Sunday, November 27, 2011

Automata: Mechanical Wonders of the Nineteenth Century at SFO

Fiddler c. 1910 . probably by Renou . France .papier-mâché, fabric, paint, metal, glass, wood, hair  Collection of SFO Museum

If you are stuck out at SFO this holiday season, this exhibit can help you pass the time. The new exhibition features exquisite mechanical figures and musical machines from the 19th century.

Before the Industrial Revolution, automata were created mainly as one-of-a-kind scientific experiments, political or religious theater, and given as diplomatic gifts. Eventually they became promotional devices to attract sales. French manufacturers later incorporated mass-production technology to produce musical automata, musical dolls, clockwork singing birds, and tableaux méchaniques (mechanically animated scenes) to meet the increasing demand for these new forms of entertainment.

From the mid-1800s to the 1900s, automata served as parlor entertainment. Many skilled artisans were required to manufacture these clockwork machines. They were not considered toys for children, but rather items of social privilege and status - which didn't prevent me from wanting to play with them!
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Monday, November 21, 2011

Busy times at Chez Nancy's

I've been busy reviewing art and even posted a new food recipe up at my food column at the

I want to do a longer piece on Bernini and more on the Venetian painters who are up at the de Young - heck, whole encyclopedias have been written about Bernini and Titian. Do you think I could be contented with just one column?

Vegetarian pot pie

Later in the week, I'll start my promotion pieces for local art fairs and community centers. There are so many local art centers that are desperately trying to survive. Financial support is being cut back in all areas but remember the motto "art saves lives. Feeding the soul is important in desperate times.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Bernini's "The Medusa" at the Legion

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, The Medusa, 1640s. Carrara marble. Musei Capitolini, Rome

This piece is so delicately beautiful and the level of craftmanship is so high that it has to be seen to be believed. At the press preview today, John Buchanan, the Director of the Museum, hinted that there will be more exchanges between the Capitolini Museum in Rome and the Legion. No details yet but keep tuned to this space ...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Anonymous Was A Woman 2011 awards

Anonymous Was A Woman announced the ten artists selected to receive the Foundation’s annual award. The “no strings” grant of $25,000 enables women, over 45 years of age and at a critical juncture in their lives or careers, to continue to grow and pursue their work. Lauren Katzowitz Shenfield, director of the program, explained, “Anonymous Was A Woman Awards are synonymous with important recognition in artists’ personal and artistic development. The financial gift helps artists buy time, space, materials, and equipment, often at early stages of a new project, and, sometimes, recover from traumatic life events. In itself, the Award helps artists feel recognized and honored by other distinguished women who seek no credit for the role they play.”

Jungjin Lee, Buddha on hand made paper.

For me the real beauty in photography is not the end product but the process. My images are a means of metaphorical expression: not a representation of the actual world, or a reconstitution of visual beauty, but a basis for fundamental meditation. The photographs represent thoughts incapable of being expressed in words, asserted, or emphasized as a single argument. My THING series, unlike my past works, approached me from objects which were near and familiar to me. The familiarity means a waiting and a private communication between the thing and myself. And that familiarity turns into an estrangement through the vacating of thoughts. The act of vacating, like the blank spaces of my work, makes the thing dream of itself as well as me.

More award winners at: