Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pretty in pastel



More pastel pieces in honor of spring. Now I just cleaned my home studio so I will not be using this medium there for a while. I love working with pastels but it's a messy, fragile medium. Once I have finished a piece, then there's the problem of fixative, where do I store it and can I ever sell it?

But I don't let those practical considerations stop me. After all, I can always throw them away. Copying the old masters is a part of art education that's often neglected these days. It was what I started out doing, back when my father was stationed in Italy.  I could go with my class to various museums and copy what I saw. It was years before I realized how important that technical training was and when I went to the SFAI, I really missed it. Do your own thing is fine if you really know what that "thing" is but if you haven't a clue, the hands off theories don't work very well.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Lod Mosaic- now at the Legion of Honor Museum


Sometime in the 3rd century AD, a wealthy Roman commissioned an ensemble of floor mosaics for his villa in ancient Lydda, part of what was then the Roman province of Palestine and part of the ancient kingdom of Israel (now contemporary Israel). Move forward almost two thousand years. A  road was being built between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem which unearths the mosaics and prompted an immediate rescue excavation by the Israel Antiquities Authority.


G. W Bowerstock wrote an interesting essay in the NY Times blog. In that, he put forth the theory that the animal motifs represented the worship of Dionysus. The Met's curator, Christopher Lightfoot believes that there are traces of Dionysiac imagery in the mosaic.


Mutually antagonistic animals did frolic together in some of the surviving representations from antiquity. Bowerstock cites a sarcophagus from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.


Yet, as he also points out, here is no trace of Dionysus in the Lod Mosaic. The animals are not frolicking peacefully together; they are attacking each other. There are no vines, no panther skins - in short, little to support this theory.

more at:
http://www.examiner.com/museum-in-san-francisco/at-the-legion-marvelous-menagerie-a-roman-mosaic-from-lod

Monday, April 25, 2011

New work up

My new watercolors are up in the "April" folder. I can see all my mistakes but taken as a whole, they aren't bad. I have to resist the temptation to overwork areas. In fact, I think I ruined one of the pieces by going in for "just one more wash of color." It looked dreadful; I've corrected the area with gouache and then, some careful overpainting but I can tell the difference between that area and the rest of the piece. All of these pieces are small (8 1/2 x 11) which gives me more control and also, will make them easier to mat and frame - and hopefully, more salable when Open Studios rolls around.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/49938734@N06/sets/72157626444788213/

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Music of Cosmos



From Joanne Mattera's blog: "What I love about Easter is not the Christian holiday, but that it coincides with Passover and that both religions coincide with a time from the Pagan past in which Earth's rebirth was celebrated each year.

In Greek mythology, when the maiden Persephone was out gathering flowers one day, she was abducted by Hades, ruler of the Underworld. Demeter searched for her daughter but to no avail. In her grief, this life-giving goddess of agriculture and fertility turned the world barren and cold.

Knowing his people could not exist in such a state, the all-powerful Zeus forced Hades to release Persephone, but not before the nefarious ruler tricked the young woman into eating a handful of pomegranate seeds, thus assuring her return to him. (The Fates had decreed that anyone who consumed food in the Underworld was doomed to return to it.)

When Persephone arose, the earth began to warm. Flowers bloomed and crops began to grow. Demeter, joyful at the longed-for reunion with her beloved daughter, turned the land verdant and fecund again. And when Persephone descended to Hades in the autumn, the earth once again became barren and cold, a cycle that ever was and ever may be.

I love this story, which has its roots in the agrarian culture of Bronze Age Greece (and probably long before that). Of course the ascension of the child to a higher realm is a familiar scenario, but I am always moved that here it is told in terms of mother and daughter, a reminder that culture has not always been defined from a male point of view. The lovely Persephone was Proserpina in the land of my Magna Graeca-Etruscan-Roman-Italian forebears, so I feel a special kinship to the myth, which was a religion, the Eleusinian Mysteries, long before the son ascended to his father."
More of this beautiful essay at...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Mercury Finally Goes Direct

Hallejulah, 
Hip hip hooray and 
yipee kai yay! Mercury has been retrograde for three weeks and it's been the retrograde to end all retrogrades.

