Monday, May 30, 2011

I can haz buffalo burger

I braved the cool weather to trek next door to share a Memorial Day cook out with neighborhood friends. Everybody brought something interesting to eat and I brought buffalo meat. After all, what's more American than buffalo? I had to do something to balance the potato salad and pie for desert. Picture me semi-virtuous?

http://www.examiner.com/budget-grocery-in-san-francisco/buffalo-for-memorial-day-the-other-red-meat

Leonora Carrington Is Dead at 94; Artist and Author

“Do you believe,” she went on, “that the past dies?”
“Yes,” said Margaret. “Yes, if the present cuts its throat.” Leonora Carrington

Leonora Carrington, a British-born Surrealist and onetime romantic partner of Max Ernst died on Wednesday in Mexico City, where she lived. She was 94.

Born in Lancashire in northern England to a textile magnate, Carrington spent her childhood in a Gothic-style Victorian mansion, but she soon rejected the strictures of a wealthy life governed by tutors and nannies.

"I hated the whole thing. I don't like to be oppressed," she said, describing how she was dragged to a debutantes' ball and presented to King George V in an agonizingly tight ostrich feather tiara that she threatened to rip off.

Against the wishes of her authoritarian father she studied art in Italy and yearned for a career as a painter.


Self-Portrait. 1936

Her family disowned her when, at age 19, she married Max Ernst, who was 26 years her senior. They moved to Paris where she became part of the circle of around the Surrealists.

There Carrington met other Surrealists like Salvador Dali, Luis Bunuel and Andre Breton, while studying figurative painting and gaining a reputation as a wild child.

The Juggler. 1954
While the surrealists celebrated the idea of woman as muse, the reality was far different and much more conflicted. Woman was celebrated as muse, and eternal child, the center of the creative impulse. But she was also a destructive demon of omnivorous sexuality, a destroyer of man as well as a blank canvas for male fantasies of violence and eroticism. The female body was rewritten as both subject and object, a complex creation controlled by the males in the movement and which left little room for the creative women drawn by surrealism. Eventually, Carrington rejected the Surrealists version of Freudian theory and turned to alchemy and magic for inspiration. 

Green Tea or La Dame Ovale, 1942

"The source of Carringtion's magical white horse lies not in Freud's use of the horse as a symbol of male power but in the Celtic legends that nourished her childhood...the horse is sacred to the ancient tribe of the Tuatha de Danaan...the hyena belongs to the fertile world of night; the horse becomes an image of rebirth into the light of day and the world beyond the looking glass. As symbolic intermediaries between the unconscious and the natural world, they replace male Surrealists' reliance on the image of woman as the mediating link between man and the "marvelous" and suggest the powerful role played by Nature as a source of creative power for the woman artist (Chadwick, p. 79)."

Crookery Hall
Her affair with Ernst fell apart during World War Two when the Nazis imprisoned Ernst for being Jewish and for creating subversive art. Carrington, devastated, fled to Spain where she had a mental breakdown and was placed in a brutal asylum. 
The Temple
Eventually she made it to Mexico City in 1942 where she she befriended Frida Kahlo and Remedios Varo and began painting in earnest. "I didn't have time to be anyone's muse... I was too busy rebelling against my family and learning to be an artist." --Leonora Carrington, 1983. In Mexico she later married Emericko Weisz. They had two sons: Gabriel Weisz, an intellectual and a poet, and Pablo Weisz, a surrealist artist and doctor.

The Temple

In her later years she lived in a rambling town house in the Roma neighborhood. While her work sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars across the world, she rarely left Mexico due to a fear of flying.

Carrington's ghoulish portrayal of weird mythical creatures that reflect the Gaelic legends her Irish nanny read to her, amazed critics and spawned exhibitions from Paris to Tokyo. She was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 2000


 La cuna  (The Cradle, 1945).   

She produced La cuna together with José Horna, painting her world of mythical images, full of mysticism, on Horna’s carving. It shows a parade of people and animals, with a prominent white horse. This recurring figure is a meaningful subject for a cradle, since, in Whitney Chadwick’s opinion, rather than a Freudian symbol of male power, it is associated with Celtic legends, where the ride across the night sky represents the trip from death to rebirth. 

