Monday, December 23, 2013

Free non-Christmas events during Christmas week

Arnold Lobel, "Old pig with pen."

In celebration of "Frog and Toad and the World of Arnold Lobel," The Contemporary Jewish Museum's Community Day is an admission-free, fun-for-all extravaganza. The exhibition features over 100 original illustrations and works on paper highlighting Lobel’s detailed illustration technique and warm, funny tales of love and friendship, mostly among animal friends. Lobel subtly reflected on human foibles in a charming world populated by a talking frog, a toad, an owl, mice, kangaroos, and other colorful creatures.

Christmas is coming, which means you’re most likely spending the day with friends and family or stuck at work (or maybe both). If you want to get away, there are a multitude of opportunities and best of all, most of them are free.

If you’re looking to volunteer, opportunities abound, like serving meals for homeless and in-need families at Glide. More at:

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Celebrate the Winter Solstice

Tributes to the Solstice:

Wikipedia does its bit:
Overview for 2014:

The winter time is nearing; raise your glass on high;
Prepare the meal, and let the beer and wine be drunk
To celebrate the shortest day and longest night,
On this time before the coming of deep winter.

The light dims near the edges of the darkling earth,
As men dance and sing to praise the westering sun;

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

'Emancipating the Past. Kara Walker's Tales of Slavery and Power' at the Crocker

A decade or more before Hollywood started using slavery for its exploitative value, Walker was making work that plumbed the depths of American's "peculiar institution" and mainstream society's hostile and cruel treatment to those who had been brought here forcibly from Africa to work the tobacco and cotton fields for the benefit of their white masters.

More at:

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Bay Area art events for December 12 - 15

 Image courtesy of Michael Yochum

Arc Gallery: "Choice," a national juried gallery show in support of women's reproductive rights - not just abortion but contraception, access to decent medical care and if and when to be a mother. The attack on women's reproductive rights has reached new lows in today's lethal political climate. The show is about women being able, without harassment or intrusive medical (i.e. politically motivated) intervention, to decide for herself.

Juror Catharine Clark of the Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco selected the works of thirty-four artists for exhibition at Arc Gallery and eight additional artists to be represented in the Choice catalog and online gallery.

"Choice is binary: to take a pregnancy to term or not. As a working mother myself, it was important to choose works that convey the diverse paths women pursue."
--Juror Catharine Clark

Where: Arc Studio and Gallery, 1246 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94103
Opening Reception: December 12th, 2013, 6 - 9 p.m.
Artist’s Talk: January 7th, 2014, 7 – 8:30 p.m.
Closing Reception: January 12th, 2014, 1–3 p.n.
Exhibition: December 12, 2013 - January 12, 2014

Sponsored by the Northern California Women's Caucus for Art.

More at:

Friday, December 6, 2013

Creativity Explored's Annual Art Sale and Valencia Street Block Party

I just hope it doesn't rain tonight. There is supposed to be a Valencia Street Block party and the Creativity Explored sale/opening is part of the PARTY!

The 2013 Annual Holiday Art Sale at Creativity Explored is an art lover’s shopping extravaganza, with a multitude of remarkable art—and this year they are giving 30% off all original artwork to celebrate the end of their 30th anniversary year! (NOTE: Discount does not apply to online store orders or any products.)

Valencia Street Holiday Block Party: The holiday shopping season is just starting to heat up, and the merchants along Valencia Street are happy to help with whatever you need to get that special someone. The block party will feature more than 40 participating stores, with night hours and discounts, as well as each establishment offering extras such as food, drink and/or entertainment. 6-10 p.m. Friday. (Also, Friday is the Hayes Valley Block Party and there’s an Inner Sunset Sundays event this weekend.)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving -may your feast be delightful and not cut short by any crazy rushing-off-to-do-shopping.

