Wednesday, June 30, 2021

'Remember the Alamo' --- Days 10/58, 59 & 60

Walk: 1. SFMOMA (preview)  2. Legion of Honor (preview), GG Pickleball  3. Errands, online previews

Distance: 1. 4 miles, small yoga  2. 2.5 miles, 90 minutes pickle, small yoga  3. 5 miles, small yoga

So Ciwt is feeling overwhelmed and a bit dated as she previews our museums for her upcoming art tour.  What she has discovered is that they have drastically rehung their walls during the pandemic and drastically departed from 'traditional' art history and presentation in the process.  For instance, at the feet of Rodin's iconic Thinker (which many people make a special trip to the Legion of Honor to see) now lie bronze sculptures of exhausted, spent or maybe dead women.

That's just the beginning.  Everywhere you turn, throughout the Legion and SFMOMA it is "Remember the Alamo."  You can't just appreciate the beauty of historical works from whatever era.  Now you must simultaneously reconcile these with the racial, sexual, personal, geographic expressions of (known ad unknown) contemporary artists.  

It's a lot.  A lot for Ciwt to try to present and a lot for tour takers to absorb.  More later... 

Meanwhile, Ciwt continues to relax with 'her' nearly 40 year old friend, Jeopardy.  The quality of the guest hosts would do Alex Trebek proud and, to a host, are outspoken in their admiration for and devotion to him as well as the game.  Twice now Ciwt hadn't heard of the guest host so of course was apprehensive.  And twice she has been amazed by the quality job they've done.  She told you about the first, Mayim Bialik (See Day 10/39). The second, Savannah Guthrie, ended her two week tour last Friday and was also excellent.  Smart, warm, talented, funny, professional - just great presence all the way around.  

Still, though, she ranks Ken Jennings #1, for many reasons including his Jeopardy continuity as a player, all time winner and many days with Alex Trebek. 

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Golden Gate Bridge - Notes --- Days 10/55, 56 & 57

Walk: 1. Presidio Pickleball  2. Weekend Errands 2. Presidio Pickleball

Distance: 1. 2.5 miles, 90 minutes pickle  2. 3.5 miles, Yoga 3. 3 miles, 1 hour pickle, yoga

It almost didn't get built at all, the man who is credited as its designer actually wasn't, the color for which it is known was completely unplanned, the 75th anniversary of it almost marked its end. And, that, dear readers, is a short history of the world famous Golden Gate Bridge.

Why was it almost not built?  Well, because contentious politics are nothing new.  Even with a provisional contract to build a bridge from the U.S. War Department (which owned the land on either side), it took four more years of fighting before those in favor of the new bridge prevailed.  The reasons against the bridege were fierce and diverse: lumberpeople feared newcomers woud agitate against the felling of redwoods, cattlepeople worried tourists would disturb their land and animals, many counties feared the costs involved in both building and gearing up for tourists.

With the full construction permit finally in hand in 1930, it still took three more years before construction began.  Joseph Strauss,who had submitted the original design for the bridge and whose tireless cheerleading was largely responsible for its laborious trek through myriad political barriers, was named Chief Engineer.  But much of those three years was spent by Strauss's Vice Preesident, Charles Ellis, working and reworking the architectual numbers that would allow the structure to actually stand. Only recently has it come to light that the bridge Strauss designed, besides being clunky and ugly, would have collapsed in less than three months - or sooner if there had been a mighty gale.  This was the 'problem' Ellis was addressing.  Along the way he also came up with the graceful art nouveau look of the bridge.  Nonetheless, when the bridge was open to great ceremony in 1937, Strauss's name was on the plaque and Ellis had been fired by Strauss the year before.

The story about the gold (?) color of the bridge is anecdotal but also true.  It is known as International Orange and often used as a base/primer - which it was how it was employed on the way to completing the bridge.  When San Francisco residents saw the new color,  they were thrilled and amused.  How clever that the engineers of the bridge that spans the Golden Gate Strait should paint the bridge gold! The rest is history.  Who knows what was done with the thousands of cans of  industrial gray paint that were in the original plans.

And speaking of plans, well someone sort of forgot those when the Golden Gate Bridge celebrated its 50th anniversay in 1987.  Somehow the 'planners' thought a comparative smattering of people - maybe 80,000 at most  - would show up for the occasion.  800,000 came, some from the San Francisco side and some from Marin.  And the people on both sides were allowed to begin crossing at the same time.  Who knows how long it took for 'the planners' to realize they would meet toward the middle of the bridge and that no one (including Charles Ellis) had ever calculated how long the bridge could withstand the vibrations from footfalls and other motion of  300,000+ people, dogs, baby strollers, bikes, roller skates, skateboards that got on the bridge.  It is one of the great miracles of modern life that, when they realized what was happening, the people on the bridge did not panic.  Some got seasick and many sick with anxiety but they didn't panic.  They began to hurl bicycles and strollers over the railing into the Bay to lighten the load and cautiously, quietly sometimes jlkingly, reversed their courses.  There were just a few minor injuries, no deaths and a landmark, historical catastrophe was averted.  (A photo with note from someone was as there follows:)

