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.”

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.”

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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