Since 2009, I have facilitated critique groups in my studio in El Sobrante.
The critique groups create a sense of community with a supportive, challenging environment to bring work-in-progress and completed work. Feedback on related professional development topics such as exhibitions, resumes, and writing artist statements are also discussed as needed.
Critique groups are invitation-only for artists with a committed studio practice and for those who wish to sustain a higher level of commitment. A short interview in my studio is required to determine whether the group is appropriate for a prospective member.
Artists working in any two- or three-dimensional media are welcome.
Critique groups are ongoing, in six-month semesters. A non-refundable payment for the full semester is required by the specified date. While I hope that each member can attend every session, I am unable to issue refunds or transfer meetings or sessions to future meetings or sessions. I reserve the right to change a date, although this happens very rarely.Studio is wheelchair-accessible.
What artists have said about the program:
I first met Lisa at the screening interview she conducts with each artist/applicant interested in participating in her monthly critique groups. At that time I was recently retired from a thirty-five year career in public education and, after years of on-again/off-again painting and printmaking, was in the early stages of developing a serious commitment to my practice. I had prepared a small portfolio of work, but I didn’t have an MFA or much of an exhibition history to support my credibility. My biggest concern was that Lisa, with her reputation as a well established exhibiting artist, serious art educator and highly effective mentor, might not take me seriously.
I quickly learned that I had no need to worry. From that first meeting to the present, Lisa’s sincere interest in who I am and what I’m trying to do, has put me at ease. Her experience, expertise and disarming kindness have enabled me to speak from my heart about what matters most in my practice.
Working with Lisa and the artists she brings together for monthly critiques, I have developed an open and genuine curiosity about my work, looking carefully at what I think I know and what I hope to learn. This curiosity has pushed me to explore materials, methods and meanings I might have otherwise avoided. I have taken risks, embraced and abandoned avenues of inquiry and, most recently, built several strong bodies of work.
Within the well-facilitated safety of the critique group, I have had the opportunity to escape the isolation of the studio and share my work with other artists. Through them, I’ve been given new eyes and a clearer vision of what and how my work communicates. In the critiques, I’ve had the invaluable benefit of seeing the work of the other artists and listening to them talk about their processes and experiences. When, as always, the conversation deepens, I am there, connected and confirmed.
I am grateful to Lisa for taking me seriously, for creating, facilitating and including me in the critique group, and for providing a meaningful mentorship that has resulted in greater public exposure for my work and an ever deepening personal practice. Betsy Kellas, Pt. Richmond, CA | www.betsykellas.com
Lisa's crit group? It's the perfect combination of simultaneously being held by the hand and kicked in the butt. Lisa's quietly succinct, astute comments and questions have pushed me to work harder, to make more art, be more daring, take risks, and get my work out in the world. There is nothing like the reciprocity of a small group of like-minded artists who get to know each other's work over time, who can stimulate, encourage, and clarify your creative process, as you do theirs. Need support breaking through to the next level in your artwork or your art issue struggles? Want to hear how other artists are dealing with some of the same issues? Hear about books you should read or exhibitions you must see? All this and much more in the context of a small supportive critique group under the guidance of Lisa, a wise and nurturing mentor, who can also give you a good kick when you need it. Lin Max, Santa Rosa, CA | www.lin-max.com
Insightful commentary, humor, and camaraderie are all essential parts of Lisa Kokin’s critique groups. Lisa is extremely generous—sharing her extensive knowledge of contemporary art and techniques. The structure is tight enough to keep everyone on topic, but open enough to allow for spontaneous discussions when appropriate. Having a knowledgeable, yet gentle audience of peers is a great way to explore new directions and get helpful feedback on everything from the work to marketing strategies. Perhaps what has been most helpful for me has been the support and validity I have received when going through the inevitable artistic periods of doubt, insecurity and creative blocks. Internal and external forces of life often make it difficult for any artist to pursue such a solitary practice and Lisa is there to remind us of the thread that ties us to our work, and to each other, no matter what the circumstances. Marianne McCraney, Walnut Creek, CA | www.mariannemccraney.com
Lisa Kokin’s critique group is a vital part of my art practice. I arrive at the door every month to be greeted by beautiful lush gardens that guide me into Lisa’s studio and I am instantly become part of a community of astute artists. The artists in the critique group are deeply passionate and dedicated to their art practice. The environment maintains a deep respect for artists and is facilitated and maintained by Lisa. A gratifying aspect of the group is the feedback that Lisa provides for each artist in developing work that is authentic to the artist, by carefully listening and looking at each individual’s work. Lisa’s critique group has been an invaluable experience for me and has helped me to truly reveal the strength behind my work. Kathy deRosas, Oakland, CA | www.kathyderosas.com
My drive from Palo Alto to El Sobrante is a pilgrimage to sanity. I joined Lisa's critique group at the same time that I received my MFA, in order to stay connected to a community of artists where I could share artistic challenges, joys and sorrows. The people in my critique group are articulate, perceptive, surprising, funny, cynical, stylish and exacting: a perfect lens through which to view my art. Lisa's leadership imbues the group with integrity, warmth and a generosity of spirit. I couldn't ask for more. Well, truth to tell, I wish the drive was shorter. Deborah Miller, Palo Alto, CA |
I have gotten so much out of being in Lisa’s critique group. Being a part of a committed, supportive and above all focused group has been very important to me. We look at our work in depth. We spend time on details. We take each other seriously. We are multi- media, multi-level, multi-points of view. We listen to each other. It is helpful. Lisa is a truly wonderful guide. I value the commentary I receive and each time I am inspired and motivated to view other’s work and to seek other’s reactions to my work. I look forward to future time spent with this group. Emily Dvorin, Kentfield, CA | www.emilydvorin.com
Making art can be lonely, dogged, difficult work. But this group sustains me. I know that I can count on its thoughtful, generous feedback and support, whether my current work feels like it's raw, finished, falling apart, coming together, searching for resolution, lost, found, all of the above, other. And through this group, under Lisa's sensitive guidance, I've learned to look at, think about, and talk about art in ways I never did before. Bea Hartman, El Cerrito, CA |www.beahartmanart.com
I've been in a critique group led by Lisa Kokin for a little more than a year. The group has been an invaluable support to me in developing and taking risks with my work; I feel it has boosted my progress exponentially. Lisa's insightful, sensitive and humorous facilitation has made the group an encouraging yet challenging environment for all the members.
Janet Bogardus, Novato, CA | www.janetbogardus.net