Friday, September 30, 2016

Happy Rosh Hashanah to all my Jewish friends

Happy Rosh Hashanah to all my Jewish Friends. The illustration is from the works of Arthur Szyk, one of the greatest, if not the greatest, illustrator of the last100 years. For more on Arthur Szyk, check out the Arthur Szyk society web page:

Szyk: His brush was his sword:

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Alhambra theater becomes an art installation for one night.

Photo: Minoosh Zomorodinia

I may be one of the few left who remembers the glory days of the Alhambra Theater, a Polk Street movie theater patterned after the Moorish palace in Spain. At one time, SF had a couple of these and the decor was often more mesmerizing that whatever movie was playing at the time.You paid a small fee, got your popcorn and were transported to the world of cinema, enhanced by your glorious surroundings.

But the days of the movie palaces passed and first the theater poorly divided into two theaters, where you could hear the sound track bleed through the cheap dry wall dividing what had been a commodious space. Then it became a gym which seems to be what happens to these beautiful old spaces these days when they can't be turned into expensive condos.

For for one night, thanks to curators Lynn Marie Kirby and Christoph Steger, both professors of fine art at the California College of the Arts, the space will be used for a video intervention and performance. They won't be showing movies from Hollywood's heyday but a 15-minute video, excerpts from movies shown there between the Alhambra’s grand opening in 1926 and its closing in 1996.

The public is invited to help activate the project by partaking in choreographed movements based on the films

Or stand still and watch a cycle of six videos. “The project celebrates cinema and exercise in the Alhambra Theater,” says Kirby.

Another part of the project is a neighborhood video tour with 17 stops accessed by a mobile app put together by Sam Elie.

“The Alhambra Project”: 7-10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30. Free. Alhambra Theater/Crunch Gym, 2330 Polk St., S.F.

History of the Alhambra Theater

San Francisco Landmark:

Wilsey triumphs again

No real surprises here. I just hope the new director can prevent any further excesses of the Empress Dede..

Monday, September 26, 2016

Jean-Louis André Théodore Géricault born this day in 1791.

Raft of the Medusa:
Jean-Louis André Théodore Géricault (26 September 1791 - 26 January 1824) was a profoundly influential French artist, painter and lithographer, known for The Raft of the Medusa and other paintings. Although he died young, he became one of the pioneers of the Romantic movement.

Portrait of a Black Man. Could have been painted yesterday
Study of a Male Torso, 1811
'With the brush we merely tint, while the imagination alone produces color'

Théodore Géricault also had a particular fondness for cats. Today he'd be tweeting cute cat pix.

Controversy over the "Raft of the Medusa" 

Things to know about the "Raft of the Medusa"

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Anthony Hernandez at SFMOMA

Evie, LA, 1962
Young Mexican Men, LA, 1952
Hernandez was born and raised in East LA, the son of a machinist and a meat packing worker. Following two years of study at East Los Angeles College and two years of service in the United States Army as a medic in the Vietnam War, Hernandez took up photography in earnest around 1970. His early work emulated the street photography of Gary Winogrand, although his work is far less impulsive and more focused on the social landscape of LA, highlighting the cultural difference of class and race. From the gritty to the graceless, there is little that escaped Hernandez's discerning eye.

The show at SFMOMA of approximately 150 photographs inaugurates the museum's new Pritzker Center for Photography. The exhibition presents the full scope of Hernandez’s long and prolific career, from his original focus on urban decay and angst to his current work with images which are more surrealistic and abstract. His debt to Bruce Conner (also due a retrospective in October at SFMOMA) is understated but emotionally tangible; if it's not the apocalypse now, it certainly will be later.

Hernandez (NY Times) “Some people ask, ‘What's so important or compelling about taking pictures of such unpleasant subjects like city dwellers?’ … My work may be beautiful or it might not be, that just isn't what I am concerned with. I try to be open and face the city. … To me it's not unpleasant or unbeautiful, it's just life – which has to be threatening sometimes if it is going to be interesting."

Discarded #50
 All images courtesy of SFMOMA

Anthony Hernandez
On View: September 24, 2016 — January 1, 2017

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
151 Third Street
San Francisco, CA, 94103

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Caroline Herrerra - 101 years old and finally getting her due

Have women artists finally come into their own. One swallow...etc. We are still battling for that first step on the ladder and artists like Herrerra should not have to wait to turn 100 to be "noticed." Even though she's getting long over due recognition, most of the articles focus on her age, not her art. NY Times