"I suppose what I believe in is peaceful anarchy," she told Reuters in a 2007 interview. In the same interview, she says art today lacks a little of the wild creativity of the Surrealists as they cooked up ideas back in Les Deux Magots cafe in Paris that would revolutionize art.

"I don't think that the imagination is getting any stronger or any more vivid from what I've seen," she ponders. "Yes, imagination could be what's missing."


Site with links and images:

http://www.hungryflower.com/leorem/carrington.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonora_Carrington
 

Tate: The Transcendent Image: http://www.tate.org.uk/tateetc/issue14/image.htm
http://www.tate.org.uk/tateetc/issue14/image.htm

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

National Escargot Day?

Sometimes (actually quite often), I wonder what planet the Examiner.com is on. National Escargot day? Who thought that one up? I wanted to title my article from the great old movie, "Garlic is as good as 10 mothers" but I figured they wouldn't get it.
Maybe you have to be French to really appreciate the slimy little creatures?
I used every search option that I know of and I could not find a local (i.e. Bay Area) farm that produces escargots for the dinner table. There are plenty of articles about snails which are regarded as garden pests but none of the eatable kind. So, what's a local examiner to do? We are supposed to write about local products and all I could find were recipes for snail bait. 

But really, what makes snails so delicious and appealing? Back in my youth, I ate them on a trip to France. The snails themselves didn't seem to have any taste but the sauce!

Oh the sauce was divine!

Now there are many things that the Bay Area (and California) produce that are are delicious. One of the more famous is garlic, grown right in the great metropolis of Gilroy!


In fact, Gilroy's garlic festival is famous. Held in the middle of the valley's summer heat, people line up for hours to get in. This year they have a contest to see who can really cook with garlic and they've set up a facebook link for the contest.

So You Think You Can Cook With Garlic

NEW FOR 2011 = NEW AMATEUR COOKING COMPETITION TO DEBUT

"In response to the vows of many of their 3.7 million visitors over 32 years, officials of the Gilroy Garlic Festival have issued the ultimate challenge: “So You Think You Can Cook With Garlic”, an all-comers cooking competition beginning April 4 on Facebook and culminating before a packed audience in the Cook-Off Theater July 29."

The contest is open to amateur chefs age 18 and over who post a video of themselves preparing their recipe on the Festival Facebook page.

http://www.gilroygarlicfestival.com/soyouthinkyoucancook

http://www.gilroygarlicfestival.com/

So, ditch the Helix pomatia, the eatable snail and go for the sauce. Serve over steamed green beans or grilled corn or spread on French bread for the ultimate garlic bread. 

Bon appetit as Julia would say.
http://www.examiner.com/budget-grocery-in-san-francisco/national-escargot-day

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Maru is three!


Who could resist one of the most adorable cats on the planet? Maru is three and his owner has made a video of some of the "best of" to celebrate the event. Now, this is the real rapture.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

O frabjous day

Red Shoes @ Nancy Ewart. 2011. Watercolor on paper.

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
  He chortled in his joy. (from Jaberwocky by Lewis Carroll).

It's too bad that there isn't a beamish boy to slay the Jabberwock of fundamentalist preachers, spreading fear to their flocks. Not to mix metaphors (well, yes, I'm mixing metaphors) but they are wolves in wolves clothing and do untold damage. 

I put on my red shoes and went to celebrate the non-event with friends. We ate just about everything on the menu at Mazzat, a Lebanese restaurant not too far from where I live. We strolled home through the still-light city replete with food, friendship and grateful for another day on this planet.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Zheng Chongbin in conversation at the Asian

In his studio
The success of Zheng’s paintings lies in his ability to render both obtrusive and elusive forms out of ink, ink wash, and acrylic media. His process is very much rooted in physicality, both of his own body and the materials he uses, which are skillfully layered on Xuan paper, a soft and textured paper which originated in ancient China and is primarily used for Chinese calligraphy and painting. Full of depth, these paintings expand the possibilities for ink as a medium and continue to push the limitations of abstract painting.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Zheng Chongbin at the Chinese Cultural Center

Zheng Chongbin, Evaporation, 2011

This year the CCC’s XianRui (Fresharp) series at the Chinese Cultural Center features the work of abstract ink painter Zheng Chongbin.  The highly anticipated show is comprised of fifteen new and site-specific large scale pieces, which include both paintings and video projections.

Zheng’s work has been hailed as ‘unprecedented,’ and embodies the essence of traditional Chinese ink painting as well as the physicality of western abstract traditions. His work conveys both movement and serenity, making the experience of them at once timeless and dynamic.

White Ink is on view Tuesdays – Saturdays 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Sundays 12 – 4 p.m. at Chinese Culture Center, 750 Kearny St., 3rd Floor (inside the Hilton Hotel). Admission to the gallery is free.
Chinese Cultural Center
 

I wrote about this painter after seeing one of his pieces at the Shanghai Exhibit at the Asian Art Museum
http://www.examiner.com/museum-in-san-francisco/the-dimension-of-ink-1-by-zheng-chongbin-at-the-asian


** Special thanks to Nina Sazevich for the information

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

It's the end of the world as we know it..

Not only is that my favorite song by REM, it's a prophesy by Family Radio president Harold Camping. According to the SF Chronicle, he's convinced that a worldwide earthquake will strike at 6 p.m. (local time) Saturday, May 21, alerting the human race that Judgment Day has begun. It's always nice when your daily newspaper thoughtfully provides you with this very important information.

Since this city has always led the country in gay civil rights - if all is accurate, according to these religious prophets - San Francisco should be floating right past Alcatraz at about 8:35 P.M.



The Chronicle has thoughtfully provided us with a FAQ to the Rapture (should that really be capitalized?) according to Camping.

"There's nothing in the Bible that holds a candle to the amount of information to this tremendous truth of the end of the world," he told New York Magazine. "I would be absolutely in rebellion against God if I thought anything other than it is absolutely going to happen without any question."

Not everyone is as informed about Judgment Day as Camping, of course. With that in mind, here are a few answers to frequently asked questions about the End of Days:

Q: Who gets to ascend to heaven?
A: Those who accept Christ as the messiah. Even Jews are invited, says Camping, but only if they accept Christ - which would seem to make them no longer Jewish.

Q: How many will be Raptured?
A: Campbell estimates 200 million. The remaining nearly 7 billion face a grisly fate - crushed in the quake, burned by sulfur, turned into pillars of salt, etc.

Q: Why May 21?
A: Camping calculates May 21 is exactly 7,000 years from the date of the Noah's Ark flood. In his book "Time Has an End," Camping writes. "The year 391 B.C. is the year when the Old Testament was finished, and 2,011 + 391 - 1 = 2,401, or 7 x 7 x 7 x 7." There you have it.

Q: Any other reason?
A: Yes. Gay Pride and same-sex marriage. Camping says God will punish America and the rest of the world for Gay Pride and same-sex marriages, just as Sodom and Gomorrah were punished with fire and brimstone in the Old Testament.

Q: Will the Earth end on May 21?
A: No. The Earth will stick around for a few more months of "chaos and awful suffering" before being obliterated Oct. 21.

Q: Didn't Camping predict the end of the world would take place in September 1994?
A: Yes, but the book in which he made the prediction was titled "1994?". The question mark makes all the difference.

Q: Will the Rapture happen sooner in Australia, like New Year's celebrations?
A: Yes. May 21st begins first on Kiritimati Island, a Pacific Ocean atoll, so presumably the earthquake would strike there first.

Q: If I'm Raptured, what will happen to my pets?
A: Probably nothing good. However, a business called Eternal Earthbound Pets run by "confirmed atheists" offers to save pets left behind and ensure their care in 26 states. It lists a fee of $135 for a single pet ($20 each for additional pets), but has raised rates due to "increased activity associated with the May 21, 2011 Rapture." Pets are limited to dogs, cats, birds rabbits and small caged mammals in most states. Four states can accommodate horses, camels, llamas and donkeys.

Q: Are exploding watermelons in China a sign?
A: Yes.

