Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Ringing in the New Year at the Asian

Today, the Asian will be continuing their decades long practice of ringing a bell to welcome in the New Year.

Buddhist bell (detail), 1532, Tachibana Kyubei (Japanese). Tajima province, Japan. Bronze.

The bell they use is a 16th-century Japanese temple bell, heavy and fragile at the same time. 

According to Buddhist belief, each ring wipes the 2013 slate clean of bad experiences, wrong doings, and ill luck. 

The service begins with chanting the Heart Sutra, the heart of Buddist belief.
It contains key concepts of Buddhist Philosophy. These include the skandhas, the four noble truths, the cycle of interdependence and the central concept of Mahayana Buddhism, Emptiness.

Those who gather at the Asia ring the bell 108 times, symbolizing the 108 bonno (mortal desires) that torment mankind. It’s the perfect way to greet the new year. Bask in the positive and peaceful vibes, and stick around for art activities. Read up on cool trivia regarding the bell (http://bit.ly/1cbUHjj.

Tim Hallman adds (press guy for the Asian and an all around nice person) adds: " But it’s important to remember that the bell is more than 480 years old. Like all ancient things, it should be treated gently and with respect. When you do so, you’ll be rewarded handsomely. Struck at the right spot, and with the right energy, the bell makes a magical sound. You can literally feel it reverberate over your body and hear a pleasant humming whisper in your ears."

 Event starts at 11:30 am, doors open at 10 am.  

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Bay Area Art World in 2013 - hits and misses.

It's that time of year again when I list my picks for the good, the bad and the ugly. Naturally, I realize that a show that I give 10 stars is somebody else's flop. But to each his or her own.
Jay De Feo. The Rose.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Perlman Collection on line. New website for impressionist art

Paul Cézanne (French, 1839–1906), Three Pears, ca. 1888–90
Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on cream laid paper

The Henry and Rose Pearlman Foundation, owner of 72 Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works, makes its collection accessible to everyone with the launch of pearlmancollection.org.

Paul Cézanne (French, 1839–1906), Still Life with Carafe, Bottle, and Fruit, 1906
Watercolor and soft graphite on pale buff wove paper

 The website allows visitors to enjoy individual artists and works as a private collector would – intimately and over time; to examine each work at the brushstroke level of image resolution and right up to the unframed edges of each canvas; to create their own galleries from the collection; and to save those galleries privately or share them socially.

At the heart of the Pearlman Collection are 33 works by Cézanne including 16 watercolors that are rarely exhibited because of their sensitivity to light. A masterpiece by Van Gogh, two iconic Modigliani portraits and a limestone head, seven oil paintings by Chaim Soutine and works by Gauguin, Manet, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec and Degas complement each other and comprise a personal collection that reflects a modernist eye.

 Amedeo Modigliani (Italian, 1884–1920), Mateo, 1915
Brush and brown wash over graphite

The Henry and Rose Pearlman Collection is on long-term loan to The Princeton University Art Museum, where many of the major works are on display. A five-city tour of the collection’s masterpieces - organized in conjunction with Princeton – is planned for 2014-15. While individual works are often loaned to special exhibitions around the world, the collection has not been seen outside of the New York area for more than 35 years.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Io Saturnalia

Saturnalia: The Party don’t Stop

by Anya Leonard

Catullus (XIV) describes it as "the best of days."

Seneca complains that the "whole mob has let itself go in pleasures" (Epistles, XVIII.3).

Pliny the Younger writes that he retired to his room while the rest of the household celebrated (Epistles, II.17.24).

It was a time when people rejoiced, visited friends, gave gag gifts, lit candles and sang in the streets - naked. Now, it would be difficult to stop a party that good, wouldn’t it? So, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that when Rome went Christian, they couldn’t just end the favorite festival of the year... they had to somehow convert it into Christmas, though perhaps with little success. 

But what was this intoxicated, Pagan, Pre-birthday party that the ancient Romans loved so dearly? It was none other than Saturnalia.

Originally celebrated on December 17th, this festivus for the rest of us was so popular that it was eventually extended over the week. It started with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn, in the Roman Forum, followed by a public banquet, private gift giving of gags, and ended with an all out carnival. Auspiciously meant to worship the God Saturn (or Greek Kronus), it essentially grew into an event that seems to have captured some of the best and worst of human qualities.

On the one hand, slaves were treated as equals - just for that one week, of course. They were allowed to wear their master’s clothes and a pileus, a felt cap normally worn by a freeman. Additionally, their owners waited on them (though the slaves still prepared the meal) and these temporarily unowned men were permitted to gamble and relax in public unmolested.

Moreover, It was a time for free speech, where the lower levels of society could insult the uppers without punishment. Indeed, the Augustan poet Horace called it "December liberty.”

On the other hand, murder seemed to crop up all too regularly. The Catiline conspirators intended to fire the city and kill the Senate on the Saturnalia, when everyone was busy partying (Cicero, The Third Oration Against Catiline, X). Caracalla plotted to murder his brother during the celebrations (Dio, LXXVIII.2.1). And to top it all off, there were those ‘human sacrifices’ to the god Saturn, which were mostly dead, unsuccessful gladiators, according to third century sources

Then there are the relatively harmless frat boy qualities of the festival. For instance, there was an appointed Saturnalicius princeps, similar to a ‘Lord of Misrule’ who, with the point of his finger could command celebrants to sing naked or jump into cold water. (The former being the source for modern day caroling).

Interestingly, the future emperor Nero is recorded as playing the role in his youth and while we can not say for certain how this character affected his rule, we can take a few amusing ganders.

Over the centuries many of the particulars of Saturnalia adapted, improved or were left behind, but in one way or another it was still celebrated throughout the entire Roman empire. Its popularity remained unwavered straight through the 3rd and 4th century, right up to Rome’s adoption of Christianity. Saturnalia did not completely vanish at that point... instead it was pulled into the religious bosom, where it would influence the new customs and cultures that began with early Christianity.

And so, on this festive day, we Classical Wisdom enthusiasts say: Io Saturnalia!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Free non-Christmas events during Christmas Week.

Arnold Lobel, "Old pig with pen."

In celebration of "Frog and Toad and the World of Arnold Lobel," The Contemporary Jewish Museum's Community Day is an admission-free, fun-for-all extravaganza. The exhibition features over 100 original illustrations and works on paper highlighting Lobel’s detailed illustration technique and warm, funny tales of love and friendship, mostly among animal friends. Lobel subtly reflected on human foibles in a charming world populated by a talking frog, a toad, an owl, mice, kangaroos, and other colorful creatures.

Christmas is coming, which means you’re most likely spending the day with friends and family or stuck at work (or maybe both). If you want to get away, there are a multitude of opportunities and best of all, most of them are free.

If you’re looking to volunteer, opportunities abound, like serving meals for homeless and in-need families at Glide. More at: http://www.examiner.com/article/non-christmas-events-for-christmas-week

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Celebrate the Winter Solstice

Tributes to the Solstice: http://www.livescience.com/42152-ancient-tributes-to-witner-solstice.html

Wikipedia does its bit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winter_solstice
Overview for 2014: http://www.kaykamala.com/overview2014.html

The winter time is nearing; raise your glass on high;
Prepare the meal, and let the beer and wine be drunk
To celebrate the shortest day and longest night,
On this time before the coming of deep winter.

The light dims near the edges of the darkling earth,
As men dance and sing to praise the westering sun;

Friday, December 20, 2013

Frank Lobdell, one of the last of the group of great painters that put Bay Area art on the map, died Saturday in Palo Alto of cardiopulmonary arrest. He was 92 and had been in declining health.
Review of 2010 drawing show. http://www.examiner.com/article/cantor-art-center-sixty-figure-drawings-by-frank-lobdell

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

'Emancipating the Past. Kara Walker's tales of Slavery and Power' at the Crocker.

A decade or more before Hollywood started using slavery for its exploitative value, Walker was making work that plumbed the depths of American's "peculiar institution" and mainstream society's hostile and cruel treatment to those who had been brought here forcibly from Africa to work the tobacco and cotton fields for the benefit of their white masters.

More at:  http://www.examiner.com/article/emancipating-the-past-kara-walker-s-tales-of-slavery-and-power-at-the-crocker

Monday, December 16, 2013

December plums

The recipe was originally British, hence the Continental directions for weight and temperature. But it was easy enough to convert. This is the kind of recipe that doesn't really need any specific directions - just bake until tender and eat.
  • 700g or about 15 over-ripe plums, washed, halved and stone removed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar (I used Stevia)
  • 100ml Greek yoghurt or whipping cream flavoured with vanilla essence


Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) mark 5.
  1. Place the plums on an ovenproof dish and sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar.
  2. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the fruit is tender. Serve warm with Greek yoghurt or vanilla cream.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

RIP Peter O'Toole

 I think that we have lost - or almost lost - all of them, the eloquent, charismatic, witty and charming actors who elevated us just by watching them. The movies that they were in were not only entertaining but often dealt with the deeper truths of the human soul. When they were "on," they created magic.

 O'Toole spoke on many occasions about the differences in actors and acting today, versus the era in which he rose to fame. "Actors today must learn to make the 'word' fresh". By that he meant not just to enunciate, although that was certainly important, but that an actor must make words come alive, to infuse the text of a script with intelligence and meaning.

O'Toole at the 2003 Oscar ceremony, where he was awarded an honorary academy award. Nominated eight times during his career, O'Toole never won an acting gong. He holds the record for most nominations without a win. Those Oscar-nominated performances in full: Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Becket (1964), The Lion in Winter (1968), Goodbye, Mr Chips (1969), The Ruling Class (1972), The Stunt Man (1980), My Favorite Year (1982) and Venus (2006). O'Toole was initially reluctant to accept the award, writing to the academy and saying he'd still got the time to "win the lovely bugger outright".





Friday, December 13, 2013

Happy Birthday Emily Carr

Emily Carr (December 13, 1871 – March 2, 1945) was a Canadian artist and writer heavily inspired by the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast. One of the first painters in Canada to adopt a modernist and post-impressionist painting style, Carr did not receive widespread recognition for her work until later in her life.

 Google Doodle

As she matured, the subject matter of her painting shifted from aboriginal themes to landscapes, and in particular, forest scenes. As a writer, Carr was one of the earliest chroniclers of life in British Columbia. The Canadian Encyclopedia describes her as a "Canadian icon".

I don't think I have ever seen her work in person. A lot of the images that I found didn't impress me but then, there are often huge gaps between the real and what's photographed, especially in art. What I do respect is her achievement. She battled for recognition, dealt with poverty and isolation but never stopped painting.

I hadn't realized that she attended the SFAI but I did know that she was an unpopular figure, due to her frankness and refusal to kow-tow to the behavioral standards for women in her time. She was isolated, poor and struggling until the late 20's when she began to achieve recognition through the "Group of Seven," the most avant-garde Canadian painters of the time.

From then, until her death in 1942, she continued to develop as a painter, creating highly stylized and abstracted geometric forms reflecting her spiritual belief in a nature spirit, part of the culture of the indigenous native peoples of the Canadian Pacific coast. 

Blunden Harbor Totems

Emily Carr brought the north to the south; the west to the east; glimpses of the ancient culture of the indigenous peoples of the Americas to the most newly arrived Europeans on the continent.

Carr made headlines late last month when her painting "Crazy Stairs" sold at auction for $3.4-million, a record-setting amount for one of her paintings. Eight pieces by the artist were sold at the Nov. 29 auction, put on by Heffel, bringing the total amount of cash netted by the auction house for Carr’s work up to $50.6-million.
 Crazy Stairs


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Bay Area art events for December 12 - 15

 Image courtesy of Michael Yochum

Arc Gallery: "Choice," a national juried gallery show in support of women's reproductive rights - not just abortion but contraception, access to decent medical care and if and when to be a mother. The attack on women's reproductive rights has reached new lows in today's lethal political climate. The show is about women being able, without harassment or intrusive medical (i.e. politically motivated) intervention, to decide for herself.

