How to find out a scam binary options robot

Trading is participating or taking part in the financial share markets to perform investing of buying or selling. When a trader wants to achieve success by yielding profit, he or she should approach trading as business. A trader initially should have a plan of what to trade and how to trade. The plan should be so easy and concise so that when it is handed over to another new trader, he or she will be able to execute it properly in an exact way. A successful trader should devote his or her time and effort so that they will succeed in it.

Styles of trading:

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How to find out a scam binary options robot:

There are many ways to find out the software is a scam or legit.

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This is an important tip to make sure when you really want to trade a binary options robot. Because the scammers will not worry about the design of the web page as they never want to spend time and money on it. So, the design of the website is untrustworthy.

  1. No previous history:

There will be no history on the experience and success of the software. Their intention is just to make the traders fool.

There are many advantages and disadvantages in Bitcoin code currency. Let us take a close look at the advantages of bitcoins.

  1. Anonymous and private:

Bitcoin transactions are fully anonymous and private. Bitcoin transactions cannot be easily identified like the transactions in bank. It is very difficult to track the transactions. So, no one can hack our transaction details.

  1. Freedom for payment:

As there will be no bank at all, there will be no holidays or strike. Anyone can transfer bitcoins to any person in any part of the world. There will be no limit for payment.

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The transaction fee is based on the priority of the person. If he wants the transaction to be done immediately, he has to pay a minimal transaction fee. Otherwise, there will be no transaction fee.

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Bitcoin transactions are much secured as there is no intermediary, so that no fraudulent chargebacks will occur.

Disadvantages of bitcoin trading:

Some of the disadvantages of bitcoin trading are connected with its digital and decentralized nature.

  1. Popularity:

Bitcoin trading is not suitable for the uneducated workers. So, it is accepted only by a very small number of users. Many people are not aware of this digital currencies. Only some businessmen is doing bitcoin trading.

  1. Volatility:

It is difficult to predict what will happen next since there are many factors that affect price volatility. The factors like supply and demand will change daily.

  1. Valuation problem:

There will be no one to guarantee bitcoin’s value as it is decentralized. So, this will make loss for many users when supply increases and demand decreases.

  1. Digital nature:

The users are forced to change the bitcoins into currency when they want to purchase somethings in physical stores since it is digital in nature. The users are not allowed to spend outside from the digital platforms.

  1. Fast:

Bitcoin transactions are so fast because there will be no bank transactions. Bitcoins transactions are like an email and it can be done within 10 -15 minutes.

  1. Create our own money:

We can produce bitcoins currency as central government prints their own money. This can be done by a process called “Mining”.

Future Home of Artist As Subject

The gallery will go live December 1, 2006

Call for entries, visual artists:

For an online exhibit of artist’s portraits of/by other artists. I’ll make a permanent home for it on my domain (here), with links to both subject and creator, and send out notices far and wide. It will go up December 1st, 2006.

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Want to submit your painting, sketch or print of an artist? All I need is a digital image. The original stays with you, and all inquiries (including sales) go to you. Look around at your art pals, pick one and do a portrait of them. Or maybe you already have an old painting of a studio-mate hanging around. Here’s what I’m looking for:

– Submission received by Nov. 1, 2006 – no exceptions.

– Any (still) visual medium (including but not limited to painting, pastels, ink, pencil, etching, silk screen, monoprint, mosaics, collage, digital or photographic process) any style, but it has to (obviously) look good on a computer screen, and if it’s abstract you’re going to have to work a little harder to convince me.

– Portraits of contemporary visual artists only. Bonus points if the subject of your piece submits a portrait of you. These are NOT self-portraits!

– Maximum of three entries per artist will be accepted – pick your best ones. (Don’t send more, or I’ll delete them all.)

– Submit by email or snail mail, following these directions:

EMAIL submissions:
-Subject line of email should read: Portraits, Your Name
-Image file is jpg, no larger than 1.5mb (or 72dpi, 8” x 10”)
-Include contact info for submitting artist as well as subject artist (this contact information will be published)
-Include a few lines of text about the image – title (subject), medium, size of original, date, anything else you want to add (optional)
-Email to anna@bigcrow.com

SnailMAIL submissions:
-Burn image/s to a CD. Label CD with your name. (You will not get the CD back – I’ll destroy them all after the project is up.)
-Image file can be any format or size – bigger is better.
-Include printout of contact info for submitting-artist as well as subject-artist (this contact information will be published)
-Include printout of a few lines of text about the image – title (subject), medium, size of original, date, anything else you want to add (optional)
-Mail to Anna Conti, Portrait Project, 1426 – 41st Ave., San Francisco, CA 94122

John Wall

Although John has been doing nature photography in California for more than twenty years, he feels he has barely scratched the surface of the possibilities.

Experience is the best teacher that teaches us everything over time. We should never forget the lessons that the teacher taught us!

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His recent work seeks to explore more deeply a particular place as it changes throughout the seasons, and for practical purposes that means places close to home such as Mt. Tamalpais, Ocean Beach, Pt. Reyes, and the coastlines of San Mateo and Sonoma counties.

He likes to keep his equipment simple and light enough to be carried in a knapsack or backpack since all his work is done in the field. John is an old-school photographer who shoots with a manual-focus film camera that’s been on the market even longer than he’s been shooting in the Golden State — the august Nikon F3. He shoots color slide film, then scans the slides into digital format at 5400 dpi (resolution that smokes any digital 35mm camera), prepares them for printing on his computer, and makes his final prints on an archival inkjet printer.

For more photos,
check out John’s own web site: www.jwallphoto.net

Six artists will be exhibiting at
BigCrow studios during San Francisco Open Studios

October 21st and 22nd, 2006
11am – 6pm both days

1426 41st Avenue (near Judah) in the Sunset District of San Francisco

(check back later in the summer for images of our recent work)

MAP of our location, and other nearby studios from the 2005 event

December 2005

December 29, 2005 (Thursday) – Year End Beginning
Sorry for the lite postings lately. It’s that time of year again. Regular programming resumes next week. (midweek)

I’ve been cleaning out the studio – literally as well as metaphorically: finishing up the last few projects of 2005 (like that commission last week,) giving away old paintings that have had too many shows (without selling,) dusting, washing, reorganizing…

and now I’ve ACTUALLY STARTED (as in, brush-to-canvas) that big project that has been circling my head for two years now. The working title is “time/space” but I’ll come up with something better before it’s done. I took over 300 photos of my models a year ago this month. I’ve been doing some reading in physics, or at least as much of it as you can study without getting into the math. I’ve revised my small sketches again and again. I’m ready. My studio’s ready. Yabba dabba dooooo……

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December 27, 2005 (Tuesday) – Art Fraud

Diacritic reports on the current trend of awarding art prizes and honors to plagiarized images:

“Brigada” by Russian painter M.C. Ombus-Cuznhexov
“Dawn on building Construction” by Vietnamese painter Luong Van Trung
There were several cases this year where award-winning art and photography works have been discovered to be plagiarized. Today VietnamNet reports the latest embarrassment. It was discovered that the painting above by artist Luong Van Trung was for all purposes identical to a painting nearly a quarter century earlier by Russian artist M.C. Ombus-Cuznhexov. The forgery was awarded a bronze-medal at the National Fine Art Exhibition 2005 in Hanoi earlier this month. It was also discovered that the gold-medal winning submission was in fact resubmitted under a different title after winning a cash prize in the earlier Philip Morris competition.

Rest of the story here

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December 22, 2005 (Thursday) – Visiting the San Jose Museum of Art

Your intrepid corresponents: (L to R) Dale Erickson, Bernard Catchings, Anna Conti, David Sumner, Bernie Rauch (photos of Anna & David by Bernard Catchings)

Last weekend I went down to San Jose with some friends to visit the SJ Museum of Art – The “Visual Politics: The Art Of Engagement” show is up through March 5, 2006. San Jose was having a Christmas festival downtown, so it was busy. There was an ice rink just outside the museum, and there were more visitors than I’ve ever seen there before. It’s a friendly museum. Besides the fact that admission is free, they let you take photos as long as you don’t use flash. In an earlier post, I mistakenly said you couldn’t download the podcast, but I was wrong – you CAN download it from the museum website (although it’s a rather clunky format – a folder full of 13 mp3 files, pdf files, and Word docs.) The audio is well done, with different commentators and appropriate music selected for each art work. I listened to it after I got home.

Hanging sculptures in lobby included some Ruth Asawa knitted wires by cafe door (image at left), and a few Dale Chihuly glass pieces, above our heads. This exhibit is drawn largely from the permanent collection.

The show seemed to be organized, more-or-less chronologically. Just inside the entrance were two small gouache pieces, done in 1944 & 1946, by Erle Loran, called “San Francisco Burning” (image at right.)

Dale Erickson : Erle Loran wrote that classic book on Cezanne’s compositions. He went and photographed Cezanne’s motifs and paintings from the 30s in Southern France. He taught for a long time at University of California. His art became very abstract, almost Hoffmanesque. He was a Hans Hoffman student.

Anna Conti : I read somewhere that he threatened to sue Roy Lichtenstein for exhibiting some paintings based on diagrams from the pages of his Cezanne book.

Bernie Rauch : It’s like he had a premonition that the Japanese would bomb San Francisco… that was the scare, at the time, I guess.

“Ascent (Red)”, 1962 by Frank Lobdell oil on canvas (image left)
Anna Conti : This is pretty powerful, but I prefer his newer work, with all the brightly colored symbols…
Dale Erickson : I like his early work – it’s got more guts.

“Berlin”, 1989 by David Best (image above right, photo by Bernard Catchings)
Anna Conti: I think this is the guy who did all those death carriages and art cars up at the di Rosa preserve. (He also built the Octavia temple.)
Bernie Rauch : Man, look at that frame… I like the black hood on top… it’s probably the German eagle underneath.

“Raft of the Grand Wizard”, 2003 by Travis Somerville oil & collage (image at left)

Bernie Rauch : Oh, this is really strong. He’s taken the old “Raft of the Medusa” and reworked it.
Anna Conti : I remember seeing some drawings by this artist at the Catherine Clark gallery this summer – he was working with Southern history in those, too.
Dale Erickson : You should be in this show, Bernie.

“Burnt Out Europe” 1992 by Manuel Ocampa, oil & decal on canvas (image at right)
Bernie Rauch : Wow, look at this one!
Anna Conti : This kind of painting is straight out of the heart, isn’t it?
Dale Erickson : Reminds me of Goya.

Bernie Rauch : Some of this stuff is really bombastic, like that one on the pedestal over there (pointing to Robert Arneson’s sculpture, “Colonel Hyena”, image at left)
Anna Conti : What? You don’t like Robert Arneson? I can’t believe it!
Bernie Rauch : Well, not that one.

“Father and Son”, 2001 by Dinh Q Le, c-print and linen tape, image at right.

Bernie Rauch : It’s woven.
Anna Conti : I’ve seen this technique before, but never done this well.
Dale Erickson : Wow, this is pretty involved…. he used linen tape to back it, probably, and hold it together. You used to do things like this Bernie, with photographs…
Bernie Rauch : Yeah, but I never wove ’em together like this… I’m in the same school, let’s say.

According to the SJMA podcast: Dinh Q Le slices photos and film strips and uses grass-mat weaving techniques. He’s exploring the distortions of memory. (detail at right)

“Rebellions and Revolutions,” 1970 by Irving Norman, oil on canvas, image below left

Dale Erickson: This is Irving Norman… if it wasn’t for his political statements, he would be considered one of the top Bay Area painters.
David Sumner : Wasn’t this at the de Young awhile back?
Anna Conti : I don’t remember this painting, but they do have some of his work in the permanent collection.
Dale Erickson : And the di Rosa has one.
Bernie Rauch : He was in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, that went over to fight Franco. That says a lot. Those guys were really… they were the other extreme from mercenaries.
Anna Conti : Well, he stayed focused on these issues for pretty much his whole life, and I think it isolated him.
Bernie Rauch : Yeah, none of the galleries wanted this.
Dale Erickson : He was a barber – that’s how he made a living.
David Sumner : This kind of work is so labor-intensive…
Dale Erickson : I couldn’t do this, I mean, the intensity of the details and then the negativity of the statement… I mean it’s beautifully done, but…
Anna Conti : Imagine doing a few hundred of these… a lifetime’s worth.
Bernie Rauch : Well, except for the depressing statement, you could do it, Dale.
Dale Erickson : Oh yeah, well, I’d need treatment for depression.

“Nuclear Stockpile,” 1983 by Robert Arneson, mixed media on paper (image below left)
Anna Conti : This is so beautiful…
David Sumner : I didn’t know he did work on paper.
Anna Conti : His drawings and paintings are great – I’ve never seen one I didn’t like.
Dale Erickson : He was a good draftsman.

“Their Freedom of Expression…” 1984 by Enrique Chagoya, charcoal & pastel on paper (image above right, photo by Bernard Catchings)
Bernie Rauch (Reading the drawing): “Ruskies and Cubans out of Central America” heh,heh, and “By the Way, Keep Art out of Politics.”
Dale Erickson : He teaches at Stanford.
Bernie Rauch : Yeah, they must have a good time – everything he does is humorous.

“Resident Alien,” 1988 by Hung Liu, oil on canvas, image below.

Bernie Rauch : This is a current topic – congress just passed that ID act and now they’re turning illegal aliens into felons.
Anna Conti : This is painted by Hung Liu – I had no idea she she ever painted in this style – I’ve only seen her flowery, drip works. Oh, it’s an earlier work. I wonder if the line through the fingerprint is significant?

In the third gallery, there was a beautiful work that looked like a large versions of the traditional cut paper images I’ve seen in Chinatown and the Mission. But this one is made of laser cut steel plates, painted black, and hanging out from the wall by wires, just a little way from the wall. Unfortunately, I can’t read my notes, and don’t know who the artist is, but I remember that she was Latina. (Images below, second one down is by Bernard Catchings.)

Bernie Rauch : After looking at this for a little bit, I went over to read the wall tag, and all of a sudden I realized I was looking at the letters on the card as though they were hanging out in space…

In the center of the middle gallery was a street vendor’s cart, the kind you see all over the Mission, painted on all sides, with jail-yard fencing on the top surface. It’s “Raspado Mojados,” by Judith Baca, a mixed media piece created in 1994, in response to California’s Prop 187, which tried to deny social services to any resident who could not document their legal status. Each side of the cart refers to a different immigration issue.

“Oneiric Song (The Darkening Garden),” 2002 by Tino Rodriguez, oil on canvas (image at left)
Dale Erickson : This is incredibly painted… is it on canvas?
Bernie Rauch : The man’s a master of his medium, yeah.
Dale Erickson : What kind of paint did he use for the fish scales?
Bernie Rauch : It says oil and canvas…
Dale Erickson : It looks like it’s got some glitter in it there on the tail.
Anna Conti : I think he just put tiny white dots down, and then covered them with really thin, saturated glazes.
Dale Erickson : It’s just so meticulously painted…
Bernie Rauch : It crosses different types and genres… surrealist, fantasy, visionary, and he’s got some flying saucers in there, too. This must have taken months of work.

“Semana Santa / Cloning Eve and Geisha”, 2003 by Masami Teraoka (image above)
Anna Conti : This is another one of my favorite painters…
Dale Erickson : What is that stuff on the surface supposed to be?
Anna Conti : It looks like the tears are not on the subjects, but on the surface of the painting – as if the painting itself is ripped and bleeding.
Dale Erickson : Hmm, well, the literalness doesn’t catch up to the execution. I mean, he’s telling a story but I just can’t buy it. The pictorial isn’t convincing.
Anna Conti : What do you mean? You can tell it’s a city, you can tell those are geishas… what kind of information do you need?
Dale Erickson : No, that’s too literal. He’s telling me a story, but I’m not buying it because I’m not interested in how he’s executing it.
Bernard Catchings : If someone told you a story with an accent, you wouldn’t want to listen because of the accent?
Dale Erickson : It’s just badly painted.

Here’s what Masamai Teraoka says about this work, on his website:

This narrative takes place in Venice, Italy. A live cloned mouse, computer mice and a keyboard in the painting symbolize high tech culture while a priest represents historical and ethical viewpoints in the US. Here, cloned Eves, cloned geisha, and cloned samurai are seen visiting Venice. The samurai are Japanese people who have had facial and body surgeries to become a western man and woman. They abandoned their samurai faces and wanted to be western. They not only had facial surgery, but also changed their entire bodies.

I call US culture the “Culture of Unlimited Imagination.” Commercial products in this country thrive endlessly. Americans’ “Overcoming Nature” belief provides continuous national entertainment and constantly brings out new invention. Americans’ drive to become beautiful and for physical fitness by exercise or just by surgically draining fat from their bodies is conceptually unthinkable to a Japanese such as myself.

“Beyond Manzanar” ,2000, by Tamiko Thiel and Zara Houshmand, interactive reality installation (image at left)
Bernie Rauch : Is this interactive? Wow… this is the way people will visit museums someday. Really lazy people. How far can you go in?
Anna Conti : If you find the right door, you can go all the way back to Japan, but then you can’t get home again.
Bernie Rauch : This is amazing…

We went upstairs and left Bernie, to Thiel’s virtual reality. There are three exhibits upstairs right now. Tales from the Kiln: Contemporary Ceramics (image at right), is up until next July.

Inside Out: Selections from the Permanent Collection is also up until July.

It includes “Abode Sanctuary for the Familia,” 1994 bottles, by Mildred Howard, wood, frogstone pebbles, images at left and right.

Sandow Birk’s Divine Comedy is the third gallery on the second floor. It’s a great show, and I’m going back next week to see it again, so I’ll write more about it then. It’s only up through January 8th. From teh SJMA page:

This exhibition features Sandow Birk’s most recent series of prints and paintings, which are based on his contemporary re-translation of Dante Alighieri’s 14th century epic poem The Divine Comedy—a classic work of Western literature that invites readers to tour the Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso with Dante as their guide. However, Birk’s reinterpretation of the tale, which he undertook with journalist Marcus Sanders, is more than a straightforward rendering. In Birk’s Divine Comedy, police helicopters descend upon the streets of Los Angeles, gas guzzling SUV’s overtake the streets of San Francisco, and fast food emblems and corporate logos dominate the American landscape. In over 70 prints and paintings, Sandow Birk crafts an imaginary American narrative that is humorous, yet brimming with political relevance.

After we collected Bernie, we went over to Original Joes for refuling, then walked back across the Guadalupe River to the CalTrain station and our ride home to San Francisco.

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December 21, 2005 (Wednesday) – Delivering a Commissioned Portrait

Yesterday morning I finally finished that portrait I’ve been working on for the last six months. Yesterday evening I delivered it to the client (ragtime musician Virginia Tichenor), at Pier 23, where her husband (Marty Eggers) was playing. Pier 23 is also the scene in Virginia’s portrait. She plays there often and I was attracted to the image of the red wall and black piano next to that window. The musicians hate the window but I liked the way the neon throws colored reflections on everything at night and the way the sun coming through the neon casts broken patches of light on the scene. I’ve shot many photos of that piano over the last few years (incidentally, Pier 23 has Guinness and great seafood) but I was never able to get just the right image. Then one of Virginia’s fans, Lewis Motisher, took the perfect series of photos, and I used them to make this portrait.

I really wanted to get it out of the studio so I could start the new year with a fresh canvas. so I asked Virginia if I could bring it to Marty’s performance. I’m very happy with the way this painting turned out, but it gave me a lot of unexpected problems. I spent months working on the background, especially the red wall – that was honestly the hardest part of the whole thing (you can’t see the layers or color modulations in these photos.) I was pretty sure I’d nailed the likeness – with such strong light on the subject, and it being a profile, that was actually the easiest part. But you never know how the subject will perceive the thousands of little decisions you make when you’re doing a portrait. So I was a little bit nervous about this public unveiling. During a break in the sets, we took it out of the wrapping and set it on a bench in the front dining alcove. It was well-recieved and I thank Hal Krueger for getting some terrific photos of Virginia as she first saw the painting.

Photos (top to bottom, left to right): Virginia sees the painting for the first time (photo by Hal Krueger); Outside Pier 23 last night; Marty Eggers at the piano; Marty’s student, Jared DiBartolomeo, plays during the break; Anna & Virginia with the painting (photo by Hal Krueger.)

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December 20, 2005 (Tuesday) – Mark Your Calendars

While San Francisco may have the fewest children per capita of any major U.S. city, 112,802 children under 18 do call San Francisco home. The mayor (SF Department of Children, Youth & Families), and the SF Examiner have planned a Family Appreciation Day on Sunday, Jan. 8th.

If you have kids, you’ll want to visit the museums that day. If you don’t have kids, you’ll probably want to make other plans.

More than 20 museums all over town are opening their doors for FREE to San Francisco families with children. The list of participating attractions is amazing. These museums and tours literally range from A (Asian Art Museum and Academy of Sciences) to Z (Zeum and the Zoo). Families will find participating attractions in every corner of the city (Chinese Alley Walking Tours and Museum of Modern Art and Conservatory of Flowers), and to suit children of all ages (Exploratorium and the new deYoung). The “rules” are very simple:

• Families can visit one, some, or all of the participating attractions from 11 am to 4 pm on Sunday January 8.

• Adults must accompany children ages 0 to 18 years old.

• Adults must show proof they live in San Francisco. Proof can be a driver’s license, state ID, rent receipt, or utility bill showing their name and San Francisco address. Citizenship or green-card status does not matter.

Pick up the Examiner on Friday January 6 for complete event details.

(Image is “Child looking at Faustina the Elder” from the Mt. Holyoke Art Museum website)

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December 19, 2005 (Monday) – Local Art Museum Podcasts

On Friday I got an email from Andrew Goodrich at SFMOMA about their podcasts:

SFMOMA has released its new podcast series, called SFMOMA Artcasts. Each monthly installment has two parts: an audio zine filled with a variety of short features related to works on view and a tour for a current exhibition meant to be used in the galleries.

Highlights of the current edition:
·Chuck Close and Kiki Smith each discuss their current retrospectives
·Bruce Conner describes how he made his inkblot drawings
·cellist Joan Jeanrenaud responds to Conner’s work in music
·Peter Sarkisian on what those two nude bodies are doing in the box

Our goals in promoting the podcasts are twofold:
1) Encourage you and your readers to download the latest SFMOMA Artcast
and send us feedback on how this series can be improved and expanded.
2) Generate additional ideas that we can pass along to the staff – how can we expand our online content to supplement the museum’s collection to meet the expectations of internet savvy visitors?

SFMOMA is taking questions from the public, to be answered in upcoming podcasts. Email asksfmoma@sfmoma.org if you want to submit a question or suggestion. They’re also looking for submissions from the public, of podcasts, or “Artcasts” as they call them, for the first “Artcast Invitational.” Winning entries will be selected by a jury comprised of SFMOMA staffers and a guest artist. Selected podcasts will be featured in monthly SFMOMA Artcast installments beginning in March.

If you have iTunes, it’s easy – just open the Podcast directory and type SFMOMA in the search bar. If you’re using other audio software, go to SFMOMA’s Artcast page.

While listening to the November podcast – mostly a preview and introduction to the series – I kept searching for an image of Doris Salcedo’s work while they were talking about it, but I was unable to find one. I’m familiar with Chuck Close’s work so I could easily imagine the things he was talking about, but still it would have been nice to see a few images.
Great selection of comments from Chuck Close:

Chuck CLose – “A painting is a record of the decisions an artist makes and you can almost see, as if you were looking over the shoulder of the artist, how one color was placed on top of another and how the image was built.”

Chuck CLose – “Everything you see in the first room (where I’m trying to figure out what it is I’m doing) is a product of trying to make something as different as possible from what I had made when I was in graduate school. When you’re in school, you get rewarded for knowing what art looks like. You get rewarded when you make things that look like art. Trouble is, it must look like someone else’s art, or it won’t look like art. And the dilemma I faced, which is the dilemma every painting student faces when he or she gets out of school is, “where am I in this room?” For lack of a good idea… you don’t know what you want to do, but you sure as hell know what you don’t want to do… I just comstructed a series of self-imposed limitations that would guarantee that I would no longer make that work. the work had been big, loose, colorful abstractions. So I decided to get rid of color, which I had depended on. And since my hand made art shapes, I decided to take the photograph, so the shapes had to be the shapes in the photograph and I couldn’t just make de Kooning shapes over and over….”