A Conversation With Harold Camping, Prophesier of Judgment Day New York Magazine

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/hottopics/detail?entry_id=89183#ixzz1Mk2G2O7c

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Today's Freebies

Reading Gertrude Stein at Yerba Buena Gardens: The exhibit at the Contemporary Jewish Museum has recordings of Gertrude reading some of her works. She had a great voice, cultured, mellow contralto. It made a lot of difference as to meaning. Yerba Buena Gardens, 12:30

http://www.yerbabuenagardens.com/
http://www.sfweekly.com/events/words-and-voices-stein-and-co--2477682/

This is the start of all the MFA shows, beginning with the one at the Berkeley Art Museum. Inarguably Uncertain marks the forty-first exhibition by UC Berkeley’s M.F.A. students. Corinna Nicole Brewer, Chun-Shan (Sandie) Yi, Narangkar Glover, Plinio Alberto Hernandez, Merav Tzur, Chris E. Vargas, and David Gregory Wallace join forces to exhibit their final projects. (Note to the artists - some of you need to update your websites and ask that the museum include the various links on their little press release,)
http://www.bampfa.berkeley.edu/exhibition/mfa_2011

Museum, Internet and Face Book "Sit In" for imprisoned Chinese artist, Ai Weiwei

http://www.examiner.com/museum-in-san-francisco/sit-solidarity-for-ai-weiwei-protest-starting-may-19th

Monday, May 16, 2011

Seeing Gertrude Stein: Five Stories at the Contemporary Jewish Museum

Man Ray. Alice and Gertrude. 1922. First semi-official "coming out" portrait.

"A rose is a rose is a rose, " said Gertrude. This, like many of her famous and familiar quotes only shows a part of the woman. She was creative and her salon the the center of much of artistic Paris for decades. But she also capricious and contumacious, not always an easy person to have around and the subject of dislike as well as love, awe and wonder. The exhibit presents Gertrude in all her contradictory glory, probably the most famous Lesbian in Western culture (to date), a full banquet in five magnificent courses.
http://www.examiner.com/museum-in-san-francisco/nancy-ewart

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Buttermilk Biscuits

It's a shame that most people now get their biscuits out of a can or from a mix. There's nothing wrong with them but there's nothing very right either. When I make biscuits, I use my grandmother's recipe. Now my grandmother had what you could politely call a "full figure" so she obviously loved her own cooking.


Born in Louisiana in the 1890's, her polities were far to the right and her tongue could be quite sharp on occasion. But her cooking - oh, her cooking was oh so sweet. I still have her cast iron skillet and attribute my success at making cornbread and spoon bread to its magical properties. She used to make buttermilk buscuits on a regular basis but now, at Chez Nancy, they are only an occasional treat. Still, when I make them, I use the best ingredients and invite my friends over for a feast. Otherwise, there is no resisting temptation and I can believe that I will eat the whole thing.


2 cups flour (use White Lily self-rising flour which you can order through Amazon. I don't think it's available locally.)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter (the best around comes from the Straus Family Creamery. Don't stint on this - or the butter you will put on the biscuits later. Your taste buds will thank you. Ditto for honey and jam.)
2 tablespoons shortening (Crisco - the stuff that that health conscious are not supposed to use. Well, forget Dr. Ornish for one day and use Crisco. There is no substitute for creating that flaky, tender dough)
1 cup buttermilk, chilled  (Again, I use  Bulgarian buttermilk but if you don't have any, you can sour regular milk and use that. But it's not the same)
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Preheat oven to 450 degrees.


In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using your fingertips, rub butter and shortening into dry ingredients until mixture looks like crumbs. (The faster the better, you don't want the fats to melt.) Make a well in the center and pour in the chilled buttermilk. Stir just until the dough comes together. The dough will be very sticky.


Turn dough onto floured surface, dust top with flour and gently fold dough over on itself 5 or 6 times. Press into a 1-inch thick round. Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch cutter, being sure to push straight down through the dough. Place biscuits on baking sheet so that they just touch.


Reform scrap dough, working it as little as possible and continue cutting. (Biscuits from the second pass will not be quite as light as those from the first, but hey, that's life. Sometimes I sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on the second go-round to make little biscuit cookies.
Bake until biscuits are tall and light gold on top, 15 to 20 minutes.
Try to wait until they have cooled slightly before eating.
http://www.strausfamilycreamery.com/
http://www.whitelily.com/

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Photographs of the Beatles featured at the SF Art Exchange

Has it been almost fifty years since the Beatles landed in America and started a decade or more of world wide hysteria over them? I remember all the newsreels of the screaming fans, the idiotic attempts to get close to the Fab Four and the news frenzy. Before there was Diana, there were the Beatles and I guess for some, the obsessive interest has never stopped.