Cosco and Nordstrom refuse to ruin Thanksgiving and so say all of us

For those in the East Bay who wish to avoid the bridge and BART (and who can blame them), there are lots of choices:

And for those of us in San Francisco, I hardly know where to start. So many good art exhibits, museum shows and even, through SF City Guides, a way to walk off that stuffed feeling: Kristina Quinones, ArtZone 461, Studio Gallery, Green Apple and more.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Sofia Carmi and Brent Bushnell-life partners who make art that transcends boundaries.

Another in my sporadic series on artists who manage to survive in San Francisco.

San Francisco is a hard city for artists to survive in, harder now that ever. With apartments renting at $2000 a month and condos selling for five million and up, it’s become a city for the 1%.

But some artists have managed to survive without compromising their vision of making art that transcends boundaries.

Just ask Sofia Carmi and Brent Bushnell who have managed to survive here for decades, with one stint “in exile” in Sacramento.

Monday, November 4, 2013

'David Hockney: A Bigger Exhibition' now at the deYoung.

 A longer, more analytical and critical review of the Hockney show at the deYoung. Did I like it? the review and see what you think. Relevant comments are always welcome.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

'Rembrandt Laughing' now on view at the Getty

"Rembrandt Laughing," Rembrandt’s engaging early self-portrait, purchased by the Getty last May is now on view in the Getty Center’s East Pavilion, Gallery 205.

In 1628, or thereabouts, Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn, then 21 or 22, full of the confidence and vigor of youth threw back his head and laughed. He looks at the viewer over his right shoulder, his hair falling fashionably in a long lock over his left shoulder. He is wearing a dark purple and brown outfit and a gleaming steel gorget, against a feature-less gray background. He then captured the moment in an oil painting on a tiny copper plate, about the size of an iPad.

The painting was acquired by the Getty for an estimated $25.1 million. Long classified as missing by experts, it had stunned the art world when it surfaced in a 2007 country auction in Gloucestershire in England.

The cheerful artist joins a range of other Rembrandt characters also on view—a pensive saint; a proud old man similarly dressed as a soldier with a metal gorget; King Cyrus and his skeptical confidant Daniel; the Princess Europa as she is whisked away by Jupiter in bull form; a contemplative bearded man, possibly a rabbi, seen in profile; and a precocious young girl in a gold-trimmed cloak.

This new addition, the fifth Rembrandt painting in the Getty Museum’s permanent collection along joins a remarkable group of 10 drawings by Rembrandt. Two of the paintings on view, "Portrait of a Rabbi" and "Portrait of a Girl Wearing a Gold-Trimmed Cloak," are on loan from private collections.

Painted with lively brushwork on copper, the self-portrait is wonderfully luminous. As paintings curator Anne Woollett notes, the painting is even more striking for its immediacy and virtuosity.

“Rembrandt Laughing is remarkable in that it’s a physical evocation of a laugh. You really feel the whole body laughing, and that is reflected in the face with his creased eyes and big smile,” said Anne. “Mirth is a very difficult emotion to portray, particularly if you’re trying to accomplish it by looking in a mirror to make a self-portrait. It’s fascinating to think about how Rembrandt painted this fleeting moment—the tipped-back body, the tilted head, and the belly laugh.”

Rembrandt painted perhaps as many as 80 self-portraits in his career. This work, created in Leiden and one of his first painted self-portraits, stands out for its levity—it’s one of only two in which Rembrandt portrayed himself smiling.

Most of his self-portraits were more grand and serious, with a fashionable sense of decorum. For example, the only other Rembrandt self-portrait in Los Angeles is one at the Norton Simon Museum made about 1638 or 1639, which is formal with a certain gravity. His expression is serious, his body composed. His clothes are elegant, reflecting the luxurious presentation of a Renaissance portrait.

Intently interested in capturing different expressions, Rembrandt etched, drew, and painted different emotions and characters throughout his career, often using himself as a model. His character studies, or tronies, were useful preparation for his history paintings, and also delightful small-scale compositions in their own right. Rembrandt Laughing is both a tronie, in which the artist appears in costume and embodying a particular emotion, and a self-portrait.

