Saturday, March 25, 2023

Dance Saturday --- Dat 12/88

Walk: AMC Kabuki (John Wick, Chapter 4)

Distance: 4 miles

So, it wasn't her SF Ballet Saturday.  But it just as well could have been.  To get a break from from the 'esoteria' of art tour planning, Ciwt decided to take in John Wick, Chapter 4.  Her guess is that the movie script for dialogue was no longer than two pages (or about 9 pages of run time).  The remaining 2 hours and 40 minutes is taken up by non-stop fight scenes so skillfully choreographed and executed they were really like high(est!) energy dancing.  Everything, Everywhere, All at Once fans will probably love it; Ciwt dozed off once or twice but was glad for the getaway.

Friday, March 24, 2023

Excuses, Excuses --- Days 12/85, 86 & 87

Walk: After the Storm, SFMOMA, SFMOMA

Distance: 7 miles, 4.3 miles, 5.5 miles

So Ciwt is up to old tricks skipping some CIWT days.  But she's been thinking about her readers and she has a good excuse.  After several very spare covid years in the art tour business, she suddenly has three! tours  coming up.  All on the same day.  And...the museum has completely rehung its art.  

In other words, the dog ate her creative energy........

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Daffies in the Park --- Day 12/83

Walk: Lafayette Park

Distance: 1 mile, Yoga

Ciwt can only dart out between atmospheric rivers to walk in her new park. So today she was surprised and delighted to see the daffodils have sprung up while she's been inside out of the wind and rain.

International Living --- Day 12/82

Walk: Dentist and all over the place

Distance: 6 miles

So one way the management of Ciwt's new building alerts us to building happenings is by posting notices in the elevators.  A few days ago they were about short water shutoffs and today there was this  announcement: Persian New Year.

Having no idea what that was, Ciwt sat down at her computer to learn.  Turns out it is called Nowruz (meaning new day in Persian) and marks the beginning of the Persian or Iranian New Year.  It is celebrated worldwide in March at the spring equinox when winter changes into to spring in the northern hemisphere.   This year Nowruz lasts from March 20 to March 21 in California.

It is considered a holy and joyous occasion and traditional customs of Nowruz include fire and water, ritual dances, gift exchanges, reciting poetry and more. People start preparing for Nowruz with a major spring cleaning of their homes, by buying new clothes and purchasing floweres, particularly hyacinths and tuips. Then on the holiday they welcome family, friends, neighbors and offer feasts always containing seven important elements: Sabzeh (wheatgrass grown in a dish), Samanu (sweet pudding made from wheat germ, Senjed (sweet dry fruit of the lotus tree), Serkeh (Persian vinegar), Seeb (apple), Seer (garlic) and Somaq (sumac).

It is an ancient holiday with deep roots, much lore celebrated all over the world - and, it looks like, some residents of Ciwt's building.  Interesting to learn...

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Joan, Ciwt, SF, Cont. --- Day 12/81

Walk: Park in Rain (it's back)

Distance: 1 mile

Invitation to Joan Brown show "The Self" at Paule Anglim Gallery saved by Ciwt since 2005

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Joan, Ciwt, SF --- Day 12/80

Walk: Park, SF Ballet

Distance: 4 miles

Joan Brown (San Francisco American, 1938-1990), Dancers in a City #2, 1972, enamel paint on canvas and fabric.

When San Francisco artist Joan Brown was a student at the SF Art Institute in the late 60's, one of her teachers, the (wonderful!)  painter Elmer Bischoff, remarked that she was either “a genius or very simple.”

Ciwt doesn't think she was either of these, but she has been taken by Joan Brown's paintings ever since moving to San Francisco in 1969.  Maybe because, besides capturing herself (again, and again and again) Brown also the giddy, fragmented, slightly fin-de-siecle energy that was the San Francisco Ciwt moved to. A lot of us didn't know where we were going, but we were going fast - and in (jazzy) style.  Whimsical, funky, maybe/probably partially lost. 

Sometimes in n Brown's paintings there's an exuberant screwed up-ness and companionships (with dancing partners, books, cats, the shifting Bay waters she swam and almost drowned in) are haunted by hints of loneliness.  To a one they are about herself:  "me, me, me" suggesting to Ciwt that painting ME was the deep ballast that gave her a reliable sense of self. A bit like San Francisco whose identity at the time rested partially on the fact that it wasn't as self-serious as New York.

Or maybe Ciwt just likes Joan Brown because she loved cats and yoga.  Her main cat, Donald, was also a sort of business partner.  The IRS audited Brown with a particular eye on her claim that Donald was a deductible expense.  She, in turn, argued that Donald was a live-in model and therefore his expenses - such as food and veternary care - should be deductible.  After showing them Donald painting after Donald painting, the IRS ruled in Brown's favor, and thereafter Donald became knows as "Donald the Deductible."  

Joan Brown, Joan + Donald, 1982, oil on canvas

Joan Brown, Grey Cat with Madrone and Birch Trees, 1968, enamel on canvas

Joan Brown, Tempus Fuget, 1970, oil, enamel paint, feathers and glitter on canvas

During  the late 1970's Brown became increasingly interested in spirituality and New Age ideas.  (Again, a reflection of San Francisco at that time of the Grateful Dead,  Alan Watts, Werner Erhardt's EST, Esalen, and countless consciousness exploring practices and beliefs). In 1990 she travelled to India and was helping with the installation of one of her art obelicks tragically a concrete turret from the temple floor above collapsed and killed her.  And, as her artistic spark went out, it felt like San Francisco too was losing its own in  the midst of new skyscrapers and tech money.  

Friday, March 17, 2023

Genius Will Out --- Day 12/79

Walk: Hood

Distance: 5.5 miles

Daniele da Volterra, Portrait of Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, ca 1545

As is often the case with people of genius, Michelangelo had squirky ways.  He was often dissatisfied - with himself, others, life in general - and known for his critical, volatile moods.  He apparently lived in virtual squalor rarely changing his clothes or even bathing. It is even said that his clothes had been worn so long they had to be cut from his body when he died  This in spite of the fact that he died a rich man, with a fortune of at least $35 million U.S..

None of these habits or any other offensive ones he may have had bothered his public in the least.  Maybe because of his 'interesting' personality Italians adored Michelangelo, both during his lifetime and after.  He was known as "Il Divino" and everyone was hungry for colorful facts about him.  And it seems another of his quirks was that - even though quite reclusive - Michelangelo privately enjoyed his fame.  It is likely what led him to publish not just one but two full length autobiographies in his lifetime, to paint his opinionated self into the Sistine Chapel ceiling, and to meticulously record the many aspects - from insight into the work to timeline and pay - of the majority of his government and papal projects.

Overall, more is known about Michelangelo's thought, life and work than any other artist from his amazing Renaissance time.  And how great is that!!  Lucky posterity.  

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Genius Vs. Genius --- Day 12/78

Walk: Union Square

Distance: 4 miles, yoga

A couple more Michelangelo facts that Ciwt found interesting.  One today, one tomorrow.

First, that Cistine Chapel ceiling.  

Apparently the main artist who recommended the artist Michelangelo Buonarroti (Italian, 1475-1564) to the Vatican was actually a rival.  His fame was such that, like Michelangelo, he had and has the honor of being known simply by his first name: Raphael (Italian, 1843-1520).  Today Raphael's reputation in art history is essentially on a par with Michelangelo but he must have been uneasy - if not downright jealous  - about the supremely talented younger artist. working in Rome as he was.  

Knowing Michelangelo to be mainly a sculptor, Raphael and a few fellow Renaissance painters convinced Pope Julius to hire Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel.  Their intention was nothing short of                       sabotagin his career.  Actually Michelangelo himself had strong doubts about whether he had the necessary skills for the project and delayed accepting the commission.  As the world knows, eventually Michelangelo did take the job; it took him an uncommonly laborious four years painting lying down on scaffolding but he created one of the world's most magnificient masterpieces.