This has been a bummer of a month with flu, non-stop allergy attacks, coughing like a 40 person TB ward, exhaustion, frustration - you name it, I've endured it. l am a Capricorn with Saturn in Cancer and Neptune in Libra so I've been b-kicked to the curb. After hacking up the equivalent of a lung + multiple hairballs every morning, I only have enough energy to crawl back into bed. I will be so glad to have this whole thing turn around. If you are into astrology, you know that Uranus went into Aries (a fire sign) at the same time that Mercury went retrograde. There were a number of other planets in fire signs but Mercury derailed the whole train. Of course, now that it's going direct - and in a fire sign - hang on to your hats. We are in for a bumpy ride but at least things will be going forward. I hope.

"We all know that within this galaxy of impermanence all things, no matter how wonderful or torturous,  must eventually exhaust themselves.  And so tomorrow (now today) the Mercury Retrograde to end all Mercury Retrogrades will right itself and complete  (and not a nanosecond too soon for many-- like every Cancer, Libra and Capricorn who has been squared and opposed to death by this).

Today, Saturday, April 23, at 3:04 AM PDT here.   Coming to you, everywhere on this beautiful, beleaguered planet, the blockbuster feature we've all been waiting for:  Mercury goes direct.

I'm considering setting my alarm to light a candle in gratitude."

Continue reading on Examiner.com: Nuttiest. Mercury Retrograde. Ever. (Part 3) - San Francisco Spiritual | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/spiritual-in-san-francisco/nuttiest-mercury-retrograde-ever-part-3#ixzz1KMwbBEdr

and a look at last year's Mercury retrograde with more tips on how to survive, if not exactly thrive:

Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day 2011

Although San Francisco is green on a daily basis--we have the highest recycling and composting rate of U.S. cities--Earth Day is still a special occasion for us to celebrate nature and the environment. The annual, internationally recognized Earth Day is April 22, but the weekends before and after in San Francisco are busy with Earth-Day-inspired festivities as well. Plant a tree, volunteer at the local food bank, make it Earth Day every day for we all live on this fragile planet and if she goes under, we all go under.

http://www.examiner.com/budget-grocery-in-san-francisco/nancy-ewart

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Guardian Lion by Alexandra Blum


Chinese guardian lions, known also as Imperial guardian lion or stone lions (石獅, Pinyin: Shíshī) in Chinese art and often (incorrectly) called "Foo Dogs" in the West, are a common representation of the lion in pre-modern China. They are believed to have powerful mythic protective powers that has traditionally stood in front of Chinese Imperial palaces, Imperial tombs, government offices, temples, and the homes of government officials and the wealthy from the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220). 

This is the Guardian Lion that I bought from Alexandra on Sunday. He (the male lion has a ball under it's paw, the female plays with a cub) now guards my work space and makes me smile every time I look at him. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Sunday Wrap-Up: Alexandra Blum and Sadie Valeri

 The lingering effects of the flu and allergies have decidedly crimped my energy but I managed to visit two of the three artists that I wanted to see. Unfortunately, I didn't make it to Jennifer Ewing's studio but I did enjoy the places that I did mange to visit.

First stop was at Alexander Blum's studio. I had met her briefly when she was the artist-in-residence at the de Young and fell in love with her bright and cheerful pieces. I had a lovely time, met her delightful and energetic 3 year old daughter and left with a gift of chicken soup (most welcome) and a small but charming mixed media painting of a Chinese Guardian Lion (sometimes called a Fu or Foo Dog) which now graces my desk.

http://www.aliblum.com/
An interview on uTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LneSj0u8U_E


 @ Sadie Valeri. Used with the artist's permission. 

My energy was falling fast but I made it to my next (and last stop) of the day, the atelier of classical painter Sadie Valeri. I don't know how I came across her work but I wanted to see it in person because Internet images can be deceiving. I was not disappointed. I love seeing beautifully finished traditional work and her pieces are not only technically proficient but are fresh and sensitive. I also had an ulterior motive because I have been looking for a teacher for some time and I think I have found what I have been looking for.

