Saturday, December 31, 2016

Farewell to 2016

Die happily and look forward to taking up a new and better form. Like the sun, only when you set in the west, can you rise in the east. Rumi

Tonight at sunset walking on the snowy road,
my shoes crunching on the frozen gravel, first

through the woods, then out into the open fields
past a couple of trailers and some pickup trucks, I stop

and look at the sky. Suddenly: orange, red, pink, blue,
green, purple, yellow, gray, all at once and everywhere.

I pause in this moment at the beginning of my old age
and I say a prayer of gratitude for getting to this evening

a prayer for being here, today, now, alive
in this life, in this evening, under this sky.

(This poem is from David Budbill's 2005 collection, While We've Still Got Feet.) Website.
Found via 12/31 post on "As time goes by"

Artwork @ Nancy Ewart. Inspired by photos by Nina Savich and Elizabeth Hopkins

Friday, December 30, 2016

Han van Meegeren

It seems appropriate that, as we end this year with the prospect of dealing for four years, with one of the most unethical men ever elected to the presidency, that today is also the birthday of another unethical forger.

Except that Han van Meegeren did not cause bodily harm, unlike what is coming at us with the force of a tsumani

December 30, 1947. Han van Meegeren (10 October 1889 in Deventer, Overijssel - 30 December 1947 in Amsterdam), born Henricus Antonius van Meegeren, was a Dutch painter and portraitist and is considered to be one of the most ingenious art forgers of the 20th century. In this image: 57 yr old Dutch painter Han van Meegeren, left, seen in the defendants box before the Amsterdam court, Oct., 1947, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Van Meegeren is charged with fraud for faking pix of the old masters Vermeer and Pieter De Hooch, signed them, and sold them for Approx $700,000. From left to right: Van Meegeren, an X-Ray screen to prove falsifications, and public prosecutor Dr. H. Wassenbergh. In the rear is The Last Supper.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Born this day in 1896: David Alfaro Siqueiros

December 29, 1896. David Alfaro Siqueiros (born José de Jesús Alfaro Siqueiros, December 29, 1896, in Chihuahua, Mexico - January 6, 1974, in Cuernavaca, Morelos) was a Mexican social realist painter, known for his large murals in fresco. He, Diego Rivera, and José Clemente Orozco established Mexican Muralism. He was also a Stalinist and member of the Mexican Communist Party who participated in an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate Leon Trotsky in May 1940. In this image: David Alfaro Siqueiros, 73, Mexican muralist, painter and activist, is shown in Mexico City, Mexico, on Sept. 10, 1970.

Images from Wikipedia


Debbie Fisher RIP

This is beautiful. Debbie and Carrie singing in the rain. May the force be with with you both.
I suppose every year sees the death toll of beloved public figures but this year seems worse than most.

Notable deaths in 2016 from the LA Times: LA Times

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Carrie Fisher, RIP

I am ready to see the end of this year. First the whole line up of entertainers that I loved, starting with Alan Rickman, then, the Republic that I cherished and now, Carrie Fisher as well.


Monday, December 26, 2016

Happy birthday Maurice Utrillo

December 26, 1883. Maurice Utrillo (born Maurice Valadon (26 December 1883 ? 5 November 1955), was a French painter who specialized in cityscapes. Born in the Montmartre quarter of Paris, France, Utrillo is one of the few famous painters of Montmartre who were born there.

Although his life also was plagued by alcoholism, he lived into his seventies. Maurice Utrillo died on 5 November 1955 in Hotel Splendid in Dax of a lung disease, and was buried in the Cimetière Saint-Vincent in Montmartre.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Happy Holidays to All Religions

Andrew Bixler, Creativity Explored       

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Contemporary Jewish Museum on Christmas Day

Ben Shahn, Menorah, National Gallery of Art
This is the time of the year that everybody comes out with their 10 best. I will have to look back on my notes to see what strikes me as worth remembering - it's not been a very good year. But right now, the Contemporary Jewish Musum has another one of their knock out shows. Forget the oversized geometric pieces of Stella at the de Young and go over the the CJM where the show, "Inherited Memory" looks at memories imprinted in our DNA . The diverse works by the show's 24 artists don't reflect their own memories, but haunting evocations of the past, often tragic events.

Alien Souvenir Stand British artist Ellen Harvey
The Contemporary Jewish Museum is the only Bay Area museum open on Christmas Day with a full day's worth of programs and workships for families. Admission is free on Christmas Day

The Contemporary Jewish Museum's Community Day is an admission-free, fun-for-all extravaganza that has become an annual tradition for Bay Area families. Explore the galleries, create art, and move and groove to live music! Bring your family and friends and enjoy an exciting day at The Museum.

ADMISSION: Free Museum admission all day

The current show, “From Generation to Generation: Inherited Memory and Contemporary Art” looks at the memories of 24 artists working via the imagination, collective DNA, knowledge - whether of family or history - of the Holocaust, struggles for social justice in the past.

Neo Bustamente, Kevlar
Such a broad topic could have made for a very uneven show but the painfulness of the memories and the present reality of war and bigotry and violence give the works an extra sharp edge and poignancy. Director Lori Star speaks of rememberance and transformation, more important now than ever, as fake hate and racist news and violent bigotry are breaking through the thin crust of civilization.

This exhibition expands on the groundbreaking work by Dr. Marianne Hirsch on postmemory, defined as “the relationship that the ‘generation after’ bears to the personal, collective, and cultural trauma of those who came before—to experiences they ‘remember’ only by means of the stories, images and behaviors among which they grew up.   

Bernice Einstein, Genizot
One of the most powerful testimonies to the horror of the past is Lisa Kokin’s “Inventory” (1997), a history of ordinary people told through the ordinary objects they would have left behind. Simple things such as buttons, keys, broken glasses, found in thrift shops and flea markets, are encased in hog gut squares, a golden organic repository, lined up along one whole wall - a memorial to honor their stolen lives.

In whimisical Alien Souvenir Stand British artist Ellen Harvey imagines an Earth no longer occupied by humans but used as a tourist destination for extraterrestrials. Repurposing a hot dog stand as a postcard souvenir stand for the aliens, the artist articulates a complicated system of pillars, or columns, favored by the humans that no longer exist. Harvey decided to focus on the pillar as subject when visiting Washington DC from New York and recognizing that pillars and neo-classical architecture in general have been loved and used by people throughout history with various meanings. The aliens have been left to interpret this strange architecture for themselves.

David "Chim” Seymour has written a line from John Updike: "What is the past, after all," he laments, "but a vast sheet of darkness, in which a few moments, picked apparently at random, shine?"

The artists include Christian Boltanski, Nao Bustamante, Binh Danh, Silvina Der-Meguerditchian, Bernice Eisenstein, Eric Finzi, Nicholas Galanin, Guy Goldstein, Fotini Gouseti, Ellen Harvey, Aram Jibilian, Loli Kantor, Mike Kelley, Lisa Kokin, Ralph Lemon, Rä di Martino, Yong Soon Min, Fabio Morais, Elizabeth Moran, Vandy Rattana, Anri Sala, Wael Shawky, Hank Willis Thomas, and Chikako Yamashiro. 

Japan).all images courtesty of the CJM. 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Celebrating Masaccio

From "The Tribute Money"
Interesting that he was born on the same day as my sister in law, but quite a few years earlier. This marvelous painter is not one that we study any more; Renaissance art, other than Leonardo and Michaelangelo is out of style.

Masaccio (Italian: [maˈzattʃo]; December 21, 1401 – summer 1428), born Tommaso di Ser Giovanni di Simone, was the first great Italian painter of the Quattrocento period of the Italian Renaissance. According to Vasari, Masaccio was the best painter of his generation because of his skill at recreating lifelike figures and movements as well as a convincing sense of three-dimensionality. Masaccio died at twenty-six and little is known about the exact circumstances of his death.

The name Masaccio is a humorous version of Maso (short for Tommaso), meaning "clumsy" or "messy" Tom. The name may have been created to distinguish him from his principal collaborator, also called Maso, who came to be known as Masolino ("little/delicate Tom").

Despite his brief career, he had a profound influence on other artists. He was one of the first to use linear perspective in his painting, employing techniques such as vanishing point in art for the first time. He also moved away from the International Gothic style and elaborate ornamentation of artists like Gentile da Fabriano to a more naturalistic mode that employed perspective and chiaroscuro for greater realism.

Most images from Wilkipedia

Monday, December 19, 2016

Happy Birthday to Su Tung-p’o (aka Su Shi)

Calligraphy by Su Tung-p’o

There is a long list of famous people born today but this Chinese poet's delicate melancholy spoke to me

"Su Shi (also known as Su Tung-p’o) lived in China over 900 years ago during the Sung Dynasty, yet the poems in this collection feel strikingly fresh and contemporary. Burton Watson’s sympathetic translations wonderfully capture the spirit of this humble poet and civil servant whose strength and compassion remained constant through times of both prosperity and adversity. Some of the poems’ recurrent themes include the passage of time as revealed by seasonal change, nights of drinking and conviviality, visits to area temples, and journeys up mountains and down rivers. According to Watson’s informative introduction, Su Tung-p’o’s poems also included more detailed observations of the natural world than are typically found in the poems of his predecessors or contemporaries." (from the blog A Reading Life, link below)

As evening clouds withdraw a clear cool air floods in
the jade wheel passes silently across the Silver River
this life this night has rarely been kind
where will we see this moon next year
(translation by Red Pine)

Mountain Path in Spring by Ma Yuan
Will a moon so bright ever arise again?Drink a cupful of wine and ask of the sky.
I don't know where the palace gate of heaven is,
Or even the year in which tonight slips by.
I want to return riding the whirl-wind! But I
Feel afraid that this heaven of jasper and jade
Lets in the cold, its palaces rear so high.
I shall get up and dance with my own shadow.
From life endured among men how far a cry!

Round the red pavilion
Slanting through the lattices
Onto every wakeful eye,
Moon, why should you bear a grudge, O why
Insist in time of separation so th fill the sky?
Men know joy and sorow, parting and reunion;
The moon lacks lustre, brightly shines; is al, is less.
Perfection was never easily come by.
Though miles apart, could men but live for ever
Dreaming they shared this moonlight endlessly!
Su Tung-po

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Happy Birthday Paul Klee

December 18, 1879. Paul Klee (18 December 1879 ? 29 June 1940) was a painter born in Münchenbuchsee, Switzerland, and is considered to be a German-Swiss. His highly individual style was influenced by movements in art that included expressionism, cubism, and surrealism. He was also a student of orientalism. In this image: Katze und Vogel, 1928, oil on ink on canvas on wood, Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Ancient Test

Temple Garden

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Paul Cadmus

Interesting that Cadmus, a famous painter of suggestively erotic men was born on the first day of Saturnalia.

 December 17, 1904. Paul Cadmus (December 17, 1904 ? December 12, 1999) was an American artist. He is best known for his paintings and drawings of nude male figures. His works combined elements of eroticism and social critique to produce a style often called magic realism. He painted with egg tempera. In this image: The Fleet's In! (1934), by Paul Cadmus. Oil on canvas. The painting is on public display at the Navy Art Gallery, Washington Navy Yard.

Active since the 1930s as a renderer of pretty boys and ugly ploys, Cadmus has spent many remarkable decades honing a singularly complex style of idealized sexuality...."

Friday, December 16, 2016

Robinson Jeffers, 'Shine, Perishing Republic'

Robinson Jeffers, 'Shine, Perishing Republic'

Shine, Perishing Republic

While this America settles in the mould of its vulgarity, heavily thickening to empire
And protest, only a bubble in the molten mass, pops and sighs out, and the mass hardens,
I sadly smiling remember that the flower fades to make fruit, the fruit rots to make earth.
Out of the mother; and through the spring exultances, ripeness and decadence; and home to the mother.

You making haste haste on decay: not blameworthy; life is good, be it stubbornly long or suddenly
A mortal splendor: meteors are not needed less than mountains: shine, perishing republic.
But for my children, I would have them keep their distance from the thickening center; corruption
Never has been compulsory, when the cities lie at the monster's feet there are left the mountains.

And boys, be in nothing so moderate as in love of man, a clever servant, insufferable master.
There is the trap that catches noblest spirits, that caught – they say – God, when he walked on earth.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Evard Munch

December 12, 1863. Edvard Munch (12 December 1863 - 23 January 1944) was a Norwegian Symbolist painter, printmaker and an important forerunner of expressionistic art. His best-known composition, The Scream, is part of a series The Frieze of Life, in which Munch explored the themes of life, love, fear, death, melancholia, and anxiety. In this image: A man look passes by the artwork 'Galloping Horse' (1910-1912) Norwegian artist Edvard Munch (1863-1944) during a press preview at the Leopold Museum in Vienna, Austria, 15 October 2009. The exhibition 'Edvard Munch und das Unheimliche' ('Edvard Munch and the Uncanny') ran from 16 October 2009 to 18 January 2010.

Wikipedia here

The Art Story

The Smithsonian: Beyond The Scream




Saturday, December 10, 2016

Art in local Bay Area museums in December

Untitled (Silueta Series, Mexico), 1976. “Mendieta formed a silueta on the beach at La Ventosa, Mexico, filling it with red tempera that was ultimately washed away by the ocean waves. The artist documented the obliteration of the figure by the tide in a sequence of 35 mm slides.” (35)
The Films of Anna Mendieta at the Berkeley Art Museum:

The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive presents "Covered in Time and History: The Films of Ana Mendieta." During her brief career—just fourteen years, between 1971 and 1985—the Cuban-born American artist Ana Mendieta (1948–1985) produced a stunning body of work that included performances, drawings, sculptures, installations, and photographs.

Frank Stella at the de Young and Bruce Conner at SFMOMA

"Frank Stella: A Retrospective" is the first comprehensive US exhibition of the artist’s work since 1970. In 1959, at the age of 23, Stella (b. 1936) burst onto the New York art scene as an already mature artist with his now-legendary series of black paintings, which served as a pictorial manifesto of the artist’s assertion that a painting was “a flat surface with paint on it—nothing more.”

The museum visitor could not ask for a great contrast in styles and philosophy than the two retrospectives now up in San Francisco; Frank Stella at the de Young and Bruce Conner at SFMOMA. Stella specializes in bright, bold, non-expressive art, just right for that expensive loft, big corporate office or museum wall. He was crowned "Art King of NY" right out of art school and has consistently remained popular.

Bruce Conner, courtesy SFMOMA

Conner’s prolific career, spanning the mid-1950s to his death in 2008, is now on view in SFMOMA’s mammoth retrospective "It’s All True." Over six decades, he worked in nearly every media available to artists of his generation, purposely defying both market forces and easy categorization. As soon as he gained recognition for a certain style (as was the case with his early assemblages), he had a tendency to abandon that style completely. He even “ended” his own art career by declaring himself dead on two separate occasions.

Legion of Honor: The Brothers Le Nain: Painters of 17th-Century France

Saint Jerome. The Brothers Le Nain. courtesy FAMSF
The Fine Arts Museums present the first major exhibition in the United States devoted to the Le Nain brothers—Antoine (ca. 1598–1648), Louis (ca. 1600–1648), and Mathieu (1607–1677). Unmarried and childless, the brothers lived and worked together.

If you've never heard of the 17th-century French painters the Brothers Le Nain, you're not alone. The lack of familiarity with these old masters could well be a function of the fact that the artists – Antoine, Louis and Mathieu – haven't had a show on American soil in 70 years, or anywhere else since 1979. That absence has been somewhat alleviated by a new exhibition at the Legion of Honor organized by the Fine Arts Museums that, in conjunction with the Louvre and the Kimbell Art Museum, has assembled 40 of the 60 or 70 existing paintings by the siblings, drawn from disparate collections around the world, including two created as altarpieces for Notre Dame Cathedral. The exhibition is supported by serious, not to mention voluminous, scholarship, with a five-lb. catalogue to prove it

Legion of Honor: Through January 29, 2017

The Art of the Ramayana at the Asian

Hanuman (the Monkey King) revealing Rama and Sita in his heart. Courtesy Asian Art Museum
The current show at the Asian Art Museum, “The Rama Epic: Hero, Heroine, Ally, Foe" is an attempt to bring the Ramayana to the Western world and make it as colorful and entertaining as only they can. The exhibit explores Hinduism through the art inspired by the Ramayana, one of the oldest and largest epics in literature and still a viable part of the culture of Southeast Asia and the Hindu diaspora. To follow the exhibit closely is to both marvel at the wealth of art inspired by this epic and its vision of what makes a moral person, wife and king but also a crash course in Hinduism.

