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“To The Place Where I Grew Up” Art Exhibit at Creativity Explored (SF)

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Friday, January 14, 2022 | Cost: FREE*
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Creativity Explored | 3245 16th St., San Francisco, CA


[December 20, 2021, San Francisco] – Creativity Explored (CE), a studio-based art collective partnering with artists with developmental disabilities since 1983, is pleased to announce a solo exhibition featuring drawings, paintings, and ceramics by San Francisco-based Filipino artist Peter Cordova.

To the Place Where I Grew Up is Peter Cordova’s first solo exhibition, curated in collaboration with his long-time teaching artists Paul Moshammer and Gilles Combet, and named by the artist himself.

The exhibition is both a tribute to Peter Cordova’s native Philippines and an acknowledgment of his long-term interest in American Indigenous people and cultures. The mini-retrospective at the Creativity Explored 16th Street gallery features over 60 drawings and paintings on paper, matte and chipboard, as well as Cordova’s larger-than-life ceramics.

“I want to speak for myself through my art. I try to share my heritage with other people. If people are not willing to see what you express – how do they know, if you are not telling them?” – Peter Cordova

One of seven siblings, Peter Batista Cordova was born in 1966 in the Philippines in his father’s small village of Iguig, Cagayan. He remembers there was no electricity at the time. At the age of six, Cordova went to live with his grandparents in Manila as his immediate family began to immigrate. At nineteen, he immigrated to San Francisco with his sister and father to live with his mother. The family still lives in the same home in the Mission District today. These details and other artifacts of his past emerge in his work, depicted in urban and rural scenes.

Cordova began making art at Creativity Explored on September 23, 1996, a day he remembers in vivid detail. He had never made art before coming to the studios but came to visit his friend, former CE artist Sara O’Sullivan. His interest in Indigenous peoples was piqued by looking through old copies of National Geographic. Cordova recalls he was drawn to the “outfits, faces, and festivals” depicted in the pages.

To the Place Where I Grew Up showcases Cordova’s ongoing series of landscapes representing both tropical climates and the desert mountains of the American Southwest. Plantlife, people, animals, and birds are other predominant features in his lush, graphic drawings. His detailed frieze-like drawings of native peoples contain immense amounts of detail about an imagined daily life. The drawings blur the line between a mythical retelling of ancient life and reconstructions of pre-Colonial records. Cordova incorporates a wide variety of American tribal and Filipino characteristics and motifs, creating a mythos all his own spanning centuries and diasporas.

In a unique series of watercolors completed in 2013, Cordova added a narrative component to paintings of life in the Mission District along with memories of life in the Philippines. One painting includes American flags waving over a maze of streets in San Francisco. The national flag of the Philippines appears in another painting amidst a labyrinth of cars and winding rivers in the capital city of Manila.

Cordova’s ceramics take on a life of their own – as if subjects from his drawings and paintings have sprung to life from the earth itself. His handbuilt busts and statuettes are sculpted with precision, both in their form and in the application of rich natural-toned glazes. Cordova’s ceramic figures sometimes incorporate both human and animal characteristics, complex hairstyles, and ritualistic embellishments and attire.

In the summer of 2020, the Svane Family Foundation commissioned Cordova and 99 other Bay Area contemporary artists for a prestigious art auction benefiting ArtSpan. He created an array of 25 panels filled with the people and places that frequent his work, using matte boards and a variety of media.

Cordova’s work has appeared in dozens of exhibitions at Creativity Explored, as well as locally at UNTITLED ART FAIR, the California Conference for the Advancement of Ceramic Art, SFO Museum, Jack Fischer Gallery, Bedford Gallery (Walnut Creek), and internationally at Museum of La Creation France (Begles, France) and Funabashi Cure Gallery (Japan).

In January 2022 a series of panels by Cordova will be installed in the newly refurbished KQED headquarters in the Mission, alongside other CE artists. Creativity Explored is partnering with KQED to feature works by local arts organizations and artists in the new headquarters. The CE installation, featuring Cordova’s panels, represents the inaugural presentation in this partnership. About the partnership Peter Cavagnaro, ​​Director of Marketing and Communications at KQED, shared, “We are thrilled to partner with Creativity Explored to curate and showcase the work of disabled local artists in our new building. By highlighting artists like Peter Cordova, we hope to celebrate and educate visitors about the diverse artists working right here in our neighborhood.”

Cordova recently retired from a 27-year career at the Castro Safeway, where he greeted shoppers and bagged groceries. A natural ambassador for the disability community, Cordova would often invite grocery shoppers to CE shows and be recognized in the studio by visiting locals. Cordova now spends most of his time at home with family and at the CE studiom, making art with continued fervor wherever he is.

“He is an artist through and through,” exclaims exhibition co-curator and Program Director Paul Moshammer when asked about Cordova and his work. “Even during lockdown when Peter was not as connected to CE’s studio activities, he continued drawing every single day. He considers artmaking his nine-to-five job.”

During his 25 years with Creativity Explored, Peter Cordova has earned a reputation as a friendly and helpful community member, helping the gallery staff open up the storefront gates and making announcements in the studios when it’s time to get on the bus. His unyielding work ethic and positivity define his character in the studio. He is an integral member of Creativity Explored and a humble ambassador for the neurodiverse community.

Creativity Explored is honored to share Cordova’s rich practice and deep love of his Filipino heritage with the world at the Creativity Explored gallery. Additional programming to celebrate the exhibition will be announced via the Creativity Explored website and newsletter.

Join us to celebrate the work of Peter Cordova at the Creativity Explored gallery for our first show of 2022!

About Creativity Explored
Creativity Explored is a studio-based collective in San Francisco that partners with people with developmental disabilities to celebrate and nurture the creative potential in all of us. Founded in 1983 by a psychologist and an artist, CE has facilitated the careers of hundreds of neurodiverse artists and serves as a model in the field of art and disability worldwide.

Creativity Explored now serves 130 artists with developmental disabilities offering art supplies, training, exhibition and sales opportunities in traditional and digital media. CE artists have seen their work exhibited in museums, galleries, and art fairs in over 14 countries and have earned over $2 million from their art. Our life-changing programs continue to open doors of inclusion to center the personhood and creative vision of people with developmental disabilities. Most importantly, Creativity Explored is a source of community, empowerment and dignity.

CreativityExplored.org | @creativityexplored

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Event Details


Cost: FREE*
*Make an appointment or drop by during walk-in hours. Appointments require a non-refundable deposit of $10.00, which can be applied to any in-store purchase during your visit.
Categories: Art & Museums, In Person
Address: 3245 16th St., San Francisco, CA