Saturday, May 31, 2014

Cold in July and at the End of May --- Day 3/138

Walk: Opera Plaza Cinema (Cold in July), MAC clothing
Distance: 4 miles

NOTHING INTO SOMETHING You'll be glad you stuck through the entire movie

Escaped into Cold in July, a B-movie good enough, violent/comedy/thriller. Michael C. Hall did a good job with an oddish role, Sam Shepard with his chill body language and perfect vocal timing never disappoints. The best part was an unexpected Don Johnson (Ciwt didn't know he was in it) who has lost all the post-Miami Vice weight and rides around duded up in a bright red Caddy convertible sort of stealing the movie.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Sculpture on my Mind Pt. 2: Mark di Suvero at Crissy Field --- Day 3/137

Walk: Mindful Body, Union Square
Distance: 1.5 miles and take yoga class

Having 'lived with' her visit to Mark di Suvero's works on temporary exhibition at Crissy Field, Ciwt is feeling removed from a full and relate-able understanding.  This goes partially to Ciwt's more limited grasp of the history of sculpture and knowledge of the demands involved in working with large slabs of metal.  But the immense size of di Suvero's works comes into play as well, and Ciwt is sure the most important thing she did was to come close, to ground level with the works where she could get a truer sense of the weight and scale that is such an integral part of their essence. "Figolu" (2005 11) foreground, "Huru" (1984 85) in the background, steel by Mark di Suvero

installation view of "Mark di Suvero at Crissy Field" May 22, 2013 May 26, 2014; Photo: Matthew Millman, © Matthew Millman
             Mark di Suvero, Figolu (2005-11) foreground, Huru (1984-85), background, steel

di Suvero began showing in the late 1950's and is one of the most important artists to come out of the Abstract Expressionist movement that included artists such as Franz Kline:  and di Suvero's San Francisco boyhood friend Richard Serra: .
He was a pioneer in using technology to work with steel. And he is known as an activist for peace as well as artistic causes.  His sculpture Mother Peace is included in the Crissy Field installation and on display in the Bay Area for the first time since its removal was forced by controversy which ensued when it was displayed - with its prominent peace symbol -in front of the Alameda County Courthouse in 1974 at the height of the Vietnam War.
Mother Peace (1969-70)

Clearly Ciwt realized as she walked around and between the works they are meant to be seen close enough so that their 'realness' is encountered.  There is no artifice, no hidden joinings, no contrived shapes. The steel is painted straight-forward or burnished or simply raw. The works are visibly manufactured, man-made, nothing other worldly - man is present. But up close they do have unique presences and personalities.  The energy of Something has been put at temporary stasis.

Figolu (2005-11)
                         Magma (2008-12)

The sculptures come in somatically, you sense them rather than just see them by feeling your own size, weight and scale next to them.  They are immediate and incomprehensible at once.  Not beautiful, human and beyond, here but energetically beyond. Sublime maybe; di Suvero got his degree at Berkeley in Philosophy in which the aesthetics of the Sublime is contemplated.

"Mark di Suvero at Crissy Field," an off-site SFMOMA project, displays di Suvero's ability to work large without grandiloquence. Photo: Matthew Millman, © Matthew Millman
Mark di Suvero Installation at Crissy Field

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Sculpture on my Mind - Pt. 1 --- Day 3/136 (B)

Walk: The Plant at Strawberry, Mindful Body
Distance: 1 mile and take yoga class

Confession: Ciwt is pretty limited in her understanding/appreciation of sculpture.  She resonates to the 'emotional' ones like Michelangelo's Pieta, the physical beauty ones like his David, and, of course the graceful, simplified and energetic ones of Henry Moore, Jean Arp , Alexander Calder , Constantin Brancusi and other sculptors like David Smith  . Not to mention the 'primitives' .

But sculpture of other types fail to elicit much response in Ciwt.  Usually there is acceptance, Ciwt doesn't resist/condemn as many do.  She just sort of looks, acknowledges what is there, and on she goes.  Such is the case with the works of Mark di Suvero, a New York dwelling artist with deep ties to the Bay Area, whose works are enjoying a temporary installation on Crissy Field while our SF MOMA is being remodeled.  When Bay Area people think of di Suvero, their minds often go to his sculpture, Pax Jerusalemme (1999) which is prominently installed behind the fountain at our Palace of the Legion of Honor Museum.    Yesterday Ciwt took a closer look at the Crissy Field works, is still 'assimilating' and will see what bubbles up tomorrow.  Stay tuned..

Tall and Thin Quiz --- Day 3/136

Walk: Crissy Field, Trader Joe's
Distance: 5 miles

How many tall and thin objects do you see here?  (Ciwt sees 5 for sure)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Other Midwest Memories ---- Day 3/135

Walk: Laurel Village, Mindful Body
Distance: 2 miles and teach yoga class

Just when Ciwt was feeling disgruntled by all the San Francisco wind, she saw this video. My father would have nothing of the "Go to the Northeast corner of your basement" warnings so we sat on the screen porch watching black clouds bouncing through the sky.  Occasionally a few touched down near -but not on- our house.  My anxiety level was through the roof (which luckily was still there).  Disgruntled is Fine!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day, 2014 --- Day 3/134

Walk: JCCSF, Mindful Body
Distance: 2.5 miles and take 2 yoga classes (ropes and restorative)

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Just Twirling Around --- Day 3/133

Walk: Inverness Open Studios, Mindful Body
Distance: 2 miles and take yoga class

Yo-yo's have come a long way since Ciwt would unfurl her red/yellow Duncan and it would just sort of hang down at the end of the string.  No rocking the baby or walking the dog much less 'round the world flourish for her.

Turns out yo-yo's now come with a ball bearing inside which allows them to spin indefinitely and leads to perform prolonged, complicated tricks Ciwt wouldn't even remember much less be able to execute. And this has lead to a fiercely competive national and international yo-yo circuit.

Some of the biggest names gathered at the Golden Gate Park bandshell recently for the 2014 Bay Area Yo-Yo Championship.  Biggest regional competition with a $1,500 cash prize and vision-blurring, string twisting tricks galore.  Completely Cool video of the event highly recommended.

Mike Marshall of Chico demonstrates the "Top Spin " trick, during the 17th annual 2014 Bay Area Classic yo-yo contest at the bandshell in Golden Gate Park , Calif., on Saturday May 24, 2014. The Bay Area Classic yo-yo contest is one of the longest-running regional yo-yo contests in the United States, and has garnered the respect and admiration of Skilled Players from around the world. Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle Tessa Piccillo, 17 of Castro Valley, practices her tricks before her performance at the 17th annual 2014 Bay Area Classic yo-yo contest at the bandshell in Golden Gate Park , Calif., on Saturday May 24, 2014. The Bay Area Classic yo-yo contest is one of the longest-running regional yo-yo contests in the United States, and has garnered the respect and admiration of Skilled Players from around the world. Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle
Takaki Clark of Valley Springs, Ca. performs during the 17th annual 2014 Bay Area Classic yo-yo contest at the bandshell in Golden Gate Park , Calif., on Saturday May 24, 2014. The Bay Area Classic yo-yo contest is one of the longest-running regional yo-yo contests in the United States, and has garnered the respect and admiration of Skilled Players from around the world. Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Chocolate Milkshake with That, Please --- Day 3/132

Walk: Sundance Kabuki (Chef)
Distance: 2 miles and small home yoga practice

Too hungry to write.  Just saw a sharply written, charming movie with constant close ups of the Most Delicious (I'm sure) grilled cheese sandwich and a full array of many other comfort foods we're supposed to be denying ourselves these days.  Yum!!!  

Friday, May 23, 2014

Quelques Chiens Impressionnistes --- Day 3/131

Walk: Mindful Body
Distance: 8 blocks and take yoga class

Our yoga teacher brought his handsome miniature long-haired dachshund to the studio today which put Ciwt in mind of a few dogs she'd recently seen in the Intimate Impressionism show.

Ciwt readers might remember Bonnard's charming street dogs:

Pierre Bonnard, Two Dogs in a Deserted Street, ca. 1894, oil on wood

In his later years Camille Corot (Fr. 1796-1875) was frequently confined to his Paris studio due to illness.  In this portrait of his studio - which is also a visual summary of his artistic career - we see the dog that provided him with company.

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, The Artist's Studio, ca. 1868, oil on wood

Edouard Manet (Fr. 1832-1883), capturing the distinct spirits and personalities of two dogs in the show, was clearly a friend of dogs.

Edouard Manet, A King Charles Spaniel, ca. 1866, oil on linen

And Ciwt's favorite:

Edouard Manet, Tama the Japanese Dog, ca. 1875, oil on canvas

Tama was brought back from Asia by Henri Cernuschi who traveled throughout East Asia for three years.  The Asian art collection he accumulated during this tour was so extensive he used it to found the Musee Cernushchi in Paris.  He also had his beloved Tama painted numerous times, but Ciwt doesn't think anyone could have captured Tama's self-assured vitality better than Manet. For instance, compare his Tara with one of Renoir's:
                               Tama the japanese dog - Pierre-Auguste Renoir
                                               Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Tama the Japanese Dog, ca 1876

Thursday, May 22, 2014

And the Art Goes On --- Day 3/130

Walk: Corte Madera, Sacramento Street, Trader Joe's
Distance: 2.5 miles and tiny yoga practice

Ciwt was really interested to see the similarities of two paintings in the current Intimate Impressionism show.  The first was by the Dutch landscape artist Johan Barthold Jongkind:

Most noteworthy here to Ciwt was that last sentence of the signage beside The Towpath:  Along with Eugene Boudin, Jongkind was an important influence on the young Claude Monet, who later in life, credited him with "the final education of my eye."  Because later in the show she encountered this painting which is excellent in its own right for the lighting, capture of feel, everyday subject matter - but also it seems to me, a supreme homage to an artist who attracted and taught the artist in him.

