Friday, August 31, 2012

Buddhist saying for Friday

“Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. It means you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.” ~Unknown

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Getty Villa displays ancient masterpiece on loan from the Capitoline Museums in Rome

On loan from the Capitoline Museums in Rome, the spectacular Lion Attacking a Horse will be on view at the Getty Villa through February 4, 2013.

Presented for the first time outside Rome, where it has not been on public view since 1925, the sculpture will be the centerpiece of a special installation that traces its history from antiquity to the modern era and showcases recent conservation work undertaken in Rome.

Roman. 1st century. Floor Mosaic with a Lion Attacking an Onager

Part of “The Dream of Rome,” a project initiated by the Mayor of Rome Giovanni Alemanno to exhibit timeless masterpieces from the city of Rome in the United States, the installation will also include related works from the Getty Museum and Getty Research Institute’s collections.

“We are thrilled to have on view at the Getty Villa the celebrated Lion Attacking a Horse, which is one of the most storied sculptures to have survived from antiquity,” says Claire Lyons, Acting Senior Curator of Antiquities. “As the earliest work of ancient art recorded on the Capitoline Hill, it marks the beginning of the world’s oldest public art museum.”

Depicting the figure of a fallen horse succumbing to the claws and fangs of a ferocious lion, the monumental group dates to the early Hellenistic period (the late 4th century B.C.), when Greek sculptors began to produce naturalistic portrayals of intense emotion and physical exertion.

Left: 585 image showing the Lion Attacking a Horse in its fragmentary state. Giovanni Battista de' Cavalieri
Rome, 1585–94. Engraving

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Friday, August 24, 2012

Zaccho Dance Theatre performances on Market Street (tomorrow)

 It is sometimes referred to as the “San Francisco Exodus of 1858” a little-known part of the City’s history in which hundreds of African Americans fled discrimination and the threat of slavery for the safety of a Canadian exile. Choreographer Joanna Haigood and her Zaccho Dance Theatre ( are marking the iconic event with free public performances of her powerful work Sailing Away. Performances will be given in three continuous cycles, September 13, 14, 15, and 16 at 12noon, 1:30pm and 3pm daily starting at Market Street and Powell.

Market Street will provide the backdrop as performers interpret historical narratives through a series of vignettes and activities incorporating sites and monuments located between Powell and Battery streets. Important city monuments in the piece include: Mechanics Monument and Admission Day Monument.
“It’s ironic that a City now celebrated for its diversity once saw hundreds of its citizens flee in fear for their lives,” says Haigood, a celebrated local choreographer known for her unique and powerful site-specific works.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Barry McGee (review to come)

Image courtesy of Peter Cavagnaro, Media Relations Manager
UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA)

I went over to Berkeley this morning to preview the new exhibit of Barry McGee. I just wish the Berkeley Art Museum was easier to access; between Muni and Bart and the 30 minute walk to get there, I was pretty tired upon arrival.

I also wish that the museum would provide some chairs for us as we listen to the introduction. Maybe some people don't mind standing for 30+ minutes while they listen to the curators (who are really nice people) but my back was bothering me before we started. 

McGee - his work is the sophisticated urban graffiti hipster stick, borrowings from all over the place, especially from Crumb, non-narrative, unemotional and uber cool. It's just not my thing.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

If it's Tuesday, the Buddha wears purple

 Buddha. watercolor, ink, pastel on textured paper. Nancy Ewart. 2012

One of his students asked Buddha, "Are you the messiah?"
"No", answered Buddha.
"Then are you a healer?"
"No", Buddha replied.
"Then are you a teacher?" the student persisted.
"No, I am not a teacher."
"Then what are you?" asked the student, exasperated.
"I am awake", Buddha replied.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Eric Rewitzer @ 3 Fish Studios for ARC Studio Gallery Show

 3 Fish Studios, work place of Eric Rewitzer and Annie Galvin

For our last studio visit of the day, Michael and I left the sunny Mission and headed out to the avenues, into the fog. But as I saw the fog upon the horizon, I reflected that I was a true San Franciscan by now, loving the fog and welcoming its cool and luminous light.

Eric Rewitzer (of 3 Fish Studios) is doing a series of food trucks for the gallery opening and I already coveted the one with the Mexican motifs.

 Linocut Trucks in process for the Four Squared show at Arc Studio and Gallery

In contrast to the tiny artists' studios that I had visited, Eric (and his wife, Annie Galvin) work in a beautifully refurbished single story building that probably was some sort of grocery store back in the day. Micheal told me how Eric was able to negotiate with the owner, get a small business loan, fix up the space and start a thriving business.

I was impressed because that kind of business acumen, much less ability to weld power tools, is not often found among artists. I know that I can barely hammer a nail into the wall and if I miss my thumb, it's a miracle.

Eric was originally from Cleveland and took classes through high school and college. But, as is true with so many artists, he said that he has learned more in the past five years by making the prints than he ever did in school.

Eric Rewitzer
The space is clean, full of light and stocked with all the tools that a lithographer/printer/engraver would need.The front area has shelves with the various kinds of work that they produce - original paintings, linocut and digital prints and postcards, among other items.

The huge work table in the middle of the room had several works in progress. Eric was nice enough to show me some of the steps that go into making a linocut - from drawing the template, cutting it, printing it and then, as a final step, coloring it in with watercolor.

When I stupidly asked how long it took to make one, he answered by telling me "48 (?) years." Oh, I can't tell you how many times I have wanted to respond to that question in that fashion but was never brave enough.

Seriously, I think he told me that one piece can take several days from conception to completion.

In answer to my query about what kind of material he carved with, he wrote me (via e-mail) that the material he carves is artist grade linoleum.  "Prints that are made with linoleum are called linocuts.  Linoleum is simply ground-up cork mixed with linseed oil, then mounted on burlap.  And yes, I get the brown linoleum shipped to me from the manufacturer in Germany, and my friend Rik Olson, another artist up in Sonoma, uses it, as do several other printmakers around the area."
I remember my printmaking class at the San Francisco Art Institute where we had to carve our prints in the toughest wood ever. As for printing, well, I don't think one printer at the SFAI was on a level floor. It made for quite a challenge. But Eric's space is a print maker's dream, with modern presses, spaces for inking and storage and even a garden in the back.

Eric's linocuts, waiting to be inked and printed.

His work reminds me of William Rice, an American woodblock print artist and educator who was associated with the Arts and Crafts Movement in California. Like Rice, Eric's work reflects a Japanese influence moderated through American eyes, strong graphic design and a respect for his materials that shows in their final production.

He took MIchael and me upstairs to meet his delightful wife, Annie Gavin. She was working on a series of small collages that have been accepted in a show in Boston.

The last image is of their lucky duck. They told us that every time they lit up the duck, somebody came in and bought work. I am lighting the duck as a lucky symbol for next week's gallery opening and for lots of sales for all the artists showing.

Remember, support your local artist because art comes from the soul, saves the soul, represents the best of the soul.

Ars Longa, Vita Brevis.
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Arc Gallery and Studios:

Friday, August 17, 2012

Beth Mullins and Unnatural Selections, opening at ARC's 4Squared show next Saturday

Beth Mullins and Unnatural Selections, opening at ARC's '4Squared' show next Saturday (August 25th).

Beth Mullins. "Unnatural Selection" tableau

Our next stop of the day was to visit Beth Mullins. As I puffed up the stairs, I thought (not for the first time) about how artists put up with all sorts of inconvenient spaces (no elevators!) to find room to make their art. Plus, I wouldn't need to use stair master to get my exercise of the day.

Yet, the location at 1890 Folsom St. brings back happy memories of taking calligraphy classes from Ward and Linea and smelling the glorious baking fragrance from the bakery on the 2nd floor. So, I knew that the space has it's advantages and I was looking forward to my next adventure.

Beth's tiny cubicle is in a larger space, shared by at least a half dozen artists.

Beth Mullins. Bionic Dog. 2121. A hybrid creature with two dog legs and two unusual legs of unknown origin.

But once you enter the impeccably clean and organized room, you are in an alien world.

Beth Mullins, "Test tube Boy." 2012. detail.

She has organized her sixteen pieces along one wall, each one a beautifully alien creature, a tiny being from another planet, mounted on what looked like 19th century pedestals. Each piece is assembled from natural materials, stems, pods, moss, animal skeletons but also from man-made materials like glass, iron and tiny porcelain figures.

 Beth Mullins, "Test tube Boy." 2012.

Beth told us that she envisioned them as the result of "unnatural selection," beings that might evolve the ecological catastrophe that is galloping upon us. But her botanical creatures are out of some delicate fantasy, not a nightmare of ugly mutants.

Beth Mullins, "Test Tuby Boy." 2012. detail of head

In her artist's statement she writes, "Biology and complex systems fascinate me.  I explore relationships between form and function and challenge well-known connections between familiar objects. In the Unnatural Selection Collection, I create new species and lab creatures by giving them new unexpected forms and surreal functions."

I was minded of the mutant creatures evolving out of nuclear war as portrayed in "A Canticle for Lebowitz." But those beings were far cruel and more wounded than Mullin's fantasy fae. Her background may be scientific but her imagination is definitely visionary.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

RubySpam & a 'Love Story' for ARC Gallery's upcoming show.

Next weekend (Saturday, August 25th), Arc Gallery will be having their 3rd "FourSquared" show.

Michael Yochum, the gallery owner, originated the idea of a grid to give the chosen artist a challenge, a flexible boundary within which they could play.  Each artist shows sixteen works in a format that can't exceed 12" x 12". The works should be thematically cohesive but yet, distinctively different. Plus, any potential viewer should be able to buy one without feeling that he or she had to buy a set, thus making the art work more affordable. Prices are also under $500 each and many items are priced much lower.

The first show that I saw in 2010 had stellar works by Sandi Yagi, among others and was a huge success.

"Love Story" by RubySpam. The complete series in process. 
Photo by Michael Yochum, image used with permission.

This year, Michael was nice enough to invite me along while he made studio visits to three artists that are going to be exhibited in the show. I had a fantastic time, being driven around San Francisco (!) in a Mercedes. That's quite a change from hustling around town on MUNI.

Listening to Michael was a treat as he has years of expertise, both in the financial sector and in SF's crazy, chaotic and sometimes pugnacious art world. 

The first space we visited was Ruby Spam's art studio at Art Explosion in the Mission. We were greeted at the door by her lively and very sociable Jack Russell terrier mix, Hadley, who was definitely a princess. Playing around with Hadley made the visit even more fun. Ruby was equally personable and generous with her time.

Ruby originally immigrated from Canada where she earned her BFA from the Ontario Collage of Art and Design and her business certificate through St. Clair College.

 Melancholy but the broken heart is mending..

I am always impressed by how much work artists can make and how much they can pack into a small space; Ruby is no exception. She's a mixed media artist and for the show, created works on paper with the most amazing materials - wine, whiskey, coffee, balsamic vinegar and, in this case, blueberries for that "I'm blue" look.

Narcissistic looking in the mirror

The series that she is going to show is about the rise and fall of a love affair, a love story, shown in 16 panels going  from intense infatuation to disillusionment to heart break and finally, reconciliation as friends. The guy is called "Ego Narcissist" or words to that effect so you know where she is coming from.

She ended her series of small drawings with "lets be friends." That shows her generous heart; I'm not sure I would be so nice.

The first step is always the hardest.

Her drawings are difficult to explain; they are deceptively simple but the more you look - and give yourself to the story - the more they say.

The work will be shown in order and in it's entirety at ARC's "4Square" show, opening next Saturday (August 25th).

Next: Studio Visit with Molly Mullins

All photos, unless otherwise indicated, are by Nancy Ewart. Images used with permission of the artist.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Possible Strike at the FAMSF

Possible strike at the Museums: Cristal Java, a chief negotiator with the union, said talks with the Corporation of Fine Arts Museums, which runs the museums, have dragged on for nine months. She said workers are angry that the museums have seen an increase of $19.6 million in assets over the past two years while proposing to reduce wages for future hires and raise health care costs.

"They are proposing a health care plan that is more expensive for union workers than highly paid management," Java said. "It would be one thing if they were struggling, but they're not struggling."

Read more:

Post OuterLands Festival Note

 The Buddhist deity Achala Vidyaraja (Fudo Myoo), 1100-1185. Japan. Colors on wood. The Avery Brundage Collection, B60S146+. Asian Art Museum

I survived the 3 days of my neighbors behaving badly, have cleaned up the front steps twice and am now finally able to enjoy some quiet. The boyz were so loud that MY neighbors called the police - twice, and I took refuge with a friend. Thank heavens it is over - until next year. Maybe some of the louts that made our weekend a nightmare will have grown up a bit. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

It's a beautiful weekend to look at a lot of art

Plus, there will be a Bollywood type flash mob in Union Square on Sunday:

Still life with grapes

I have been busy exploring my new love of pastels. I finished this the other day and when a friend came over for breakfast, she was so taken with it that she bought it. All of the pieces that I am working on are small, 8 1/2 x 11, and I think that makes it easier to finish a piece. Composition can be challenge in such a small piece but well worth it when it all comes together. I laugh when I am struggling with organization, remembering the tiny, exquisite Dutch paintings that I so admire, with every inch packed with detail and yet, the whole does not look cluttered. The hardest part is cleaning up afterwards; pastel dust gets all over the place.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Gifts of the Gods

The synoris (two-horse chariot race)
Gold stater of Philip II, 359–336 BC, Macedon
Reverse: Charioteer driving a two-horse chariot right

Review at:

Monday, August 6, 2012

'Gifts from the Gods: Art and the Olympic Ideal' at the Legion

Pindar wrote:

But if, my heart, you wish to sing of contests, look no further for any star warmer than the sun, shining by day through the lonely sky, and let us not proclaim any contest greater than Olympia. From there glorious song enfolds the wisdom of poets...

The Greeks sacrificed 100 oxen to Zeus in honor of the games. I suspect that contemporary opening ceremonies and rituals are comparably expensive.  The Greeks also competed sans clothing: I wouldn't mind that being revived for the Olympics!

Wreath. Greek, Hellenistic period, 4th–3rd century BC
Gold. Albert Campbell Hooper Memorial Purchase. Photograph © FAMSF

Gifts from the Gods: Art and the Olympic Ideal now showing at the Legion presents a selection of works from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s permanent collection supplemented by loans of antiquities.

Eric Gill (British, 1882–1940). The Tennis Player, 1923. Wood engraving
Gift of Pamela Forbes. Photograph © FAMSF

Celebrating the Olympian ideal, the exhibition features ancient Greek and Roman coinage, contemporary work from artists including Robert Mapplethorpe, Diane Arbus and Alex Katz, advertising labels, and a variety of sculptures, works on paper, antiquities, and textiles.

The show is charming and it was a delight to see the Hellenistic wreath again which I remember from the old de Young Museum.

Looking at images on coins without being able to pick them up is not easy. While the historical background is fascinating, the small images are difficult to make out as they must (of necessity) be seen through a glass case.

 Walter Camp's Book of College Sports, 1893. Color lithograph
Printed by Armstrong and Co. Ltd., Boston. Bequest of Arthur W. Barney. Photograph © FAMSF

But the modern art, posters and wide variety of contemporary and local media are superb. I tend to forget about graphic artists like Eric Gill and the poster from Walter Camp's book of College Sports was charming.

Images courtesy FAMSF/photographer Andrew Fox

Pindar quote from:

Thursday, August 2, 2012

'When Artists Attack the King: Honoré Daumier and La Caricature, 1830-1835' at the Cantor Arts Center

Long before Iranian cartoonist Mahmoud Shokraiyeh was sentenced to 25 lashings for drawing a parliament member in a soccer jersey, 19th-century caricaturist Honoré Daumier and his colleagues at the weekly Paris journal La Caricature endured prison sentences, fines, and litigation for their scathing portraits of king Louis-Philippe I of France, who came to power after the Revolution of 1830.

The Cantor Arts Center presents 50 of these pioneering satirical works in “When Artists Attack the King: Honoré Daumier and La Caricature, 1830–1835,” which opens August 1. The exhibition, drawn entirely from the collection of the Cantor Arts Center, also features issues of La Caricature and large Daumier lithographs published for L’Association Mensuelle, a monthly print subscription.

During the reign of Louis Philippe, Charles Philipon launched the comic journal, La Caricature. Daumier joined its staff, which included such powerful artists as Devéria, Raffet and Grandville, and started upon his pictorial campaign of satire, targeting the foibles of the bourgeoisie, the corruption of the law and the incompetence of a blundering government. His caricature of the king as Gargantua led to Daumier's imprisonment for six months at Ste Pelagie in 1832. Soon after, the publication of La Caricature was discontinued, but Philipon provided a new field for Daumier's activity when he founded the Le Charivari.

 Louis Philippe as Gargantua

Daumier produced his social caricatures for Le Charivari, in which he held bourgeois society up to ridicule in the figure of Robert Macaire, hero of a popular melodrama. In another series, L'histoire ancienne, he took aim at the constraining pseudo-classicism of the art of the period. In 1848 Daumier embarked again on his political campaign, still in the service of Le Charivari, which he left in 1860 and rejoined in 1864.

Around the mid 1840's Daumier started publishing his famous caricatures depicting members of the legal profession, known as 'Les Gens de Justice', a scathing satire about judges, defendants, attorneys and corrupt, greedy lawyers in general. A number of extremely rare albums appeared on white paper, covering 39 different legal themes, of which 37 had previously been published in the Charivari. It is said that Daumier's own experience as an employee in a bailiff's office during his youth may have influenced his rather negative attitude towards the legal profession.

The show’s most provocative prints represent the king as la poire, a bulbous pear. But the artists mercilessly lampooned everything about the July Monarchy, as Louis-Philippe’s reign was known—its ministers, their censorship of the press, their role in the inequalities of French society.

The tone in the presented works ranges from mocking to outraged: from depictions of government officials as marionettes to the gruesome aftermath of government troops shooting an entire working-class family after a riot. “Daumier and the other artists at La Caricature were incredible draftsmen, and they all possessed a gift for using wicked humor to cut to the heart of controversial issues,” says Elizabeth Kathleen Mitchell, the Cantor’s Burton and Deedee McMurtry Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs.

Daumier especially has been posthumously recognized for his wit and technical skill, which he demonstrated in his more than 4,000 lithographs as well as his sculptures and the paintings he produced later in life before going blind.

VISITOR INFORMATION: Cantor Arts Center is open Wednesday – Sunday, 11 am - 5 pm, Thursday until 8 pm. Admission is free. The Center is located on the Stanford campus, off Palm Drive at Museum Way. Parking is free after 4 pm weekdays and all day on weekends. Information: 650-723-4177,

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Changes in attitude, changes in lattitude

I decided to try one of the new layouts and I am not that impressed. Blogger (with Google) seem to have as many options as the template but once I changed it, I couldn't go back.

In order to have the spacing the way I wanted it, I gave up my blog description, added a photograph that I took up at the Legion,  but kept the title (natch). There didn't seem to be any way to move the description up or down, center it or change the font to something that looked better. I'm sure that there IS a way but I haven't figured it out yet. I am always striving for a clean, clear layout, one that's easy to read and where both text and image are balanced. So, I think that part is acceptable but I'd sure like to customize the header more.

Consider this a work in progress and comments are welcome.