Tuesday, August 23, 2016

What A Card --- Day 5/185

Walk: Van Ness, Fillmore errands, Trader Joe's
Distance: 4 miles, home yoga

[Edward Ruscha's business card]

This is the business card Ed Ruscha printed, carried and handed out in the early 60's.  Ciwt likes it a lot.  Ruscha had only arrived in L.A.to attend art school - by car of course - a few years before.  He was about 25, and the 60's were not the era when everyone - muchless young artists - carried business cards.  (That was the 80's.  Remember all those self-promotion pamphlets and stationery?)

What is discretely evident already in his card is Ruscha's restless ambition, his absolute (and humorous) self-confidence and his lifelong love of words which he loved the slosh of on his cheeks and tongue.

Also here already is Ruscha's on-going relationship with text and image. Text as image, as subject, as a character in its own right.  Text as a font he eventually invented and calls Boy Scout Utility Modern.  Image result for ruscha  What a great name for a typeface!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Where It Begins --- Day 5/184

Walk: No, Needed to be home to talk to CA tax people (all good now!) plus cold, wind, the usual
Distance: 0, Home Yoga

Cassius Marcellus Coolidge, Poker Game, 1894, o/c, 41.6" x 50"

Since Ciwt was lucky to grow up in some very nice places, readers might think she was surrounded by the finest of art works.  Well...

The other day when she was stuck playing bridge with scores of women in a well-appointed but stuffy club room, Ciwt's memory went to a place she'd totally forgotten.  Maybe on purpose.  The blue painted downstairs amusement room in one of her childhood houses.

Along those Yale blue walls were brown wood framed prints of Dogs Playing Poker perhaps the entire series of sixteen.  The original paintings (of eleven anthropomorphized dogs altogether) had been commissioned by Brown & Bigelow - are you ready? - to advertise cigars.  It gets worse: The prints have become well known in the United States as examples of 'collective schlock,' 'pop ephemera' and 'working class taste in home decoration.'

The good news Ciwt guesses is 1. even then as a young girl who loved dogs she had the sensibility to think the prints were weird, 2. she was so ripe for good art that she almost fell out of her chair when she was exposed to her first history of art slides.  From that class and those slides on, it was Goodbye Dogs, Hello Fine Art.

Our (art) adventures begin where they begin. Too bad, though, that Ciwt's family didn't have Coolidge's original painting above. It sold in a 2015 Sotheby's auction for $658,000.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Deliveries --- Day 5/183

Walk: No
Distance: 0, Home Yoga

Diego Rivera (Mexican, 1886-1957), The Flower Carrier, 1935, oil and tempera on Masonite, 48" x 47 3/4"

The other day Ciwt was expecting a delivery of a fairly expensive garment she'd ordered on line.  As the day went into evening, she kept going to her front door to see if the package was there.  Finally, just before going to bed she looked one more time - and there it was on her doorstep.  At 10 p.m. - which meant that someone had to drive alone in the dark of night to bring Ciwt a luxury item she had effortlessly ordered on her computer.  Ciwt felt relieved the delivery was safe, but, more than anything now, she felt forlorn and guilty. (Perhaps needlessly, it might be said, because the driver could have been someone like a student who was delighted to have part time work that suited a student's schedule).

So, what does Ciwt's new delivery have to do Diego Rivera's The Flower Carrier painting above? It's a much reproduced image and a painting she has seen many times at its artistic home right here in San Francisco.  But the last time she walked past it, she realized she was feeling that same sadness and guilt from the evening home delivery.

And this of course goes to Rivera's brilliant ability to tell seemingly simple stories with an economy of form and color that gives them powerful, transcendent meaning.  Here we see two dark-skinned, big-boned individuals.  The small man's burden is so heavy he must rely on the assistance of the woman to hold it as he struggles to stand. Every strand of the basket, every leaf and even each blade of grass is earthy and highly individualized.  This is not a cozy man and nature painting.

And what is in the basket? Bunches and bunches and bunches of beautiful flowers.  Flowers for ladies' hair, for extravagant arrangements on sideboards and tables of restaurants and haciendas. Flowers for enjoyment and visual delight - but not for these laborers who don't - can't actually - relate to them that in way at all. Flowers for people like Ciwt.

Rivera's message is not hidden, nor is it bracketed by the era in which he painted.  It poses timeless, uncomfortable realities of economic and class differences that go back to the beginning of human societies and are in every headline today.  Realities that Ciwt would just as soon not dwell on because they make her feel forlorn and guilty.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Sunflower Taxes --- Day 5/182

Walk: No (Busy 'communicating' with the CA FTB)
Distance: A few blocks, home yoga

Our tax board cashed but didn't credit Ciwt's last 2015 installment. So, even though she has paid and they have her money as well as photo copies of all her checks, they ignore her communications and keep coming after her for 'tax payment due.' Scary.  Meanwhile Ciwt lays in flowers to stay sunny.

Friday, August 19, 2016

'Member those 50's? --- Day 5/181

Walk:  Run actually because the bus was so slow, Embarcadero Cinema (Indignation) and Union Square
Distance: 4 miles (2 running to get to movie on time - then sat in wet clothes hoping not to get a 'summer' cold.  Such Indignity!)

Ciwt can't believe she has never read or listened to a Philip Roth book.  Her loss.  She has seen a few film adaptations of them beginning many years ago with Goodbye Columbus which she remembers liking. Of course she has no idea how close it stuck to the book.

Same goes for Indignation which she saw and quite liked today. Very good acting but a bit more downbeat than Ciwt was expecting.  One Roth reader commented that the movie, while good, did not capture the clever fluidity of Roth's movement between humor and profundity.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Intentional Whiff --- Day 5/180

Walk: Marin Driving Day
Distance: A few blocks, Home Yoga

Image result for golf and bad weather
Image result for golf and bad weather
Image result for golf and bad weather

So the big question around cold, windy, foggy San Francisco is when Ciwt will submit her (second and) final regrets to local golf club. (PS - For non-golfers, a round of golf takes at least 3 hours).

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Ciwt in the Middle --- Day 5/179

Walk: Sundance Kabuki (Hell or High Water - x 2)
Distance: 2 miles, home yoga

So, turns out Ciwt isn't good with The Middle.  She likes to start things: the creativity, the challenge, the energy and focus that comes with those.  And, though not pleasant and more difficult, she likes finishing and moving on.  Sometimes it takes her a (long) while, but she is a believer in the old 'close one door, another opens' adage.

But then there is The Middle which baffles Ciwt, gets her down, makes her anxious actually. Right now, The Middle is happening with her new little business, her club, Callie and other decisions.  The Middle is probably akin to the 'grey area,' which isn't a comfortable place for Ciwt either.  She likes Yes/Start or No/Finish.  She doesn't trust or particularly grasp "Maybe/Let the Middle play out." Some voice tells her it won't, that Maybe and The Middle will just eat up time and not yield any results.  So Ciwt starts marching in place with kind of a hopeless sense of things - not knowing what to do, just anxiously waiting.

Of course what is at play in The Middle are things like Trust, Control, Patience.  Oh, dear.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Brain at Play Today --- Day 5/178

Walk: CPMC, Van Ness
Distance: 4.5 miles

Lichtenstein (Figures with Sunset, 1978),  Oldenburg and van Bruggen (Geometric Apple Core, 1991) at SFMOMA