Sunday, August 31, 2014

Purple Drought --- Day 3/229

Walk: Trader Joe's, Hi-Tech Nails, JCCSF, Laurel Village
Distance: 4 miles and home yoga practice

Watch Crow





And Drain Pipe to Match

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Eternal Flame --- Day 3/228

Walk: Castro Theater
Distance: 3 miles

Such a perfect movie.  Ciwt must have seen it at least 6 times, and every time it is so fresh, almost like the first time.  Acting, Peter O'Toole's incandescent American cinema debut, directing, the desert, the music, the intelligence, the psychological/sexual depth at a time when that wasn't done, completely relevant and superior no matter how much time goes by. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

New Castro Theatre --- Day 3/227

Walk: Mindful Body, Castro
Distance: 3 miles and take yoga class

Ciwt is already looking forward to seeing the great Lawrence of Arabia at the legendary New Castro Theatre tomorrow.  New being 1922 when it was built to replace and greatly enlarge the seating capacity (to 1,400+) of the original Castro Theater built just down the block in 1910.

Some of you might remember it from the 2008 film Milk , but it has many moments of history and became a San Francisco Historical Landmark in 1976.

In the grand tradition of old theaters, it has a luxurious and ornate interior   complete with extravagant ceiling chandelier and 'Mighty Wurlitzer' pipe organ  which is played before films and at events such as the periodic over-the-top sing-a-longs.

What better place to go in  and spend 3 + hours with the beautiful Peter O'Toole Peter O'Toole (T. E. Lawrence), aka by his Lawrence director, David Lean, Florence of Arabia.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Interlude --- Day 3/226

Walk: Mindful Body
Distance: 10 blocks and teach yoga class

Ciwt said goodbye to her Thursday 'new class' students today.  Now a restful interlude until next CIWT.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Doubling Down --- Day 3/225

Walk: Asian Art Museum, Trader Joe's
Distance: 2.4 miles

Ciwt returned to Gorgeous, the Asian Museum/SFMOMA joint show, and is now doubling down on her panning review of the endeavor.  (See Day 3/215) She went this time with a friend, an art lover without quite as much art history type knowledge, just to see how fresh eyes might react to the show.  Ciwt is happy to report her friend found it just as annoying while Ciwt found it even more so on many levels upon second viewing.

In a word (two actually), the show has a passive-aggressive quality to it.  Viewers aren't allowed their own thoughts about the juxtaposition of the pieces.  They are forced by the curators to look in terms of the chosen adjective, Gorgeous, which is further reduced into viewing categories such as: seduction, pose, dress up, in bounds, danger, beyond imperfection, reiteration, fantasy, evocation and on reflection. See what Ciwt means?  Have you ever looked at art - any art - in any of these terms?  Then there is the business of not being able to make much or any connection between the terms and what you are viewing - even if you play the curators' game and try.

Good luck finding signage.  It can be entirely across the room and at an angle from the piece.  To Ciwt it felt like the curators had had an impossible, utterly unwanted task foisted on them, so they put together a 'We'll show them' show.  My friend said at one point it was like when a not very smart person thinks (s)he's being brilliant and you have to listen.  Neither of these scenarios are remotely true, but you get the point.

The real tragedy is the shallowness that is forced on the art.  An exquisitely moving piece of wooden sculpture which might have taken an Asian artisan many years of toil with primitive tools is presented under a category like 'beyond imperfection' - which so overlooks its deep artistic presence and history.  The modern art too can suffer from seeming archly bombastic in the presence of Asian art which comes from a history of tradition, spirituality, myth and discipline to name just a few tenets of Eastern art.

Carved purple quartz Phoenix

The good news is Ciwt and her friend ended the day communing with one of the most comprehensive and masterpiece-filled collections of Asian art in the world.  More another day on that.  Meanwhile enjoy looking at the marvelous, no, Gorgeous!,  works above and below.

                                           Glazed  earthenware Dog, eastern Han dynasty 
                                                      China, 25 to 220 CE

Rock Crystal Buffalo, 1800-1900, Qing dynasty 1

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Ciwt Shallow? Well, sometimes...... Day 3/225

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

Worst: Oh, Lena Dunham. We love your red-carpet risk taking, but this gown, with its ill-fitt

Don't you just know Lena Dunham had some fun when she put together this ensemble for the Emmys last night?  Ciwt saw her recently in some movie about Christmas (which was really about someone's twenty-something alcoholic sister). In it LD had an extended scene where she was sitting on a couch in a really short dress and kept crossing and uncrossing her legs as she talked. No way the camera and audience could avoid her old, stretched out cotton briefs. You know, the way really little girls genuinely love short clothes,bright colors and sparkles and think nothing at all about whether their underwear is showing?  Ciwt thinks LD knows what's she's doing, and quietly works it - well.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Where Are You, David? --- Day 3/224

Walk: SFJCC, Trader Joe's
Distance: 2 miles and take yoga class

Fiberglass copy of Michelangelo's (1475-1564)'s, David on the roofline of Florence Cathedral, November 12, 2010.

