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