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.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Fiestas Frida

Creativity Explored artist Nita Hicks, known for her portraits of iconic women, painted an image of Frida Kahlo for display in the Somos Frida Community Day event on July 7, 2013.

See Nita's work along with several other artists' portrayal of the infamous Frida Kahlo during this one-day exhibition. The Somos Frida Community Day event also includes live performers and dancers, local artisans and vendors, face painting for youth, and a costume contest for the Best Frida, Fridita, Fridrag, Diego and Dieguito.

This one-day event and exhibition is part of Fiestas Frida, a yearly event celebrating the life of Frida Kahlo.
Somos Frida Community DaySunday, July 7, 2013
2:00 pm to 9:00 pm

The Women's Building
3543 18th Street, #8
San Francisco, CA 94110

Monday, July 1, 2013

'Folding Paper: The Infinite Possibilities of Origami' at the Crocker Art Museum

 "Folding Paper: The Infinite Possibilities of Origami" at the Crocker Art Museum is the first major exhibition to explore the rich tradition of paper folding, both in Japan and Europe.

“Folding Paper” is organized into four sections, beginning with The History of Origami. Paper was introduced to Japan via China around the 6th century AD and Japanese paper folding is assumed to have begun shortly afterward. Rooted in the ceremonial world, most notably in the native Shinto tradition, priests performed purification rituals using zigzag strips of folded white papers known as shide. Paper folding as a pastime arose under the Imperial Court of the Heian period (794-1185).

A little known European tradition of paper folding also existed, and after Japan adopted the German kindergarten system in the late 19th century, both Eastern and Western paper-folding techniques were incorporated into the Japanese curriculum as a method of developing children’s mathematical, artistic and manual skills. The two folding traditions combined to become known for the first time as “origami”—which translates to “folded paper.”

Michael LaFosse, Alexander Swallowtail. Butterfly

The second section, "Animals and Angels: Representations of Real and Imagined Realms, "illustrates the work of origami artists who create realistic and stylized representations of the natural and supernatural worlds. Many contemporary origami artists have transcended the traditional flat, angular representations of animals and humans and use specially made paper to enhance textural richness. Artist Eric Joisel and Michael LaFosse, in particular, have adopted the wet-folding technique—which enables the smoothing and rounding of points and angles—so skillfully that their figures appear chiseled rather than folded.
 Miyuki Kawamura

"Angles and Abstractions: Geometric Forms and Conceptual Constructions" highlights origami’s mathematical roots through modular objects and tessellations. Typically, modulars are geometric structures like the works of mathematician Tom Hull and artist Miyuki Kawamura, whose works are made up of many pieces of paper held together with friction and tension, but they can be as diverse as the twisted floral forms of Krystyna and Wojtek Burczyk and Heinz Strobl’s paper strip spheres.

The final section, "Inspirational Origami: Its Impact on Science, Industry, Fashion and Beyond," explores the transformative power of modern-day origami. Origami is not only used to explain and teach arithmetic and geometry, but computational origami employs algorithms and theory to solve complex problems. For example, Dr. Robert J. Lang is a scientist and mathematician who used computational origami to determine how to fold the lens for Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Eyeglass Telescope so that it could be launched compactly and then re-opened in space. The resulting design used an origami structure he called the “Umbrella” after its resemblance in the furled state to a collapsible umbrella.

216 O Street. Sacramento, CA 95814. 916.808.7000.  Through September 29.

At the