ART hound

Geneva Anderson digs into art

Slow down, it’s “Slow Art Day” at five San Francisco museums and galleries (and more than 200 others worldwide)— Look at five artworks for 10 minutes each, then meet and discuss.

Slow Art Day, Saturday, April 12, 2014, encourages people to slow down and really concentrate on the art in front of them.  Georgia O’Keeffe, Lake George [formerly Reflection Seascape], 1922 is currently on view at the de Young museum as part of their "Georgia O'Keeffe and Lake George" exhibition.  Oil on canvas. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, gift of Charlotte Mack. © Georgia O’Keeffe Museum / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Slow Art Day, Saturday, April 12, 2014, encourages people to slow down and really concentrate on the art in front of them. Georgia O’Keeffe, Lake George [formerly Reflection Seascape], 1922 is currently on view at the de Young museum as part of their “Georgia O’Keeffe and Lake George” exhibition. Oil on canvas. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, gift of Charlotte Mack. © Georgia O’Keeffe Museum / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The average time spent looking at a piece of art in a museum is less than 20 seconds and continuing to drop (according to stats provided by the initiators of Slow Art Day). On Saturday, April 12, the de Young Museum, the Legion of Honor, the Contemporary Jewish Museum, Chandler Fine Art and USF’s Mary and Thatcher Gallery (all in San Francisco) and dozens of other museums and galleries around the world will participate in Slow Art Day.  The concept is simple and similar to meditation— look at five artworks for 10 minutes each without doing anything else, then meet and discuss.  Just like the National Day of Unplugging, which encourages people to shut-off their smartphones and socialize face-to-face, Slow Art Day’s mission is to enable deeper connections with art that don’t happen in the daily whirl that our fast-paced lives have become.

I recently spent some time looking at Georgia O’Keeffe’s oil painting Lake George, currently on view in the special exhibition Modern Nature: Georgia O’Keeffe and Lake George at the de Young and after a few minutes, my awareness really began to shift.

I plan to visit the Legion of Honor’s new show from the National Gallery of Art, Intimate Impressionism (on view through August 3, 2014), which features some 70 Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterworks which illuminate the process of painting directly in nature. The temporary closure of the National Gallery’s East Building for major renovation and expansion has made possible the rare opportunity to see this select group of paintings in San Francisco, the exhibition’s first venue. And I’ll also revisit Matisse from SFMOMA (through September 7, 2014) which features 23 paintings, drawings and bronzes from SFMOMA’s acclaimed collection and two paintings and two drawings from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s own important Matisse holdings.

Here are few tips for embarking on your Slow Art Day experience:

  • Choose a piece of art that appeals to you at first glance and draws you in. You’re likely to stay engaged for a longer period of time if you have that initial reaction.
  • Relax, and let your eye wander over the artwork. Spend more time on details that are particularly interesting.
  • Observe from different distances and angles. Take note of what changes occur when you move around.
  • Notice how you feel, and what emotions the artwork brings up.
  • If you get bored, ask yourself why you chose this piece of art. Or pick a specific line or color and follow it throughout the artwork.
  • Afterwards, share your thoughts! It might be interesting to hear how others may have had very similar or dramatically different experiences. It’s also fun to try and draw a sketch after you’re finished looking—just a few extra minutes of observation might really create a lasting impression of a piece of art

If you’re the type who needs structure, both the de Young and Legion of Honor have two rounds of Slow Art Day programs 10 a.m. to noon and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Learn more about Slow Art Day at slowartday.com.

April 12, 2014 Posted by | Art | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Smithsonian’s Sackler curator, Debra Diamond, speaks Thursday, April 10, 2014, on “Yoga: The Art of Transformation” at the Asian Art Museum

 

Smithsonian curator Debra Diamond, curator of  “Yoga: The Art of Transformation” at the Asian Art Museum through May 25, 20114, will speak about  the challenges of creating the groundbreaking exhibition on the visual culture of yoga at the Asian Art Museum on Thursday, April 10, at 7 PM.  Here, Diamond speaks to journalists at the exhibition press conference about early twentieth century Western memorabilia which depicted yogis and ascetics as emaciated exotics performing voyeuristic stunts.  Uniting spectacle, ethnography and missionary activities, these postcards and small objects such as a “Fakir Sitting on a Bed of Nails” were collected as part of a trend of cataloguing Indian people.

Smithsonian curator Debra Diamond, curator of “Yoga: The Art of Transformation” at the Asian Art Museum through May 25, 20114, will speak about the challenges of creating the groundbreaking exhibition on the visual culture of yoga at the Asian Art Museum on Thursday, April 10, at 7 PM. Here, Diamond speaks to journalists at the exhibition press conference about early twentieth century Western memorabilia which depicted yogis and ascetics as emaciated exotics performing voyeuristic stunts. Uniting spectacle, ethnography and missionary activities, these postcards and small objects such as a “Fakir Sitting on a Bed of Nails” were collected as part of a trend of cataloguing Indian people.

Debra Diamond, curator of South Asian art at the Smithsonian’s Freer|Sackler Galleries of Art, and curator of Yoga: The Art of Transformation at San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum (AAM) through May 25, 20114, will speak at the museum on Thursday, April 10, at 7 PM about the process of creating the first major study on the visual culture of yoga. Diamond, who also edited the exhibition’s comprehensive catalog of the same title, will chart the project, starting with its initial concept and research through interdisciplinary collaborations with scholars, yoga practitioners and exhibition designers. Focusing on the masterworks currently on view at AAM, she will illuminate how visual culture conveys embodied transformations and reveals yoga’s diverse and profound manifestations in history. Diamond led the press tour for the exhibition when it opened in February.  She is a top-rate scholar and engaging speaker and had the press corps transfixed with her detailed explanations of the history and significance of these rare artifacts.

Diamond devoted six years to preparing the groundbreaking exhibition and selected its roughly 140 artworks from more than 30 different places around the world.  Her exhibition catalogue for Garden and Cosmos: The Royal Paintings of Jodhpur (fall 2008) received two major awards for scholarship: the College Art Association’s Alfred H. Barr award and the Smithsonian Secretary’s Award for Research. She has also published on yoga imagery, new methods in Indian art history, contemporary Asian art, and various aspects of the Freer|Sackler collections.  After her talk, Debra Diamond will be signing exhibition catalogs in North Court, outside of the museum store.

ARThound spoke to Debra Diamond at the AAM’s press conference about her interest in the art of yoga:

“The major group of paintings in “Garden and Cosmos” were the hatha yoga and Nath Sampraday which were the core of the project and also of my dissertation (at Columbia).  In studying them over the years, I found that there was no written material and no one knew much about the Nath Sampraday. I would look through Indian art books for clues as to how these images developed and I kept whatever was relevant in a cardboard box and crated that around with me.  The minute that “Garden and Cosmos” closed, I proposed this exhibition to the Sackler.  I said we can expand from that one moment.  We can look at how yoga manifested in history over time and through various cultures if we follow the visual history and it will be fascinating.  I realized that no one had put it together. Because yoga was so central to Indian culture, the greatest artists worked on these tatvas and we could tell the story of yoga through the great masterpieces of Indian art. This reframing has been completely engaging.”

Note: Seating capacity is limited – first come, first served.

Details: Yoga: The Art of Transformation is at the Asian Art Museum through May 25, 2014. The Asian Art Museum is located at 200 Larkin Street (at Civic Center Plaza), San Francisco.  Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with extended evening hours every Thursday until 9 p.m.  Admission (Yoga: Art of Transformation exhibition is included in general admission): $10 Adults; $10 seniors, students; $10 youth 13-17 and free to 12 and under.   On weekends, admission is $2 more.  Parking: The Asian Art Museum does not have a parking facility, but it is served by the following parking facilities—all within walking distance of the museum: Civic Center Plaza Garage is the closest and most reasonably priced and has 840 spaces. From Van Ness, turn left on McAllister.  Entrance is on McAllister, between Polk and Larkin Streets.  Info: www.asianart.org.

April 7, 2014 Posted by | Art | , , , , | Leave a comment

The de Young Museum’s “Bouquets to Art” —glorious flowers and foliage in art’s image, March 17-23, 2014

The 30th annual Bouquets to Art is March 18-23, 2014, at the de Young Museum. Over 125 leading floral designers respond to artworks in the museum’s permanent collection.  Georgia O'Keeffe, “Petunias,” 1925. Oil on hardboard. FAMSF, museum purchase, gift of the M. H. de Young Family. © Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. Floral design by Sunshine Flowers and Event Design. Photograph © Greg A. Lato / latoga photography

The 30th annual Bouquets to Art is March 18-23, 2014, at the de Young Museum. Over 125 leading floral designers respond to artworks in the museum’s permanent collection. Georgia O’Keeffe, “Petunias,” 1925. Oil on hardboard. FAMSF, museum purchase, gift of the M. H. de Young Family. © Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. Floral design by Sunshine Flowers and Event Design. Photograph © Greg A. Lato / latoga photography

Spring has sprung early in the Bay Area and gardeners, art lovers and floral artists will find endless inspiration and creativity in the de Young Museum’s annual Bouquets to Art, which turns 30 this year.  Over 125 of the Bay Area’s most innovative and sought after floral designers will create a spectacular array of floral arrangements in the museum that respond to artworks in the museum’s extensive permanent collections.  Their designs, each a unique masterpiece, range from the stunningly simple to the elaborately complex.  Some designers have a delightfully wicked sense of humor, while others use plants that confer a complex symbolism.  It’s a great deal of fun just to stroll and browse and it’s no wonder that this is the museum’s most highly attended event

The seven day extravaganza kicks off on Monday evening (March 17) at 7 PM with an Opening Night Gala and Preview  which transforms the museum’s hall and galleries into a fragrant and sensual display of blooming color and creativity.  This fabulous party features a sumptuous buffet catered by McCalls, cocktails, live music by Switched ON Audio, the Jesse Barrett Oboe Quartet, and Alan K. Choy, a couture fashion show inspired the de Young’s artworks created and modeled by students from the Environmental Horticulture/Floristry department at City College of San Francisco, and dancing the night away.

Bouquets to Art week will feature floral design demonstrations by locally, nationally and internationally acclaimed floral designers, among them two Bay Area favorites, Laura Dowling, chief floral designer for the White House, and Shane Connolly, artistic director of the flowers for the 2011 royal wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Local participating floral designers include: Francesca Perez of Francesca’s Flowers and Garden (Santa Rosa), Catherine Scott of Catherine Scott Flowers (Sonoma), Daisy Rose of Daisy Rose Floral Design (Sonoma); Josette L. Brose-Eichar of Lavender (Sonoma), Debbie Hitchcock of Lovey’s Garden (Kenwood) and Natasha J. Drengson of Natasha’s Designs (Glen Ellen).

Bouquets to Art raffle tickets available for sale will provide the opportunity to win exotic travel packages, fine dining, wine tastings and other luxury items. There will also be seated luncheons by McCalls hosted on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and special hands-on art activities for children during the weekend. All proceeds from the entire Bouquet to Art event benefit the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF).

Daisy Rose of Daisy Rose Floral Design in Sonoma is creating a floral arrangement in response to James McNeill Whistler’s “The Gold Scab: Eruption in Frilthy Lucre (The Creditor)” 1879, .  This is Rose’s third year as a participant in “Bouquets to Art.”  Oil on canvas. Gift of Mrs. Alma de Bretteville Spreckels through the Patrons of Art and Music, 1977.

Daisy Rose of Daisy Rose Floral Design in Sonoma is creating a floral arrangement in response to James McNeill Whistler’s “The Gold Scab: Eruption in Frilthy Lucre (The Creditor)” 1879, . This is Rose’s third year as a participant in “Bouquets to Art.” Oil on canvas. Gift of Mrs. Alma de Bretteville Spreckels through the Patrons of Art and Music, 1977.

Earlier this week, ARThound spoke with Daisy Rose of Daisy Rose Floral Design in Sonoma who is preparing an arrangement in response to James McNeill Whistler’s “The Gold Scab: Eruption in Frilthy Lucre (The Creditor)” 1879.  The painting, executed in shades of teal, is the broke artist’s mocking portrait of his main creditor (and once patron), Frederick Leyland, a British shipping magnate who is depicted as a peacock, sitting upon Whistler’s house as if it were an egg.

“This is the only time of the year when I get to do what I want, “to be creative without constraints,” said Daisy Rose.  “It’s  nerve-racking.  I give myself a new challenge every year and pick a painting that is not like anything else I’ve done before, something that I’m not entirely sure I can pull off.  This is a really exciting, interesting and complex painting about a painter getting back at his patron once their relationship went sour. The patron is covered in scales and sitting at piano which he couldn’t play and sitting on top of Whistler’s house, which he took control of.  I just love it.  I like to use only floral materials—no plastic or metal or elaborate supports.  It needs to last a week, so I’ll use lots of succulents, air plants, eucalyptus, cala lilies and orchids, probably 15 different materials in all.   The painting is greenish-blue and covered in scales and for that, I’ll use eucalyptus and a few of those will be painted gold.  I’m not going to create the actual structure of the house but will use the colors of the house and its triangular shape…it’s all coming together in my mind.”

Like many designers, Rose will buy her flowers on the Friday before the event and will work on it through the weekend so that she is well-prepared when she arrives Monday the museum to set it up. “I like to have it pretty much ready to go when I get there.  I’ll use chalk to measure out my pedestal and will work with this fictional pedestal.  I’m excited to get started.”

Francesca Perez of Francesca’s Flowers and Garden in Santa Rosa is creating a floral arrangement in response to Maurice Brazil Prendergast’s “The Holiday” (1908-09), which the museum acquired in 1968. (Gallery 28, Section I).  The painting captures a leisurely afternoon at a lake and showcases the artist’s much appreciated mosaic-like style of painting which uses radically simplified forms that are arranged rhythmically on the canvas and bright jewel-like colors.

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This is Perez’s third participation in Bouquets and she was matched with the colorful painting by the well-known American post-Impressionist by the BtoA committee.  Two years ago, when she was assistant to the head gardener at McEvoy Ranch, she helped the McEvoy floral team create a stunning arrangement in the shape of an owl with spread wings as a tribute to the museum’s Nan Tucker McEvoy Wing which houses the de Young’s world renown early American collection, including the treasured Rockefeller collection of American Art.

“I was wondering what I was going to get this year,” said Perez, speaking from her design studio in her Santa Rosa home.  “When I saw the painting online, the colors really touched me and the wheels started turning. I really want to get to the flower market on Friday to see what speaks to me, things I may not have even thought about.  I’ll definitely try to recreate something in the painting, using its medley of colors, for example the colors in the dresses, as inspiration.  I need to consider too what flowers will make it through the week.”

Three years ago, Francesca Perez of Francesca’s Flowers and Garden in Santa Rosa created a floral arrangement in response to the de Young’s Nan Tucker McEvoy Wing which houses the museum’s world renowned early American collection, including the treasured Rockefeller collection of American Art.  Image courtesy: Francesca Perez

Three years ago, Francesca Perez of Francesca’s Flowers and Garden in Santa Rosa was a floral designer for McEvoy Ranch and designed and created the lovely wings on this striking owl. The floral arrangement was a response to the de Young’s Nan Tucker McEvoy Wing which houses the museum’s world renowned early American collection, including the treasured Rockefeller collection of American Art. Image courtesy: Francesca Perez

In the 30 years since its inception, Bouquets to Art has drawn over 650,000 visitors and raised nearly $6 million in net proceeds.  Funds from previous presentations of Bouquets to Art have been used to support special exhibitions, art acquisitions, educational programs and special projects at the Legion of Honor and the de Young.  Income from Bouquets to Art 2013 was used to fund, in part, the special exhibitions Impressionists on the Water, which was on view at the Legion of Honor from June to October 2013, and Modern Nature: Georgia O’Keeffe and Lake George, on view now at the de Young through May 11, 2014.

Schedule for the Week:

Monday, March 17

Opening Night Gala and Preview

7‒10 p.m., with 5:30 p.m. entry for Patron ticket holders

Advance tickets required.  Tickets are $300 and $200 for 35 years and younger. Call 415.750.3604

Tuesday, March 18

9:30 a.m.‒5:15 p.m.: Floral exhibits

10 a.m.: “Together Again for the Very First Time” Floral design demonstration by Ron Morgan and Shane Connolly

Noon: Luncheon in Piazzoni Murals Room. Click here for tickets, information

1:30 p.m.: “The Art of the Party” Presentation by acclaimed New York-based event producer David Stark

Wednesday, March 19

9:30 a.m.‒5:15 p.m.: Floral exhibits 10 a.m.: “Classic Design with a Modern Twist” Floral design demonstration by Paris-trained designer, Thierry Chantrel

Noon: Luncheon in Piazzoni Murals Room. Click here for tickets, information

1:30 p.m.: “Flower Inspirations in the Natural Style” Floral design demonstration by White House chief floral designer Laura Dowling

6‒8 p.m.: Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco member viewing hours

Thursday, March 20

9:30 a.m.‒5:15 p.m.: Floral exhibits

10 a.m.: “Floral Art of the Moment” Floral design demonstration by Soho Sakai, master of Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement

Noon: Luncheon in Piazzoni Murals Room. Click here for tickets, information.

6‒8 p.m.: Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco member viewing hours

Friday, March 21

9:30 a.m.‒5:15 p.m.: Floral exhibits

Saturday, March 22

9:30 a.m.‒5:15 p.m.: Floral exhibits

10:30 a.m.‒1 p.m.: Children’s hands-on art activities in the Piazzoni Murals Room

Sunday, March 23

9:30 a.m.‒5:15 p.m.: Floral exhibits, raffle drawing

10:30 a.m.‒1 p.m.: Children’s hands-on art activities in the Piazzoni Murals Room

Bouquets to Art 2014 Ticketing:  General museum admission allows access to all floral exhibits, located in the permanent collection galleries. $22 Adults; $19 Seniors (65 and above); $18 Students with current ID; $15 Youths 6–17; Members and children 5 and under are admitted free. Save $1 with advance online ticket purchase (discount price is reflected in online shopping cart.) General admission tickets may be purchased in advance either online or in person at the museum box office during regular museum hours. Advance tickets are required for the luncheons and floral design demonstrations. For more information and to order tickets, go to deyoungmuseum.org/bouquets.

Visiting the de Young: Address: Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive San Francisco, CA 94118. Hours: Tuesday–Thursday, Saturday and Sunday: 9:30 am–5:15 pm Friday: 9:30 am–8:45 pm; closed on Monday.

March 15, 2014 Posted by | Art | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Not just film, CAAMFest, has super-sized into an Asian American cultural extravaganza—it starts Wednesday, March 13, and runs for 10 days in San Francisco, Berkeley, and Oakland

New York artist Tenzing Rigdol’s poignant installation is the focus of Tenzi Tsetan Choklay’s feature documentary, “Bringing Tibet Home,” screening at CAAMFest 2014, March 13-23, 2014.   Following the death of his father, a Tibetan refugee, Rigdol embarks on a journey to bring 20,000 kilos of native Tibetan soil from Nepal to India. The smuggled soil is laid out on a platform in Dharamsala, the Himalayan hill town where the Dali Lama and many Tibetan refugees are based.  For many, this is a reunion; for some, this the first time that they set foot on their native soil; and for a few, this is probably the last time that they ever see anything of their lost nation.  A powerful portrait of artistic determination that explores homeland, exile and the transgressive power of art.  Image: courtesy CAAM

New York artist Tenzing Rigdol’s poignant installation is the focus of Tenzi Tsetan Choklay’s feature documentary, “Bringing Tibet Home,” screening at CAAMFest 2014, March 13-23, 2014. Following the death of his father, a Tibetan refugee, Rigdol embarks on a journey to bring 20,000 kilos of native Tibetan soil from Nepal to India. The smuggled soil is laid out on a platform in Dharamsala, the Himalayan hill town where the Dali Lama and many Tibetan refugees are based. For many, this is a reunion; for some, this the first time that they set foot on their native soil; and for a few, this is probably the last time that they ever see anything of their lost nation. A powerful portrait of artistic determination that explores homeland, exile and the transgressive power of art. Filmmaker will attend. Image: courtesy CAAM

CAAMFest is 32 this year and no longer just about great film.  The 10 day festival, which takes place between March 13th and 23th , in San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland, has long showcased the best and newest in Asian American film.  It got restless when it turned 30 though:  it changed its name from SFIAFF (San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival ) to the shorter CAAMFest , named after its sponsor, CAAM , San Francisco’s Center for Asian American Media.  Under the guidance of Festival Director Masashi Niwano, now in his fourth year at the helm, it also responded to changing times by tweaking its programming.  And growing.  And growing.  It now bills itself as the nation’s “largest showcase for new Asian and Asian American film.”

Music and Food:  In addition to its 121 films and videos, and stellar presentations and tributes, CAAMFest 2014 includes cutting edge musicians and the fusion of great food and film line-up.  Korean and Vietnamese hip hop and rock music, and leading female performers are the focus of the two “Directions in Sound” evenings. On March 22, 23-year-old rapper, singer and songwriter, Suboi (Hàng Lâm Trang Anh), tagged Vietnam’s Queen of Hiphop, will have her U.S. debut at 111 Minna Gallery.

Suboi, the first female rapper to make it big in Vietnam, makes her U.S. debut at CAAMFest.

Suboi, the first female rapper to make it big in Vietnam, makes her U.S. debut at CAAMFest.

Culinary artists like superstar Chef Martin Yan (of PBS and M.Y. China) and award-winning Chocolatier Windy Lieu of Sôcôla Chocolates are the focus of CAAMfeast,” a high-end tasting party/fundraiser, while three fabulous food films celebrate storytelling around Asian food.

CAAMFEST expands into artsy Oakland:  Promising to engage all the senses is “Super Awesome Launch,” an evening at the Oakland Museum of California (Friday, March 7) that includes a sneak preview of its highly anticipated upcoming spring exhibition, SuperAwesome: Art and Giant Robot, along with the chance to meet arts visionary and Eric Nakamura, who curated the exhibition.   What? Never heard of Nakamura? Then you’re WAY WAY behind the times and need a serious CAAMFEST infusion. Twenty years ago, in 1994, Nakamura founded Giant Robot, Los Angeles’ Little Osaka based store, magazine, art gallery that became an uber-destination for Asian and Asian American popular culture and art.  You can meet Eric Nakamura and experience the art in person at OMCA, which has become quite the hopping venue on Friday nights. The evening also includes high energy bands from Taiwan, a caravan of food trucks, and a screening of Patrick Epino and Stephen Dypiangco’s Awesome Asian Bad Guys (2013) starring Tamlyn Tomita and Dante Basco.  Easy to see why they call it “Super Awesome Launch.”   And, this year CAAMFEST has its closing night party in Oakland as well (see below), marking what promises to be a sweet partnership with the community’s vibrant arts organizations and galleries.

Big Nights of Film

Opening Night: The festival kicks off this Wednesday, March 13 with the US premiere of Vietnamese American director Ham Tran’s (Journey from the Fall, 2006) romantic comedy, How to Fight in Six Inch Heels, at the historic Castro Theater.  The film was Vietnam’s top box office draw for 2013 and features San Jose native Kathy Uyen as a New York fashion designer who infiltrates Saigon’s high-fashion world to test her fiancé’s fidelity. After the premiere, CAAMFest heads over to the Asian Art Museum for its Opening Night Gala, which features food from local chefs and restaurants, a special presentation by fashion stylists Retrofit Republic, dancing to beats spun by local DJ’s and the Asian’s amazing new exhibition, Yoga: The Art of Transformation.

How To Fight In Six Inch Heels (Âm Mưu Giày Gót Nhọn)  

Select Special Presentations:  Each year, CAAMFest highlights the works of significant media makers and their contributions to modern cinema.  In Conversation with Grace Lee: Award-winning documentary filmmaker Grace Lee will be in conversation at the Castro Theatre on Saturday, March 16, discussing her new documentary, American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs (2013), profiling the extraordinary life of activist and feminist Grace Lee Boggs which screens right after the conversation.  Lee’s narrative feature comedy, American Zombie (2006), screens on Friday, March 14.

American Revolutionary:  The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs

Tribute: Run Run Shaw:  CAAMFest offers a three film tribute to the legendary movie mogul Sir Run Run Shaw, who over the course of nine decades fostered some of the greatest filmmaking talent in Hong Kong, and produced some American classics such as Blade Runner (1982).  The films—The Kingdom and the Beauty; King Boxer (The Five Fingers of Death); and my personal favorite, Come Drink With Me, will all screen at the Chinatown’s Great Star Theater on March 15th..  The Great Star, refurbished in 2010, hosts both Chinese-language film and Chinese opera.

Set in imperial China, Chinese director Li Han-hsiang’s dazzling musical drama “The Kingdom and the Beauty” (1959) consolidated the Chinese operetta’s popularity in Hong Kong.  When  restless Chinese emperor (Chao Lei) disguises himself as a commoner and takes a stroll, he falls in love with a country peasant (movie queen Lin Dai) and promises to marry her after spending one night together—only for their budding romance to be abruptly curtailed. The film is part of a three film tribute at Chinatown’s Great Star Theater to Hong Kong entertainment and media mogul Run Run Shaw.

Set in imperial China, Chinese director Li Han-hsiang’s dazzling musical drama “The Kingdom and the Beauty” (1959) consolidated the Chinese operetta’s popularity in Hong Kong. When restless Chinese emperor (Chao Lei) disguises himself as a commoner and takes a stroll, he falls in love with a country peasant (movie queen Lin Dai) and promises to marry her after spending one night together—only for their budding romance to be abruptly curtailed. The film is part of a three film tribute at Chinatown’s Great Star Theater to Hong Kong entertainment and media mogul Run Run Shaw.

Closing Night: The Closing Night Gala, Sunday, March 23, marks the festival’s expansion to downtown Oakland’s arts district.  The evening starts off at the New Parkway Theater with a screening of Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Marissa Aroy’s documentary, Delano Manongs (2013).  A prescient chronicle of the life of Filipino activist Larry Itliong (1913-77), who organized the 1965 Delano Grape Strike and helped launch the United Farm Workers, the documentary explores the vital contribution of Filipinos to the American Farm labor movement.  Following this screening, the Gala moves one block to Vessel Gallery for a closing party that takes place amongst the art exhibition “Periphery: New Works by Cyrus Tilton and Paintings by Tim Rice.”

CAAMFEST expands into Oakland:

Stay-tuned to ARThound for detailed film picks, which will include:

Anthony Chen’s Ilo Ilo (2013) Winner of the Caméra d”Or at Cannes this May, a mesmerizing portrait of a middle class Indonesian family in crisis that sprang out of the director’s childhood in the Singapore and his nurturing relationship with his Filipina nanny who worked as a domestic helper for his family for 8 years from 1988 to 1997.  (Screens March 15 at 6:30 PM at Pacific Film Archive and March 17 at 6 PM at Sundance Kabuki Cinemas.)

Director Yuya Ishii’s The Great Passage (2013), Japan’s 2013 Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film about a shy, eccentric young man, who joins the Dictionary Editorial Department of a big Tokyo publishing house to help compile a new dictionary, “The Great Passage” and over the course of years is transformed.  (Screens: March 15 at 2:30 PM at Sundance Kabuki Cinemas and March 16 at 3:30 PM at Pacific Film Archive.)

Tenzi Tsetan Choklay’s feature documentary, Bringing Tibet Home (2013). Following the death of his father, a Tibetan refugee, Rigdol embarks on a remarkable journey to bring 20,000 kilos of native Tibetan soil from Nepal to India. The smuggled soil is laid out on a platform in Dharamsala, the Himalayan hill town where the Dali Lama and many Tibetan refugees are based.  For many, this is a reunion; for some, this the first time that they set foot on their native soil; and for a few, this is probably the last time that they ever see anything of their lost nation. (Screens: March 14 at 5 PM at New People Cinemas and March 19 at 7 PM at Pacific Film Archive.)

CAAMFEST Details:

When/Where: CAAMfest 2014 runs March 13-23, 2014 at 8 screening venues in San Francisco, Berkeley, and Oakland and as well as select museums, galleries, bars and music halls.

Tickets: This popular festival sells outs, so advance ticket purchase is highly recommended for most films and events.  Regular screenings are $12 with $1 to $2 discounts for students, seniors, disabled and current CAAM members.  Special screenings, programs and social events are more.  Festival 6-pack passes are also available for $60 (6 screenings for price of 5). All access passes are $450 for CAAM members and $500 for general.  Click here for ticket purchases online.  Tickets may also be purchased in person and various venue box offices open one hour before the first festival screening of the day.

Unpacking the festival: Click here to see full schedule in day by day calendar format with hyperlinks for film and event descriptions and for ticket purchase.  The official website— CAAMFest 2014.

March 9, 2014 Posted by | Dance, Film, Food, Oakland Museum of California | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

closing soon—”Peter Stackpole: Bridging the Bay,” at Oakland Museum on California through January 26, 2014

Peter Stackpole "Catwalk and Marin Tower," 1936, gelatin silver print, 6.25 x 9.375 inches, Collection of OMCA and OMCA Founders Fund.

Peter Stackpole “Catwalk and Marin Tower,” 1936, gelatin silver print, 6.25 x 9.375 inches, Collection of OMCA and OMCA Founders Fund.

Soaring spans, chilling heights, and candid moments in the daily lives of workers characterize the 22 stunning black and white photographs in “Peter Stackpole: Bridging the Bay,” at OMCA (Oakland Museum of California) OMCA through January 26, 2014.  One of the first photographers to have access to a compact 35-millimeter camera, the naturally agile Stackpole, who was raised in the Bay Area and in Paris, befriended bridge workers and, without official permission, was soon climbing ladders right along with them to get incredible shots of the construction of the original San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and of the Golden Gate Bridge.  His amazing photos eventually captured the attention of the team at Time Magazine, who were in the early stages of publishing a photo journal that would become Life Magazine.  Stackpole’s unique work became so well respected that it launched his career and he was featured in celebrated publications like Vanity Fair, and went on to photograph Hollywood events and celebrities.  This is the first time OMCA’s complete collection of Stackpole’s bridge building images from the 1930s have been publicly displayed since they were acquired. The exhibition connects visitors back in time to the bridge’s first iteration, its amazing engineering and serves as a complement to the Museum’s major exhibition on the San Francisco Bay, “Above and Below: Stories From Our Changing Bay,” which runs through February 23, 2014.

Details:Peter Stackpole: Bridging the Bay”  is on display at the Oakland Museum of California through January 26, 2014.

OMCA Curator Drew Johnson on “Peter Stackpole: Photographing the Bay Bridge”

January 5, 2014 Posted by | Oakland Museum of California | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Photography in Mexico” from SFMOMA at the Sonoma County Museum—opening reception Saturday, September 28; two talks in early October

For over four years, Mexican photographer Yvonne Venegas was permitted to document the family and home of Maria Elvia De Hank, wife of millionaire Jorge Hank Rohn, the former mayor of Tijuana.  “Nirvana” from the series “Maria Elvia De Hank” points to the early roots of the exhausting and contradictory life of privilege. 2006; inkjet print; 19 1/2  x 24 in.; Collection SFMOMA; © Yvonne Venegas

For over four years, Mexican photographer Yvonne Venegas was permitted to document the family and home of Maria Elvia De Hank, wife of millionaire Jorge Hank Rohn, the former mayor of Tijuana. “Nirvana” from the series “Maria Elvia De Hank” points to the early roots of the exhausting and contradictory life of privilege. 2006; inkjet print; 19 1/2 x 24 in.; Collection SFMOMA; © Yvonne Venegas

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) holds one of the world’s most distinguished collections of photography from Mexico, which is part of an unprecedented statewide tour of works from SFMOMA’s photography collection while the museum building is closed for expansion through early 2016.  The Sonoma County Museum is the first host for Photography in Mexico from the Collection of SFMOMA which opens with a festive reception on Saturday, September 28, 2013 from 6 to 8 PM.   Featuring approximately 100 photographs, Photography in Mexico reveals a distinctively rich and diverse tradition of photography in Mexico and includes works from Mexican photographers as well as foreigners who lived and worked in the country for years.  The show begins with works from the medium’s first flowering in the wake of the Mexican Revolution (1910–20) and goes on to explore the explosion of the illustrated press at midcentury; the documentary investigations of cultural traditions and urban politics that emerged in the 1970s and 1980s; and more recent considerations of urban life and globalization.  The exhibition includes work by Lola Álvarez Bravo, Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Manuel Carrillo, Alejandro Cartagena, Graciela Iturbide, Elsa Medina, Pablo Ortiz Monasterio, Edward Weston, and Mariana Yampolsky, among others.  Many of the photographs in the exhibition are recent gifts from Los Angeles collectors and philanthropists Dan Greenberg.

Enrique Metinides worked as a crime photographer in Mexico for over 50 years capturing murders, car crashes, and catastrophes for the nota rojas, Mexico’s infamous crime magazines.  “Rescate de un ahogado en Xochimilco con público reflejado en el agua,” (Retrieval of a drowned body from Lake Xochimilco with the public reflected in the water), 1960; gelatin silver print; 13.75 x 20.75 inches; SFMOMA, Anonymous Fund purchase; © Enrique Metinides

Enrique Metinides worked as a crime photographer in Mexico for over 50 years capturing murders, car crashes, and catastrophes for the nota rojas, Mexico’s infamous crime magazines. “Rescate de un ahogado en Xochimilco con público reflejado en el agua,” (Retrieval of a drowned body from Lake Xochimilco with the public reflected in the water), 1960; gelatin silver print; 13.75 x 20.75 inches; SFMOMA, Anonymous Fund purchase; © Enrique Metinides

“I am most interested in the lesser known contemporary work that illustrates the enormous divide of rich and poor,” said photographer and teacher Renata Breth, who will be giving a walk-through on October 10.  Breth won a large local following when she gave an engaging talk about the contextual history of Gregory Crewdson’s large-scale photographs in January at the Sonoma Film Institute.  “Hector Garcia and Enrique Metinides are photographers whose work and lives are fascinating.  Metinides, who for fifty years has photographed crime scenes and accidents, recently had a retrospective of his work at Aperture gallery in NYC.”

“It is a tremendous privilege to make these photographs available to a wide range of new audiences and forge fruitful relationships with institutions throughout the state,” says Corey Keller, SFMOMA curator of photography, who organized the tour. Photography in Mexico will also travel to the Bakersfield Museum of Art (September 11, 2014–January 4, 2015); and the Haggin Museum, Stockton (dates TBD).

9.Questions of land use and urban development pervade the work of contemporary Mexican photographer Alejandro Cartagena.  The stillness belies the violence that has a vice-grip on Mexico’s northern cities as the drug war has relocated to the suburbs. “Business in a Newly Built Suburb in Juarez,” from the series Suburbia Mexicana, 2009; inkjet print; 15 3/4 in. x 20 in.; Collection SFMOMA, Accessions Committee Fund purchase; © Alejandro Cartagena

Questions of land use and urban development pervade the work of contemporary Mexican photographer Alejandro Cartagena. The stillness belies the violence that has a vice-grip on Mexico’s northern cities as the drug war has relocated to the suburbs. “Business in a Newly Built Suburb in Juarez,” from the series Suburbia Mexicana, 2009; inkjet print; 15 3/4 in. x 20 in.; Collection SFMOMA, Accessions Committee Fund purchase; © Alejandro Cartagena

Exhibition Programming at the Sonoma County Museum

Thursday, October 3rd at 7 pmRevolution and Change in Mexico, Gallery talk by Tony White, SSU

Tony White will provide the historical background for the Mexican Revolution of 1910, the major political, social, economic changes in Mexico through the 1980s, and its transformation  into a modern urban, industrial country in recent years.  Since the Revolution led to a cultural renaissance beginning in the 1920s, he will also discuss the major developments in art, mural painting, literature and music.

Tony White is Professor Emeritus in History at Sonoma State University, where he taught Latin American History for 37 years.  He holds a Ph.D. in History from UCLA and is the author of Siqueiros, Biography of a Revolutionary Artist (Book Surge, 2009).  He has lived in Santa Rosa for 45 years. Click here for tickets.

Thursday, Oct. 10th at 7 pm—Photography in Mexico, Gallery talk by Renata Breth, SRJC

Renata Breth will highlight several of the photographers in the SFMOMA’s Mexican Photographer’s exhibition calling attention to unique Bay Area connections, influences and political aspects of the dynamic images.

Renata Breth, who grew up in Vienna, Austria, received her MFA from the Art Institute of Chicago in filmmaking and photography. She has lived in Sonoma County since 1985 teaches photography full-time at Santa Rosa Junior College. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and received numerous awards.  Click here for tickets.

Details:  Photography in Mexico from the Collection of SFMOMA has an opening reception, Saturday, September 28, 2013 from 6-8 PM.  The exhibition ends January 12, 2014.  The Sonoma County is located at 427 7th Street, Santa Rosa, CA.  Street Parking.  Hours: Tues-Sun 11 AM to 5 PM.  Admission: $7 adults; $5 65 and older; free for children under 12.  Information:  707 579-1500 or http://www.sonomacountymuseum.org/.

September 28, 2013 Posted by | SFMOMA, Sonoma County Museum | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The remarkable jewels of Bulgari are the de Young starting this weekend—lecture by noted jewelry historian Amanda Triossi this Friday evening

On a break from shooting “Cleopatra,” Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton strolled along Rome’s via dei Condotti to Bulgari.  "Richard was so romantic that he'd use any excuse to give me a piece of jewelry," Taylor wrote. "He'd give me 'It's a beautiful day' presents or 'Let's go for a walk' presents. Over the years I've come to think of these as my 'It's Tuesday, I love you' jewelry."  When they married for the first time— his second, her fifth—he gave her this necklace whose 16 Colombian emeralds weigh in at 60.5 carats.  Bulgari bought the necklace back at the Christies auction in 2011 for $6,130,500.   Photo: Ron Galella/WireImage

On a break from shooting “Cleopatra,” Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton strolled along Rome’s via dei Condotti to Bulgari. “Richard was so romantic that he’d use any excuse to give me a piece of jewelry,” Taylor wrote. “He’d give me ‘It’s a beautiful day’ presents or ‘Let’s go for a walk’ presents. Over the years I’ve come to think of these as my ‘It’s Tuesday, I love you’ jewelry.” When they married for the first time— his second, her fifth—he gave her this necklace whose 16 Colombian emeralds weigh in at 60.5 carats. Bulgari bought the necklace back at the Christies auction in 2011 for $6,130,500. Photo: Ron Galella/WireImage

While the renowned jeweler Bulgari is always associated with Italy, Rome in particular, the Bulgari family actually hails from the small Greek village of Kallarrytes in the Pindhos mountains of Epirus, not far from Albania, noted for its silver carvers.  The talented and ambitious silver chaser, Sotirios Bulgari, arrived in Italy in 1881 with roughly 80 cents but, with hard work and ingenuity, soon had a flourishing business.  The very first Bulgari shops, which opened in Rome in the 1880’s, carried fine jewelry and items of personal adornment including necklaces, rings and ornate silver buckles and objects.  It wasn’t until the decades following World War II that the house developed what would come to be known as the “Italian school” of jewelry design, reinterpreting forms derived from Greco-Roman classicism and the Italian Renaissance.  Bulgari became famous for mixing semiprecious stones with diamonds, mounting ancient coins in gold jewelry, and creating easy-to-wear pieces made with unusual color combinations.

The influences and glorious history of the house are presented in The Art of Bulgari: La Dolce Vita & Beyond, 1950-1990, at San Francisco’s de Young Museum opening this Saturday, September 21. The 150 pieces on view will be a revelation to both jewelry and design lovers.  The exhibition takes a decade-by-decade look at Bulgari’s innovations in jewelry design. It includes several pieces from their Elizabeth Taylor collection, heavy on emeralds and diamonds of astounding size and quality, that were reacquired at the famous 2011 Christie’s auction.  One piece, an emerald-and-diamond brooch that also can be worn as a pendant, sold for $6,578,500 — breaking records both for sales price of an emerald and for emerald price per carat ($280,000).

Guest Lecture Friday September 18, 7:15 PM: Amanda Triossi, Jewelry Historian, Author, and curator of the Bulgari Heritage Collection will give a talk and multimedia presentation about Bulgari’s rich legacy.

Triossi knows Bulgari like no one else.  Along with co-author Daniela Mascetti, she wrote the first ever book on the jeweler in 1996—Bulgari (Abbeville, 1996)—and also co-authored the revised version, Bvgari (Abbeville, 2007). I have been pouring over this book for days now—a luscious big art book with hundreds of dazzling pictures and sketches which tells the story of the famous family and traces the progression of the distinctive Bulgari style as well as the distinct architecture of the Bulgari shops all over the world.  She’s also co-authored, with FAMSF curator Martin Chapman, the exhibition catalog, The Art Bulgari: La Dolce Vita and Beyond, 1950-1990 just out for the de Young show.

(Koret Auditorium, de Young Museum, Tickets $3, free for members Reservations required.  Click here to make a reservation and purchase tickets.) The auditorium will open at 6:30 pm to ticket holders only.  Does not include museum admission or entry to the special exhibition The Art of Bulgari: La Dolce Vita & Beyond, 1950–1990. Access to special exhibitions and the permanent collection requires additional fees and tickets.

“Tubogas” choker, 1974, two-color gold with Greek silver coins, 27.5 x 7 cm, Bulgari Heritage Collection, inv. 404 N607. © Antonio Barrella Studio Orizzonte

“Tubogas” choker, 1974, two-color gold with Greek silver coins, 27.5 x 7 cm,
Bulgari Heritage Collection, inv. 404 N607. © Antonio Barrella Studio Orizzonte

Details: The Art of Bulgari: La Dolce Vita & Beyond, 1950–1990, opens to the public on Saturday, September 21 at the de Young Museum and closes February 17, 2013.  The exhibition opens to members on Friday, September 20, 2013.  The de Young Museum Adults $20–$22, seniors 65+ $17–$19, students with current ID $16–$18, youths 6–17 $10–$12, members and children 5 and under free. Prices subject to change without notice.is located at 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Tickets: Admission: $20-$22 adults; $17-$19 seniors; $16-$18 college students with ID; $10-$12 youths 6–17. (These prices include general admission.) Members and children 5 and under are free. General admission is free the first Tuesday of every month.  Tickets can be purchased on site and on the de Young’s website: deyoungmuseum.org. Tickets purchased online include a $1 handling charge.

September 17, 2013 Posted by | Art, de Young Museum | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rare British Museum Treasure—The Cyrus Cylinder—makes its first visit to the U.S. and is at San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum through September 22, 2103. Talk this Sunday

The Cyrus Cylinder, 539–538 BCE. Iraq, Achaemenid period (550–330 BCE). Baked clay. © Trustees of the British Museum

The Cyrus Cylinder, 539–538 BCE. Iraq, Achaemenid period (550–330 BCE). Baked clay. © Trustees of the British Museum

At just under 9 inches long and shaped like a barrel, the 2,500 year-old Cyrus Cylinder is a relatively small baked-clay artifact that is one of the British Museum’s greatest treasures.  It’s severely cracked and missing bits and pieces, but this humble object bears an account, in Babylonian cuneiform, by Cyrus, the King of Persia of his conquest of Babylon in 539 B.C.  The Cylinder, commonly referred to as the “the first bill of human rights,” is able to stand with the Rosetta Stone and the Magna Carta as one of the great icons of civilization and human rights.  Its inscription, in remarkably vivid Babylonian cuneiform, looks like a series of scrawls and scratches to the untrained eye but encouraged freedom of worship throughout the Persian Empire, which stretched from present-day Egypt to India in the day of King Cyrus.  Long been hailed as an international symbol of tolerance and justice, the Cylinder traveled to Tehran’s National Museum of Iran in 2010 where it was seen firsthand by about half a million people but it has never before been on view in the United States.  It is now on display at San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum as part of The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia: A New Beginning through September 22, 2013.

The exhibition also includes 16 other rare ancient Persian objects in the British Museum’s collection which provide a context for understanding the Cylinder’s cultural and historical significance.  Included are a solid gold armlet, in the form of a winged griffin-like mythical creature, and the seal of Darius I, showing the Persian king in his chariot hunting lions.  If you visit the exhibition, there are a number of talks (described below) by esteemed Persian scholars on the Cylinder and its context which will maximize your experience at the Asian.

Dating to 539 B.C., the Cyrus Cylinder was uncovered in 1879 at Babylon (in modern Iraq) during a British Museum excavation.  The original function of the Cylinder was as a foundation deposit—an object buried under an important building to sanctify it.  The Cylinder was buried beneath the inner city wall of Esagila, the Temple of Marduk, Babylon’s protector God, during the extensive rebuilding program undertaken by Cyrus the Great after he captured the city in 539 B.C.  While the Cylinder itself was never intended to be seen or used again, the its text was probably a proclamation that was widely distributed.

The Cylinder is vital for understanding how Cyrus presented himself and how the Achaemenid dynasty would be carried on.  In his defeat of Babylon’s rulers, Nabonidus and his son, Belshazzar, Cyrus proclaimed his continuation of the Neo-Assyrian empire over the muddled Neo-Babylonian empire.   The Babylonian empire reached its zenith the great Nebuchadnezzar, but fell into a state of chaos under his immediate successor, Nabonidus, who after ruling for only three years, went to the oasis of Tayma and devoted himself to the worship of the moon god Sin.  He declared his son Belshazzar co-regent and left him in charge of Babylon’s defense and, in a story chronicled in the Bible’s book of Daniel, Cyrus was able to enter the city, conquer Belshazzar and assume rule, thus greatly impacting the cultural legacy of the Near East.

The Cylinder’s inscription chronicles how Cyrus, aided by the god Marduk, gained victory without a struggle; restored shrines dedicated to various gods; and allowed captive peoples to return to their homelands. The text does not mention specific religious groups, but it is thought that the Jews were among the people who had been forcibly brought to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar II (the previous ruler of Babylon) and then allowed by Cyrus to return home. The Bible chronicles that the Jews returned from Babylon at this time and rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem.  Cyrus is revered in the Hebrew Bible because of the qualities of tolerance and respect documented in the Cylinder’s proclamation.  Such enlightened acts were rare in antiquity.

The Cyrus Cylinder is an object of world heritage, produced for a Persian king in Iraq and seen and studied for more than 130 years in the British Museum.  Today, according to John Curtis, Keeper of Special Middle East Projects at the British Museum, there are just a handful of experts who are actually fluent in ancient Babylonian cuneiform and able to read the Cylinder.  “The Cyrus Cylinder and associated objects represent a new beginning for the Ancient Near East,” said Curtis. “The Persian period, commencing in 550 BC, was not just a change of dynasty but a time of change in the ancient world.”

The values of freedom from captivity and freedom of religious practice proclaimed by Cyrus the Great are enduring ideas underlying ethical governance that have made the Cylinder a universal icon. Today, a copy of the Cylinder is on display in the United Nations building in New York City. The Cylinder appears on postage stamps issued by the Islamic Republic of Iran, and it was seen firsthand by about half a million people at the 2010-2011 exhibition in Tehran.

Jay Xu, director of the Asian Art Museum, said, “The San Francisco Bay Area is home to both the signing of the United Nations Charter and the birth of the Free Speech Movement, major pillars supporting human rights and civil liberties. The Asian Art Museum is proud to partner with the British Museum and our U.S. museum partners to bring the Cyrus Cylinder to San Francisco. This important object provides not only a foundation for understanding the ancient world, but also a touchstone for continued efforts to strive for common human freedoms.”

Sunday, September 8, 2013, 2 PM—Dr. David StronachNew Light on the Cyrus Cylinder—British archaeologist, David Stronach, Professor Emeritus of Near East Studies at UC Berkeley, speaks about new discoveries related to the Cyrus Cylinder.  Stronach, recognized as a pioneer of archaeology in Iran, graduated from Cambridge in 1957, and was made director of the newly founded British Institute of Persian Studies in Tehran in 1961, holding that post for some 20 years. During that time, he excavated at Pasargadae (1961-1963) and Nush-i Jan (1967-1968).  He is a leading expert on Pasargadae, the capital city of Cyrus, and the gardens and monuments of Cyrus and will talk about the Oxus treasure.

[ARThound’s previous (2011) coverage of Dr. Stronach “Ancient Iran from the Air:” acclaimed archaeologist David Stronach presents Georg Gerster’s forthcoming book on Iran, at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor this Saturday]

Sunday September 22, 2013 at 2 PM—Dr. Jennifer RoseFrom Samarkand to San Francisco.  Dr. Jennifer Rose, professor of religion at Claremont Graduate University, provides an introduction to the Zoroastrian religion, one of the world’s oldest surviving belief systems. From its origins in Bronze Age Central Asia to its evolution across three powerful Iranian empires, and its expansion to India, Europe and North America, Zoroastrianism has had a profound impact on surrounding cultures and religions.  Advance ticket purchase recommended.

Details: The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia: A New Beginning is at the Asian Art Museum through September 22, 2013.  The Asian Art Museum is located at 200 Larkin Street (at Civic Center Plaza), San Francisco.  Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with extended evening hours every Thursday until 9 p.m.  Admission (Cyrus Cylinder exhibition is included in general admission): $12 Adults; $8 seniors, students; $8 youth 13-17 and free to 12 and under.   On weekends, admission is $2 more.  Parking: The Asian Art Museum does not have a parking facility, but it is served by the following parking facilities—all within walking distance of the museum: Civic Center Plaza Garage is the closest and most reasonably priced and has 840 spaces. From Van Ness, turn left on McAllister.  Entrance is on McAllister, between Polk and Larkin Streets.  Info: www.asianart.org.

September 5, 2013 Posted by | Art, Asian Art Museum | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two chances to meet and hear Chinese artist and filmmaker Yang Fudong this week at BAM/PFA in Berkeley

Yang Fudong, born 1971, who lives and works in Shanghai, is one of the China’s leading contemporary artists and independent filmmakers.  The first mid-career survey of his works is at Berkeley Art Museum (BAM) August 21-December 8, 2013 and he is co-curating a film series at Pacific Film Archive (PFA). Image: BAM/PFA

Yang Fudong, born 1971, who lives and works in Shanghai, is one of the China’s leading contemporary artists and independent filmmakers. The first mid-career survey of his works is at Berkeley Art Museum (BAM) August 21-December 8, 2013 and he is co-curating a film series at Pacific Film Archive (PFA). Image: BAM/PFA

Yang Fudong, a leading figure in China’s contemporary art and independent film worlds for the past decade, will be in conversation twice this week in Berkeley—6 PM Tuesday (Aug 20) at Berkeley Art Museum (BAM) and 7 PM Thursday (Aug 22) at Pacific Film Archive (PFA).

Yang is the focus of Yang Fudong: Estranged Paradise, Works 1993–2013, the first midcareer survey of his work, which opens Wednesday at BAM, and of PFA’s film series, Yang Fudong’s Cinematic Influences (August 22-October 6, 2013).   The Tuesday evening conversation with  BAM/PFA Adjunct Senior Curator and art historian Philippe Pirotte (also  director of Kunsthalle Bern)  is free and so is BAM entrance.  The exhibition, fresh from its debut at Kunsthalle Zürich, fills four galleries, and can be viewed from 5 to 9 PM and the conversation will begin at 6 PM.  This is expected to be a more substantive conversation about Yang’s work and background than Thursday’s conversation, also with Pirotte, which will take place after PFA’s 7 PM screening of Estranged Paradise 1997-2002 (Mosheng tiantang, 2002, 74 min), Yang’s first film, a beautifully-shot reflection on life in China, circa 1997.

Yang’s work explores the ideals, anxieties, and contradictions of the generation born during and after the Cultural Revolution.  These individuals are now struggling to find their place in a rapidly transitioning China.  While Yang draws much of his subject matter from the consumerist contexts of contemporary urban China, many of his images recall the literati paintings of the seventeenth century.  The exhibition presents film, installation and photography from the late 1990s until today, highlighting his cinematic works and their engagement with Film Noir aesthetics

Yang was born in Beijing in 1971 and first trained in painting at the China Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou before switching to photography and filmmaking. In 1998, he moved to Shanghai where, like many artists of his generation, he taught himself both photography and film.  He became widely-known in China when his photograph The First Intellectual was removed by the Cultural Inspection Bureau from the controversial 2000 exhibition of experimental art designed to coincide with the first international exhibition of the Shanghai Biennial.  This photograph explored the tensions between the traditional role of the intellectual and China’s urban transformation, an idea that he has continued to explore in subsequent artworks.

Yang Fudong: Mrs. Huang at M Last Night, 2006; black-and-white C-print; 47¼ × 70⅞ in.; courtesy of the artist, Marian Goodman Gallery, Paris/New York, and ShanghART Gallery, Shanghai.

Yang Fudong: Mrs. Huang at M Last Night, 2006; black-and-white C-print; 47¼ × 70⅞ in.; courtesy of the artist, Marian Goodman Gallery, Paris/New York, and ShanghART Gallery, Shanghai.

Yang captured the attention of the Western art world in 2002, when he premiered his film An Estranged Paradise (1997–2002) at Documenta XI.  Beginning with a meditation on the composition of space in Chinese painting, the film traces the spiritual instability of Zhuzi, a young intellectual in the legendary city of Hangzhou. The film reflects the artist’s fascination with international cinema, referencing such works as Jim Jarmusch’s Stranger Than Paradise (1984) and Jean-Luc Godard’s Àbout de souffle (1960), as well as Shanghai films from the 1920s and 1930s, a place and time in which China was strongly influenced by the West.   “Yang’s films have an atemporal and dreamlike quality, marked by long and suspended sequences, divided narratives, and multiple relationships and storylines,” writes PFA’s Jason Sanders, Film Note Writer.  In Yang’s more recent installations, he reflects on the process of filmmaking itself, creating spatially open-ended multichannel films that he likens to traditional Chinese hand scrolls.

BAM’s presentation of Yang’s work includes twenty years of photographs and video installations in four galleries and a continuous loop of Yang’s single-channel films daily at midday in the Museum Theater.  In addition, Gazing into Nature, an exhibition of twelfth- to fifteenth-century Chinese artworks from BAM’s collection, highlights the influence of traditional painting on Yang’s work.

Yang’s contemporaries, young people between the ages of twenty and forty, who have spent most of their lives in a society in transformation, are the protagonists in his works.  In an ARTforum (Sept 2003) interview, Yang discussed his five-part film The Seven Intellectuals (completed in 2007) and described a dissonance that applies to this new generation that we can all relate to—

One wants to accomplish big things, but in the end it doesn’t happen. Every educated Chinese person is very ambitious, and obviously there are obstacles-obstacles coming either from “out there,” meaning society or history, or from “inside,” from within oneself.  In this work you could see that “the first intellectual” has been wounded. He has blood running down his face and wants to respond, but he doesn’t know at whom he should throw his brick; he doesn’t know if the problem stems from himself or society. Ideals and the way they distinguish people, but also the way that they can unite people and encourage them to form bands, partnerships, brotherhoods-this was something I wanted to investigate in more depth, taking my time to do so. When I eventually completed “An Estranged Paradise,” I started defining this new, vast project, which will unfold as five different films.  Because I feel that this topic is extremely important to an understanding of China, both past and present, I wanted to articulate several temporalities together: one that is really ancient, the stories of “The Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove”; another set during the `50s and `60s, when there was a profound questioning of the status and role of intellectuals (and so the films will have a clear `50s, `60s kind of New Cinema flavor); and, ultimately, one dealing with the concerns and ideals of today.

Yang Fudong: An Estranged Paradise (mo sheng tian tang), 1997-2002 (digital still); 35mm digital film transferred to DVD; black and white, sound; 76 min; courtesy of the artist, Marian Goodman Gallery, Paris/New York, and ShanghART Gallery, Shanghai

Yang Fudong: An Estranged Paradise (mo sheng tian tang), 1997-2002 (digital still); 35mm digital film transferred to DVD; black and white, sound; 76 min; courtesy of the artist, Marian Goodman Gallery, Paris/New York, and ShanghART Gallery, Shanghai

BAM/PFA’s film series Yang Fudong’s Cinematic Influences (August 22-October 6, 2013), co-curated by the artist, features two of his own films and films that have influenced him.

Thursday, August 22, 2013
7:00 PM An Estranged Paradise
Yang Fudong (China, 2002). Yang Fudong and Philippe Pirotte in conversation. Yang Fudong’s first film is a poignant psychological drama shot in lustrous black and white. (74 mins)

Thursday, September 5, 2013
7:00 PM  Sacrificed Youth
Zhang Nuanxin (China, 1985). (Qingchunji). A young Beijing woman is “sent down” to live among the Dai minority of Yunnan Province during the Cultural Revolution in this key work from one of China’s few Fifth Generation female filmmakers. With Yang Fudong’s 2011 short, The Nightman Cometh. (90 mins)

Saturday, September 7, 2013
6:30 PM. Yellow Earth
Chen Kaige (China, 1984). (Huang Tudi). Sound, landscape, and political history are transformed into blistering poetry in the film that launched China’s Fifth Generation and introduced two major voices to world cinema, director Chen Kaige and cinematographer Zhang Yimou. (89 mins)

Saturday, September 14, 2013
6:30 PM Spring in a Small Town
Fei Mu (China, 1948). (Xiao Cheng Zhi Chun). Imported Print! With a visual panache often compared to Ophuls, Antonioni, and Welles, Fei Mu’s 1948 gem possesses a melancholy beauty all its own. Voted the Best Chinese Film of All Time in a poll of Chinese critics. (85 mins)

Sunday, September 29, 2013
5:30 PM Street Angel
Yuan Muzhi (China, 1937). (Malu Tianshi). Arguably the finest example of Shanghai’s Golden Age, Street Angel is an intoxicating blend of Chinese leftist populism, Hollywood pizzazz, song numbers, French poetic-realist doom, comedic slapstick, and city symphony. (94 mins)

Sunday, October 6, 2013
5:30 PM Suzhou River
Lou Ye (China, 2000). (Suzhou He). In this atmospheric noir thriller, which doubles as a city symphony to Shanghai’s eternal mysteries, a videographer searches for work, and for a lost love. (83 mins)

Philippe Pirotte on Yang Fudong at BAM/PFA

Details:  Berkley Art Museum (BAM) has gallery entrances at 2626 Bancroft Way and 2621 Durant Avenue (both between College and Telegraph Avenues) in Berkeley.  Hours: Wed-Sun 11 AM to 5 PM.  General Admission: $10.  Yang and Pirotte in conversation is free and so is BAM entrance.   Special exhibition viewing is Tuesday, August 20, 5 to 9 PM; conversation starts at 6 PM.

Pacific Film Archive Theatre (PFA) is located at 2575 Bancroft Way, (between College and Telegraph Avenues) in Berkeley.  The PFA box office theatre opens one hour before the showtime of the day.  Advance tickets for Yang Fudong’s Cinematic Influences (August 22-October 6, 2013)—both the series and individual screenings—are available online here.  General Admission tickets are $9.50 and are available for online purchase up to two hours before the first program of the day.  There is a $1 fee for online purchases.  Pick-up advance purchase tickets at the Will Call at the PFA Box Office before the show.  Arrive early to select a good seat.

Parking:   TELEGRAPH / CHANNING GARAGE with entrances on Durant and Channing just below Telegraph.  BAM/PFA Offers Parking Validation.  With validation, parking is half-price for up to 5 hours. 

August 19, 2013 Posted by | Berkeley Art Museum | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy Fourth of July! Weill Hall gets dressed with red white and blue…

It might look like the Parthenon but it's Green Music Center's Weill Hall celebrating the 4th.  The music begins at  7:30 featuring santa Rosa Symphony and the fireworks start at 9:15 p.m.   Image: Geneva Anderson

It might look like the Parthenon but it’s Green Music Center’s Weill Hall celebrating the 4th. The music begins at 7:30 featuring Santa Rosa Symphony performing American classics. Dazzling fireworks start at 9:15 p.m. Image: Geneva Anderson

July 4, 2013 Posted by | Art, Classical Music | , , , | Leave a comment

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