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Birthday Art --- Days 10/51, 52, 53 & 54

Walk: 1. No (planning art tour!)  2. Presidio Pickleball 3. Golden Gate Pickleball 4. The Towers tour

Distance: 1. n/a   2. 3 miles, Some Yoga 3. 2 miles, 90 minutes pickle 4. 4 miles 4. 4 Miles

Installation view from Wangechi Mutu: I Am Speaking, Are You Listening? at the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, with the works Shavasana I (2019) and Shavasana II (2019), MamaRay (2020), Crocodylus (2020)

San Francisco is open for business, people are traveling and guess who has been busy putting together arrangements an upcoming art tour.  Just when Ciwt feared there would be no more private art tour takers, a young man from Michigan has chosen to give his girlfriend a special birthday gift.  

Well, all right!  Now let's see if Ciwt can even talk (art) after our pandemic shutdown.  

Saturday, June 19, 2021

What A Girl! --- Day 10/50

Walk: Embarcadero Cinema (Rita Moreno: Just A Girl Who Decided To Go For It)

Distance: 4.5 miles

Back in a movie theater for the fourth time!  

The movie Ciwt saw about Rita Moreno is getting accolades and high ratings all over the place.  So you know to go. And not to listen to Ciwt who came out of the theater feeling a bit empty.  Lots of old and current clips and very professionally done.  Everything - all of Moreno's truth - was smooth as silk and polished. Maybe too much so for Ciwt; something intangible was missing for her.   

Friday, June 18, 2021

A Good Woman for a Gold Medal --- Day 10/49


Walk: Presidio Pickleball, Athleta

Distance: 4 miles, 90 minutes Pickle

So Ciwt lives near several homes designed by Julia Morgan (1872-1957), California's first licensed female architect - and, to this day, the most successful.  But does Ciwt stop to admire them or take in their innovative styles?  

What do you think? Here's a Bavarian-ish one a couple of blocks away (under remodel). 

Julia Morgan House

And here, a few blocks in the other directtion, is the small Victorian cottage she designed and was living in at the end.  

Julia Morgan House

So, no;  Ciwt walks right by.  And Morgan wouldn't care in the least that Ciwt isn't impressed by her exteriors because she made no attempt to create a new architectural style. She was happy to and skilled at working with the desires (and whims) of her clients. Nor did she look for personal fame and fortune.  In her dislike of  attention she did not give interviews and refused to write about her work, even though her most important client was an international media tycoon.  

So, how did she become so prominent and sought after?  For one thing, beyond her many talents, she was a creative problem solver, including solving the problem of  ever-changing, demanding and difficult clients.  In particular, William Randolph Hearst (the media tycoon) with and for whom Morgan worked for decades.  She is best known as the designer of  his Hearst Castle*in San Simeon,  but in the nearly thirty years it took to complete the vast estate, she also hired and managed the craftsman, oversaw artwork installation, hired and oversaw household staff and even helped establish the property's private zoo.  The Castle was just one of her projects for the Hearst family; over the years she designed numerous personal and commercial structures for them, including Hearst's mother, Phoebe's project, Asilomar**, an elegantly rustic conference/retreat center for the YWCA.

Speaking of solving problems, in some ways you could say Morgan single-handedly saved San Francisco as a place to visit after the Great Earthquake of 1906.  The recently completed, luxurious Fairmont Hotel was razed to near rubble by the disaster and considered a total ruin by architectural and engineering experts.  All except Morgan, whose training and degree was in Civil Engineering (architecture degrees were not available at UC Berkeley at the time she studied).  To the astonishment of those who couldn't imagine hiring a woman, Morgan was employed by the owners who were determined to restore the hotel.  And to everyone's greater astonishment, she had used her vast problem solving, engineering and interior design talents to restore the entire hotel to its original splendor by 1907.  San Francisco was open again for tourist business, thanks in large part to Julia Morgan.

Another key reason for Morgan's success was her interest in and talent for creating glorious liveability.  She really designed from the inside out, employing her engineering strengths along with her knowledge of and respect for natural materials and historically grand spaces.  The engineer in her prioritized durability, so she was one of the first architects to specialize in the use reinforced concrete deeply anchored for stability. And then the artist in her acquired the most beautiful and prized natural materials and hired the most skilled metalworkers, woodcarvers, tile workers, mural painters and other artisans to create simple, dignified yet utterly liveable interiors.