While we might attribute this rare jovial picture to his youthful attitude and burgeoning success at the time, it could also be considered a calling card for his skills. In the gallery, you can see how this self-portrait compares with "Portrait of a Young Girl" and "Old Man in a Military Costume." The three were painted within a few years of each other, and together display the artist’s range and talent. All three are also extraordinary technical feats and compelling character studies, and yet each stands out, distinct in tone and emotion.

But only one makes you grin. “Rembrandt Laughing is infectious,” Anne said. “His smile draws you in and makes you respond in kind.”

Friday, October 18, 2013

SFMOMA and the Metropolitan Museum of Art jointly acquire a major piece by South African artist WIlliam Kentridge

Marking a major collaboration between two leading U.S. museums, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) announced today the joint acquisition of South African artist William Kentridge’s major multimedia installation The Refusal of Time (2012).

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Redon at the Cantor: Unholy terrors, sinful temptations, gods and monsters.

The Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University presents a rare opportunity to view all three lithographic albums that French Symbolist artist Odilon Redon created in response to Gustave Flaubert’s 1874 book The Temptation of Saint Anthony.

The albums include a total of 42 individual compositions, all of which are on view in the exhibition “Inspired by Temptation: Odilon Redon and Saint Anthony."

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Creativity Explored in San Francisco's Mission District will exhibit contemporary interpretations of El Dia De Los Muertos.

Opening October 10, Creativity Explored in San Francisco's Mission District will exhibit contemporary interpretations of El Dia De Los Muertos.

San Francisco’s Calacas: Day of the Dead, Creativity Explored’s sixth and final exhibit of its 30th anniversary year, focuses on the artwork of more than 20 Creativity Explored studio artists and their contemporary connection to the globally-celebrated holiday of El Dia De Los Muertos (The Day of the Dead).

While El Dia De Los Muertos traditionally is a time to pay tribute to deceased relatives and friends, Calacas (a Mexican colloquialism for “skeletons” or “bones”) reinterprets the holiday, as seen through the eyes of Creativity Explored artists in their Mission District neighborhood.

Co-curated by renowned Salvadoran-born artist and Visual Arts Instructor Victor Cartagena and studio volunteer Samantha Hovey, this exhibition focuses on how the community of San Francisco has transformed the holiday into something unique and of ongoing cultural significance to the life of the city.

Each Creativity Explored artist has worked diligently in creating artwork that represents his/her own interpretation and understanding of El Dia de los Muertos, revealing individual, personal and spiritual perspectives. Be sure to experience this intriguing seasonal exhibit, the latest addition to San Francisco’s many Day of the Dead festivities.

Curated by Victor Cartagena with Samantha Hovey.
Creativity Explored. 3245 16th Street (at Guerrero Street)
Opening Reception

Thursday, October 10, 2013

7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Music by Fogo Na Roupa plus roving accordian performances by Heidi Hubrich Seretan.
Donor Preview*

6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m
*To become a donor, click here.

Creativity Explored’s 30th Anniversary exhibitions are supported by the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation. Creativity Explored advances the value and diversity of artistic expression. They provide artists with developmental disabilities the means to create, exhibit, and sell their art in the studios and gallery, and around the world.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Seven Days in Bay Area Art

At the Cantor: "Manet and the Graphic Arts in France, 1860–1880." The death and destruction that occurred in the streets of Paris during the Commune of 1871 affected artists of the generation who lived through it or even fought in it, as did Edouard Manet (1832-1883). This exhibition examines how printmakers, draftsmen, and photographers depicted the factors that led to this traumatic event as well as the conflict itself and the changes it brought to Paris. The central image, Edouard Manet’s powerful lithograph Civil War, is shown with 13 works on paper by Felix Bracquemond (1833-1914), Maximilien Luce (1858-1941), Charles Marville (1813-1979), Félix Buhot (1847-1898), and others. Through November 17, 2013.

