Sunday, July 31, 2016

Ramona Soto at the Sonoma Holistic Center

I met Ramona years ago as part of a new defunct Artists Round table organized by Anna Conti who has since moved out of state. But Ramona and I have remained in touch and she was one of the few who came by with help when I was prostrate in the hospital after my stroke and even visited me at home - that was a rare treat.

I am glad to see that discouragement by those fixated on an almost Victorian idea of realistic painting and drawing hasn't prevented her from continuing to work and learn. Her work is currently up at the Sonoma Holistic Center. The drawing attached is merely a sample of the show.
Photo and Interview by Virginia Green

Do you know the way to San Jose?

Interesting show - the large irregular bundle of yarn reminds me of the work of Judith Scott of Creativity Explored

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Henry Moore

Apollo Magazine: The Long Tradition of Hating Henry Moore .. 

The Tate: Lumpy and bumpy....

National Gallery of Art.

The enigma of Henry Moore...Critics have tended to underestimate Moore’s contradictions and complexity.

Henry Moore at the BBC..

Friday, July 29, 2016

'Claudy Jongstra: Aarde' at SFMOMA

Visiting San Francisco? See "Claudy Jongstra: Aarde", on view through April 2, 2017, at SF MoMA, featuring Jongstra's monumental, site-specific mural installation comprising hand-dyed wool. Jongstra trained as a fashion designer and subsequently took up the art of felt making; she raises sheep and handpicks the wool she uses in her art.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Happy Birthday to Beatrix Potter

Beatrix Potter at her farm Hill Top in the Lake District, 1913. Photograph: AP
Years ago the BBC did a wonderful series on her life. They did not skip over her difficult and snobbish parents, her battle for recognition and her eventual happy marriage. Actually I don't remember reading those books as a child but when I "discovered" them as an adult, I was charmed by the illustrations and the tiny size, apparently designed by Potter to fit childish hands.

Her difficult life:

Guns, class war and a transvestite cat: what a new Beatrix Potter story reveals about the author: Doppelgängers and transvestites, guns and gangsters, secret lives: these are not the first things that come to mind when considering the work of Beatrix Potter. Yet the creator of Peter Rabbit and Hunca-Munca once wrote a story that featured all of them:

Treats for her 150th birthday party:

BeatrixPotter’s 150th birthday, looking at Peter’s + Jemima’s #medieval predecessors …

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Dede Wilsey steps down....maybe

Courtesy NY Times
While Ms. Wilsey has done a lot for the museums, she has also demanded a lot back - venturing from the role of Chairwoman of the Board to autocratic ruler. It looks like she is stepping down from that position but the reluctance of any to comment shows how much power she still holds.

The last few years have been tumultous ones at the FAMSF with the unexpected firing of respected curator Lynn Orr and a number of financial scandals along with Ms Wilsey's giving several of the de Young's prime ground floor galleries to show her son's mediocre photography collection.

Lynn Orr: Since January, each morning visitors to the venerable Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco line up to catch the newest star attraction, Vermeer’s enigmatic painting “Girl With the Pearl Earring,” on the first stop in its American tour.

The article on the firing of Ms Orr during the successful run of Dutch masterpieces at the de Young. "Yet Lynn Orr, the curator who helped arrange this exhibition coup, is not on hand to see its success. In November she was abruptly fired after 29 years, a departure that is one in a series of unsettling developments that have turned what are among the most popular museums west of the Mississippi into objects of contention and anxiety." In 2012, the Legion of Honor's "let go" curator Lynn Orr in an unceremonious and unexplained fashion. . The museum has been leaderless since since its late director, John Buchanan, died at the end of 2011 and plagued with more than its share of problems.
Orr, a brilliant and widely respected curator of European art, hasn't been at work since Nov. 20, and although no one is saying why, colleagues fear she's been given the ax.

"When contacted, Orr declined to comment. A museum board meeting, scheduled for December, has been postponed until March 2013."

Trevor Trania and his photography collection showcased at the de Young: From my blog in the 2012 wrap up of “the good, the bad and the ugly.”

"The ugly was the most blatant example of nepotism ever seen in San Francisco's checkered art history. In fact, it was so blatant that every art writer in the Bay Area commented on it."

"Several of the de Young's prime, first floor galleries hosted a mediocre exhibit of photographs, belonging to Trevor Traina, a member of high society, collector wanna-be and FAMSF board trustee. He is the son of the president of the board, Dede Wilsey. Enough said."

Report on that from Sura Wood:

From my blog in 2013:

More on the back ground of her controversial payment to an “ailing staffer.”

Monday, July 25, 2016

Thomas Eakins

Thomas Cowperthwait Eakins (July 25, 1844 - June 25, 1916) was an American realist painter, photographer,[2] sculptor, and fine arts educator. He is widely acknowledged to be one of the most important artists in American art history. In this image: A person views Thomas Eakins' "The Gross Clinic," at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia, on Jan. 5, 2007. To help finance a $68 million deal to keep the masterpiece in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts said Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2007, that it has sold another Eakins painting, "The Cello Player."

Back in 2010, I wrote about  him when LACMA was displaying “The Wrestlers:

Realism in the United States: The Gross Clinic


Here is a link to an article that claims that Eakins was a latent homosexual - based on his paintings of male nudes. I don't buy the argument - painting nudes of both sexes was common practice before the advent of abstract expressionism but it's interesting to read how a critic can take apart a painting and read something into it that most of us never think about.

Concordia Undergraduate Journal of Art History: Naked and Exposed: A Historical, Psychosexual and Comparative Analysis of Thomas Eakins’s Masterpiece, The Swimming. by Laurie Figliano

Images from Wikipedia/Creative Commons

Friday, July 22, 2016

Happy Birthday, Edward Hopper, a great American painter

I see that the de Young will be having their Friday Night Festivities, but I prefer to celebrate the day by looking at Edward Hopper's glorious work and reflecting on his life and talent.

Born July 22, 1882, Hopper struggled for many years before selling his first painting (1911 for $250).

The popularity of "Nighthawks" has meant that it's been turned into kitsch, showing up in t-shirts, coffee cups and the ubiquitous dorm poster. But all that cheap popularity has not lessened its power. The inspiration for the picture may have come from Ernest Hemingway's short story The Killers, which Hopper greatly admired, or from the more philosophical A Clean, Well-Lighted Place. In keeping with the title of his painting, Hopper later said, Nighthawks has more to do with the possibility of predators in the night than with loneliness, (Wikipedia)

Nighthawks. 1942

"Hopper deliberately shows his people from outside, at unguarded moments, bored or dreamy, rarely engaging with the painter's gaze. They are caught flatly, as in the photographic moment, with all the mystery of their thoughts intact, avoiding the layered intrusion of portraiture. More importantly, they are merely small components of a bigger picture. What really interests Hopper, and what makes him a great painter, is his wider subject--not individuals but the human species, perching here on the immensity of earth. Hopper is a painter who shows us how we look in the perspective of the wide, inhuman spaces beyond our inhabited thresholds. And his ordinary people (like the sunlight-worshipping woman in Morning Sun) are caught looking out from their little lives at the beyond, just as he does. " New Statesman (1996) 133.4689 (May 24, 2004): p38(2). From Expanded Academic ASAP.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Stanley Kubrick at the Contemporary Jewish Museum

The Contemporary Jewish Musum (CJM) is presenting a comprehensive and thoughtful look at Kubrick’s work, one of the most significant filmmakers of the last 100 years. It’s a real “this is your life” Stanley from his early photographs for Look magazine, taken in the 1940s, his 1953 debut, "Fear and Desire” film noir, to his last rather incoherent work with Tom Cruise (given Cruise’s bizarre "religion" and control freak nature, how much of the film’s miss steps are Kubrick and how much Cruise would be a good master’s thesis).

Photo Credit: Melanie Samay
Approximately 800 objects are on view, including annotated screenplays, production photography, lenses and cameras, set models, costumes, and props. Famous items include the little dresses of the sisters from The Shining, the survival kit from Dr. Strangelove, and the ‘Born to kill’ helmet of Private Joker from Full Metal Jacket, and a model of the centrifuge from 2001: A Space Odyssey. There are missives and memos, letters of complaint and production budgets, storyboards scribbled on whatever was to hand. Each film has an area, with visual and audio installations as well as props and costumes, including the togas from Spartacus and the 18th century costumes from Barry Lyndon.

These objects and more are part of “Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition,” which opened at CJM on Thursday, June 30, and will continue through Oct. 30, a show that occupies the museum’s entire second floor.

Among the exhibition’s sections is one on the film “The Aryan Papers,” a Holocaust drama that came so close to being made that Kubrick cast Dutch actress Johanna Ter Steege in the leading role. But the film — which he researched for two decades — was never made.

In an interview with Pam Grady at SF Gate, director Lori Star remarked on 2001, A Space Odyssey. “Scholars are calling "2001" his most Jewish film, and we’re asking scholars to tell us what’s Jewish about it, and we’re asking the public to tell us what’s Jewish about it,” Starr says. “I’ll just say that Stanley Kubrick called it his most Jewish film. We know two things: He was fascinated by the concept of the unknowable and how Jews don’t say the name of God, don’t even write it.” The CJM notes Kubrick’s connections to Jewish culture and concerns, from his upbringing in a middle-class Jewish home, to his interest in Jewish intellectual writers as a young man, to characterizations in his films, from Kirk Douglas in “Spartacus” and “Paths of Glory” to Peter Sellers in “Lolita” and “Dr. Strangelove.”

The museum has partnered with both the YBCA, the Alamo Cinema and the SF Symphony to present Kubrick films and related programs.

Related programs at the CJM:

Free First Tuesday Documentary: Color Me Kubrick
August 02, 2016 @ 01:00PM
Lectures + Gallery Talks: Stanley Kubrick, Futurist
August 11, 2016 @ 06:30PM
Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition Gallery Chats: Rodney Hill on A Clockwork Orange
August 12, 2016 @ 12:30PM
Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition Gallery Chats: Geeta Dayal on Electronic Sound in Kubrick Films
September 09, 2016 @ 12:30PM
Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition Gallery Chats: Jamie Metzl on Futurism and Kubrick
October 14, 2016 @ 12:30PM
Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition Gallery Chats: Rabbi Aubrey Glazer on the Kabalistic poetry of Kubrick
October 28, 2016 @ 12:30PM
Stanley Kubrick Exhibition Closes
October 30, 2016 @ 05:00PM

Kubrick in Black and White at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
Spotlighting the early and mid-career of Kubrick, we see the artist evolve from a highly skilled, street-level photographer to the brilliant, meticulous creator of some of the most ambitious and powerful films in cinema history. CJM Members receive a special discount to YBCA screenings.

Thursday, Jul 21, 7:30pm | Fear and Desire (+ short films) (1953, 35mm, 62 min.)
Saturday, Jul 23, 7:30pm | Killer’s Kiss (1955, 35mm, 67min)
Sunday, Jul 24, 2pm & 4pm | Fear and Desire (+ short films) & Killer's Kiss (1953, 35mm, 62 min.) and (1955, 35mm, 67min)
Thursday, Jul 28, 7:30pm | Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964, 35mm, 95 min.)
Saturday, Jul 30, 7:30pm | Lolita (1962, 35mm, 95min.)
Sunday, Jul 31, 2pm & 5pm | Lolita & Dr. Strangelove (1962, 35mm, 95min.) and (1964, 35mm, 95 min.)

See for tickets and details.

Kubrick in color at Alamo Drafthouse New Mission

Picking up the baton from the YBCA’s Kubrick in Black and White series, the Alamo Drafthouse at the New Mission focuses on Kubrick’s career from 1968 to 1999.
Learn More:
Saturday, Aug 13 | The Shining (1980, 144min.)
Wednesday, Aug 31 | Eyes Wide Shut (1999, 159min.)
Sunday, Sep 4 | Barry Lyndon (1975, 187min.)
Wednesday, Sep 7 | Full Metal Jacket (1987, 116min.)
Sunday, Sep 18 | 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, 142min.)
Saturday, Sep 24 | A Clockwork Orange (1971, 136min.)

The San Francisco Symphony Presents 2001: A Space Odyssey
The San Francisco Symphony Presents 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, 142min.)
Feature film with the score performed live by the San Francisco Symphony. 
Learn More>>
Thursday, Oct 13 | 8pm
Friday, Oct 14 | 8pm 
Saturday, Oct 15 | 8pm
See for tickets and details.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Kenneth Clark's Civilization

If you want to watch something other than the endless televising of the GOP Yahoo's at their convention, Kenneth Clark's Civilization is up on uTube - all 13 episodes. Given what's happening today, his hymn to the survival and great works of Western Civilization comes as a salutary reminder that we have been to the edge before .. and survived. Let's hope that if the Barbarians breach the walls, we do so again.

Erudite, patrician and opinionated, Clark is not to everybody's taste and many have criticized his points of view but it's better than anything on TV now, educated a whole generation in the classical point of view and reminds us (if we need reminding) of the great gifts Western Civilization has to offer. 

The series:

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


" Yesterday i spent the whole day in the studio of a strange painter called Degas," Parisian man of letters Edmond de Goncourt wrote in his diary in 1874. "Out of all the subjects in modern life he has chosen washerwomen and ballet is a world of pink and white...the most delightful of pretexts for using pale, soft tints." Edgar Degas, 39 years old at the time, would paint ballerinas for the rest of his career, and de Goncourt was right about the pretext. "People call me the painter of dancing girls," Degas later told Paris art dealer Ambroise Vollard. "It has never occurred to them that my chief interest in dancers lies in rendering movement and painting pretty clothes." Smithsonian

Degas loved to deflate the image people had of him, but his words ring true, expressing his love for the grace of drawing and the charm of color. As a student Degas dreamed of drawing like Raphael and Michelangelo, and he later revived the French tradition of pastels that had flourished with the 18th-century master Chardin. But like his contemporaries, Manet, Cezanne and the Impressionists, he lived in an age of photography and electricity, and he turned to aspects of modern life--to slums, brothels and horse races--to apply his draftsmanship. Bathing nudes became a favorite subject, but he once compared his more contemporary studies to those of Rembrandt with mocking wit. "He had the luck, that Rembrandt!" Degas said. "He painted Susanna at the bath; me, I paint women at the tub."

At the ballet Degas found a world that excited both his taste for classical beauty and his eye for modern realism. He haunted the wings and classrooms of the magnificent Palais Garnier, home of the Paris Opera and its Ballet, where some of the city's poorest young girls struggled to become the fairies, nymphs and queens of the stage. As he became part of this world of pink and white, so full of tradition, he invented new techniques for drawing and painting it. He claimed the ballet for modern art just as Cezanne was claiming the landscape. The writer Daniel Halevy, who as a youth often talked with Degas, later noted that it was at the Opera that Degas hoped to find subjects of composition as valid as Delacroix had found in history.

Essay at the Met: 

At the races:

Monday, July 18, 2016

August 2016 at the GLBT History Museum

A full line up at the GLBT center for August

August Museum Programs Highlight
Queer Theater, Erotic Photography, Dance Music  
San Francisco -- The program series set for August 2016 at the GLBT History Museum will highlight LGBTQ theater as well as homoerotic photography from the 1940s to the 1960s and the brilliant performance of San Francisco's greatest disco diva. Events take place at the museum at 4127 18th St. in San Francisco. For more information, visit

Happy Monday

Some things seldom change (found on twitter). People have liked cat pictures since for ever.

This tabby cat painted by Horatio Couldery is wishing you all a happy Monday!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Rembrandt was born on this day in 1606

After yesterday's boring art preview at the de Young (Ruscha), I turn with great relief to Rembrandt, whose birthday we celebrate today. Arguably one of the greatest painters in Western history, his blend of humanism, compassionate look at the human condition and technical skill never pale on the attentive viewer.

The Windmill, 1641. An etching by Rembrandt, the greatest artist of the Dutch Golden Age, born #onthisday in 1606

REMBRANDT Harmenszoon van Rijn. "Portrait of a Man Rising from his Chair", 1633. Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati.    
A perfect day to take a closer look at Rembrandt’s painting of “Bathsehba with King David’s letter” 
An self-portrait in his prime.   

Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem, 1630 @rijksmuseum Rembrandt, b #OTD 1606 …

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

'Between Worlds' at Arc Gallery

Michael Yokum of Arc Studio and Gallery and Jack Fischer of Jack Fischer Gallery have curated a thoughtful show, this one dealing with the alienation of those who consider themselves "others" in the America of today. Both black people and immigrants from mainstream American society can feel suspended between two worlds - the world of their birth (often seen in memory as a paradise, although now most destroyed by civil war) and the world they are currently trying to survive in. Originally conceived as a response to the Syrian refugee crisis, the exhibition expanded its range to look at all varieties of being a “stranger in a strange land,” an experience perhaps more wide spread than ever before since the end of WW II. The pieces work on three levels - as art based on a "simple" visual experience, as concept based on the dual language wall texts which are in the all the artists native language and English and as installations as many of the pieces are also three dimensional.

Rodney Ewing: I felt this was one of the most powerful pieces in the show. Rodney's installation is about a slave who was able to escape his masters by building a box and mailing himself North to freedom. Given the murders of black men in the last month, I felt a sadness close to tears, remembering the long bloody struggle for "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" of the black citizens in our country.

The four revolving doors represent African Americans’ continual fight for their rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" in a country where their ancestors were brought by force and worked without mercy. The other piece is “Left Handed Magic,” work based on the life of Henry “Box” Brown who escaped to freedom at the age of 33 by arranging to have himself mailed in a wooden crate in 1849 to abolitionists in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Wanxin Zhang. "Gas Mask." This terracotta warrior, brooding in all his multicolored glory over the studio, is both a homage to China's terracotta warriors and a powerful comment on China's toxic pollution, the cost of China's pursuing modernization and success without thinking of the ethical and ecological consequences. The catastrophe, both potential and present, of destroying the very air we breathe, the breath of life for all beings on the planet, is not limited to China; every industrial nation is facing the same problem - some more successfully than others. The gas mask originated as a response to the use of Mustard Gas in WW I which destroyed the lungs of those exposed to it. As Zhang's warrior so graphically demonstrates, that danger did not end at the armistice of WW I. The Quin warriors, while beautiful, also are a testimony to China's first Emperor, whose tomb was filled with members of his court, his women, grave goods and toxic mercury. He may have taken it with him but our search to do the same will end in destruction that even the most efficient gas mask will not prevent.

Michal Wisniowski. Polish born Wisniowski's posters reference the political posters that were plastered all over Communist Poland, extorting the citizens to even greater effort to build a Communist society. As we know know, what was called Communism was totalitarianism, gray, faceless and oppressive - as well expressed in this work.

Carlos Cartagena came from El Salvador in 1989. The "formative years of his youth were in the 1980's, when his country was beginning to bleed incurably from the wounds of war. Cartagena's “Estatuas de Sal” is part of a "work in progress" called "Silhouettes". The four figures in his painting are a chilling representation of the lives lost in that war, people lost in the maelstrom of that strife, lost to life but not to the memory of those who loved them.

 Maja Ruznic. Bosnia. Woman Washing Feet.

Participating artists: Carlo Abruzzese, Nanci Amaka, Jason Bayani, Natalya Burd, Carlos Cartagena, Rodney Ewing, Michal Gavish, Taraneh Hemami, Golbanou Moghaddas. Maja Ruznic, Michal Wisniowski and Wanxin Zhang

July 9 - August 13
Gallery hours: Weds, Thurs 1-6 pm; Sat 12-3pm or message me to see the exhibition by appointment.

Arc Gallery
1246 Folsom St., SF

Another look at immigration and immigrants by James Fellows (Atlantic Monthly)

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Happy Birthday Camille Pissarro

July 10, 1830. Camille Pissarro (10 July 1830 - 13 November 1903) was a French Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist painter born on the island of St Thomas (now in the US Virgin Islands, but then in the Danish West Indies). His importance resides in his contributions to both Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. Pissarro studied from great forerunners, including Gustave Courbet and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. He later studied and worked alongside Georges Seurat and Paul Signac when he took on the Neo-Impressionist style at the age of 54.

 Pissarro is called the father of Impressionism; he exhibited paintings in all eight Impressionist exhibitions and mentored a number of painters, including Cezanne. But he was an outsider, born to a Sephardic Jewish family in St. Thomas when t was a colony of Denmark. Pissarro kept his Danish citizenship always, even though he lived most of his adult life in France. Pissarro married a non-Jewish woman and they had eight children; he was dedicated to his family. His politics and his philosophy were important as well: he was an idealist and an anarchist, believing that government and hierarchies are unnecessary and that all people are equal.

Pissarro was the only Impressionist who made figure paintings in which the worker is the central motif. Pissarro’s lifelong interest in the human condition is unique among Impressionist landscape painters. From his early years in the Caribbean and Venezuela until his death, he produced a vast oeuvre of drawings, paintings and prints dedicated to the human figure. He was also a committed reader of radical social, political and economic theory. His profound knowledge of social philosophy, which informs much of his art, far exceeded that of any other significant painter of the period.

Bio at Wiki here
Complete Works
Pissarro On-Line