Artist Spotlight: Mildred Howard


In the Line of Fire by: Mildred Howard

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6639 by:Mildred Howard

By: Aleksandra Bulatskaya

The enslavement and systematic murder of African Americans doesn’t get nearly as much attention from the mainstream art world as many other human rights atrocities, such as the Hebrew Holocaust. Mildred Howard’s art throws a spotlight on this issue by viewing it through a historical, international and at times personal perspective.

After hosting shows in Berlin, Cairo, London and New York most artists would settle in one of these international hubs for a life artistic glitz and glamor. A Berkley native, mixed media and landscape artist, Howard has done the complete opposite by becoming one of the most dedicated leaders of the San Francisco Bay Area arts scene.

On her daily walk to Berkley High School, some of Howard’s fondest memories come from smelling the surrounding gardens. As Executive Director of Alice Water’s Edible Schoolyard project, Howard seeks to help local teenagers and kids learn how to garden and stay out of trouble in the process.

The project was founded by local food movement legend, Chef Alice Waters. Kids are taught gardening and about how food affects their communities and the environment. It was Waters herself who tapped Howard for the Executive Director role, for her continual work as a spacial artist and leadership of the Oakland Exploratorium museum.

Her body of work reflects her beliefs in things growing from one another and becoming organically intertwined. Her famous glass bottle house works came to her in a dream and by no accident resemble plantation slave quarters. One her most well known glass houses, the blue bottle house was inspired by the death of her son.

She heard of a young boy who grew up in a home surrounded by glass bottles coming out of the ground. He thought that the bottle grew from the soil, like plants because he did not know enough about gardening. One day she awoke and knew that all she needed glass bottles to build these sheds.

Her work, In the Line of Fire, illustrates the face of a young African American WWII G.I. who went on to fight for American freedoms that he would never have himself. Other powerful themes included a room full of thousands of eggs to symbolize the lives lost in The Middle Passage.

Going from exploring some of the darkest chapters in human history to teaching and inspiring new generations, it seems that Howard’s body of work continues to come full circle.


Artist Spotlight: Kelly Tunstall

Kelly Tunstall Cao Studio Cameo 3D Print

Cameo 3D Print, by: Kelly Tunstall

Kelly Tunstall Installation at Betty Lin Boutique 2011

Installation at Betty Lin Boutique, by: Kelly Tunstall

By: Aleksandra Bulatskaya

When she was a little girl, Kelly Tunstall used old issues of Vogue to make 3D paper clothes for her paper dolls. Now, she makes installations, illustrations and artworks for some of San Francisco trendiest restaurants, galleries and boutiques.

You can find her pieces hanging on the walls of Bar Crudo and the Marina neighborhood pasta heaven – A16. Tunstall specializes in mixed media, illustration, installations, multimedia, and jewelry design and represents half of the artistic duo KeFe, that she founded with her husband and fellow San Francisco artist, Ferris Plock.

When she was still a student in college, NEMO Design of Portland hired her as a designer. While with NEMO,  she explored the commercial side of art, creating designs and creative marketing campaigns for global brands. But her love of art soon drew her away from agency life.

Kelly Tunstall The Secret State 111 Minna Gallery SF

The Secret State, by: Kelly Tunstall

Enrolling in the California Institute of the Arts and Crafts in San Francisco, Tunstall developed her distinct abstract and mixed style. Her work is a reflection of Pop Art and abstract ideas, evident in depictions of cartoon-like figurines that spew dark matter and mysterious shapes from their body parts. Many of her pieces are completed in collaboration with her husband, such as the  2009 Elements exhibition.

Tunstall proudly admits to having no specific style or artistic direction. On many occasions, she goes in search of her materials first. It’s only when she finds elements that inspire her, that her work begins.

It’s a fitting workflow for an artist, who as a little girl would peek through the pages of Vogue, waiting for the perfect outfit to catch her attention.

To learn more about Kelly Tunstall’s work visit: