ARThound

Geneva Anderson digs into art

SFMOMA’s Wednesday morning groundbreaking ceremony for its new expansion

SFMOMA (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art) officially began construction on its 225,000-square-foot expansion project with a celebratory groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday, May 29, 2013.  The festivities were officiated by SFMOMA director, Neal Benezra, Mayor Ed Lee and other city and museum officials including SFMOMA Board Chair, Charles Schwab, and Snohetta principal Craig Dykers, the lead architects for the expansion.  Supervisor Jane Kim, whose district includes SFMOMA, led students from nearby Bessie Carmichael Elementary School in the countdown which culminated in several shovels breaking ground as confetti shot of out a cannon.  Guests were treated to a specially-created wall of vanilla and chocolate sugar cookies created by the pastry team at SFMOMA’s own Blue Bottle cafe, which is renowned for its delicious art-inspired desserts.  The rectangular cookies resembled the current SFMOMA’s bricks and guests were encouraged to use edible spray paint to create graffiti messages on these bricks.  SFMOMA Board members, trustees, and high level donors were given festive hardhats–way to protect the cashflow!— while members of the press got commemorative SFMOMA shopping bags.

Those attending the ceremony were the first to try a very clever artist-commissioned augmented reality mobile application that they downloaded on their cell phones which assists with envisioning what the new space will look like.  2012 ZERO1 Biennial artists Will Pappenhiemer and John Craig Freeman, created the “app-arition” that is both an interactive and animated assemblage of the building’s various parts, reflecting its potential existence as a fluid network and beacon for the surrounding community as well.

The expansion will include a new 10-story addition along the back of its current building at 151Third Street, San Francisco.  The expansion will be over 15 meters taller than the existing Mario Botta-designed building and both gallery exhibition and education spaces will be doubled.  The new building will feature a glass-wall gallery facing Howard Street that will allow pedestrians to see select artworks when the museum reopens in 2016.

Museum officials are still fundraising.  So far, they have raised about 90 percent of the $610 million needed for the project.

More information about SFMOMA and the expansion can be found on the museum’s website at www.sfmoma.org.  SFMOMA will officially close for construction on June 2, 2013, at which time, the museum will take its shows to various other venues.  Stay tuned to ARThound for more video coverage tomorrow…the HUGE file is still downloading.

 

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May 29, 2013 Posted by | SFMOMA | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Czech that Film,” a traveling film festival of 5 award-winning Czech films starts Friday, May 31, 2013, at San Francisco’s Roxie Theatre

Czech director, David Ondříček, one of Variety’s 10 Directors to Watch in 2013, will conduct an audience Q & A following the screening of his new film, “In the Shadow” (2012) on Tuesday, June 4, 2013 at “Czech That Film 2013 presented by Staropramen.”  Photo: Hynek Glos, Lidové noviny

Czech director, David Ondříček, one of Variety’s 10 Directors to Watch in 2013, will conduct an audience Q & A following the screening of his new film, “In the Shadow” (2012) on Tuesday, June 4, 2013 at “Czech That Film 2013 presented by Staropramen.” Photo: Hynek Glos, Lidové noviny

When’s the last time you saw a contemporary Czech film?  For most of us, the answer is never, or, years ago at a film festival.  It’s not often that the opportunity presents itself.   The last Czech film I saw was Jan Švankmajer and Eva Švankmajerová’s Otesánek (Little Otik, 2000) a fascinating reincarnation of Czech folklore, that touched on the both the maternal instinct and fertility issues.  It featured a childless Czech couple who purchased a wooden stump, Little Otik, which became the desperate woman’s surrogate child and the man’s nightmare.  Being Czech, I’ve longed for more access to contemporary Czech film.   Little did I know that San Francisco’s  Roxie Theatre, which has a long commitment to screening indie films, had its first Czech film festival last year, New Czech Films U.S. Tour 2012.  There was sufficient demand for them to offer it again.

Starting this Friday, May 31, is Czech That Film 2013,” presenting  five of the best new Czech films, one screening each evening at 7 p.m., through Tuesday, June 4, 2013, at  San Francisco’s Roxie Theatre.  “The program features everything from social dramas to comedies and film noir, and much more – all generously ladled with the wry humor that marks the works as distinctly Czech,” explained Mike Keegan, Special Events Programmer, Roxie Theater, who selected the 5 films that the Roxie will screen from a pool of 12 films.  Czech That Film is sponsored by The Consulate General of the Czech Republic in Los Angeles together with the Honorary Consul General of the Czech Republic in San Francisco, Silicon Valley Richard Pivnicka and Staropramen, the renowned Czech brewery.

Opening Night: The festival kicks off on Friday, May 31 at 7:00 pm with an opening screening of Zdeněk Jiráský’s “Flower Buds,” (Poupata)(2011, 91 min) winner of four Czech Lions in 2012, including Best Film. Jiráský’s powerful first feature is about the struggles of a small town family trapped in the ugly, snow-clogged, nameless village who lead a bleak life in the aftermath of totalitarian rule. The film has been recognized in Chicago, Warsaw, Cleveland, Minneapolis, and many other major international film festivals.

trailer Zdeněk Jiráský’s “Flower Buds

Closing Night: The festival wraps on Tuesday, June 4 at 7:00 pm with a screening of “In the Shadow (Ve stinu) (2012, 106 min), a new period drama directed by David Ondříček, one of Variety’s 10 Directors to Watch in 2013.  Starring veteran Czech actor Ivan Trojan (“Želary) and Sebastian Koch (“The Lives of Others”), this modern film noir explores the political and psychological labyrinth of Stalinist Czechoslovakia.  Ivan Trojan is Hakl, a member of Prague’s Communist police force charged with investigating what seems to be a routine robbery at a goldsmith’s shop.  His investigation, however, unveils darker secrets about the Communist Party.  Soon, State Security replaces him on the case with a German specialist in “Zionist crime,” played by Sebastian Koch. When Hakl continues his investigation on his own, he sets both men on a collision course with the ominous powers of the Communist state. The film swept the 2013 Czech Lion awards (the Czech Academy Awards), winning nine prizes, including Best Film, Best Director, and Best Screenplay. Ondříček, known internationally for his many popular Czech films, will be on hand after the screening for an audience Q & A.  (Screens Tuesday, June 4, 2013 at 7 p.m.)  Following the Q & A, the festival will close with an afterparty at the nearby West of Pecos, 550 Valencia Street, San Francisco.  Combined price for screening and afterparty is $15.

trailer David Ondříček’s “In the Shadow

Three other award-winning films will round the festival.  Contemporary drama “The House,” (Dom)(2011, 97 min) from acclaimed Slovak writer-director Zuzana Liová, won awards at the Bratislava and Palm Springs International Film Festivals.  The film powerfully stages unstapled shift towards capitalism in small Slovak town. Remarkable for its depth of characterization, this sensitively observed, intelligently made realist tale of generational conflict is set in a remote Slovak village where old grudges die hard.  Ambitious teen Eva is about to graduate from high school and eager to experience the world outside her pokey hometown.  Meanwhile, her controlling father is painstakingly building her a house on the family property. After Eva meets a handsome new neighbor, she is tempted, like her now-disowned older sister before her, to leave the family nest sooner rather than later.  Liova’s tightly constructed screenplay makes meaningful looks and repeated gestures speak louder than words about expectations and desires. Winner: Best Film, Best Actress, Art Film Festival.  (Screens Monday, June 3, 2013 at 7 p.m.)

Slovak writer-director Zuzana Liová discusses The House at the 56th BFI LFF

Perfect Days,”(Zeny maji sve dny)(2011, 108 min) nominated for three Czech Lions. This romantic comedy by renowned director Alice Nellis features brilliant acting (Ivana Chýlková) from a range of characters. It effortlessly makes light of the obstacles met in middle age, and playfully laughs in the face of disappointment. (Screens Saturday, June 1, 2013 at 7 p.m.)

trailer Alice Nellis’ “Perfect Days” (will have English subtitles at the Roxie)

Perfect Days,”(Zeny maji sve dny)(2011, 108 min) nominated for three Czech Lions. This romantic comedy by renowned director Alice Nellis features brilliant acting (Ivana Chýlková) from a range of characters. It effortlessly makes light of the obstacles met in middle age, and playfully laughs in the face of disappointment. (Screens Saturday, June 1, 2013 at 7 p.m.)

Tomás Rehorik’s Signàl(2012, 113 min) is a comedy about a small Czech town that starts to think there is money is to made with cell phones.  Popular Czech actors, Bolek Polívka and Karel Roden, (15 minutes, Ronin) are co-stars and director Jiří Menzel has a supporting role. (Screens Sunday, June 2, 2013 at 7 p.m.)

trailer Tomáš Řehořek’s Signàl(2012) (will have English subtitles at the Roxie)

Czech that Film” officially began in Salt Lake City in April, then traveled to Phoenix, Denver, Los Angeles, all before arriving in San Francisco. The festival will continue on to Chicago, Portland, New York, Washington, DC, before concluding in Seattle in July, 2013.  A total of 12 films will be screened but different cities may select a reduced program. Special events will complement the festival in each city, including opening and closing receptions and Q&A’s discussions with directors. announced.

Details: Czech That Film 2013 is May 31-June 4, 2013 at San Francisco’s Roxie Theatre, 3117 16th Street, San Francisco, CA  94103 .  All Screenings start at 7:00 p.m.  All films are in Czech with English subtitles.  Tickets are $10 per film ($6.50 for seniors) and $15 for the June 4, Closing Night screening and afterparty with David Ondříček in attendance.  Tickets can purchased in advance online  here or at the Roxie Theatre.

Friday, May 31           “Flower Buds”

Saturday, June 1         “Perfect Days”

Sunday, June 2            “Signal”

Monday, June 3          “The House”

Tuesday, June 4          “In the Shadow” (followed by Q&A with director and Closing Night afterparty at West of Pecos)

May 29, 2013 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Set in two different centuries, Tom’s Stoppard’s “Arcadia” is a smart romantic play that uses garden design as metaphor for progress, at A.C.T. through June 9, 2013

Rebekah Brockman is brainy Thomasina Coverly and Jack Cutmore-Scott is her ambitious tutor, Septimus Hodge, in A.C.T.’s production of Tom Stoppard’s “Arcadia,” directed by Carey Perloff, through June 9, 2013.  Photo by Kevin Berne.

Rebekah Brockman is brainy Thomasina Coverly and Jack Cutmore-Scott is her ambitious tutor, Septimus Hodge. Their smart repartee is divine and their on stage chemistry is magic in A.C.T.’s production of Tom Stoppard’s “Arcadia,” directed by Carey Perloff, through June 9, 2013. Photo by Kevin Berne.

I saw Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia for the first time, when it opened last Wednesday at A.C.T. (American Conservatory Theatre) and, already, I’m already planning to go again. It’s gardening season and time is precious but I was seduced by this dazzling production whose action that moves between the 19th century and the present and its riveting exploration of how big ideas take root, blossom, and then, become compost. The repartee and on-stage chemistry of the fine actors, the gorgeous set design and overall flow of the performance added up to an unforgettable evening. I was hooked once I discovered that, at its core, Arcadia uses tensions in garden design as a metaphor for progress. Frequently, when I describe plays to friends who live up in the wine country, no matter how good the production is, they bemoan the drive in to San Francisco, especially during gardening season.  Well, here it is!—a play brimming with ideas that will have you cutting your precious antique roses with renewed zeal because you’re on fire with ideas and how gardens through time embody them.  Whether you’re an orderly classicist who believes in preserving the structure of things or you’re more of a romantic who views structure as a straightjacket, and are constantly tossing out the old rules in favor of the new, there’s something intoxicating in Stoppard’s romantic story that will leave you exquisitely satisfied and slightly perplexed that you haven’t quite caught it all.

Set in Sidley Park, an English stately home, in two different centuries, the play opens in Edwardian 1809, much in the fashion of an Oscar Wilde drawing-room farce. The first thing you notice is Douglas W. Schmidt’s expansive drawing room set, appointed with picturesque trees that wind elegantly around the room. Septimus Hodge (played by Jack Cutmore-Scott), a young science graduate, is resident tutor to Thomasina Coverley (played by Rebekah Brockman), the precocious 13-year old daughter of the owners of Sidley Park. The two are cozied up at a wooden table. Reading through her Latin homework, she asks him, quite innocently, to explain what “carnal embrace” means. When he tells her, she is appalled. “Now whenever I do it, I shall think of you!” she gasps. “Is it like love?” He replies: “Oh no my lady, it is much nicer than that.” 

(from L-R): Rebekah Brockman (Thomasina Coverly), Jack Cutmore-Scott (Septimus Hodge), Adam O’Byrne (Valentine Coverly), and Gretchen Egolf (Hannah Jarvis) in A.C.T.’s production of Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia, directed by Carey Perloff. Photo by Kevin Berne

(from L-R): Rebekah Brockman (Thomasina Coverly), Jack Cutmore-Scott (Septimus Hodge), Adam O’Byrne (Valentine Coverly), and Gretchen Egolf (Hannah Jarvis) in A.C.T.’s production of Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia, directed by Carey Perloff. Photo by Kevin Berne

Turns out that Septimus has been practicing that on which he expounds—he was seen having a “perpendicular poke” in the gazebo with Mrs. Chater, the wife of a visiting poet. Their tutoring session is interrupted by a note from Mr. Chater, demanding he receive “satisfaction” for his wounded honor in the form of a duel. Septimus moans: “Mrs. Chater demanded satisfaction and now you demand satisfaction. I cannot spend my day and night satisfying the demands of the Chater family.” When Mr Chater arrives in a fury, Septimus asserts that he won’t engage in a pistol-fight to defend the honor of “a woman whose reputation could not be adequately defended with a platoon of musketry deployed by rota.” Septimus is also pursuing Lady Croom, Thomasina’s pert mother, but she has her eyes fixed on nabbing Lord Byron, Septimus’ college pal.

The play then shifts abruptly to the 1990s, and a more realist style. In the same house, and using the same set, a historian, Hannah Jarvis, is delving into Sidley Park’s history, with the permission of the Croom family. She is immersed in her research and in piecing together stories from the past.

She is interrupted by her rival, a patronizing old English fart, Bernard Nightingale, who has discovered a note that Chater wrote to Septimus in an old book.  He is convinced that the note was written by Lord Byron, the great Romantic poet, who happened to be visiting Sidley Park that weekend— and that he fought in the duel and killed Chater. He posits that this would explain why Byron fled to France in 1810 and asserts that he is hot on the trail of “the literary discovery of the century” which will make him a media sensation.

Rebekah Brockman (Thomasina Coverly) and Jack Cutmore-Scott (Septimus Hodge) in A.C.T.’s production of Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia, directed by Carey Perloff. Photo by Kevin Berne

Rebekah Brockman (Thomasina Coverly) and Jack Cutmore-Scott (Septimus Hodge) in A.C.T.’s production of Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia, directed by Carey Perloff. Photo by Kevin Berne

Those are the bare bones. The action unfolds from 1809 to 1812, while the characters in the late 20th century attempt to untangle what happened by reviewing what they know about their lives. The stories alternate until, in the final scene, all the characters appear on stage together, waltzing past each other, unseen.

Rebekah Brockman delivers an astounding and entirely believable performance as Thomasina, the innocent girl genius, the heart and soul of the play.  Her natural chemistry with her tutor, Septimus, Jack Cutmore-Scott, is a delight.  As he educates her in the basics of Newton’s laws of physics, she quickly demonstrates that her grasp of the implications of these principles far exceeds that of her adult peers.  She’s able to cut to chase using very familiar examples, making astounding connections between seemingly unrelated things—“When you stir your rice pudding, Septimus, the spoonful of jam spreads itself round making red trails like the picture of a meteor in my astronomical atlas. But if you stir backward, the jam will not come together again. Indeed, the pudding does not notice and continues to turn pink just as before. (1.1).”  Later, she makes observations about what happens with free will in a world where we are all merely atoms following the laws of motion in Newton’s universe.  It is she who leads Septimus to see the flaws in Newton, and he, in turn, who falls for her.

The present day couple—Hannah and Bernard, played by Gretchen Egolf and Andy Murray—due to their lack of on stage chemistry, is less dynamic, though they both, as feuding scholars, represent interesting ideas.  She is a model of classical reserve while he, boisterous and passionate, follows his gut instincts and prefers to reject the hard evidence that leads to the conclusion that Byron was not the killer he initially thought him to be.       

And the garden?  The garden at Sidley Park is never actually seen but its symbolic presence is felt throughout the play, as styles (Romanticism and Classicism) and their attenuate ideas butt up against each other.

Says Perloff: “To me Arcadia is the perfect play: sexy, subtle, romantic, bracing, hilarious, and complex, rewarding multiple viewings and multiple explorations. When I directed the show at A.C.T. in 1995, the Geary Theater was still undergoing repairs from the devastating Loma Prieta earthquake, so we have never done it on The Geary stage. Now we’ve gathered an incredible company and it is truly a fulfillment of a dream for me to bring Arcadia back to A.C.T.”

More on the origin of “Arcadia”— Arcadia is part of the Peloponnese peninsula and in European Renaissance arts was celebrated as an unspoiled, harmonious wilderness, even an imaginary idyllic paradise, immortalized by Virgil’s Eclogues, and later by Jacopo Sannazaro in his pastoral masterpiece, Arcadia (1504). The Latin phrase “Et in Arcadia ego,” which is usually
interpreted to mean “Even in Arcadia there am I” (“I” meaning Death), is a memento mori, a cautionary reminder of the transitory nature of life and the inevitability of death. The phrase is most often associated with a 1647 painting by Nicolas Poussin, also known as “The
Arcadian Shepherds.”  In the painting, the phrase appears as an inscription on a tomb discovered by youthful figures in classical garb.

Best Garden Quote:  “English landscape was invented by gardeners imitating foreign painters who were evoking classical authors. The whole thing was brought home in the luggage from the grand tour. Here, look – Capability Brown doing Claude, who was doing Virgil. Arcadia! And here, superimposed by Richard Noakes, untamed nature in the style of Salvator Rosa. It’s the Gothic novel expressed in landscape. Everything but vampires.”  (Hannah 1.2)

Run time:   2 hours and 35 minutes with a 15 minute intermission

CAST:  Rebekah Brockman is Thomasina Coverly; Jack Cutmore-Scott is Septimus Hodge; Julia Coffey is Lady Croom; Allegra Rose Edwards is Chloë Coverly; Gretchen Egolf is Hannah Jarvis; Anthony Fusco is Richard Noakes; Nick Gabriel is Captain Brice; Andy Murray is Bernard Nightingale; Adam O’Byrne is Valentine Coverly); Nicholas Pelczar is Ezra Chater; Ken Ruta is Jellaby.

CREATIVE TEAM:  by Tom Stoppard;  Directed by Carey Perloff.   Douglas W. Schmidt (scenic designer), Alex Jaeger (costume designer), Alexander V. Nichols (lighting designer), Jake Rodriguez (sound designer).

InterACT Programming for Arcadia— InterACT events are presented free of charge to give patrons a chance to get closer to the action while making a whole night out of their evening at the theatre. Visit act-­‐sf.org/interact to learn more about subscribing to these events throughout the season:

Audience  Exchanges: Tuesday, May 28, at 7 p.m. | Sun., June 2, at 2 p.m. | Wed., June 5, at 2 p.m.  Learn firsthand what goes into the making of great theatre. After the show, join A.C.T. on stage for a lively onstage chat with the cast, designers and artists who develop the work onstage.

OUT with A.C.T.:  Wednesday, May 29, following the 8 p.m. performanceThe best LGBT night in town! Mingle with the cast and enjoy free drinks and treats at this popular afterparty.

Wine Series: Tuesday, June 4, at 7 p.m.  Before the show, raise a glass at this wine tasting event featuring leading sommeliers from the Bay Area’s hottest local wineries.

PlayTime: Saturday, June 8, at 2 p.m.  Before this matinee performance, get hands-­‐on with theater with the artists who make it happen at this interactive workshop.

Bike to the Theater Nights: Thursday, May 23.   Providing a greener alternative to theater transportation, A.C.T. and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition offer free valet bike parking, as well as a special discount on tickets, for these select performances.

Details: Arcadia runs through June 9, 2013 at American Conservatory Theater, 405 Geary Street, San Francisco.  Performances are 8 p.m. most Tuesdays-Fridays; 2 and 8 p.m. most Wednesdays and Saturdays; and 2 p.m. most Sundays. Tickets: $20 to $95, phone 415.749.2228, or visit www.act-sf.org .

A.C.T.’s 2013–14 season:  Seven incredible productions await A.C.T. patrons in 2013-14, including the West Coast premiere of Tony Award–winning director Frank Galati’s acclaimed new staging of 1776; the Northern California premiere of David Ives’s captivating cat-­‐and-­‐mouse drama, Venus in Fur; James Fenton’s beautiful reinvention of The Orphan of Zhao, starring the inimitable stage and film star BD Wong; and a sumptuous production of George Bernard Shaw’s political comedy Major Barbara. The remaining three shows will be announced at a later date. In addition to the seven-­‐play subscription season, A.C.T. is happy to welcome back the Bay Area’s favorite holiday tradition, the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol, after its record-­‐breaking run last season.  To subscribe or for more information, please click here, or call 415.749.2250.

May 28, 2013 Posted by | Theatre | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Just 2 viewing weekends left—“Garry Winogrand,” at SFMOMA, closes, along with the museum building, on June 2, 2013

Arguably one of the most prolific photographers of our time, Garry Winogrand’s first retrospective in 25 years, is at SFMoMA through June 2, 2013.  Garry Winogrand, Coney Island, New York, ca. 1952; gelatin silver print; collection The Museum of Modern Art, New York, purchase and gift of Barbara Schwartz in memory of Eugene M. Schwartz; © The Estate of Garry Winogrand, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco.

Arguably one of the most prolific photographers of our time, Garry Winogrand’s first retrospective in 25 years, is at SFMoMA through June 2, 2013. Garry Winogrand, Coney Island, New York, ca. 1952; gelatin silver print; collection The Museum of Modern Art, New York, purchase and gift of Barbara Schwartz in memory of Eugene M. Schwartz; © The Estate of Garry Winogrand, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco.

“For me the true business of photography is to capture a bit of reality (whatever that is) on film,” said American photographer Garry Winogrand, “if, later, the reality means something to someone else, so much the better.”  When Winogrand’s life was cut short by cancer in 1984 at age 56, he was already widely acknowledged as one American’s most influential photographers, particularly known for his vivid chronicling of the social landscape of post-war American life.   While he loathed the off-used label “snapshot photographer” and felt that “street photographer” imposed too narrow a lens on his work, those are the names that stuck.  He too, had always been known as a “prolific shooter,” but just how prolific was utterly shocking to those left to sort out his legacy. He left behind a staggering amount of unprocessed as well as unedited work.  More than 2,500 rolls of exposed but underdeveloped film were found, plus an additional 4,100 rolls that he had processed but never seen—an estimated total of 250,000 images that have remained virtually unknown. Suddenly, there was a lot more to consider when examining the oeuvre of the acclaimed photographer of New York City and of American Life from the 1950s through the early 1980s.

An important exhibition at SFMOMA (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art), which closes on June 2—the first major touring exhibition in 25 years of Garry Winogrand—does just that.  Garry Winogrand, an expansive retrospective of some 300 images, brings together Winogrand’s most iconic images with newly printed photographs from the never seen archive of his later work.  Included are photographs from Winogrand’s travels around the United States as well as his better known New York City images.  The exhibition was organized by photographer and author, Leo Rubinfien, a long-time close friend of Winnogrand,  in collaboration with SFMOMA curator Erin O’Toole and Sarah Greenough of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., where it will travel after its run in San Francisco, followed by New York, Paris, and Madrid.  With SFMOMA’s expansion project getting seriously underfoot this summer, the building itself will close its doors on June 2, so now is the time to visit SFMOMA and pay your respects to its Third Street Botta palazzo.

Winogrand took this photo 1 year before he died. Garry Winogrand, Los Angeles, 1980-83; posthumous digital reproduction from original negative; Garry Winogrand Archive, Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona; © The Estate of Garry Winogrand, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

Newly printed for this exhibition, rarely if ever seen before. Winogrand took this photo 1 year before he died. Garry Winogrand, Los Angeles, 1980-83; posthumous digital reproduction from original negative; Garry Winogrand Archive, Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona; © The Estate of Garry Winogrand, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

The majority of photographs in the Winnogrand exhibition were printed by Winogrand or under his supervision by Thomas Consilvio or Paul McDonough.  The rest were made after his death, with the majority of those printed in 2012-13 in Tuscon, Arizona, by Teresa Engle Schrimer.  All are silver gelatin prints.

The exhibition  is organized in three categories—

“Down from the Bronx”— presents photographs taken for the most part in New York from Winnogrand’s start in 1950 until he left New York in 1971. Winogrand came from that “rude part” of NY, explained Rubinfien, which caused him to say late in his life,“I came from the Bronx. I was goosh. I was so goosh, I didn’t know the word goosh.”

Erin O’Toole discusses Winogrand’s early work

“A Student of America” looks at work made in the same period, 1950 to 1971, during journeys he made outside New York.  This is an expression Winogrand used to describe himself.  “One day I was walking along 57th street with him,” explained Rubinfien, “and he said, talking about himself, ‘You could say I am a student of photography, and I am that, but really I am student of America.’  What he meant by that, I think, is that his photographs were an investigation in which he tried to understand what made this country most itself.”

20.Garry Winogrand, Albuquerque, 1957; gelatin silver print; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, purchase; © The Estate of Garry Winogrand, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

Garry Winogrand, Albuquerque, 1957; gelatin silver print; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, purchase; © The Estate of Garry Winogrand, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

“Boom and Bust” addresses Winogrand’s late period—from after he moved away from New York in 1971 until his death in 1984—with photographs from Texas and Southern California, as well as Chicago, Washington, Miami, and other locations. Also included are a small number of photographs Winogrand made on trips back to Manhattan, which express a sense of desolation unprecedented in his earlier work.

“The bust, of course” said Rubinfien, “was the great malaise the nation itself experienced in the 1970’s, after its greatest modern boom. It was also Winogrand’s own decline, which turned out to be real. John Sarkowsky was not wrong about that.   If you looked at his top ten contact sheets in the 1960’s, you might find two or three strong pictures in a single roll of film.  By 1982, you might have to go through 50 rolls to find one. He himself was straining very hard to do the thing that he had done interestingly and easily before.”

Posthumous Editing

The exhibition has attracted a great deal of attention in photography circles because it includes works that Winogrand never saw in his lifetime but were selected posthumously by Rubinfine.  Over 9o posthumous prints made from Rubinfein’s selections and drawn from the full span of Wingroand’s career are on view.  The wall labels for these prints indicate whether Wingrand marked a given frame on its contact sheet, suggesting he found it to be of interest.  In a gargantuan effort lasting several years, Rubinfien assessed not only the 6,600 rolls of late work that the photographer never reviewed himself but all 22,000 of his contact sheets in his archive at the Center for Photgraphy at the University of Arizona, Tuscon—starting with images from the beginning of Winogrand’s career in 1950 that he marked but didn’t print.  Rubinfien and the curatorial staff argue they are on solid ethical ground because Winogrand had a strong history of delegation.   Their effort also found precedent in MoMA’s 1988 exhibition “Garry Winogrand,” the first major retrospective of Winogrand’s work which included a small group of prints made by Colsilvio from late images selected by John Sarkowsky, director of MoMA’s Department of Photography, and by Winogrand’s friends and colleagues, photographers Tod Papageorge and Thomas Roma.

“This was a man who loved shooting more than anyone else…he wanted to be outside more than anything else and did not want to be sitting in a room editing his work, “ said Rubinfien. “Beyond that, he had a fundamental discomfort with bringing his work to resolution in books and shows. A result was that the work that was published in his lifetime in a series of five books, was highly topical. The books were done in a rather ad hoc way…a book on women one year (Women are Beautiful (1975)) and another on animals (The Animals (1969)), or political events (Public Relations (1977)) and, as a result, what we inherited was a picture of Winogrand in which he himself was siloed according to a number of topical categories. What this show tries to do is to break that down and give you the view of the full epic sweep of Winogrand’s work.”

Newly printed for this exhibition, rarely if ever seen before. Winogrand, Los Angeles, 1983; posthumous digital reproduction from original negative; Garry Winogrand Archive, Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona; © The Estate of Garry Winogrand, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

Newly printed for this exhibition, rarely if ever seen before. Winogrand, Los Angeles, 1983; posthumous digital reproduction from original negative; Garry Winogrand Archive, Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona; © The Estate of Garry Winogrand, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

At the press preview, Rubinfein explained that he was largely motivated to explore this later body of work due to distinguished MoMA curator John Sarkowsky’s pronouncement, after organizing Winogrand’s first major retrospective in 1988, that Winogrand’s later work wasn’t very good.  In preparation for that show, Sarkowsky had personally reviewed some and edited a large number of Winogrand’s photographs from the last six years of his life and from the six years before that—basically the work from 1971 on, from the time he moved away from New York into expatriation in Texas.

“I was intensely interested in seeing what Winogrand had done in those years,” said Rubinfien…”In some ways Texas and Los Angeles, in particular, seemed like a natural location in which the work might culminate because it was so much the headquarters of the sprawling vulgarity in this country—it was so much the place you’d go to see where freedom went when it went too far.   So, when that show finally went up, I was distressed and dismayed to read John Sarkowsky’s verdict of the work that Winogrand had lost his talent after leaving New York in 1971 and that he work he had done after that was not very good, but repetitive and lazy.  I had no way of knowing whether that was true, not having not seen the work, so I thought that someone should go back and look again.  Even Sarkowsky said that in his essay.  Around 2001, I thought if no one else did this, I would take it on.”

Newly printed for this exhibition, rarely if ever seen before. Garry Winogrand, Metropolitan Opera, New York, ca. 1951; posthumous digital reproduction from original negative; Garry Winogrand Archive, Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona; © The Estate of Garry Winogrand, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

Newly printed for this exhibition, rarely if ever seen before. Garry Winogrand, Metropolitan Opera, New York, ca. 1951; posthumous digital reproduction from original negative; Garry Winogrand Archive, Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona; © The Estate of Garry Winogrand, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

“Some argue that what was left behind should be left alone, and that no one should intrude upon the intentions of an artist,” adds Rubinfien. “But the quantity of Winogrand’s output, the incompleteness with which he reviewed it, and the suddenness of his death create a special case in which the true scope of an eminent photographer’s work cannot be known without the intervention of an editor.”  Leo Rubinfien discusses Winnogrand’s late work on view for the first time at SFMOMA

Details: Garry Winogrand closes June 2, 2013.  The last day to visit the current building is June 2, 2013.  SFMoMA, (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art) is located at 151 Third Street, between Mission and Howard, San Francisco. Hours: Monday-Tuesday, 11 a.m.-5:45 p.m.; closed Wednesday; Thursday, 11 a.m.-8:45 p.m.; Friday-Sunday,11 a.m.-5:45 p.m.  Admission: SFMOMA members are free. Tickets: Adults $18, seniors (62 and older) $13, students (with current ID) $11, active U.S. military personnel and their families are free, children 12 and under accompanied by an adult are free; half-price admission Thursday evenings 6-8:45 p.m.; the first Tuesday of each month is free.

May 25, 2013 Posted by | Art, SFMOMA | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Two Italian Dynamos—Nicola Luisotti and pianist Giuseppe Albanese—and the SF Opera Orchestra, kick off SF Opera’s Summer Season at Zellerbach Hall

Nicola Luisott conducts the San Francisco Opera Orchestra in concert on Friday, May 17 at 8 p.m. at UC Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall. The program includes Nino Rota’s rarely performed Piano Concerto in C featuring Italian pianist Giuseppe Albanese, Puccini’s Capriccio Sinfonico and Brahms’ Symphony No. 3 in F major. Photo: Terrence McCarthy

Nicola Luisotti conducts the San Francisco Opera Orchestra in concert on Friday, May 17 at 8 p.m. at UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall. The program includes Nino Rota’s rarely performed “Piano Concerto in C,” featuring Italian pianist Giuseppe Albanese; Puccini’s “Capriccio Sinfonico;” and Brahms’ “Symphony No. 3 in F major”. Photo: Terrence McCarthy

There’s only one Nicola Luisotti—the magical maestro!  Last Friday’s symphonic concert with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra at Zellerbach Hall, a San Francisco Opera and Cal Performances co-production, was everything we’ve come to expect when Luisotti is at the helm of this very talented orchestra—heart-felt passion and mesmerizing music.  It was wonderful to be able to actually see this talented orchestra, which normally resides in the pit during operas, and to place some faces with soloists we’ve come to respect and love.  Last Friday’s program included Nino Rota’s rarely performed “Piano Concerto in C,” featuring Italian pianist Giuseppe Albanese; Puccini’s early piece, “Capriccio Sinfonico;” and Brahms’ Symphony No. 3 in F major.

The surprise treat was Giuseppe Albanese, in his West Coast premiere, who not only proved to be un talento enormo on the piano but a curly-haired young Italian heartthrob to boot.  He appeared in bright red shoes, a feat not many guys (apart from Jean-Yves Thibaudet!) can successfully pull off ..…he owned it.  It was his smile, sensual verve and engagement with the music and orchestra that melted the audience and led to several standing ovations and a sensational triple encore.   His encore included an uncannily virtuosic rendition of Scriabin’s “Prelude and Nocturne for the Left Hand” (Op. 9, No. 2), which he knocked out with playful swagger. I would have sworn there were at least two hands on that keyboard if I hadn’t seen Albanese’s right hand alternately hanging by his side or pressed up expressively against his heart.

The evening opened with Puccini’s “Capriccio sinfonico,” a rarely performed work the composer wrote as a 25-year-old at the conservatory in Milan. The Capriccio was Puccini’s final student work, written to satisfy the requirements for his graduation in July 1883. He hadn’t yet written his first opera (although the work is full of operatic grandeur—and even contains passages that the maestro later used in “La Bohême”).  One of Puccini’s biographers, Julian Budden, has this to say about the Capriccio: “Performed at the annual students’ concert on July 14, it at once alerted the critics to a new voice in Italian music.  Filippi of La perseveranza shed all his reservations of the previous year.  ‘In Puccini,’ he wrote, ‘we have a decisive and rare musical temperament and one which is especially symphonic. There is unity of style, personality, character.  In his Capriccio sinfonico there is a good deal that more experienced composers . . . have not succeeded in doing. . . There are no uncertainties or gropings in the young author. . . The ideas are clear, strong, effective and sustained with much truth.’  (PUCCINI: HIS LIFE AND WORKS by Julian Budden, 2002)

A three encore night for Italian pianist Giuseppe Albanese who had his West Coast debut with Nicola Luisotti and the San Francisco Opera Orchestra on Friday, May 17, 2013.  Photo: courtesy Giuseppe Albanese.

A three encore night for Italian pianist Giuseppe Albanese who had his West Coast debut with Nicola Luisotti and the San Francisco Opera Orchestra on Friday, May 17, 2013. Photo: courtesy Giuseppe Albanese.

The opera orchestra’s performance of this precious archive from Puccini’s repertoire was indeed inspired and so was Luisotti’s conducting, a feat of passion and pure embrace of sound. Luisotti, who at times appeared to be writing in the air with his sweeping gestures of the baton, guided the orchestra into a lush performance, reminding me that it’s hard to beat an Italian conducting an Italian.

Up next was pianist Giuseppe Albanese in Nino Rota’s rarely performed “Piano Concerto in C,” a piece that had his curly hair flouncing and his fingers flying as he executed complex crossovers matching blow for blow Luisotti’s passionate baton waving and flying locks.  As both men became one with the music and the orchestra, it was a pleasure to sit back, watch and listen.  Rota has composed four piano concertos but is best known for his film scores, which date back to the early 1940s.  He’s collaborated with Federico Fellini, Renato Castellani, Luchino Visconti, Franco Zeffirelli, Mario Monicelli, Francis Ford Coppola (he received the Oscar for Best Original Score for The Godfather II), King Vidor, René Clément, Edward Dmytrik and Eduardo de Filippo.  Additionally, he composed the music for many theatre productions by Visconti, Zefirelli and de Filippo.  It’s natural to wonder whether his film and concert music are similar.  The Piano Concerto in C has a strong melody but didn’t evoke any filmic moments for me.   The drama and passion was injected by Albanese who had the audience’s rapt attention throughout.   So much so that, afterwards, he received a long standing ovation and came out for an encore— Denis Zardi Prelude, Op. 6, No. 24—followed by another ovation.  It was his second piece— Scriabin’s “Prelude and Nocturne for the Left Hand” (Op. 9, No. 2)—where he delivered the goods, a technically challenging one-handed performance of great beauty and emotional richness. After that, as if egged on by Luisotti behind the curtain to “go for it,” he came out again with Gershwin’s “The Man I Love,” arranged by Earl Wilde, a familiar piece he played to the hilt while taking every opportunity to lap up the much-deserved limelight.

The evening concluded with Brahams “Symphony No. 3 in F Major, Op. 90,” which I had never before heard.  All  four of it movements end quietly and its most powerful moments are quite restrained.  Coming on the heels of the robust first half of the concert, this subdued but highly complex piece was a soothing end to the evening.  The third movement started with a wonderfully low and flowing cello passage that was followed later by Kevin Rivard’s tender horn solo.   What a treat to hear this masterpiece for the first time performed with such passion by Luisotti’s orchestra.

Author Barbara Quick, well-known for her best-selling novel, Vivaldi’s Virgins, has just finished a new historically-accurate novel called “Saving Puccini” and gave ARThound a good deal of insight and perspective on the Puccini performance.

For more information about San Francisco Opera’s Summer 2013 season, which includes Tales of Hoffman (6/5-7/6/2013), Cosi fan tutte (6/9-7/1/2013), and The Gospel of Mary Magdalene (6/19-7/7/2013),  click here.

For more information about upcoming performances at Cal Performances, whose next performance is Ojai North! by Mark Morris (6/12-6/15/2013),  click here.

May 22, 2013 Posted by | Chamber Music, Classical Music, Opera | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Up Thursday at Weill Hall—San Francisco Symphony performs Carter, Ravel and Gershwin, with David Robertson, conductor, and Marc-André Hamelin, piano

Marc-André Hamelin plays piano with the San Francisco Symphony at Green Music Center's Weill Hall, Thursday, May 22, 2013

Marc-André Hamelin plays piano with the San Francisco Symphony at Green Music Center’s Weill Hall, Thursday, May 22, 2013

Ravel, who heard jazz in Harlem with Gershwin, was utterly dazzled by Rhapsody in Blue, which Gershwin played at a birthday party for the French composer.   The piece, composed in 1924, epitomized modern urban sophistication.  Ravel’s jazz-influenced Concerto for the Left Hand, written six years later, was created for a pianist grievously injured during the First World War.  The brooding work is held up as a brilliant distillation of Ravel’s rarely revealed sinister side. Both these pieces reflect the arrival of jazz into the concert hall.   Ravel’s La Valse (1919-20) pays homage to the Viennese waltz and suggests a furious and dark farewell to the gentility of post-war Europe.  Eliot Carter’s non-traditional Variations for Orchestra, from 1955, is not as accessible.  Nothing Carter does in this fragmentary piece is traditional.  He even varied from the traditional way of exploring variation— where a single theme was the basis of a series of contrasting variations.  Besides the official theme, which is an extended and twisting melodic line, Carter’s piece has two other melodic ideas that are subjected to bold variation: scale-like patterns of notes, one that picks up speed as it unfolds, and another that slows down.  It’s exhilarating, abrupt, fitful, and quite intriguing.   This multilayered piece has not been performed by the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra in 50 years!

The common thread in all of these pieces…the changing of the times!   San Francisco Symphony with David Robertson, conductor, and Marc-André Hamelin on piano, performs all four pieces in its last concert of Green Music Center’s (GMC’s) inaugural season this Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 8 p.m.

The treat: another chance to hear a world-class pianist, Marc-André Hamelin, on Weill Hall’s Steinway in what promises to be a spell-binding one-handed performance of Ravel’s Concerto for the Left Hand.  Hamelin, who made his SF Symphony debut in 2006, is the known for “hurling himself with gusto” into his performances.  We’ll expect a full display of agility, precision and passion on Thursday as he tackles the Ravel and reinvigorates Gershwin’s beguiling masterpiece, Rhapsody in Blue,  which, sadly, has been so played to death with such mediocrity that we’ve lost touch with its power.

Robertson leads Ravel and Gershwin will also be performed at Davies Symphony Hall, in San Francisco, on Wednesday, May 22, Friday, May 24 and Saturday, May 25, 2013.

Program:

Carter | Variations for Orchestra
Ravel | Piano Concerto in D major for the Left Hand
Gershwin | Rhapsody in Blue (also featuring solo by Carey Bell, Principal, Clarinet)

Ravel | La Valse

Details:  For tickets and information, call (415) 864-6000 or visit www.sfsymphony.org.

Eliot Carter talks about his “Variations for Orchestra” in an excerpt for the film Music Makes a City (2012) winner: 2012 Gramophone Award, Best DVD/Documentary

May 22, 2013 Posted by | Classical Music, Green Music Center, Symphony | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Marching On—Terra Cotta Warriors exhibition at San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum closes Monday, May 27, 2013

Armored kneeling archer, Qin dynasty (221-206 BCE), China. Terracotta.  Excavated from Pit 2, Qin Shihuang tomb complex, 1977.  Qin Shihuang Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum, Shaanxi.

Armored kneeling archer, Qin dynasty (221-206 BCE), China. Terracotta. Excavated from Pit 2, Qin Shihuang tomb complex, 1977. Qin Shihuang Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum, Shaanxi.

Of course, ten Terra Cotta figures—eight warriors and two horses—are the stars of the Asian Art Museum’s breathtaking exhibition, China’s Terracotta Warriors: The First Emperor’s Legacy, which closes on Memorial, Monday, May 27, 2013.  All ten—the maximum allowable number to travel outside of China at any time—were hand-picked by the AAM’s director Jay Xu, who negotiated to get the finest for the unforgettable exhibition kicking off the Asian’s 10th year in its present Civic Center location.  Some of these warriors are so rare, they have never before travelled out of China but Xu, a Princeton-educated scholar of early Chinese art and archaeology (MA and PhD), has been cultivating relations there for decades.  He and his team at the Asian have put together an unforgettable show, utilizing the latest technologies to showcase these ancient figures as well as over 100 artifacts, many of which have never been displayed in the U.S. before.

First unearthed in Central China in 1974  by farmers searching for well water, these remarkable figures are representatives of the army amassed by China’s First Emperor Qin Shi Huang (259-210 BCE) some 2,200 years ago to guard him in the afterworld.   Though Qin Shi Huang lived to be just 49, he is a pivotal figure in Chinese history—responsible for unifying all of China under one powerful leader and creating a legacy of a centralized bureaucratic state that was carried on to successive dynasties over two millennia.  Born Zhao Zheng, he became the king of the western State of Qin at age 13.  Obsessed with the concept of immortality, he began to make plans for his immense burial complex at a young age while greatly expanding his power base in real terms.  By defeating or allying with the seven independent warring principalities that had battled among themselves for generations, he ended China’s brutal Warring States period (475-221 B.C.) and creating a vast kingdom. He then declared himself  First Emperor and undertook gigantic projects such as building and unifying sections of the Great Wall of China, building roads throughout China, standardizing Chinese writing, bureaucracy, weights, measurements and currency and building a capital in Xian.  It is near Xian, that he built his massive mausoleum guarded by the Terra Cotta warriors.   At 250,000 sq. ft., it’s the length of four football fields, and includes a replica of the imperial palace with stables, offices, an armory, an amusement park, a zoo, and an aviary filled with elegant bronze replicas of waterfowl.

At the Asian, the warriors are presented without glass barricades and at eye level in the Osher Gallery and viewers can examine them from multiple viewing angles.  What a treat to marvel at their distinct personalities, different uniforms, hairstyles and facial expressions in such an accessible and beautifully-lit environment, which is much more intimate than that in China.  The burial complex in China is so vast that visitors are restricted to gazing down upon it from several yards distance, preventing a close-up experience.  The few warriors that are available for closer inspection are behind glass.  At the Asian, with no barriers, all the rich details emerge and comparisons can be made between the finest examples of warriors of several ranks.  Of course, the museum has gone all out to make this as dramatic as possible.  The Osher Gallery is darkened and the ten figures are dramatically lit and arranged on two low-level platforms.  On the wall behind them a slide-show displays huge images from the vast excavation pit in China creating the impression that you are there amongst the legions of figures who were buried in battle formation.  Other displays provide information on the on-going excavations in China, and on how the armor and weapons were used.

One of the figures on display, an armored kneeling archer, retains traces of his original green pigment.   He is part of a crossbowman battle formation of both standing and kneeling archers but is the only one found so far with green pigment on his clothing and his face.  There are 2 theories—one is that it is camouflage and the other is that he is a necromancer, a person who can divine the outcome of a battle.  He is wearing a light coat with outside armor, and is kneeling on his right leg and bending his left leg.  He has very functional square-toed shoes with actual tread on the sole of his shoe for traction.

Another, a very rare standing general, one of nine unearthed from the tomb so far, is larger than all the other warriors and his garb reflects his rank.  This is the first time he has left China.  He wears a uniform adorned with fluid looking ribbons, an indication of his high status.  His cap would have had tail feathers from a pheasant, known the bravest bird around.   He seems poised for action and his hands once rested on a sword, now missing.  All the warriors have elaborate hair-dos but the general sports a moustache and muttonchops, an indication of authority.

The two horses, a chariot horse and a cavalry horse, both standing at about 13 or 14 hands in height,  have slightly different expressions on their faces imbuing them with a sense of personality.   The horse played an important role in the mythology of early China.  Closely associated with the dragon, both were thought capable of flight and of carrying their rider to the home of the immortals.  Throughout its history, China’s very survival relied on its equestrian prowess and these muscular horses, with flared nostrils and perked ears are on alert.   Separate display cases are devoted to  intricate horse fittings, some of these in solid gold.

The entire first floor of the museum is dedicated to the exhibit which also includes 110 other recovered items which explore the themes of Immortality, Innovation, Archaeology and Unification.   Particularly stunning are several life size bronze water birds discovered in 2001 from a pit thought to represent a royal park or sacred water garden.  All have a rich green patina that has built up over the centuries and the swan and crane are so realistic, they seem capable of bursting into flight at any moment.  Were these elegant creatures buried with Qin Shihuang because he loved them in life and wanted them by his side for all eternity?

The custom of producing sculptures as burial objects to substitute for human sacrifices began in the Shang and Zhou periods and flourished in the Qin (221-206 BC), Han and post-Han dynasties, all the way to the Ming dynasty (1368-1644).  The belief was that objects used during one’s life on earth would continue to be used in the afterlife.  Now, 40 plus years after its original discovery, excavation is still quite active with new finds being announced on a regular basis.  Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s tomb has yet to be opened but, according to Jay Xu, there are no current plans to do that.

We’ve come to rely on excellent scholarship from the Asian, but this exhibition, presented in partnership with the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Shaanxi Provincial Cultural Relics Bureau, the Shaanxi Cultural Promotions and the People’s Republic of China, presents the 8th wonder of the ancient world as it’s never been seen before.

Best times to visit: weekday afternoons or Thursday evenings after 5 p.m. when it costs just $10.  Worse time—weekend.  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. Admission: $20 Adults; $16 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 has 840 spaces. From Van Ness, turn left on McAllister.  Entrance is on McAllister, between Polk and Larkin Streets. Info: www.asianart.org.

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May 20, 2013 Posted by | Art, Asian Art Museum | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wine Country Museums: “Napa Valley Collects” focuses on Napa Valley’s elite art collectors, at the Napa Valley Museum through May 26, 2013

Ann Trinca, curator of “Napa Valley Collects,” at the exhibition’s opening with Rob Ceballos, Director of the Hess Art Collection.  Behind them is Alan Rath’s “Huge Pi 500” (1996) aluminum, acrylic, custom electronics, LEDs—a digital sculpture that clicks through the infinite digits of the mathematical series Pi. Rath gave a presentation on his art and electronic media at the Hess Collection on April 27, 2013.  Photo: Geneva Anderson

Ann Trinca, curator of “Napa Valley Collects,” at the exhibition’s opening with Rob Ceballos, Director of the Hess Art Collection. Behind them is Alan Rath’s “Huge Pi 500” (1996) aluminum, acrylic, custom electronics, LEDs—a digital sculpture that clicks through the infinite digits of the mathematical series Pi. Rath gave a presentation on his art and electronic media at the Hess Collection on April 27, 2013. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Margrit Mondavi, Jan Shrem, Francis and Eleanor Coppola, Norman and Norah Stone, Donald Hess, Ronald and Anita Wornick, Peter and Kirsten Bedford—you’ve heard their names and likely attended some Bay Area cultural event they’ve bankrolled.  “Napa Valley Collects,” at the Napa Valley Museum in Yountville, through next Sunday, May 26th 2013, offers a unique chance to see the artworks they live.  This important exhibition features 65 exquisite and quite diverse artworks representing 53 artists from 30 Napa Valley collectors, many of them well-known patrons of the arts and some who are just starting their collecting journey.  Fifty-six of these artworks, including pieces from Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Alexander Rodchenko, Helen Frankenthaler, Wayne Thiebaud, Joan Brown, Matthew Barney, Stephen DeStabler, and Peter Voulkos are installed in private homes, so this is the public’s only chance to view them.  Several years in gestation, the exhibition is guest curated by Ann Trinca, of Napa, and is presented in partnership with Arts Council Napa Valley and Visit Napa Valley.  Sadly, there is no catalogue but grab a guide off the counter and you’ll get some useful background information on the collectors and artworks represented.  Below, is a photo gallery that includes some of the collectors and artworks in the exhibition.

Best times to visit: mornings on weekends or weekdays to avoid wine country traffic jams.  Worse times:  weekend afternoons and evenings—extreme traffic coming from St. Helena and around Sonoma.

To read ARThound’s previous coverage of “Napa Valley Collects,” click here.

Details: Situated mid-valley in the historic town of Yountville, between St. Helena and Napa, Napa Valley Museum is located at 55 Presidents Circle in Yountville next to the Napa Valley Performing Arts Center at Lincoln Theater.  Hours:  Tuesday-Sunday from 10am-4pm.  Admission:  $5; $3.50 seniors; $2.50 youth under 17.  Info: www.NapaValleyMuseum.org.

May 19, 2013 Posted by | Art, Asian Art Museum | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Love old Roses? This Sunday’s 33rd Celebration of Old Roses in El Cerrito will have hundreds and it’s free

Oeillet Panachée (1888, striped moss, Verdier) Most of the old striped cultivars are gallicas. Striped moss roses are known to have occurred as sports.  ‘Oeillet Panachée’ is the only one still around today, and has square-tipped petals that are striped blush and crimson with a distinctly old-world sensibility and strong fragrance.  I waited two years for this rose to bloom.  Photo: Geneva Anderson

Oeillet Panachée (1888, striped moss, Verdier) Most of the old striped cultivars are gallicas. Striped moss roses are known to have occurred as sports. ‘Oeillet Panachée’ is the only one still around today, and has square-tipped petals that are striped blush and crimson with a distinctly old-world sensibility and strong fragrance. I waited two years for this rose to bloom. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Who doesn’t love old roses?  A symbol of beauty, love, war and politics, roses have their place in history and our hearts.  I’ll be swimming in roses this Sunday at El Cerrito’s 33rd annual Celebration of Old Roses…it’s a yearly trek I make along with a number of other old rose devotees from all over California where we can see, smell and talk old roses with other addicts. The annual spring event is sponsored by the Heritage Roses Group and takes place at the El Cerrito Community Center from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Old roses or antique roses are varieties that date from 1860 or earlier.  Their attractiveness grows from their wonderful rich and varied fragrances, graceful growth habit which makes them ideal for the garden and disease resistance.

The celebration in El Cerrito works like an old-fashioned country fair—visitors walk along and encounter a wonderful menagerie of mason jars filled with freshly picked old roses which have been organized by class—gallicas, centifolias, damasks, mosses, hybrid chinas, bourbons, portlands, chinas, teas, eglantines, floribundas and others—all in glorious states of bloom.  There is ample opportunity to explore the nuances of each variety—fragrance, color, size, petal count, foliage and growth habit– and there are educational rose books, light refreshments and a proliferation of rosy knick-knacks.   You are also welcome to bring your own roses for display, including any mysterious roses you need identified for the “Unidentified Rose Table.”   Children will receive free rose plants and there will be some fun activities to keep them occupied.  And, of course, there are old rose vendors from all over who will be selling rare old roses, most of which are own root roses.  Last year, I bought an unidentified but very hearty looking rose in a pot for $7 and it turned out to be Superb Tuscan…a major coup!

Souvenir d'Alphonse Lavallée (1884, hybrid perpetual, Verdier) was named after one of the Presidents of the national French Horticultural Society.  The flowers are 3 inches wide and have exceptional form, with many petals, deeply cupshaped in early stages.  In later stages, some of the outer petals reflex a bit and the inner petals are quartered making the flower more shallow cupshaped. In early stages the flowers are a deep pomegranate red with crimson shadings, but as they age they turn a deep royal purple.  Richly fragrant.  Photo: Geneva Anderson

Souvenir d’Alphonse Lavallée (1884, hybrid perpetual, Verdier) was named after one of the Presidents of the national French Horticultural Society. The flowers are 3 inches wide and have exceptional form, with many petals, deeply cupshaped in early stages. In later stages, some of the outer petals reflex a bit and the inner petals are quartered making the flower more shallow cupshaped. In early stages the flowers are a deep pomegranate red with crimson shadings, but as they age they turn a deep royal purple. Richly fragrant. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Among purveyors and supporters of old roses, Vintage Gardens of Sebastopol, stands out.  Over the years, it has emerged as one of the country’s prime suppliers of rare old roses.  Its owners, rose gurus, Gregg Lowery and Phillip Robinson, through their enthusiasm and thoughtful scholarship, have really raised awareness and interest in these lovely plants.  A dog-eared and pen-marked copy of their  Vintage Gardens Complete Catalogue of Antique and Extraordinary Roses is staple in any serious collector’s home.  This must-have catalogue gives an utterly riveting blow by blow accounting of the properties of nearly 3000 old and very rare roses.   For the past 29 years, Vintage Gardens has persisted through boom and bust but, like so many rose nurseries, it has finally succumbed to economic hard times and will stop selling roses on June 30, 2013.  This comes as a blow to those in the rose community and will mean a very significant loss of resources to lover of old roses who have been buying rare roses from Gregg Lowery for years.  Without Vintage Gardens, my antique rose garden, and many other Bay Area old rose gardens, would not exist.   With their help, I’ve added some 150 plants to my garden over the past 14 years, a true labor of love.

Thanks to the efforts of a group of old rose lovers, Lowery’s collection of several thousand old roses that he developed with Phillip Robinson beginning in the late 1970’s, will be saved.  A new non-profit,  the Friends of Vintage Roses, assisted by the Heritage Rose Foundation, has begun the work of stabilizing and restoring the collection of old and rare roses that once numbered over 5000 varieties.  Gregg will be in El Cerrito this weekend and it’s bound to be an emotional experience.  Stay-tuned to ARThound for more coverage of Vintage Gardens closing.

Léda (1827, damask) also known as Painted Damask, is an Old Garden Rose of unknown origins that appeared in England around 1827.  "Leda" comes from Greek mythology: Leda was the Queen of Sparta and as a maiden was seduced by Zeus disguised as a swan. Out of that union came the beautiful and disastrous Helen of Troy.  Produced in clusters, Leda’s buds are at first a deep, dark red and then open to full white blooms edged richly with pink with a button eye at center and a strong damask fragrance.  The foliage is atypical for a damask rose, being rounded and dusky green, folded up along the midribs.  Photo: Geneva Anderson

Léda (1827, damask) also known as Painted Damask, is an Old Garden Rose of unknown origins that appeared in England around 1827. “Leda” comes from Greek mythology: Leda was the Queen of Sparta and as a maiden was seduced by Zeus disguised as a swan. Out of that union came the beautiful and disastrous Helen of Troy. Produced in clusters, Leda’s buds are at first a deep, dark red and then open to full white blooms edged richly with pink with a button eye at center and a strong damask fragrance. The foliage is atypical for a damask rose, being rounded and dusky green, folded up along the midribs. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Old rose events like the one in El Cerrito sustain those of us who are hungry to see, smell and compare rare roses and to road test the extensive knowledge we’ve gleaned from late-night reading and dog-earring of our rose books.

Annabella DeMattei, founder of Luna Fina, distills special roses in organic brandy and distilled water to create healing and aligning Rose Chakra Flower Essences which she sells in sets or individually.  Each bottle comes with a delightful card, an artwork itself, which explains all about the drops and their properties.

Annabella DeMattei, founder of Luna Fina, distills special roses in organic brandy and distilled water to create healing and aligning Rose Chakra Flower Essences which she sells in sets or individually. Each bottle comes with a delightful card, an artwork itself, which explains all about the drops and their properties.

Another fabulous aspect of El Cerrito’s celebration is the chance to try and buy some very high quality and in some cases, unusual, rose products. Last year, I had a delightful conversation with Annabella DeMattei, Luna Fina founder, who distills special roses in organic brandy and distilled water to create Rose Chakra Flower Essences. Widely used as traditional remedies, flower essences are respected for their abilities to promote physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. Annabella says that each of her essences is attuned to one of the seven chakras and a few drops on a regular basis will provide a unique opportunity to summon forth the full experiential bounty of the chakras, which each hold certain qualities representing aspects of the self. She chooses special roses to distill that correspond with both the color and qualities of each chakra and sells them as sets. These drops have been a huge hit with my friends. Do drop by and explain your issues to Annabella and she’ll rosey you up.  While roaming the vendor area, you have your graden tools sharpened by Eric the Joiner.

Heritage Roses Group: Rose shows require extensive planning, organization and support. The Heritage Roses Group, formed in 1975, which has Bay Area chapter, is a community of those who care about old garden roses, species roses, old or unusual roses – particularly those roses introduced into commerce prior to the year 1867. The group’s purposes are to preserve, enjoy, and share knowledge about the old roses.  Every year, the San Francisco bay Area Chapter sponsors the Celebration of Old Roses on the Sunday after Mother’s Day at the El Cerrito Community Center.   For upcoming roses events that the group or its members sponsor, click here.

Details: El Cerrito’s 31st annual Celebration of Old Roses, Sunday May 18, 2011, from 11 to 3:30 p.m.  El Cerrito Community Center, 7007 Moeser Lane, El Cerrito. There is no admission charge.  Wheelchair accessible.  Ample street parking.  More information:  online flyer: http://www.celebrationofoldroses.org/celebration-of-old-roses.php or phone Kristina Osborn/ The Heritage Roses Group (510) 527-3815

May 17, 2013 Posted by | Gardening | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s International Museum Day and admission is FREE Friday, May 16, at the de Young and Legion of Honor

"Girl With a Pearl Earring," Johannes Vermeer, 1665, 44.5 x 39 cm.

“Girl With a Pearl Earring,” Johannes Vermeer, 1665, 44.5 x 39 cm. The de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park is the first North American venue for the exhibit “Girl with a Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis.”

A fabulous Friday freebie—in celebration of International Museum Day, visitors to the de Young Museum and Legion of Honor can enjoy free general admission all day on Friday, May 17, 2013.   Doors open at 9:30 a.m.  Tickets to see Girl with a Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis and Rembrandt’s Century will be only $15 instead of $25.  Both of these shows close on Sunday June 2, so there are just three viewing weekends remaining.

The de Young will also be open 9:30 am-5:15 pm on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27.  Regular admissions fees do apply.

International Museum Day:  Every year since 1977, International Museum Day is held worldwide sometime around May 18. In 2012, 32,000 museums from 129 countries on five continents participated in the event.

Details:  The de Young Museum is located at Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.

May 16, 2013 Posted by | Art, de Young Museum, Legion of Honor | , , , , | Leave a comment