The battle, the Ramayana

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Gian Lorenzo Bernini

I am a day late but better late than never - Bernini was one of the most important sculptors of the Baroque and it's important to pay tribute to his genius. An earlier piece I did when Bernini's Medusa "visited" San Francisco:

December 07, 1598. Gian Lorenzo Bernini (also spelled Gianlorenzo or Giovanni Lorenzo) (Naples, 7 December 1598 - Rome, 28 November 1680) was an Italian artist who worked principally in Rome. He was the leading sculptor of his age and also a prominent architect. In addition he painted, wrote plays, and designed metalwork and stage sets. In this image: After a long restauration, the head of the Medusa by Italian sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini was displayed in Rome, on Wednesday 22 November 2006. The sculpture was exhibited in the Capitol museum in Rome until January. The work of restoration emphasized the lights and the shadows on the sculpture.

From Sarah McPhee's book on Bernini and Costanza, his lover, the woman who obsessed him and who he had cruely defaced.

"Bernini was born in Naples, after all: his family settled in Rome when he was five, at a time when the city's artistic world was dominated by tempestuous brawlers (the Bernini clan arrived two years before Caravaggio's fateful tennis match with Ranuccio Tomassoni). McPhee does a great job of bringing that lawlessness to life. Bernini emerges as a hothead swaggerer: a man of supreme arrogance who knows that he can do whatever he likes because no one will dare to touch him. And that's backed up by the aftermath of his attack on Costanza. His servant was exiled; his brother was sent off to safety in Bologna; Costanza herself was immured in the Domus Pia; but Bernini...? Nothing. All that happened was that the Pope wrote to Bernini assuring him of his regard for his dazzling talent and noting that his divine abilities set him above the penalties to be exacted from ordinary men. It's no wonder his own mother referred to him as the padrone del mondo. And yet, again, why should I be surprised? Bernini carved some of the most breathtakingly erotically-charged sculptures in the history of art. It feels unimaginative to refer to the Pluto and Persephone in the Galleria Borghese yet again, but it is such a perfect illustration of the point: look again at the way Persephone's thigh softens into dimples under the grasping pressure of the god's fingers. How can we doubt that Bernini was a man of intense, tumultuous feeling when even his marble sculptures have the sensual pliancy of flesh? "

The Rape of Persephone

St Theresa


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

What to do in San Francisco this December

"Off the Grid" Returns to Justin Herman Plaza

In between the errands, the shopping and sightseeing, all can enjoy the myriad of food trucks located at Justin Herman Plaza, next to the Holiday Ice Rink at the Embarcadero Center. Five food trucks, rotating on a biweekly schedule, will feature everything from Chinese menu items at WoKitchen to Mexican fare from Judie’s Tacos Locos. Noon to 4 p.m.
Through Jan 8, 2017

Courtesy YBCA
Tom Sachs’ Space Program: Europa at the YBCA
Ever imagine yourself exploring space? The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) exhibit of Tom Sachs’ “Space Program: Europa," will fuifill your most creative fantasy. His sculpture exhibition fills the YBCA  with everything needed for astronauts to successfully complete their voyage to Jupiter's distant moon, including the “Mobile Quarantine Facility,” “Mission Control,” the Apollo-era “Landing Excursion Module” and special equipment for conducting scientific experiments.
through Jan. 15, 2017

Bicicleta (Red and Blue). Pablo Calderon, courtesy of Creativity Exlored
Shop for your Christmas gifts at Creativity Explored
Every year, Creativity Explored hosts a Holiday Art Shop featuring artwork by more than 135 talented artists, all of whom have developmental disabilities. This year, the gallery and studio are filled with affordable gifts for everyone including original drawings and paintings, textiles, ceramics, mixed media, and art products such as Modify watches, t-shirts, notecard packs, pencil pouches and pencils, wrapping paper, and journals all featuring artwork by Creativity Explored artists.

The 1886 square-rigger BALCLUTHA.
NPS Photo

On Dec. 10, 2016 , The San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park launches "Celebrations at Sea," The exhbit opens in the Lewis Ark houseboat at 1 p.m. and will continue aboard the 1886 historic sailing ship Balclutha until 4:45 p.m. The program will include live music, refreshments, ornament-making, story time, a ranger talk on historic seagoing holiday traditions, and a visit from a nautical Santa Claus.

Free Community Day at CJM on Dec. 25

There will be special art activities and performances for kids at the Contemporary Jewish Museum on Christmas Day. For adults there is a powerful exhibit, “From Generation to Generation: Inherited Memory and Contemporary Art” featuring the work of 24 international contemporary artists.
Open 11-4. Admission is Free