The Hess Collection is screening great art documentaries on select Sundays—Jeremey Ambers’ “Impossible Light” screens August 10
“The Bay Bridge was the first thing I saw the day I moved to San Francisco, driving down Route 80 in a U-haul Truck,” recalls filmmaker Jeremy Ambers who was awestruck when he met Ben Davis, the driving force behind the seemingly impossible idea to transform San Francisco’s Bay Bridge’s western span into a light sculpture and one of the world’s largest art installations. Ambers’ acclaimed documentary, Impossible Light (2014), follows Davis and renowned American artist Leo Villareal and their team of designers, along with entrepreneurs, philanthropists, art enthusiasts and Bay Area optimists, as they set out to install 25,000 LED lights on the side of San Francisco’s Bay Bridge for an abstract dancing sculpture known as The Bay Lights. This impressive feature length doc, which captures the heart, soul and intense drama behind this $8,000,000 installation—to date, not paid for—is screening this Sunday, August 10, at 3 PM at Napa Valley’s Hess Collection as part of their wonderful summer series of art film screenings, presented in partnership with the Napa Valley Film Festival (Nov 12-16, 2014). Hess Collection Chef, Chad Hendrickson, will provide wine and appetizers, one more reason to see this amazing contemporary collection and take in the film. Click here for tickets and for more information, contact Hess events manager Ashley Cox 707 255-1144 x226.
Opening Saturday, August 2—Dana Hooper and Douglas Cruickshank at Toby’s, Point Reyes Station, and Joseph McDonald and Murray Rockowitz at Aqus Café, Petaluma
Saturday, August 2nd from 1 to 4 pm, Toby’s Gallery—artist reception “Inspired by Patterns” with Petaluma artist, Dana Hooper, showing paintings inspired by rural Sonoma County, AND Douglas Cruickshank, photographer, columnist and Salon.com editor, and showing “Photographs of Point Reyes woods and water” Toby’s Gallery is located at 11250 Highway 1, Point Reyes Station, phone 415.663.1223. “Inspired by Patterns” runs through September 2, 2014.
Saturday, August 2nd from 3 to 5 pm, Aqus Café — artist reception for Petaluma photographer and Digital Grange guru, Joseph McDonald, showing recent work, and Petaluma photographer, Murray Rockowitz, showing “People and their Work.” Aqus Café is located at Petaluma’s Foundry Wharf, 189 H Street, Petaluma, phone 707.778. 6060.
rockin’ artifacts— The OMCA (Oakland Museum of California) is grooving with “Vinyl,” its homage to pressed gems, ending on July 27
If you haven’t visited OMCA (Oakland Museum of California) lately, July is a great month to do it. Vinyl: The Sound and Culture of Records closes Sunday, July 27th, and is a fascinating interactive show with a gallery of guest-curated crates of lp’s set up in listening stations that will delight, inform as they take you way down memory lane.
I was eleven when Janis Joplin’s “Pearl” was released, so seeing feather-haired Janis on the album cover sitting there on that velvet love seat, drink in hand, immediately brought back that 5th grade summer that we played “Me and Bobby McGee” over and over trying to understand as children what it all meant —”Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.”
I reunited with “Pearl” by cruising through rock historian Sylvie Simmons’ curated “girl crate” featuring female rebels, like the Shirelles in the 1960’s (“Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”) through the singer-songwriters of the 1970’s to Punk divas of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Yeh, ARThound isn’t only an opera lover…as a toddler, I cut my teeth on Peter, Paul and Mary and “Puff, the Magic Dragon” and proudly scrawled my initials all over both my and my brother’s albums and would sing it, at the top of my lungs, to whoever would listen. Vinyl is the kind of the show that brings all of that to the surface, so do bring a friend along to share it all with.
OMCA Senior Curator of Art René de Guzman has done a superb job of pulling together some very rare lp’s too. I grew up loving “Star Trek” but had no idea that Leonard Nimoy had actually cut several lp’s and that he sang (and pretty decently) on some of them. Guzman is particularly proud that he was able to find some rare Nimoy lp’s in Europe and bring to Oakland for the show.