Ciwt decided to do a bit of research today on Michelangelo's David (1501-1504) and learned a few things of interest. (There are many so she focused on the statue's early history and placement).

She did not know the marble Michelangelo used for David had been worked on by two other artists.  The first, Agostino di Ducchio, began @1463 to shape the legs, feet and torso as well as roughly block out some drapery and perhaps create the hole between the legs.  He was then dismissed from the project for unknown reasons @1466, and the marble lay untouched in the yard of the Florence Cathedral for 10 years when Antonio Rossellino was commissioned to continue where his predecessor had left off.  His contract turned out to be short-lived, and at that point the marble was left out in the elements for another @25 years.  

This was of no small concern to the Overseers of Works of the Florence Cathedral who had originally commissioned the David as one of twelve biblical figures to be placed on the Cathedral's roof.  The marble was from the small and expensive Cararra quarry and the transportation and artistic outlays were already too significant for the marble to continue lying exposed and unfinished.* After expending more funds raising the huge block from its supine position and interviewing with such artists as Leonardo da Vinci and others, they were finally convinced by a very young (age@25) and virtually unknown artist, Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarotti Simoni, that he had the talent to take the project forward.  He was given a two-year commission in August 1501, began work the next month, and worked virtually steadily for the next two years.

The moment the completed David was seen by church officials and prominent Florentine citizens and artists (da Vinci, Botticelli among them), they knew they were looking at an unprecedented masterpiece.  But it was also immediately recognized that its colossal size and weight prohibited its placement high on a roof.  In fact, it ended up taking forty men four days to move a special cart the short distance from the churchyard to it's new (and controversial) placement outside the Palazzo della Signoria (now Palazzo Vecchio), Florence's City Hall. (Many contemporary renditions of the placement describe it as a sort of grass roots-inspired groundswell from the citizens of Florence who were madly in love with David.  In fact, the public did not see David until it had been placed, and then they did indeed fall madly in love with their new statue as the whole world has done over the centuries).

In 1873 for safe-keeping the original Renaissance masterpiece was moved again into the Accademia Gallery, Florence, where it is continually one of the most viewed and beloved art works in the history of all art.    But for 24 hours on November 12, 2010 a fiberglass replica of the David was installed on the roofline of Florence Cathedral. So, for one day only, the installation revealed the statue the way the Operai who commissioned the work originally expected it to be seen. And isn't it wonderful for all who have had the exquisitely moving opportunity to encounter the David up close from ground level that that didn't happen?

*Cararra marble also contains many microscopic holes that cause it to deteriorate faster than other marbles and there are major concerns today about preserving the David.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Open on Sunday --- Day 3/223

Walk: Pacific Heights
Distance: 2.75 miles and home yoga practice

So Ciwt was contemplating going to some open houses this sunny Sunday in the quasi-country of close in Marin and the quasi-wilderness of West Marin.  Then she thought (for the millionth time) about her country and wilderness skills.

Truth told, Ciwt likes horses when they've been saddled, lawns after they've been groomed, food grown by others and then cooked and served.  She believes in 'buy and hold' and likes the maintenance done by those who are skilled at such things as repairs and house cleaning.  Machines that wash dishes and laundry suit her well as does canned (rather than homemade) pet food and vets close by.  Fallen trees would completely mystify and upset her as would prowlers and neighborly neighbors.

Movement is on Ciwt's 'essentials' list as long as it is healthy, renewing and can be done on her own.  No clubs, finding partners or opponents, setting dates. No running away from territorial crows and bees much less mama bears. Certainly no long stretches and regular games with people around golf courses. Skiing was good, but, Boy, did that take work from pros - resort owners, lift operators, snow blowers and snow cats all night long - so Ciwt could enjoy her groomed runs. And no thank you to snowshoeing, or camping or even hiking in storms of any type.

'Hardy' 'Out-doorsy' Ciwt is gradually admitting to herself she likes safety, security, comfort, convenience, variety and of course walkability - all with quite a bit of style and lots of lovely light. Which brings her to her life right in her own home. She realizes (once again) there is really no need to go to open houses in the 'country,' so she puts on a hat and dark glasses and slips out incognito for awalk around her neighborhood. There she sees some delightful groomed nature and (closed) city houses.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Too Clean Were Her Closets --- Day 3/222

Walk: Mindful Body
Distance: 10 blocks and take yoga class

Accessories?  Just accessories? Have Ciwt's closet capers finally come to this? So weeded out, so up to date, so well-fitting that she doesn't see herself needing any major additions this fall?  Her favorite season?!!

For those who love their retail therapy sessions,
Ciwt says:  Beware the Closet Caper 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Some of 'Enough' --- Day 221

Walk: Mindful Body, Laurel Village, Trader Joe's, Fillmore Street
Distance: 4.5 miles and teach yoga class

Ciwt happened on a section of a poem today that struck her as another small 'sign-like' encounter. Or not.  It's admittedly obscure.  She's probably particularly drawn to all energies might possibly shine a beam into the dynamic opaqueness of change.

with less knowledge is ridiculous,
just ask the Greeks, you get to keep
being a tree but without the branch
that showed the sky your starlike shape?
I don't think so. Steadiness can be useful,
but my loyalty loves a form
that will follow me through changes.

  excerpt from the poem Enough from The Accounts by Katie Peterson @2013

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Slowly but Surely --- Day 3/220

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

The process begins in earnest.....

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Signs --- Day 3/219

Walk: Sausalito, Presidio
Distance: 3.5 miles

Here are the signs Ciwt encountered today: Callie did not want her breakfast and hasn't eaten; Ciwt was 45 minutes late to a lunch with a dear friend; A beloved yoga student wrote to say she has found a new teacher; on her walk her old aerobics teacher rode by on his bike; she found an entirely new path in the Presidio where she has walked for decades.

Let Ciwt decode if you're interested:

1.Callie's 9th life is probably fading after an extra year and 5 months. Ciwt does not look forward to life around here without her.
2. Ciwt is known as a total stickler for promptness so this is out of character.  Along with an aching jaw which Dr. Internet says (in many places) is often a result of stress.
3. Ciwt has been aware her student was bored, thought about talking to her, but decided it was the student's decision to reach.  She guesses her student may partially be picking up Ciwt's deep non-connection with teaching.  Ciwt's energy isn't there, she isn't learning or growing or challenged.  It has been coming for quite a while and now perhaps it is unmasking even in her oldest class.  She was happy for her student; and, after the sadness,  now feels a bit more free to move on herself.
4. Her old aerobics teacher had a heart operation then a heart attack then a serious hip replacement with a multi-year complicated recovery.  Ciwt was thrilled today to see him looking so fit on his bike, and she has certainly never been the exercise fanatic he is.  However it reminded her that repetitive exercise over many years leads to overuse of ligaments, tendons, and other parts of the body. And putting out energy that isn't really there has its effects on body and spirit.

You probably know where Ciwt is heading with this.  She is getting nearer to closing the door slowly on her yoga teaching and seeing what other doors might open when she does.

The good news of course is that, just as she was really grappling with these signs, she realized she was walking a Presidio path she didn't know existed.  

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Some Thoughts on Collecting: Signatures --- Day 3/218

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

Cornelis de Baellieur (Belgiun, 1607-1671), Interior of a Collectors Gallery of Paintings and Objets d' Art, o/c

Building an outstanding collection - of anything - is a long and complex process - as well as a joyous 'labor of love.' The best can take lifetimes and even these are culled through for early mistakes or changes in direction, shaped and re-shaped.  This applies to individual collectors as well as institutions for which decisions are usually a more collective endeavor.

Mistakes are usually made along the way. A common one for beginning collectors is to 'buy signatures.'

This is the term applied when a collector hasn't acquired sufficient knowledge. Such a collector hasn't developed the 'discerning eye' that comes from time spent with the art, conversations with knowledgeable advisers such as gallery owners, museum personnel, other collectors, maybe even the artists themselves - and time spent with themselves assimilating this information and sensing how it is impacting their desired goals.

Often at the beginning collectors aren't aware that most artists go through a series of stages (some short-, others long-lived) before arriving at the peak of their style.  Further, the artist's personal idea of their peak can be quite different from what the public favors and comes to have enduring value.
There is a good example of this right here in CIWT on Days 344-46.  These entries concern Andre Derain's shift from Fauvism (the style for which he is best regarded historically):

AndrĂ© Derain. (French, 1880-1954).                                                                     
Bridge over the Riou. 1906. Oil on canvas
to the much less regarded Realism: preferred by the artist.
                                                                Andre Derain. (Fr,1880- 1954) 
                                                                                     The Rehearsal, 1933. O/c

But more and more the collector's eye as well as art buying sense is cultivated and (s)he is increasingly set free to enjoy the thrilling, life-enriching adventure of collecting.

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Few Rothko Thoughts --- Day 3/217

Walk: No
Distance: 0 but good home yoga practice

An installation view of "Gorgeous," mixing Asian Art Museum and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art pieces, features Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (Quanyin) (1600-1700), gilt bronze (left), and Mark Rothko's "No. 14, 1960," oil on canvas. Photo: Kaz Tsuruta, Asian Art Museum, S.f.
Mark Rothko "Number 14, 1960" oil near Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (Quanyin) (1600-1700).

The lovely Mark Rothko (1903-1970) painting from the permanent collection of SFMOMA has a well-deserved place of honor in the current Gorgeous show at the Asian Art Museum (see Day 3/214 for Ciwt's thoughts on that show). Seeing it placed so perfectly for a long meditative viewing put Ciwt in mind of the two other Rothko paintings currently on museum display in San Francisco. They are both at the de Young.

One is, in Ciwt's (Rothko late period loving) eyes, a sort of embarrassment to that museum.  Getting it out of the way: Mark Rothko, Untitled
Untitled, 1949, oil on canvas

The other is part of the important Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Collection visiting from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.  It was painted in the year (perhaps months) before Rothko committed suicide.

Mark Rothko, Untitled, 1969. Oil on canvas. National Gallery of Art, Washington, collection of Robert and Jane Meyerhoff. © 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Untitled, 1969, oil on canvas

It is said the Meyerhoffs were after a more colorful Rothko when they went to his studio to buy, but were told by him "This is what I am selling now."

Here are some of the paintings Ciwt saw when living in New York and D.C. after college.  They captured the sun - no the complete energy of the solar system - and were at once soothing and elating, containing joy and, as with all things, its opposite.  All things and their opposites.  Never garish or intrusive, in a darkened room they had captured so much true energy they emitted a soft, ethereal glow. They came, as far as Ciwt could tell, from Rothko's soul and reached hers - as they did many others. Their luminous spirituality often moved people to tears; this deep receptivity included Ciwt and the artist himself.  He was famously quoted: The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when I painted them.  And if you, as you say, are moved only by their color relationships, then you miss the point! 



                                         Number 8, 1952
Even the 'dark' ones emitted radiant energy:
                                             Untitled, 1959

Black on Maroon, 1959

It is this way in which colors were brought together in washes, rough strokes, large and small masses until they became transcendent spiritual and emotional creations that is Rothko's great and unique achievement.  It is this which one who has been touched by his art has embedded in her memory.

So when Ciwt sees one - just one - Rothko painting hanging in the de Young permanent collection and it is from an earlier period when his washy brush work is beginning to emerge but he is still working with European influenced surrealist images and colors, it makes her sad.  Rothko hasn't become Rothko yet in the de Young painting, and viewers who only see this one in a museum setting are, in Ciwt's opinion, being done a disservice. Such a painting would be educational in a retrospective where one could see the entirety of Rothko's artistic development.  But, in this single work case, the uninitiated viewer will likely walk away thinking they know Rothko's work, and perhaps never again encounter or even learn of the creations for which he is best, internationally and deservedly known.

Obviously, there is great sadness for Ciwt and everyone - certainly the artist - in the Meyerhoff Rothko. In 1968 Rothko had been diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm but continued to smoke and drink heavily, avoid exercise and eat unhealthily in spite of doctors' orders. His troubled marriage became increasingly so compounded by his poor health, impotence resulting from the aneurysm, nervousness, restlessness and general sense of agitation.  On New Year's Day 1969, he and his wife separated, he moved into his studio where he painted the Meyerhoff among other works and was found dead a little over a year later. These are the actual facts, but to Ciwt and other lovers of Rothko's pictures, you don't need to know them; his Meyerhoff painting and his other dark ones toward the end tell it all. As the work from the 1950's and earlier 60's captured spiritual life, these paintings capture something akin to spiritual death.  Possibly because Rothko could be nothing but authentic until the end.