Romer Young Gallery presents its first solo exhibition with Milan artist Alice Cattaneo, "Nothing quite flat and more round. " For this exhibition, Cattaneo exhibits a new series of sculptures generated during her residency at the gallery this summer. The design of this imaginary architecture within the gallery space takes into consideration a rigorous yet imperfect geometry coupled with a sense of playfulness.

The San Jose Museum of Art kicked off its multi-stage exhibition "Around the Table: food, creativity, community." with the work of internationally acclaimed artist Jitish Kallat. In Jitish Kallat: "Epilogue, "the Mumbai-based artist honors his late father through a deeply personal installation. "Epilogue" (2010–11) comprises 753 photographs that depict progressively eaten roti, the round, traditional South Asian flatbread. Each roti represents one of the 22,500 moons that were in the sky during Kallat’s father’s 62-year lifespan.

At the Roxie: "Herb and Dorothy 50x50 ." “Herb & Dorothy 50x50” is Megumi Sasaki’s follow-up to her 2009 film about Herbert and Dorothy Vogel. He was a postal clerk and she was school librarian in New York City, They devoted their modest means to amassing one of the most significant collections of art, particularly conceptual art.

True philanthropists and art lovers, the couple donated their million plus dollar collection to the National Gallery of Art in Washington in 1992. Even after that, the collection was too large to be exhibited. So, in 2008, after an agreement with the museum, the couple said they would donate 50 works to a museum or gallery in each state. This film documents that project, visiting 11 such exhibitions. (Mr. Vogel died in 2012, before the documentary was finished.

Unfortunately the documentary is not a good follow up to the original film. It lacks focus and the music, as SF Chronicle critic Kenneth Baker points out, is sentimental and cloying. The Vogel's were likable, focused art patrons but this documentary doesn't do them justice.

More at:

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Luttrell Psalter goes on line

The Luttrell Psalter, one of the treasures of the British Library has been digitized and now is on line. Previously only scholars were allowed to handle this fragile, priceless masterpiece. But thanks to the new world of electronics, everybody who loves medieval art and calligraphy can view evey page.

The Luttrell Psalter is one of the most famous medieval manuscripts because of its rich illustrations of everyday life in the 14th century. It was made in the diocese of Lincoln for Sir Geoffrey Luttrell (1276 - 1345) of Irnham, probably sometime between 1325 and 1335.

The text was written throughout by one scribe and illuminated by at least five different artists

A framed miniature of Sir Geoffrey Luttrell inserted between Psalms 108 and 109 dominates this page. It was not unusual for the patron of a manuscript to appear somewhere, but they would normally be shown in a attitude of devotion. Not only is this miniature the largest in the entire manuscript, but Sir Geoffrey has had himself portrayed as a fully-armed knight, resplendent in his coat of arms. He is attended by his wife and daughter-in-law, both dressed in heraldic gowns, making a visual statement about the successful alliances he has made.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Opening at the de Young: The Art of Bulgari - La Dolce Vita

"Big girls need big diamonds," as Elizabeth Taylor once put it. Those who share Taylor's leanings should be sure to check out the upcoming exhibit at the de Young. It opens Saturday, September 21st and the glittering babbles (140 or so in all) are sure to be this fall's guilty pleasure.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Weekend Picks: Arc, BAM/PFA, Dolby Chadwick, Thomas Reynolds & Cantor Arts Center

John Fitzsimmons and Kate Flyn at Arc Studios and Gallery

Arc Gallery: "FourSquared" is a unique exploration of the works of sixteen Bay Area artists. Each of the artists has produced sixteen small works, presented in sixteen clusters. "SquaredAlumni" brings together eight of the most popular alumni from previous FourSquared exhibitions at Arc in support of Teen Van.  Arc Gallery will be donating all of its profits from this exhibition and the Alumni artists will be donating a portion of their sales to support the program. 

