Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Jay DeFeo and the SF Giants

Although Jay DeFeo was teaching at the SFAI when I went there, I was too intimidated, as well as young and dumb, to have many conversations with her. But I did know that she was a fan; I seem to remember her wearing an orange and black t-shirt to class. When I asked somebody about it, I was lectured about the importance of the team.

What did I know? I was new in town.

She would be over the moon with joy at the Giants win and out at first light to get a front view seat at the parade. SFMOMA was planning a press preview of her work tomorrow but has cancelled it due to the parade.

Jay would approve. 

Here she is (on the top fire escape) flying a banner for the home team out of her Fillmore Street apartment while The Rose (1958–66) is removed via forklift for transport to the Pasadena Art Museum.  Photo: Moss Photography

Jasper Johns and Jay DeFeo

For the first time in 35 years, a 60-year, career-spanning overview of Jasper Johns' work touches down in San Francisco. Get a glimpse of the city's rich holdings of his work and take note of the contemporary artist's particular fascination with the Bay Area. While you're downtown, make time for the first retrospective of Bay Area artist Jay DeFeo, including her 2,000-pound masterpiece The Rose.
When: Sat. 11/3–Sun. 2/3/13
Where: SFMOMA, 151 Third St. 


Fun series of posts about baseball from the Asian Art Museum's blog (my favorite bedside reading): http://www.asianart.org/blog/?s=baseball&submit.x=47&submit.y=10

Monday, October 29, 2012

Gamelan Sekar Jaya returns to Rhythmix Cultural Works’ stage.

Last night the victory celebrations for the San Francisco Giant's included a great deal of idiotic destruction. It will probably cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair the damage. Cars and buses were overturned, fires all over the city, windows smashed, including the GLBT History Museum windows in the Castro (via SF FIst).

Tonight's Full Moon, the Hunter’s Moon, in Taurus is difficult, intense and passionate. Mystical astrologers claim that the veil between the worlds is at it’s thinnest so it’s also the time to try and reach for the spiritual side of our natures.

Gamelan music is one kind of spiritual music and it can be heard this Friday as Gamelan Sekar Jaya returns to Rhythmix Cultural Works’ stage.


Friday, October 26, 2012

David Tomb at Electric Works, International Orange, Burchfield and Meatyard and more

David Tomb at Electric Works: The exhibition features the iconic and critically endangered Great Philippine Eagle and other endemic birds of the Philippines, including the Rufous Hornbill.

Tomb's realistic delicate paintings of endangered birds are collaged on paper to create a subtle three-dimensional effect. The paper is then mounted on frame so as not to obscure the deckle edge.

There are approximately a dozen watercolors of these magnificent birds. One wall is completely covered by a 12-foot high, 15-foot wide wall piece of a Philippine Eagle nest site. While the wall mural is gorgeous, one of the birds looks like he is having a seriously bad hair day. But then, given that the whole habitat is under attack, he's probably "just" having a bad life.

It is a surrealistic experience to stand in the gallery, surrounded by tropical plants and with paintings covering the walls,  while listening to bird song. Outside is the Mission, noisy, gritty, and definitely urban. Inside - a magic land under threat from overpopulation and deforestation. Birdsong sound effects in the gallery:


"Making artwork of the birds is a way to connect and personalize my experience of seeing the birds." Tomb relates. “The ultimate goal is to have people think: 'That animal is incredible.'"

The art of saving the Philippine eagle: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-seed/david-tomb-the-art-of-sav_b_1221882.html

 (Images courtesy of Electric Works).

 "International Orange: Artists Respond to the Golden Gate Bridge at 75." The final weekend to see an ambitious ensemble of celebratory installations by 16 contemporary artists, anchored by Doug Hall's engulfing two-channel projected video and Bill Fontana's real-time sound and video pulse-taking of the bridge itself.
10 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday (Oct. 25)-Sunday. Through Sunday. Fort Point, S.F. Free. (415) 556-1693. tinyurl.com/9v35aj8.

Burchfield and Meayward at Fraenkel

The Fraenkel Gallery has paired up the photographs of Ralph Eugene Meatyard and the watercolors of Charles Burchfield. Both were American, one a photographer, the other a painter. Although they never met, their work shares a belief in the transcendental aspects of nature.

While each portion of the show is interesting, the pairing doesn’t really work. Meatyard's dense black shiny photographs pull the eye away from the more delicate flow of Burchfield's paintings.

Nevertheless, here are more Burchfield's here than anywhere else in the Bay Area. It is a revelation to see his work in person, so catch the show quickly as it goes down on Saturday.

Charles Burchfield/Ralph Eugene Meatyard: Watercolors and photographs. Through next Saturday. Fraenkel Gallery, 49 Geary St., S.F. (415) 981-4661. Photographs courtesy of Fraenkel Gallery. www.fraenkelgallery.com.

 Artist: Debbie Fimrite. Not satisfied with simply having an impossibly tiny waist, Barbie continued dieting and her features have become truly skeletal.

Don't forget the kickiest, funniest and maybe most transgressive show in town:

"Altered Barbie." The labs at Mattel probably never envisioned - and certainly never authorized - these mutations of pop icons Barbie and Ken.

Their plastic heads and bodies, not to mention their cultural baggage, become fodder for creative reuse yet again this year. Sex, religion, drugs, politics, fashion and surreal transformations come to the fore in the work of more than 30 artists from around the world.

1-8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 1-5 p.m. Sunday. 50 Shotwell St., S.F. (415) 863-9673. www.alteredbarbie.com.

Examiner.com: http://www.examiner.com/article/open-studios-electric-works-altered-barbie

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Happy Birthday Picasso

Happy Birthday to the Spaniard who was one of the most influential painters of the 20th century and arguably one of the most misogynistic. SFMOMA has 30 of his works; this is from their permanent collection.
Official Web Site: http://www.picasso.fr/us/picasso_page_index.php

Monday, October 22, 2012

"The Radical Camera: New York’s Photo League, 1936–1951" at the CJM

They wanted to change the world, one photograph at a time.

Rosalie Gwathmey (1908–2001, born Charlotte, North Carolina)
Shout Freedom, Charlotte, North Carolina, c. 1948 Gelatin silver print
Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio, Photo League Collection, Museum Purchase with funds provided by Elizabeth M. Ross, the Derby Fund, John S. and Catherine Chapin Kobacker, and the Friends of the Photo League 7 ⅞ x 6 3/4 in.

"The Radical Camera: New York’s Photo League, 1936–1951" now open at the Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM) presents the contested path of the documentary photograph and the League during a tumultuous period that spanned the New Deal reforms of the Depression, World War II, and the Cold War.

Arthur Leipzig (born 1918, Brooklyn, New York)
Ideal Laundry, 1946 Gelatin silver print
The Jewish Museum, New York, Purchase: Esther Leah Ritz Bequest. 10 x 8 in.
That could have been the motto of New York’s Photo League, founded in 1936 by young Jewish-American photographers Sid Grossman and Sol Libsohn. Young, idealistic, mostly Jewish, they believed in the expressive power of the documentary photograph and progressive, socialist ideas and art.

A unique complex of school, darkroom, gallery, and salon, the League was also a place where you learned about yourself. Sid Grossman, one of the founders, pushed students to discover not only the meaning of their work but also their relationship to it. This transformative approach was one of the League’s most innovative and influential contributions to the medium.

The group eventually had over 300 members, including legends in the field such as Berenice Abbott, Weegee and Aaron Siskind.

Their work resulted in a street-level, popular history of the era, told through documentary photographs of the marginalized. criminalized, and dispossessed. In its early years the League was committed to the idea of photography as honest and unmediated. A “true” and “good” picture was one in which aesthetic qualities did not overwhelm the content or subvert its message. The Leaguers were inspired to make inequity and discrimination tangible in their work.

Photographs, with titles such as "Shoemaker’s Lunch" and "Salvation Army Lassie in Front of a Woolworth Store," exposed issues of class, poverty, racial inequality, and lack of opportunity.

Vivian Cherry (born 1920, Manhattan, New York)
Game of Lynching, East Harlem, 1947.Gelatin silver print
Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio, Photo League Collection, Museum Purchase, Derby Fund 6¼ x 9 in. (15.9 x 22.9 cm)

Vivian Cherry’s disturbing images of boys playing at lunching were the first photographs to link certain kinds of violence in children's games with racism.

The series was published by ’48 Magazine of the Year; Photography republished them in 1952, commenting, “The pictures are not pretty, but they do represent an attempt to . . . use a camera as a tool for social research.”

Sid Grossman, interviewed in the film, “Ordinary Miracles,” said that their desire was to “get close to people as human beings, to try to push them in a progressive direction."

The images range from the street life of the lower East side to farming communities hard hit by the dust bowl. The sensitive and compelling images of African-Americans were the first to document their lives with respect. showing their humanity and strength while coping with extreme poverty.

During its fifteen-year existence (1936–1951), the Photo League would mirror monumental shifts in the world starting with the Depression, through World War II, and ending with the Red Scare. Throughout those tumultuous times, its members engaged in lively debate and ongoing experimentation in the streets to propel documentary photography from factual images to a more subjective, poetic reading of life.

  Consuelo Kanaga (1894–1978, born Astoria, Oregon)
Untitled (Tenements, New York), c. 1937 Gelatin silver print
The Jewish Museum, New York, Purchase: The Paul Strand Trust for the benefit of Virginia Stevens Gift

Presented in collaboration with another major Photo League collector, The Jewish Museum in New York City, “Radical Camera” offers nearly 150 photographs created around and during the league’s lifespan, as well as videos, oral histories and interactive displays.

The Cold War politics of the McCarthy era eventually destroyed the group. Shocked and dismayed at the attacks upon the organization, they mounted an exhibition entitled “This Is the Photo League,” which showcased the diversity and quality of its members’ work.

The retrospective opened in December 1948 with photographs by more than ninety past and present members. While it achieved a measure of critical attention, the effort came too late. By now, the political atmosphere was by now far too toxic. Membership and revenues dwindled and the group was ostracized.

Sid Grossman, the League’s great teacher and mentor who led passionate debates about the rolerole of the personal and subjective in the documentary image, was particularly victimized and disillusioned by the blacklist. He resigned in 1949 and retreated to Provincetown, Massachusetts.

There he continued to teach photography and to make art, but his reputation faded. Shortly before he died in 1955, at age forty-three, he commented with some irony on a late series of “pictures of birds” he had made in Cape Cod. They were, he acknowledged, scarcely the kind of documentary subject that he would have pursued earlier in life.

Sid Grossman (1913–1955, born Manhattan, New York)
Coney Island, c. 1947 Gelatin silver print. Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio, Photo League Collection, Museum Purchase with funds provided by Elizabeth M. Ross, the Derby Fund, John S. and Catherine Chapin Kobacker, and the Friends of the Photo League. 9 ⅝ x 7 ⅞ in.

“Yet this material,” he said, “was quite harmonious with my past history as a photographer, visually and emotionally.” Grossman perhaps felt obliged to explain that these photographs, with their allover pattern of flickering light and agitated movement, drew upon the contemporary language of abstract expressionism. More poignantly, the birds’ feeding frenzy suggests the poisonous atmosphere that had finally forced him out of the League.

In 1950, the Photo League officially closed its doors, a casualty of the Cold War.

Although short lived, the Photo League’s influence was significant. The sense of artistic “presentness” and the assertion of the photographer’s identity in the work of artists such as Diane Arbus, Louis Faurer, Helen Levitt, and Robert Frank are, in many ways, the legacy of the Photo League as was the subjective, poetic renderings of social themes that would characterize the next generation of street photographers.

Review: http://www.examiner.com/article/the-radical-camera-new-york-s-photo-league-1936-1951-at-the-cjm

At the Contemporary Jewish Museum. http://www.thecjm.org/
Through January 31, 2013

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Red orange pink rose

My love is a rose of many colors..

Pastel, watercolor, ink and colored pencil on paper

Open Studios, Weekend Two

I went to the reception at Arc Studios last night. The place was so crowded that I didn't get any good photos but I did see a few artists' work that I will want to return to explore.

Rachael Sager's large, luminous pieces stood out. Now those I am going back to explore. 

Then,  I got distracted by Priscilla Otani's screening of the original Godzilla from 1956. She has a new (?) series of paintings incorporating snake skin. Now that may take a while to get used to.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Open Studios, ArtHaus, ArtZone...

What am I doing this weekend? I am so glad you asked. There is a ton of art to see, places to go, people to meet.

Last week, Steve and Eric, the owners of ArtZone 461 graciously invited me to a reception for their new exhibit featuring Heidi McDowell and Jon McNeal. A husband-wife team, they have been painting and photographing the American west for almost 20 years. Their work is a tribute to open spaces, life on the road, sometimes with eerie overtones of nostalgia for a world that is fast disappearing.

  •  Jon Neal - Mono Lake. Photograph

Heidi McDowell.  Point Reyes,  2012, oil on canvas, 63” x 79” (courtesy of the artist website)

Other weekend picks are the artists at Arc Gallery, ArtHaus and whoever you want to see. Drop by the ArtSpan offices and pick up a catalogue.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Three rings to bind them...

OMFG, this is even better that the Bic Pens for Women. You must click here and scroll through the comments. "Does this white binder make my hips look big?"

I laughed until my sides hurt and then, shared it with everybody on every page that I subscribe to. It's wonderful to know that a lot of us are not only politically astute but also, have a great sense of humor.