No mention of Jongkind in the signage, but surely he was there in Monet's hand and eye.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Alone in the Dark with (Impossible) Light --- Day 3/129

Walk: Legion of Honor, Balboa Theater, Union Square
Distance: 3 miles

A film I wanted to see at our recent Film Festival was sold out so I thought I'd missed it.  But it is playing a very limited engagement at a neighborhood theater, and today's the last day.  So I - alone in the city as it turned out - rearranged plans  to get there.  
(Kind of an interesting experience having a theater to yourself).

The movie was a documentary on the artistic installation of lights on a 1.5 mile stretch of our Bay Bridge.  The title is Impossible Light and it is essentially an in-depth study of the many forces that went into the 'Cristo' type endeavor of installing 25,000 LED lights to make that section of the Bay Bridge an abstract fine art sculpture.  It follows all the 'players' -  the artist (Leo Villareal), the Bridge authorities, the technological engineers and the Bridge engineers, the fund raiser, the local politicians.  A true in depth exposition of the variables and difficulties involved in creating and funding a monumental art work that echoes all such endeavors from the beginning of civilization.  The Great Wall, Pyramids, Roman Colosseum,  Eiffel Tower, virtually all public structures everywhere.  This was one San Francisco version and quite informative about such a process.

The question that isn't in the movie is the one Ciwt - and who knows how many others - has had from the beginning:  Is it 'right' for a group of dreamers and artists with funding to turn a utilitarian structure, a visible part of the infrastructure and daily lives of an entire urban area, into a work of art?  Does that usurp for a small (but powerful and monied) group what belongs to everyone and has meaning to each in his/her own way and turn it into something cute, pretty, arty?  What if - and it is entirely possible with all the money hence clout being created here - more and more office buildings, historical structures, edifices of their choice - were similarly converted to Art?  Our natural - and truly wondrous beauty - is one thing; gilding that with cute lights and whatever is quite another.

All that said, the Bay Bridge light show is absolutely meditative, lovely, an artistic and engineering wonder and I believe a visual enhancement to our area.  (As an aside, I also felt Cristo's orange gates in Central Park were so beautiful just pictures of them made me teary. But many New Yorkers felt they defaced the landscape.  So there you go.) 

Apparently the original contract for the Bay Bridge lights is for two years.  (Cristo's Gates were up for 15 days, which must have been the length of his and Jeanne-Claude's contract). But a campaign is underway to find funding to keep The Bay Lights until 2026.

Much for Ciwt to think about alone in the dark.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tea, anyone? --- Day 3/128

Walk: The Mindful Body
Distance: 10 Blocks and teach yoga class

File:Nancy Viscountess Astor by John Singer Sargent.jpeg
John Singer Sargent, Mrs. Waldorf Astor, 1908-09, @3' x 5', o/c

Mrs. Waldorf Astor, or Nancy Viscountess Astor, nee Nancy Langhorne.  Don't you just love that name?!  Anyway, Ciwt does along with her, of course, privileged life.  Among other things, she was the first woman Member of Parliament.  And that famous exchange between her and Winston Churchill really did happen during a weekend house party at Blenheim Castle in the early 1930's:

Lady Astor:  Sir Winston, if I were married to you, I would put poison in your tea.
Winston Churchill:  Lady Astor, if I were married to you, I would drink it.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Recipe for French Disaster --- Day 3/127

Walk: JCCSF, Trader Joe's, Fillmore Street, Hi-Tech Nails
Distance: 3.5 miles and take yoga class

John Singer Sargent, Portrait of Madame X (aka, Madame Pierre Gautreau), 1884, 7' 8" x 3' 7", o/c

Take for a model a sophisticated, 'professional beauty' socialite in fin-de-siecle Paris.  Paint her large in a provocative pose of a distinctly self-possessed, upper-class sort.  Enter the painting in the Salon and wait for the French bourgeoisie to flock to you, the artist, for portrait commissions.

This was John Singer Sargent's long-term career thinking when he persuaded the equally socially ambitious, ex-patriot socialite Virginie Amelie Avegno Gautreau to pose for him.  She was already renown for her exotic beauty which she enhanced with lavender body powder making the appearance of her skin exceedingly light. But when the portrait was unveiled at the Salon, the Parisians were scandalized, finding the subject tawdry and erotic with her cinched waist, severe profile, haughtily provocative pose and, worst of all, shoulder strap draping down onto her upper arm.  (This last ghastly effrontery was in fact later painted out to assuage the shocked viewing public). The ambitions of both sitter and artist were utterly dashed; Gautreau was humiliated and Sargent was so reviled as an artist that he received no commissions and left Paris in artistic disgrace.

To this day, when lists of the most notorious art works are compiled, Madame X is usually on it.

Of course both parties involved were talented survivors.  Gautreau continued her socialite ventures and went on to have her portrait painted several more times.  One seven years later by Gustave Courtois had all the same elements of Sargent's portrait: face in profile, style of dress, and even the hanging strap.  This time French tastes (for which proverbially there is no accounting) had changed, and the portrait was well received by the public.

John Singer Sargent came to be considered "the leading portrait painter of his generation." And in England and America, ironically, his career was probably established and enhanced by the notoriety of the scandalous Madame X.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Why You Wanted To Painted by Renoir --- Day 3/126

Walk: Up and Down Stairs
Distance: ? and home yoga practice

                             Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Madame Henriot, ca 1876, 25 7/8in x 19 1/2in, o/c

The model, actress and friend of Renoir, Nini Lopez.  

Lest Ciwt not be cruel, it is known that Lopez was thrilled with all of Renoir's portraits of her.  She aspired to be an actress and was happy to have such exposure. Known for being serious and punctual, the young woman from Montmartre became Renoir's favorite model between 1875 and 1879, appearing in at least fourteen paintings.

The artist and model benefited each other with Lopez being highly instrumental in Renoir earning prestigious (and much needed!) commissions.  Renoir also had high hopes and protective wishes for Lopez and wished his work to bring her career and personal success - particularly a bourgeois marriage.  Alas Lopez rose only to a minor acting career and in 1877, much to the dismay of the artist and her mother, she married a third-rate actor in the Montmartre theatre and disappeared from his paintings.  But during the six years she posed for the artist, Nini Lopez  incarnated Renoir's feminine ideal, filled with happiness and joy of life.


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Calandrinia in Bloom and One "Look at Me!" Maple Leaf --- Day 3/125

Walk: Mindful Body
Distance: 1 mile and take yoga class


PS - Brad Rutter won the Jeopardy Battle of the Decades...

Friday, May 16, 2014

Herding Yogis and Yoginis --- Day 3/124

Walk: Asian Art Museum (Yoga: The Art of Transformation)
Distance: 5 miles

Back for a second viewing and Docent tour with friends at the Yoga Art show that will close shortly.  The docent gave a thumbnail history of that sprawling, serpentine phenomenon which penetrated all the religions, governments, societies of the Asian continent.

In brief:
1.Yoga began as a simple practice to relieve the enormous tensions of living in ancient society.  It was done in nature.
2.Temples began being built and decorated by chosen artists.  These were often very small and simple so that the practitioner could sit and be seen before the god/goddess while practicing.
3. Monasteries came into existence which resulted in yoga becoming more organized, with a stronger power structure.  Pilgrimages began.  Political leaders began to blend with the yoga monasteries. Armies were assembled and trained.  Those soldiers were not kept busy full time so they hired themselves out as mercenaries.  The decadence of yoga began.
4. Westerners came to the East and feared the power of yoga. One of the strategies of dis-empowering yoga was to present it back in the West (England, France, Italy, etc) as more or less a freak show.  Eg, pictures of yogis in loin cloths on beds of nails were distributed and yoga 'freaks' traveled in carnival settings.
5. In the 1900's there was a revival when yoga leaders largely from India came to the United States and introduced yoga philosophy, history, asanas to Western audiences.  Thus began the yoga that we in the West today understand as yoga.

In truth the history of yoga - like the tree above - is very, very, very Shmoo-like, so I think she did a remarkable job condensing it into this format.  Namaste.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Diversions --- Day 3/123

Walk: Corte Madera, Fillmore Street
Distance: 2+ miles and home yoga practice

Ciwt is pretty sure Callie wouldn't do this for her: 
                                                                           Tara chasing away dog that attacked 'her' boy on a trike 


Jeopardy Update:  My three favorites are in the finals:


PS - Ciwt has the sneaking, sad sense that with the Battle of the Decades over, Alex's retirement might not be far behind.  Hope to be completely wrong, next on that...