Unfortunately by this time, I was babbling with fatigue and didn't have the energy to see any of the other work in the huge studio. There are several artists at 2111 Mission who I admire so I know that I will be back - hopefully with more energy and a few functioning brain cells.
http://www.sadievaleri.com/blog/


Roundtable Artists visit the Crocker Museum in Sacramento. Unfortunately I was not able to go along as I knew that I was not up for a long trip. I also was afraid of being hit with a new group of pollinating blossoms and getting sick all over again. But Anna vows that they will return so may be I can make it the next time around.
http://workingartistsjournal.blogspot.com/

Anna and the group were impressed by all that they saw, including the exhibit of the works of John Buck.  I wrote about that exhibit here:
http://www.examiner.com/museum-in-san-francisco/the-crocker-art-museum-hosts-exhibit-of-john-buck-s-work
 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Heading into the weekend at a slow slog

This flu has really sapped my energy. I force myself to get out and do a few things, and then come home for long, long naps. But I have managed to keep on posting. At least, that doesn't involve more than making my fingers move across the keyboard although my brain is so mushy that I have to check and double check to make sure that I'm not babbling nonsense.

Alexandra Blum, Spring Fever

Weekend picks up at my Examiner.com column -Mission Open Studios, last weekend for the abstract art at the Berkeley Art Museum, Charlotte Salomon at the CJM and the last weekend for the "Old Masters" at Creativity Explored:

and a couple more foodie articles are up as well - advice on how to deal with the flu and allergies with home remedies and a frugal recommendation for the best bakery store in SF: http://www.examiner.com/budget-grocery-in-san-francisco/nancy-ewart


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Charlotte Salomon: Life? or Theatre? at the CJM


"The world is full of pain and horror. Neither morals prevail, nor reason. Friendship and trust are destroyed. Are we standing on the threshold of a new era? Oh, if only peace were not so far away. But whatever may happen. There is still nature - immutable and beautiful - the flowers bloom. Bird song echoes, and silvery moonlight envelopes sea and mountain all around in a light mist'. 'Why the search for the meaning of creation? Why the questions about where from, where to? Thus will our ashes also not fade away'.

Charlotte Salomon. Life? or Theatre? at the Contemporary Jewish Museum.

Review up at: http://www.examiner.com/museum-in-san-francisco/nancy-ewart

China's Foreign Ministry Transcript Omits Mentions of Detained Artist Ai Weiwei


A resident signs her name to support to release detained artist and activist Ai Weiwei. AP Photo/Kin Cheung.

BEIJING (AP).- China's Foreign Ministry removed all references to a detained artist from its official transcript of a news conference given by its spokesman, in an apparent sign it wants to stifle discussion of the case.

Ten of the 18 questions asked at the news conference Thursday concerned Ai Weiwei, a prominent artist and activist who was detained Sunday at Beijing's international airport along with an assistant, Wen Tao. All 10 questions were omitted from the transcript posted Friday on the Foreign Ministry's website.


The ministry did not immediately respond to requests for an explanation.


Ai is the most prominent target so far in China's massive crackdown on dozens of lawyers, writers and activists following online calls for protests similar to those in the Middle East and North Africa. No protests have occurred here.


Spokesman Hong Lei had told the regularly scheduled news conference that Ai was being investigated for economic crimes, but he gave no details. He said the case had nothing to do with freedom of expression, although Ai has often been a target of government harassment.


"China is a country under the rule of law, and relevant authorities will work according to law," Hong said.


Foreign governments and international rights groups have called for Ai's release, saying the authorities appeared to be punishing him for his activism.


Chinese authorities sometimes try to silence critics by accusing them of tax violations or other nonpolitical crimes. Beijing police have refused to comment on Ai's case.


Police have expanded their investigation in the days since Ai's detention, calling in friends, family members and associates for questioning. Officers returned to Ai's studio on Friday, demanding to see his accounting ledgers, according to assistants who were present at the time.


Ai is among China's best-known artists internationally and recently exhibited at the Tate Modern gallery in London. His activism has included leading a campaign for an independent investigation into the deaths of thousands of children whose badly built schools collapsed in the massive 2008 Sichuan earthquake, an issue the government has sought to hush-up.