For so many teenagers, life seems a struggle, even without the grave complications of homelessness, poverty or untreated illness. But for those who carry all those burdens at once, life can seem impossible.

The multidisciplinary staff of the Mobile Adolescent Health Services program, one of Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital’s Community Partnership programs, provides expert care, custom-designed for high-risk youth ages 10-25 who rely exclusively on the Teen Van as their only link to a network of services and knowledge they urgently need. Since 1996, Packard Children’s has been mobilizing its experts and sending them out to meet vulnerable teens.

Each of the Alumni artists has produced four works for this fundraiser. All works are priced under $1000.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Yerba Buena Family Day Back for its sixth year

This Sunday, September 15, San Francisco’s biggest free family block party is back for its sixth year! Yerba Buena Family Day is a non-stop day of free indoor/outdoor family fun with free admission to local museums for all ages, hands-on art making activities for kids and special family-friendly performances throughout the neighborhood. Visitors get in free to participating institutions.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Potrero Hill Art Explosion, SF's new art district

Stefan Kürten at Hosfelt Gallery

On September 7, 2013, the lower Potrero Hill neighborhood of San Francisco will see an explosion of contemporary art activity as four San Francisco art dealers launch inaugural shows in new gallery spaces on Utah Street and Potrero Avenue, each within a block of 16th Street.

Known for it's shopping center, sunny weather and views of the San Francisco’s skyline and industrial landscape, Potrero Hill is also becoming the city's new contemporary art district.

Chased out of downtown San Francisco by rising rents and in the case of Catherine Clark, SFMOMA's construction which impacted access to her space, Brian Gross, Jack Fischer and George Lawson are joining area pioneer Todd Hosfelt who reopened here in 2012. The San Francisco Center for the Book is also located in this district.

All five galleries will coordinate Saturday afternoon openings on September 7th, 2013.

More at:

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Weekend Picks for Sept 6 - 8

 Kim Thoman. Venus of Time. Image courtesy the artist. 

Shadravan Gallery: "Dualities" the latest works by former Merritt College Professor and Oakland based artist Kim Thoman. Dualities expresses Thoman’s interest in duality in many forms: body and soul, intellect and intuition, stillness and movement, male and female, the physical world and the unseen, life and death.

Thoman will exhibit 15 pieces from her “Pod Series” and “Venus Series” that trace the major developments in her recent work over the past 5 years. The "Pod Series" paintings juxtapose a wide range of computer-generated pods and painted natural imagery. The pods come in three varieties: an elongated tri-partite form, a twisted shell, and a pointed lozenge with an oval opening. Each of the pods has a skin of digitally applied paint, covering its surface. The "Venus Series" strongly suggests a figure and recalls the Venus of Willendorf, a paleolithic fertility statuette. The landscape is evocative of the desert landscape and reflects Thoman’s experience at an artist’s residency in Taos, New Mexico.

“...Thoman doesn't resolve conflicts, but reveals their superficiality. At heart, everything is in union...” - Renowned art critic, Peter Frank. Full review at

Opening night will take place on Friday, September 6 from 5-9pm during the Oakland Art Murmur, the first Friday of the month gallery walk.

More at:

Friday, August 30, 2013

Labor Day Weekend fairs and fun

50th Annual Kings Mountain Art Fair: Kings Mountain Community Center and Firehouse Woodside, CA. Labor Day weekend brings a few festivals to the Bay Area, including The Kings Mountain Art Fair (August 31, September 1 – 2, 2013), which presents juried artists exhibits in a glorious setting among the redwoods.
 More at:

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The San Jose Museum of Art will be open this Labor Day, September 2, 2013

The San Jose Museum of Art will be open this Labor Day, September 2, 2013, due to popular demand for the exhibition "Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimage."

The extra day is offered during the final week for the exhibition, in which world-renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz took a departure from her signature staged celebrity portraits and created an intimate, personal, and self reflective collection of seventy photographs taken on a journey through the United States and Great Britain between 2009 and 2011.