Final “Talk and Play”: On Saturday, July 26th, from 1-2:30 p.m., OMCA will host the last installment of its weekly “Talk and Play” sessions which have accompanied its 3 month long tribute to vinyl. The series, which is different every week, features guest participants from DJs to music journalists, record collectors to experimental musicians. The focus is always vinyl—from pressing it, to its history, it remarkable resurgence and its collectability—and listening to specially-curated music sets.
The final session, “Every Record Has a Story,” features David Katznelson (record producer, president, Birdman Recording Group), Steven Baker (former president, Warner Brothers Records), Britt Govea (founder, Folk Yeah Productions) and Josh Rosenthal (founder, owner, and president, Tompkins Square Records). You can be sure this group of talent will share some mind-blowing stories from their own collections as well as divulge some of the biggest secrets behind some of the greatest albums of our time.
Click here to listen to David Katznelson’s (record producer, president, Birdman Recording Group) curated playlist on Spotify.
Also ending soon (July 27) is SuperAwesome: Art and Giant Robot, OMCA’s smart nod to arts visionary Eric Nakamura, whom in 1994, 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. Nakamura and OMCA associate curator Carin Adams have thoughtfully curated this joyful blast of multimedia art from 15 contemporary artists who were early and contributors to this edgy scene.
Details: OMCA, the Oakland Museum of California, is located at 1000 Oak Street, Oakland. Detailed directions are available on OMCA’s Directions page. Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., except Fridays when the museum is open until 9 p.m. Admission: $12 general, $9 seniors and students with valid ID. Parking: Enter the Museum Garage on Oak Street between 10th and 12th streets. Parking is just $1/hour with Museum validation. Parking without validation is $2.50/hour. After 5 p.m., there is a flat $5 fee. (Bring your ticket to the Ticketing booth on Level 2 for validation.)
Pounce!—The Getty Villa just released additional tickets for “At the Byzantine Table”—a four-course feast grounded in ancient traditions—at the Getty Villa, this Saturday, July 19, 2014
Here’s a heads up for those of you who are impulsive and able to get to Malibu to the Getty Villa this Saturday (July 12, 2014). You can indulge in the unique culinary splendors of Byzantium with a dinner inspired by foods of ancient Greece and flavors of Rome, against the gorgeous backdrop of the Getty Villa. Greek musicians Mario Lazaridis, Dimitri Mahlis, and Toss Panos will perform music derived from ancient Greece and transformed and embellished during the Byzantine Empire. Noted historian Andrew Dalby will set the stage with a lecture on the distinctive cuisine of this distant empire. Afterwards, participants can tour the Villa’s summer exhibition, Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections, which traces the development of Byzantine visual culture from its roots in the ancient pagan world through the opulent and deeply spiritual world of the new Christian Byzantine Empire.
5:30- 6:45 p.m.—LECTURE: The Real Taste of Byzantium: Textures, Flavors, and Aromas of a Distant Empire Historian Andrew Dalby begins his exploration of Byzantine cuisine by tracing its ancestry through the symposia of classical Greece, the royal luxuries enjoyed by Hellenistic Greek dynasties of Syria and Egypt, and the increasing sophistication of the late Roman Empire, which was nourished by the trade in spices and aromatics from the distant corners of the ancient Mediterranean world. Dalby reveals how this unique culinary culture can be approached from many perspectives, including texts, paintings, and antiquities, as well as the observations of medieval travelers—whether diplomats from East and West, Crusaders, pilgrims, or Viking mercenaries—who expressed in their own words how Byzantium tasted. Byzantine cuisine looked to the past, yet it sought new flavors, never ceased to innovate, and increasingly accepted Muslim and Eastern influences.
7 -9 p.m. DINNER: The Global Fusion Cuisine of the Byzantine Empire The evening continues in the Inner Peristyle garden with a four-course dinner inspired by the many cultures and traditions that converged during the Byzantine Empire (A.D. 330-1453). This culinary melting pot was founded on classic Roman cuisine—as depicted in the fourth-century A.D. cookery book Apicius—and combined with traditions inherited from Greece. Due to the millennium–long span of the empire and its continuously evolving borders, the cuisine of the Byzantines is characterized by the adaptation of the foods of other peoples with whom it came into contact and by the propagation of new fruits and vegetables. Menu highlights include lamb served with oinogaros sauce, a synthesis of ancient and medieval tastes combining fish sauce, wine, honey, Mediterranean herbs, cinnamon, clove, pepper, and costus, a culinary spice also used in perfume. Eggplant—one of several vegetables first introduced to the Romans from the Middle East—is grilled and served with shaved bottarga (salted mullet roe) called ootarikhon by the Greeks. Rice pudding, the original “food of angels” and a favored dessert of the Byzantines, is garnished with exotic ingredients introduced from faraway places: cherries from Pontos (northern Turkey), and candied citron, a fruit originating in Burma and arriving in Constantinople through Persia, also the source for sugar, a luxurious commodity for the elites of the later Byzantine Empire. Download the full menu (PDF, 1pp, 227 KB) (Menu items subject to change without notice) The evening’s meal will be prepared by Bon Appétit’s culinary team Chef Mayet Cristobal and Chef Fernando Cayanan in consultation with food historians Sally Grainger and Andrew Dalby.
9- 10 p.m. PRIVATE EXHIBITION VIEWING: Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections (April 9-August 25, 2014). This splendidly curated exhibition features mosaics, icons, frescoes, sculpture, manuscripts, metalwork, jewelry, glass, embroideries and ceramics drawn from Athens’ Benaki Museum, the National Gallery of Art and the Getty’s own collection.
Date: Saturday, July 19, 2014
Time: 5:30 p.m.-10:00 p.m.
Lecture begins at 5:30 p.m. with dinner following at 7:00 p.m.
Exhibition viewing 9:00-10:00 p.m. Guests must arrive no later than 6:45 p.m.
Location: Getty Villa, Auditorium and Inner Peristyle
Admission: Tickets are $175 each (includes wine). Complimentary parking. Call Getty Visitor Services at (310) 440-7300 or click here for online ticket purchase. If you want to go, don’t dally, as of 5 p.m., there were just a few tickets left.
More about Andrew Dalby: Andrew Dalby is an historian and linguist with a special interest in food history. He collaborated with Sally Grainger on The Classical Cookbook (Getty Publications, 2012), which explores the culinary history of ancient Greece and Rome and includes recipes adapted for the modern kitchen. His book Tastes of Byzantium (2010) investigates the legendary cuisine of medieval Constantinople. Dalby’s other publications include The Breakfast Book (2013), a wide-ranging history of the most important meal of the day; light-hearted accounts of Bacchus and Venus (Getty Publications, 2003 and 2005); and a new biography of the Greek statesman, Eleftherios Venizelos (2010). His latest translation, Geoponika (2011), brings to light a forgotten primary source on food and farming in Roman and Byzantine times. Dalby studied classics and linguistics at the University of Cambridge. He now lives in France, where he writes, grows fruit, and makes cider.
More about Sally Grainger: Sally Grainger trained as a chef in her native Coventry, England, before developing an interest in the ancient world and taking a degree in ancient history from the University of London. Combining her professional skills with her expertise in the culinary heritage of the Greek and Roman world, she now pursues a career as a food historian, consultant, and experimental archaeologist. Grainger’s recent projects include Roman food tastings at the British Museum in conjunction with the Life and Death in Pompeii exhibition, and a Roman feast at Girton College in Cambridge, England for the Cambridge Classics Society. Grainger acquired an M.A. in archaeology and is researching the extensive trade across the Roman world of the fermented fish sauce known as garum. With her husband, Christopher Grocock, she published a translation of the Roman recipe book Apicius (Prospect Books), a companion volume of recipes, Cooking Apicius, and collaborated with historian Andrew Dalby on The Classical Cookbook (Getty Publications, 2012).
Interview—The Fillmore Jazz Festival turns 30 this weekend and ARThound chats with its legendary poster artist, Michael Schwab
You’ve seen them across San Francisco— striking posters and banners featuring a wavy haired female vocalist in silhouette against a fiery orange background. Her arms are outstretched and beckoning. Less obvious is an old-fashioned gray stand microphone that runs up from the floor to her heart, reinforcing a strong vertical. Behind her, blazoned across the top in a hand-lettered, earthy cream custom font is “Fillmore Jazz.” The message is simple, transcendent—jazz is here. The artwork was created by Marin artist Michael Schwab, one of our country’s leading graphic artists. His dynamic posters, images and logos for the Golden Gate National Parks, Major League Baseball, America’s Cup, Robert Mondavi, Peet’s Coffee, San Francisco Opera, Muhammad Ali, Nike, and others are icons of our lifestyle. Schwab’s signature visual groove lends itself perfectly to jazz—large, flat areas of color, dramatic perspectives, and bold images of archetypal human forms. He created his first Fillmore Jazz poster in 2006—a standing base player in silhouette against an intense teal. His 2010 poster of a trumpeter playing up into a blue night sky journeyed right into the roots of jazz. Both artworks became classics. I caught up with Michael earlier this week to discuss his third poster and his creative process.
What makes a really effective poster? And, why are so many posters today so bad?
Michael Schwab: Simplicity. There’s way too much visual noise out there. Graphic messages are conveyed much more effectively when the design is simple, bold and efficient.
You’ve had a long involvement with this festival. What is it about jazz lends itself to visual expression?
Michael Schwab: I love all kinds of music but jazz in particular inspires me. I love this project because I’ve had complete freedom do whatever I want, provided it worked on banners. The base player I created eight years ago was my first Fillmore Jazz poster and I envisioned him as a Ray Brown-like bass player. If you’re driving down the street, you’ve only got a second or two to get the message, so I wanted to evoke the romance and history of Fillmore Street Jazz. Four years later, they called me again. At the time, I was really into Miles Davis and was playing Ascenseur pour l’échafaud, his soundtrack for the Louis Malle film, a lot. I made a Miles Davis-esque horn player. I wanted a really cool color so I went with a deep blue that evokes that late evening jazz atmosphere that’s so special to Fillmore Street. Now, four years later, I realize that I’ve been slowly creating my own jazz band here and it was time for a singer and a woman.
What was your conception for this year’s festival poster?
I was inspired by the great romance of Billie Holiday. Initially, I had just the singer there in silhouette and then I realized that she needed a microphone, which was the last element I added. That old-fashioned microphone, which harkens back to the 1940’s and 50’s, really pulled it all together. It often happens that way—that adding something relatively small becomes very important.
What types of source materials do normally you use? Also, since this year’s festival is all about women of jazz, who do you listen to for inspiration?
Michael Schwab: When appropriate, I work with models—human or otherwise. I pose and shoot my own photos myself. In this case, there was a model I’d used a while back and I was able to piece together a few polaroids and work from that. I wanted the hands to be special and they are actually my wife Kathryn’s hands. As for female vocalists, it doesn’t get any better for me than early Diana Krall.
And what about your bold colors, how did you decide what to go with?
Michael Schwab: Not all jazz is blue and cool. This time, I wanted a color that complimented the other two posters and this bold orange red represents the hot side of jazz. The flat color tones make the images, which are already abstracted by the silhouette, seem mysterious, almost two-dimensional. I wanted all three to become a triptych and to work well together.
There is a romantic/nostalgic aspect to these images as well, harkening back to old woodcuts. I get that sense from their color, strong line and overall energy.
Michael Schwab: Several of my heroes were Japanese woodcut and old European poster artists——Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and A.M. Cassandre, from France, and Ludwig Holwein, from Germany, and the Beggarstaff Brothers from England. There’s a lot of graceful movement as well as drama in those works. I was never very painterly in my style. I enjoy working with big bold shapes and challenge myself to get a message across using as few shapes and colors as possible. I’ll keep working with the colors, combining them and fine-tuning, until they’re right to me. Then, it’s a matter of getting the image and text to work together effectively. I really enjoy these jazz posters because I can get very dramatic with them. Speaking of old-school, I begin each project with a pencil and paper and use a Rapidograph pen and ink to create the line work. In the end, tough, it becomes a digital file so I’m speaking the same language as everyone else.
What’s the first poster you made and what are a few of your personal favorites?
Michael Schwab: My first professional poster was for Levi’s, back in 1975, for creative director, Chris Blum. I’ve been a graphic artist now for almost 40 years and I’ve had a few home runs. The images for the Golden Gate Parks and Amtrak are favorites. I feel very good about some of the logos—the Robert Mondavi corporate logo, Pebble Beach, David Sedaris. I love all of the Fillmore Jazz and San Francisco Opera posters. Frankly, my current favorite is always the one I’m working on, it becomes my child.
What are you working on now?
Michael Schwab: I just finished the logo design for the San Francisco Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee for 2016. It’s a gold seal design—a silhouette of a football and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Michael Schwab’s current Fillmore jazz poster can be purchased at the festival. His posters for the 2006 and 2010 festivals are available at www.michaelschwab.com.
The 30th Fillmore Jazz Festival is Saturday, July 5 and Sunday, July 6th, 10AM to 5PM on San Francisco’s historic Fillmore Street between Jackson and Eddy Streets. This year’s theme is “Celebrating Women of Jazz & Beyond.” For information about the line-up, which unfolds on three separate stages, click here. A more expansive version of this interview with Michael Schwab appears on the Fillmore Jazz website.
Dark, Thrilling Opera—San Francisco Symphony’s “Peter Grimes” runs Thursday, Friday, Sunday at Davies Symphony Hall
Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) conclude the 2013-24 season and their celebration of the centenary of British composer Benjamin Britten with three semi-staged performances of his thrilling opera “Peter Grimes” (Thursday, Friday, Sunday) and a special concert, Four Sea Interludes (Saturday), accompanied by a video installation by Tal Rosner which is paired with excerpts from Britten’s exotic The Prince of The Pagoda Suite.
I’ve never heard Britten’s music performed live and I am very visually oriented, so I am looking forward to the enlivening projections which will add meaning of their own. I first heard the name Benjamin Britten in a Keynesian macroeconomic theory course at Cal. John Maynard Keynes, the influential British economist, thinker, and member of the Bloomsbury Group, was very keen on culture. In the early 1940’s, he proposed (and chaired) an “Arts Council” that established the initial foundation for a system of permanent State patronage of the arts. As you may recall, the premise behind Keynesian theory was that increased government spending (and lower taxes) would stimulate demand and pull an economy out of a Depression. The Arts Council initially gave over half its money (grants of public funds) to music, especially classical music and opera. Benjamin Brittan’s now famous opera, “Peter Grimes,” was first funded through a generous grant given to the Sadler’s Wells theatre to support its emergence as a national opera house charged with embodying the British national character and producing operas that were more accessible than prewar grand opera had been.
“Peter Grimes” had its premiere in June 1945, between VE Day and VJ Day, and the audience’s enthusiastic approval was taken for a political demonstration, so the curtain was brought down early. The opera, which is based on a poem by George Crabbe, captured something new musically while depicting the epic psychic struggle of a man against his own destructive potential and the bitter sting of alienation, themes that became very familiar in Britain in the years to come. How appropriate that Britten, who wrote for the people, and was somewhat under the radar before WWII, shot into the limelight with this story of a fisherman at odds with society. The opera went on to immense success and Britten, as a result, became quite wealthy. The issues (from a macro theory perspective) were that Britten was part of the creation of a new state-funded system of arts patronage and he went on to invest his considerable personal earnings outside the country. In researching Britten, this vivid memory surfaced. Of course, SFS promises a revolutionary production of “Grimes,” dazzlingly staged—a grim but rapturous experience.
Sneak Peek of Peter Grimes with the SF Symphony
New Ground for SFS—Video projections, now commonplace in fully staged opera, are also trending in symphony halls across the country. The term “semi-staged” is not synonymous for “projection-based,” however, and “Peter Grimes” marks SFS’ first foray into an opera performance that combines video projections with minimal set staging. Los Angeles-based director, artist and costume designer, James Darrah and New York-based artist, projection designer and filmmaker, Adam Larsen promise dramatic staging like a “big curved sail with scenes that capture the setting of an old-world fishing village and volatility of the sea.” The video will be projected onto a panoramic floor-to-ceiling scrim that encompasses the stage which has been extended and floated over a few rows of center seats to allow for extra performance space and proximity to viewers.
Darrah and Larsen collaborated in SFS’ January 2013 production of Henrik Ibsen’s “Peer Gynt,” creating vivid projections that evoked the vast Norwegian landscape and served to counterbalance the smaller stage which accommodated the orchestra and singing cast, one of whom was a dancer. The relative placement of the orchestra, singers and set props vis-à-vis the projection screens are just one issue involved in the production. New York Times music critic Zachary Woolfe gives a very readable accounting of the state of semi-staged opera in “Giving a Semi-Hearty Cheer for Semi-Staged Opera,” NYT, June 13, 2014. Attending a flurry of recent performances across the country led him to ponder where the drama is located in an operatic performance and what kind of production brings it out most effectively. He asks, “Does paring a work down to the bare score make it more potent, or do theatrical trappings enrich the experience?” On numerous occasions, MTT has enthusiastically affirmed his commitment to using new technology to enliven performances. It all makes sense provided he can maintain his sensitivity to the music-making as people begin to factor in the look as well as the sound of a performance.
Timelapse video of the installation of immersive sets and panoramic video screens for Peter Grimes at Davies Symphony Hall
Performance Details: Peter Grimes: A Multimedia Semi-staged Event is Thursday, June 26, 2014 at 8 PM; Friday, June 27 at 8 PM; and Sunday, June 29 at 2 PM with a pre-performance talk by Peter Grunberg one hour before each performance. Purchase tickets online here or phone SFS Box Office at 415.864-6000.
Britten: Four Sea Interludes with Video by Tal Rosner is Sat, June 28, 2014 at 8 PM with pre-performance talk by Laura Stanfield Prichard at 7 PM. Purchase tickets online here or phone SFS Box Office at 415.864-6000.
Getting to Davies: Davies Symphony Hall is located at 201 Van Ness Avenue at Grove Street, in San Francisco’s Civic Center, just across the street from City Hall. The main entrance is on the south side of Grove Street between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street. Driving to San Francisco and Parking: Be sure to allow ample time when driving into San Francisco on the weekend and crossing the Golden Gate Bridge—there is frequently congestion from Sausalito through the toll-plaza. Arrive early at your parking garage of choice because those also fill up on weekends. Recommended Garages: Two garages are very close to Davies— the Performing Arts Garage (1/2 block)(Grove Street between Franklin and Gough Streets) and Civic Center Garage (roughly 2 blocks) (McAllister Street between Polk and Larkin Streets) (both have flat $15 pay cash as you enter policy on performance nights)
Live music of Sonoma Driftwood, dancing, art and artists at work, petanque, pickle ball, horseshoes, line dancing lessons and a superb silent auction are among the fun activities planned at upcoming event, FOR ART’S SAKE, a benefit for Petaluma Arts Center, Saturday, June 28th, 2014 from 12 to 4.
The rustic Beaumont Farms (5580 Red Hill Road, Petaluma) will open its gates for an exclusive afternoon of art,music and games, or, if you prefer, to sit back and relax in a chair by the pond, watch the clouds float over olive trees and Petaluma hills beyond and listen to ranch residents – horses, donkeys, chickens and alpaca. Sumptuous barbeque, wine and other beverages will be available for purchase. Lunch served by Rasta Dwight’s Barbeque.
Silent auction items include A Week at the Arts Community of Bisbee, AZ; Riding Lessons; Reserve Tasting Room VIP Barrel Tasting and Light Bites for 10-14 at Roche Winery; Dinner and Jazz at the Bailey’s; A Sunset Segway Tour of Schollenberger Park; A Weekend in Tahoe; A Week at the Arts Community of Bisbee, AZ; Riding Lessons; Classes at PAC; 4 Rounds of Golf at Sonoma and Napa’s best courses; and so much more.
FOR ART’S SAKE sponsors and supporters include, Denis & Bridget Twomey of Beaumont Farms, McNear’s Restaurant & the Mystic Theatre, Kari Ontko Design, Teresa Barrett, Janet & Dan McBeen, Crown Trophy, Out West Garage and Riley Street Art Supply.
Tickets, $30 per person, are available from Petaluma Arts Center (online purchase) or at the Center, 230 Lakeville St., call 707-762-5600. Guests are asked to leave their dogs at home and to be respectful of the benefit and not bring food and drinks to the premises.
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.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.
Smithsonian’s Sackler curator, Debra Diamond, speaks Thursday, April 10, 2014, on “Yoga: The Art of Transformation” at the Asian Art Museum
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.