Monday, March 30, 2015

Happy Birthday to Vincent van Gogh

Happy birthday to Vincent van Gogh, born on this day in 1853. View a slideshow of works:

Eight things you didn't know: "I dream my painting, and then I paint my dream." ~~ Vincent van Gogh (Dutch artist. 1853-1890)

How he found his purpose:

Saturday, March 28, 2015

'José Clemente Orozco: Figure Studies' at the San Jose Museum of Art

 “Orozco is best known for his legendary public murals and his strong stance against social injustice,” said Susan Krane, Oshman Executive Director of SJMA. “Yet throughout his life, he was also an avid draftsman who masterfully conveyed emotion through the anatomy of the human figure. These drawings on paper reveal the intimate side of Orozco’s artistic vision and demonstrate the importance of figure drawing to his creative process.”

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Met launches a new online video series, 'The Artist Project'

Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, announced today the launch of a new online video series, The Artist Project, in which 100 artists respond to works from The Met’s vast collection, which spans more than five millennia and cultures throughout the world. Beginning March 2015, for one year, the Met will invite 100 artists—local, national, and global—to choose individual works of art or galleries that spark their imaginations. In this online series, artists reflect on what art is, what inspires them from across 5,000 years of art, and in so doing, they reveal the power of a museum and The Met. Their unique and passionate ways of seeing and experiencing art encourage all museum visitors to look in a personal way.

Trailer here:

Over the course of five seasons, The Artist Project  will share the perspectives of one hundred artists with the public, telling us what they see when they look at The Met.

Or the SF version of art online:

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Lu Chuntao and 'Mind Traveling' at the Chinese Culture Center

For 50 years, the Chinese Culture Center has been building bridges between East and West, mostly through the medium of art. Tucked into a corner of of the Chinatown Hilton, their physical space is small but their ideas and influence are enormous, To celebrate their 50th anniversary, the Center is presenting new work by Lu Chuntao, one of China's new generation of painters who use traditional means to create art that pushes the boundaries of ink, brush and paper.

Lu Chuntao was born in Shanghai and started as a traditional Chinese painter. He went through several stages as an artist before arriving at his current series of “Lotus Ponds.” The lotus is a far more powerful symbol in Chinese art than it is in Western paintings - a symbol of purity, enlightenment, a wish for offspring and one of the Eight Buddhist symbols of good fortune. More at...

Saturday, March 21, 2015

La Primavera - The First Day of Spring

La Primavera, also known as Allegory of Spring, is a tempera panel painting by Italian Renaissance artist Sandro Botticelli. Painted ca. 1482, the painting is described in Culture & Values (2009) as "[o]ne of the most popular paintings in Western art”.  It is also, according to Botticelli, Primavera (1998), "one of the most written about, and most controversial paintings in the world."

How the nymph became a goddess:

Wonderful discussion here along with a details of each panel in the painting. :

The complete works:

Friday, March 20, 2015


9thC Carolingian enamel of Luna, the moon deity, riding in a chariot holding a torch

That's how an eclipse works. Gossouin of Metz, Image du monde. @MedievalMss W199

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Museums on Twitter and a happy birthday to De La Tour.

Starting next Monday, art institutions in 50 countries will be tweeting under the hashtag #MuseumWeek to publicize their collections and to highlight reactions, the US-based social network said in a statement.

French museum officials backed by Twitter and the French culture ministry are steering the week-long event, which seeks to engage with Twitter users worldwide.

#MuseumWeek will show users the behind-the-scenes work that goes on in museums, and visitors' snaps and accounts. 
The project is also inviting artists to send in pictures of their own work.

Little is known of Georges de La Tour's life. By 1620 he was established at the prosperous town of Lunéville, where he specialized in religious and genre scenes. His primary patrons seem to have been Lunéville's bourgeoisie and the duchy's administration at nearby Nancy. In 1639 he gained the title of peintre du roi (Painter to the King) and was wealthy enough to arouse jealousy among his fellow townsmen. La Tour's early mode typifies the Mannerist style of Nancy. By the 1620s, however, he had come into contact with the art of Caravaggio, probably through prints or paintings by northern artists such as Gerrit van Honthorst and Hendrick ter Brugghen. Lit by crisp daylight, La Tour's works from this period are characterized by their still atmosphere and meticulous rendering of ornament and textures.

Increasingly, La Tour was drawn to candlelight scenes in which a single flame created an atmosphere of otherworldly calm. He gradually simplified forms until, in his late works, all masses were reduced to simple, almost geometrical, shapes. After his death, La Tour passed into virtual oblivion for almost three centuries. In 1915 a German scholar recognized La Tour's style in several pictures that had been variously ascribed to Spanish, Dutch, and other French artists.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Happy Birthday William Henry Johnson

Children Dance, ca. 1944

 March 18, 1901. William Henry Johnson (March 18, 1901-1970) was an African American painter born in Florence, South Carolina, and is now widely recognized as one of the greatest American artists of the 20th Century.  The work is on loan from the Smithsonian to President Barack Obama.

William Henry Johnson was born on March 18, 1901, in the small town of Florence, South Carolina, to parents Henry Johnson and Alice Smoot, who were both laborers. At an early age, Johnson wanted to become an artist. However, as the oldest of the family's five children, who lived in a poor, segregated town in the South, Johnson tucked away his aspirations of becoming an artist, deeming them unrealistic.

At the age of 17, Johnson South Carolina to pursue his dreams in New York City. There, he enrolled at the National Academy of Design and met Charles Webster Hawthorne, a well-known artist who took Johnson under his wing. While Hawthorne recognized Johnson's talent, he knew that Johnson would have a difficult time excelling as an African-American artist in the United States, and thus raised enough money to send the young artist to Paris, France, upon his graduation in 1926.

Johnson lived for several years in France, studying and gaining recognition.  A return trip to his home town shocked him with a renewed encounter with racism and Johnson returned to Europe, eventually marrying Holcha Krake, a Danish artist. They settled in Denmark and traveled widely in the Middle East and Africa, but due to the threat of war, were forced to return to the US in 1938.

Johnson and his wife settled in Harlem, probably the only place in the US at the time where an interracial couple could live with some degree of freedom and safety.

Johnson took a job as an art teacher at the Harlem Community Art Center. Transitioning from expressionism to a a sophisticated style of "folk art," characterized by simplicity, flat figured and bright colors. Some of these works, including paintings depicting black soldiers fighting on the front lines as well as the segregation that took place there, served as commentaries on the treatment of African Americans in the U.S. Army during World War II.

In 1941, a solo exhibition was held for Johnson at Alma Reed Galleries. The following year, a fire destroyed Johnson's studio, leaving his artwork and supplies reduced to ashes. Two years later, in 1944, Johnson's beloved wife of 14 years, Krake, died of breast cancer.

 After her death, Johnson became increasingly unstable. He was eventually hospitalized at Central Islip State Hospital, a psychiatric facility in Central Islip, Long Island, New York. He would spend the next 23 years of his life, away from the attention that he'd garnered for his artwork. He died there in 1970.

 After his death, his entire body was work was almost disposed of to save storage fees but at the last moment, was rescued by friends. Over a thousand paintings by Johnson are part of the Smithsonian Collection of American Art.

William H. Johnson. [Internet]. 2015. The website. Available from: [Accessed 18 Mar 2015].

Saturday, March 14, 2015

#Pi Day

Today is a rare and thrilling ‪#‎PiDay‬: Once in a century (well okay, twice today, given AM & PM) the month/day/year/hour/minute/second reads 3.141592653—the first 10 digits of pi. But nonetheless, some would-be revelers will be disappointed. 

A whole page about the importance of Pi:

32s32 seconds ago
It's ! Show up early—we're opening at 9:26 a.m. (you know, as in 3.1415*926*53…) to kick off the celebrations!

It's also Einstein's Birthday - understand his theories through a magical, charming story written for children:

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Terry Pratchett dead at 66

Three Twitter posts on Mr. Pratchett’s account on Thursday described his demise in imitation of his fiction.

