Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Take Two --- Day 4/244

Walk: Sundance Kabuki (Sicario)
Distance: 2 miles and small yoga

Denis Villeneuve, viewfinder in hand, and Robert Deakins on the set of “Sicario”
Denis Villeneuve (Director) and Roger Deakins (Cinematographer) of Sicario

Sicario is a movie that works even better the second time.  At least it did for Ciwt.  She knew where it was going so she could observe the details.  And she could stop wishing for more back story on the main characters because the movie is ultimately about the random alliances forged by circumstance.

Mostly she could savor the starkly expansive cinematography that tells so much of Sicario's story. The famed and impressive English cinematographer Roger Deakins* looks squarely at the drug running environment at our US-Mexican border and shoots everything wide and clear - every detail of the impersonal interiors, every particle of falling dust, every pock mark on the gnarled, naked landscape, every expression on the actors' faces.  (That last is important because Sicario is not a movie about talking).  In simple, stylish realism Deakins clarifies everything the viewer wants to see as well all the grisly, downer things she needs to see but would rather not.

Very good acting and score.  If you liked No Country for Old Men, respected the documentary Cartel Land or have any interest in the realities of that supposedly effective border fence we keep hearing about, Ciwt recommends Sicario - twice.

Benicio del Toro, Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, the three excellent leads of Sicario (in Cannes and not in the least how they looked in the movie)

*Roger Deakins: Academy Award for Best Cinematography  (Hopefully, this year he'll be nominated and win)
CIWT:  So, is cinematography 'Fine Art?'   Stay tuned.......................

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Company --- Day 4/243

Walk: JCC, Restocking errands
Distance: 4.5 miles and yoga class

Good company while Ciwt's thoughts gather.

Monday, September 28, 2015

San Francisco Fall --- Day 4/242

Walk: Monday errands, Sundance Kabuki (Sicario  A-)
Distance: 4 miles and home yoga

Image result for fall in san francisco

Mountain Lake

It's more subtle out here, but we do have it.  

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Resting in Controversy -- Day 4/241

Walk: Cinema Club (Labyrinth of Lies), Trader Joe's 
Distance: 3 miles, wee yoga

Her image is famous, but Ciwt is curious: did you like yesterday's painting (Day 4/240)?  Many do, many don't.  Here she is again along with a bit more information about this famous image.

Frederic Leighton, Flaming Jane, 1895  , 47" x 47", oil on canvas

This painting by the English classical painter, Frederic Leighton, is considered his masterpiece, has been widely reproduced in posters and  is beloved by many.  So why did Flaming Jane go unsold for its reserve price at auction in 1960 allowing a London dealer (The Maas Gallery) to acquire it for $140? ($840 in today's dollars)?

For one thing, 1960 (the Abstract Expressionist, Pop Art, Op Art, Color Field Art among other modern movements Era) was not the time to be selling Victorian art.  In view of the demand for Rothko, Kline, Stella, Warhol, Rauschenberg, Pollack et al, there was no demand for a stiff, formal, classically painted nymph/goddess figure.  But also the painting was controversial in the eyes of many in its own right.  The posture was questioned - particularly the positioning and size of the figure's right arm and thigh - as was the reality of the flow of the diaphanous fabric. More damning were the many English critics who called it kitsch.

But the painting's supporters feel the transparent material is very real.  They hail the stunningly rich colors, perfectly recreated marble surround and Leighton's use of natural light, allowing the painting to be lit by the molten gold of the sunset.  In other words, they praise it as embodying "Art for Art's Sake" which was what Leighton and the Pre-Raphaelite school which immediately followed him prized above all.

Possibly Flaming Jane's greatest supporter was Luis A. Ferre, a noted Puerto Rican industrialist, politician and founder of the Museo de Arte de Ponce.  On a buying trip to London for his museum in 1962 Ferre encountered her at the Maas Gallery, was immediately smitten and bought her for the unheard of price of $2000 (Today @$9,000).  He had her restored, and she has been hanging in the Museo's permanent collection ever since.  Occasionally she makes visits to places such as the Prado (Madrid), Tate (London) and the Frick (New York where she was for a few weeks this summer). In every case art critical controversy precedes her and continues to grow when she arrives.

So she's not quite the innocently sleeping maiden she appears.  In fact, it has been pointed out that the red flowers on the ledge above her are oleanders which are known to be poisonous, thus suggesting Flaming Jane is a dangerously alluring femme fatale figure.  Other Freudian and Modernist interpretations abound  for those who see her painting as much more than Art for Art's Sake.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Taking It Easy --- Day 4/240

Walk: CIIS
Distance: 3.7 miles

Frederic Leighton, Flaming Jane, 1895, 47" x 47," oil on canvas
Image result for cat lounging

At last, time for Ciwt and Callie to lounge around...

Friday, September 25, 2015

Quick as a.... --- Day 4/239

Walk: Annual with Naturopath doctor, Cliff House Bistro, Legion of Honor, Nourse Theater
Distance: 2 miles, small yoga

"I'm late! I'm late!  For a very important date...,"  said the White Rabbit.  Actually Ciwt has never entirely 'gotten' Alice in Wonderland, and probably would not have paid any attention to the book were it not for the illustrations.  Strange, grotesque many of them.  But memorable, fitting to the text and done by Sir John Tenniel (British 1820-1914).

Tenniel was a prominent (but socially reclusive) English illustrator, graphic humourist and political cartoonist who is best known for being  Punch magazine's political cartoonist and illustrating Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass.  He was knighted by Queen Victoria for his artistic achievements in 1893.

Contracting with Tenniel was a hard-won achievement by Carroll, one which he may have regretted when the book first came out - in the United States, not England.  Why the U.S.?  Because Tenniel, who was absolutely exacting in his eye, found the first book inferior in its printing standards. When his objections were cleared, a second printing was released in England in 1865 and became an instant best seller.

So, like the White Rabbit, Alice was late, and all of this is on Ciwt's mind because she ended up with numerous events today is feeling quite late herself.  So now, off to hear Marcia Coyle interview Justice Stephen Breyer......

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Maud Lewis --- Day 4/238

Walk: Sports Basement
Distance: 2.8 miles and wee yoga

Maud Lewis (Canadian, 1903-1970), Three Black Cats, oil on board

Since returning from the Getty Center's current show of Hellenistic Bronzes, Ciwt has been researching that era and traveling through the Greek empire, the lives of Alexander the Great, Philip the 1st, Alexander's mother, sister, best friend, Aristotle, and so much more.  Ironically, as she has been assimilating the powerful, rich complexity of that ancient era, the simple optimism of North American folk art has called to her.  It's just a nice way to clear her head from all those battles and larger than life people and happenings.

Yesterday, the first day of Autumn this year, she remembered Grandma Moses.  And memories of growing up years vaguely started wafting back: fall in New England where she lived for a while and went to school and college, and even a time when she had seriously considered opening a gallery of folk art back in the Midwest. That would have been right after her post-college New York and Washington, DC years.  But, instead of moving to the middle of the country (and possibly/probably losing her shirt in the art 'business,') she went West where she has made her life for over 45 years and put folk art very much on the back burner.

Today she discovered Canadian artist Maud Lewis and rediscovered the simple, direct offerings of that type of art.  Often born of - but usually not speaking of - hardships;  hardships overcome, ignored, or somehow turned into joy, inspiration, love.

In Maud Lewis's case, she was born with almost no chin and a tiny body. Feeling uncomfortable with her differences from other children, she spent most of her time at home with her parents and brother in Nova Scotia. It was there  - as a child painting Christmas cards for sale to local neighbors - that her art career began and slowly grew through newspaper and magazine articles and eventually television documentaries until she became one of the most beloved folk artists in Canada.

Image result for maud lewis house
Interior of the 'painted house' where she and and her husband, Everett, lived.  Now restored, moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia and available for the public to view.


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Best of Autumn -- Day 4/237

Walk: No, Homework/Catch Up Day
Distance: Small home yoga

Anna Mary Robinson 'Grandma' Moses (American 1860-1961), Autumn, Ca 1930's, oil

Especially on this first day of Autumn, 2015, Grandma Moses comes to mind.

Did you have Grandma Moses in your house growing up?  Ciwt did.  We had a set of Grandma Moses plates which Ciwt just Loved eating off of.  The borders were white with the image in the middle, so you didn't know what painting was on the plate until you finished your meal.  To Ciwt, it didn't matter what was uncovered because she loved them all - although maybe the ones with the checkered house best of all.

  Image result for grandma moses checkered house

Image result for grandma moses checkered house Besides capturing it, Grandma Moses - who didn't begin painting until her 67th year - embodied the spirit of Autumn.*

*In 1952, she published My Life's History, her autobiography. In it she said "I look back on my life like a good day's work, it was done and I feel satisfied with it. I was happy and contented, I knew nothing better and made the best out of what life offered. And life is what we make it, always has been, always will be."[


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Les Iris de Los Angeles --- Day 4/236

Walk: JCC
Distance: 2 miles and take yoga class

Vincent van Gogh, (Dutch, 1853-1890)), Irises (originally Les Iris), 1889, oil on canvas, 28" x 36 5/8" 

Los Angeles is a city of unexpected discoveries. One memorable one on Ciwt's recent L.A. museums trip was Vincent van Gogh's Irises at the Getty Center.  Like her surprise at finding The Woman in Gold  in the permanent collection of the Neue Galerie*, Ciwt may be one of the few who didn't know the Getty owned Irises so it was a particular delight to be standing just a foot or so from the actual painting.

'Owned' is an operable word surrounding Irises; many people associate the painting with $53.9 million, the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction.  The year was 1987, and two interesting things happened after that: 1. the Irises record stood for almost three years and 2. the 1987 buyer had insufficient funds so the auction house (Sotheby's New York) arranged a private sale to the Getty - which had been overbid in the original auction - for an undisclosed sum. But certainly not a minor sum, Ciwt can safely bet.

Too bad that many viewer's minds might be filled with economic thoughts because the painting is fresh, clear and a joy to view.  The colors are marvelously and appealingly pure with the blue based leaves and flowers rising with graceful energy from a warm-toned bed of soil.

Apparently - because there are no preliminary drawings - Irises is considered a study by art experts, not a fully realized, finished painting.  Just based on visuals, Ciwt would disagree.  Like Sunflowers*, each Iris is painted with its own individual character, and the painting is replete with complex, often lush and thick brushwork .  This plus the size and expense of the canvas and paints strikes Ciwt as the kind of work artists do on finished canvases.  Plus there is a joy in Irises that captures a moment in van Gogh's life when he had just arrived at the asylum and was feeling relief at sanctuary and optimistic that he would be saved from his encroaching insanity.

Study or finished work, Irises was a beautiful and uplifting L.A. surprise for Ciwt.

Here is the signage that accompanies the painting at the Getty:

*CIWT Day 3/360

Monday, September 21, 2015

Curtains, the Heat --- Day 4/235

Walk: JCC, Trader Joe's, Pet Express, M. Stone's
Distance: 3 miles and take yoga class

Ciwt's curtains and shades love it in her place because they are never asked to do anything.  Ciwt is a light lover who hardly ever pulls them down.  So they were confused - and quite creaky and resistant - when they were required to go into action during our recent heat wave. (Which seems to be ending as Ciwt writes.  Now, let's see if they will go back up...)

Sunday, September 20, 2015

A Long Fight For Survival --- Day 4/234

Walk: No, Too D--- Hot, as Ella would say
Distance: 0 but home yoga

Unknown Greek Sculptor, Boxer at Rest (aka Terme Boxer or Boxer of the Quirinal), @330 BC (Hellenistic Era), Bronze with copper

Ciwt imagines lives of archaeologists are not filled with constant drama, so it is all the more touching to read the notes of a man in this field who was present on the slopes of the Quirinal when this completely unexpected huge masterpiece was unearthed: I have witnessed, in my long career in the active field of archaeology, many discoveries; I have experienced surprise after surprise; I have sometimes and most unexpectedly met with real masterpieces; but I have never felt such an extraordinary impression as the one created by the sight of this magnificent specimen of a semi-barbaric athlete, coming slowly out of the ground, as if awakening from a long repose after his gallant fights.    Rodolfo Lanciani, 1885

The sculpture, which is thought to have been part of the remains of the Baths of Constantine had clearly been carefully and lovingly buried some time in antiquity. And even for a Hellenistic sculpture, it was particularly moving and breathtaking.  First, that it had survived at all, comprised as it is with copious amounts of bronze - which was valued for its usefulness in coinage, weapontry and jewelry.  But even more for its humanistic expressiveness.

Some time during the Hellenistic Era, the subjects matter of sculpture was no longer limited to imagined and idealized gods and goddesses. But few that have been found have the expressive detail of the Boxer with his athletically muscled body, scarred face, cauliflower ear, and collapsed upper mouth suggesting broken teeth.  The sculptor's care and authentisity  went even further in this case: he used copper (reddish metal) around the open wounds on his face and body, and each seam is totally invisible making the Boxer's flesh smooth and oiled looking and each gash even more pronounced.  The moment you encounter him - or even his picture Ciwt would submit - you know his utter exhaustion, his struggle with the will to go on, his pain, and he touches you at a deep, deep level.  And, in the Getty Center's momentous show of Hellenistic bronzes, the Boxer touched Ciwt most of all.*

Related image

*  The Power and Pathos exhibition (including The Boxer at Rest)  will travel to Washington,. D.C. December 13, 2015 - March 20, 2016.  

Saturday, September 19, 2015

No Dancing Monkey, LA --- Day 4/233

Walk: Laurel Village, Sacramento Street, Clay Theater (Black Mass)
Distance: 2 miles and home yoga

 LA Trip 2 gave Ciwt an opportunity to observe the area more.  On the drive to the Getty VillaImage result for drive along highway one to getty villa she finally got to see the ocean Image result for drive along highway one to getty villa, and it combined with the balmy air and sunshine was somewhere between uplifting and restful. In other words, nice.  (Here in San Francisco we don't often get that easiness because we're occupied with the wind and the cold).

Another thing Ciwt enjoyed seeing was how some of the museum women put themselves together. Not 'urban/black' like many of us in San Francisco Image result for urban black pants outfits but more festive and free, a little ethnic.
Flowy, printed pants and sandals .Image result for los angeles printed Indian pants Related imageLoose tops.  Looked feminine and comfortable.  (But she also saw a lot of fashion mistakes from these same ingredients Image result for los angeles printed Indian pants as well as tons and tons and tons of beach type wear which seemed to be pretty much the uniform Related image Related image).

And of course, cars, cars, cars, the real things as well as this marvelous kinetic sculpture by Los Angeles Artist Chris Burden. (Metropolis II, Now at LACMA)

As she continued to look around she found this blurb on Buzzfeed* which echoed the thoughts of her good friend who lives on the East Coast but has a son in Los Angeles.  According to Ciwt's friend, LA is about walking around and encountering small, completely unexpected or riveting storefronts, events, food combinations, behaviors.  Delightful surprises.

*Yeah and Los Angeles isn’t a monkey here to dance for you. Put some effort into it. 

Los Angeles rewards exploration. Small cafes, independent book shops and art galleries, awesome music stores, the best movie going experiences in the country, year-round farmers markets, live music for all tastes, a great variety of cultures and foods, an amazing public library system, loads of significant architecture, great parks, plentiful sporting events, amazing street food, the most interesting magic/burlesque scene, arts colonies, urban agriculture, historic sites, experimental theater… 
Yeah, and there is Brunch. Brunch is awesome too. But there is also the ruins of nazi come hippie commune along a river with a waterfall you could check out off of Sunset too. You just have to put in some effort.

Buzzfeed Community posted on Aug. 31, 2013, at 8:30 a.m.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Back to Basics --- Day 4/232

Walk: JCC, Trader Joe's
Distance: 2.3 miles, take yoga class

Hercules of the Forum Boarium, Hellenistic sculpture of the 2nd century BCE, Gilded Bronze

While in L.A., Ciwt saw quite a few Hellenistic Era bronze statues, many in the Getty Center's current show: Power and Pathos.  It's an extraordinary show which has gathered for the first time over 50 amazingly well-preserved and very moving bronzes from their individual venues throughout the the former Greek and Roman Empires.  (Given the value of bronze and its usefulness for weapons when melted, it is a wonder any of these art works exist at all).

Other than a few pictures in her college History of Art textbooks, Ciwt was quite uninformed about ancient Greek art and culture before this trip.  For instance, because there are numerous Hellenistic statues of Hercules, Ciwt thought he probably lived around that time (Ie, ca 300 BC).  Well, no: Hercules - if he existed as a man at all - would have done so prior to 2500 BC. (That's a gap of 2,200+ years).  And, because Ciwt had mostly seen pictures in her textbooks of individual statues, she was under the impression that each work was a one-of-a-kind.  Well, no again; the early Greeks were already in the mass production business and many images were produced in the hundreds or thousands by multiple foundries.

So, Ciwt will continue to assimilate some of her LA art viewing thoughts and return...

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Artfull --- Day 4/231

Walk: Driving Day
Distance: 6 blocks and home yoga

Ciwt is back from L.A. but too totally stuffed with art for things to sink in.  Stay tuned for her thoughts on L.A. Part Two...

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Ciwt in L.A., Part Three: Museums Continued --- Day 4/230

Walk: Around Luxe Hotel and The Getty Villa

Today Ciwt will have a leisurely breakfast at her hotel:

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Image result for luxe beverly hills

Then she'll be off to the Getty Villa: 

Image result for getty villa museum
Image result for getty villa museum

Then back in her Town Car to 'transfer' (L.A. taxi term) to Delta Airlines and home to SFO.

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