Included are photographs of homes and personal possessions of iconic historical figures as well as landmarks of American history. Pilgrimage, which has been on view at SJMA since June 6, 2013, has been well received and  has attracted more than 18,000 visitors to the Museum since the start of the exhibition. The exhibition will be on view through September 8, 2013.

More at:

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

At the Asian: The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia

It's good to be king: "I am Cyrus, king of the universe, the great king, the powerful king, king of Babylon, king of Sumer and Akkad, king of the four quarters of the world..."

The Cyrus Cylinder, travels here from the British Museum and is making its West Coast debut at the Asian Art Museum.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Friday night at the musum

Friday night and I just got paid...I'm a fool about my money, no need to save...

Fun, frolic and festivities at the Bay Area Museums (and the price is right as well).

Sunday, August 11, 2013

'Water to Paper, Paint to Sky. The Art of Tyrus Wong'

The Walt Disney Family Museum is presenting the exhibition 'Water to Paper, Paint to Sky: The Art of Tyrus Wong.' Organized by Michael Labrie, the museum’s director of collections, the exhibition focuses on the life and work of Chinese-American artist Tyrus Wong—a celebrated painter, muralist, kite maker, lithographer, Hollywood sketch artist, calligrapher, ceramicist, and Disney Legend. At age 102, Wong is still a practicing artist today.

Monday, August 5, 2013

At the Getty: 'Gardens of the Renaissance' and 'Sicily: Art and Invention.'

Two of my favorite art styles are now exhibiting at the Getty. Both shows will close this month and it's well worth the trip to LA to see them.

-->Painted with spellbinding precision, the pink-and-yellow-striped tulip shown here is among seven of varying colors featured in this book illuminated by Joris Hoefnagel for Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II (ruled 1576–1612). Hoefnagel's naturalistic depictions of plants, animals, and insects rival the text in beauty.
In the era surrounding the Renaissance, the garden took on special significance as a symbol of religious sentiment, learned knowledge, and social status, and as a site for aesthetic enjoyment. The garden of a noble’s villa, by its various components, would signify the owner’s knowledge of, and acquaintance with, the broader world. 
Whether connected to grandiose villas or common kitchens, gardens in the Renaissance (about 1400–1600) were planted and treasured by people in all levels of society. Some cultivated gardens for the display and study of beautiful and rare plants, while others did so for sustenance. 
Manuscript artists depicted gardens in a variety of texts, and their illustrations attest to the Renaissance spirit for the careful study of the natural world. In a society then dominated by the church, gardens were also integral to a Christian visual tradition, from the paradise of Eden to the enclosed green spaces associated with Mary and Christ. Gardens are cyclical and impermanent; most planted during the Renaissance have changed or been lost. The objects in this exhibition offer a glimpse into how people at the time pictured, used, and enjoyed these idyllic green spaces.

Widely considered the finest surviving example of early Greek sculpture in the round, the so-called Mozia Charioteer above demonstrates the virtuosity and creativity attained in the arts of Sicily during the 5th century B.C.

"Sicily: Art and Invention between Greece and Rome" presents 145 objects that bear witness to the athletic and military victories, religious rituals, opulent lifestyles, and intellectual attainments that shaped Classical culture at its peak.

To settlers from the Greek mainland, Sicily was a new world of wealth and opportunity. Beginning in the late 8th century B.C., they founded colonies along the shores of the island they called Sikelia. Over time, young transplants from Greece proudly came to regard themselves as Sikeliotes—Sicilian Greeks. They brought their dialects and religious cults, transforming a land populated by native communities and North African settlers from Carthage into an important Greek territory. Abundant natural resources and fruitful crops fed a thriving economy that soon turned colonial towns into some of the most formidable and influential city-states in the Mediterranean.

More at:

Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday Links

Donald Kinney's show comes down this weekend and I highly recommend that you get over to see it while you can. This is one of the best best photography shows that I have seen in a long time in one of the most beautiful libraries in the Bay Area. Donald poetic eye and feeling for the Northern California landscape needs to be seen to be fully appreciated.  Mill Valley Library, 375 Throckmorton, Lower Level

Land artist Walter De Maria dies of stroke, aged 77

The “uncompromising” creator of The Lightning Field and The New York Earth Room shied away from the spotlight. He studied history and art at the University of California, Berkeley from 1953 to 1959. Trained as a painter, De Maria soon turned to sculpture and began using other media. De Maria and his friend, the avant-garde composer La Monte Young, participated in "Happenings." and theatrical productions in the San Francisco area. One of his Boxes for Meaningless Work (1961) is inscribed with the instructions, “Transfer things from one box to the next box back and forth, back and forth, etc. Be aware that what you are doing is meaningless.”

The artist Andy Goldsworthy is creating a new work for the Presidio of San Francisco, the national park that was formerly a military base. The artist will hang a felled tree covered in cracked clay from the ceiling of a building within the park that was once used by the Army to store explosives.

According to the Presidio Trust’s website, Tree Fall will be “a fully reversible” work installed in the Powder Magazine building, “a small (25 feet by 30 feet) and currently inaccessible masonry structure”. “The gunpowder room would’ve been a fairly dangerous place to be, so [the work] will have that sense of caution to it,” Goldsworthy says. Due to be completed by the end of August, Tree Fall will be the artist’s third project in the park, following Spire, 2008, and Wood Line, 2011.

“What I find so fascinating about the Presidio is that, in the heart of this military machine, there was a huge planting programme,” Goldsworthy says, referring to the fact that the park’s 300-acre forest was planted by the US military between 1886 and 1900. “They had quite a sophisticated sense of landscape,” he says. “They read the landscape in the way that sculptors do—or at least the way I do.”

Amazon gets into the act and launches a virtual art gallery.

Another theft of art from a museum. Did somebody declare July "Art Theft Month" and not tell the rest of us? Thieves stole ten paintings from the Van Buuren Museum on the outskirts of Brussels on 16 July, including Kees van Dongen’s The Thinker, 1907, valued at more than €1m. What makes the loss particularly poignant is that the paintings came from a family collection, lovingly assembled by the Van Buurens.     

The saga of the theft from the Dutch museum gets sadder and crazier - apparently it only took them 3 minutes to break in. And then, mommy dearest burned the art to protect her son. I guess that priceless art isn't so priceless when you don't have a buyer.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Japanese Prints: Hokusai at the Los Angeles County Museum

 Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji is an ukiyo-e series of large, color woodblock prints by the Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849). The series depicts Mount Fuji in differing seasons and weather conditions from a variety of different places and distances. It actually consists of 46 prints created between 1826 and 1833. The first 36 were included in the original publication and, due to their popularity, ten more were added after the original publication.

While Hokusai's Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji is the most famous ukiyo-e series to focus on Mount Fuji, there are several other series with the same subject, including Hiroshige's Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji and Hokusai's own later series One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji.

Mount Fuji is a popular subject for Japanese art due to its cultural and religious significance. This belief can be traced to The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, where a goddess deposits the elixir of life on the peak. As Henry Smith explains, "Thus from an early time, Mt. Fuji was seen as the source of the secret of immortality, a tradition that was at the heart of Hokusai's own obsession with the mountain."

And this is what he wrote about himself in his autobiography. It is the quintessence of his art philosophy:

"From the age of five I have had a mania for sketching the forms of things. From about the age of fifty I produced a number of designs, yet of all I drew prior to the age of seventy there is truly nothing of great note. At the age of seventy-two I finally apprehended something of the true quality of birds, animals, insects, fish and of the vital nature of grasses and trees. Therefore, at eighty I shall have made some progress, at ninety I shall have penetrated even further the deeper meaning of things, at one hundred I shall have become truly marvelous, and at one hundred and ten, each dot, each line shall surely possess a life of its own. I only beg that gentlemen of sufficiently long life take care to note the truth of my words."