Generally, I’m pretty happy with this pod-casting debut from SFMOMA, but I think they need to add images. The SFGate did the best job of an art podcast. Kenneth Baker talks about the work in the de Young’s Modern galleries, while images of the galleries and some individual paintings appear. (Image from the SFGate podcast at right.)

The de Young Museum has produced their own series of monthly podcasts. The first was 12/02/05 (8:38 minutes) and focused on the opening of the new museum. Lots of visitor comments. Andy Goldsworthy talks about his site-specific commission. Most of the speakers are unidentified. Again, no images, except the opening panel. More fluff and less meat than the SFMOMA or SFGate productions. Again – easy to find in iTunes, but if you use other audio software, good luck trying to find the podcast on their web site.

MOAD has made one podcast (no idea when the next one is coming) called “Introducing MOAD” – they just opened, and this is a one-of-a-kind museum, so this first podcast (6:53 minutes) is just what the title says – an introduction that takes you on a virtual tour through the museum. They get bonus points for the music, slide show & video. They pack a lot into 7 minutes. Can’t wait to see their next production. (Click on the link under “Introducing MOAD” on their front page. Image from the podcast at left.)

The San Jose Museum of Art has a podcast guide for their current show, “Visual Politics: The Art of Engagement,” but it’s not downloadable. You have to borrow the free iPods on site, to listen while you peruse the galleries. I hate having someone yammer in my ear while I’m looking at art – I’d rather listen to the commentary before or after the visit. I’d recommend that they make the podcasts available on their web site.

This is new stuff, and these are just the initial offerings from these places. It’ll be interesting to see what the coming year brings. I hope more of them use images the way SFGate and MOAD did. Maybe galleries will offer podcasts about the shows or about their artists? Maybe individual artists will start making podcasts as promotional tools? SFMOMA is on to something with their call for entries.

I’m thinking, “I should try this.” I have all the parts (images, audio clips, software). I just need to figure out how to put it all together. How hard could it be? Actually, making it is easy. Getting it from my computer to yours seems to be the tricky part… I’m working on it, and I hope I have something to show you in a week or so.

Addendum: I just discovered the KQED Gallery Crawl – a monthly video podcast of SF Bay Area art galleries. There are four episodes available so far (none on iTunes for December, yet) each one focusing on a single venue. The November was the “Revenge of the Monster” show at Creativity Explored. October was the Will Wilson show at John Pence Gallery, August was “Social Insecurity” at the Catherine Clark Gallery.

These are really well done, with music, slides with voice-over, and video. They’re available on their web site, as well as iTunes.
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December 14, 2005 (Thursday) – About Curators
Last week when I was at the Legion of Honor, the sale table in the gift shop was piled high with steeply discounted books. I scored a real deal on a little paperback called “Words of Wisdom: A Curator’s Vade Mecum on Contemporary Art”. It’s a collection of very short essays by more than 60 art curators from around the world. They talk about what they do, why they do it, and what’s important about it. Here’s a bit of the publisher’s blurb:

A modern update of medieval trade manuals—the ‘come-along-with-me’ (vade mecum) of medieval craftsmen—Words of Wisdom: A Curator’s Vade Mecum on Contemporary Art is an invaluable guidebook for anyone interested in contemporary art and the practice of curating. In short and concise essays, this compendium presents advice to a new generation of curators from established masters of contemporary art exhibitions who, over the past twenty-five years, have played a crucial role in shaping what we see today, and how we see it. While providing an intimate look at the minds of these master curators, Words of Wisdom also establishes the curator’s craft as an important vocation that has changed tremendously over the past quarter-century. In the course of their musings, the curators offer behind-the-scenes insights into influential exhibitions and institutions and the contemporary art world they represent.

PUBLISHED BY: INDEPENDENT CURATORS INTERNATIONAL, NEW YORK
FORMAT: Paperback, 5 x 8.5 in. / 144 pgs / 100 b&w
ISBN: 0916365603; RELEASE: 2001

As an artist, I found it fascinating to get a look the kind of thinking that goes on at the other side of the gallery/museum walls. Just a quick, more-or-less-at-random google search of some of the contributing curators turned up these gems:

Rosa Martinez – Spanish-born, New York-based independent curator – her chapter from the book

Carlos Basualdo – born in Argentina, recently hired by the Philadelphia Museum of Art – the Philly Inq article

Robert Fleck – Austrian curator posts a manifesto advising, “It has now become absolutely impossible, in moral terms, for any artist, galerist, museum curator or collector, to exhibit any longer in Austria, or to cooperate with any Austrian institution.”

Thelma Golden – Interview with Gothamist – A born and bred New Yorker, Golden is the Chief Curator at The Studio Museum in Harlem.

Olu Oguibe – BOMB interview with this Nigerian artist, writer, theorist and curator

Marcia Tucker – what does a curator’s private web site look like?

Barbara Vanderlinden – born in Belgium, chosen to co-curate the 2004 Taipei Biennial – an article about her co-curator (Amy Cheng) boycotting the exhibition, which was titled, “Do You Believe in Reality?”

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December 14, 2005 (Wednesday) – Generations
My father is in a hospital in Schenectady, NY; maybe having heart surgery today (I’m still waiting to hear from my brother.) It got me to thinking about family, etc…

I have two nieces and five nephews, from 14 to 30 years old, and all but one of them have gone into the arts. And not because of anything I’ve done – I only see them about once a year, or less. Of the fourteen adults in the parent/step-parent/aunt/uncle generation for these kids, only two of us work in the arts. Of the previous generation (ten grandparents) there’s only one.

Is this typical for the U.S. population? Certainly the numbers reflect the post-war baby boom and the subsequent falling birth rate. But is there really such a huge increase in people making a living as “creatives”?

Anecdotal evidence, based on kids I see and work with around here, has made me very pessimistic about the future of the arts. It seems like the majority of young people I’ve encountered in the last ten years lack three necessary attributes for the creative life: focus, contemplation, and original thought. Now I’m sounding like an old fogey, so I’ll just leave it at that and get back to painting.
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December 13, 2005 (Tuesday) – More Updates

I’m locking myself in the studio this week (and maybe next week.) The focus is more on painting and less on looking. It’s a non-verbal process so it’s hard to come up with things to say about it. We’ll see…. something will probably come to me. Meanwhile, I have a couple of items for you:

Yesterday’s SF Chronicle had a great story about one of the hidden gems of San Francisco, the Performing Arts Library & Museum. Plans are under way for a major change, and a bigger public profile, including a name change and new building.

Reader Roger Parodi had a comment about the Dec. 9th post:
“Your note about the Legion of Honor has a Fra Angelico painting as a one illustration of what’s in the collection. Please note that this painting is not currently on view but is in the Fra Angelico show at the Metropolitan Museum in NYC. Thought you’d like to know should anyone ask.”

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December 12, 2005 (Monday) – Music and Painting Update
Many thanks to Heather Robinson, Josh Feldman, Gregg Chadwick, Pamela Heyda, and Jennifer McMackon for their excellent additions to the art song list. I also added links to the musicians. The new songs are:

Pablo Picasso by Jonathan Richman – I Must Be King – The Best of Jonathan Richman
Artists Only by the Talking Heads – More Songs About Buildings and Food
Flash of Green by Ben Graves – Memphis
Blue by Joni Mitchell – Blue
A Case Of You by Joni Mitchell – Miles of Aisles
Painter’s Song by Norah Jones – Come Away With Me
Keep Your Day Job by the Grateful Dead – Dick’s Picks, Vol 6
Mr. Jones by Counting Crows – August and Everything After
Joe the Lion by David Bowie – Heroes

Commentary (from contributors) about the songs:

There’s the classic “Pablo Picasso”, written by Jonathan Richman and made famous by the Burning Sensations who recorded it for Repo Man. You can find his version and a few other covers (including david bowie!), but not the burning sensations version, at the itunes store.

Originally from the Bay Area- Counting Crow’s “Mr Jones” (“Grey is my favorite color…If I knew Picasso I would buy myself a grey guitar and play.”) from the album “August and Everything After.” I used to drive around SF in my old car playing a demo tape from a band called the Himalayans- we knew the drummer. One day I found myself in a record store on Market Street singing along to a song playing over the store’s sound system. I sang along till I realized that it was the Himalayans now known as Counting Crows.

David Bowie’s “Joe the Lion” from “Heroes” is written about performance artist -Chris Burden. (One of my art school friends at UCLA got arrested for pointing a bbgun gun at Chris during an in class performance. That was years ago. Was not surprised to see a similar action happen years later. Well covered in the art blogs.)

For the complete, updated art song list (now on its own page), click HERE.

And for a related post, about musicians who paint, check out Yuppie Punk (via Zeke’s) for names, and examples of painting by David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Paul McCartney, John Mellencamp, Chris Mars, Jon Langford, David Byrne, Marilyn Manson, Jerry Garcia, Bob Dylan, Mickey Dolenz, Robbie Krieger, Tony Bennett, Robert Smith, Jon Anderson, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Ron Wood, Eric Burdon, John Entwistle, Ron Asheton, Janis Joplin, and Grace Slick.

To that list, I would add: Joni Mitchell, Captain Beefheart (Don Van Vliet), Patti Smith, Jonathan Richman, Phil Deal and Mikey Welsh. (And Robert Crumb?)

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December 9, 2005 (Friday) – Art theories, etc

This is a good time to visit the Legion of Honor – I was there yesterday morning, and the place was deserted. I was literally the only person in the 14th – 17th century galleries. This is when you can quietly commune with your favorite paintings. Downstairs, they were setting up the photo show, “After the Ruins, 1906 and 2006: Rephotographing the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire,” which opens next week.

Elsewhere, Todd Gibson pointed to a pair of art-making philosophies as explained by collector Erik Schneider. He compares artists to mathematicians and physicists, with either left-brain calculations or right-brain “13 dimensions” strategies for making art. He feels that the former have dominated the art world for some time, but that the latter are part of a “tidal wave that is coming.” Interesting theory, and I may not have summed it up accurately, so read the whole thing HERE.

A few people responded to my art songs list (below), with good suggestions of their own – I’ll update the list on Monday, so if you have a favorite art song I haven’t included, send it along before Sunday.

Images are from the thinker website:
left: Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn (Dutch, 1606 – 1669) Joris de Caulerii, 1632
right: Fra Angelico (Italian, 1400 – 1455) The Meeting of St. Francis and St. Dominic, circa 1430

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December 8, 2005 (Thursday) – Art songs, art music, music for artists

I’ve been collecting what I called “Art Songs” for a few years, so imagine my surprise to discover that the term “Art Songs” applies to a distinctive musical form, from Northern Europe, as defined on Answers.com :

“Art songs are songs created for performance in their own right, or for the purposes of a European upper class, usually with piano accompaniment, although they can also have other types of accompaniment such as an orchestra or string quartet, and are always notated. Generally they have an identified author(s) and require voice training for acceptable performances. … Of the romantic music era, the art song is considered one of the most distinctive music forms developed. The accompaniment of pieces of this period is considered as an important part of the composition. The art song of this period is often a duet in which the vocalist and accompanist share in interpretive importance. The pieces were most often written to be performed in a home setting although today the works enjoy popularity as concert pieces. The emergency of poetry during this era was much of what inspired the creation of these pieces by Brahms, Schumann, Schubert and other period composers. These composers set poems in their native language. Many works were inspired by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Heinrich Heine. An art song with a German text is often referred to as a Lied.”

This is not at all what I was listening to and looking for. Now I need a new term for my kind of music. I don’t know what to call it, but I can define it as: a nod to visual artists, from musicians, acknowledging our common creative processes, lifestyles, and ways of looking at the world.

With a few exceptions, my collection is mostly rock, pop, folk, & blues (vocal) songs. Including instrumental music would have overwhelmed the list with pieces that (except for the titles) seemed to have little to do with visual art. I realize that some of you may think that description also applies to some of these songs, and you may be right. But it’s my list, and while I’m starting to regret Kenny Rogers’ “If I Were a Painting,” you won’t be able to talk me out of Billie Holiday’s “I’m Painting the Town Red.” (Some of these tracks are available on my iTunes page, HERE.)

COLOR:
I’m Painting the Town Red by Billie Holiday – The Incomparable
Paint It Black by The Rolling Stones – Forty Licks
Paintings In Yellow by Sandra – Paintings In Yellow
Yellow and Blue (Wasted On You) by Shawn Alexis – Yellow and Blue
Painting the World Blue by Marcia Guderian – Mansion On Mars
Pale Purple by Ani Difranco – Ani DiFranco
Grey by Ani Difranco – Revelling/Reckoning
Shades of Brown by James Brown – Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud
Charcoals and Grays by All One Surface – Such Is the Way to the Stars

PROCESS:
Art Is Hard by Cursive – The Ugly Organ
Inside Your Painting by Patty Larkin – Red=Luck
Painting by Numbers by James McMurtry – Too Long in the Wasteland
Painting Outside the Lines by Dan Neal – When the Big Picture Fades
Painting Mailboxes by Mitzi Cowell – 33
Roadside Art by David Wilcox – East Asheville Hardware
Drawing On the Sidewalk by Brady Rymer – I FOUND IT!
Graffiti Limbo by Michelle Shocked – Short Sharp Shocked
Sad Pencil Blues by Big Bill Broonzy – 1937-1940 Part 2: Chicago 1937, 1938
My Pencil Won’t Write No More by Muddy Waters – One More Mile – Chess Collectibles, Vol. 1
Sketchings on a bar room napkin by Lullaby for the Working Class – Song
Empty Canvas by Cary Aria – Obsexed
When I Paint My Masterpiece by Bob Dylan – Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits
Orange Crate Art by Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks – Orange Crate Art
(My Baby Does) Good Sculptures by The Revillos – Totally Alive in London
Procrastination by Madelyn Lavender – Memory Tree

ROLE MODELS & INSPIRATION:
Fine Artiste by R. Crumb and his Cheap Suit Serenaders – R. Crumb’s Music Sampler
Paul Gauguin In the South Seas by Jimmy Webb – Twilight of the Renegade
Hopper Painting by Janis Ian – Janis Ian
Edward Hopper Land by Pop’s Basement – Pop’s Basement
Vincent by Don McLean – American Pie
Vincent Van Gogh by Jonathan Richman – Not So Much to Be Loved As to Love
Picasso’s Last Words by Denny Laine – Choice Rock Cuts
The Monsters of Goya by Deadman – In the Heart of Mankind
Salvador Dali Day by Don McIntyre – Love Goes On (but the Gloves Come Off)
Music for Marcel Duchamp by Markus Hinterhauser – Cage: Works for Prepared Piano
Escher by Teenage Fanclub – Thirteen
Frida K’s Fault by JohNNy SiZZle – JohNNy SiZZle
Jackson Pollack Is Dead by Driftless Pony Club – Janel
Andy Warhol by David Bowie – Bowie at the Beeb – The Best of the BBC Radio Sessions 68-72
Bob Ross the Art of Painting by Transformer Di Roboter – Blacklabel Records Compilation
Mona Lisa by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole – Alone in IZ World
You and the Mona Lisa by Shawn Colvin – A Few Small Repairs
A Mural from Two Perspectives (Whitney Museum) by Duke Ellington – Live at the Whitney

LIFESTYLE. ETC:
Art Class (Song for Yayoi Kusama) by Superchunk – Here’s to Shutting Up
Pictures in an Exhibition by Death Cab For Cutie – Something About Airplanes
Gallery Opening by Bas One – For the Mentally Astute: Theory of a Throw Up
In the Gallery by Dire Straits – Dire Straits
Hanging in the Gallery by The Strawbs – The Very Best of Strawbs – Halcyon Days
Museum by Donovan – Troubadour, The Definitive Collection
I Live for Art by Mark Gould and Pink Baby Monster – Mark Gould and Pink Baby Monster
Pictures and Painting by Jenna Mammina – Under the Influence
Must I Paint a Picture? by Billy Bragg – Must I Paint You a Picture?: The Essential Billy Bragg
If I Were a Painting by Kenny Rogers – Love Is Strange
The Lady Painting by Raz – The Other Side
Painting Pictures of Egypt by Sara Groves – Conversations
A Painter Passing Through by Gordon Lightfoot – A Painter Passing Through
Painter & the Poet by david m. bailey – LIFE
Portrait by Rosanne Cash – Interiors
Subterranean Lovesick Painter by Moes Haven – Svetlana Finds Solace In the Arms of English Men of Letters
The Painter by Neil Young – The Painter – Single
Be My Yoko Ono by Barenaked Ladies – Gordon
Tattoo by The Who – The Who Sell Out
(You Dyed Your Hair) Chartreuse by Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five – Five Guys Named Moe
Psychedelic Lunatic by Madelyn Lavender – Memory Tree

Did I miss anything? Let me know where I can hear it, and I’ll consider adding it to the list.

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December 7, 2005 (Wednesday) – Odds & Ends

“Art, especially live performing art, is one of the essential ways we have to keep tapping into ourselves and the human spirit and keep moving forward.”

-Pamela Rosenberg (who is leaving her her five-year tenure as general director of the San Francisco Opera) in an interview with Steven Winn.

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Danny Gregory wrote a beautiful piece about a couple of self-employed artists, Rick and Brenda Beerhorst, who live the artist’s life, in the best sense of the term. When asked how he manages (with six kids !) Rick said: “The pattern of our lives seems to be we are frequently hanging from that little branch on the edge of a cliff and rescued just before our grip gives out. Living like this is a pain in the ass but it keeps us awake, attentive and appreciative. ”
(Image is Rick Beerhorst’s “Self Portrait with Palette” from his website, “Sprouting Visions”)
– – –

Robert Genn has a valuable story about Chinese image pirates, who are selling the work of more than 2800 artists – if you’re an artist, check this site out to see if you’re one of the “represented artists.”

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David Byrne wrote about how the security guards are part of the art viewing experience (scroll down to November 30th): “The presence of these uniformed bodies slowly gliding here and there cannot be separated from the experience of the shows. I would go so far as to say their presence is a big part of these shows, like it or not. Not a part of the shows anticipated by the artists, I suspect, but in some ways more powerful and resonant than the work on display. Whoops.”

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December 6, 2005 (Tuesday) – Odd Nerdrum, Perverse Humanist

“While we cannot bear to be fully conscious of the disappointments and tragedies, the injuries to our narcissism which reality causes us to suffer, they are revealed to us by the artist. His sensitivity reflects experiences of which we have only been dimly aware, and he makes us face them. In our time, he shows us not only the images of a machine-dominated world which pervades our existence and confronts us with unimaginable dangers, but above all the world’s rejection of our humanity – our impotence and sense of futility in a world which happens without us and takes no notice of our judgments and aspirations. He shows us just how dispensable we have become.”
George Frankl, Civilisation: Utopia and Tragedy

Looking at Odd Nerdrum’s recent paintings, one is tempted to say that he is a special sort of contradiction: an existential humanist and morbid pervert in one. That is, his art affirms the constancy of humanity in an inhuman world – in Frankl’s words, lithe human self-image” in “a world in which the human being had disappeared” – but it does so in a way that reflects the perverse effect of the world’s indifference on the human self-image.

…from Donald Kuspit’s The Rebirth of Painting in the Late Twentieth Century, published by Cambridge in 2000, ISBN 0-521-66553-1

(image from web site: Odd Nerdrum, Recent Works, is “Limbo”, 2005)

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December 5, 2005 (Monday) – Road (and water) Trip

I took the train to Santa Cruz this weekend, and took a boat back to San Francisco (sort of… there was automobile assist in both directions.) Didn’t see much “Art” as it’s usually defined around here, but kept my eyes open and took a lot of pictures, and I’ll share a few of them.

On the way down there we got stuck in the San Jose train station for way too long, waiting for the bus to Santa Cruz. Had plenty of time to stare at this mural on the wall above the ticket counters. It’s not bad, in terms of technique, and composition… I have no idea who the artist was, but the I found the subject matter very puzzling. A wedding party, in an ox cart, being pulled through deep mud (apparently over some mountain pass, because the background shows a valley stretching out below) while explorer-types on horseback survey the scene below and Indian-slave-types tend to the oxen.

This building originally belonged to Southern Pacific, so I assume they commissioned the painting. Did they intend for this image to glorify their trains? Frankly I thought the comparison with the ox cart was apt.

Saturday evening in Santa Cruz they held the Lighted Boat Parade. This was my favorite entry, seen from the Crow’s Nest Restaurant. If this boat was a painting, I’d say it was too busy, but in this context, it was just right.

Then it was on to the Catalyst to hear Robert Earl Keen – great music; the venue sucked. No pictures.

Next day, got on a boat in the bay and headed north. Saw Mark di Suvero’s 60 ft. sculpture, “Sea Change” from a different angle. (I usually see it from the N-Judah) It’s installed in South Beach Park, along the Embarcadero, near the ball park. This work was commissioned by the San Francisco Arts Commission for the Waterfront Transportation Project in 1995.

Later, over in the Oakland shipping channel, near Jack London Square, I was trying to get photos of the big cranes for a painting project, when I saw one of those huge container ships entering the channel. “Well, this is going to be interesting,” I thought – the waterway is not real wide there. At first we thought it might be coming to one of the cranes near the square, but then it was pointed out to me that the ship was riding so high out of the water that it was already unloaded. It moved part-way up the channel, stalled, and then unbelievably, started to turn around.

Actually it was maneuvered around by two tugs, one pushing at the bow and one pulling at the stern. When it was cross-wise in the channel, it completely blocked the waterway.

I was stunned at how close it came to the structures on both banks. All traffic in the channel stopped until the ship was facing back out to the bay.

We slipped past and headed over to the city, just in time to see one of those classic sunsets under the fog.

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December 2, 2005 (Thursday) – de Young Textiles gallery
The textile gallery at the de Young was a revelation to me. The room is filled with masterworks from around the world, and while they’re all impressive, the pieces made by the hunter-gatherers are so intricately made, and so beautiful, that they truly embody the concept of “priceless.” It puts a final nail in the coffin of the myth that industrialization supports a class of artisans who can make work to surpass previous cultures. It’s very dark in that gallery, so photos are nearly impossible. I tried… the one at left is a “Man’s Mantel” from the Ivory coast, dated 1900-1950, made of raffia woven cloth with oblique interlacing, and stitch-resist dyeing. Even if you were unaware of how difficult it would be to make these designs using that process, it’s still an incredible visual art piece. Nearby were a couple of delicate grass “skirts” (only about 12 inches long, so I guess we’re talking mini-skirts) that were tie-dyed to look like animal pelts. There was a muti-layered, felted, quilted chief’s costume that must have taken hundreds of thousands of hours to make – it was impressively scary, even without the chief inside. There was the monkey skull crown adorned with boars’ tusks and painted black – it would look right at home at Burning Man. As I moved through the gallery, I kept thinking this was the most amazing thing I’d seen – and then I’d see something even more impressive. Good thing they have benches in there.
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December 1, 2005 (Thursday) – de Young Modern & Contemporary
Just to the right of the Ed Ruscha triptych is an electronic installation piece by local artist Rebeca Bollinger. Somehow I walked right past it on my way into the modern & contemporary galleries, but it’s straight in front of you on the way out.

Called, “The Collection (descending)”, it’s a wall projection digital animation loop, 24 minutes long, of one hundred thousand works from the permanent collection.

Dozens of images are lined up on the wall and they scroll downward like a giant microfilm reader. Mounted on a wall near the projection is tiny monitor showing the same images, one at a time, in a rapid slide show. One of those odd-shaped benches that they have all over the museum is placed at just the right spot for seeing both of these pieces. (Image at right is the view from the bench.)

Inside the modern & contemporary galleries are all my old favorites, plus some new surprises. I was glad to see they had one of Agnes Pelton’s paintings up (“Challenge”, 1940, oil on canvas, image at left) and there was a wonderful John Langley Howard painting I’d never seen before (“Embarcadero & Clay”, 1935, oil on canvas, image at end of this entry.) Howard was a Bay Area social realist, who contributed to the Coit Tower murals.

Generally speaking, I like the way the work has been curated and installed in these rooms. My only real complaint is the big Mark Di Suvero sculpture in a too-small room, or maybe it’s just that they roped off such a big area around it that you can only walk the perimeter of the room. Which would be fine if the paintings in that room were small, but I kept wanting to get back away from a large painting of the Watts riots, and couldn’t. The situation forces the viewer to stand either a few feet in front of the painting, or on the other side of the sculpture. (Image at right.)

My favorite new piece, in the contemporary gallery, was Berkeley artist Mildred Howard’s “Switchin’ in the Kitchen” (2001, Cast Plaster, 78rpm records, images at left, and below.)

It was a row of mounted plaster casts of her hands holding “race records” from the 1920s and 1930s. “White” hands, black records… an abundance of emotion, history, symbolism and allegory in these simple elements. It worked on a purely visual level, too. Be sure to check out the spectacular shadows under each hand (can’t see the shadows in these photos – sorry.)

Below – John Langley Howard’s painting, “Embarcadero & Clay”, 1935:

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Previous entries:
November 30, 2005 (Wednesday) – A Particular Kind of Heaven
November 29, 2005 (Tuesday) – SF Artists take note
November 28, 2005 (Monday) – just thinking….
November 24, 2005 (Thursday) – feast day paintings
November 23, 2005 (Wednesday) – Ruth Asawa sculptures at de Young
November 22, 2005 (Tuesday) – de Young Sculpture Gardens
November 21, 2005 (Monday) – More about new de Young director
November 18, 2005 (Friday) – de Young News; more about Nursing & Art
November 16, 2005 (Wednesday) – Hawkesworth on Painting
November 15, 2005 (Tuesday) – Odds & Ends
November 14, 2005 (Monday) – Chemistry, Nursing, and Art
November 10, 2005 (Thursday) – Interview with collector, Amanda Janes
November 9, 2005 (Wednesday) – Jennifer Ewing at Cafe Ajatea
November 8, 2005 (Tuesday extra) – Jed Perl in town
November 8, 2005 (Tuesday) – Shooting Gallery
November 4, 2005 (Friday) – The Story of A Painting
November 3, 2005 (Thursday) – The Postcard Sells
November 2, 2005 (Wednesday) – The Inspired Heart
November 1, 2005 (Tuesday) – Interview with artist Laura Ball

Hazards of being short

By the time I got I got off the #1 California bus on Fillmore, there was river of people, heading uphill to the top of the jump. There were fake cable cars parked at the top and side streets, for VIP viewing. But the rest of us were jammed into the few feet between the buildings and the snow line. SFPD was trying for traffic control (cranky drivers were all over the neighborhood.) Lots of black-uniformed private security guys kept telling us to keep moving… how or where we were supposed to move, I don’t know, because it was more cozy than an out-bound streetcar at Van Ness station on a Thursday afternoon. All I could see were the backs of the people between me and the snow line. I kept sticking my camera up in the air and shooting blind, but never in time to catch a skier. Eventually I gave up and went in search of art and cold drinks. Not a good day to find art (actually, I think it was the neighborhood.) Now that Hespe has moved, I’m not sure Cow Hollow has a real art gallery. I finally ended up at Mario’s in North Beach, for those drinks.

Friday will be a better art day for sure – I have a few artist interviews lined up in the SOMA area. And later, I’ll be going to SFMOMA. Reports next week. Meanwhile, have a nice weekend.

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Story about the event, with lots of (better) photos at SFGate
September 29, 2005 (Thursday) Snow in San Francisco

I have a doctor’s appointment this morning, then I’m heading over to see the ski jump event on Fillmore Street. Yep, they dumped a bunch of snow on Fillmore Street (btwn Broadwway & Green) and somebody is going down it today (noon to 4pm)… catching air, with a view of Alcatraz. As long as I’m in the neighborhood, I’ll see if I can find any art action on Union Street. If not, I’m heading over to North Beach. Will let you know what I find.

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September 28, 2005 (Wednesday) This ‘n That

More about artists destroying their art (see yesterday’s post):

From Libby Rosof: “I totally agree that people recognize that art is like a piece of a person. As someone who has thrown away gobs of old art work, it has taken years for me and Roberta to get enough distance to do that comfortably. Some things, even though they were not successful from the start, still lingered in our basements, storage lockers, our studio.”

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From Mark Barry: “I’m a tosser for sure. If it’s not working or doesn’t hold up after a few years, out you go. Hear the family screaming in the back ground, “that was my favorite piece!”, who knew? I posted this in June.”

: – : – : – : – :

It’s the last few days of the San Francisco Cityscapes show at Newmark Gallery (251 Post) and the last few days of the Inner Sunset Art Walk (9th and Irving.)

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And next week, in case you didn’t get enough vintage rock footage from Martin Scorsese this week, here’s more from local Rock author, Richie Unterberger:

“On Tuesday evening, October 4, from 7:00-9:00pm, I’ll be showing and discussing rare cool vintage film clips — mostly, though not exclusively, from the 1960s — in the basement of the Park branch of the San Francisco Library at 1833 Page Street. No deliberate tie-ins with my books (though there will be footage of some artists I’ve written about), just a mini-fest of great and sometimes bizarre rock film you’ll have a hard time seeing anywhere else. There will be no repeats of clips I’ve showed at past library events; this will feature entirely new material. Planned for the program is footage of the Beatles, the Beach Boys, James Brown, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, the Supremes, and more. The event is free to all.”

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September 27, 2005 (Tuesday) Artists destroying their work
Libby Rosof posted an incredible report (“Deus ex Machina”) on artist Rah Crawford’s destruction of his paintings. The artist did the deed in a gallery, in front of an audience, with a power saw. The deal was, the paintings could be “rescued” if someone bought them. Libby called Crawford the “P .T. Barnum of Philadelphia’s art world.”

Was it a fit of pique over lack of sales? A “you’ll be sorry now” suicide gesture? A ritual, completing the end of that cycle of paintings? Or a publicity stunt?

A few years ago I was tempted to burn a stack of old canvases in a big summer solstice bonfire. Friends and family were horrified and talked me out of it. But I still wanted the old paintings to move on. So I gave away many of them, and the rest I gessoed over and started new paintings. In rare instances I stretched new canvas over the old paintings (meaning there’s a hidden painting behind the visible one.)

At the time, I thought this was the second best solution (best being the bonfire.) But over time I’ve realized that they’re all good ways to convert the energy that went into those paintings. And that’s really what it’s about – keeping the energy moving. A huge stack of moldering, dust-accumulating canvases is a stagnant and depressing sight that soon begins to divert even more energy from creation to maintenance.

I asked some friends and I searched the web to see what I could find about artists destroying their work. Quite a bit, it turns out. I found about 60 mentions of this practice, and here’s roughly how it breaks down, in terms of reasons:

1. Not satisfied with the work – 30%
2. Depression & self-doubt – 26%
3. Lack of storage space or materials – 15%
4. Worries about persecution – 8%
5. Concern for legacy – 7%
6. Ritual – 5%
7. Other* – 9%
* To start over, to increase value of remaining works, to avoid seizure by creditors, and just plain crazy

David W. Sumner

News & Notes
New Images:
This month for my Recent Work, I selected four images shot during a recent anti-war protest here in San Francisco. It was an interesting situation that, as you can see from this month’s notes column, brought up a whole series of questions.
In other news: a small selection of my prints is on view through December at the Corner Cup. Amanda Janes runs the Corner Cup at the corner of 43rd Avenue and Lawton and invited me to exhibit some of my work there. It’s a great little space and a warm and friendly place to enjoy good coffee, view great art and get to know some really wonderful people.
December Notes:
San Francisco provides abundant opportunity to photograph unique or unusual scenes and events. There’s so much to choose from one has the luxury of leaving the camera in the bag and waiting for that perfect moment or set of circumstances to materialize. There are times, however, when those choices can be very hard to make.The images I chose for December’s Recent Work page illustrate the point. While the anti-war demonstration depicted was relatively tame, people were being arrested and I saw one photographer who was working for the organizers of the demonstration being roughed up by police officers. It was obvious the potential for confrontation was increasing. It took some time before I felt reasonably sure of avoiding a direct confrontation and took my camera from the bag.

I shot a total of 19 frames before putting the camera away. Several young men had begun taunting the police when I decided to stop shooting. I had no desire to be involved in a full blown police action, so I packed it up and headed for the the subway station.

I started asking myself why I stopped to shoot the pictures in the first place. No one pays me to shoot pictures. I’m not hired to photograph breaking news stories. Yet, I felt compelled to photograph this particular protest march. I actually felt that I should make the pictures, and that if I didn’t I would be neglecting some moral obligation to record the socially significant events of the time and place in which I live.

I grew up heavily influenced by the effects of photojournalism and television news. I remember the days on which the Kennedys and Martin Luther King were assassinated, and I remember watching the Vietnam War brought home through intensive television coverage. Those images, in large part, shaped my social consciousness.

I’m never without a camera, but I don’t leave the house each morning intent on finding a story. I’m simply prepared to take pictures. But if I do come across a story it’s not easy to simply say, “That’s not the kind of thing I shoot.” It’s not easy to just walk away. It becomes one of those difficult choices. A choice that one way or another has to be made.


November Notes:
From 1998 to 2001 I worked in the photography industry in one capacity or another. Early on, my goal was to start a freelance business shooting editorial assignments. To that end I spent about four years working as a photo researcher and studio assistant for other photographers. I learned a lot about the business and came to realize that “success” in the business didn’t always require creating superior imagery. As with everything else, “politics” often determines “success.” Of course that led to a serious questioning of my understanding of success.

When I quit working for other photographers and ventured into the arena of freelance work, it soon became clear to me that shooting assignments wasn’t necessarily the way I wanted to be making images. For a few years I worked shooting images for a variety of magazines devoted to bicycling. It was a subject I was interested in and an activity in which I participated. I thought the match would be perfect. To a certain degree it was, but I wasn’t making a living. I was accumulating a sizable file of stock images that didn’t really excite me or satisfy my need to make compelling images. I gradually returned to shooting the type of subject matter that genuinely moved me and also to shooting black and white film.


An assignment shot for Bicycling Magazine, published in 1991.

Trying to make a living at editorial photography actually got in the way of doing photography. So did most the other jobs I was able to find within the industry. Once I found a way to make a living in a pleasant and creatively inspiring environment my photography blossomed. My work became technically better, more of my personal vision and thus style came through in my images, and I began enjoying photographing more than ever. I had finally reached a point of no return: I can never stop making photographs, there is no question about that now.

I may never again try to make my living from my creative work. The point is that I will never stop doing my work. There will never be a time, during the rest of my life, when I won’t be pursuing my creative work. There will never be a time when I won’t be a photographer.

 


September Notes:
On August 26th I made my third photographic trip to Alcatraz, this time with photographer John Wall. I expected to shoot a few exteriors I had neglected on the previous trips and thus wrap up this little project. But as John and I explored the ruins, away from the areas crowded with tourists, I realized I was only now beginning to feel the place.

As my friend Dan Unger, a NPS ranger assigned to Alcatraz, led John and me through the 1940’s industries building, it became obvious that I had spent enough time looking and that I was now beginning to see. This project is just beginning, there is so much more to do.

I don’t want to guess at how many more trips to the island I will make before I feel I have completed the project. Nor do I want to speculate on the final outcome. But I am compelled to keep looking at and photographing this mesmerizing ruin of one of our society’s darkest institutions.


August Notes:
As a photographer I often find myself in a situation I’m sure is familiar to most serious photographers: A friend, acquaintance, or otherwise interested individual is looking at one of my portfolios, the prints exhibited in my studio, or a stack of freshly printed images, and I just know that statement is rolling around in their mind, making its way to the tip of their tongue: “These pictures are beautiful, you must use a really good camera.”

My wife is a painter. No one has ever said to her, “Your paintings are beautiful, you must use really good brushes.” Do writers get this: “That novel you wrote is just wonderful, you must use a really good typewriter”? Have you ever been to a dinner party and enjoyed the meal so much that you felt compelled to compliment the cook on the quality of their stove? Think about it: How many people believe that by simply sitting down at a Steinway they will be able to play like Glenn Gould? Yet there are thousands of people who believe that spending thousands of dollars on a Leica will make them great photographer. Why is that?

A camera is a light-tight box that holds a piece of film in place behind a curtain. The shutter is the mechanism that opens and closes the curtain in a fraction of a second thus exposing the film to light. That’s all a camera can do. It doesn’t matter if the light-tight box is a Leica, a Nikon, a Minolta or a Quaker Oats carton. It doesn’t matter if the light-tight box is totally mechanical, electronic, computerized and fully automatic. They are all doing the same thing: holding a piece of film in place behind a curtain then opening and closing the curtain in a fraction of a second exposing the film to light. That’s all any camera can do.

No piece of equipment, no matter how precisely manufactured, has ever been responsible for making a great photograph. To paraphrase a quote from one of Eddie Adams’ mentors: “Cameras don’t make photographs. People make photographs.” If I make a good photograph it’s because I’m being a good photographer, not because I’m using a Leica M4-2. If I make a great photograph it’s because when I released the shutter I was experiencing a great moment as a photographer. And I experienced that great moment because practice as a photographer has trained my vision to anticipate and recognize that great moment so that I’m releasing the shutter and exposing my film at precisely the instant that moment unfolds.

So, I guess that’s the answer: Cameras don’t make photographs. Practice and dedication to photography makes good photographs.

 


July Notes:
My first serious experience in photography was with black and white film. Reading books, I taught myself how to develop film. I bought a Bessler enlarger and taught myself how to make prints.

In the 1980’s, when I had hopes of a successful career in commercial and editorial photography, I shot color almost exclusively: Fujichrome 50 Professional then Fuji Velvia. As those career hopes diminished, I gradually returned to the ‘wonderful world’ of black and white.

The more I worked the more I came to realize that my true vision would never have emerged in color. My natural and most honest vision will always be found in black and white.

If you want to define cryptocurrency in simple words keeping aside the fact that it is a replacement for other currency and payment types, it is nothing but just few database entered in a limited manner which cannot be changed by anyone until and unless some conditions that are specific are fulfilled. Crypto Code is a software that will help in trading such currencies.

I occasionally return to the question of color vs. black and white and while I greatly enjoy many fine color images, I always end up on the black and white side of the debate.

The presence of color provides so much familiar information that one often assumes to completely understand the image at a glance. Black and white focuses one’s attention on the essence of the image, its truest subject. It forces one to actually spend a little time studying the image, to be able to see what’s in it.

Some years ago I came across an article on Bernice Abbott in an issue of American Photographer. In it she is credited with saying that color too often gets in the way of the image. I generally agree with that idea, and in my own work I find that to absolutely be the case. On the other hand, color can be a very vital tool if one thinks of color in the same way a painter thinks about and uses color.

The most powerful, dynamic and often most successful color photographs are those in which color is as much the subject of the image as is the object being photographed.

Consider the work of the following photographers:

PeteTurner – www.peteturner.com

Jay Maisel – www.jaymaisel.com

Eric Meola – www.ericmeola.com

Art Kane – www.artkane.com

Every now and then I hear about a new color film being released and I get that familiar twinge of excitement I often experienced twenty years ago when every new product release by a film manufacturer made every die-hard Kodachrome user cringe. From time to time I’ll have a little fun shooting a roll of color, but so often when I ‘m going through the proofs I’ll find myself looking at an image and wishing I’d shot it in black and white. I can find inspiration in the work of Pete Turner or Jay Maisel, but the most I could do would be to copy them. The uniqueness of my work, how ever subtle it may be, will only exist as various percentages of gray.

Songs about art, artists & painting

With a few exceptions, my collection is mostly rock, pop, folk, & blues (vocal) songs. Including classical instrumental music would have overwhelmed the list with pieces that (except for the titles) seemed to have little to do with visual art. I realize that some of you may think that description also applies to some of these songs, and you may be right. But it’s my list, and while I’m starting to regret Kenny Rogers’ “If I Were a Painting,” you won’t be able to talk me out of Billie Holiday’s “I’m Painting the Town Red.” (Some of these tracks are available on my iTunes page, HERE.)

Music is a way of mesmerizing the hearts of the people. Now, a therapy called “Music Therapy” is being used in many hospitals to cure the sickness of the patients. They will put some silent and lovely background music and give treatment. So that, the patients will feel so light and comfortable. But, some people use this music as a gaining factor and start taking classes and earn money from them. We can see the details about the musical instruments by clicking the software called Fintech LTD.

COLOR:
I’m Painting the Town Red by Billie Holiday – The Incomparable
Paint It Black by The Rolling Stones – Forty Licks
Paintings In Yellow by Sandra – Paintings In Yellow
Yellow and Blue (Wasted On You) by Shawn Alexis – Yellow and Blue
Flash of Green by Ben Graves – Memphis
Painting the World Blue by Marcia Guderian – Mansion On Mars
Blue by Joni Mitchell – Blue
Pale Purple by Ani Difranco – Ani DiFranco
Grey by Ani Difranco – Revelling/Reckoning
Shades of Brown by James Brown – Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud
Charcoals and Grays by All One Surface – Such Is the Way to the Stars

PROCESS:
Art Is Hard by Cursive – The Ugly Organ
Inside Your Painting by Patty Larkin – Red=Luck
Painting by Numbers by James McMurtry – Too Long in the Wasteland
Painting Outside the Lines by Dan Neal – When the Big Picture Fades
Painting Mailboxes by Mitzi Cowell – 33
Roadside Art by David Wilcox – East Asheville Hardware
Drawing On the Sidewalk by Brady Rymer – I FOUND IT!
Graffiti Limbo by Michelle Shocked – Short Sharp Shocked
Sad Pencil Blues by Big Bill Broonzy – 1937-1940 Part 2: Chicago 1937, 1938
My Pencil Won’t Write No More by Muddy Waters – One More Mile – Chess Collectibles, Vol. 1
Sketchings on a bar room napkin by Lullaby for the Working Class – Song
Empty Canvas by Cary Aria – Obsexed
When I Paint My Masterpiece by Bob Dylan – Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits
Orange Crate Art by Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks – Orange Crate Art
(My Baby Does) Good Sculptures by The Revillos – Totally Alive in London
Procrastination by Madelyn Lavender – Memory Tree

ROLE MODELS & INSPIRATION:
Fine Artiste by R. Crumb and his Cheap Suit Serenaders – R. Crumb’s Music Sampler
Paul Gauguin In the South Seas by Jimmy Webb – Twilight of the Renegade
Hopper Painting by Janis Ian – Janis Ian
Edward Hopper Land by Pop’s Basement – Pop’s Basement
Vincent by Don McLean – American Pie
Vincent Van Gogh by Jonathan Richman – Not So Much to Be Loved As to Love
Pablo Picasso by Jonathan Richman – I Must Be King – The Best of Jonathan Richman
Picasso’s Last Words by Denny Laine – Choice Rock Cuts
Mr. Jones by Counting Crows – August and Everything After
The Monsters of Goya by Deadman – In the Heart of Mankind
Salvador Dali Day by Don McIntyre – Love Goes On (but the Gloves Come Off
Music for Marcel Duchamp by Markus Hinterhauser – Cage: Works for Prepared Piano
Escher by Teenage Fanclub – Thirteen
Frida K’s Fault by JohNNy SiZZle – JohNNy SiZZle
Jackson Pollack Is Dead by Driftless Pony Club – Janel
Andy Warhol by David Bowie – Bowie at the Beeb – The Best of the BBC Radio Sessions 68-72
Joe the Lion by David Bowie – Heroes
Bob Ross the Art of Painting by Transformer Di Roboter – Blacklabel Records Compilation
Mona Lisa by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole – Alone in IZ World
You and the Mona Lisa by Shawn Colvin – A Few Small Repairs
A Mural from Two Perspectives (Whitney Museum) by Duke Ellington – Live at the Whitney

LIFESTYLE. ETC:
Art Class (Song for Yayoi Kusama) by Superchunk – Here’s to Shutting Up
Painter’s Song by Norah Jones – Come Away With Me
Pictures in an Exhibition by Death Cab For Cutie – Something About Airplanes
Gallery Opening by Bas One – For the Mentally Astute: Theory of a Throw Up
In the Gallery by Dire Straits – Dire Straits
Hanging in the Gallery by The Strawbs – The Very Best of Strawbs – Halcyon Days
Museum by Donovan – Troubadour, The Definitive Collection
Artists Only by the Talking Heads – More Songs About Buildings and Food
I Live for Art by Mark Gould and Pink Baby Monster – Mark Gould and Pink Baby Monster
Pictures and Painting by Jenna Mammina – Under the Influence
Must I Paint a Picture? by Billy Bragg – Must I Paint You a Picture?: The Essential Billy Bragg
If I Were a Painting by Kenny Rogers – Love Is Strange
The Lady Painting by Raz – The Other Side
Painting Pictures of Egypt by Sara Groves – Conversations
A Painter Passing Through by Gordon Lightfoot – A Painter Passing Through
Painter & the Poet by david m. bailey – LIFE
Portrait by Rosanne Cash – Interiors
A Case Of You by Joni Mitchell – Miles of Aisles
Subterranean Lovesick Painter by Moes Haven – Svetlana Finds Solace In the Arms of English Men of Letters
The Painter by Neil Young – The Painter – Single
Be My Yoko Ono by Barenaked Ladies – Gordon
Tattoo by The Who – The Who Sell Out
(You Dyed Your Hair) Chartreuse by Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five – Five Guys Named Moe
Psychedelic Lunatic by Madelyn Lavender – Memory Tree
Keep Your Day Job by the Grateful Dead – Dick’s Picks, Vol 6

Did I miss anything? Let me know where I can hear it (or read the lyics) , and I’ll consider adding it to the list.

JULY 2005

July 29, 2005 (Friday) – Extra! Extra!

Someone has taken Adele Shaw’s Bikini Top without her permission.

It happened last night, 7/27. From its location on 19th Ave between Font and Holloway – next to SF State University.

If you see it or have word please let her know -it probably wouldn’t fit anyone else, anyway.

Hopefully whoever took it has a sense of humor and will do something interesting with it…
but she wants it back!

Please pass this on to anyone who might know something.

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July 29, 2005 (Friday) – di Rosa Collection of Contemporary California Art.

Contemporary art is known as ‘the art of today.’ It was first made in the late 20th century and early 21st century. They work on transforming issues that have influenced globally, different cultures and world has advancement in technology. The art made by them consists of materials, concepts and subjects which are out of traditional boundary. Trader VC also consists of combination of different things.

Tyler Green started a list of “really good, but less-considered, art museums that are nowhere near Fifth Avenue”, which made me think about the the di Rosa:

This is not flyover country, and it’s not technically a museum (it’s a collection) but the Di Rosa Collection of Contemporary California Art has got to be on the top ten list of most-overlooked art viewing spaces in the country. It’s one of my favorite art viewing spaces, but its inaccessibility means I only see it once every couple of years.

At some point after I moved to San Francisco, I noticed that almost all of my favorite stuff in local museums was on loan from the same guy – Rene di Rosa. So when I found out he was opening his collection to the public, I had to see it.

He basically opened up his home, which is an old stone winery built in 1886 (he moved into another building somewhere else on the property.) The collection is housed in several art buildings alongside a private lake. Some of the buildings are converted farm buildings, and the others are built to be used as galleries, but they look like tractor barns, and silos, etc.

It’s an absolutely astounding collection. Not only the sheer number of artworks, but the fact that most of it is by contemporary, Northern California artists (artists you’re familiar with, but whose work you only see once in a great while) plus the idiosyncratic curating, make this an unforgettable experience. There are no labels, wall tags, or curator’s text plaques in the galleries. Rene di Rosa says that, “talking about art is like trying to French kiss over the telephone. The point is that words can and do get in the way. They distract more than they illuminate. Knowing who did it when and the title can be interesting on some level. But wall labels do not reveal the work and can be insistent distractions. People bring their own baggage to the viewing experience. We invite them to open that baggage and participate in the conversation between themselves and the art. I believe the absence of labels is empowering. It makes some people nervous, but most enjoy the vacation.”

