Sunday, January 31, 2021

String! --- Day 9/285 & 286

Walk: 1. Presidio Pickleball  2. Trader Joe's

Distance: 1. 2.5 miles, 2 hours pickle   2. 2.5 miles, Yoga

So, Ciwt thought she'd take a quick look at the history of fabric and clothes, then report on CIWT.  

That turned out like taking a quick glance at the entire worldwide history of art.  In other words, it includes virtually everything.  First off,  everyone was naked for who knows how many tens of thousands of years or whether they had become humans yet.  Along the long, long way, discoveries were made or invented at different times in different parts of the world depending on myriad circumstances.

The more she researches, the happier she is (and you too!) that she wasn't one of our (pre) people ancestors. For instance, there's not a chance that she would have pulled fibers from the inside of tree bark and begun rolling and rolling them on her thigh.  And then! after weeks of rolling when she had enough strands, no way would she have thought to twist them around each other until she'd created string.  So, with Ciwt in charge there wouldn't have been fishing lines and nets, bows for hunting and creating fire, bags to wrap and carry bundles, straps to carry babies close to the chest and so much more that our civilization relied on.  Oh, and clothes!   

And the blue in those jeans we all - worldwide -  have multiple pairs of and wear for everything from work to fashion?  You can't imagine how much artifice and effort it took to produce that indigo dye from certain types of green plant leaves.  Once that stable pigment was figured out, it was terrific for ink or paint.  But getting it to adhere to cloth, well that was cave person rocket science.  Then there's all the, you know, factories, trading routes, money and banking and other things that needed to be invented before we could all step into our daily jeans.

The other day Ciwt was writing about Super Kids as if they are something new.  But, come to think of it, our ancestors were the original Super Kids.  They may have been 'primitive,' but boy were they smart, resourceful and creative.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Make Way for Super Kids --- Day 9/284

Walk: Presidio Pickleball

Distance: 2.5 miles, 90 minutes pickle, yoga stretch

Ella Emhoff                           Amanda Gorman

Juat when Ciwt was thinking about writing an entry or two about fabric and fashion she remembered the images of these two brilliant young fashionistas.  Icons already!  

She'd also been thinking of a friend's grandson who is applying to colleges.  He has never seen a grade much less than 4/A, is an accomplished woodworker and photographer and who knows what other achievements. In Ciwt's day, colleges would have been competing to recruit him. But, these days, as her friend points out "...if he had the cure for cancer he’d be able to take his pick, but short of that, it’s kind of a crap shoot."

It's like a super race evolving.  The kids seem to be nice, normal, taking it amazingly in stride and Ciwt finds it is uplifting to see and hear about.  Go kids!!

Thursday, January 28, 2021

**Capital Knowlege --- Day 9/283

Walk: mailbox in the rain 

Distance: 1 mile,  yoga

So the other day Ciwt wrote a whole entry about art in the U.S. Capital Building.  She wrote it, proof read it, posted it and went about her Blursday.   

Maybe you caught it.  Luckily one of her most faithful readers did and sent Ciwt a gentle message pointing out that the building our representatives occupy in our nation's Capital is the U.S. Capitol BuildingIt sits on Capitol Hill in the Capital.

Thank you, alert, supportive reader and editor!  Ciwt rushed to replace all those capitals (except the headline) with capitols.  

As if she knew that but had just overlooked the misuse of the word. But actually it was just a cover up. Sometimes/Always honest, Ciwt must confess that she'd proofread just fine. The mistake lay in the fact that she has apparently been playing fast and loose with Capital/Capitol for quite a while - even though she lived in the Capital and worked on Capitol Hill.  Were it not for her reader/editor, the Days 9/280 -281 entry would have stood as is forever.

Capitol now joins a couple of other words Ciwt simply doesn't retain or something.  Knowledge is another. Throughout her schooling, she was dinged consistently for: acknowlegement, knowledgable, etc.  Several times one teacher had her copy the correct spelling 50 times each so she'd get it right. Then back she came with foreknowlege.

For some reason she's a whiz at (or only has to think a moment about) some of the most misspelled and misused words like:  Practice/Practise;  Affect/Effect;  Discrete/Discreet;  Enquiry/Inquiry.  But then there are those days she tries to figure out how to spell 'the' by sounding it out. T-u? T-u-h? Th-a?

Maybe you have a few of those word confusions yourself.  If not, Ciwt hopes you'll forgive her and keep reading CIWT.  

Yes you say?  Oh, Capital!


Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Tuesday Yet? --- Day 9/282

Walk: Nails! Haircut!!🙆

Distance: 2.8 miles

This afternoon Ciwt saw a man wearing a "Is It Tuesday Yet?" tee.  Guess he's just as confused as  Friends' Joey - and the rest of us these days.  Ciwt just knows its the day she got her first haircut since a brief non-lockdown window last May. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Capital Art** --- Days 9/280 & 281

Walk: 1. Presidio Pickleball, Monday Errands  2. Recycling stair trips
Distance: 1. 5 miles, 90 minutes pickle   2. just 1 mile

United States Capital Building Rotunda, Washington, D.C.

So, in her youth, when she worked for a U.S. Congressman, Ciwt would walk down the corridors of the House and Senate Office Buildings and through Statuary Hall and the Rotunda multiple times a day. Maybe giving a tour to visitors or delivering a message or just walking around during her lunch hour.

In all that time, how much of the over 300 pieces of art in the Capitol Building did she notice? It is safe to say virtually none beyond a passing glance at the statues. Such can be the obliviousness of youth or of Ciwt's youth, or the way we travel in and out of offices without paying much attention to the surroundings. And also the fact that Ciwt's art taste at the time was mostly modern (from the Impressionists on at the Phillips Collection) or she thought of the National Gallery as the only real place to look for more traditional art.

Or something. But when she gets back there, she will look up at Constantino Brumidi's* rotunda mural of George Washington ascending to heaven, The Apotheosis of Washington, (1865) : . And she'll walk around until she locates Howard Chadler Christy's painting of the Signing of the Constitution (1940)

And she'll certainly spend some time with the rotunda's Frieze of American History (ca. 1859-1961). Allyn Cox's The Birth of Aviation (1903) looks to her to be especially charming:

Or maybe some of her readers will get there before her and not make young Ciwt's mistake of overlooking the Capitol Building's art.

* Italian born Constantino Brumini emigrated to the U.S. at age 44 during a tumultuous time in Rome. He settled in New York, became a naturalized citizen and must have had some talent for self-promotion along with his clear artistic talent. He visited D.C. during the time the Capitol dome and rotunda were being completed, was introduced to the man in charge of the project and commissioned to paint a mural in the House Agricultural Committee meeting room. It was so favorably received, he was commissioned to decorate many sections of the Capitol and to do his chief work: the dome ceiling and segments of the American History Frieze. The hallways of the Senate are now known as the Brumidi Corridors, and in 2008 the President posthumously awarded him the Congressional Gold Medal.

** See Day 9/283 Ahead

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Urgent Blueberry --- Days 9/277, 278 &279

 Walk: 1, Books Inc, Presidio Pickleball 2. Presidio Pickleball, Urgent Care, Mollie Stone's  3. Trader Joe's, Presidio Pickleball

Distance: 1. 4 miles 90 minutes pickle 2. 4 miles, 90 minutes pickle  2. the same

So yesterday Ciwt's thumb suddenly turned the color of blueberries.  The thumb where she'd gotten a cut assembling a pickleball net ten days ago.

A bit alarmed, she went to Dr. Internet and found pictures that looked exactly like her blue/black thumb.  Dr. Internet then told her she had an infected thumb that would possibly need to be amputated UNLESS she got antibiotics immediately!! Anxiety ensued.  

Since it was Saturday and doctors' offices were closed, her only recourse turned out to be an Urgent Care facility.  Urgent Care!?  Anxiety turned to panic because Ciwt's idea of Urgent Care places was that they were swamped with people, most of whom had covid 19.  Her blue thumb might lead to amputation but Urgent Care would surely be the complete end of Ciwt.

Well, those CIWT readers who are more informed and together know exactly what mistakes she made.  First of all (and she knew this but didn't listen to herself), you do not ever use Dr. Internet as your physician.  Unless you want to get Ciwt's results: dire information and complete panic.  Secondly, Urgent Care is a level of medical attention for exactly her needs: conditions that are Not considered emergencies but still require medical care within 24 hours - like possibly infected cuts. It is totally professional, spacious, sanitary and only lets in one or two people at a time these days.  Oh, and people needing Urgent Care for covid testing are sent to a completely separate facility.

So, after all her panic and resistance, her blueberry thumb turned out to provide a useful learning experience for Ciwt.  And if you're wondering if she's on antibiotics for an infection today, the answer is .... No.  No infection and sometimes bruising is (substantially) delayed.  

It might be a while before she looks at blueberries the same way though...

If you could use more information on what to do if a big or littlish (like a cut finger) medical event comes up, here's a good, concise site:

Thursday, January 21, 2021

First Lady's Choice --- Day 9/276

Walk: Errands

Distance: 3 miles, Yoga stretch

Robert Seldon Duncanson (1821-1872), Landscape with Rainbow, 1859, 30 x 52.25", oil on canvas

Ciwt didn't catch this pastoral landscape on WSJ Live yesterday, but perhaps CIWT readers watching on television did.  It had been selected by Jill Biden from the Smithsonian Collection to be on prominent display in the U.S. Capital during the inauguration.

The artist, Robert Seldon Duncanson, was one of very few established African-American artists active during the pre-and post-Civil War era.  'Established' meaning he was able to support himself by his art, even to travel to and receive art training in Paris.  These accomplishments are never easy for any artist; Duncanson was extremely gifted but he also worked tirelessly first as a house painter, then as an itinerant portrait painter particularly around Cincinnati and Detroit.  There was little formal art education for most Americans at the time and virutally none for African-American artists, so he taught himself to paint by copying prints and etchings of European artists and sketching from nature as he traveled seeking portrait commissions.  

He also became intrigued by travel prints, exploration journals and how Hudson River School artists whose works he encountered used nature to convey ideas about America and its ideals. With the goal of becoming a landscape artist himself, he came off the road, away from portraits and settled in Cincinnati, which had a large free slave population as well as a strong arts community.  There, in what was then called 'the Athens of the West' and filled with new inspiration, he received an important commission from Charles Avery, an abolitionist Methodist minister.  His work for Avery, combined with Avery's social reach,  cemented Duncanson's career by establishing him within a network of abolitionist patrons who purchased his art, sponsored his trips to study old masters abroad and sustained most of Duncanson's career.

Sadly, that career was shortened by dementia and early death at 51.  It is thought Duncanson's suffering, like perhaps Michaelangelo, Goya, Van Gogh among others, was caused by lead in the paints.  Even by then though he was one of the very few landscape painters of the nineteenth century and achieved levels of success unknown to his contemporaries.  By the 1860's American art critics were proclaiming  Duncanson the "greatest landscape painter in the West" while London newspapers held him in equal regard to other British artists at the time.  He is credited with developing the regional Ohio River Valley art style and to this day the Taft Museum of Art in Cincinnati maintains an artist-in-residence program for African-American artists in honor of Duncanson.

So, the First Lady chose very well indeed.  

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Transitions of Power --- Day 9/275

Walk: Day of Rest/Reflection

Distance:  n/a

Ciwt is lucky enough to have witnessed at least 17 Presidential inaugurations, all except two by election and all except one at the U.S. Capital.  They are very meaningful to her; she watches them from beginning to end and can vividly remember many of them.  Today, mercifully, was no exception, but the first on line. Seeing it that way, with no outside commentary felt personal and intimate.  She wishes the best for our new President, Joe Biden, our new Vice President, Kamala Harris, and our United States of America.  

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Almost 232 Years Ago --- Day 9/274

Walk: Presidio Wall Pickleball

Distance: 2.5 miles, 90 minutes (windy) pickle

Ramon De Elloriaga, Washington Inauguration 1789, 1889

If it isn't in the front of their minds, Ciwt is pretty sure tomorrow's inauguration of Joe Biden as President and Kamala Harris as Vice President is somewhere in her readers' thoughts today.

While she waits for the event, Ciwt considers that the first inauguration of George Washington as the First President of the United States was held Thursday, April 30, 1789 on the balcony of Federal Hall in New York City.  Nearly 232 years ago.  He was sworn in by Robert Livingston, Chancellor of New York. (Washington had actually begun his first four-year term almost two months before that).  

The First Vice President of the United States, John Adams, was sworn in the next day.  The ceremony took place at the U.S. Senate, which was located in New York's Federal Hall.  John Langdon, President pro tempore of the United States Senate, administered the oath. 

Monday, January 18, 2021

January, Third Monday --- Day 9/273

Walk: Presidio Pickleball, T. Joe's

Distance: 5 miles, 90 minutes pickle, Yoga stretch

On the day that honors him Ciwt remembers Martin Luther King, Jr..

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Happy Legend --- Days 9/270 & 271

Walk: 1. Presidio Pickleball  2. Hood stroll

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

Bob Ross shows us how on The Joy of Painting

Over the years, when people learn that Ciwt writes about art, a common reaction has been "Oh, you must be artistic."  Same was true when she sold art.  

Wrong, in both cases. Artists make paintings among other things, and only a small part of her questions exactly how they do that.  To her the artist figures it out, just like someone in Silicon Valley figures out how to make the computer she's now typing on.  It's like there is a Mona Lisa brush that Leonardo da Vinci dipped into his paint can, and when he slid it along the canvas, voila, a masterpiece 


Not really, but most of what she knew was from books until she began spending her covid lockdown hours on PBS with Bob Ross.  What a revelation!  And what a nice and delightful man to explain how painting is really done on The Joy of Painting, the show he created and hosted.  It came onto PBS in 1983 and the last original episode was actually aired in 1994.  Then the internet gave it new life and today people are flocking to it.

Very few to learn to paint (less than 10 percent of viewers including Ciwt ever painted along with Ross), some like Ciwt to get an education in how paintings are actually made, and virtually all to spend time with Bob Ross.  He is encouraging, soothing, comforting and self described "happy."  One of his great expressions is "Let's add a few happy little trees..." or clouds or happy waves and birds. He's been described as 'liquid tranquilizer."

Ross died in 1995, but, as PBS continues to air The Joy of Painting,  Ross's stardom continues to grow.  There are Bob Ross clubs, tee shirts with his image and sayings, internet memes, Lego figures, Halloween costumes and cartoons. Despite his international following, Ross was as private a person as he could arrange and there are very few substantiated biographical facts about him.  But that hasn't slowed his fans from narratives recorded in fanzines, posts on message boards, tribute pages, obituaries, feature stores, (or this CIWT post).  The lack of vetted information has actually raised  every day, low key, salt of the earth Bob Ross to legend level, happy legend level to be sure.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Cinema CIWT --- Day 9/269

Walk: Hood

Distance: 3.5 miles, Yoga (while watching) 

So, on another no pickleball day Ciwt grabbed a bag of popcorn, took a front row seat at her computer and went to England:

Then she worked off a little of that popcorn by doing yoga as she went to Budapest and watched an online selection from her Cinema Club. Discussion with her excellent San Francisco moderator to follow tomorrow afternoon.

So, almost like having an impromptu movie escape.  Oh, and both trips were quite good - as was the popcorn.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

How'd You Do That? --- Day 9/268

Walk:  No, Day of Rest

Distance:  n/a

See that rounded dome behind the frescoed ceiling?

Here it is a little closer: 

It's at the highest point of the Church of Sant'Ignazio in Rome, near the Pantheon. isn't a dome at all. Ie, the ceiling up there is flat.

Backtracking a bit, Ciwt was thinking about those high church ceilings and wondering how artists got up there to decorate them. Many of us, particularly those who read Irving Stone's The Agony and the Ecstacy or saw the movie, know Michelangelo worked from scaffolding to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling.  He actually designed a unique system of platforms attached by brackets to the Chapel's walls.  This was ingenius (of course), but he never did figure out a way to overcome the physical strain of the increasingly uncomfortable work. Definitely not by lying on his back to paint.  Contrary to the movie image of Charlton Heston, he and his assistants stood and reached above their heads to paint, for years!  Makes Ciwt's muscles ache just thinking about it.

So far Ciwt hasn't learned how other artists before the advent of modern technology went about painting those gorgeous vaulted and domed ceilings around the world.  But she did learn about the false dome above which was a major accomplishment in its own right and executed by another Renaissance genius, Brother Andrea Pozzo (1642-1709).

Pozzo may have been a Brother in the Jesuit order, but he appears to be the Father of the illusionistic artistic technique called trompe d'oeil.  The widely traveled virtuoso painter-priest was an expert in mathematics who wrote detailed treatises on theories of perspective. And, when he was put in charge of the interior decoration at Sant'Ignazio from 1685-94, he had a supreme opportunity to put his theories into practice.

The Catholic Church at the time was in the business of winning believers back from the new Protestant orders that had sprung up since Martin Luther.  One of their main techniques was filling their churches with dazzling, theatrical art that stirred the hearts and astonished the minds of worshippers.  So, the original plan for the new Sant'Ignazio church called for an impressive, soaring dome through which the light of the Lord would appear to stream.  

But, some time before completion, either the church ran out of money or the locals objected to a massive dome that would block their sun.  Enter Brother Pozzo who managed to make the bascilica's massive (and flat!) ceiling disappear, opening up an entirely convincing vista into the celestial world above.  What he was standing or sitting or lying on, Ciwt doesn't know, but, however he did it,  Pozzo's masterpiece is one of the most impressive pieces of artistic illusion ever painted.

Brother Andrea Pozzo, S.J., Self-Portrait, 17th C.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Free Zone --- Day 9/267

Walk: Hood

Distance: 5 miles

Then you get there and start missing shots...

The thing about sports is they can become addictive or at least a distraction as you replay that shot you missed or try to figure out how you'll get better next time.  So Ciwt is looking forward to a pickleball free zone while she lets a little cut heal and hopefully gets her mind off that game and around some interesting CIWT topics.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Okay, Go Stand Behind THAT Lecturn --- Day 9/266

Walk: Presidio Pickleball

Distance: 3 miles, 45 minutes pickle before a little rain 😀

Can you imagine hosting the very first Jeopardy show since the death of its host?  That is, it's utterly beloved, consummately professional host for 37 years, Alex Trebek.  

Ken Jennings, the man who did just that last night, can hardly imagine himself.  In his words, the experience was "surreal," "intense," "unimaginable," "nerve wracking" and more.*

But, very personable and professional himself, Jennings did an excellent job, beginning with a warm tribute to Alex that reportedly brought many viewers to tears. He also brought a calming sense of continuity to the discontinuity because he is the Jeopardy GOAT, has made many and extended appearances on the show, won a bundle and was known to admire and care deeply for Alex.  In turn, Alex was visibly fond of Ken and all the Jennings brought to Jeopardy.

So, onward..

*You might want to hear more from Ken himself

Monday, January 11, 2021

Back to Snow --- Day 9/265

Walk: Presidio Pickleball

Distance: 2 miles, 90 minutes pickle

Haanja Upland in Estonia  

Enlarged section

Apologies to any readers who are feeling beleagured by snow while Ciwt continues to romance it.  

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Kind of Stuck --- Day 9/264

Walk: No, Day of Rest and Stuckness

Distance: n/a

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Remembering --- Day 9/263

Walk: Presidio Pickleball

Distance: 4.8 miles, 90 minutes pickle

Anish Kapoor, Cloud Gate (aka The Bean, 2006,  stainless steel,  33'x42'x66' Millenium Park, Chicago

Today Ciwt is remembering Crowds of People, Travel,  Summer, pre-pandemic things....

Friday, January 8, 2021

Hello Again, Creatures --- Day 9/263

Walk: Hood in Drizzle (any moisture is welcome)

Distance: 3.5 miles

Original Cover

Ciwt was reminded today of this favorite book from her youth, well her younger years at least.  James Herriot's compilation of heartwarming stories is based on the people and animals he met during his early years as an English veternarian.  

Now that it has become a massive hit both in bookstores and on television and the big screen, it is quaint to recall it actually had quite a sleepy start.  In England at the time of its publication (under another title), veternarian surgeons were heavily discouraged from writing books under their own names. To be published at all, James Alfred Wight adopted the Herriot pen name.  But, even then, sales were so slow his book might have died there if an editor from St. Martin's Press New York hadn't believed in it.  And when it was published in the States in 1972, it took off with far less than best seller momentum; Ciwt remembers being told by a friend about it, and then she told one or two friends, and so on and so on across the country.

At this point who isn't acquainted with and fond of Herriot's creatures, towns and townfold and who won't be happy to hear that PBS is bringing back a new 7-part series this Sunday?

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Untitled --- Day 9/261

Walk: No, Reading/Escaping

Distance: n/a, small yoga

CIWT is not a go to place for any political comments.  But it is for every day art, and Ciwt thinks this photo is quite amazing.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Yes, Happy Artist --- Day 9/260

Walk: Hood (to get away from DC mayhem)

Distance: 1.5 miles, yoga

Alexander Calder (1898-1976), Mobile, Triumphant Red, 1959-65, rod, painted sheet metal, wire, 

We are so used to hearing about struggling artists or starving artists that 'happy artist' seems a contradiction in terms.  But Alexander Calder, known as Sandy by family and friends, truly was one. Lifelong.  

Today he is best known for his mobiles and stabiles, but they came later in his career.  His playful and joyful artistic expressions began in childhood when he begged his parents for and was given his own home studio. He would spend hours with his first artistic tool, a pair of pliers and whatever objects might be around.  By age eight, he was already creating jewelry for his sister's dolls from beads and copper wire, and he went on to the making of small animals and board games from scavaged wood and brass.  

Calder left the studio of his youth to become an engineer specializing in mechanical engineering and applied kinetics.  His heart was always in being an artist, but his parents and grandparents, who were all artists, feared with good reason for his financial prospects.  So after graduation he tried to avoid his calling and worked in such jobs as automotive engineer, steam boat stoker and illustrator for the Police Gazette, eventually enroling in evening art classes.  At least two life changing experiences came of  these.  First, the boat allowed him many hours to contemplate movements of the planets from its deck, and to question how the constant motion of the universe could be incorporated into static art.  Second, a bit later the Gazette gave him an assignment to illustrate acts at Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey circus.

The circus was colorful, spectaular, a child's delight and Calder fell in love with it.  It was also an art form in constant motion and stoked Calder's quest to combine movement and fine art.  Propelled by these two energies he finally determined to make art his life work and moved to Paris.  Soon after arrival he was using those pliers and everything at hand - wood, metal, cardboard, paper, yarn, string, buttons and more - to create a circus with miniature animals, acrobats and other perfomers to create his own circus.  His manual dexterity was astounding in itself, but the true wonder was his use of pullies and springs so that his little people and beasts moved.  

He was also expressing the whimsical, playful wit that infuses all his art.  Shortly his love of performance surfaced and he was regaling his new French friends with circus shows.*  'Amis' such as Marcel DuChamps and Jean Arp attended, loved Calder's circus and became lifelong friends.  And from his circus and Paris days, Calder returned to the U.S. and went on to be Alexander Calder, creator of mobiles and stabiles, while remaining a happy soul thoughout his life.

Alexander Calder, Circus, 1926-1931, Painted Wood, cloth, rubbing tubing, wire, nails, fur, pipe cleaner, cork

Alexander Calder, Elephant Trainer and Elephant, from Circus, 1926-31,


*Calder performing his circus , 1927  

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Happy Space --- Day 9/259

Walk: Presidio Pickleball

Distance: 3 miles, 2 hours pickle

Ciwt (and her readers probably) is thinking Enough Already with the snow.  There are other things above like Alexander's charming, playful, happy mobiles and stabiles.

Alexander Calder Room at SFMOMA

Alexander Calder Room at SFMOMA

Occasionally when Ciwt gives an art tour, a client will ask to see some of her favorites.  At SFMOMA she always includes the spacious, airy Alexander Calder room filled inside and out with a selection of his mobiles and stabiles gracefully in motion.  Behind the sculptures on the deck is an enormous living wall constant and soothing in its greenery.  It is just a totally happy space to be in and a perfect homage to a totally happy (really!) artist.  More on him tomorrow......


Monday, January 4, 2021

Winter Comes to Cities Too --- Day 9/258

Walk: Hood  ( after needed Rain 😊)

Distance: 3 miles, Yoga

Gustave Caillebotte, Rooftops in the Snow, 1878, 32" x 26," o/c Musée d’Orsay, Paris.


Landscapes were not a well regarded art genre in 1878.  Land was where people toiled from pre-dawn often to late into dark.  It was the unpredictable, difficult, often dangerous source of existence, not a subject of contemplation or reverie.  And, if landscapes were anything, they were rural - especially snow scenes. 

So you can imagine how modern this urban snow scene appeared to the viewing public when Gustave Caillebotte, presented it at the fourth Impressionist Exhibition. So modern in fact that there is little record of comment or critical review of it.  Ciwt has the sense people just kind of walked on by.  They did like and stop before his portraits and boating scenes (for good reason!). 

Skiffs on the Yerres, 1877

But the main parts of  Haussmann's vast renovation of Paris  (1853-1870) were only recently completed.  The Parisians had been subjected to decades of dislocation, demolition, massive inconvenience and turmoil.  It is understandable that few beyond Caillebotte might have embraced the new visuals, the steep architecture, the wide boulevards, the parks, the doubling of the city's size.  

But Caillebotte was clearly captivated with Paris's look and enthusiastically turned his attention to how the light, weather and seasons affected the atmosphere and human activities of this new urban landscape.  In the process he created some of the most thrilling and admired cityscapes in art history.

Paris Street, Rainy Day, 1877

The Floor Scrapers, 1875

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Another Great Reason for Winter --- Day 9/257

 Walk: Presidio Pickleball

Distance: 2.5 miles, 2 hours pickle, Yoga stretch

Claude Monet (1840-1926) , The Magpie, 1868-1869, 3' x 4.3' , o/c, Musee d'Orsay

Winter has its own rewards, and, for Ciwt, one of them is that it produced the day Claude Monet painted The Magpie. At once universal and highly personal, it is one of her favorite art works. As a solitaire herself, she relates deeply to that single bird, and everyone who has woken to the soft, hushed glow of morning after a snowstorm is brought back to it viewing this work. 

The Magpie's restful simplicity belies the physical and creative challenges Monet undertook to create it.  Freezing cold for one.  Most landscape artists before (and after) him would make sketches outdoors and then return to their studios to paint the final work.  But Monet was so obsessed with capturing nature exactly that he painted entirely outdoors, often from predawn to the end of day.  The average temperature in Normandy, France, where The Magpie was painted, hovers around freezing.  A French journalist happened to see him one day and described the scene: We have only seen him once. It was in the winter, during several days of snow, when communications were virtually at a standstill. It was cold enough to split stones. We noticed a foot-warmer, then an easel, then a man, swathed in three coats, his hands in gloves, his face half-frozen. It was M. Monet, studying a snow effect.[11]  
Monet himself was apparently so caught up in, even exhilarated, by his quest that he once wrote a friend:  I painted part of the day today, while it was snowing continually: you would have laughed to see me entirely white, my beard covered with icy stalactites.

So it was a physical feat for Monet to paint his snowscenes, but it is the artistic breakthrough they represented which stunned and still holds the art world's attention. Monet captured snow!  This hadn't been done so successfully before him.  Snow like the sea (which he is also a master at painting) is elusive.  As light plays with it, it is actually many colors;  pale, it is also luminous; its shadows are not black but, as Monet realized, the convention-shocking blue of The Magpie.  Snow is so challenging that even with his work before their eyes, artists were (and are) hard put to equal Monet's feat. In the late 1870's his friend and famous artist, Edouard Manet, tried to paint a snow scene but gave up exclaiming "No one can do this like Monet!"

In some ways Monet was the sole bird of his painting.  Although a smattering his 'renegade' artist friends recognized the novelty and daring of The Magpie, its initial reception is sadly typical of his impoverished twenty year struggle for recognition. The Royal Academy powers that be in Paris and, consequently the French public whose tastes were entirely formed by them, were flabbergasted by the unorthodox 'paleness' of the work and turned it down flat for the 1869 salon. 

Now of course Monet is that 'rare bird' who not only achieved grand success in his lifetime and is known as the Father of Impressionism but whose reputation and following continues to grow and whose works - including The Magpie - count among the most beloved in history.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Let There Be Winter --- Day 9/256

Walk: No, Rain (yay) and cold

Distance: n/a, Yoga

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Hunters in the Snow, 1565, oil on wood, 5/3' x 3.8'

Leave it to Ciwt, a cold weather girl transplanted to California, to romanticize winter as the year begins. But, really, who cannot be completely drawn to this heartwarming winter scene painted so long ago but still so alive?

The world of the painting is locked in winter but teeming with life as huntes and their dogs bring in game for winter provisions  

Crows circle the sky         

Villagers skate on a frozen pond   

One of the most beloved and reproduced paintings in the world, Hunters in the Snow is also one of European art's first widely accepted genre painting focusing on the life, rituals, pastimes of peasants as well as the architecture and landscape of the surrounding village.  And its artist, Pieter Bruegel the Elder (Dutch, ca. 1525/30 - 1569) was truly the pioneer of this form which precisely recorded details of a now vanished folk culture and also paved the way for the explosion of genre and landscape painting to this day. 

But, if you spend time with Hunters in the Snow, you realize Bruegel has more in mind than re-creating every day peasant life. He has actually transformed the landscape. The Dutch landscape is flat with much of it below sea level, but that crow is flying before steep alpine cliffs. No peasant himself, Bruegel was a highly trained, brilliant artist and sophisticated world traveler.  He was was also a learned humanist patronized mainly by scholars, weathy businessmen and prominent humanists such as cartographers and humanists.  His vision was exceedingly complex, expansive, and his use of landscape itself to communicate an atmospheric, universal vision of the world was a first and ultimately his greatest artistic legacy.  

Or forget all this just let your heart be warmed by his wonderful art work......

Friday, January 1, 2021

2021 --- Day 9/255

Walk: Presidio Pickleball

Distance: 3 miles, 90 minutes pickle