Constantly seeking to produce better work, he apparently exclaimed on his deathbed, "If only Heaven will give me just another ten years... Just another five more years, then I could become a real painter." He died on May 10, 1849 and was buried in Tokyo. (images from Wikipedia as the LACMA site only had one image up).

Friday, July 19, 2013

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Marcia Stein Textiles at SFBuLo

With SFMOMA closed until just before the new Bay Bridge section opens in three years, there isn't much else to do but visit SFBuLo, aka SF Building Lobbies.
The lobby at 201 California Street, at Front Street in the Financial District, has an intricate quilt exhibit by artist Marcia Stein, courtesy of William Torphy Fine Arts.
In her thin, simple looking quilts, Stein captures fine detail of the settings,depth, somehow even the mood and the weather.

Posted by Phil Gravitt

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Donald Kinney at the Mill Valley Public Library

 One of the best photographers in the Bay Area, if not California (!) will be showing a selection of his work at the Mill Valley Public Library. The reception is Tuesday and everybody who can attend, should attend.

Donald writes the photo blog "A Photo A Day" which is a daily hymn to the beauties of Northern California. His work is lyrical and insightful but with typical modest, he downplays just how beautiful it all is. He is able to capture the elusive ripples of water at his beloved Lagunitas Creek, the blanket of fog as it flows over the Northern California hills. His writing is as beautiful as his images.

When he was 16, Donald was able to meet the late, great Ansel Adams. He saw the photographer working in the Carmel area, followed him to where he was having breakfast but Donald was too shy to approach the man. However, he left a message on his windshield and Adams replied some days later. "A few days later
a postcard arrived in the mail--it read;  “Can’t decipher your signature, but sure, I’d love to see your photos--just give me a call when you want to come over”.

Let him tell you in his own words. "Somehow I got enough courage to call him, and about  an hour later I was sitting in his front room with him giving me pointers on how I could improve each image. Of course, my photography at that point was pathetic,  but it inspired me to read his books...A few months later I felt I had to show him my new attempts, so I re-invited myself to his home and after he
had looked through my new work he complimented me on how much I had improved.  The moment was probably the finest in all of my short sixteen years."

Like many of us, Donald was not independently wealthy and so, being able to follow his heart took many years. But he retired about ten years ago and ever since then, is up at 4 a.m., following the light, the sun, the fog, the panorama of nature that surrounds us in the Bay Area.

I think I began following his blog though his images of Lagunitas Creek. His ability to capture the color, the shape of ripples on water, the patterns, the subtle changes of light and weather were mesmerizing.

I believe that Donald subconsciously picks up the Japanese reverence for nature but another friend of mine, painter Dale Erickson sees the influence of 19th century landscape painters Kensett and Heade.

The show is packed into a small narrow hallway and in order to maximize this opportunity, Donald has framed the pieces into diptychs and triptychs. This does not work for me as I prefer fewer larger images. But it's understandable that he wants to give those who attend the exhibit a chance to see as many images as possible.

This piece won a prize a prize at the Marin County Fair, complete with a  $100 gift certificate given by "Digital Rain/Digital Image Magic" a local business here in San Rafael. Donald told me that some might think that the image was Photoshopped but it wasn't. He was in the right place at the right time - made possible by his dedication to getting out there and photographing every day

Donald: "I realize that many of you live at great distances, unable to attend the opening on Tuesday, so if you can't be here in the flesh I'll invite you to be here in Spirit. A bunch of friends; some whacky dudes and gals, and even some relatives I haven't seen for 10 years have said they will be stopping by. I still have people I need to invite, but consider yourself invited. RSVP not required. I'm going to bring wine for all of you alcoholics. "

all images @ Donald Kinney. Used with permission.