Sunday, March 24, 2013

The week ahead: Modernism, Walt Disney, RayKo Photography Center Show

Kraemer's work, now up at Modernism, is stunning. The range of work in the current exhibition dates from 1993 to 2013, with the older work just as fresh as the current batch. The exhibition announcement features “This Much,” a large (74” x 95 ½”) breakthrough work in pastel, acrylic and charcoal on paper from 1993.

The "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" show at the Disney Museum was more interesting that I thought it would be. I think that "Peter Pan" was the first cartoon that I remember seeing, which lead to some interesting experiments in thinking that I could fly. Hey, I was only 7. But the show was a revelation to see how skillful and detailed the early cartoons were.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Drop In Jazz

Sometimes you just want to sit down and listen to live jazz. Starting at 6:30PM many nights, you can drop in and listen to student jazz concerts at The Jazz School in Berkeley.
The basement concert room of the school is adjacent to the Jazz Cafe, about a half block from the Addison/Shattuck exit of the Berkeley BART station, right near Berkeley Rep.
The night I was there, I enjoyed hearing a piano player accompanying a procession of young jazz singers. I left during the set break, after which a jazz ensemble was to perform.
Most nights are free, including a special event this Sunday, Jazz Search West 2013 talent search.

Posted by Phil Gravitt

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The FBI has new leads on the 1990 robbery at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Govaert Flinck’s Landscape with an Obelisk (1638)

On Monday, March 18, the art world was galvanized by the information that the FBI has  identified the perpetrators in the $500 million art heist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990. Investigators have long been baffled for decades over the theft.

In the early morning hours of March 18, 1990 the robbers entered the museum and tied up two night watchmen. Once in, they roamed the galleries with impunity, picking off the cream of the fabulous collection. The robbery was not discovered until the next morning. 
 Rembrandt’s Storm on the Sea of Galilee (1633)

The stolen works include: Rembrandt’s Storm on the Sea of Galilee (1633), A Lady and Gentleman in Black (1633) and a Self Portrait (1634), an etching on paper; Vermeer’s The Concert (1658–1660); and Govaert Flinck’s Landscape with an Obelisk (1638); and a Chinese vase or Ku, all taken from the Dutch Room on the second floor. Also stolen from the second floor were five works on paper by the Impressionist artist Edgar Degas and a finial from the top of a pole support for a Napoleonic silk flag, both from the Short Gallery. Edouard Manet’s Chez Tortoni (1878–1880) was taken from the Blue Room on the first floor.

A decade ago, an attempt was made to sell some of the 13 artworks, including three Rembrandts, a Vermeer, a portrait by Edouard Manet, and sketches by Renoir. But the location of the stolen masterworks is still unknown.

 Vermeer’s The Concert (1658–1660)

Richard DesDesLauriers, special agent in charge of the Boston office of the FBI, said that "the probe “accelerated” in 2010 and “crucial pieces of evidence” were developed identifying the robbers and their associates.

“The FBI believes with a high degree of confidence in the years after the theft the art was transported to Connecticut and the Philadelphia region and some of the art was taken to Philadelphia where it was offered for sale by those responsible for the theft. With that confidence, we have identified the thieves, who are members of a criminal organization with a base in the mid-Atlantic states and New England,” stated DesLauriers,

DesLauriers added that because the investigation is continuing it would be “imprudent” to disclose their names or the name of the criminal organization. He said the probe was in its “final chapter.”

Officials are seeking help from the public and will be launching a massive public awareness campaign that will stretch beyond New England. Among the exposure tactics will be a dedicated FBI website, video postings on FBI social media sites, digital billboards, and a podcast. To view and listen to these items, visit the FBI’s new webpage about the theft:

 There is a $5 million reward for information on the whereabouts of the missing art. The statute of limitations has run out on the robbers, and they might be granted immunity for other charges, such as possessing the stolen paintings.
Arts journalist Lee Rosenbaum, who writes the art blog "Culture Grrl" added further details about Boston Globe reporter Milton Valencia‘s Twitter feed from the news conference. His tweets suggests that the hunt may be moving to Philadelphia.

Special Agent Geoffrey Kelly, who is the lead investigator in the case nd a member of the Art Crime Team. “In the past, people who realize they are in possession of stolen art have returned the art in a variety of ways, including through third parties, attorneys, and anonymously leaving items in churches or at police stations.”

If you have a tip, call : 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324). Or you can go to this website: In addition, the press release gives you permission to “contact…the museum directly or through a third party.” Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Weekend Picks for March 15 - 17

Yemen "apartment house." @ Naftali Hilger

Jewish Community Center of San Francisco: Jews of Yemen; photographs by Naftali Hilger. Israeli photojournalist Naftali Hilger’s photos of the Jews of Yemen takes us into a world of ancient traditions. One of the few outsiders allowed within the community, he returned six times between 1986 and 2008. Hilger, who will host a gallery tour and talk on March 19th, presents this ancient world in all its elegance and spare grace.

 @ Naftali Hilger

Women cook over wood stoves in rooms with white washed walls, a boy studies the Torah with an elder-images of a world lost in time and threated by contemporary Islamic politics. Most of the images are domestic but one stands out – a photo of a man standing by a rock in the desert close to Saudi Arabia. According to the caption, Jews who left the area in the past 130 years wrote their names on the rock before leaving their country.

Where: Katz Snyder Gallery, Jewish Community Center, 3200 California St., S.F.
When: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays-Sundays; closes April  30 Admission: Free. Contact:
Note: Hilger will lead a gallery tour and lecture at 7 p.m. March 19.

Ampersand by Max Rippon. 

White Walls: “Cut from the Chase” Barcelona-based artist Max “Ripe” Rippon continues to explore typography, calligraphy and hand painting in his new exhibition, “Cut From The Chase.” The works contain ink, spray paint, watercolor and one-shot enamel on paper.  While street signage, calligraphy and graffiti are influences, Rippon offers a new look on lettering. White Walls. 868 Geary St, SF.

What do indoor clouds, Google Street View and Dutch masterworks have in common? Find out at a unique evening event hosted by the SFAC Galleries in conjunction with its current exhibition Conversation 6. The SFAC Galleries brings together the de Young Museum’s special exhibition Girl with a Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis assistant curator Melissa Buron of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and renowned photographer Doug Rickard to expand the dialogue around the exhibited works of Dutch installation artists Bernadnaut Smilde, who will be visiting from Amsterdam.

Moderated by Galleries Director and exhibition curator Meg Shiffler, the panel will draw conversational threads that will enliven a broad discussion around major themes such as documentation, site, ephemerality vs. permanence, and “truth” in image making. This program is made possible through the generous support of the Graue Family Foundation.

When: Wednesday, March 20th, 6-7:30 p.m. . Where: Koret Auditorium, SF Library, Main Branch, 100 Larkin Street, lower level. S.F. Arts Commission Gallery. 401 Van Ness Ave.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Gary Winogrand at SFMOMA

 When Gary Winogrand died at age 56 of gall bladder cancer, he was considered one of the greatest documentary photographers of his era. A native New Yorker, he walked the length and breadth of America's streets, taking what seemed to be casual snapshots of people going about their daily business.

Garry Winogrand (14 January 1928, New York City – 19 March 1984, Tijuana, Mexico) was a street photographer known for his portrayal of America in the mid-20th century. John Szarkowski called him the central photographer of his generation.

But the bulk of his work was unknown. That is not to say he was unknown or unappreciated. By the time of his death in 1984, he had a Guggenheim fellowship, was featured in Edward Steichen's classic "Family of Man" exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, and later figured prominently in two major photography shows, also at MoMA, curated by Steichen's successor John Szarkowski, one of Winogrand's early champions.

New York. 1962
In 1964, with the support of the first of three Guggenheim fellowships, he traveled for four months to fourteen states and recorded an America in transition. By photographing people indirectly through car windshields, he caught an American in uneasy transition between eras.

At the time, Winogrand tapped into the tumultuous zeitgeist of the 1960's, an era soon to come to a roiling boil. He applied for his grant in the early 60s, at the height of the Cuban missile crisis, when nuclear war suddenly had become a terrifying possibility.

In his grant application Winogrand complained that the mass media "all deal in illusions and fantasies. I can only conclude that we have lost ourselves and that the bomb may finish the job permanently, and it just doesn't matter, we have not loved life.  I look at the pictures I have done up to now," he wrote in 1963, "and they make me feel that who we are and what we feel and what is to become of us just doesn't matter. I cannot accept my conclusions, and so I must continue this photographic investigation further and further."

Coney Island, 1952
But the bulk of his output, his enormous output, was unknown. At his death, Winogrand left behind 2500 undeveloped rolls of 36-exposure 35mm film (mostly Tri-X), 6,500 rolls of film that had been developed but not contact-printed–not to mention 300 apparently untouched, unedited 35mm contact sheets.

Guest curator Leo Rubinfien, an old friend and student, along with Erin O'Toole, a curator at San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art, and Sarah Greenough, senior curator of photographs at the National Gallery of Art, have mined this treasure trove to produce the first major Winogrand retrospective in almost three decades. The show took the three curators three years to put together, because those 6,500 undeveloped rolls were bolstered by 4,100 rolls that Winogrand had processed but not transferred to contact sheets, for a total of nearly 400,000 unknown images.

LA, Venice Beach. 1980-84
The touring exhibit which opened at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art this week, and accompanying catalog, consist of more than 400 images derived largely from Winogrand's later days roaming the streets of Los Angeles with his Leicas. While he may be best known for his New York City scenes, these photos prove that Winogrand had an astute eye for images that illuminated America's increasingly troubled society.

Winogrand gives us no answers. But he wasn't looking for answers. "The fact that photographs — they’re mute, they don’t have any narrative ability at all. You know what something looks like, but you don’t know what’s happening, you don’t know whether the hat’s being held or is it being put on her head or taken off her head. From the photograph, you don’t know that. A piece of time and space is well described. But not what is happening." (interview with Bill Moyers, WNET, 1982)

One thing is clear - the era of "Mad Men" was much more perplexing and unhappy than the world deified on TV by Don Draper and his chauvinist, cigarette puffing cohorts.

The massive exhibit is overwhelming, which is fitting given how prolific Winogrand was. The show is organized in a loosely linear fashion: "Down From the Bronx" (earlier work shot primarily while he was living in New York), "A Student of America" (his work from the mid-'60s through the '70s, from all over America), and finally "Boom and Bust" (mostly shot in Southern California, and much of which has never been viewed).

Hanging on the walls, intermingled with his photos, are Winogrand's original contact sheets, pieces of this three Guggenheim Fellowship applications, letters to his daughters, and other personal artifacts.

The final summation, if one can make a final summary of such a prolific photographer, was encapsulated by John Szarkowski, in his book on Winogrand, “Fragments from the Real World.” (MoMA, 1984).

New York. Opera. 1952
 "When we consider the heedless daring of his successes and his failures we become impatient with tidy answers to easy questions, and with the neat competence of much of what now passes for ambitious photography. Winogrand has given us a body of work that provides a new clue to what photography might become, a body of work that remains dense, troubling, unfinished, and profoundly challenging. The significance of that work will be thought by some to reside in matters of style or technique or philosophical posture. There is no original harm in this misunderstanding, and useful work may come of it, but it will have little to do with the work of Garry Winogrand, whose ambition was not to make good pictures, but through photography to know life."

All images courtesy of SFMOMA: Barry Winogrand Archive, Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona; © The Estate of Garry Winogrand, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

Source: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Weekend Picks for March 8th - 10th

Hooch, Harlots, & History: Vice in San Francisco at The Old Mint: The San Francisco Historical Society hosts an historical presentation of the wilder side of the Baghdad on the Bay, featuring Duggan McDonnell, "Broke Ass" Stuart Schuffman, Woody LaBounty, and Laureano Faedi.


Before San Francisco was the jewel of the West, it was a hard-drinking, hard-fighting dirty town. This historical recreation will feature rare archival footage of the vice side of San francisco, live music, food and one complimentary drink included with admission. Additional drinks available with $5 donation to the San Francisco Museum & Historical Society.

The Old Mint. 88 5th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Chaotic fragments of color and texture define their own internal rhythm in the mixed-media images of Southern California artist Allison Renshaw. Her first Bay Area solo show, "Better Than Candy," features her recent work on a theme of convergence. As in our day-to-day reality, genres, cultures and styles collide, and new stories emerge. Through April 6. Mirus Gallery, 540 Howard St., S.F. (415) 543-3440.

At the de Young Museum: Eye Level in Iraq: Photographs by Kael Alford and Thorne Anderson

Thorne Anderson, Thawra, Baghdad, Iraq, April 18, 2003. Digital inkjet print. High Museum of Art, Atlanta. © Thorne Anderson
This exhibition presents the photographs of Kael Alford (American, b. 1971) and Thorne Anderson (American, b. 1966), two American-trained photo journalists who documented the impact and aftermath of the US-led allied invasion of Iraq in 2003. They made these photographs during a two-year span that began in the months leading up to the allied invasion in spring 2003 and covers the emergence of the armed militias that challenged the allied forces and later the new central Iraqi government.

The photographs were made outside the confines of the U.S. military’s embedded journalist program, in an attempt to get closer to the daily realities of Iraqi citizens. The photographers wanted to show Iraq from an important and often neglected point of view. This shift in physical perspective placed them in great danger, but they sought to learn how the war, and the seismic political and cultural shifts that accompanied it, were affecting ordinary people.

Baghdad fell to the allied forces on April 9, 2003. A decade later, reflecting on why this work was made, Kael Alford has stated “I consider these photographs invitations to the viewer to learn more, to explore the relationships between public policy objectives and their real world execution and to consider the legacies of human grief, anger, mistrust and dismay that surely follow violent conflict. I hope that these images will also open a window on the grace of Iraq and perhaps help to give a few of these memories a place to rest.”