Juror Catharine Clark of the Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco selected the works of thirty-four artists for exhibition at Arc Gallery and eight additional artists to be represented in the Choice catalog and online gallery.
"Choice is binary: to take a pregnancy to term or not. As a working mother myself, it was important to choose works that convey the diverse paths women pursue."
--Juror Catharine Clark

Where: Arc Studio and Gallery, 1246 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94103
Opening Reception: December 12th, 2013, 6 - 9 p.m.
Artist’s Talk: January 7th, 2014, 7 – 8:30 p.m.
Closing Reception: January 12th, 2014, 1–3 p.n.
Exhibition: December 12, 2013 - January 12, 2014

Sponsored by the Northern California Women's Caucus for Art.

More at: http://www.examiner.com/article/bay-area-art-events-for-december-12-15

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Happy Birthday Maillol

Happy Birthday Maillol : Aristide Joseph Bonaventure Maillol (December 8, 1861 – September 27, 1944) was a French Catalan sculptor, painter, and printmaker. In this image: Maillol at the Legion of Honor.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Friday Night Fun

I just hope it doesn't rain tonight. There is supposed to be a Valencia Street Block party and the Creativity Explored sale/opening is part of the PARTY!

The 2013 Annual Holiday Art Sale at Creativity Explored is an art lover’s shopping extravaganza, with a multitude of remarkable art—and this year they are giving 30% off all original artwork to celebrate the end of their 30th anniversary year! (NOTE: Discount does not apply to online store orders or any products.)


Valencia Street Holiday Block Party: The holiday shopping season is just starting to heat up, and the merchants along Valencia Street are happy to help with whatever you need to get that special someone. The block party will feature more than 40 participating stores, with night hours and discounts, as well as each establishment offering extras such as food, drink and/or entertainment. 6-10 p.m. Friday. www.valenciastreetsf.com (Also, Friday is the Hayes Valley Block Party and there’s an Inner Sunset Sundays event this weekend.)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

December a quiet month for art....not!

I thought that December would be a quiet art month but it's starting out at 120 miles an hour. First Ai Wei Wei on Alcatraz next year, new works by Wayne Thiebaud, the two shows dealing with racism in the US that I haven't written about yet, the bridge troll lands in a safe home on the other side of the bay...It's too much!

So I am posting another piece of medieval marginalia. Thanks to a couple of medieval sites, I am gaining more respect than ever before for medieval artists.

Bull blowing a horn (Walters, MS. W 102) 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A calendar page for December

Calendar page for December with a bas-de-page scene of men sledging and warming themselves by a fire, from the Golf Book (Book of Hours, Use of Rome), workshop of Simon Bening, Netherlands (Bruges), c. 1540, Additional MS 24098, f. 30r 


Richmond Art Center's Annual Arts Festival

Mark your calendars for holiday fun and festivities. On Sunday, December 8, the Richmond Art Center will hold its annual arts festival. Every purchase will benefit the oldest continuously operating arts center in the East Bay.

 Slide show here: http://www.examiner.com/list/richmond-art-center-s-52nd-annual-holiday-arts-festival-sunday-december-8

Monday, December 2, 2013

Happy Birthday Georges

Georges Pierre Seurat (2 December 1859 – 29 March 1891) was a French Post-Impressionist painter and draftsman. He is noted for his innovative use of drawing media and for devising a technique of painting known as pointillism. His large-scale work "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte" (1884–1886) altered the direction of modern art by initiating Neo-impressionism, becoming one of the icons of late 19th-century painting.

His manner of weaving and layering small brushstrokes indeed achieved a tapestry-like paint surface of complementary and contrasting hues. Even Vincent van Gogh admired Seurat's expansive palette, noting on a visit to Seurat's studio the "fresh revelation of color."

He died young, of menigitis. The Louvre refused the gift of his surviving works so his parents distributed them among his friends, giving the marjority to his common law wife.

Peasant Woman Seated in the Grass (Paysanne assise dans l'herbe), 1883. Oil on canvas, 15 × 18 inches (38.1 × 46.2 cm). Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection

In the words of the artist Paul Signac, Neo-Impressionism's greatest propagandist, "the separated elements will be reconstituted into brilliantly colored lights." The separation of color through individual strokes of pigment came to be known as Divisionism, while the application of precise dots of paint came to be called Pointillism.

complete works: http://www.georgesseurat.org/