 “AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER,” the first said. “Terry took death’s arm and followed him through the doors and onto the black desert under the endless night,” the second said.

The third said simply, “The End.”

It may be the eve of St. Pat's day but this part Irish woman is not smiling. Terry Pratchett is dead at 66 and the world just became a lot more glum and a lot less interesting.

 They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it's not one half so bad as a lot of ignorance. Terry Pratchett

He created the world that I wanted to live in and whose characters are as dear to me as my family. In many ways, they were the family that I would have chosen, Rincewind, the luggage, the Wyrd Sisters..

 He was a class act all the way - honest about having Alzheimer's, courageous enough to say he would chose euthanasia when the time was right and working, delighting, creating right up to the end.

He even tweeted his own obit:

Many have picked up on the fact that Pratchett's Twitter account actually tweeted a link to a press release announcing his death. In fact, shortly after the author's death, four messages appeared, one after the other, creating a short-short story. The last tweet said, appropriately, "The End."

There was nobody like him:

Quotes to remember:

 For those who want the lowdown on St. Patrick's day festivities:

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Calligraphy piece

To show or not to show, that is the question. In April, Anna Conti will be having a show at her gallery. This is an older calligraphy piece but it's some of my best lettering.

However, the piece is large, the poem by an unknown poet and when you add an equally unknown artist (me), the effort to lug it out there doesn't seem worth it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Hero Dog Awards

Hudson and 2 siblings at just 3 weeks old were found nailed to the railroad tracks in Albany, NY. Hudson's paw was cut off. After lifesaving treatment for Hudson and Pearl (sadly, Carina did not make it), they became known as the Railroad Puppies.

After surgeries it was decided that Hudson was a great candidate for a prosthetic limb. Hudson became one of the first dogs in New York State to be fitted with a prosthetic paw. (Google “The Railroad Puppies" and you can read the entire story).

After Hudson adopted us I knew he was special and could do great things and spread awareness about animal cruelty. I got him in training with the goal of Hudson and me becoming a “Therapy Dog Team”. We DID!!! Now we visit schools, hospitals, adult day care facilities and we are now also hospice volunteers visiting with patients and their families. We try to teach the children and everyone we meet that just because you’re different, you are still special in your own "Wooftastic" way.

Hudson brings smiles to everyone he meets. I believe in my heart Hudson deserves this award for not only overcoming adversity but for the love and joy he brings to others. Hudson the Railroad Puppy is changing hearts and minds about the pit bull breeds, one at a time. Thank you for your consideration for this prestigious award.

More background:

The “railroad puppy” Hudson is nominated for a national award Please vote for him! via

Sunday, March 8, 2015

'Letters to Afar' at the Contemporary Jewish Museum

Entering the darkened gallery at the Contemporary Jewish Museum where “Letters from Afar” is showing is like entering a time capsule made up of your grandfather’s home movies.   Young girls with 20’s bobbed hair smile at the camera, another young woman applies makeup. Young men pose in front of a car, children tumble out of school, full of life and mischief. Other images portray the traditional world of the Hasidim and the Shtetl – men wearing the top hats and the forelocks of Orthodox Jews. The clips recall the tumbledown wooden houses and synagogues of impoverished villages and their threadbare residents.

 One film was made by the great Yiddish linguist Alexander Harkavy, who came to the city of Nowogrudok (now in Belarus) to document how the money raised by his landsmanshaft — a hometown organization abroad — was being spent on orphanages, hospitals, and schools.

These amateur movies, were made in the 1920’s and 1930’s, were shot by American Jews returning to their Polish homeland to visit friends and family. What makes the images almost too painful to watch is the knowledge that a decade or two later, those who remained in Poland would be dead.

These people, excited to see a relative from America and delighted by the new found ability of the camera to capture their images on film, have no idea of what awaits them. Continued at the link...

