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Home FEATURES Studio Visits Studio Visit & Interview w/ Kelly Tunstall & Ferris Plock

Studio Visit & Interview w/ Kelly Tunstall & Ferris Plock
Written by Trippe   
Thursday, 21 June 2012 14:29

We swung through the home and studio of San Francisco based artists Kelly Tunstall and Ferris Plock. The married couple are putting the finishing touches on the work for their upcoming food-centric show Edible Complex opening at FFDG on Friday, June 22nd (7-10pm). We spoke of San Francisco's love affair with food, got into their working practices, saw what makes them tick and how they keep up with their lively 2 year old son, Brixton while enjoying a couple Coronas.

Interview: Alex Uhrich & John Trippe
Photos: John Trippe

Edible Complex
Kelly Tunstall & Ferris Plock
June 22 - July 14, 2012
Opening reception: Friday, June 22nd, 7–10 pm
@FFDG

Your upcoming show at FFDG, opening on June 22nd, focuses a lot on San Francisco's intense food culture. How do you guys, as a family, fit in? Do you eat out a lot?

Ferris: Well... we order a lot of food in... Having a 2 year old with an attention span of 10 seconds means that when we eat out, we often eat in shifts... We eat a lot in Japantown because our son Brixton really loves to run around there and he loves to eat sushi.

Kelly: We also have a very unique place that we're coming from- being kind of insiders and outsiders of the food bit at this point in our lives. I love so many places, and we've been lucky to be tangentially and directly involved in many efforts.

It's truly a special occasion that we're out for dinner together- and frankly, we're more often grabbing food from a truck at events and stuff, but yeah- a little more out of the loop than I used to be, so it's interesting to see how eating in the Bay Area has shifted in focus and intensity in just the last five years or so.

Do you think San Franciscans are too focused on food?

Ferris: I think everybody is focused on food because we all die if we don't eat.

However, I feel like I have seen enough photoblogs of peoples' food to last me a life time.

Sometimes I feel like our food culture renaissance is a bit like couture... It is based more on concept and pushing the outrageous and less on consumption. Isn't weird there is a cupcake store downtown that puts cupcakes in its windows to show their outrageous culinary inventions... but no one ever eats them? They all get thrown out?

Kelly: It's the food tourism bit that turns me off; I tire of - "I went there, there and there"- like badges more than about the experience. Some people can pull this off, because they're deeply interested in the art of food. It's so immediately exclusive- something just strikes me as disingenuous, and I'm still not sure honestly what it is- that's kind of been my tack for this show is figuring out where that flips from true appreciation to "better than you".

Yes, it's great to support local businesses that are doing their best to get local organic free range produce- I just don't want to get hit over the head with it every time that I'm dining. It's not that I don't care, I just want to eat great food, drink great drinks, and be served nicely and efficiently.

On the flipside, as a hotbed of innovation, I think things are always up to challengers in the Bay Area (even from within) and that's what has made life so interesting here. Trends here inform other places as well and push food culture forward, so it's not that bad if it improves eating and food production elsewhere. It's never good enough, so it just keeps getting better!

What can viewers expect from the show?

Kelly: Food cults and (my imagined) defensive mechanisms surrounding them -- I definitely feel like I really learned to eat and drink here (understatement), so some celebrations of that. -- Sometimes it's the simplest pleasures that are the greatest -- Also, a celebration of some food that I love the most -- Maybe we're taking things a bit seriously -- What fun is anything if you can't laugh at it?

Ferris: You are what you eat... Food on the go... Eat or be eaten... We are not at the top of the food chain.

How did your individual mixed media practices evolve?

Ferris: I started off working with white out and sharpie pens on butcher paper and found objects... I used to jasco all the graphics off my old boards and draw on those. I then started stenciling using found objects like screens and grates. I started using acrylics once my ample supply of white out ran out. When I met Kelly, we started experimenting with different mediums, tissue paper, lime paint, gold leaf, spray paint, water color... I feel like she encouraged me to explore and also taught me how use a brush properly.

You both collaborate on a lot of work. How does the process play out? Do you both work on pieces together at the same time or what?

Ferris: Sometimes we work on pieces at the same time... It is mostly a conversation where she will lay down some paint and then I will take a turn and then pass it back.

Kelly: It's fairly seamless. The larger framework is anther big part of the collaboration- kicking around a new show concept will come from either one of us- and we'll weigh in on each other's shows, and yes, just the practical implications of using the same brushes, paints and materials and sharing the same studio, house, food , music, keeps everything really close.

Do you guys eat in at home a lot? Favorite dishes to make?

Kelly: I love to cook serious Thanksgiving and St. Patrick's Day feasts, however, I am truly happy with a bowl of spaghetti with butter, capers, cheese, salt and pepper. Great beautiful ripe fruit makes me really happy too.

Can each of you give me a little bit of history about yourselves? (where you grew up, what school you went to if you did, when you moved to SF etc)?

Ferris: My parents moved my brothers and I out to the Bay Area from New Jersey when I was 3 1/2. My parents thought we'd all live on the West Coast for a couple of years and then we'd move back. That never happened. I grew up skateboarding in Palo Alto and picked up surfing when I was 13. I went to Cabrillo and UCSC basically so I could surf and get my college education at the same time.

How did you guys meet?

Ferris: I art stalked Kelly for a long time. I think we were formally introduced by a mutual friend at Kelly's CCA Alumni show. Kelly was gold leafing directly on to the gallery wall when I first met her. At that time, I was using white out and sharpie pens that I had acquired from my dotcom job when they laid off 3/4 of the company... Needless to say, I was impressed.

Ferris, have you been riding your skooler much these days?

Sadly, my folks needed their garden caddy back. However, they left the griptape on it and the DLX sticker on the side...My brother Matt and I rode it while visiting them a few weeks ago...

What are your favorite ways to spend a day in the city?

Ferris: We moved super close to the Presidio, so I take our son in their almost every day. We have seen, foxes, raccoons, owls, and coyotes in San Francisco... that's pretty awesome. I also love Western Addition and try to make it back to hang out there.

Your show, Edible Complex, deals with your relationships with food in the city. What are some of your favorite places to grub?

Ferris: Genki Ramen, Mandalay Burmese Food, Mai's Vietnamese, Cable Car on Geary

Who are some of your favorite Bay Area artists?

Ferris: shhhhhhhhheeeeeeouuuuuuuutttttt.... so many... Damon Soule, Mars, Doze, Brian Barneclo, Deth P Sun, Marci Washington, Brett Amory, Dave Choong Lee, Apex, Jesse Balmer, Matt Furie, Giant, Nate VanDyke, Pnizzle, Romanowski, those dirty Potes Brothers... many more.

San Francisco's rent is rapidly climbing, how do you think that this is impacting our art community?

Ferris: More people are moving elsewhere for sure... I've gotten used to it at this point in San Francisco. It is a hustle just to get by here. I've had amazing artists move elsewhere and thrive because they aren't consumed with just getting by. It's a renter town... that in itself says people can't settle down easily... How can you put roots down if there's a chance you'll be evicted?

This show will feature an animation in collaboration with Jim Dirschberger, can we expect to see more animations from you guys in the future?

Ferris: I hope so... Jim is a very busy dude. It is fun to have something that isn't static in an exhibition.

Anything you're especially excited for this year? Openings, shows, movies, albums etc?

Ferris: The new Deltron album is almost done. Ian Johnson has a show at Parklife and he is one of my favorite artists...whoops... I forgot you on my list Ian Johnson! sorry Ian. I'm excited to start shooting a documentary with Werehaus in July and August. Brixton starts preschool in September which is blowing my mind.

Kelly: I've got a couple restaurants to paint for just after this show- definitely excited about that. Looking forward to enjoying a beautiful summer and fall.

Thanks for the hospitality and cold beer, guys.

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contact FF

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For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to quit my job, move out of my house, leave everything and travel again. So on August 21, 2013 I pushed a canoe packed full of gear into the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Lake Itasca, Minnesota, along with four of my best friends. Exactly 100 days later, I arrived at a marina near the Gulf of Mexico in a sailboat.


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