China's media have been largely silent on Ai's case, although the outspoken Global Times newspaper published by the Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily has run editorials on two consecutive days accusing the West of using his case to denigrate China's legal system.


In its editorial Friday, it appeared to suggest that the case against Ai wasn't entirely open and shut.


"Just because Ai Weiwei is being investigated by police on suspicion of committing economic crimes doesn't necessarily mean he will be convicted. However, guilty or not is for the court to say and foreign diplomatic and public opinion pressure will not be the determining factor," the newspaper said.


___


Associated Press Christopher Bodeen, and Isolda Morillo

Friday, April 8, 2011

THE CONTEMPORARY JEWISH MUSEUM PRESENTS Charlotte Salomon: Life? or Theatre?

 In the early years of World War II, Charlotte Salomon, a 23-year-old Jewish artist from Berlin, fled to the south of France where she shut herself into a hotel room and spent two years obsessively painting a fictionalized history of her life.


She called it Life? or Theatre?: A Play With Music, an astounding body of over 1300 powerfully drawn and expressively colored gouache paintings conceived as a sort of autobiographical operetta on paper.

She was murdered at Auschwitz at the age of twenty-six.
Currently on view at the CJM. Review at the Examiner.com
http://www.examiner.com/museum-in-san-francisco/nancy-ewart

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Gottlieb, part ot the Abstract Now and Then show at the Berkeley Art Museum

Adolph Gottlieb: Untitled, 1972; color aquatint on paper; 23 1/4 x 17 3/4 in.; gift of Yvonne Cyr Koshland, in memory of Daniel E. Koshland, Jr. Photo: Ben Blackwell. Thanks to Peter Cavagnaro for getting the image for me. Part of the current show at the Berkeley Art Museum (closing April 17th). 

In the narrative about abstract art, we race through a list of famous artists, each one identified by a sentence or two about signature style; Pollock is Jack the Dripper, Rothko is identified by his stacked oblong blocks of color, Kline with Chinese/Japanese style ideographs in black and white. Adolph Gottlieb (1903-1974) is known, if he is known at all, by his "Burst" pieces --a large, haloed disc hovering above an exuberant tangle of vigorous strokes. 

The Waste Land. 1930

Yet when Gottlieb made the first of the Burst pictures, he was fifty-four and had been painting seriously since the late 1920's--more than half his life. He had his first solo exhibition in 1930 and was the first of his colleagues to be collected by a major museum when the Guggenheim Museum purchased eleven works in 1945 and the Museum of Modern Art purchased a painting in 1946.

Oedipus, 1941

Gottlieb's surviving paintings--pre 1940--show his wide ranging tastes and willingness to experiment and experience what was seen as the most advanced art of the time. Like many Abstract expressionists, he had worked his way through Sloan, Cezanne, Matisse, Picasso.

He was what we would call a "late bloomer. At age 54, his work went through a sea-change. W. B. Yeats, himself a notable example of the phenomenon, provided an image for it: “Though leaves are many, the root is one; / Through all the lying days of my youth / I swayed my leaves and flowers in the sun; / Now I may wither into the truth.”

From 1941 through 1953, Gottlieb created his seminal "Pictograph" series, very beautiful pieces with arrangements of non-specific, evocative invented glyphs and lines, organized into schematic grids. 

His "ah-ha moment" came through a synthesis of Cubist structure in the form of an organizing grid, of archaicism and "primitivism," imagery that recalled both ancient glyphs and the art of Africa and the Pacific, along with Surrealist theory and an admixture of Freudian and Jungian thought in the form of trusting to chance and the unwilled, of "tapping the sub-conscious" (in a frequent phrase of the day). 

 Black Emblems, 1971

Working large scale, Gottlieb created a two-dimensional pictorial space devoid of illusion. In these grids, there is no single focal point. Rather, the works are an early example of the "all-over" painting which would become a unifying characteristic of the often varied Abstract Expressionist style.