International Women's Day

Today is International Women’s Day, celebrating women and the achievements they’ve made economically, politically, socially, and beyond around the globe. In 1909, America observed National Women’s Day for the first time. It was a tribute to the 1908 strike where 15,000 women, demanding better working conditions and equality, marched through New York City. This year’s theme is ‘Make it happen.’ (Photo by Charlotte Fairchild)

Happy #InternationalWomensDay from MHN. Read "Bomber Girls: The Women Fliers of WW2"

Christine de Pizan & City of Ladies make it happen for International Women's Day. #IWD2015 Harley 4431 @BLMedieval

Google Doodle

Saturday, March 7, 2015

It's Caturday

Lots of great new shows this week - openings at the de Young, the Chinese Cultural Center, Anne Weber at Dolby Chadwich and more..

but I would be thrown out of the (dis)honorable society of cat lovers if I didn't post this link in honor of Caturday:

Cats actually do enjoy music, but they prefer songs that sound like they were written with them in mind.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin created music that matched the same frequency range of cat vocalizations — about an octave or more higher than humans, reported Discovery News.

And a sample of the music:
Thanks to "As Time Goes By" .

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

David Park at Hackett Mills Gallery

David Park's works (1911-1960) at Hackett Mill.

He started out as an abstract expressionist, But Park's rejection of the canon of 1940's abstract expressionism brought him a new painterly freedom, a freedom to explore figuration which was brought short by his death at an early age of cancer.

He later reflected, “As you grow older, it dawns on you that you are yourself – that your job is not to force yourself into a style but to do what you want. I saw that if I would accept subjects, I could paint with more absorption, with a certain enthusiasm for the subject which would allow some of the esthetic qualities such as color and composition to evolve more naturally.”

His artistic ascent was made despite decades of financial hardship and, after a terrible 1942 accident at his night job at the General Cable company, severe back pain. It was only a year or two before his death that Park told his friend Dorothy Baker that "at last he'd found how to paint." Park, who died at 49 of cancer, made his best works at the end of his career.

He never attended high school and didn't finish college. He studied briefly at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles but was essentially a self-taught painter. Highly respected by his peers, he taught at the California School of Fine Arts – now the San Francisco Art Institute – between 1946 and 1952 and was a member of the faculty at the University of California at Berkeley between 1955 and 1960. What he took from the zeitgeist of the time what the idea that painting was moral act, that the act of creativity mattered.

Lydia Sewing, 1955

Each painting represents a different theme - people walking, pouring coffee, waiting for the bus, at the beach. Painted with heavy impasto, each one ignores the typical division of space for a more architectural treatment - an arm curves into the air around a canoe, bisects a table while pouring coffee, a couple of bathers stand below a shimmering horizon receding into the distance.

Massive figures dominate - archaic forms as timeless as the Kouri of ancient Greece. But his men and women are human, painted with warmth and color, not anguished creatures screaming of the painter's own demons.

Woman with a coffeepot. 1958

Nancy Boas' "A Painter's Life" (on sale at the gallery)  offers countless fascinating insights into Park and his development, including revelations about the artists who he was exposed to and influenced by early on. Who knew, for example, that 19-year-old Park had been present at a 1930 lunch given for the visiting French artist Henri Matisse? Park must have loved the loved the advice that Matisse offered to the throng of California artists: "Talk less. Work more." In the same year Diego Rivera and his wife Frida Kahlo spent over six months in Northern California, and Boas reports that Park soon after began to experiment with encaustic after seeing Rivera's encaustic paintings in the homes of friends and acquaintances.

These nine paintings leave the viewer wishing that Park had been given more time to "talk less and work more."

Hackett Mill. Hackett|Mill, 201 Post Street, Suite 1000, San Francisco, CA

Nancy Boas. "A Painter's Life"

Images courtesy of Hackett Mill.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

St. David's Day

In honor of the Welsh side of my ancestry

St. David, the patron satin of Wales;

Cardiff Bay is a pivotal setting for the adventures of Doctor Who and Torchwood – here’s how to walk in Peter Capldi, David Tennant and Matt Smith's foot steps

There's even a Google Doodle: