Monday, September 20, 2021

Itineraries? We Got Em --- Days 10/134, 135 & 136

Walk: 1. Hood  2. T Joe's  3. Presidio after day at computer

Distance: 1. 1.5 miles  2. 2.5 miles 3. 4.5 miles

Report from Ciwt's Desktop Central:

Right when Ciwt finally had her extensive art tour itinerary ready, her client emailed to cancel. (Covid paperwork delays in Amsterdam. He is forgiven).  Then, within ten minutes, another person with a  completely different wish list contacted her.  She's coming the day after the canceler was to take his tour, so Ciwt has been creating and tearing up itineraries like mad instead of paying good attention to her valued CIWT readers.  

Friday, September 17, 2021

Bark if You Love It --- Day 10/133

Walk: Crissy Field

Distance: 4 miles, small yoga

Crissy Field

Always the best walk.  If you don't believe Ciwt, just ask the dogs who get to be the rare off leash! 

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Eye of the Beholder --- Days 10/130, 131, 132

Walk: 1. Golden Gate Park Pickleball 2. Museums to prepare for art tour 3. Union Square

Distance: 1. 1.2 miles, 90 minutes pickle, yoga 2. 4.5 miles (just walking museums!) 3. 1.6 miles, Yoga

Pierre Bonnard (Fr. 1867-1947), The Breakfast Room, 1930-31, 5.24' x 3.7' oil on canvas

Encountering Pierre Bonnard's (Fr. 1867-1947) cheerfully colored, patterned and intimate paintings is always uplifting for Ciwt.  The lines and exact features of his subjects are a bit soft and indistinct, but for Ciwt this adds to their charm and accessibility.  She feels welcome in the bright, homey scenes.

Other art viewers take issue, including none other than Picasso, 'The Man', who loathed Bonnard's work. He dismissed Bonnard's style as "piddling" and "a potpourri of indecision."    

Meanwhile, on one of Ciwt's art tours, one of her clients nearly came undone expressing his passionate dislike of Picasso's art.

So goes art viewing.....

Monday, September 13, 2021

Now, Up and Down --- Day 10/129

Walk: Up and Down, Up and Down Stairs, Union Square

Distance: 2.4 miles, Yoga


So, people often reach the top of the stairs to Ciwt's condominium panting and glaring at her.  She's used to this so she tells them to rest and offers a glass of water.  She's also so used to the stairs that she's a bit perplexed about why the stairs are such a problem.

So, today when she was doing some Monday house errands (emptying trash, etc) and going up and down a few times, she decided to wear to her iphone pedometer.  When she was finished, she was aghast to see that all the stairs had added up to 1.4 miles!   So aghast she needed to take that rest and glass of water.

 * Actually, the "Sacred Way" staircase to Bom Jesus do Monte, a pilgrimage site outside Braga, Portugal.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Down and Up --- Days 10/127 & 128

Walk: 1. AMC Kabuki (The Card Counter) and hood 2. Clement Farmers Market, Sloat Garden

Distance: 1. 6 miles  2. 4 miles, Yoga

Ciwt is no foodie, but she always finds the city's farmers markets 'delicious' 😉 And uplifting after yesterday's well-acted but downbeat movie, The Card Counter.

Friday, September 10, 2021

What Dahls! --- Day 10/126

Walk: Hood

Distance: 3 miles

Dahlias!  Those native Mexican and Guatamalan plants named for Swedish botanist Andrew Dahl are in full bloom in Golden Gate Park's Dahlia Garden. 

And photographers are coming from near and far to capture their full color range - every color except blue and black.


Thursday, September 9, 2021

Wheeling Around --- Day 10/126

Walk: No

Distance: n/a

Sky Star Wheel, Golden Gate Park

So, when there weren't any Wednesday matinees for poor Ciwt to go to yesterday, she walked over to Golden Gate Park and was reminded of the Ferris wheel that is there for an extended stay to celebrate the park's 150th anniversary.  And she thought "why not?"

Often Ciwt is the first to poo-poo such attractions - too costly, too silly, too old timey, etc. - and the first to enjoy them when her thinking is ignored, the attractions/events arrive and she actually participates. Which is exactly what happened yesterday after she climbed into her private gondola and went up, up, up and around her beautiful city.

Gorgeous, although when the wheel was stopped while Ciwt was at the very top, and her gondola was creaking and bumping as it blew around, she was thankful she wasn't taking her ride on one of the many  blustery days we've had this summer.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Longing for Wednesday Matinees --- Days 10/125 & 126

Walk: 1.GG Pickleball 2. Hood Nails, de Young Museum and Ferris Wheel

Distance: 1. 2.5 miles, 90 minutes pickle  2. 6.5 miles

4-Star Theater, a San Francisco Landmark, lives

So here it is Wednesday and no matinee movies for Ciwt to go to.  But happily many of our theaters (movie and live) are open, and Ciwt was thrilled to read today that one of our wonderful but few remaining movie houses has a new owner.  Best of all, he plans to keep it operating as a movie theater!

So far, the 4 Star has had a rather charmed history.  It opened in 1912, and in 1992 movie visionary and programmer extrordinaire Frank Lee was hired to operate it. In 2006 he and his wife, who was also a hands on operator, were able to buy the property. Until the recent sale they had been running it for 30 years.

Thanks to Lee, whose father owned and ran theaters in Chinatowns throughout the United States, the 4-Star has had numerous Asian movie festivals and often was able to show first run Hong Kong and Asian movies days after they opened in Asia. These were interspersed with first rate main stream features; the posters from their last double feature before the pandemic are still up and advertise Parasite, and Uncut Gems.  Just before them, 4 Star was able to 'unspool' Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood in its original format with its rare 35mm projectors. 

It's a bit of a hike, but Ciwt often walked to these and other features (or, truthfully, rode the bus 😉) so she couldn't be happier to read comments by Adam Bergeron, the new hire/old owner/operator of the other two SF landmark theaters:  These little neighborhood theaters — if you have one in your neighborhood, it really sets that neighborhood apart. It’s different; it’s not like every neighborhood has one,” he said. “So they really become a focal point of the neighborhood, and if you’re able to live in the city and walk to see a creative event in a little neighborhood space, it really is something special.

And she found Frank Lee's farewell words touching: “Thirty years in there. If I could work until 90, I’d still be there. … It’s been a long ride; I hope (the new owner) can be there 30 years like I was.”

Ciwt hopes so too!  Now, she has her fingers crossed for Wednesday matinees.

Ciwt's neighborhood gem, also operated and programmed by Adam Bergeron

Monday, September 6, 2021

Labor Day Work --- Day 10/124

Walk: Presidio Pickleball

Distance: 3.5 miles, 1 hour pickle, yoga

When the Presidio's site installation, Spire (2008), was damaged by fire in the summer 2020, the artist Andy Goldsworthy was contacted at his home in Scotland.  In part he said, "The burning of Spire goes too deep for my own words...What I do know is that art doesn't give up.  It is resiliant and fights back.."

On this Labor Day 2021 Ciwt was heartened to see Spire continues to be at work fighting to be stable and beautiful.  Part of the consciousness of those who live with its presence or have visited it and take the memory with them.  

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Poems in Paint --- Day 10/123

Walk: Hood

Distance: 3 miles, Yoga

So, as close to daily as she could arrange, Joan Mitchell (1925-1992) went into her painting studio, secured a canvas that was at least as tall and much wider than her own frame, shuttered the windows and began dissolving into her work.  From her memory she brought up a lake or tree or maybe a childhood pet and all the colors, feelings, thoughts that accompanied it for her.  Then she squeezed vibrant, intense colors from her tubes of oil paints, took her brushes, trowels, turpentine and other artistic implements in hand, and painted and scraped and wetted the oil to the point it dripped down the canvas.  All this until Mitchell had achieved what Ciwt, the viewer, experiences as a gloriously colorful, technically excellent, intensely personal poem in paint.

After all Mitchell was raised in poetry.  Her mother was a poet and associate (at home) editor of Poetry Magazine, poets like T.S. Eliot were regular visitors at Mitchell's sumptuous childhood home in Chicago where poetry books lined the shelves and were often taken out to be read outloud to young Joan.  Joan herself had a poem published in Poetry at age ten and carried poetry books with her in her lifelong transatlantic travels mostly between New York City and France.

Untitled, 1992, oil on canvas

For the last thirty years of her life, Mitchell created most of her 'paint poems' in the studio of her rambling stone house at Vetheuil, a farming community on the Seine not far from Giverny.  An artist friend at the time called the home Mitchell had bought with her substantial inheritance "the most beautiful place on earth."   Claude Monet, who had been smitten by, lived in and painted Vetheuil for three years nearly a century before, clearly agreed.

Joan Mitchell in her Vetheuil studio

Ciwt is interested in the comparison between these two artistic Vetheuil dwellers.  Monet had a deep careerlong calling to capture the actualities of nature on his canvases.  To that end he endured poverty, endangered his health by painting directly in nature in the worst of weather and rockiest of perches.  He also invented techniques and made completely new use of colors to capture exactly what his penetrating eye perceived.  

Mitchell on the other hand painted from a sort of memory scape. Her landscapes traveled with her. For example, she grew up looking out at Lake Michigan from the windows of the family apartment, and, though she saw it rarely as an adult, her career is replete with paintings of her physical/emotional memories of that blue lake. (Look at the painting in the background above or the one below painted when Mitchell was 55).

The Lake, 1981, oil on canvas

Mitchell was technically proficient and confident in the latest art techniques (including lithographic prints which she did toward the end) as well as experimental in some of her structures and color juxtapositions. But what she captured with them was ultimately between her and her.  They are her memories, her poems carefully crafted in (often expensive) colors that called to her.

And, as poems they are interesting to Ciwt.  She would like to have one - although she would need a larger home.   
There Ciwt could study it, admire it, notice the connections, commune with it like you do a slightly obscure but brilliant poem.  Probably Ciwt wouldn't ever entirely understand it; Mitchell was wandering in her memory and more interested in surfacing that for herself than communicating it to her viewer.  

Because Mitchell used similar, athletic* brushwork, innovatively positioned bold colors, muscular artistic techniques in her painted poems throughout most of her career (except the very beginning years), there tends to be a sameness painting after painting even as they portray differenct memories. So, even though Ciwt found Mitchell's beautifully crafted and colorful work impressive, a certain numbness set in for Ciwt as she went from room to room to room encountering one after another at SFMOMA's current Joan Mitchell retrospective. Mitchell's (self)-sensitive poetry got swallowed for Ciwt in the vastness and abundance of work in the show.  Better, Ciwt thinks, if there had been fewer paintings with brief showcases of Mitchell's use of certain colors and the trees, lake and sunflowers of her remembered landscapes.

But, of course, that is how Ciwt would create her Joan Mitchell poem.

* Mitchell was in fact an athlete, having medaled many times in figure skating competitions when she was young.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Taking In Joan --- Day 10/122

Walk: Hood

Distance: 3.5 miles, Yoga

At SFMOMA's Joan Mitchell Retrospective Ciwt enjoyed seeing how some viewers' outfits echoed Joan Mitchell's paint colors.  Maybe on purpose, as an homage?

Black and White (early Joan):

Vibrant (basically the rest of her career):

The men, well, not so much: 


Friday, September 3, 2021

Approaching Joan --- Day 10/121

Walk: SFMOMA (Joan Mitchell Exhibition opening)

Distance: 3 miles 

(Not Ciwt) Looking at Joan Mitchell - stay tuned

Thursday, September 2, 2021

New Old Master - with Love --- Day 10/119 & 120

Walk: 1. Presidio Pickleball  2. No, not today

Distance: 1. 3 miles, 60 minutes pickle 2. n/a, yoga

Johannes Vermeer, Girl Reading a Letter by an Open Window, 1657-59, oil on canvas - 'Old Master' and 'New' 

So, how did the Dresden's Gemaldegalerie's collection come to include Vermeer's Girl Reading a Letter by an Open Window?  Well, it was thrown into a major 1742 acquisition from a French collector by August III, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland.  Yes, for free.  And it was thought to be a Rembrandt or done by one of his pupils at the time and until the late 1800's.  Now it is widely recognized as the first of Jan Vermeer's masterpiece paintings of young women in interiors.

Things change in the art world.  And now there is another revelation just as significant as the French critic, Thore-Burge's 1860 discovery of Vermeer's signature on the painting. In a prolonged and painstaking undertaking by the Gemaldegalerie's restorers centuries of 'old master' lacquer coatings have been lifted to reveal the 1657-1659 work is even more of a masterpiece. Vermeer's original cool vibrant colors shine through and the details and genius of his composition are more on display.  

But, the most startling discovery is a 'painting within a painting' on the wall behind the girl. It is large representation of Cupid.  For years the god of love's presence was suspected, even known, by restorers and experts, but the assumption was that Vermeer himself had painted the god out before the work left his studio.  Using modern technology Dresden restorers were able to discern the different chemical composition of the overpainting from Vermeer's original paint as well as the brushwork of a different painterly hand.  So, the presence of Cupid was Vermeer's intention.

And, the plot thickens. To this point viewers have been invited into the intimate scene but kept at a distance from the girl's thoughts and what the letter might contain.  Now, with Cupid so clearly represented, the everday scene will likely take on an amorous context as well as a more charged psychological complexity.  We still don't know what the letter says, and you can be sure that ordinary viewers as well as art professionals will have divergent and probably passionate thoughts.

Ciwt suspects the 'discussions' will begin in earnest next week when the Dresden Gemaldegalerie opens its special Vermeer exhibition with the 'new' The Girl Reading a Letter by an Open Window and the details of the restoration as centerpieces.*


Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Give Me Space --- Day 10/118

Walk: Golden Gate Park pickleball  

Distance: 1.8 miles, 90 minutes pickleball

Waiting for a Pickleball Court on Weekends

Welcome to Pickleball articles abound in newspapers and magazines these days.  And, yes, Pickleball can be a great game to play, giving people an oppportunity to exercise even with some minor physical limitations (or major years).  It also enhances social connectivity between peers and members of different age, gender and cultural groups, keeps people active with something to look forward to and avoiding isolation.  

However, to receive all those benefits, you need to get on a court, and limited court space is becoming a concern everywhere pickleball is played.  Ciwt wishes all those articles would mention this, maybe encourage the 'powers that be' to provide more pickleball courts in locations that are suitable for both players and non-players who don't want the noise or commotion that comes with this popular game.

Monday, August 30, 2021

The Stunning Dinner Undertaking --- Day 10/116 & 117

Walk:  1. No, catch up phone calls with family and friends 2. Monday errands

Distance: 1. n/a, yoga  2. 2.5 miles, yoga

Judy Chicago, Eleanor of Acquitane, three test plates for The Dinner Party Project, 1975-78, China paint on porcelain

As is often the case, the art lover/inquirer/'expert' Ciwt wishes she was taking her annual Fall trip to New York, in this instance to go the Brooklyn Museum's installation of Judy Chicago's iconic The Dinner Party. Widely regarded as the first epic feminist artwork, it was begun in 1974, completed in 1979 with the help of hundreds of collaborators and toured to 16 venues in six countries on three continents where it was viewed by 15 million people.  It began to suffer from the wear and tear of constant traveling (as well as the media slings and arrows of art and other critics) and was retired to storage for decades.  Since 2007 it has been on permanent exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum.

The Dinner Party is a complex work composed of many skillfully executed parts, each of which is celebrates historically important women as well as traditionally female accomplishments such as weaving, china painting, embroidery and sewing.  

There are six woven Entry Banners welcoming visitors to The Dinner Party.  The principal component of the installation is a massive ceremonial banquet arranged in the shape of an open triangle - a symbol of equality - with a total of thirty nine Place Settings.  Some of the 'guests' include: Emily Dickinson, Virginia Woolf,  Sappho, Saint Bridget, Elizabeth I, Sacajawea, Sojourner Truth. The work rests on the tiled Heritage Floor inscribed in gold luster with the names of 999 other mythical and historical women of achievement. There are seven Heritage Panels which are hand-colored photo and text collages portraying the lives of the women whose names are on the floor.  Finally there are Acknowledgment Panels that depict the 129 members of the creative and administrative team that worked on The Dinner Party.

Ciwt is not sure how she will react to it, but she would like to see it in person - and be in New York!

Judy Chicago, The Dinner Party, 1974-79, ceramic, porcelain, textile, 48' each side

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Blue Heron, Green Pond --- Day 10/115

Walk: Presidio Pickleball courts

Distance: 2.5 miles, 1 Hour pickle

On the way to Golden Gate Park Pickleball courts. (See the heron?)  Makes Ciwt yearn for all those peaceful small lakes back in the Midwest.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Cookies for a Sharp Cookie --- Day 10/114

Walk: No, trapped by wet carpets after cleaning.  But good opportunity to read .

Distance: n/a

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Chicago Sans Politics and Special --- Day 10/112 & 113

Walk: 1. de Young Museum: Judy Chicago Retrospective Press Preview 2. de Young Museum Judy Chicago personal walk through

Distance: 1. 7.2 miles  2. 6.2 miles

So, Judy Chicago, artist, politics aside.  That's is a very big aside for an artist who has worked on 'projects' that are virtually synonomous with politics her entire 60 year career.  But there are many interesting things to know about this super energized, talented and courageous woman.

1. Her artistic 'projects'  and therefore imagery include: Death (hers and species'), the Holocaust, Male Power, Birth, Feminism, Minimalism, Pyrotechnics.

2. She is 'outspokenly' passionate and direct about her 'projects.'  For instance, here is one of her 'male power' paintings: 

3. But she is not a hot head.  She puts at least six years of research into each of her topics, including reading widely, sketching, in-depth preliminary studies, prototypes in a variety of materials.   Her personal, prepatory notebooks are extensive and thorough: 

4. Ciwt thinks her color palette is nice to look at even though Chicago (nee Cohen) has been heavily criticized for it since graduating from art school 60 years ago. ('They' feel her colors should be more earthy, strong, male, or something).
Rainbow Pickett, 1965/2021, Matthews polyurethane paint on stainless steel

5. She went to auto body school to learn welding and other techniques in the 1960's and was the only woman in the school.  This is one of the car hoods she painted back then.  Again, not taken seriously by the critics at the time.  Teenage boy car lover Ciwt would have loved it even then!
Birth Hood, 1965/2011, sprayed automotive lacquer on car hood

6. She was also the only woman in her training when she received her certification in pyrotechnics.

7. She carefully tailors her medium to her feeling about each of her 'projects.' For instance, some of the pieces in her 'death and extinction project' are cast in patinated bronze while her 'birth project' works are needlepoint - stitched by supportive volunteer needleworkers all over the world. 

Birth Trinity: Needlepoint #1, 1983

8. She has never been motivated by money and says she married one of the only other people who isn't either.  They have survived together (he is a photographer) doing whatever calls to them for 36 years.

9.  One thing she has done for money is write: art reviews, articles, books.  So she incorporates her writing in many of her works. 
Virginia Woolf, from Reincarnation Triptych, 1973, sprayed acrylic on canvas

10. The deYoung Museum's retrospective is her first.  People have asked her if she is angry that it has taken 60 years for such a show.  She answers that she feels privileged to have been able to create in her studio all these years.  

11. She was very moved by and appreciative of her retrospective.  She came in person to the press preview and 'surprised herself' by bursting into quiet tears from time to time when speaking or answering press questions.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Tear Continues... --- Days 10/110 &111

Walk: GG Park Pickleball

Distance: 2.5 miles, 90 minutes pickle, yoga stretch

After doing it for her new rug in one room, Ciwt can't stop clearing closets and drawers in all her rooms.

Her cats cower under the bed (which is too heavy for Ciwt to budge.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Back to School --- Day 10/109

Walk: Outside in hood at last

Distance: 6 miles, small yoga

No matter how old Ciwt gets, this time of year always feels like her new school year is about to start.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Are You Sure That's Off-White? --- Day 10/108

Walk: Up and Down Stairs again, finishing touches on new carpet project

Distance: 1 mile (all stairs), small yoga

So, Ciwt's attempts to photogaph her new carpet  

(which is actually a latte-ish off-white shade that eludes her iphone camera) put her in mind of a New York artist who spent much of his career attempting to capture the essence of white.

That would be Robert Ryman (1930-2019) who was known for his abstract, white-on-white paintings.  That's one below on a white wall. 

And here are a few more: 


Ryman originally came to New York City from his native Tennessee with the intention of becoming a professional saxaphone player.  To support himself  he took a job as a guard at the Museum of Modern Art and soon became fascinated with the subjects he was guarding.  Specifically his fascination went to exactly how the paintings on the walls had been done.  As he was famously quoted "There is never any question of what to paint, only how to paint."  After quitting his MoMA job, which he held from 1953-1960 in order to be close to painting, he spent the next year working in the Art Division of the New York Public Library.  At some point he began buying a variety of art materials and experimenting with them in his apartment.  This plus ongoing, intense talks with his many artist friends and co-workers, such as Sol LeWitt and Roy Lichtenstein, was his self-styled art education.  

It is difficult not to think of Ryman as a 'monchromist' or a 'minimalist,' but he saw himself as a 'realist' painter because he felt he was only presenting the materials he used at their face value.  Ever an experimenter, the majority of his 'realistic' works feature brushy white on white or off-white paint on a wide variety (to say the least) of surfaces: canvas, linen, steel, aluminum, plexiglas, vinyl, burlap to name a few. No matter how Ryman was categorized, he was prized by numerous galleries, museums, and collectors in the States and abroad throughout his career.  

Ciwt has to wonder if he, like she, went nuts trying to capture his artwork on camera - or if he left the photography to the professionals.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Post Carpet Caper --- Day 10/107

Walk: Into one room, then another, then back, then ...

Distance: Who knows, feels like a lot

Back it all goes after new carpet installed...

Thursday, August 19, 2021

New Carpet!!! --- Days 10/105 & 106

Walk: 1. T. Joe's for sustenance, emptying room for carpet continues  2. Carpet Contractors to pay for new carpet

Distance: 1. 2.5 miles  2. 5 miles

Cat (not Ciwt's) reacting to new carpet (not Ciwt's) to sink its claws into 

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Almost There and Back --- Days 10/102, 103, 104

Walk: 1. Hood Open Houses 2. Emptying bookcases, file cabinets, ancient stuff 3. GG Park Pickleball, Goodwill to donate all those books from yesterday 

Distance: 2. 4 miles  2. 1 mile 3. 2 miles, 90 minutes pickle

Half the books off the shelves, file cabinets weeded out in office area, tech stuff secured, furniture out except for a table and couch Ciwt can't budge. So Ciwt's back room is almost ready for its first new carpet in 30+ years.  And Ciwt's brain is almost ready to sprong out after sifting through 30+ years of memories.  Many of her contemporaries know exactly what she is writing about here....