Previously unseen photographs of the Beatles are on display at the San Francisco Art Exchange. Taken by photographer Paul Berriff, this is the show's US gallery debut. The photographs - taken between 1963 and 1964 - offer a fascinating glimpse of the Beatles before they became superstars.
http://www.sfae.com


Friday, May 13, 2011

"Create" - opening May 12th at the Berkeley Art Museum

Create, which opens today at the Berkeley Art Museum, highlights the extraordinary contributions of three of the foremost centers for artists with disabilities: Creativity Explored (San Francisco), Creative Growth Art Center (Oakland), and NIAD Art Center (Richmond, CA). The exhibition features over 135 works from twenty artists who have produced art at these centers.

Aurie Ramirez
All of the centers were founded by two pioneers of the art and disabilities movement, Florence Ludins-Katz, an artist and educator, and Elias Katz, a psychiatrist. In the 1970's, various laws were passed to "de-institutionalize" the mentally ill. As they began to land on the streets of communities unprepared or unwilling to deal with them, the Katzes saw the need for a new approach to dealing with those with developmental disabilities. 

Their approach focused on a group studio environment, professionalism, and engagement with the broader art community. Today artists at these three centers work daily alongside one another, create new works specifically for exhibition and sale, make frequent visits to local galleries and museums, and have regular access to artist mentors who assist them in developing new approaches and techniques. The staff's commitment to these artists is life-long. None of the centers takes the popular contemporary approach that an artist is "hot" at 25 and passé at 35. The youngest artist in the show is 27 but many of the other artists are in their late 40's or 50's and have been coming to the centers for decades.One thing should be emphasized - without the staff's dedication and hard work, it's unlikely that any of this art would have been produced, much less shown or critically acclaimed.

John Patrick McKenzie
Although outsider art is hard to define, one thing is true of the artists represented in Create. They are all dealing with various mental and/or psychological disabilities and in an earlier period, would have been institutionalized - that is if the family didn't hide them as "the family secret in the attic."  Maybe it's time to retire the idea of "outsider art."  Unlike sophisticated insider artists who chose to label themselves as "outsider" artists to be more fashionable, these artists had no choice.

Judith Scott

Some suffer from some form of autism or lack average intellectual abilities. For Instance, Judith Scott, whose widely admired bulbous yarn sculptures are on display, had Down syndrome. John Patrick McKenzie, whose works are visual poetry, is autistic and does not interact with people except through his art. Several works in the show exhibit a quality of obsessive industry sometimes considered typical of art produced by those with mental disabilities but are fascinating works in themselves. Many of the artists create their own mythological systems, numbering systems or compulsively write down their activities in zine or comic book format.

 It's really a shame to call them "artists with disabilities" because they are artists first, and mentally challenged second. Yet, to ignore their condition is to make light of the difficulties they face. Anyway, the work knocked my socks off and I have an even greater admiration for the staff at the local centers who are committed to working with these artists. In fact, it's the best contemporary art show that I've seen in a long time.

Thanks to the lack of a safety net, the disabled roam our streets, beg on the sidewalks, mutter to themselves, are messy, dirty, frightening. They challenge us to define what it is to be normal, to be compassionate. They test the limits of what we can do, can afford to do, have the will to do. But they can't always communicate how extraordinary they can be, with help, with encouragement, with love and a support system.


One of the artists in the show, Michael Bernard Loggins, has communicated, with words. A contemporary Ginsberg, the Berkeley Art Museum has given him a whole wall which he has covered with a work on fear, "fears of our life."  It's creative, brave and heart wrenching - "fear of hospitals and needles, fear of monsters. fear of getting left alone." Some of the fears are almost funny but many are universal. Work like this makes you question why we create such fear in a fellow human being.

Daniel Green populates his creations with figures from TV shows, number systems and synthesizes topics as different as Star Trek and the staff at Creativity explored. There is an collaborative work in the 2nd floor gallery, an altered, patchwork, embroidered couch with cute animals sewn into the ends. Tracy Eminen, eat your heart out. Next to it is a three-piece screen by Marlon Mullen who would be seen as a modern day Matisse in any other context.  Aurie Ramierz takes Gothic and horror movies and evolves them into a unique presentation of self.


Altered Couch with Bean and Owl (?)

So much contemporary art is all about the text and the theory. They tell you; they don't show you. This art shows you the souls of the artists, their unique visions, without reams of theory or wall text telling you what you are supposed to see. It confirms the adage "art saves lives" and is truly extraordinary.

Article on Willie Harris:
Harris, who's deaf and intellectually disabled, is deep into his work at Richmond's National Institute for Art and Disabilities (NIAD), creating the vital monochromatic paintings that art mavens might relate to the abstractions of Robert Ryman and Brice Marden. Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/02/09/DD3A1H8MUH.DTL#ixzz1M0hcwyD1

http://creativegrowth.org/gallery/
http://www.creativityexplored.org/
http://www.niadart.org/

Curator's Talk with Dr. Lawrence Rinder at the Berkeley Art Museum: 5/12/2100. 12 - 1 PM

http://www.bampfa.berkeley.edu/

Monday, May 9, 2011

Romare Bearden show at MoAD: From Process to Print


Romare Bearden, "Out Chorus", 1979-80. Etching and aquatint, 12 3/8 x 16 ? inches. Courtesy: Romare Bearden Estate. ©Romare Bearden Founcation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, New York.

Focusing on the later period of his career, From Process to Print explores Romare Bearden’s graphic oeuvre from the 1960s though the early 1980s. This nationally traveling exhibition focuses on the artist’s innovative printmaking techniques and sheds new light on his sources of inspiration and process. Organized by the Bearden foundation, it includes 84 lithographs, etchings, collagraphs, collagraph plates, screenprints, drypoints, monotypes, and engravings produced over three decades by Bearden, proof (if more were needed) that he was more than an artist "who ran with scissors."

More at: http://www.examiner.com/museum-in-san-francisco/nancy-ewart
Through July 3rd. FIVE STARS
http://www.moadsf.org/

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Help a mother out for Mother's Day

How about giving to those mothers who have little or nothing on this day? Give to the organization "Help A Mother Out (HAMO)." They are dedicated to increasing access to diapers for families in need. Started by two moms (March, 2009) with an initial investment of $100, this one time diaper drive has evolved into a nationally-recognized grassroots organization raising diapers, awareness, and advocating for long term change in the social safety net. Their vision is a day when every baby has an adequate supply of diapers. The testimonials on their website will break your heart.
http://www.helpamotherout.org/

Continue reading on Examiner.com: Celebrate Mother's Day with gifts that are thoughtful and compassionate. - San Francisco Budget Grocery | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/budget-grocery-in-san-francisco/celebrate-mother-s-day-with-gifts-that-are-thoughtful-and-compassionate#ixzz1Lgg2JWX7

For a bit of a laugh, check out the LA Times look at mom's through the ages, starting with the Virgin Mary: http://timelines.latimes.com/motherhood/?p

*image from Creative Commons/Violetta (via Help a Mother Out Website)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Romare Bearden at the Museum of the African Diaspora

I am so psyched for this one. First of all, I love Bearden's collage work. It's utterly unique as well as being graphically beautiful and politically powerful. He redefined the image of humanity not in terms of “the black experience,” but black experiences—rural and urban, African, American, and Caribbean.

Secondly, Dr. Jacqueline Francis, one of the best art history professors that I have ever had will be lecturing at MoAD on Saturday (2PM) and I can't wait. I am going to sit in the front row, grin from ear to ear and ask a lot of questions - just like I did when I was in her class. She's not only an expert on Bearden, she's funny, vivacious and has a great sense of humor.  I know that the lecture will be both informative and enjoyable. When I started writing for the Examiner.com, I asked her to click on my page so that I could make enough for at least "one happy meal" per month. I will have to tell her that I've progressed to two and sometimes three happy meals per month!

Born in Charlotte, North Carolina, Bearden studied at Boston University before receiving his BS in Education from New York University in 1935. The following year, he attended the Art Students League, where he studied with George Grosz. From 1933 to 1937, Bearden also worked as a cartoonist, publishing drawings in The Crisis (the journal of the NAACP) and the Baltimore-based Afro-American. During World War II, he served in the US Army and then used funding from the GI Bill to study art history and philosophy at the Sorbonne. Bearden’s achievements as an artist were matched only by his energy as a scholar and arts activist at a time when art history was defined almost exclusively in terms of whiteness.

While Bearden’s early work consisted of figural paintings inspired by the social realism that dominated the 1930s, a trip to Paris in 1950 inspired him to move closer to abstraction. In the early 1960s, he turned to collage in “an attempt to redefine the image of man in terms of the black experience.” Cutting and pasting photographs, paper, fabric, newspaper, and magazines, Bearden often added gouache, ink, pencil, and oil to his kaleidoscopic surfaces, creating dazzling compositions that focused on themes as expansive as his own talent.

 Bearden believed that “art is made from other art.” This idea is literally present in the act of collage-making—taking images, colors, and forms out of one context, altering them, and juxtaposing them with other pre-existing images, colors, and forms to create something new. But it is equally apparent in Bearden’s celebration of jazz and blues, the inspiration he drew from African art, and his passion for telling the stories and representing the cultures of ordinary black Americans.

He was a founding member of Spiral group (1963), a co-founder with Norman Lewis and Ernest Crichlow of the Cinque Gallery (1969)—a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of work by artists of color—and an active founding member of the Studio Museum in Harlem (1968). In 1970, Bearden became one of the fifty founding members of the Black Academy of Arts and Letters, established to “define, preserve, promote, and develop the arts and letters of black people.” 

 Romare Bearden lived and worked in New York City until his death in 1988. During his lifetime, he was the subject of multiple exhibitions and the recipient of numerous honors. In 1990, the Romare Bearden Foundation, New York, was established to preserve the legacy of the artist. In 2003, the National Gallery of Art organized The Art of Romare Bearden, a major retrospective that firmly cemented his legacy as one of the great innovators of the twentieth century. His work is represented in prestigious institutions including the Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum, and Whitney Museum of Art.

Opening Friday, May 6th at the MOAD: http;//www.moadsf.org

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The death of Osama bin Laden or It's time For America to be America again


I have mixed feelings about the death of Bin Laden. I am not sorry he's dead but I also don't think he's the worst terrorist in the history of the world. There are plenty of candidates for that title. We would be fooling ourselves if we think this is the end of terrorism. What I really hate is what he has done to our country. Like the ideology that he represents, we have stepped backwards, spending billions on war and little on peace, spying on our friends and enemies alike.

But I don't think that the US "staying out of the Middle East" or never helping Israel would have prevented terrorism or the hatred with which some view us. We should step aside and let Israel be destroyed or watch with folded hands while the few remaining Jews in the Middle East outside Israel are murdered? For who continually criticize Israel really want all of the Jews dead. When we are attacked for supporting Israel, that's the subtext and we should not forget it. 


Should we never criticize the racial, ethnic and religious "cleansings" that are taking place in the Middle East? According to some critics of the US, we should never speak out against the Turkish oppression of the Kurds and the Armenians, the Sunni's fighting the Shiites (and visa a versa), the Egyptians attack on the Copts, the Palestinians attack on Christians because that makes them "hate us."If speaking out against this is wrong, then I don't want to be right. I would and do speak out against similar injustices in the US - a freedom which we would not have if we lived in the Middle East, a freedom which women, in particular, do not have. Or, if we do dare to criticize, we would have to be more pure than any human or government has been in the history of humankind.

Before the United States ever set one foot in the Middle East or dropped a bomb, we were hated - not for what we had done, not for what we might do but for what we represented. However flawed, we are a democracy. Women can vote, own property, drive, and don't have to walk around draped with a black shroud for fear of setting off male sexuality. The freedom that women in the West has is one of the many reasons that the terrorists hate us. AT OUR BEST, we believe in religious tolerance, in the separation of church and state, in the equality of men and women, black and white and brown. The current version of fundamental Islam abhors all those things and that's a pity but I don't think that the West should change to accommodate them in their hatred or their backward beliefs. 

Nor should we accommodate any belief, religious or otherwise, that would make the US back away from the principles as laid down in the Declaration of Independence. As it is, we have strayed too far and it's time for America to be America again.

Langston Hughes..
Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.
(America never was America to me.)
Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The greatest R&B players that ever lived

You can take your rap (PLEASE), your ska, your hip-hop and put it someplace in outer space. It needs to be silenced! But here is a tribute to three of the greatest musicians that the US ever produced. Long live R&B!