Rene di Rosa has eclectic tastes, but I think it’s fair to say he favors funky, conceptual, colorful, funny, thoughtful work that displays strong craftsmanship. The property is dotted with glass houses, ceramic preachers, cars hanging from trees, giant polychromed figures lounging about under the trees, cows on water, and of course drawing, painting, photography, installations, sculpture, kinetic sculpture, earth works, art cars, an underground cathedral and a large flock of peafowl.

Some of the (more than 900) artists represented in his collection are Terry Allen, Robert Arneson, Anthony Aziz, Clayton Bailey, James Barsness, David Best, Elmer Bischoff, Sandow Birk, Chris Brown, Joan Brown, Deborah Butterfield, Squeak Carnwath, Enrique Chagoya, Bruce Conner, Jay Defeo, Roy De Forest, Mark Di Suvero, Viola Frey, Wally Hedrick, Mildred Howard, Robert Hudson, David Ireland, Jess, Paul Kos, Manuel Neri, Nathan Olivera, Mel Ramos, Rigo, Scott Siedman, James Weeks, William T. Wiley… and he has multiple examples of works by these artists.

I should really make more of an effort to get there at least once year. But it IS an effort, especially without a car. It’s in the Carneros region, just south Napa & Sonoma, about 1.5 hours drive from San Francisco. It’s really in the boonies. And it takes at least two days to see it all, because you have to make reservations to get beyond the gatehouse gallery and you can only make reservations for the galleries OR the grounds (not both.) I’ve never gone for the grounds tour, because it would kill me to go all the way up there and not be able to see the big gallery. I’ve made do with glimpses of the grounds from traveling between the gallery buildings. Whichever tour you choose, it’s about 2 hours long, and then you have to drive quite a few miles to find something to drink or eat. (My advice: pack a lunch.)

Rene di Rosa quote and images from “Local Color” (a book about the collection – ISBN 0-8118-2377-6) and from di Rosa promotional brochure.

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July 28, 2005 (Thursday) – Sacramento Valley Landscape Exhibit

The following review was written by Central Valley artist, Ramona Soto:

I want to tell you about the Sacramento Valley Landscape Exhibition at the John Natsoulas Gallery in Davis, but first I need to explain a little about landscape art here.

As you can imagine, the Sacramento Valley provides a special challenge to the landscape artist. There are few “built-in” spectacular scenes such as those clamoring for attention in the Bay Area. The valley is essentially, well, FLAT. So artists come to see the valley floor as a canvas in itself. The landscape’s moods are widely changeable; the weather, the water, and the growing things vary greatly from season to season. Every variation is capitalized upon.

The summer brings the sun as an all-pervading force, providing hot, dry days, long, warm evenings, increased activity along the deep blue rivers, the patchwork patterns of crops, and trees in full leaf. In the autumn, the effect of the sun is less intense. Workers and their machines begin to harvest the crops, turning the fields back to brown, and leaves turn an astounding array of colors before falling into fiery piles that carpet whole neighborhoods. As autumn stretches on toward winter, spectacular thunderstorms start rolling through the valley, causing eerily bright sun rays to shoot beneath vast black cloudscapes.

With winter, the landscape becomes sketchy: the whole season needs nothing more than pencil, charcoal, and ink to express it. Tule fog blankets the valley floor in the late night and early morning. Fields are fallow. Skeletal trees provide little shelter from the cold and rain. Rivers run rough and gray. Finally, in the spring the landscape begins to wake again to soft greenness, plentiful water, and warmth.

It’s against this backdrop that you’ll be able to enjoy the full flavor of the landscape exhibit at the Natsoulas Gallery.

The exhibit covers over 100 years of landscape art, from a few small chromo-lithographs and watercolors of valley scenes from the 1800s and early 1900s, through a couple of small Maynard Dixons from the early 1920s, to many large and small contemporary paintings – one of which was completed just this past week at the Landscape Conference.

One of the artists featured is Anne Hysell, a pastelist who who creates very large landscapes in small (5″x15″, 9″x20″) horizontal formats. She also presents, in a larger format, a beautiful, shadowed world of leafy trees interspersed with paths of light.

A few years ago Wayne Thiebaud began painting aerial views in his prismatic style, rising up above the landscape until the horizon appears less than an inch from the top of the canvas and the pattern of the fields and waterways is revealed below. One of these paintings (“Brown River” – at right) appears here on the first floor, brilliantly grouped with the two Maynard Dixons and works by Deladier Almeida and Gary Ernest Smith, who show the influence of the older artists – as does the work of Phil Gross.

Gregory Kondos is represented by a colorful, buttery riverscape in his signature style. Patrick Dullanty’s paintings show the influence of people on the landscape (“Cutter Industrial”), as do many of Boyd Gavin’s gorgeous paintings of late afternoon light on buildings, silos, and trucks.

Pat Mahoney’s landscapes have a distinctive style. The colors she uses are rather acidic; she makes use of dark greens and oranges, and the dark colors of the land are repeated in splotches in the light sky, almost giving the appearance that the atmosphere has caught fire. As unusual as this style is, after seeing quite a few of these, I began to want to see her do greater variations on the themeor else begin another theme.

D.A. Bishop’s “Waterpipe” and “Knoll” are two of my favorites, though it’s hard to say exactly why. At first glance, “Waterpipe” seems like a typical, traditional valley landscape of a field with a pipe emptying out into a stream. But for some reason I was immediately drawn to it, utterly fascinated with what? the composition? the technique? the idea that Bishop noticed this totally ordinary, unremarkable scene in the first place, and considered it worthy of recording? It’s a wonderful painting.

Besides the featured exhibit, the Natsoulas Gallery itself is irresistible: four floors, plus the roof… and the stairway walls are COVERED with art. (Just in the stairway between the second and third floors, I counted 47 pieces.) The owner, John Natsoulas, is welcoming and is very supportive of the arts community.

Sacramento Valley Landscape Exhibition
July 6 – August 21, 2005
John Natsoulas Gallery
521 First Street, Davis, CA

Images (top to bottom):
“Haystacks” by Gregory Kondos
“Baled” by Gary Ernest Smith
“Coming and Going” by Phil Gross
“Brown River” by Wayne Thiebaud
painting by D.A.Bishop
“River Life” by Gregory Kondos
(images link to sources)

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July 27, 2005 (Wednesday) – Misc Stuff…

Dropped off the rest of my paintings at the gallery today (for the Aug/Sept show.) This is a huge, huge, HUGE load off my mind. Now if I can just wrap up this slideshow/talk preparation, I will be able to focus my full attention on a wonderful portrait commission that I would like to finish in time to enter the National Portrait Competition. It’s a person I’ve painted before, someone who already owns a few of my paintings, and she called me the very day I first heard about this competition. So I figured it was kismet, and I’d better do it.

After I got back from the gallery today, I did a major overhaul of the sidebar (see –>). Links are now organized alphabetically (more or less) within categories and the categories have changed to reflect blog authors’ POV (as I understand it.)

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July 26, 2005 (Tuesday) – Listening
Ever since I started recording interviews with artists, little genies have been buzzing around me, whispering, “pod cast”, “web cast”, “mp3”, “Quicktime”, “downloadable”, and so forth. But take my word for it, you would NOT want to listen to the quick and dirty recordings I’ve been making. Lots of ambient noises, scritches, pops and a prolonged “sszzs” sound on every pronunciation of “s,” giving everyone a serious lisp. Still, transcribing those recordings is a major, time-consuming pain in the patootie. And I DO have the technical capability for making a decent recording, if I just paid attention and made more of an effort to get a clean sound. So I can foresee a possible podcast offering in this blog’s future.

Meanwhile, how do the other art podcasters sound? Chris at ZekesGallery reviewed a bunch of them last Monday. Plus he emailed me about the 17Reasons podcasts of local (SF) art shows and artists – these were good quailty, and interesting – I’ll download more, even though I’m probably the last person in San Francisco who lacks a cell phone and high speed internet access. Guy Diehl emailed me about Franklin McMahon’s Media Artist Secrets. I wasn’t that impressed with Media Artist Secrets, but Guy said, “There is a lot of information starting from episode #1 that makes you look at what you’re doing right and certainly what you’re doing wrong. The key here, like any information, is to glean what is useful and apply it to your benefit.”

Image from Caption-this.com

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July 25, 2005 (Monday) – Alice Neel and Chain Link Fences

I spent quite a few hours this weekend, with Larry Morace, working on our upcoming slide show / artists’ talk (Sept. 1st – email Newmark for info.) One of the topics we’re touching on is how other artists have influenced us. It was tough to choose just a few. We kept thinking of more and more artists we wanted to include. It was when we had to explain how a particular artist influenced our work, in what specific way, that we started editing the list down again.

It occurred to me that there’s a difference between inspiration and influence. The artist that has inspired me the most, without a doubt, is Alice Neel. But I can’t honestly claim to see any influence from her in my work. Mainly because I can’t figure out how she did it. I am stunned, awed, amazed, and envious when I look at her paintings, but I don’t even have a clue how to do that kind of expressive clarity. On the other hand, artists like Hopper and Bechtle have had such a deep effect on my way of seeing that there probably isn’t a single painting of mine that doesn’t reflect that in some way. Then there are the artists who give you the mini master class when you see their work on a quiet day, alone in the museum…

A few years ago I’d been struggling with how to paint chain link fences. They’re a common sight in the city, and frequently show up in scenes I’d consider painting. But they’re tough to paint. When I tried, they always came out too meticulous, or too messy. I started looking to see how other cityscape painters handled the problem. The predominant solution seemed to be avoidance. That was my solution, too. Until I saw a show by James Doolin. He’d nailed it! He used careful, measured, isolated strokes for each bend of the wire, but there was lots of empty space around each one, to let the background come through. It created the illusion of that barrier that you don’t really see. I studied those paintings repeatedly, and then went back to the studio, psyched to try it for myself. It worked, and now that’s one more thing I don’t have to worry about when working on a composition.

Images:
upper left: “Ellen Johnson” by Alice Neel, from “Alice Neel: Women” ISBN 0-8478-2480-2
lower right: “Form vs. Content” by James Doolin, from “Urban Invasions” ISBN 0-938175-23-8

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July 22, 2005 (Friday) – On schedule
I’m heading downtown today, to get the last two paintings shot at Almac. Then I’ll walk over to the gallery to drop them off, and pick up some more postcards. I might actually be able to go visit some downtown art spots for the first time in two months. There’s still a lot of fiddly things to do here, like address & mail these cards, and tweak the slideshow for the next artist’s talk, but the hard stuff is done. Vince Romaniello has a show coming up, too – he says he’s “still painting but less so since I started all the fun things like framing, placing ads, shooting the work etc.”

Getting ready for a show is a weird process for a person who works alone and generally prefers solitude. Toby Judith Klayman (in her “Artists’ Survival Manual”) compares a show to a wedding:

Like weddings in general, shows are seldom easy or problem free. There are dozens of questions, doubts, and fears: will the “marriage” succeed? what is the relationship between and artist and those who see and collect the work? How do you make a public statement about what is essentially a very private, very personal endeavor – your artwork? And there are also dozens of arrangements to make – a slew of discussions and decisions and details to attend to.

So I’m off to attend to those details….

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July 21, 2005 (Thursday) – Jury Fees
Carole Es has a heart-felt and oh-so-true complaint about jury fees on her blog. I recommend that that you read the whole thing, but if you need some encouragement, here’s a few excerpts:

“if you’re going to start an arts organization or business, then you should be willing to look at art and weed out what you do and don’t want to exhibit. fund raise some other kind of way. why is funding your organization (that i may or may not be a participant in) my problem? sounds like your problem. as an artist, i got my own problems. believe you me.

a few non-profits are responding to the thread, justifying their reasons for charging fees to artists, posting their overhead, their rent and utility bills, etc. more of their problems. i have rent and bills too. what if

artists charged galleries to view their work? how is this more or less ridiculous?

my real advice is to use your 20 bucks more wisely. be as original with your self-promotion as you are with your art. you will have more successes the more you stay true to your ideas and morals. ”

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July 21, 2005 (Thursday) – Color
Last night I gave a lecture at the public library on the ways I use color in my paintings. Afterwards, a few people came up to me and asked me to post some of this info on my web site, so here it is:

The painter uses color for:

1. Mood, emotion

2. Composition:

a. contrast
b. depth
c. movement
d. unity / cohesion

3. Symbolism:

Cross-cultural color symbolism at factmonster.com
Good basic America color symbolism info at color-wheel-pro.com

My favorite color books, for the painter:

The Acrylic Painter’s Pocket Palette, by Ian Sidaway,
North Light Books, ISBN 0-89134-581-7

Color In Contemporary Painting, by Charles Le Clair,
Watson-Guptill, ISBN0-8230-0738-3

The Color Compendium, by Augustine Hope and Margaret Walch,
Van Nostrand Reinhold, ISBN 0-442-31845-6

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July 20, 2005 (Wednesday) – Can There Be Progress In Art?
Simon Caterson, an Australian writer, was inspired by a show of work by Dutch masters to wonder about, “the question of whether there can be anything like progress, much less continuity, in the arts.”

Some excerpts:

Simon Schama begins The Embarrassment of Riches, his history of 17th century Holland, with these words: “It is the peculiar genius of the Dutch to seem, at the same time, familiar and incomprehensible.” That duality could easily provide a basis for defining history itself. Culturally, technologically and geographically, we are far enough away from the world inhabited by the Dutch Masters that the parallels that might be drawn between their world and ours are provisional, to say the least.

Art’s preoccupations are often out of sync with the expectations of the wider society. At any given moment in cultural history, artists and movements may be considered ahead of their time or behind it, and their work may be in or out of fashion, neglected or overpraised. An artist like Turner is difficult to classify, since he was painting impressionistically some time before the Impressionist period officially began. One of Turner’s most celebrated paintings, Snow Storm – Steam Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth, was dismissed at the time of its unveiling as “soapsuds and whitewash”.

The English essayist William Hazlitt argued that it is wrong to apply the same progressive standards to art that are normally applied to the sciences. The analogy, he asserts, is false: “The arts hold immediate communication with nature, and are only derived from that source. When the original impulse no longer exists, when the inspiration of genius is fled, all the attempts to recall it are no better than tricks of galvanism to restore the dead to life.”

According to Hazlitt, if art were merely a matter of invention and refinement, then progress could be measured the same way that the development of other examples of human ingenuity can be traced: “What is mechanical, reducible to rule, or capable of demonstration, is progressive, and admits of gradual improvement; what is not mechanical or definite, but depends on genius, taste and feeling, very soon becomes retrograde, and loses more than it gains by transfusion.”

Science steadily builds on its discoveries, but the creative process is erratic, since the truths of human experience it seeks to capture are as elusive as they are universal and timeless. The means of expression has to change but the source material of art essentially never does. It is for that very reason that the Dutch Masters can speak to us with such clarity, and why art can remain meaningful long after the context in which it was produced has faded away.

In the West, the popular belief in human progress has, if anything, grown since Hazlitt’s day. In A Short History of Progress, historian Ronald Wright argues that “our practical faith in progress has ramified and hardened into an ideology – a secular religion that, like the religions that progress has challenged, is blind to certain flaws in its credentials”. Our society is geared to constant change, which is why the word reform is used so often by politicians and bureaucrats and why planned product obsolescence is such a vital part of our consumer society.

Excerted from “Raiders of the lost art”, by Simon Caterson, published July 16, 2005
Images: Upper – Vermeer, from Holland.com; lower – Teo den Boon from Newmark Gallery

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July 19, 2005 (Tuesday) – Call For Entries: ISAW
San Francisco’s Inner Sunset Art Walk 2005 (ISAW)
July 18, 2005

Deadline: August 12, 2005 – The Inner Sunset Art Walk (ISAW) committee is now seeking submissions from artists interested in exhibiting in a very public and unique venue, the Inner Sunset Business District. This first ever event will be held from September 17th thru October 1st, 2005.

A juried process will be used to choose participating artists, and locate works. This exhibition event will take place in the public areas, windows and interior walls of participating Inner Sunset retailers.

In addition, exhibiting artists will be encouraged to take part in a neighborhood-wide open house and Art Walk on Thursday evening, September 22nd, and to attend a closing reception Saturday night, October 1st.

Entry Fee: free

Image Submission:
Please email your digital files (up to 5, .jpg format)
to: isawsf@gmail.com
between now and August 12, 2005

Eligibility:
This event is open to all local (Bay Area) artists. All work must be original.

Media and Specifications:
Work in two- and three-dimensional form is eligible. Two-dimensional work should not exceed 50?60×8 inches, including frame, and must be suitably framed in Plexiglas (when applicable), with hardware, ready to hang. Content should be family oriented, as the work will be shown in areas visible to the general public, including children. This is not a gallery exhibition.

Delivery and Installation:
Accepted works are to be delivered and installed by the artist, with cooperation by business owner on September 15th and 16th. Artwork will be taken down after Saturday October 1st, by prior arrangement with business owner.

Sales and Reproduction:
Sales will be handled by artists, with no commission taken by ISAW or the exhibiting businesses. ISAW reserves the right to photographically reproduce work for publicity and exhibition records.

Calendar:
August 12: Entries emailed after this date will not be accepted.
August 29: Notification of accepted work sent to artists.
September 15 – 16: Installation of accepted work by artists.
September 17: ISAW opens.
September 22: open house and Art Walk.
October 1: Closing Reception.
October 2 – 5: Artwork is uninstalled by artists.

Contact:
Inner Sunset Merchants Association
Craig Dawson
1032 Irving Street, Suite 711
San Francisco, CA 94122
Phone: 415-665-1077
Email: mediacraig@mindspring.com

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July 15, 2005 (Monday) – Preshow Countdown Begins

Ahhh… the insanity of the last couple of weeks before a show… run over to Dick Blick for gaffer’s tape to wrap the canvas edges – they’re out. Great, now I have to go to Pearl, where I grab the last roll. Run by the gallery to pick up cards. Get stamps, update the mailing list, print labels, arrange for a car to get the paintings to the gallery… speaking of which, I still have to finish that last painting. I have maybe a day-and-a-half’s worth of work to do, so here I go…
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July 15, 2005 (Friday) – Another New Art Space
Receiver: another new gallery in the neighborhood – this one is in the Inner Sunset (1324 – 8th Ave. at Irving.) I was there last evening to meet with some other local artists and merchants, to talk about organizing a neighborhood art event in September. (More info about the art event in a week or so.)

The Receiver gallery is a design studio run by Jafon Hakkinen (that’s him at the computer, in the photo at right.) They’ve got a nice show up right now, “The Boy’s Club”, a collective of twelve female Canadian and American illustrators. Some painting and mixed media work… lots of t-shirts, too. I’m starting to notice t-shirts at all the hip new galleries (LOTS of t-shirts at Mollusk – see yesterday’s post.) Everything in the show is up on their web site.

I was particulary impressed with paintings by Korin Faught (left, below) and Karen Silverman (right, below.) They both had portraits in this show but there wasn’t anything in the gallery I didn’t like. Check it out – the show’s up another two weeks.

Images from the Receiver web site:
left -Faught- “Captain Handsome and the Dog Face Boys”
right – Silverman – “Man and Dog”

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July 14, 2005 (Thursday) – New Art Space
Yesterday I visited a new gallery space in my neighborhood. It’s in the Mollusk Surf Shop at 4500 Irving Street (at 46th Ave, in San Francisco.) Even though it’s only a few blocks from here, I haven’t been over to that block since the Cajun restaurant closed last year. So I first heard about Mollusk when I read Alan Bamberger’s account of the opening (lots of photos of the art there.)

The space is airy, light, open, with high ceilings and a very relaxed vibe. There’s a small, dedicated exhibit space in the back of the store, but a lot of art is on the wall over the racks of surf boards and behind the cash register.

Bamberger mentioned a Barry McGee painting that had been nailed to the wall, but that’s not the case – the visible nail heads are part of the art work. The piece of art is hung on the wall in the usual way.

My favorite piece in the show was a big painting of sea urchin spines, under a translucent wrap of some sort. It’s beautifully painted, but it’s painted on styrofoam. What happens to styrofoam when it ages? If it lasts, if it doesn’t fall apart in a few years, it’d be a good use of the material.

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July 13, 2005 (Wednesday) – A Blogospheric Grid

a super fantastic blogospheric griddy guide for visual thinkers

Photo sources: Allana Spence; Terry Teachout; Antonia Hollander; Carol Es; Carolyn Zick; Caryn Coleman; Charles T. Downey; Chris Hand; Cinque Hicks; Cynthia King; David Byrne; Duane Keiser; Elise Tomlinson; Franklin Einspruch; Rachael Buffington Baldanza; Jack Rasmussen; James Wagner; Joy Garnet; J. T. Kirkland; F. Lennox Campello; Libby Rosof; Marja-Leena Rathje; Mark Barry; Anna L. Conti; John Perreault; Tyler Green; Mark Vallen; Martin Bromirski; Hans Heiner Buhr; Matt Petty ; Gregg Chadwick; Roberta Fallon; Sarah Hromack; Danny Gregory; Todd Gibson; Mat Gleason.

July 12, 2005 (Tuesday) – Advice and Response

Did you ever have to go through this to get the 3D to 2D conversion down? I had a drawing teacher who made us use this method for a while… I still have my frame with the string grid, down in the basement somewhere.

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Todd Gibson at From the Floor mentioned the current issue of “Art on Paper”, with its cover story about advice for young artists. He posted seven solid gold items, and the only thing I’d add is – practice every day (with or without the grid.)

James Wagner wrote about the Zipcar, New York’s version of Carshare – joining one of these organizatons is a tip for urban artists. Most of time, public transportation does me just fine. Even when I take my paintings to Almac each month, I usually do it on MUNI. But every now and then, you need to go pick up some really big stretcher bars, or transport a whole bunch of big paintings, or go to a friend’s show in some godforsaken outpost with no public transport. With Carshare, I can rent a pickup truck or a Scion, or a Beetle or whatever for just a few bucks per hour (gas included!)

ArtBusiness guy, Alan Bamberger frequently has advice for artists scattered throughout his reviews of art openings. Here’s a recent sample from June 25th:

Now I’m gonna tell why I ask what some might consider “uninformed” questions like “What happens to it when the show’s over?” or “Do you sell enough to make a living?” or “How long did it take to make?” or “So how do you make money?” One of my main missions in life is to help more artists sell more art better, so that hopefully, one day, they can support themselves entirely by making art and live lives of uncompromising creativity– because that’s what they want to do. To complicate matters, lots of artists don’t have outside jobs (maybe they don’t want ’em; maybe they can’t get ’em), or outside sources of income, enough money to pay next month’s rent, or sometimes even enough money to buy a decent meal. I ask my questions for them, those artists who struggle mightily to survive, on the off chance I might reconfigure an occasional answer to render their struggles a little less mighty. There you go. And thanks for taking the time to answer.

Readers of Working Artist’s Journal sound off:

in response to what you wanted to say:

i think that the free day thing for musuems is culturally responsible but also that charging other days is economically responsible. So, the cost of art is a matter of concern and responsability.

so here’s a thought – what about standardized art pricing – i mean, since the whole thing seems to be getting obviously and blattantly out of hand. The means of pricing are tough to work out but it goes something like an appraisal, giving a reason for each point and justifying it against a standard. I believe that anyone who argues that art is priceless would give it for free (ha-ha), but by the same token would argue for a pricing (ha-ha-ha) if they are trying to sell it (justifiably) I think the field would level out, some prices going up, and others down. Anyhow, i am brainstorming this concept for categories and meters. let you know.

jake

On your weblog you have mentioned the ‘discovery’ of vermeer’s studio by dutch árt historian ‘Daan Hartmann. In holland he is known as a very dubious artdealer and certainly not as a historian of any kind. His alleged find was just a way to direct people to his business (which has been under attack both from banks and the taxman and private citizens for fraud). Details can be found in many dutch newspapers and on several websites and weblogs.

reuters is not always a reliable source…..
(from a Dutch reader)

Your pride (or defensiveness) in your literalness, all too easily reveals your limitations as a visual artist or a commentator.
(from an installation artist)

Hi Anna,
Had a chance this week to check out your blog and your site in general, and wanted to send my compliments! It’s so far-ranging and informative and beautiful. Love your work: the writing and the painting. And thanks for posting my news on Mexico. So far, we have 4-5 folks who want to go, not quite enough, but we’ll see….
All the best,
Marianne Rogoff

(image at top is from a clip art collection called Desk Gallery, by Zedcor, Inc.)

