Category Archives: design

An Interview with Uba Owl, founder of the Alterrealism movement

Uba Owl with Gloria Steinem

The Beijing China government hosted the Beijing Art Biennale  – a major exhibition held in conjunction with the Beijing Olympics in 2008 – a phenomenally successful and historic experience. Artists from around the world were invited to exhibit and 14 artists from the United States were selected. Uba Owl, a local Berkeley, California artist was honored as one of the 14 artists. Uba was interviewed for this article by Steve Yamaguma, president of Design2Market, a Silicon Valley-based design firm and  former board member of the Arts Council Silicon Valley.

It was such an honor to be selected for this prestigious exhibition, how were you contacted and how did you feel?

It is an open competition.  I felt very, very exited about being chosen to show my painting, especially when I learned that I was the only California artist to go, and one of 11 USA artists .

Which piece was exhibited, and what was the significance of the piece?

The title of the painting is “Slippers”.  It shows women swimming, only heads visible.  But there is more to the painting – it is a metaphor about life.

Do you know any of the other artists that were selected and was there a theme that connected all of the art?

I did not know any other artist.  There was a sculptor selected from California, but she decided not to do it (she said she sold the piece).

The theme was Oympics.

What was the response of the Chinese people to your artwork?

I wish I knew!

Did you get a chance to visit the exhibition?

I was selected as a speaker for the conference that accompanied the show.

Unfortunately, I was notified too late and the ticket cost was too expensive because of Olympics.

Is your artwork still in the gallery?

The painting is back in my studio.

You coined the term “Alterrealism”, can you explain?

I have been asked many times to describe what I paint.  I tried to place my art in any existing movement, but could not.  At that point, I decided to come up with the new term.  My husband was the one that created it. 

What other art pieces are you working on today?

I finished working on the Barack Obama family series.  It came about when the group “EngageHer” asked me to paint her portrait for the New York Conference

Where they were hoping for her to be a key speaker.  While looking at her photographs, I was impressed by the open loving emotion in her family, and went on to paint 7 paintings altogether.

How did you get the name “Uba Owl”?

They are  two nicknames from my childhood.  My husband suggested using them, and I liked it.

What is the future like for “Uba Owl”?

I am very excited about it, the future is a mystery, like my art.

Any exhibits coming up in the near future?

Coming up a show in Philadelphia, PII Gallery, opening April 2nd.

Thank you again and all the best to you, Uba Owl.


Alterrealism – The other side

 There are always two sides to a coin. The same can be said for Silicon Valley. We hear about the economy getting better, when people continue to lose jobs. We hear about the housing bust when someone else makes a whopping profit. And when we make tremendous advances in technology, we continue to lose loved ones to age-old diseases such as cancer and heart disease. What is real? What isn’t?

I recently met an incredible artist who contemplates this paradox in her works, Uba Owl
 What is the conscious and the unconscious? The tangible vs the untangible? The outer reality, the inner reality, and how both are real, both are connected. There is a fine line between life which springs forth from organic matter and “no life” of inorganic matter. What is thought? Emotions? Feelings? vs the rude awakening of slap in the face? The touch of a textured surface. And while many philosophers and artists explore the subtleties of the connections, science has yet to quantify what these are.

None the less, a new movement, Alterrealism,
 attempts to explore those connections through an artistic lens. How your feels shape your physical being. How the outside world changes your innermost thoughts. And how together, reality is formulated. 

It may be wishful thinking, but hopes, wishes and positive thoughts could only help when one reality is about a down economy and doom and gloom. – Keep that thought.