5.0 out of 5 stars Career Booster!, October 17, 2012
Melissa M. "Melissa M." (Orange County California) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Avery Durable View Binder with 2 Inch EZ-Turn Ring, White, 1 Binder (17032) (Office Product)
My career was going nowhere. I was starting to wonder, as a single mother, whether I would ever be able to buy another assault rifle for my children. When I did find work, I found I was only making 50% of what men were making. Unable to reach my full potential of 72%, I was in despair. Then, I found this wonderful binder! Being in this binder enabled me to climb to 60% in wages! And I was able to leave work in time to have dinner ready. Thank you, Binder! Thank you!
Mary (United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Avery Durable View Binder with 2 Inch EZ-Turn Ring, White, 1 Binder (17032) (Office Product)
As much as I love my binder I must confess that it works very poorly with my coloring. Hence the 3 stars. You see I am an Autumn with hints of Summer, and wouldn't you know it...I am firmly, albeit securely, in a Winter binder. Plus, the 2 other women I share this binder with are Spring and so totally do not belong in here, not to mention with me. What keeps me going is the Binder in Chief, Ann Romney....I just think of her saying "Stop It! This is Hard", and it never fails to set me right and inspire me.

Nureyev, Nureyev, Nureyev.

I have been doing more painting/drawing this week than writing. Last week's Nureyev exhibit has inspired me so I have 4 new Nureyev images up on my Flickr page:


Here is the link to my review: 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Monday art: Bird of Paradise

Pastel on Japanese rice Paper. 

Strelitzia ( /strɛˈlɪtsiə/)[1] is a genus of five species of perennial plants, native to South Africa. The genus is named after the duchy of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, birthplace of Queen Charlotte of the United Kingdom. A common name of the genus is bird of paradise flower, because of a supposed resemblance of its flowers to the bird of paradise. In South Africa it is commonly known as a crane flower.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Get down your walking shoes

No point in midnight blues - there's art happenings almost around the clock.

and more: GET UR ART ON!!
Check out all the details on SF Open Studios Weekend One preview parties in the ArtSpan newsletter >
Weekend 1 of SF Open Studios starts TONIGHT at preview parties!

Click here for preview party info: http://bit.ly/Q2XSQx

Click here for online maps to plan your studio route this weekend: http://bit.ly/Pse3fD

Thursday, October 11, 2012


 I have been working on these all day and wanted to share. The Nureyev show at the de Young was a reminder of just how charaismatic and gorgeous he was. Plus, he's easy to draw. His features are strong and distinctive so I can make bold marks with my charcoal and pastels and it fits the subject (I think).

Well, I would, wouldn't I?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sunday Music

Doesn't get much better. Rosetta Tharpe plays 'Didn't It Rain'. Recorded in Manchester, England in 1964.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

'Rudolph Nureyev: A Life in Dance'

Rudolf Nureyev: A Life in Dance opens at the de Young.

“You live as long as you dance,” was Nureyev’s mantra throughout his meteoric rise as an internationally acclaimed dancer, choreographer, ballet master, and company director.
Rudolf Nureyev and Noëlla Pontois in La Bayadère, Palais Garnier, 1974. Photograph by André Chino

photos courtesy FAMSF

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Heat begone!

It's now 62 degrees and the fog is rolling over Twin Peaks. I am beginning to feel human again. Yesterday was brutal; 91 degrees at 3 PM. For SF, that's unreal. I was a zombie for most of the day but knew that the fog would eventually arrive. It had to. I hope that I am long gone when global warming kicks in big time. I shudder to think what a nightmare that will be.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Saturday Gallery Stroll in Oalkand

Hopefully the weather will cool down so that walking will be bearable but this looks like a lot of fun. I went to Oakland's Art Murmur a couple of times and they aren't kidding about the crowds. I am a little too old for the party scene so I appreciate an opportunity to "just" look at the art:


Monday, October 1, 2012

A slightly belated post to honor the Autumn full moon

Rabbit and Moon. Watanabe Shotei (Collection Asian Art Museum) Hanging scroll
Japanese, 1851-1918. Ink and colors on silk
Credit Line: Gift of Jeanne G. O'Brien in memory of James E. O'Brien
Instead of the “ man in the moon,”  East Asian cultures speak of the
“ rabbit in the moon.”  Chinese legend has the rabbit mixing an elixir,
while in Korea and Japan the rabbit is said to be pounding rice cakes
(mochi). These motifs are both associated with autumn, the season in
which the beauty of the moon is most appreciated.

Here, the Japanese artist Watanabe Seitei depicts a rabbit in front
of a full white moon shining in a cloudy night sky. The sparse stalks of
grass also hint that cooler weather has arrived.

Seitei worked in the Meiji period (1868– 1912), when Japan opened
its doors for the first time in several centuries to the West. Trained as a
painter, he was involved in the design of works to be sent to the Paris
Exposition of 1878 and was one of the first Japanese artists to travel to
Europe and America, where he was influenced by Western-style watercolor
and other Western painting methods.