July 11, 2005 (Monday) – An Artist’s View of the City
Yesterday I gave a talk at the Studio Gallery about the artist’s view and the city. (left: Jennifer at the Studio Gallery, making last minute adjustments.) Earlier in the weekend I’d seen a documentary about Richard Avedon (“Darkness and Light”) that gave me an idea of where to begin. At the beginning of the movie Richard Avedon said, “To be an artist (to be a photographer) you have to nurture the things that most people discard. You have to keep them alive, in order to tap them. I have to be in touch with the fragility… the man in me, the woman in me, the things I’m afraid of. By exploring things I’m afraid of, I’ve been able to lay the ghost. It’s out of me and onto the page.”

My interpretation: artists stay open to chance and serendipity. They take the time to slow down, stop, and look at the things most people rush past. It’s part of human nature to look for and recognize patterns, but artists take it a little further.

Visual artists keep a vast personal museum of images in their head. They shuffle through these images constantly. This makes it natural for an artist to look at a pile of litter by the curb and see a beautiful composition, or an interesting juxtaposition of objects, or a symbolic statement, when most people would rush by without seeing it, or see it but dismiss it as “trash.”

The gift of the artist to the rest of the community is to show, point out, or emphasize things they’ve seen. Often this is a familiar scene or subject from an unfamiliar point of view. For instance. Paul Madonna’s ink drawings of San Francisco roof tops have made a whole lot of people start looking up as they walk around the city. (Above left: Madonna drawing from the Newmark Gallery.) Nobuhito Tanaka’s “Mini Mini Cooper” (image right, at the Studio Gallery) shifts the viewer’s point of view, to pavement level.

For the last year or so, I’ve been focusing on urban caves (tunnels, garages, etc.) My point of view has been from a dark place, looking out (or not) towards the opening, and light.

Ultimately, though, the viewer decides on the point of view for each work of art. Mike Nichols said it like this, at the end of the Richard Avedon documentary: “Art doesn’t come to ultimate conclusions. A great work never closes the issue – it leaves things open, undecided, not yet dealt with… things for later, things for us (the viewers) to deal with.”
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July 7, 2005 (Thursday) – Getting out of the studio

I’m getting buggy – I haven’t left the studio in over a week, except to sleep & occasionally scrounge in the kitchen. The painting is going well, but I think it’s time to get some fresh air and few UV rays, so I’m heading out to the park to paint today.
– – – – –
I’m impressed with sfgate.com’s entry into the group-blog arena. The writing is good. It’s attractive, lively, covers fluff as well topics like “eat where you live” Even the art category is off to a good start, with Matt Petty doing most of the art reporting.

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July 6, 2005 (Wednesday) – Public Art

In respnse to Tyler Green’s Boston Globe op-ed about why it is wrong for the MFA Boston to rent out art to a private gallery in a Las Vegas casino:

Why shouldn’t public (non-profit) art museums rent out their collections? Because for godsake, we’re buried in money exchanges as it is. It takes an extreme act of will and almost constant vigilance to keep oneself from being sucked into the “everything-has-a-price-and-mine-is-higher-than-yours” mentality. Is there no end to the the constant barrage of messages, saying in essence, “you aren’t good enough, but buy this and maybe you can pass?” Look at all the flashing boxes around the borders of most web pages: it’s a virtual walk down any major (US) city center, with panhandlers shaking cups at you, left and right. Aren’t these museum people rich enough already? No, of course not, because money doesn’t fill that hole. Neither does whiter teeth, smaller pores, bigger cars…

OK, you pushed a button, but I’ll stop before I really get carried away. What I wanted to say is:

Admission to PUBLIC art museums, to see PUBLICLY OWNED art should be FREE at all times to everybody (i.e. the PUBLIC.)

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July 5, 2005 (Tuesday) – Practice
A few days ago a friend of mine (another painter) dropped by to see what I was up to. I was having trouble deciding which, if any paintings to submit to a particular venue. All of my current work (stacked in the hall and around the living room) is already promised to various places, so it would mean submitting work that was at least two years old. We went down to the basement to pull a few pieces out of the racks and take a look. I hadn’t seen these paintings in quite a while. At first, they almost looked to me like they were painted by another person. I was shocked. I saw all kinds of things I’d do differently today. Yet, at the time I finished these pieces, I thought they were the best I’d ever done.

How can such a short time make such a difference? Especially when I’m not consciously trying to “improve” anything? Each time I work on a painting, I just keep at it until I think it’s as good as it can be. Some are harder than others, but I’m usually satisfied with the result. So why, after a few months go by, does it no longer meet my standards? Because, in some mysterious process, those standards have shifted.

I know it has something to do with practice. Lack of practice can slow, stall, or even reverse the progression of skills. But I also think there’s more to it than just practice. Is it desire, intent, focus, or … ? I don’t know. It’s something to ponder today, while I practice.
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July 4, 2005 (Monday) – Fairfield Porter, reality and idealism

From the book, “Poets on Painters,” Edited by J.D. McClatchy
©1988, University of California Press, ISBN 0-520-06971-4

Excerpts from the chapter, “Respect for Things As They Are” by John Ashbery:

In his introduction to Fairfield Porter’s posthumous collection of art criticism, “Art in Its Own Terms,” Rackstraw Downes quotes a remark Fairfield Porter made during what must have been one of the more Byzantine discussions at the Artists’ Club on Eighth Street, around 1952. The members were arguing about whether or not it was vain to sign your paintings. With the flustered lucidity of Alice in the courtroom, Porter sliced this particular Gordian knot once and for all: “If you are vain it is vain to sign your pictures and vain not to sign them. If you are not vain it is not vain to sign them and not vain not to sign them.” We do not know the reaction of his colleagues; quite possibly this mise au net fell on the same deaf ears that ignored the urgent but plain and unpalatable truths that Porter voiced again and again in his writings on art, at a time of particularly hysterical factionalism. … His reputation as an eccentric remains, though it stemmed from a single-minded determination to speak the truth. Handsome is as handsome does; actions speak louder than words: who, in the course of the Artists’ Club’s tumultuous sessions, could pause to listen to such drivel?

I hadn’t known this statement of Porter’s before reading Downes’s preface, but somehow it caused all my memories of the man I knew well for more than twenty years (without, alas, pausing very often to look or listen well) to fall into place. Porter was, of course, only the latest of a series of brilliant know-nothings who at intervals have embodied the American genius, from Emerson and Thoreau to Whitman and Dickinson down to Wallace Stevens and Marianne Moore. Her title “In Distrust of Merits” could stand for all of them and her preference for winter over summer reminds me of Porter’s saying in a letter to a friend: “November after the leaves have fallen may be one of the best times of year on Long Island. That is, I like the way the trees don’t block the light any more. ” And I realized after such a long acquaintanceship that his paintings, which most people like but have difficulty talking about (Are they modern enough? Too French? Too pleasant? Hasn’t this been done before?), are part of the intellectual fabric that underlay his opinions,his conversation, his poetry, his way of being.

They are intellectual in the classic American tradition of the writers mentioned above because they have no ideas in them, that is, no ideas that can be separated from the rest. They are idea, or consciousness, or light, or whatever. Ideas surround them, but do not and cannot extrude themselves into the being of the art… Porter had a horror of “art as sociology,” of the artist who “treats art as though it were raw material for a factory that produces a commodity called understanding.” For art and that commodity are one, and art that illustrates an idea,however remotely or tangentially, has forfeited its claim to be considered art by introducing a fatal divisiveness into what can only be whole. Politically “concerned” artists continue to make pictures that illustrate the horrors of war, of man’s inhumanity to man; feminist artists produce art in which woman is exalted, and imagine that they have accomplished a useful act; and no doubt there are a number of spectators who find it helpful to be reminded that there is room for improvement in the existing order of things. Yet beyond the narrow confmes of the “subject” (only one of a number of equally important elements in the work of art, as
Porter points out) the secret business of art gets done according to mysterious rules of its own. In this larger context ideology simply doesn’t function as it is supposed to, when indeed it isn’t directly threatening the work of art by trivializing it, and trivializing as well the importance of the ideas it seeks to dramatize.

As a citizen he was preoccupied – almost obsessed, in fact – with questions of ecology and politics, and politics of a most peculiar sort; he had been something of a Marxist in the thirties but in later life his political pronouncements could veer from far left to extreme right without any apparent transition. And in conversation he could become almost violent on subjects like pesticides or fluoridation, to the extent that his friends would sometimes: stifle giggles or groans, though one almost always had to agree with him, and the years since his death in 1975 have proved him even righter than he knew. Nevertheless, this passionately idealistic man felt threatened by idealism. If I understand him, it is not idealism that is dangerous, far from it, but idealism perverted and destroyed by being made “useful.” Its uselessness is something holy, just like Porter’s pictures, barren of messages and swept clean, in many cases, by the clean bare light of November, no longer masked by the romantic foliage.

In an earlier letter to Mrs. White, Porter complained about several sentences in an article she had written about him and submitted to him before publication. One was:”Since he does not like the white, misty summer light of the Hamptons he goes to an island in Maine in the summer.” This nettled him because: “the fact is, we go to Maine in the summer because I have since I was six. It is my home more than any other place, and I belong there. . . . The white misty light would never be a reason for my doing anything.” And no doubt the suggestion that he would travel to paint in a place where the light was better was inconceivable, since the whole point was to put down what was there wherever he happened to be, not with approval but with respect. Another sentence that Porter objected to in Mrs. White’s article was this: “The Porters are quiet, intense and rather fey and seem to live on an enchanted planet of their own.” He did not give a reason for his objection, and perhaps none was necessary. But Mrs. White could not really be blamed for her assessment; there was an element of truth in it despite the discomfort it caused Porter. His house in Southampton was an enchanting place: large and gracious but always a little messy and charmingly dilapidated. One of the bathrooms was more than that, while in an upstairs hall the wallpaper hung in festoons and no one seemed to mind. The children were strangely beautiful, wide-eyed, and withdrawn, and they spoke like adults. There were idiosyncratically chosen paintings by de Kooning, Larry Rivers, and Leon Hartl (a little known artist whom Porter admired enormously) on the walls, along with Audubon and Ukiyo-e prints and a strange Turner drawing; there was a lovely smell in the house, made up of good cooking, oil paint, books, and fresh air from the sea. He painted his surroundings as they looked, and they happened to look cozy. But the coziness is deceiving. The local color is transparent and porous, letting the dark light of space show through. The painting has the vehemence of abstraction, though it speaks another language.

In the same letter Porter quoted from memory a line of Wittgenstein that he felt central to his own view of aesthetics: “Every sentence is in order as it is.” And he went on astonishingly to elaborate: “Order seems to come from searching for disorder, and awkwardness from searching for harmony or likeness, or the following of a system. The truest order is what you already find there, or that will be given if you don’t try for it. When you arrange, you fail. ” I think it is in the light of statements like these that we must now look at Porter’s painting, prepared to find the order that is already there, not the one that should be but the one that is.

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From the book, “Poets on Painters,” Edited by J.D. McClatchy
©1988, University of California Press, ISBN 0-520-06971-4

Image of Porter is a self portrait from artchive.com; painting of girl on front of mirror is from Yale Press; painting of “Breakfast” is from artnet.com

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July 1, 2005 (Friday) – July shows to see
The summer fog has settled in, out here by the ocean. I haven’t seen a ray of sunshine in over a week (except for Tuesday, and that was because I went over to the Mission for most of the day.) I’m still working on the July calendar and I’ll try to post it later today. These look like pretty good picks:
Braunstein/Quay Gallery
Paul Pratchenko, Paintings, mixed media
July 6–July 30, 2005
Reception: July 9, 2005

Elins Eagles-Smith Gallery
Pia Stern , “Gravity,” New work on canvas and paper
July 7 – August 15, 2005
Reception first thursday (July 7th) 5:30 – 7:30

Feast day paintings

Presented for your reflection.
Click on painting to go to artist’s site (source of the image.)

At left:
Katherine Doyle

At left:
Hein Koh
At right:
John Currin

At right:
Frank Wright
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November 23, 2005 (Wednesday) – Ruth Asawa sculptures at de Young

Ruth Asawa is an example of what it means to be an artist. She’s one of the most inspiring examples we have. She has used her talents, training and life experience to enrich her community, and certainly most of the people in San Francisco are grateful for her presence here. I’ve been thinking about her body of work (artworks as well as activism) since seeing her hanging wire sculptures at the de Young recently.

There is a big team whenever there are new Altcoins that emerge and their projects. Mostly the team that they have make use of their nicknames rather than real name and present themselves on the website. When the project takes off and it does not make much money, it is probably going to fade off very soon because its chance of developing over time is not going to happen. On the other hand when it raises a lot of money, it will have investor who will be buying coins on the exchanges. Bitcoin Trader also helps trade Altcoins.

The 15 works are made of copper, brass or Montel wire and are crocheted or hand-woven. They hang in the vestibule of the tower, casting reticular shadows against the concrete walls. One of her untitled circular tree pieces (I think of them as tree mandalas) is mounted against one wall. If you’ve lived in San Francisco any length of time, you’ve certainly seen one or more of her fountains or sculptures and heard about her work with local school children. Sometimes I wonder why we hear so much about young artists who act like (are treated like) rock stars, when there are artists like Ruth Asawa quietly working in their communities, year after year. There must be many more like her, out there in other towns around the country. I hope they’re valued by their communities.

In case you’re new in town, or reading this from elsewhere, here are some links about Ruth Asawa:

Her own, excellent, comprehensive webpage, with great scrapbook photos.

An upcoming show (December 1, 2005 – January 14, 2006 – Sculpture and drawings) at Rena Bransten Gallery

A story from the November ’05 Noe Valley Voice (Asawa’s neighborhood paper.)

KQED’s recent Spark video (downloadable) about Asawa and her influences.

Her exhibit 3 years ago at the Oakland Museum.

A DVD documentary about Ruth Asawa

August 2005

September 1, 2005 (Thursday) Hurricane Katrina & the Arts / Press Release for tonight’s lecture

Tyler Green has a great roundup of links to info about Hurricane Katrina and the Arts, including a – – page about a fund for museums affected by the hurricane.

– – – – – – – – – –
This is a crazy week for me (hence, no post yesterday) so I’m signing off with a bit of shameless self-promotion and I’ll be back to my regular daily posting on Monday.

Press Release for my lecture tonight (first thursday!), 7pm, downtown SF:

Newmark Gallery San Francisco presents

IN THE STUDIO WITH LARRY MORACE AND ANNA CONTI , Two visions of one city

Thursday, September 1st, 2005, 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Campton Place Hotel, 340 Stockton Street, San Francisco, CA.

Two distinct painters compare their very different views of San Francisco in the luxury of one of the finest hotels in the city. Join painters Anna Conti and Larry Morace in an extraordinary lecture and art presentation on Thursday, September 1st, 2005, 6:30pm – 8:30pm, at Campton Place Hotel, 340 Stockton Street, San Francisco, CA.

Larry Morace and Anna L. Conti both live in the Sunset district of San Francisco. Both artists create photo-based representational paintings of the city and share many of the same artistic influences, such as Edward Hopper. However Morace’s work is radically different from Conti’s. Morace works with juicy oil paint to the edge of abstraction while Conti’s works are rich with crisply detailed draftsmanship and symbolism. How do these two painters with so much in common arrive at such wildly divergent styles?

Morace and Conti’s will speak candidly about their studios, painting process and style, shared artistic influences, and what they like about cityscapes. Both artists are experienced presenters and have arranged a slide show to accompany the talk. The presentation includes painting displays and ends with an open Questions and Answers session.

Come and see more Larry Morace and Anna Conti’s paintings in “San Francisco Cityscapes,” Newmark Gallery’s second annual San Francisco cityscapes exhibit. Featuring artists Larry Morace, Paul Madonna, Anna Conti and Toru Sugita. The exhibit encompasses several styles with the common thread being the insider’s view of the City. August 2nd through October 1st, 2005.

Newmark Gallery San Francisco is located at 251 Post Street, Suite 412 in the Union Square area of San Francisco. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday 11 am – 6 pm and by appointment. Please view our website at www.newmarkgallery.com for more information and upcoming events or call 415-392-3692.

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August 30, 2005 (Tuesday) New gallery in Yerba Buena Gardens?
Seen in the old “Cloud Nine” location this past weekend:

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August 29, 2005 (Monday) A room of one’s own, but where?
As Virginia said, a room of one’s own is essential – but does it matter if the room is attached to the living quarters, or somewhere completely separate?

I’ve always maintained a studio that was attached to my living space. I didn’t like the idea of having to put the muse on hold until I got to a studio across town, or wherever. But since I’ve never actually tried a completely separate studio space, who knows – I might discover some unexpected benefits there. The confluence of a stories about Matisse and art bloggers’ studio tales has made me reconsider:

Carol Es reports that her new studio at Angels Gate helps her get more work done and create more of a separation between her work and her life.

Cinque Hicks reports that he’s decided to get his first-ever separate studio space.

Peter Scheldahl writes in a New Yorker review of Hilary Spurling’ biography of Matisse, that the artist had no separation between his private life and his art: “His art reserved nothing for himself. In an age of ideologies, Matisse dodged all ideas except perhaps one: that art is life by other means. … According to Spurling, ‘The family fitted their activities round his breaks and work sessions. Silence was essential.’ Even during the years when Matisse lived mostly alone in Nice, an ‘annual ritual of unpacking, stretching, framing and hanging ended with the whole family settling down to respond to the paintings.’ The conference might last several days. Then the dealers were admitted.”
And then just last week, I stopped in at the SOMA Artists Building (5th & Bryant) to visit the new studio space of my star painting student, Lillian Rubin. It’s a clean, well-lighted building, with 38 artist studios on two floors and common sink & toilet areas. They’ve recently been doing some major construction on the second floor, to carve out new studio spaces, which have all been leased, although not everyone has moved in yet. I spoke briefly with Jana Grover, one of the organizers, and an artist She has a bigger space, with windows overlooking the street. She told me they’re trying to get organized in time to open for this year’s SF Open Studios.

I’m getting a glimmer of an idea of how a little more separation between work and life might be beneficial.

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August 27, 2005 (Weekend) Tinhorn, Hayes Valley art walk, part 3

Santa Cruz artist, Carol Summers, has wood cut prints at Tinhorn Gallery. (Also here.) They’re not your average woodcuts. They’re filled with big, bold areas of saturated colors, and make minimal use of lines. My two favorites were “Dudh Rosi (Milk River)” and “The Grave of Santa Ana’s Leg,” hanging left and right in photo of gallery, at left. The gallery has a display case of Summer’s wood blocks and materials (photo below) to answer the questions of people like me (“This is wood cut? How did he do that?”) He uses an unconventional printing method of laying the paper over a dry, carved block and then rolling the ink over the positive impression. The print is they sprayed with mineral spirits which creates a blurring of the sharp edges and an undulation in the color fields.
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August 26, 2005 (Friday) Bucheon – Hayes Valley art walk, part 2
According to Ed Winkleman (in NY) via Tyler Green (in DC) the west coast art scene is hot right now. Hmmm… maybe. Maybe in L.A., at least. It’s kind of hard to see it from here. Of course, every week it seems like another artist friend tells me they’ve signed with an L.A. gallery, so maybe there’s something to it.

Here in SF, the Bucheon Gallery has a “Summer in San Francisco” group show of new work by the gallery artists. I was overdue for a gallery walk in this neighborhood, so I came by a few days ago. I’m glad I did – it was easily the best of the eight places I visited that day. They had a deep selection of paintings and mixed media pieces.

The first painting to really grab me was Elena Sisto’s “Untitled” (at right.) There were several other iconic female portraits by this artist, and they all have a thick, painterly surface, amiable colors, and a placid facade. There’s a sense that much, much more is beneath the surface. I would love to see a 2-person show of work by Elena Sisto and Lisa Yuskavage. I think it’d be fascinating to compare and contrast these two.

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I almost passed by the piece by Ken Kirsch (at left), but the friend who was accompanying me that day made me take another look (one of the benefits of seeing art with another interested party.) It’s oil on panel, but it resembled Fred Tomiselli’s work, the way the opaque elements floated in (or on the surface of) the translucent layers of glazing. They had a fantastic piece in the dimly lit bathroom (impossible to get a photo) of pale butterflies in a red field.

Other worth-the-trip paintings: Merrilee Challis’ finely detailed symbolic landscape doodles (at left); Rebecca Bird’s amazing watercolor on panel of natural totemic elements; and Jenny Dubnau’s thin oil photo-based portraits that reminded me of Chuck Close’s early work.

I’m late with this post, so I’ll put this up and write about the rest of Hayes Valley tomorrow.
… the Bucheon guard dogs.

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August 25, 2005 (Thursday) Hayes Valley art walk
Yesterday I went by the M.A.C. (Modern Appealing Clothing at 387 Grove Street) to take a look at the Lost Art Salon “satellite exhibition”, highlighting three artists: Alice Bishop, Leon Wall, and Clyde I. Seavey. M.A.C. looked to me, like a gallery that also sells clothes. I suppose to some people, it might look like a clothing store that also sells art. But art and clothes are well integrated here.

I first read about the Lost Art guys (Gaetan Caron & Rob Delamater) in the SF Chronicle. They have a big salon/gallery on South Van Ness, but this is a tight little spot show on the long wall near the entrance of M.A.C. Each artist has a small, discrete grouping of work.

Alice Bishop’s pencil drawings (above) look like they came from a sketchbook. The wall tag had this to say about her:

“Alice Bishop (birth and death dates unknown). Like many of the artists in the Lost Art collection, Alice Bishop’s personal story is unknown. And like so many other women artists of her time, it is believed that Bishop never had gallery or dealer representation. But the spare beauty and subtle strength of her sketches of trees, boats, barns and friends are evidence of a seasoned talent-awaiting discovery. Details in the sketches and the paper used indicate that the pieces were done in the early part of the 20th Century, most likely in England. the discovery of such deserving, but previously unknown artists, is part of the Lost Art Salon mission of presenting new artistic voices from the past and giving them perhaps their first opportunity to be heard and appreciated by a new generation of art lovers.”

Leon Wall (1919-1980) was represented by small abstract pastel drawings (above) and Clyde I. Seavey’s work was figurative charcoal drawings on printed paper. One of Seavey’s images was used to promote the show.

All kinds of other art is situated around the store. A couple of large Ann Webber sculptures (above left) were in the middle aisle (these are corrugated cardboard, staples and shellac.) Brightly colored guitars (above right, by Spike Milliken) made out of cigar boxes, old oil pantings (mostly anonymous) were everywhere, and little shadow boxes were tucked in here and there.

Tomorrow: Tinhorn, Bucheon, and other Hayes Valley art spots.
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August 23, 2005 (Tuesday) Around the web, and elsewhere…
I probably should have broken this up into two or three days, but I’m going to be out of the studio and away from the computer for the next few days and I don’t know when (if) I’m going to get a chance to post, so here it is… consume in small amounts, and it’ll last ya.

•••

Interesting story by Sarah Duxbury from SF Business Times (via MSNBC) about the practice of “timeshare” art donations to major museums, and how the SFMOMA has “emerged as a big player in the art world’s timeshare market.”

•••

Chris at Zeke’s Gallery pointed to an interesting story about corporate art collections. It’s an interview with Shirley Reiff Howarth, art historian and expert on corporate art collections, who gave a lecture earlier in the year on this topic. She started a directory of over 1300 corporate art collections, world wide.

“The corporate art environment is an interesting segment of the art world and few people know very much about it. It is very different world – it is nothing like the auction world, the gallery world, the artist’s world, or even the museum context. And yet it has grown into becoming quite an important force in the arts.

(The) word “collection” is a misnomer. Unfortunately, there isn’t a better term to use. The company’s “collection” might not only be displayed throughout a single building; it might be displayed across the country. For example, JP Morgan Chase, which has offices and branches around the world, has works of art in all of these locations. They are managed by the curator in New York.

Every corporate collection is very different. A lot of them are not collections in a true sense. They are simply assemblages of art purchased to decorate the walls, to make a pleasant environment for the employees. The true collections that have an integrity and coherence tend to have been of long standing. For example, Fleming’s Bank in Scotland has a collection of Scottish art. It is probably the finest single collection of Scottish art. When that bank was sold and merged with an American bank, they protected the collection and created a foundation separately, so that the collection is still intact. ”
Shirley Reiff Howarth

•••

Roberta Fallon posted the final two entries (here and here) about her trip to San Francisco and her gallery crawl. For the record (read Roberta’s post first):

• the guy behind the desk at Gregory Lind is always testy, but I think he’s sincerely trying to be polite. He’s just not very good at it.
• the Viola Frey sculptures are in the hallway at 77 Geary, between the Heather Marx gallery and the George Krevsky gallery, and just down the hall from the Rena Bransten gallery (which reps Frey.)
• the “senior-xing” sign is next to a senior subsidized housing building. The traffic on Howard Street is so horrendous that the slow-moving residents kept getting mowed down at an alarming rate, so this is part of the civic response.
• I had a great time looking at art with someone who can go at it as long as I can, and who can provide intelligent commentary as well. Thanks, Roberta!

•••

More about John Gutmann: I wrote about John Gutmann on August 15th and received a couple of emails about him. Eva Lake wrote an update remembrance on her blog and Susan Friedewald wrote to let me know about John Gutmann Photography Fellowship Trust, which is planning several exhibitions of Gutmann’s work this year.

•••

Honesty (in art) – Cinque Hicks wrote a brilliant little paragraph on this topic and then over at Franklin’s forum, “artblog.net” they tossed it around a bit. Here’s Cinque:

“Honesty? I mean, if you ever stifle an impulse toward beauty or ugliness, clumsiness or elegance, openness or obscurity, then you are not honest. If you want to be funny but keep a straight face instead, if you want to be serious but laugh it off, then you are not honest. If you are making work and the thought in your head is, “this will totally wow ’em,” or “so-and-so will think this is so cool,” then you are not honest. If you are making work and simultaneously composing the paragraph about yourself that you imagine will appear in all the art history books or in the newspaper or in the press release, you are not honest. If you look at your own work and say, “shit, that looks too much like artist X; let me change it,” or, “dammit, I have to make it look more like artist Y,” then you are not honest. If you pursue something only because it’s sure to gain the respect of your peers, your teacher, a curator, a gallerist, your father, or your girlfriend, you are not honest. If you do something only because it is sure to piss off anyone from that same list, you are not honest. If you neglect your desire to do X because everybody has come to expect Y from you, then you are not honest. And if you’re an artist and claim never to have had one of these moments, then you are really not honest.”
from Bare and Bitter Sleep

•••

I picked up a newspaper from the SF Arts & Media Expo with two stories about unofficial public art in San Francisco.

The first was written by “Comrade Q”, about the installation of a sculpture:

“It was a public art attack. February 26, 1993, at the foot of Market Street in San Francisco, the Department of Public Art (DPA) drove up in a rented pickup truck.
Out we sprang, dressed in white Tyvek disposable suits, each adorned with a black and blue DPA logo specially created for the purpose. Comrade X had the clipboard with our work order, duly signed and filled out, describing our apparent civil service duty of installing the sculpture in Justin Herman Plaza).”

They installed the sculpture, and then,

“With a flourish of feigned cityworker boredom, we pulled the plastic away to reveal our masterpiece: “The Door Is Always Open.” A mannequin was flying over a
1965 Chrysler Imperial car door, its bicycle upended into the door itself. All of it had been painstakingly assembled during the previous week. Few cyclists are unfamiliar with the drama of getting “doored” while riding the narrow side spaces on most urban streets. It was but the first of a series of occasional Art Attacks by the San Francisco Department of Public Art, stretching through the 1990s and well into the new millennium. No doubt others will appear in coming years. ”

The second story, “Urban Alterations” was by Scott Kiddall, and told about how he altered some of the city-installed, U-shaped bicycle racks that are bolted to the sidewalks:

” I enlisted friends and together we removed the racks at night and took them back to my metal shop. There, I added welded ornamentation following themes of disempowerment. The first one depicted items of physical labor such as a pipe threader, a railroad spike and a factory gear, reflecting the transition to a service-oriented economy. Another depicted stuffed animals that were incarcerated.”

He reinstalled the modified racks that same night and most of them are still there, three years later.

So, now you know.

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August 22, 2005 (Monday) Painting in Union Square, fending off pigeons
For the next six weeks I’m going to be doing my regular plein-aire stints in Union Square (open plaza in the middle of downtown SF) instead of, or in addition to Golden Gate Park. People often stop to talk to me when I’m painting in public, and it just dawned on me last week that I could be sending them to the gallery (which is only half a block from Union Square.) I hadn’t painted here in the past because it seemed too touristy and frankly, it didn’t strike me as particularly appealing, visually. You can look in four different directions at four slightly differing walls of retail & hotel buildings. Then there are the usual assorted palm trees, lots of restless people, and pigeons. Aggressive pigeons. Kamikaze pigeons. But, hey, it’s good to challenge yourself now and then, so…

Last Friday I headed down there for my first session. There’s a great little Italian cafe at the edge of the square, and I had this fantasy that I could sit at one of their tables, sipping a mocha, listening to Frank Sinatra or Italian opera, and sketch… something. But it didn’t work out that way.

When I came up out of the underground at Market & Stockton, I noticed a fine grey mist in the air, and for once it wasn’t fog. Then I heard helicopters. Hovering. Lots of them. The streets were packed with people, most of them hurrying somewhere, or standing, looking up. I headed to the gallery, where they told me about the explosion at Post & Kearny. I thought they were kidding at first.

So I went over to Union Square anyway, and tried to get a table at Rulli, but it was bedlam. I’ve never seen it so nuts there. I had to cruise for about 15 minutes before I was able to snag a table. I ordered a sandwich, too, in hopes that I could lay claim to my little patch of real estate a bit longer. I couldn’t hear any music above the helicopters and sirens. Forget looking for the best view – I just started sketching what was in front of me, with a black ink rollerball.

Then the couple at the table next to me got up and left a few scraps on the plates. The pigeons descended, in rapidly increasing numbers, until they were a writhing grey mass that started edging my way. I started swinging my sketchbook to fend them off. Next thing you know, there’s a kid under my table trying to FEED the pigeons a piece of bread! I told her to get lost, but I soon decided to strike out for new territory, myself.

I moved over to one of those black stone “hat boxes” that line the perimeter of the plaza, and pulled out my watercolors. I spent the next (mostly peaceful) hour adding some color to the ink drawing and talking to a few people. Next time I’m bringing my tri-pod table and setting up away from the cafe.
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August 19, 2005 (Friday) Buy Art Now
There’s a brand new art blog here in San Francisco, “Newmark Confidential”, by gallerist Mark Wladika. I mean REALLY new, as in, started just this week. His Wednesday post, “Buying Art” is a rumination on why more people don’t buy art. He’s asking for feedback on this topic – anybody have any insight on that?

For me, it’s one of those mysteries of life that I’ll probably never really understand. Art is so central to my life (and books, too) that when I see a house or apartment with nothing original on the walls and no books in sight, it’s like looking into a parallel universe where nothing makes sense.

And it’s not about money. Most of my friends are artists, and many of them are living below the official poverty line, and while most of the art on their walls is self-made or acquired through barter, I know many artists who have purchased art at “full price” from a gallery or studio. Original art can be had (even from galleries) for a few hundred bucks or less. Sometimes much less.

So it’s hard not to laugh when someone stands in my studio and says something like, “I love your work, but I just can’t afford it.” This is usually from a person driving a $30,000 car, wearing thousands of dollars in clothes, carrying hundreds of dollars in electronic gadgets, and heading out for a restaurant meal that will cost more than my monthly grocery budget. So, I usually figure the “can’t afford it” statement is just a polite brush-off.

When I’ve been out and about in the non-art world, and the possibility of buying original art is brought up, it’s amazing how often the reaction is a startled, “Huh?” You can almost see the “this is a totally new concept” cloud forming over their head. The idea of the “average person” (which most people consider themselves to be) buying original art is completely outside their frame of reference.

So maybe it means we need some industry ads, like the “Got Milk?” campaign. Something that doesn’t promote a particular kind of art, or place of purchase, but plants the seed that gets them thinking about the possibility that they could be art collectors, and why that might be a good thing.

But that’s just a guess.

(The image is “Gallery 33”, one of my older paintings, of my favorite room in the old de Young.)

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August 19, 2005 (Friday) Corporate Art
I just finished a little painting (“Ozone”) that I’ve been working on for entirely too long, so I went down to pick up the mail, and ….

Whoa! Look at this week’s New Yorker! Every single ad space is taken up with red, white and black Target ads. Sorta like the saturation bombing of the MUNI underground by the pharmacy, travel and computer companies. Must have cost them a fortune.

No words, just pictures, obviously by real artists, some familiar to me. Geeze, I like it. I don’t want to like it, being more of an “Adbusters” kinda gal, but I can’t help myself… it looks great.

It’s a portfolio of portraits of New York. It’s a little creepy seeing bullseye targets plastered all over New York, but it’s exciting to see page after page of artwork, created on a given theme… A corporate-sponsored art show, in a popular format… but what if it was somebody like Exon? Or Halliburton?

From Jen Chung at Gothamist:

“Anyway, what do you think of the ads? Designer Michael Bierut writes about the “unnerving” effect of the ads, adding that he counted over 200 Target logos in the first 19 pages before giving up. Gothamist actually liked them, because we knew which pages were actual editorial since they weren’t festooned with red and white bull’s eyes. And it was like having a capitalistic fever dream, in a world when buildings, teams, and maybe even cities will be branded. Oh, wait, that might still happen.”

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August 17, 2005 (Wednesday) Newmark opening

Last Saturday was the opening for the SF Cityscapes show at the Newmark Gallery. It’s a four-person show with some of my recent “Urban Caves” paintings, plus expressionistic oil paintings by Larry Morace, ink and wash drawings by Paul Madonna, and etchings by Toru Sugita. (Photos by David W. Sumner)

Yours truly, on the left, with Steve Gorski and Judi Gorski.

With Toru Sugita.
Stu Kremsky and Janet Rosen.

Above: Paul Madonna and Larry Morace; Left: Leaning on the wall for support by the end of the night.
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August 17, 2005 (Wednesday) spotlight
It’s all about me, today. I’ll keep it short.

Current studio photo at left: The wrapped paintings in the foreground are destined for Gallery Siano in Philadelphia. I just picked them up from the framer, and I’m awaiting the custom packing crate. The two paintings on the easels (“This Way Out” – a garage exit, and “Portrait of Virginia”) are still in progress, but they have to be finished in the next two weeks, as they are both headed for other shows.

Roberta Fallon posted her interview with me over at artblog. I told her that next time she comes to town, I get to ask the questions.

Later today I’ll post photos from the Newmark Gallery opening… stay tuned.

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August 16, 2005 (Tuesday) de Young tour

This week the de Young opens the free-to-the-public areas (everything but the galleries.) I toured it first thing yesterday morning with my friend, Harry (aka Cranky Pants.) To be fair, I started the day a little cranky, myself. For starters, we were inundated with thick, low, drippy fog.

As residents of the neighborhood next to the museum, Harry & I discussed all the controversies on our walk over there… the long battle over the parking garage and the still unresolved fight over the lane widening at Ninth & Lincoln and its impact on the Inner Sunset. And Harry (who has plenty of company on this issue) hates the exterior appearance of the museum (I love it.)

Then there was the issue of the member’s-only soft opening of the gift shop and cafe (not the galleries.) Seems like every other person I talk to has been given a tour of the galleries, so I found it a little insulting (as a many-years-loyal, albeit low-level, member) to be offered the “privilege” of spending time in the gift shop and cafe. Still, I took it. I’ve been desperate to get past the chain link fences and look around inside.

It was worth it. They actually had a large portion of the museum open to poking around, including the tower. Even with the fog, it’s a spectacular view from up there. You can look straight down into the main courtyard (image at left) and (on a clear day, according to the docent) out to the Farallon Islands, 30 miles off the coast. The whole place is open, spacious, with views of the outdoors everywhere. Even Harry said, “this was worth coming for.”

I only saw a few of the site-specific works that were commissioned for the museum. As we entered, the Andy Goldsworthy’s “Drawn Stone” tectonic split started at the sidewalk and jagged up the walkway, into the entrance court and then circled around, through several big stones from Scotland.

The massive Gerhard Richter mural in the lobby was misinterpreted by almost everyone as an homage to the pierced copper panels on the exterior of the building (it’s actually based on the atomic structure of strontium titanate.) If you stand a couple of feet in front of it, these weird optical effects make it seem to start blinking (or maybe it was just me?)

More good news: you can take photos (sans flash) anywhere in the museum, except the special exhibition gallery. Best news: they are going to be starting members tours of the galleries on October 9th. I’m happy now.
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August 15, 2005 (Monday) John Gutman
Seems like John Gutman (who died in ’88) is all over SF these days. He was a painter who took up photojournalism as a way to escape Germany during the Nazi era. He came to the US and when he got to SF he set up the Photography department at San Francisco State University.

SFMOMA has some of his photography on view and the Fraenkel Gallery has a selection of his paintings and his photographs. (The Fraenkel is a photography gallery but they show paintings now and then, for instance when they showed work by Chuck Close a few years ago.) One of the paintings at the Fraenkel, Gutman’s “Still Life with Sketchpads” (image left) reminds me of a painting by another German-born artist, Chester Arnold. Arnold’s “Bad Paintings” is a still life with a pile of paintings turned against the wall. Last time I looked, it was hanging over the desk at the Catherine Clark Gallery (sorry, I couldn’t find an image of it.)

The Greenwich Village Gazette ran a great essay by Eva Lake about John Gutman’s earlier shows at the deYoung and LAMOCA. She wrote:

“Gutmann influenced how we view photography in more ways than one. He was one of the first to teach classes in it, beginning in 1936. He set up a complete photography program at San Francisco State University in 1946. It would be an understatement to say that not only did the photo world rock with Gutmann’s presence, but so did San Francisco. He was a link between European Modernism and the west coast.

Having lived in San Francisco for part of the 80s, I often saw him around. He was no art world snob, but completely accessible and one who participated in life. He came to my parties and to my exhibitions, a point of focus in any room, sometimes offering a criticism you had to listen to. Not a lot of people can get away with that (especially as he was not my teacher), but his words were always well chosen. It was really just another form of his great generosity.”
from “Remembering John Gutman”, by Eva Lake in The Greenwich Village Gazette

Image at right is Gutman’s “Death Stalks Fillmore”, 1934, printed ca. 1974, Collection SFMOMA

Also, this Wednesday, August 17 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts will show the film “My Eyes Were
Fresh, The life and photographs of John Gutman”, by Jane Levy Reed. This film profiles an artist whose art and life forged a link between the European modernism of the early 20th Century and the
burgeoning artistic culture of the SF Bay Area in the seconf half of the century. Local videographer, Voitek Szymkiewiczwas the cameraman on this film, and Wednesday is his birthday. After the screening we will meet at ‘Catalyst Cocktails’ for drinks and cake. Please join him to celebrate! The bar is located right across the street from the Hall of Justice,in the alley.

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August 12, 2005 (Friday) Russian Criminal Tattoos

When I was at the Legion of Honor the other day, I also spent some time in the bookstore. Kudos to whoever orders the books there. In a city with more great bookstores per capita than anywhere else in the country, this little shop still manages to surprise me with cool books from obscure publishers. My most recent discovery was the “Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopedia,” published in Germany by Steidl/Fuel, 2003 (ISBN 3-88243-920-3). It contains two short, fascinating essays (about 20 pages) and the rest of the 390 page book is illustrations (photos and line drawings) with explanatory captions. The drawings were by Danzig Baldev, who describes himself in the forward as, “descended from baptized Buryat-Mongols, people who were rich, brave and strong.” He writes that at least 58 members of his family died in Soviet prison camps, and he feels that “everything the country has gone through has been reflected in prison and camp life.”

I’ve been thinking about tattoos and their place in Art ever since a conversation I had with a guy from my local tattoo shop a couple of weeks ago (I’m considering interviewing them for the blog.) What does it mean when the human body is your canvas? Well for starters, the work is usually a collaboration between the artist and the client, although forced tattoos are not uncommon in prison situations. According to the author of the “Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopedia,” Alexei Plutser-Sarno, tattoos in the Russian prison system serve the following functions:

a unique language or arnot; a message carried by courier from one community to another zone

a permanent “uniform”, depicting rank and service record of time in prison

a case file or visual criminal record

a passport to and from certain communities

collective memory

symbols of public identity or social self-awareness
“If we look around, we shall see that not only “legitimate thieves” but also millions of perfectly honest, upright citizens are covered with these tattoos. Simply because every fifth inhabitant of our country has passed through the camps and every second has been through army ‘zones.” And we honest, upright philistines and law-abiding petty bourgeois have long ago become used to seeing ourselves in the role of noble bandits, downtrodden victims and fearless inhabitants of tattooed slums.” – Alexei Plutser-Sarno

Two things surprised me about the visual images in this book: the high quality of the imagery and the high percentage of political images. There are portraits of Lenin, Stalin, Kruschev, Brezhnev, Gorbachev, and Yeltsin. They’re rarely complimentary portraits, and often include lettered statements addressed to the political figure. The author writes that these are symbols of the wearer’s refusal to be subjugated.

The book also contains charts of the complex symbology of finger “ring” tattoos, and explanations of the shifting meanings of a given image, depending on what part of the body it decorated. A lot of the images have strong sexual content. I consider it valuable addition to my collection of books on symbolism.

(Drawings above by Danzig Baldev, from the “Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopedia”)

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August 11, 2005 (Thursday) “Make Your Art Your Business”

Tuesday evening I was at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts to give a talk about setting up your space for a studio show (the other speakers were Leah Edwards and Dimitri Kourouniotis.) They video-taped the lectures and are supposed to be making them available on the ArtSpan web site, soon. (Image at left: view from the stage as audience started to arrive.)

Getting to the screening room was a surreal experience. The lobby of YBCA was packed with New Zealand art event attendees, in evening wear, drinking champagne (a marked contrast to our audience of working artists, many of them dressed in paint-spattered pants and faded sweatshirts.) As I walked upstairs, through art installations from “Bay Area Now,” including a 3-tiered wedding cake and big flower arrangements by the “Mail Order Brides Wedding Consultancy Service,” I passed by a gathering of beefy, nearly naked guys, in Maori dance outfits. As soon as I was in the screening room, I heard a conch shell being blown, and throughout the lecture, we kept hearing drumming and melodic chanting. I found the whole chaotic scene to be oddly comforting, in a familiar “art-happening-here” sense.

Leah Edwards talked a bit about the importance of marketing your open studio event. I talked about setting up your space to receive visitors, and Dimitri Kourouniotis talked about making sales, with an emphasis on how to close the sale. He had a lot of simple, common-sense advice that I’d never heard before, mostly focused on attention to body language. He also recommended getting a sales technique CD by Bruce Baker and listening to it before every show.

The notes from my presentation are HERE, but I’d like to expand on my answer to one of the audience questions. Someone asked about gallery prices, versus artist’s studio prices. Everyone on the panel emphasized all the obvious reasons that artists should maintain consistent pricing, no matter where the work was selling. Then the issue was raised that friends, family, and other “savvy” buyers know that the gallery gets a significant portion of the selling price. Therefore the expectation seems to be that when art is purchased from the artist’s studio, the artist should pass along the “savings” to the buyer.

Let me dispel that misguided line of thinking. A work of art does not magically transform itself from an idea in the mind of the artist to an object in the buyer’s possession. There are two main stages in that transformation, and both of them require time, energy and resources. The price of a work of art reflects both of these stages. The first stage is the obvious one – the creation of the work of art. The second stage is apparently not so obvious – the selling of that work of art. Call it selling, adoption, transmitting, loaning, or whatever you want, moving the work of art from the artist’s studio to the buyer’s possession usually means putting it in front of many people, many times, in many ways. The work of art appears on the web, on a post card, in print ads, in press releases, in show after show; and it is accompanied by knowledgeable people who can help match the right buyer to the right piece of art.

When the gallery performs these functions, they deserve every penny of their percentage. Why is it that when the artist performs these functions, some people expect them to do it for free?

Potential complications arise when the artist is selling work from the studio at the same time that the gallery is selling work. Since many buyers need repeated exposure to a body of work, or a particular work of art, before they commit to buying, the actual site where the final purchase takes place may not be an accurate indication of where the selling took place. As Dimitri emphasized, the artist and the gallery are business partners. The partnership will be more successful if the artist and the gallery agree ahead of time on a policy for handling sales that they have both participated in.

And then there’s the issue of “collector discounts.” I can certainly agree that a patron who has purchased multiple paintings of mine, doesn’t require much “selling” anymore, and I’m happy to give them a nice discount. I do get a little irked, though, at the total strangers who will show up at one of my shows, and announce, “I’m a collector, will you give me a discount on that painting?” Yes, I usually try to smile (while grinding my teeth) and offer them 10 per cent – mainly because it’s customary, it’s obvious that they know it, and to refuse would be to lose the sale. The fact that it still irritates me is, I guess, a good indication that I’ll never make a great sales person. Maybe I need to listen to the sales CD that Dimitri mentioned.

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August 10, 2005 (Wednesday) One Dwarf
Last Week I went over to the Legion of Honor to interview for a volunteer gig. I said I didn’t want to work with the public, so I think my chances of getting a call-back are slim. As long as I was there I spent some time in the collections. The fashion show is up now (“Artwear: Fashion and Anti-Fashion”.) I’m not particularly interested in fashion but I have to admit there were some compelling works of art in this show, including pieces by William Wiley, Robert Kushner and Ed Rusha. It was more art than fashion, to my surprise.

The rest of the museum has a kind of deflated “on-hold” feel. Everyone seems to be focused on the imminent reopening of the de Young. It was relaxing to hang out in the nearly deserted (early morning, weekday) permanent collections. Especially in the Renaissance and early European galleries which have expanded since there are no temporary exhibits at that end of the museum right now. They brought out a wonderful Moroni portrait (“Portrait of a Gentleman”, 1550, above left) which reminded me of Whistler’s “Arrangement in Grey and Black” On the other hand, there’s a room in the modern wing with a strange collection of funky British fairy paintings, Stonehenge photos and watercolors, tapestries by Edward Burne-Jones and a Maxfield Parish painting of Snow White (with one dwarf.)
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August 9, 2005 (Tuesday) Weekend Gallery Walk
On Saturday I met some friends at the Newmark Gallery (251 Post) to see the “San Francisco Cityscapes” show again, then we headed out to see some of the other shows in the downtown galleries. I mentioned the “New Acquisitions” show at John Berggruen yesterday.

The Meyerovich has some big Richard Serra etchings (90″ x 48″ vertical black rectangles, labeled as “Arc of the Curve”, highly textured intaglio etchings) which are sharing the room with some Andy Warhol trucks (silk screen on paper.) They go well together. The Serra etchings are basically a paper version of his sculptures. There’s a lot of ink on the paper, creating a thick, textured surface, similar to the surface of corroded metal. The gallery is displaying these without glass, which I can understand because if you put a sheet of glass over these large, deep black rectangles, you’ll have a nice mirror and the art will disappear. Still, framing without glass is bound to shorten the life of the piece.

Gallery Paule Anglim has more work on paper – some not-so-recent digital prints by Jack Fulton and some old figurative drawings by Joan Brown. Most of the Joan Brown drawings were stiff narrative/fashion images. But there was one loose, loaded-brush piece that looked like a quick sketch from life (image at right.) There was an intriguing painting on stretched linen next to the gallery-sitter’s desk but repeated questions directed at the young woman seated there elicited only faint, monosyllabic mumbles. Although she said the artist’s name was “Smith”, my best guess is that it was a piece by Dean Byington. It looked like a fascinating process of (maybe?) black-line photomechanical silkscreen overlayed with colored oil glazes, on a white background. Part of the imagery was an appropriated Thomas Nast cartoon, surrounded by original delicate line drawing.

Catherine Clark is showing “Social Insecurity” by her regulars: Chester Arnold, Sandow Birk, Masami Teraoka, Walter Robinson and Ray Beldner, as well as some that were less familiar to me. The work depicts current events as well as more generalized anxieties. There were two beautiful Julie Heffernan paintings. I’d only seen her work in reproduction before this, and was pleased to see that in person the work is much richer, more painterly, more skilled, with more complex imagery. There was also a really interesting set of three pieces by Andy Diaz Hope with a pharmacological theme. (Many thanks to Josh Feldman for getting the artist’s name for me.)

The images were printed on paper, cut into little bits and stuffed into clear pill capsules with part of the image facing out. The capsules were then arranged in a grid to form the bigger picture (ala Chuck Close.) The plastic framing resembled a medicine chest, or a blister pack for pills. (At far left is one of the three panels; near left is a close-up of the stuffed capsules.)

As usual, the Gregory Lind gallery is showing the obsessively detailed, highly crafted work that I’ve come to expect there. This was a two person show with surrealist architectural models by Randy Dixon and gouache/ink drawings of tiny-block structures by Will Yackulic. (At right: “Nerves”, 2005, gouache on paper, 18″ x 16.25″)

Modernism has some new work by Mark Stock. For those of you who are fans of “The Butler’s In Love”, he’s moved on. Stock is now into tromp l’oeil still life narratives, with heavy emphasis on faux wood graining. (Two of the series at left.)

George Krevsky has a beautiful show of work by Raphael Soyer, including his early WPA prints and drawings, some paintings, and later pieces including portraits of Alan Ginsberg, Gergory Corso, and Diane Di Prima. I’ve seen this show twice – this is a master and these are great examples of his work. If I came into some money, I’d buy Soyer’s drawing of his brother, Moses. Good photos of the show at Alan Bamberger’s site (although someone is standing in front of the Moses drawing.)

The Art Exchange at 49 Geary (no web site) had a terrific selection of smaller works by local artists, some of them labeled “From the Collection of a Local Artist.” There were a few paintings by Kim Frohsin (her figurative show just closed at Dolby Chadwick) and a small Guy Diehl still life of orange soup in a white bowl, on a grey surface (image at right.)
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August 8, 2005 (Monday) New Work by Old Guys:
John Berggruen Gallery has a “New Acquisitions” show with lots of familiar names. The first thing you see when entering is a very big David Hockney swimming pool (“Swimming Pool With Reflection,” 1978, colored pressed paper pulp – six sheets, 72″ x 85″; shown at right with Mark di Suvero sculpture, “Mayakovsky”, 1976.) I like David Hockney’s work, and I like images made from colored paper pulp, but this piece was priced at $1,000,000, which seemed a bit excessive. Unless, of course, you accept the validity of the dead butterflies on black enameled canvas by Damien Hirst which was priced at $225,000 (“Tall Thin Love”, 2001, 6″ x 102″)

They also had a couple of Ed Ruscha pieces (“Jinx”, 2004, 32″ x 75″, $385,000), a new Jim Dine pastel on paper, a big Paul Wonner flower painting, a little marble house sculpture by Louise Bourgeois, and strange little drawings on ripped, lined notebook paper by Marcel Dzama.

Which made me wonder again why no one is showing Charles M. Ware’s work these days. His drawings and spray stencils are full of his personal iconography and yet they’re very fresh looking. If you saw them hanging in a gallery somewhere, you’d think the work was done by a 20-something. Which is remarkable, because Charlie doesn’t get out much. It’s enough to make a person believe in a collective unconscious. Speaking of Charlie, I called him yesterday, to tell him that Martin Bromirski had mentioned him in Anaba. Charlie told me he’s started a new series of bigger collages, made from tracings of his older drawings, pasted on doorskin boards. The guy is amazing – he never stops.

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August 5, 2005 (Friday) Cracker Jacks Prizes and a Bag-O-Art
Recently, I was the lucky recipient of a “Bag-O-Art” by Roberta Fallon and Libby Rosof. Opening the white paper bag brought back the thrill I used to get when my mother would hand me a box of Cracker Jacks after she had finished her shopping. (My brothers and I had to wait in the car while she did the monthly “stock up” at the base commissary.) Remember when Cracker Jacks came in a box and the prizes were really cool? They were often wooden, metal, or plastic toys that had to be assembled. I still have some of mine:

The Bag-O-Art held as much mystery and promise as the old Cracker Jacks box. It’s full of color, imagery, and thought grenades; and I still get a charge out of looking through it:

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August 4, 2005 (Thursday) Catching up…
Sorry for the absence – I had some unexpected family obligations the last few days, plus:

Yesterday I spent most of the day touring art galleries with Roberta Fallon, who was in town with her husband Steve and daughter Stella. She’ll write something about it on her blog in a couple of weeks, when she gets back to Philadelphia.

I’ve been buried in the studio for the last couple of months so it was wonderful to get out and look at art. August is a weird time to visit galleries in San Francisco. Some of them close for the whole month. Some do “new acquisitions”, “introductions” or other group shows. And the galleries that are still open are a bit more casual than usual. Roberta and I were both eager to see “Social Insecurity” at the Catherine Clark Gallery. It’s one of my favorite local galleries and Roberta had seen them at Scope and wanted to see more. This was a group show with work by Chester Arnold, Sandow Birk, Julie Heffernan, Masami Teraoka, Ray Beldner, and others. As expected, it was a great show. I may go back this weekend and write more about it next week. (Also, keep an eye on Roberta’s space for photos of the show, and more details.)

We caught the Joan Brown show at Paule Anglim – they were still hanging it, but we got good look at the drawings. It’s figurative work on paper, from the 70s… reminded us of Mattisse, Hockney, and Peyton. Actually, it looked kinda contemporary. When the de Young reopens, Joan Brown’s paintings will be featured in the inaugural show. (Image above left: Joan Brown, “Mary Julia #37″, 1976, Mixed media on paper, 36″ x 24”, from the Gallery Paule Anglim web site.)

Last, but not least, we went by the Newmark Gallery to get my first look at “San Francisco Cityscapes”, a four person show with work by me, Larry Morace, Paul Madonna, and Toru Sugita. It was very gratifying to see the show hanging in the gallery, with great lighting and all… the work always looks so much better there than it does when it’s stacked all over my studio. Larry and Paul have both done some impressive new work. (Image at right: Larry Morace, “Drive Home”, from the Newmark Gallery web site.) I’ll write more about this later in the week….

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August 1, 2005 (Monday)
Look Familiar?
When I was downtown a few days ago, I saw the most egregious misuse of an image that I have witnessed in a very long time. It was in the front window of the Art People Gallery, which is in the Crocker Galleria, at 50 Post Street, in San Francisco. It’s a framed bas relief of a woman’s head, in brown metallic colors. At first glance it looks like an image from “Night of the Living Dead.” But then I recognized Magnum photographer Steve McCurry’s famous photo of an Afghan girl. Hard to believe a respected photojournalist would license his image for schlock like this. I’m betting he didn’t.

September 1, 2005 (Thursday) Hurricane Katrina & the Arts / Press Release for tonight’s lecture

Tyler Green has a great roundup of links to info about Hurricane Katrina and the Arts, including a – – page about a fund for museums affected by the hurricane.

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This is a crazy week for me (hence, no post yesterday) so I’m signing off with a bit of shameless self-promotion and I’ll be back to my regular daily posting on Monday.

Press Release for my lecture tonight (first thursday!), 7pm, downtown SF:

Newmark Gallery San Francisco presents

IN THE STUDIO WITH LARRY MORACE AND ANNA CONTI , Two visions of one city

Thursday, September 1st, 2005, 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Campton Place Hotel, 340 Stockton Street, San Francisco, CA.

Two distinct painters compare their very different views of San Francisco in the luxury of one of the finest hotels in the city. Join painters Anna Conti and Larry Morace in an extraordinary lecture and art presentation on Thursday, September 1st, 2005, 6:30pm – 8:30pm, at Campton Place Hotel, 340 Stockton Street, San Francisco, CA.

Larry Morace and Anna L. Conti both live in the Sunset district of San Francisco. Both artists create photo-based representational paintings of the city and share many of the same artistic influences, such as Edward Hopper. However Morace’s work is radically different from Conti’s. Morace works with juicy oil paint to the edge of abstraction while Conti’s works are rich with crisply detailed draftsmanship and symbolism. How do these two painters with so much in common arrive at such wildly divergent styles?

Morace and Conti’s will speak candidly about their studios, painting process and style, shared artistic influences, and what they like about cityscapes. Both artists are experienced presenters and have arranged a slide show to accompany the talk. The presentation includes painting displays and ends with an open Questions and Answers session.

Come and see more Larry Morace and Anna Conti’s paintings in “San Francisco Cityscapes,” Newmark Gallery’s second annual San Francisco cityscapes exhibit. Featuring artists Larry Morace, Paul Madonna, Anna Conti and Toru Sugita. The exhibit encompasses several styles with the common thread being the insider’s view of the City. August 2nd through October 1st, 2005.

Newmark Gallery San Francisco is located at 251 Post Street, Suite 412 in the Union Square area of San Francisco. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday 11 am – 6 pm and by appointment. Please view our website at www.newmarkgallery.com for more information and upcoming events or call 415-392-3692.

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August 30, 2005 (Tuesday) New gallery in Yerba Buena Gardens?
Seen in the old “Cloud Nine” location this past weekend:

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August 29, 2005 (Monday) A room of one’s own, but where?
As Virginia said, a room of one’s own is essential – but does it matter if the room is attached to the living quarters, or somewhere completely separate?

I’ve always maintained a studio that was attached to my living space. I didn’t like the idea of having to put the muse on hold until I got to a studio across town, or wherever. But since I’ve never actually tried a completely separate studio space, who knows – I might discover some unexpected benefits there. The confluence of a stories about Matisse and art bloggers’ studio tales has made me reconsider:

Carol Es reports that her new studio at Angels Gate helps her get more work done and create more of a separation between her work and her life.

Cinque Hicks reports that he’s decided to get his first-ever separate studio space.

Peter Scheldahl writes in a New Yorker review of Hilary Spurling’ biography of Matisse, that the artist had no separation between his private life and his art: “His art reserved nothing for himself. In an age of ideologies, Matisse dodged all ideas except perhaps one: that art is life by other means. … According to Spurling, ‘The family fitted their activities round his breaks and work sessions. Silence was essential.’ Even during the years when Matisse lived mostly alone in Nice, an ‘annual ritual of unpacking, stretching, framing and hanging ended with the whole family settling down to respond to the paintings.’ The conference might last several days. Then the dealers were admitted.”
And then just last week, I stopped in at the SOMA Artists Building (5th & Bryant) to visit the new studio space of my star painting student, Lillian Rubin. It’s a clean, well-lighted building, with 38 artist studios on two floors and common sink & toilet areas. They’ve recently been doing some major construction on the second floor, to carve out new studio spaces, which have all been leased, although not everyone has moved in yet. I spoke briefly with Jana Grover, one of the organizers, and an artist She has a bigger space, with windows overlooking the street. She told me they’re trying to get organized in time to open for this year’s SF Open Studios.

I’m getting a glimmer of an idea of how a little more separation between work and life might be beneficial.

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August 27, 2005 (Weekend) Tinhorn, Hayes Valley art walk, part 3

Santa Cruz artist, Carol Summers, has wood cut prints at Tinhorn Gallery. (Also here.) They’re not your average woodcuts. They’re filled with big, bold areas of saturated colors, and make minimal use of lines. My two favorites were “Dudh Rosi (Milk River)” and “The Grave of Santa Ana’s Leg,” hanging left and right in photo of gallery, at left. The gallery has a display case of Summer’s wood blocks and materials (photo below) to answer the questions of people like me (“This is wood cut? How did he do that?”) He uses an unconventional printing method of laying the paper over a dry, carved block and then rolling the ink over the positive impression. The print is they sprayed with mineral spirits which creates a blurring of the sharp edges and an undulation in the color fields.
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August 26, 2005 (Friday) Bucheon – Hayes Valley art walk, part 2
According to Ed Winkleman (in NY) via Tyler Green (in DC) the west coast art scene is hot right now. Hmmm… maybe. Maybe in L.A., at least. It’s kind of hard to see it from here. Of course, every week it seems like another artist friend tells me they’ve signed with an L.A. gallery, so maybe there’s something to it.

Here in SF, the Bucheon Gallery has a “Summer in San Francisco” group show of new work by the gallery artists. I was overdue for a gallery walk in this neighborhood, so I came by a few days ago. I’m glad I did – it was easily the best of the eight places I visited that day. They had a deep selection of paintings and mixed media pieces.

The first painting to really grab me was Elena Sisto’s “Untitled” (at right.) There were several other iconic female portraits by this artist, and they all have a thick, painterly surface, amiable colors, and a placid facade. There’s a sense that much, much more is beneath the surface. I would love to see a 2-person show of work by Elena Sisto and Lisa Yuskavage. I think it’d be fascinating to compare and contrast these two.

I almost passed by the piece by Ken Kirsch (at left), but the friend who was accompanying me that day made me take another look (one of the benefits of seeing art with another interested party.) It’s oil on panel, but it resembled Fred Tomiselli’s work, the way the opaque elements floated in (or on the surface of) the translucent layers of glazing. They had a fantastic piece in the dimly lit bathroom (impossible to get a photo) of pale butterflies in a red field.

Other worth-the-trip paintings: Merrilee Challis’ finely detailed symbolic landscape doodles (at left); Rebecca Bird’s amazing watercolor on panel of natural totemic elements; and Jenny Dubnau’s thin oil photo-based portraits that reminded me of Chuck Close’s early work.

I’m late with this post, so I’ll put this up and write about the rest of Hayes Valley tomorrow.
… the Bucheon guard dogs.

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August 25, 2005 (Thursday) Hayes Valley art walk
Yesterday I went by the M.A.C. (Modern Appealing Clothing at 387 Grove Street) to take a look at the Lost Art Salon “satellite exhibition”, highlighting three artists: Alice Bishop, Leon Wall, and Clyde I. Seavey. M.A.C. looked to me, like a gallery that also sells clothes. I suppose to some people, it might look like a clothing store that also sells art. But art and clothes are well integrated here.

I first read about the Lost Art guys (Gaetan Caron & Rob Delamater) in the SF Chronicle. They have a big salon/gallery on South Van Ness, but this is a tight little spot show on the long wall near the entrance of M.A.C. Each artist has a small, discrete grouping of work.

Alice Bishop’s pencil drawings (above) look like they came from a sketchbook. The wall tag had this to say about her:

“Alice Bishop (birth and death dates unknown). Like many of the artists in the Lost Art collection, Alice Bishop’s personal story is unknown. And like so many other women artists of her time, it is believed that Bishop never had gallery or dealer representation. But the spare beauty and subtle strength of her sketches of trees, boats, barns and friends are evidence of a seasoned talent-awaiting discovery. Details in the sketches and the paper used indicate that the pieces were done in the early part of the 20th Century, most likely in England. the discovery of such deserving, but previously unknown artists, is part of the Lost Art Salon mission of presenting new artistic voices from the past and giving them perhaps their first opportunity to be heard and appreciated by a new generation of art lovers.”

Leon Wall (1919-1980) was represented by small abstract pastel drawings (above) and Clyde I. Seavey’s work was figurative charcoal drawings on printed paper. One of Seavey’s images was used to promote the show.

All kinds of other art is situated around the store. A couple of large Ann Webber sculptures (above left) were in the middle aisle (these are corrugated cardboard, staples and shellac.) Brightly colored guitars (above right, by Spike Milliken) made out of cigar boxes, old oil pantings (mostly anonymous) were everywhere, and little shadow boxes were tucked in here and there.

Tomorrow: Tinhorn, Bucheon, and other Hayes Valley art spots.
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August 23, 2005 (Tuesday) Around the web, and elsewhere…
I probably should have broken this up into two or three days, but I’m going to be out of the studio and away from the computer for the next few days and I don’t know when (if) I’m going to get a chance to post, so here it is… consume in small amounts, and it’ll last ya.

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Interesting story by Sarah Duxbury from SF Business Times (via MSNBC) about the practice of “timeshare” art donations to major museums, and how the SFMOMA has “emerged as a big player in the art world’s timeshare market.”

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Chris at Zeke’s Gallery pointed to an interesting story about corporate art collections. It’s an interview with Shirley Reiff Howarth, art historian and expert on corporate art collections, who gave a lecture earlier in the year on this topic. She started a directory of over 1300 corporate art collections, world wide.

“The corporate art environment is an interesting segment of the art world and few people know very much about it. It is very different world – it is nothing like the auction world, the gallery world, the artist’s world, or even the museum context. And yet it has grown into becoming quite an important force in the arts.

(The) word “collection” is a misnomer. Unfortunately, there isn’t a better term to use. The company’s “collection” might not only be displayed throughout a single building; it might be displayed across the country. For example, JP Morgan Chase, which has offices and branches around the world, has works of art in all of these locations. They are managed by the curator in New York.

Every corporate collection is very different. A lot of them are not collections in a true sense. They are simply assemblages of art purchased to decorate the walls, to make a pleasant environment for the employees. The true collections that have an integrity and coherence tend to have been of long standing. For example, Fleming’s Bank in Scotland has a collection of Scottish art. It is probably the finest single collection of Scottish art. When that bank was sold and merged with an American bank, they protected the collection and created a foundation separately, so that the collection is still intact. ”
Shirley Reiff Howarth

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Roberta Fallon posted the final two entries (here and here) about her trip to San Francisco and her gallery crawl. For the record (read Roberta’s post first):

• the guy behind the desk at Gregory Lind is always testy, but I think he’s sincerely trying to be polite. He’s just not very good at it.
• the Viola Frey sculptures are in the hallway at 77 Geary, between the Heather Marx gallery and the George Krevsky gallery, and just down the hall from the Rena Bransten gallery (which reps Frey.)
• the “senior-xing” sign is next to a senior subsidized housing building. The traffic on Howard Street is so horrendous that the slow-moving residents kept getting mowed down at an alarming rate, so this is part of the civic response.
• I had a great time looking at art with someone who can go at it as long as I can, and who can provide intelligent commentary as well. Thanks, Roberta!

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More about John Gutmann: I wrote about John Gutmann on August 15th and received a couple of emails about him. Eva Lake wrote an update remembrance on her blog and Susan Friedewald wrote to let me know about John Gutmann Photography Fellowship Trust, which is planning several exhibitions of Gutmann’s work this year.

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Honesty (in art) – Cinque Hicks wrote a brilliant little paragraph on this topic and then over at Franklin’s forum, “artblog.net” they tossed it around a bit. Here’s Cinque:

“Honesty? I mean, if you ever stifle an impulse toward beauty or ugliness, clumsiness or elegance, openness or obscurity, then you are not honest. If you want to be funny but keep a straight face instead, if you want to be serious but laugh it off, then you are not honest. If you are making work and the thought in your head is, “this will totally wow ’em,” or “so-and-so will think this is so cool,” then you are not honest. If you are making work and simultaneously composing the paragraph about yourself that you imagine will appear in all the art history books or in the newspaper or in the press release, you are not honest. If you look at your own work and say, “shit, that looks too much like artist X; let me change it,” or, “dammit, I have to make it look more like artist Y,” then you are not honest. If you pursue something only because it’s sure to gain the respect of your peers, your teacher, a curator, a gallerist, your father, or your girlfriend, you are not honest. If you do something only because it is sure to piss off anyone from that same list, you are not honest. If you neglect your desire to do X because everybody has come to expect Y from you, then you are not honest. And if you’re an artist and claim never to have had one of these moments, then you are really not honest.”
from Bare and Bitter Sleep

•••

I picked up a newspaper from the SF Arts & Media Expo with two stories about unofficial public art in San Francisco.

The first was written by “Comrade Q”, about the installation of a sculpture:

“It was a public art attack. February 26, 1993, at the foot of Market Street in San Francisco, the Department of Public Art (DPA) drove up in a rented pickup truck.
Out we sprang, dressed in white Tyvek disposable suits, each adorned with a black and blue DPA logo specially created for the purpose. Comrade X had the clipboard with our work order, duly signed and filled out, describing our apparent civil service duty of installing the sculpture in Justin Herman Plaza).”

They installed the sculpture, and then,

“With a flourish of feigned cityworker boredom, we pulled the plastic away to reveal our masterpiece: “The Door Is Always Open.” A mannequin was flying over a
1965 Chrysler Imperial car door, its bicycle upended into the door itself. All of it had been painstakingly assembled during the previous week. Few cyclists are unfamiliar with the drama of getting “doored” while riding the narrow side spaces on most urban streets. It was but the first of a series of occasional Art Attacks by the San Francisco Department of Public Art, stretching through the 1990s and well into the new millennium. No doubt others will appear in coming years. ”

The second story, “Urban Alterations” was by Scott Kiddall, and told about how he altered some of the city-installed, U-shaped bicycle racks that are bolted to the sidewalks:

” I enlisted friends and together we removed the racks at night and took them back to my metal shop. There, I added welded ornamentation following themes of disempowerment. The first one depicted items of physical labor such as a pipe threader, a railroad spike and a factory gear, reflecting the transition to a service-oriented economy. Another depicted stuffed animals that were incarcerated.”

He reinstalled the modified racks that same night and most of them are still there, three years later.

So, now you know.

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August 22, 2005 (Monday) Painting in Union Square, fending off pigeons
For the next six weeks I’m going to be doing my regular plein-aire stints in Union Square (open plaza in the middle of downtown SF) instead of, or in addition to Golden Gate Park. People often stop to talk to me when I’m painting in public, and it just dawned on me last week that I could be sending them to the gallery (which is only half a block from Union Square.) I hadn’t painted here in the past because it seemed too touristy and frankly, it didn’t strike me as particularly appealing, visually. You can look in four different directions at four slightly differing walls of retail & hotel buildings. Then there are the usual assorted palm trees, lots of restless people, and pigeons. Aggressive pigeons. Kamikaze pigeons. But, hey, it’s good to challenge yourself now and then, so…

Last Friday I headed down there for my first session. There’s a great little Italian cafe at the edge of the square, and I had this fantasy that I could sit at one of their tables, sipping a mocha, listening to Frank Sinatra or Italian opera, and sketch… something. But it didn’t work out that way.

When I came up out of the underground at Market & Stockton, I noticed a fine grey mist in the air, and for once it wasn’t fog. Then I heard helicopters. Hovering. Lots of them. The streets were packed with people, most of them hurrying somewhere, or standing, looking up. I headed to the gallery, where they told me about the explosion at Post & Kearny. I thought they were kidding at first.

So I went over to Union Square anyway, and tried to get a table at Rulli, but it was bedlam. I’ve never seen it so nuts there. I had to cruise for about 15 minutes before I was able to snag a table. I ordered a sandwich, too, in hopes that I could lay claim to my little patch of real estate a bit longer. I couldn’t hear any music above the helicopters and sirens. Forget looking for the best view – I just started sketching what was in front of me, with a black ink rollerball.

Then the couple at the table next to me got up and left a few scraps on the plates. The pigeons descended, in rapidly increasing numbers, until they were a writhing grey mass that started edging my way. I started swinging my sketchbook to fend them off. Next thing you know, there’s a kid under my table trying to FEED the pigeons a piece of bread! I told her to get lost, but I soon decided to strike out for new territory, myself.

I moved over to one of those black stone “hat boxes” that line the perimeter of the plaza, and pulled out my watercolors. I spent the next (mostly peaceful) hour adding some color to the ink drawing and talking to a few people. Next time I’m bringing my tri-pod table and setting up away from the cafe.
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August 19, 2005 (Friday) Buy Art Now
There’s a brand new art blog here in San Francisco, “Newmark Confidential”, by gallerist Mark Wladika. I mean REALLY new, as in, started just this week. His Wednesday post, “Buying Art” is a rumination on why more people don’t buy art. He’s asking for feedback on this topic – anybody have any insight on that?