When he was interviewed in 1968, Gottlieb recalled the genesis of the series:

"[It] started with some conversations that I had with Rothko . . . Everyone was painting the American scene--Mark was painting people in subway stations . . . I said, well, why not try to find a good subject matter like mythological themes . . . I played around with the Oedipus myth which was both a classical theme and a Freudian theme . . . We very quickly discovered that by a shift in subject matter we were getting into formal problems that we hadn't anticipated. Because obviously we weren't going to try to illustrate these themes in some sort of Renaissance style. We were exploring. So we suddenly found that there were formal problems that confronted us for which there was no precedent. We were in unknown territory."

His art constantly evolved. During the late 1950s he developed a style called "Bursts" which occupied him from 1957 until his death in 1974. The monumental Bursts grew out of the imaginary landscapes, but simplify the space and color to the greatest degree possible.  Depth and horizon are eliminated completely, and the focus is entirely on color and form. This style places him among the earliest of the Color Field painters of Abstract Expressionism and deeply influenced the movements that followed.

Adolph Gottlieb died in New York City in 1974. He left a legacy of art, active involvement in the art and progressive movements of his time, and a foundation that extends his legacy of giving to individual artists and promoting their interests.


www.bampfa.berkeley.edu/

American Visions, Robert Hughes
Oral Interview:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Camelot, a potted review

  Merlin's boy.
Camelot, in Camelot, those are the daily laws..Oh wait, wrong movie but at least one that didn't pretend to be historically accurate (sort of) and had an Arthur who was kingly and had charisma. The new Arthur is a weak chinned wimp who looks to be about 12 and acts accordingly.

But, thank heavens Camelot is no Spartacus with it's endless slow motion gore splattered across the screen and go-nowhere episodes - but it's early days yet so who can tell? There's the gratuitous nudity and lots of sex but (alas) no male dangly bits (so far ). There are some capable actors, including Eva Green and Joseph Fiennes. Unfortunately, they killed off Sean Pertwee and James Purefoy whose portrayal of King Lot made the first episodes so much more entertaining. In fact, I was looking forward to more of Purefoy whose robust, sexy and unprincipled Lot was a great match for Eva Green's Morgana. But I guess his virility showed off the fact that "our" Arthur is about as virile as a wet noodle. We can't have that. Arthur is the hero. It's in the script.

The pacing is slow and there's a unsubtle attempt, to turn the medieval romance of Arthur (Morte d'Arthur, 15th century, Mallory) into a parable about nation building. In this version, Arthur doesn't just pull the sword from the stone. He's got to climb up a cliff, through a waterfall and then, pull the sword out of the water, at the top of the cliff. Naturally, it's a long way down but our boy doesn't perish. How can he? There's the rest of the series to get through. 


Why the waterfall? Why the cliff? He didn't look that sexy when wet. Maybe that's so Arthur can be ogled by the crowd gathered at the bottom of the waterfall - makes it more suspenseful? It was certainly slow motion to the max, what with the water, the cutting away from Arthur climbing the wet cliff to Merlin muttering new age slogans to Morgana plotting with Lot. Or rather, Morgana fighting with King Lot, badmouthing Lot, getting tied to a post and muttering incantations. 

But much of the time in the first three episodes is taken up with the grooming of Arthur for the throne by a tattooed, bullet-headed Merlin (Mr. Fiennes), who in this telling is a cross between a medieval life coach and Rahm Emanuel. “A king exists primarily as an idea,” he tells his young candidate, and warns him, “We’re in a fight for our lives, for the soul of this country.” (NY Times). He also does a lot of intense staring at various people so I guess that the psychic powers don't always work so well.

 You are getting sleeeppppy....sleeepy....
On the other hand, this Arthur is so young and so clueless that he needs a lot of coaching. Lots and lots plus a few extra hours at the gym combined with sword practice and even then, he's just too callow to portray Arthur. Better yet, why not ditch him and chose Purefoy's King Lot? Oh wait - got to kill him off in the second episode. Damn.

Doesn't anybody ever read any history, ever? Fourth century Britain wasn't a country. The idea of nationhood didn't occur for about a thousand years so spare us the medieval equivalent of the Declaration of Independence and the Rights of Man.

Fiennes is fun to watch as an arrogant, mysterious, Merlin although I'd ditch a lot of the bad dialogue. It's difficult to see what exactly are his mystical powers but again, it's early days yet. At least, he's shaved his head and is not trying to hide the receding, thinning hairline. His weird hairdo in "The Merchant of Venice" was so off putting that I lost whole parts of the dialogue trying to figure out just what the make up people thought they were doing. I also love the tattoos and the eyeliner so obviously dark age Britain was still trading with Egypt.


Certainly, he’s much more interesting than Jamie Campbell Bower, whose lightweight Arthur, to this point, doesn’t appear to deserve all the attention he’s getting. Mr. Bower, who plays the vampire Caius in the “Twilight” films, is presumably here to appeal to a younger demographic, which might also explain dialogue like his reaction when told he has to pull the sword from the stone: “No way!” I guess you have to be young to appreciate his narrow, close set eyes, puffy mouth and pointed chin; I know that they don't do a damn thing for me.


But Eva Green as Arthur’s sister and rival (known here as Morgan) is sexy, smart and intense. Plus, she can toss her hair better than anybody else in the show  and she looks great in the backless halter dresses that were apparently popular in the Middle Ages. In fact, all the ladies are gorgeous beyond belief but I already know that I will be shouting at my TV set over the story of Guinevere. I don't ask for much in a TV mini-series - a bit of beefcake, a bit of sex, some interesting interpretations of clothing, maybe even a well- decked out throne room or two. 
I give them bonus points for big, four-poster beds for the odd romp or two or three.

  Eye-liner and glare face off. I am prettier than you AND I have a hell of a lot more hair..
But I can already see the handwriting on the wall and it ain't antique Roman lettering. Not even close. But it will pull in the viewers. Clio and I will be over there in the corner, commiserating over a jar of mead.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Triptych by Chinese artist Zhang Xiaogang sets record

I'm sorry to be obtuse but WHY? Or in other words, WTF?  

A three-panel oil painting by artist Zhang Xiaogang has sold for 79m Hong Kong dollars (£6.3m) - a record auction price for Chinese contemporary art. The 1988 work, Forever Lasting Love, shows half-naked figures in an arid landscape surrounded by symbols, among them an emaciated ram. It was one of 105 artworks sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong by Belgian collector Baron Guy Ullens. They fetched HK$427m (£34m), more than three times than had been expected.

Forever Lasting Love broke the previous Chinese contemporary art record of HK$75m (£6m). That was set by Zeng Fanzhi's canvas Mask Series 1996 No 6, auctioned in Hong Kong in 2008.

'Entire spectrum'
Evelyn Lin, Sotheby's head of contemporary Asian art, said Forever Lasting Love was "a monumental museum-quality work from a defining period of the Chinese avant-garde".

From the BBC , found while looking for an update on Ai Weiwei.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Everything (well almost) everything you wanted to know about Ancient Rome. told from the non-sanitized side of history.

 The image is Etruscan but since that's where the Romans got a lot of their beliefs, it will do as well as any other image. Besides, It's colorful and interesting.

I have been laid out flat for almost a week with a lethal combination of flu, cold and allergies. It's rare for me to be this sick but but by mid-week, I had no choice but to stay home and go to bed. I've been distracting myself by reading a hilarious series of posts by a LJ (that's live journal friend for those who don't know) on Ancient Rome. Not only is she funny, learned and wise, she actually responds to posts and e-mail, something that is not always the case.

Naturally, as a former classical scholar and one who still loves the ancient world (with reservations), I pounced on these, both for their entertainment value and ensuing hilarity. The newest post is on top but do yourself a favor and read the whole thing. Some of the funniest parts are in the comments

Ask a Roman a question

So ask me about an animal and I will tell you a Roman belief about it. Or an anecdote featuring it. It has to be an animal they knew about (that covers quite a few). Or a mythical animal. I can also do Greeks because I am multi-functional that way... (Hang on a second, that came out wrong.)

Birds
Because the Cicero post will take a while to write and also involve me looking at his delicious invectives which are in my office, I give you...BIRDS.

The Romans loved auspices. They were like bird crack to them. They loved them as much as they loved ablative absolutes and that, my friends, is a lot of love.

( Want to take auspices? This is the entry for you! Also with bonus sacred chickens. )

I apologise for clogging up your flist with horrific knowledge about the Romans - sometimes I just can't stop myself sharing these things. THE WORLD MUST KNOW.

Hyneas - the miracle animal of the Roman Empire:

(Quite a lot of this comes from Pliny the Elder's wonderfully whacky Natural History Book 28 which I highly recommend to anyone who is interested in ancient Rome and Greece. It's a wonderful glimpse into what people believed.)

Romans seem to have thought that hyenas were hermaphrodites/or could switch gender (Ovid thinks the females do so right after having sex - no idea where he thought the womb went.). That makes it magical, so its body will have all sorts of magical effects. It was also thought to be sexually voracious, which means that it is very useful in love magic, where by a process of sympathy you could get that appetite transferred to the object of your desire.

Pliny lists 79 remedies from the hyena (I think the max for other animals is 19 and that's for the crocodile). I present a selection:

1. A hyena's anus worn as an amulet will make you irresistible to the ladies - one look and they will follow you. (You call also rub a tick on her groin if that doesn't get her going.)
RUB A TICK ON HER GROIN?

"If I give her crabs, she'll totally want me."

How did these people manage to reproduce at all?

There are posts on mules, on the varieties of Venus (oh go ahead and read it, you know you want to). And more...
http://lesbiassparrow.livejournal.com/

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A quiet, cool Saturday

That's enough writing for now about food and gritty areas of SF (well, gritty and cheap, always important for those of us on fixed incomes). Sometimes I just want to revel in beautiful things that have nothing to do with staying on a budget, trying to build a second (or is it third) career or even reviewing art in the Bay Area. Give me luxury, illustrated manuscripts and a quiet corner to enjoy them in! (links from Bibliodyssey's twitter feed). The drawings are all by George Tooker, taken from the FAMSF's database (and a right cumbersome job it was to find them and screen capture, cut and caption the images. Who sets up these damn things?)


Self Portrait.

Understanding Medieval Manuscripts. A guide to technical terms.
http://prodigi.bl.uk/illcat/glossary.asp

Art Nouveau Books
http://www.abebooks.com/books/RareBooks/jugendstil-design-motif/art-nouveau-books.shtml?cm_ven=Twitter&cm_cat=tweet&cm_pla=link&cm_ite=twitter%20title&afn_sr=gan&pfxid=a_1150285890


The mirror

Trompe d'oeil in 16th century manuscripts
http://blog.whitneyannetrettien.com/2011/03/look-closely-at-flower.html

The Italian Renaissance
http://www.musenor.com/vt/renaissanceitalienne/index.html


 The voice

A letter to museums about Twitter (2008 but still relevant)
http://museumtwo.blogspot.com/2008/12/open-letter-to-museums-on-twitter.html

Dolmen press collection
http://zsr.wfu.edu/collections/digital/dolmen/


Tom Christensen's essay on the most helpful books about writing and publishing.
http://www.rightreading.com/blog/writing/what-are-the-most-helpful-books-about-writing-and-publishing/

Friday, April 1, 2011

La Loma Produce


Sixteenth street starts out in a fairly respectable part of town, runs through several financial, ethnic, geographical and weather zones before ending up at Third Street.  Some of the areas are grittier than others - the stretch between Valencia and South Van Ness is better known for bars and drug dealing than produce deals. But it's where the locals go to shop and with a modicum of caution, it seems perfectly safe. It's certainly interesting to watch the crowds ebb and flow across the BART station. There are the usual suspects - people on their way to work, mom's with crying kids in tow, the local guys and a few gals who hang out on the benches and who have obviously had a rough time in life. Sometimes there's music and sometimes there's a "Come to Jesus" guy haranguing the crowd. You can buy a taco, a fruit bar from one of the Salvadorian frozen treat carts or have lunch at a number of ethnic restaurants within walking distance. There's even a German restaurant over on 14th and South Van Ness.

Read more at:  SF Budget Grocery Examiner
Bins of mangoes, papayas and peaches: 

BART at 16th and Mission (not trendy central but not hell either).

Este Noche - definitely not where your Valencia St. Hipster hangs out.

Beautiful tile mural, made by the kids at the local school 

Get yourself a two-fer...