Friday, April 24, 2015

Poetic Mail and more…

It’s been a busy month sending out mail art and seeing more come in.  Some of the highlights include:

  1. E. Coles sent a poetic piece that asks: “No one can say because neither of you could. She is tough underneath.”  I just want to know how she knew my spatula is orange?
  2. R.F. Côté says “Oui” and I love those Canadian stamps.
  3. Stanislav (aka Virgo) sent a collage piece (front and back shown) that is titled “Ukraine 14-15.”  I also love the colorful envelope and didn’t notice the stamps at first feature the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.
  4. The piece from Torma Cauli featured scraps of Hungarian and a Year of the Goat postage stamp. 
  5. Nico van Hoorn’s red x postcard arrived – it felt like good timing as it complements my own Transcontinental Arrow series.
  6. Send some mail art to May Mail Art in Gunnison, Colorado and see what you get back.
  7. Suus in Mokum knows I love grids and patterns, yes, more grids and patterns.
  8. And speaking of grids, Fleur Helsingor latest piece might very well be my favorite so far.  It is an image of sidewalk grids with a few little squares of metallic paper (the scan doesn’t do it justice).
  9. Finally, is it mail art or an envelope full of poetry? Well certainly poetic pieces from Eduardo Cardoso in Portugal.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Fancy Animals invade Civic Center

The carnival is in town. Taiwan artist Hung Yi’s Fancy Animal Carnival has been installed in San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza.  The whimsical, colorful animals are here until May 7th and adding some much need spring color to the plaza.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Transcontinental Arrows

Did you know that in 1924, across the Western United States, the U.S. Post Office Department installed a series of concrete arrows on the ground as well as steel towers with lighted beacons?  It was called the Transcontinental Airway System and it helped move airmail across the country.  Planes would use the arrows and towers to navigate across the sparsely populated West. 

When I first learned about the arrows, I immediately wanted to rent a car and head east to Nevada and see some for myself.  Not yet, but definitely on the next big road trip.  In the meantime, I am working on a series of hand-painted postcards.  The first ones are being mailed out today.  With elements of the desert, landscape painting, maps and mail art all rolled into one, it’s the perfect art project for me.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

March Mailness

More things from all over the planet, near and far, have been appearing in my P.O. Box:
  1. Cernjul Viviana sends a valentine from Argentina.
  2. Meral Agar’s latest piece sparkles in 3D with plants affixed to the card and then painted.
  3. Tactile and lovely from Dori Singh with the Jeremiah Howell quote: “Letters are the winged messengers that can fly from east to west on embassies of love.”
  4. Fleur Helsingor sent another image capturing the cool sidewalks of Oakland.
  5. A card arrived from Gregg Biggs, the curator of the Museum of Unclaimed Ephemera.
  6. And finally Adrienne Mason’s card R9 came down from British Columbia.

Thank you everyone, it always makes it worth walking up to Clayton Street.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

It’s Shocking How Art Imitates Life

Or is it Life Imitates Art?

Today it was time to visit the Botticelli to Braque exhibit at the de Young Museum and see what sort of goodies they brought over from the National Galleries of Scotland.  I walked into the big special exhibition space with the walls painted in a rich, deep red and of course I immediately could only think of one thing when I saw that room – fallen bimbo-boy Congressman Aaron Schock.  It took some time to get passed that. 

And with walls in mind, this special show with the extra ticket price has a lot of empty walls. Big, empty walls and plenty of room for a show of just 53 paintings.  It seems the work could have been comfortably installed in about 2/3 of the space they used.  This would have allowed for another show, even of some of the less often seen pieces in the de Young’s own collection.  One has to wonder if they are really just using the entire space in order to justify the ticket price.  It’s beginning to feel like those cereal boxes that are half empty.  It keeps happening and I realize the box is the same, but the weight of the contents has been lowered so they can sell less cereal for the same price while making me think I am buying a larger box.

Yes, there are a few exceptional works that I am glad they brought over.  Particularly, Edgar Degas’s, Diego Martelli, (below).  I have a feeling this painting had to have influenced the work of the Bay Area artist Elmer Bischoff. 

Don’t Call Me Shirley

An entire sheet of artist stamps arrived in the P.O. Box this month from San Francisco artist Sally Wurlitzer.  I immediately was drawn to the sheet of stamps from a pure aesthetic point of view.  And then there is the story that tells so much, much more.   From the text printed on the sheet:
Shirley was Kodak’s ideal in film processing.  She possessed the skin tone considered to be “normal” and against which all other skin tones were calibrated during film development.  Samples of Shirley were sent to all film labs in the form of “Shirley Cards.”  The original Shirley was an actual employee of Kodak, but no one knows what happened to her.  Over the years there were many other “Shirleys” who looked very similar to the original.  Eventually Kodak says they caught up with the times and designed a multi-racial Shirley Card.  This did not occur until 1995.
For more information, NPR did a story in 2014 and the Guardian explored the issue in a 2013 story.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

It’s always worth a trip to Sacramento

Muir Woods Redwoods, William S. Rice, c. 1920

Today was the day for day trip up to Sacramento and a return to Crocker Art Museum.  It’s worth it just to revisit their Elmer Bischoffs, Maynard Dixons and tasty Wayne Thiebauds among the highlights of the permanent collection.  But the added bonus is two stellar special exhibits that went up last month and run through May 17th. 
  • Of Cottages and Castles: The Art of California Faience - I can never get enough from the California take on Arts and Crafts Movement a century ago.  The work of ceramic artists William Bragdon and Chauncey Thomas are featured in this show along with tiles designed by the architect Julia Morgan.
  • The Nature of William S. Rice - A two-room show that itself is worth the trip.  A mix of his block prints and watercolors mostly California landscapes with some flora added to the mix.  Influenced by ukiyo-e,  classical Japanese woodblock printing, but applied to California themes