For me, it’s one of those mysteries of life that I’ll probably never really understand. Art is so central to my life (and books, too) that when I see a house or apartment with nothing original on the walls and no books in sight, it’s like looking into a parallel universe where nothing makes sense.

And it’s not about money. Most of my friends are artists, and many of them are living below the official poverty line, and while most of the art on their walls is self-made or acquired through barter, I know many artists who have purchased art at “full price” from a gallery or studio. Original art can be had (even from galleries) for a few hundred bucks or less. Sometimes much less.

So it’s hard not to laugh when someone stands in my studio and says something like, “I love your work, but I just can’t afford it.” This is usually from a person driving a $30,000 car, wearing thousands of dollars in clothes, carrying hundreds of dollars in electronic gadgets, and heading out for a restaurant meal that will cost more than my monthly grocery budget. So, I usually figure the “can’t afford it” statement is just a polite brush-off.

When I’ve been out and about in the non-art world, and the possibility of buying original art is brought up, it’s amazing how often the reaction is a startled, “Huh?” You can almost see the “this is a totally new concept” cloud forming over their head. The idea of the “average person” (which most people consider themselves to be) buying original art is completely outside their frame of reference.

So maybe it means we need some industry ads, like the “Got Milk?” campaign. Something that doesn’t promote a particular kind of art, or place of purchase, but plants the seed that gets them thinking about the possibility that they could be art collectors, and why that might be a good thing.

But that’s just a guess.

(The image is “Gallery 33”, one of my older paintings, of my favorite room in the old de Young.)

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August 19, 2005 (Friday) Corporate Art
I just finished a little painting (“Ozone”) that I’ve been working on for entirely too long, so I went down to pick up the mail, and ….

Whoa! Look at this week’s New Yorker! Every single ad space is taken up with red, white and black Target ads. Sorta like the saturation bombing of the MUNI underground by the pharmacy, travel and computer companies. Must have cost them a fortune.

No words, just pictures, obviously by real artists, some familiar to me. Geeze, I like it. I don’t want to like it, being more of an “Adbusters” kinda gal, but I can’t help myself… it looks great.

It’s a portfolio of portraits of New York. It’s a little creepy seeing bullseye targets plastered all over New York, but it’s exciting to see page after page of artwork, created on a given theme… A corporate-sponsored art show, in a popular format… but what if it was somebody like Exon? Or Halliburton?

From Jen Chung at Gothamist:

“Anyway, what do you think of the ads? Designer Michael Bierut writes about the “unnerving” effect of the ads, adding that he counted over 200 Target logos in the first 19 pages before giving up. Gothamist actually liked them, because we knew which pages were actual editorial since they weren’t festooned with red and white bull’s eyes. And it was like having a capitalistic fever dream, in a world when buildings, teams, and maybe even cities will be branded. Oh, wait, that might still happen.”

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August 17, 2005 (Wednesday) Newmark opening

Last Saturday was the opening for the SF Cityscapes show at the Newmark Gallery. It’s a four-person show with some of my recent “Urban Caves” paintings, plus expressionistic oil paintings by Larry Morace, ink and wash drawings by Paul Madonna, and etchings by Toru Sugita. (Photos by David W. Sumner)

Yours truly, on the left, with Steve Gorski and Judi Gorski.

With Toru Sugita.
Stu Kremsky and Janet Rosen.

Above: Paul Madonna and Larry Morace; Left: Leaning on the wall for support by the end of the night.
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August 17, 2005 (Wednesday) spotlight
It’s all about me, today. I’ll keep it short.

Current studio photo at left: The wrapped paintings in the foreground are destined for Gallery Siano in Philadelphia. I just picked them up from the framer, and I’m awaiting the custom packing crate. The two paintings on the easels (“This Way Out” – a garage exit, and “Portrait of Virginia”) are still in progress, but they have to be finished in the next two weeks, as they are both headed for other shows.

Roberta Fallon posted her interview with me over at artblog. I told her that next time she comes to town, I get to ask the questions.

Later today I’ll post photos from the Newmark Gallery opening… stay tuned.

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August 16, 2005 (Tuesday) de Young tour

This week the de Young opens the free-to-the-public areas (everything but the galleries.) I toured it first thing yesterday morning with my friend, Harry (aka Cranky Pants.) To be fair, I started the day a little cranky, myself. For starters, we were inundated with thick, low, drippy fog.

As residents of the neighborhood next to the museum, Harry & I discussed all the controversies on our walk over there… the long battle over the parking garage and the still unresolved fight over the lane widening at Ninth & Lincoln and its impact on the Inner Sunset. And Harry (who has plenty of company on this issue) hates the exterior appearance of the museum (I love it.)

Then there was the issue of the member’s-only soft opening of the gift shop and cafe (not the galleries.) Seems like every other person I talk to has been given a tour of the galleries, so I found it a little insulting (as a many-years-loyal, albeit low-level, member) to be offered the “privilege” of spending time in the gift shop and cafe. Still, I took it. I’ve been desperate to get past the chain link fences and look around inside.

It was worth it. They actually had a large portion of the museum open to poking around, including the tower. Even with the fog, it’s a spectacular view from up there. You can look straight down into the main courtyard (image at left) and (on a clear day, according to the docent) out to the Farallon Islands, 30 miles off the coast. The whole place is open, spacious, with views of the outdoors everywhere. Even Harry said, “this was worth coming for.”

I only saw a few of the site-specific works that were commissioned for the museum. As we entered, the Andy Goldsworthy’s “Drawn Stone” tectonic split started at the sidewalk and jagged up the walkway, into the entrance court and then circled around, through several big stones from Scotland.

The massive Gerhard Richter mural in the lobby was misinterpreted by almost everyone as an homage to the pierced copper panels on the exterior of the building (it’s actually based on the atomic structure of strontium titanate.) If you stand a couple of feet in front of it, these weird optical effects make it seem to start blinking (or maybe it was just me?)

More good news: you can take photos (sans flash) anywhere in the museum, except the special exhibition gallery. Best news: they are going to be starting members tours of the galleries on October 9th. I’m happy now.
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August 15, 2005 (Monday) John Gutman
Seems like John Gutman (who died in ’88) is all over SF these days. He was a painter who took up photojournalism as a way to escape Germany during the Nazi era. He came to the US and when he got to SF he set up the Photography department at San Francisco State University.

SFMOMA has some of his photography on view and the Fraenkel Gallery has a selection of his paintings and his photographs. (The Fraenkel is a photography gallery but they show paintings now and then, for instance when they showed work by Chuck Close a few years ago.) One of the paintings at the Fraenkel, Gutman’s “Still Life with Sketchpads” (image left) reminds me of a painting by another German-born artist, Chester Arnold. Arnold’s “Bad Paintings” is a still life with a pile of paintings turned against the wall. Last time I looked, it was hanging over the desk at the Catherine Clark Gallery (sorry, I couldn’t find an image of it.)

The Greenwich Village Gazette ran a great essay by Eva Lake about John Gutman’s earlier shows at the deYoung and LAMOCA. She wrote:

“Gutmann influenced how we view photography in more ways than one. He was one of the first to teach classes in it, beginning in 1936. He set up a complete photography program at San Francisco State University in 1946. It would be an understatement to say that not only did the photo world rock with Gutmann’s presence, but so did San Francisco. He was a link between European Modernism and the west coast.

Having lived in San Francisco for part of the 80s, I often saw him around. He was no art world snob, but completely accessible and one who participated in life. He came to my parties and to my exhibitions, a point of focus in any room, sometimes offering a criticism you had to listen to. Not a lot of people can get away with that (especially as he was not my teacher), but his words were always well chosen. It was really just another form of his great generosity.”
from “Remembering John Gutman”, by Eva Lake in The Greenwich Village Gazette

Image at right is Gutman’s “Death Stalks Fillmore”, 1934, printed ca. 1974, Collection SFMOMA

Also, this Wednesday, August 17 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts will show the film “My Eyes Were
Fresh, The life and photographs of John Gutman”, by Jane Levy Reed. This film profiles an artist whose art and life forged a link between the European modernism of the early 20th Century and the
burgeoning artistic culture of the SF Bay Area in the seconf half of the century. Local videographer, Voitek Szymkiewiczwas the cameraman on this film, and Wednesday is his birthday. After the screening we will meet at ‘Catalyst Cocktails’ for drinks and cake. Please join him to celebrate! The bar is located right across the street from the Hall of Justice,in the alley.

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August 12, 2005 (Friday) Russian Criminal Tattoos

When I was at the Legion of Honor the other day, I also spent some time in the bookstore. Kudos to whoever orders the books there. In a city with more great bookstores per capita than anywhere else in the country, this little shop still manages to surprise me with cool books from obscure publishers. My most recent discovery was the “Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopedia,” published in Germany by Steidl/Fuel, 2003 (ISBN 3-88243-920-3). It contains two short, fascinating essays (about 20 pages) and the rest of the 390 page book is illustrations (photos and line drawings) with explanatory captions. The drawings were by Danzig Baldev, who describes himself in the forward as, “descended from baptized Buryat-Mongols, people who were rich, brave and strong.” He writes that at least 58 members of his family died in Soviet prison camps, and he feels that “everything the country has gone through has been reflected in prison and camp life.”

I’ve been thinking about tattoos and their place in Art ever since a conversation I had with a guy from my local tattoo shop a couple of weeks ago (I’m considering interviewing them for the blog.) What does it mean when the human body is your canvas? Well for starters, the work is usually a collaboration between the artist and the client, although forced tattoos are not uncommon in prison situations. According to the author of the “Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopedia,” Alexei Plutser-Sarno, tattoos in the Russian prison system serve the following functions:

a unique language or arnot; a message carried by courier from one community to another zone

a permanent “uniform”, depicting rank and service record of time in prison

a case file or visual criminal record

a passport to and from certain communities

collective memory

symbols of public identity or social self-awareness
“If we look around, we shall see that not only “legitimate thieves” but also millions of perfectly honest, upright citizens are covered with these tattoos. Simply because every fifth inhabitant of our country has passed through the camps and every second has been through army ‘zones.” And we honest, upright philistines and law-abiding petty bourgeois have long ago become used to seeing ourselves in the role of noble bandits, downtrodden victims and fearless inhabitants of tattooed slums.” – Alexei Plutser-Sarno

Two things surprised me about the visual images in this book: the high quality of the imagery and the high percentage of political images. There are portraits of Lenin, Stalin, Kruschev, Brezhnev, Gorbachev, and Yeltsin. They’re rarely complimentary portraits, and often include lettered statements addressed to the political figure. The author writes that these are symbols of the wearer’s refusal to be subjugated.

The book also contains charts of the complex symbology of finger “ring” tattoos, and explanations of the shifting meanings of a given image, depending on what part of the body it decorated. A lot of the images have strong sexual content. I consider it valuable addition to my collection of books on symbolism.

(Drawings above by Danzig Baldev, from the “Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopedia”)

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August 11, 2005 (Thursday) “Make Your Art Your Business”

Tuesday evening I was at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts to give a talk about setting up your space for a studio show (the other speakers were Leah Edwards and Dimitri Kourouniotis.) They video-taped the lectures and are supposed to be making them available on the ArtSpan web site, soon. (Image at left: view from the stage as audience started to arrive.)

Getting to the screening room was a surreal experience. The lobby of YBCA was packed with New Zealand art event attendees, in evening wear, drinking champagne (a marked contrast to our audience of working artists, many of them dressed in paint-spattered pants and faded sweatshirts.) As I walked upstairs, through art installations from “Bay Area Now,” including a 3-tiered wedding cake and big flower arrangements by the “Mail Order Brides Wedding Consultancy Service,” I passed by a gathering of beefy, nearly naked guys, in Maori dance outfits. As soon as I was in the screening room, I heard a conch shell being blown, and throughout the lecture, we kept hearing drumming and melodic chanting. I found the whole chaotic scene to be oddly comforting, in a familiar “art-happening-here” sense.

Leah Edwards talked a bit about the importance of marketing your open studio event. I talked about setting up your space to receive visitors, and Dimitri Kourouniotis talked about making sales, with an emphasis on how to close the sale. He had a lot of simple, common-sense advice that I’d never heard before, mostly focused on attention to body language. He also recommended getting a sales technique CD by Bruce Baker and listening to it before every show.

The notes from my presentation are HERE, but I’d like to expand on my answer to one of the audience questions. Someone asked about gallery prices, versus artist’s studio prices. Everyone on the panel emphasized all the obvious reasons that artists should maintain consistent pricing, no matter where the work was selling. Then the issue was raised that friends, family, and other “savvy” buyers know that the gallery gets a significant portion of the selling price. Therefore the expectation seems to be that when art is purchased from the artist’s studio, the artist should pass along the “savings” to the buyer.

Let me dispel that misguided line of thinking. A work of art does not magically transform itself from an idea in the mind of the artist to an object in the buyer’s possession. There are two main stages in that transformation, and both of them require time, energy and resources. The price of a work of art reflects both of these stages. The first stage is the obvious one – the creation of the work of art. The second stage is apparently not so obvious – the selling of that work of art. Call it selling, adoption, transmitting, loaning, or whatever you want, moving the work of art from the artist’s studio to the buyer’s possession usually means putting it in front of many people, many times, in many ways. The work of art appears on the web, on a post card, in print ads, in press releases, in show after show; and it is accompanied by knowledgeable people who can help match the right buyer to the right piece of art.

When the gallery performs these functions, they deserve every penny of their percentage. Why is it that when the artist performs these functions, some people expect them to do it for free?

Potential complications arise when the artist is selling work from the studio at the same time that the gallery is selling work. Since many buyers need repeated exposure to a body of work, or a particular work of art, before they commit to buying, the actual site where the final purchase takes place may not be an accurate indication of where the selling took place. As Dimitri emphasized, the artist and the gallery are business partners. The partnership will be more successful if the artist and the gallery agree ahead of time on a policy for handling sales that they have both participated in.

And then there’s the issue of “collector discounts.” I can certainly agree that a patron who has purchased multiple paintings of mine, doesn’t require much “selling” anymore, and I’m happy to give them a nice discount. I do get a little irked, though, at the total strangers who will show up at one of my shows, and announce, “I’m a collector, will you give me a discount on that painting?” Yes, I usually try to smile (while grinding my teeth) and offer them 10 per cent – mainly because it’s customary, it’s obvious that they know it, and to refuse would be to lose the sale. The fact that it still irritates me is, I guess, a good indication that I’ll never make a great sales person. Maybe I need to listen to the sales CD that Dimitri mentioned.

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August 10, 2005 (Wednesday) One Dwarf
Last Week I went over to the Legion of Honor to interview for a volunteer gig. I said I didn’t want to work with the public, so I think my chances of getting a call-back are slim. As long as I was there I spent some time in the collections. The fashion show is up now (“Artwear: Fashion and Anti-Fashion”.) I’m not particularly interested in fashion but I have to admit there were some compelling works of art in this show, including pieces by William Wiley, Robert Kushner and Ed Rusha. It was more art than fashion, to my surprise.

The rest of the museum has a kind of deflated “on-hold” feel. Everyone seems to be focused on the imminent reopening of the de Young. It was relaxing to hang out in the nearly deserted (early morning, weekday) permanent collections. Especially in the Renaissance and early European galleries which have expanded since there are no temporary exhibits at that end of the museum right now. They brought out a wonderful Moroni portrait (“Portrait of a Gentleman”, 1550, above left) which reminded me of Whistler’s “Arrangement in Grey and Black” On the other hand, there’s a room in the modern wing with a strange collection of funky British fairy paintings, Stonehenge photos and watercolors, tapestries by Edward Burne-Jones and a Maxfield Parish painting of Snow White (with one dwarf.)
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August 9, 2005 (Tuesday) Weekend Gallery Walk
On Saturday I met some friends at the Newmark Gallery (251 Post) to see the “San Francisco Cityscapes” show again, then we headed out to see some of the other shows in the downtown galleries. I mentioned the “New Acquisitions” show at John Berggruen yesterday.

The Meyerovich has some big Richard Serra etchings (90″ x 48″ vertical black rectangles, labeled as “Arc of the Curve”, highly textured intaglio etchings) which are sharing the room with some Andy Warhol trucks (silk screen on paper.) They go well together. The Serra etchings are basically a paper version of his sculptures. There’s a lot of ink on the paper, creating a thick, textured surface, similar to the surface of corroded metal. The gallery is displaying these without glass, which I can understand because if you put a sheet of glass over these large, deep black rectangles, you’ll have a nice mirror and the art will disappear. Still, framing without glass is bound to shorten the life of the piece.

Gallery Paule Anglim has more work on paper – some not-so-recent digital prints by Jack Fulton and some old figurative drawings by Joan Brown. Most of the Joan Brown drawings were stiff narrative/fashion images. But there was one loose, loaded-brush piece that looked like a quick sketch from life (image at right.) There was an intriguing painting on stretched linen next to the gallery-sitter’s desk but repeated questions directed at the young woman seated there elicited only faint, monosyllabic mumbles. Although she said the artist’s name was “Smith”, my best guess is that it was a piece by Dean Byington. It looked like a fascinating process of (maybe?) black-line photomechanical silkscreen overlayed with colored oil glazes, on a white background. Part of the imagery was an appropriated Thomas Nast cartoon, surrounded by original delicate line drawing.

Catherine Clark is showing “Social Insecurity” by her regulars: Chester Arnold, Sandow Birk, Masami Teraoka, Walter Robinson and Ray Beldner, as well as some that were less familiar to me. The work depicts current events as well as more generalized anxieties. There were two beautiful Julie Heffernan paintings. I’d only seen her work in reproduction before this, and was pleased to see that in person the work is much richer, more painterly, more skilled, with more complex imagery. There was also a really interesting set of three pieces by Andy Diaz Hope with a pharmacological theme. (Many thanks to Josh Feldman for getting the artist’s name for me.)

The images were printed on paper, cut into little bits and stuffed into clear pill capsules with part of the image facing out. The capsules were then arranged in a grid to form the bigger picture (ala Chuck Close.) The plastic framing resembled a medicine chest, or a blister pack for pills. (At far left is one of the three panels; near left is a close-up of the stuffed capsules.)

As usual, the Gregory Lind gallery is showing the obsessively detailed, highly crafted work that I’ve come to expect there. This was a two person show with surrealist architectural models by Randy Dixon and gouache/ink drawings of tiny-block structures by Will Yackulic. (At right: “Nerves”, 2005, gouache on paper, 18″ x 16.25″)

Modernism has some new work by Mark Stock. For those of you who are fans of “The Butler’s In Love”, he’s moved on. Stock is now into tromp l’oeil still life narratives, with heavy emphasis on faux wood graining. (Two of the series at left.)

George Krevsky has a beautiful show of work by Raphael Soyer, including his early WPA prints and drawings, some paintings, and later pieces including portraits of Alan Ginsberg, Gergory Corso, and Diane Di Prima. I’ve seen this show twice – this is a master and these are great examples of his work. If I came into some money, I’d buy Soyer’s drawing of his brother, Moses. Good photos of the show at Alan Bamberger’s site (although someone is standing in front of the Moses drawing.)

The Art Exchange at 49 Geary (no web site) had a terrific selection of smaller works by local artists, some of them labeled “From the Collection of a Local Artist.” There were a few paintings by Kim Frohsin (her figurative show just closed at Dolby Chadwick) and a small Guy Diehl still life of orange soup in a white bowl, on a grey surface (image at right.)
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August 8, 2005 (Monday) New Work by Old Guys:
John Berggruen Gallery has a “New Acquisitions” show with lots of familiar names. The first thing you see when entering is a very big David Hockney swimming pool (“Swimming Pool With Reflection,” 1978, colored pressed paper pulp – six sheets, 72″ x 85″; shown at right with Mark di Suvero sculpture, “Mayakovsky”, 1976.) I like David Hockney’s work, and I like images made from colored paper pulp, but this piece was priced at $1,000,000, which seemed a bit excessive. Unless, of course, you accept the validity of the dead butterflies on black enameled canvas by Damien Hirst which was priced at $225,000 (“Tall Thin Love”, 2001, 6″ x 102″)

They also had a couple of Ed Ruscha pieces (“Jinx”, 2004, 32″ x 75″, $385,000), a new Jim Dine pastel on paper, a big Paul Wonner flower painting, a little marble house sculpture by Louise Bourgeois, and strange little drawings on ripped, lined notebook paper by Marcel Dzama.

Which made me wonder again why no one is showing Charles M. Ware’s work these days. His drawings and spray stencils are full of his personal iconography and yet they’re very fresh looking. If you saw them hanging in a gallery somewhere, you’d think the work was done by a 20-something. Which is remarkable, because Charlie doesn’t get out much. It’s enough to make a person believe in a collective unconscious. Speaking of Charlie, I called him yesterday, to tell him that Martin Bromirski had mentioned him in Anaba. Charlie told me he’s started a new series of bigger collages, made from tracings of his older drawings, pasted on doorskin boards. The guy is amazing – he never stops.

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August 5, 2005 (Friday) Cracker Jacks Prizes and a Bag-O-Art
Recently, I was the lucky recipient of a “Bag-O-Art” by Roberta Fallon and Libby Rosof. Opening the white paper bag brought back the thrill I used to get when my mother would hand me a box of Cracker Jacks after she had finished her shopping. (My brothers and I had to wait in the car while she did the monthly “stock up” at the base commissary.) Remember when Cracker Jacks came in a box and the prizes were really cool? They were often wooden, metal, or plastic toys that had to be assembled. I still have some of mine:

The Bag-O-Art held as much mystery and promise as the old Cracker Jacks box. It’s full of color, imagery, and thought grenades; and I still get a charge out of looking through it:

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August 4, 2005 (Thursday) Catching up…
Sorry for the absence – I had some unexpected family obligations the last few days, plus:

Yesterday I spent most of the day touring art galleries with Roberta Fallon, who was in town with her husband Steve and daughter Stella. She’ll write something about it on her blog in a couple of weeks, when she gets back to Philadelphia.

I’ve been buried in the studio for the last couple of months so it was wonderful to get out and look at art. August is a weird time to visit galleries in San Francisco. Some of them close for the whole month. Some do “new acquisitions”, “introductions” or other group shows. And the galleries that are still open are a bit more casual than usual. Roberta and I were both eager to see “Social Insecurity” at the Catherine Clark Gallery. It’s one of my favorite local galleries and Roberta had seen them at Scope and wanted to see more. This was a group show with work by Chester Arnold, Sandow Birk, Julie Heffernan, Masami Teraoka, Ray Beldner, and others. As expected, it was a great show. I may go back this weekend and write more about it next week. (Also, keep an eye on Roberta’s space for photos of the show, and more details.)

We caught the Joan Brown show at Paule Anglim – they were still hanging it, but we got good look at the drawings. It’s figurative work on paper, from the 70s… reminded us of Mattisse, Hockney, and Peyton. Actually, it looked kinda contemporary. When the de Young reopens, Joan Brown’s paintings will be featured in the inaugural show. (Image above left: Joan Brown, “Mary Julia #37″, 1976, Mixed media on paper, 36″ x 24”, from the Gallery Paule Anglim web site.)

Last, but not least, we went by the Newmark Gallery to get my first look at “San Francisco Cityscapes”, a four person show with work by me, Larry Morace, Paul Madonna, and Toru Sugita. It was very gratifying to see the show hanging in the gallery, with great lighting and all… the work always looks so much better there than it does when it’s stacked all over my studio. Larry and Paul have both done some impressive new work. (Image at right: Larry Morace, “Drive Home”, from the Newmark Gallery web site.) I’ll write more about this later in the week….

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August 1, 2005 (Monday)
Look Familiar?
When I was downtown a few days ago, I saw the most egregious misuse of an image that I have witnessed in a very long time. It was in the front window of the Art People Gallery, which is in the Crocker Galleria, at 50 Post Street, in San Francisco. It’s a framed bas relief of a woman’s head, in brown metallic colors. At first glance it looks like an image from “Night of the Living Dead.” But then I recognized Magnum photographer Steve McCurry’s famous photo of an Afghan girl. Hard to believe a respected photojournalist would license his image for schlock like this. I’m betting he didn’t.