From NPR: For most of her career, Carmen Herrera's paintings of brightly colored geometric shapes went unnoticed, while her male counterparts — Barnett Newman, Ellsworth Kelly and Frank Stella — got plenty of attention for similar work. Herrera finally made her first sale at 89. And now, at 101, it seems she's getting her due at last. The Cuban artist's work can be seen at the Tate in London, MoMA in New York, and she has an exhibition coming to the Whitney Whitney Museum of American Art in September.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Greek Food Festival at the Annunciation Cathedral

Greek Island. Watercolor by Nancy Ewart

Whether you dream of visiting the Acropolis in Athens, or swimming off the shores of sunny Mykonos, you can get the best Greek food in the Bay Area at Annunciation Cathedral’s own A Taste of Greece, the only Greek festival in San Francisco.
Souvlaki, Gyros, Moussaka, Spanokopita – all of your favorites will be there along with live music and traditional dance performances. The food is lovingly cooked by members of the local Greek community and it has the genuine taste of Greece, served with smiles and gratitude. Because the Cathedral has not been finished, the courtyard where they usually have booths full of Greek themed goods is closed but I was assured that it will be open by next year.

A Taste of Greece | 2016 San Francisco Greek Food Festival
September 16, 17 & 18, 2016
– Friday: Noon to 10 pm
– Saturday: Noon to 10 pm
– Sunday: Noon to 8 pm

Annunciation Cathedral, 245 Valencia Street, San Francisco
FREE with ticket (although we got in without one);otherwise, there will be a fee for admission at the door (in past years it was $5).

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Sofia Carmi at the Mosser Hotel

23m23 minutes ago San Francisco, CA
Sofia Carmi with her geometric abstract painting at for the…

Van Gogh, Grapes

The complementary colors in this work reinforce each other’s intensity. ‘Grapes’ Sept - Oct 1887.

How Van Gogh was portrayed on an episode of Dr. Who: Open Culture

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Jill Magid: The Proposal - opening at the SFAI

What happens to an artist's legacy after his death?

In his will made prior to his 1988 death at age 86, in Mexico City in 1988, Mexican architect Luis Barragán designated two people to manage his legacy, with his friend and fellow architect Ignacio Díaz Morales to identify an institution for his library. Díaz Morales established the foundation managing the Casa Barragán. Fundación de Arquitectura Tapatía which owns (in co-ownership with the Government of the State of Jalisco) Luis Barragán's former private residence in Mexico City: Luis Barragán House and Studio. The house is now a museum which celebrates Barragán and also serves as a conduit between scholars and architects interested in visiting other Barragán buildings in Mexico, including Capilla de las Capuchinas and Casa Prieto López.UNESCO added the Casa Luis Barragán to its World Heritage List in 2004. (Wikipedia)

But a portion of Barragán's estate, his professional papers and the copyright was bought in 1995 by a Swiss furniture executive and have not been made available to the public. Furthermore, Vitra, the Swiss company, claims copyright to all images of Barragán's work, including current photographs of the buildings he designed.

"Researchers have been denied access, and even the use of images of Barragán’s buildings is carefully controlled. Among those who study twentieth-century architecture, the inaccessibility of Barragán’s archive and the bizarre conditions of its custodianship have become almost as much of a preoccupation as his buildings." (New Yorker Magazine). 

After hearing about this, American conceptual artist, Jill Magid, felt this silencing of an artist's legacy was untenable. With the family's permission, Magid exhumed Barragán's ashes and had them made into a two-carat diamond engagement ring.

In The Proposal, now on view at the San Francisco Art Institute, Magid presents Federica Zanco, director of the Barragan Foundation (sans accent), Swiss home of the archive since 1995, with a two-carat diamond engagement ring made from Barragán’s ashes. Magid asks: Will Zanco accept “the body” of the man in exchange for the return of “the body of work” to Mexico?

The bare bones of the show - two vitrines with various documents, a floral tribute modeled on Mexican Day of the Dead, a film and even the diamond make the viewer reflect on the questions of intellectual copyright, corporate control, even the commodification of an artist's legacy. 

San Francisco Art Institute 
Walter and McBean Galleries 
800 Chestnut Street 
San Francisco, CA 94133
United States 
Hours: Tuesday 11am–7pm,
Wednesday–Saturday 11am–6pm

Walter and McBean Galleries, San Francisco Art Institute
Sept. 9 – Dec. 10, 2016

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

RIP Ruth Braunstein

From the Chronicle:

Ruth Braunstein, one of San Francisco’s most prominent art dealers of the past several decades, died Tuesday night, Sept. 6, after a short illness. Her death was confirmed by her daughter, Marna Clark. She was 93.

Mrs. Braunstein was a purveyor of contemporary art when there was little market for it in the Bay Area, and an early champion of such artists as painters John Altoon and Mary Snowden. She was particularly supportive of artists who worked in clay, taking the so-called “craft” medium of ceramics seriously and building an audience for the work of Peter Voulkos, Richard Shaw and Robert Brady, among others.
Born Ruth Gershkow in Minneapolis in 1923, the daughter of a Russian immigrant furrier, Mrs. Braunstein came to San Francisco with her husband, Theodore Braunstein, in 1960. She started her first gallery in Tiburon in 1961 with $500 borrowed from her husband; her influential Braunstein/Quay Gallery opened in San Francisco in 1970. Her last gallery closed in 2011.

Mrs. Braunstein is credited with co-founding the San Francisco Art Dealers Association; Art Care, a nonprofit organization that works to preserve public sculpture and other civic art in San Francisco; and the California chapter of ArtTable, an organization of professional women in the visual arts..

Charles Desmarais is The San Francisco Chronicle’s art critic. Email: Twitter: @Artguy1

Monday, September 5, 2016

Labor Day

Thomas Hart Benton, "Corn and Winter Wheat," 1948, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift (Partial and Promised) of Helen Lee Henderson in memory of Helen Ruth Henderson, Founder, HRH Foundation

Today is Labor Day, which is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It is a yearly tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. How will you celebrate Labor Day?

Ring Your Bell for Rosie the Riveter this Labor Day. Thanks! Plain and Simple is organizing bell ringing around the country including at The Netherlands Carillon in Arlington, Virginia. Join in today at 1:00 pm to ring bells in honor of all the Rosies from World War II. Bells will ring in Philadelphia, San Francisco, Maryland and London. For more information about the event please visit No matter where you are remember to ring your bell at 1pm in honor of all the Rosies.

Top Labor Day Songs:
Pete Seeger's live version of "Which Side Are You On?" - a song written by Florence Reece in 1931- was released on 'Pete Seeger's Greatest Hits' album in 1967. Reece was the wife of Sam Reece, a union organizer for the United Mine Workers in Harlan County, Kentucky. In 1931, the miners of that region were locked in a bitter and violent struggle with the mine owners called the Harlan County War.

The bloody origin of Labor Day (and the many labor struggles since then):

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Diane de Poitiers

Today's birthday celebration is, for once, not an artist, but a woman of power and influence in 16th century France. Today's news trivia is all about how she hastened her death by drinking an elixir containing gold. There are far more important things about Diane de Poitiers than her death at the age of 66 due to drinking an elixir containing gold. Although she was 20 years older than the king, Henri II, she captured his favor and kept it until his death. Given the lethal sexual politics of any monarchy, that was no small feat. Her downfall came after Henri’s death when Catherine de Medici exacted her revenge.

Diane possessed a sharp intellect and was so politically astute that King Henry II trusted her to write many of his official letters, and even to sign them jointly with the one name HenriDiane. Her confident maturity and loyalty to Henry II made her his most dependable ally in the court. Her position in the Court of the King was such that when Pope Paul III sent the new Queen Catherine the "Golden Rose", he did not forget to present the royal mistress Diane with a pearl necklace. Within a very short stretch of time she wielded considerable power within the realm. In 1548, she received the prestigious title of Duchess of Valentinois, then in 1553 was made Duchesse d'Étampes. The king's adoration for Diane caused a great deal of jealousy on the part of Queen Catherine, particularly when Henry entrusted Diane with the Crown Jewels of France, had the Château d'Anet remodeled for her, and gave her the Château de Chenonceau, a piece of royal property that Catherine had wanted for herself. However, as long as the king lived, the Queen was powerless to change this.

After Henry died, Catherine moved in for the kill. Luckily for Diane, Catherine "settled" for the chateau and not Diane's life.

Henri II's mistress, Diane de Poitiers–born OTD 1499–and killed by her desire to look young… …

Friday, September 2, 2016

Happy Birthday to Romare Bearden

Happy Birthday to a pioneer of African-American art, Romare Bearden:

I wrote about him back in May, 2011:

From the NY Times, 1997: COLLAGE is the most important innovation in art of the 20th century, and this can be said with confidence because there is nothing parochial about the medium. It has attracted international artists and has been adapted to all styles of two-dimensional work. Some artists, of course, have used it only occasionally, but one master of collage who relied on it was Romare Bearden (1912-1988).

Back in 1997, the Whitney Museum's branch in Stamford exhibited some of Bearden's small collages, as precursors of a fascinating and little-known development, a series of 28 black and white ''photomontage projections'' that Bearden made in 1964.

The collages that are the seeds of the projections are compositions of paper, photographs and paint put on boards measuring 8 1/2x11 inches. The imagery was then fixed with an emulsion applied with a handroller. After drying, the collages were simply enlarged photographically in black and white, and mounted on Masonite.

