme for the art show was “VIVID” and, for the exhibit, Dacanay produced his sculpture “Imagine” –- the figure of a naked woman with birds perched on her body, each representing different ideas sprouting out of her vivid imagination. Dacanay notes that this work is more toned down than his usual extravagant pieces of previous years, perhaps indicating a possible shift in his work progression.

For this year, Dacanay is showing his sculpture entitled “This Precious Love” created specifically for the year’s theme of “Love.” The piece is his trademark raku fired clay on wood base board.

Dacanay shares his thoughts about the creation of this piece: “Love, to me, is the devotion of one’s self to the welfare of another. I felt that a mom breastfeeding her child was symbolic of that. One person nourishes another with the hope that something good and healthy grows from the experience.”

 Detail, “This Precious Love” by Rex Dacanay (Photo by Manzel Delacruz)

Detail, “This Precious Love” by Rex Dacanay (Photo by Manzel Delacruz)

The UCSF ARTshow is held yearly in the Parnassus campus after a selection process of original art work submitted by participants which include doctors, scientists, clinicians, students and academic staff. The exhibition is open to the public


 Manzel Delacruz

Manzel Delacruz

Manzel Delacruz is a freelance writer living in San Francisco.


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