Because they are photographs they don't have edges or seams that distinguish collage, but they retain its disparate quality. Some are big enough to put a viewer in mind of murals; the dimensions of one are 4x6 feet. It's a simple process but has wide ramifications.

As many advertisers recognize nowadays, simple black and white can have real punch and urgency. Viewers are not beguiled by tints and hues so are likely to pay attention. Perhaps that's why Picasso painted ''Guernica'' without color.
Bearden's achievement was likewise born of a sense of immediacy, and of electricity in the air. When he conceived his series, the civil rights movement had just gained strong impetus from the civil rights march on Washington led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the summer of 1963. In her essay for the show's catalogue, Gail Gelburd notes that the event was seen flickering on countless black and white television sets.

The march inspired black intellectuals, writers and artists to form a group called Spiral; Bearden was elected secretary. Spiral aimed to recreate the spirit of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920's, but the members didn't want to be viewed merely as black artists. As Ms. Gelburd writes, ''They sought acceptance within the mainstream while paying respect to their heritage.''

This mandate was well-suited to Bearden. His biography recites a dizzying list of accomplishments. For instance, while in college at Boston University he played baseball in the Negro League and then earned a degree in mathematics from New York University.

He began his art career as a political cartoonist while also being employed as a social worker. After serving in the Army during World War II, he studied philosophy in Paris on the G.I. Bill. He returned to the United States in the early 1950's and after a brief career as a writer of popular songs he turned to painting in the Abstract Expressionist mode.

Many things displayed in the photomontage projections might be accounted for in this list: Bearden had an intense interest in people, including the teeming masses, and the works at the Whitney are chock full of humanity.

His Abstract Expressionist period, from 1954 through 1962, no doubt fixed in him the predilection to mix things up, to make bumptious compositions and to alter scale to his own expressive purposes. At the same time, Bearden's understanding of mathematics might have played some part in the preciseness, the just-right quality, that underlies the visual welter of a given work.

Influenced and inspired by these experiences and occupations, not to mention friendships with many cultural giants including Duke Ellington, Ralph Ellison and James Baldwin, Bearden could enter sentimental territory and not get caught in it.
Two projections in which he recalls his origins --''Mysteries,'' set in North Carolina, and ''Pittsburgh Memories,'' the city where he spent his boyhood -- are distinguished by extreme close-ups of faces that carry the drama. The faceting, the geometric break-up of the faces of the two boys who confront the viewer in ''Pittsburgh Memories,'' is inspired by African masks and what is described as primitive art in general.

Bearden incorporates such references with great sophistication and a range of meaning. The visual jumble of each of the protagonists' faces is much like extreme scarring, and reflects a rough and dangerous growing up.

Perhaps the key to what Bearden accomplished in the projections is that, while they can allude to folk art, and familiar allusions can draw a viewer into a work, they are not folk art. Bearden's friend, the writer Albert Murray, says tantalizingly in an interview in the catalogue: ''Bearden's very special awareness of the ritualistic dimension of stylization saved him from genre, from just being provincial.'' ''When you turn the raw experience into a style, the style becomes the statement.''
If viewers accept that style is the key, they can appreciate its varieties: the rhythmic angles, for example, that dominate ''Spring Street'' and bring Analytical Cubism and Stuart Davis to mind, versus the seeming chaos of ''The Dove,'' in which the bird, once found, is the composition's calm center.

The photomontage projections may have been a brief chapter in Bearden's career, but they led to the large-scale collages that he made for the rest of his life and for which he is becoming widely recognized.

William Zimmer, 1996, NY Times

2016 Art Break Day

2016 Art Break Day | SF Bay Area

Friday, September 2, 2016 - All Day | Cost: FREE   
Create-With-Nature Cart | 1028 Market St, San Francisco, CA

2016 Art Break Day | SF Bay Take a break from your day to be creative and make your own art using free art supplies in San Francisco, Berkeley, Palo Alto, Martinez and communities nationwide on Friday, September 2, 2016.

Art Break Day is a free community art event where the public is provided the opportunity and space to create art for free. All ages and art skills are welcome.

2016 Art Break Day Bay Area Locations
All locations are open from 9 am to 5 pm unless otherwise indicated.

San Francisco, CA / Create-With-Nature Cart / 1028 Market St
Berkeley, CA (11 am to 5 pm) / Corner of Vine and Shattuck
East Palo Alto, CA / San Mateo County Libraries / 2415 University Avenue
Half Moon Bay, CA / San Mateo County Libraries / Moon Ridge Bookmobile Stop
Half Moon Bay, CA / San Mateo County Libraries / 225 S. Cabrillo Highway, Suite 104B
Martinez, CA / Art of Health and Healing / 2500 Alhambra Avenue

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