Gothic Suite, Hearst Castle

Merrill Hall, Asilomar Conference Grounds

Private Home, San Francisco

Probably because of her lack of grand standing and interest in flamboyant modernization, Morgan was largely forgotten by the end of the 1950's.  Then, happily and largely thanks to a 1988 biography, Julia Morgan, Architect by architectural historian Sara Boutelle her reputation was restored and brought to the attention of the public and, significantly, students in architecture schools throughout the world.  And in 2014 Julia Morgan was awarded the American Institute of Architcts Gold Medal - the first time the organization had given its highest honor to a woman.  (Congratulations, and sorry for all the attention, Ms. Morgan).  



Thursday, June 17, 2021

A Good Woman for Pools --- Day 10/48

Walk: Hood

Distance: 3 miles

Berkeley City Club Pool, 1929, Julia Morgan, designer

So, San Francisco is its usual 'naturally air conditioned" (read: cool and windy) self today. But go five miles from here and you are in a heat wave billed "life threaghtening" and "record breaking," so Ciwt is thinking of pools. Julia Morgan pools especially.

Pioneering San Francisco native Julia Morgan (1872-1957) was the first woman to receive a California architect's license. The year was 1904, and perhaps her male counterparts thought she would simply hang it on her wall as accomplishment enough. But, by the time of her death in San Francisco, Morgan, the architect/engineer/contractor/businesswoman/history and art lover left a legacy of over 800 personally designed buildings and sites. The most famous of these is Hearst Castle in San Simeon, and among her most exquisite designs were her pools.

Of those, the most beautiful and admired is Roman Pool, the second major pool at Hearst Castle. No wonder and no accident. Morgan admired and referenced history in much of her work and in this case styled the pool after ancient Roman bath houses like the Baths of Caracalla (211-217 CE). Master tile workers were employed by Morgan to design faithful copies of ancient tile patterns and colors and a master sculptor worked directly with statues in the Vatican Museum to carve copies of the Roman heroes, gods and goddesses that surround the pool. The results are truly stunning. 

Perhaps some lucky person down in San Simeon's current heat wave is enjoying a swim in it as Ciwt writes.

Roman Pool, Hearst Castle, San Simeon, CA, 1927-1934, Julia Morgan, designer

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Sleep Masks, Yes --- Day 10/47

Walk: GG Park Pickleball

Distance: 4 miles, 90 mnutes pickle

As of today, after one year and three months, vaccinated Californians can be out in the world without masks in most situations.  Even so, Ciwt felt a bit like a deliquent walking around without one.  It's going to take a little time to get used to.  Maybe she'll lie down, put on her sleep mask and let it sink in.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Hmmmm --- Days 10/45 & 46

Walk: 1. Presidio Pickleball Courts, Up & Down Stairs for Monday chores 2. GG Park Pickleball

Distance: 1. 2.6 miles, small yoga, 2 games pickle  2, 4 miles, 90 minutes pickle, small yoga

Ciwt has a hard time concentrating when there is work being done around her home.  (See Day 10/44)

Sunday, June 13, 2021

'Settling' in San Francisco --- Day 10/44

Walk: Presidio Pickleball

Distance: 3 miles, 90 minutes pickle

Just a few 'hairline cracks, a little plaster, a little paint' thought Ciwt about her back room.  

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Ropes of Pearls & Classmates --- Day 10/43

Walk: No

Distance: n/a, Yoga

So Ciwt was so 'sobered' by her zoom class reunion that she couldn't get out of her home even for a walk today.  Most of the old (definitely!) faces she could see were strangers to her because she hadn't even known them at college and the conversation tended toward the serious, sentimental and decidedly unfunny.  Ie, draining.  

But the thing that really got her down was that many of the women (it was a women's college) were wearing pearls.  Ropes of pearls!  All Ciwt could think was "How old are we??"  And those same people were wearing bright red, not necessarily a flattering color on older people.  (Ciwt was wearing her pickleball attire).

At the end of the get together she pressed the "Leave" button and just sat in her chair staring at the empty screen. She felt heavy, like she had gained 100 pounds and her energy level was near zero.  Luckily a classmate called; one she actually knew and liked.  Her first words, even before hello, were "There was no humor; hardly even a smile!"  

Well all right!  At least one person remembers Ciwt loves to laugh and could crack up her friends in our dormitory back then.  So, energy returned, and Ciwt learned the ropes of pearls were leftovers from the last 'important' reunion.  They were fake (whew) and hopefully worn tongue in cheek.  Who knows about all the red - probably that was from some other reunion.

Anyway, that's that for Ciwt and reunions for several more years (hopefully).  Tomorrow she will make it to the pickleball courts followed by a long walk. 


Friday, June 11, 2021

The Movies Are Back --- Day 10/42

Walk: Vogue Theater (In the Heights)

Distance: 2 miles

Superior - the movie and being back in a movie theater (carefully spaced).  

Lin-Manuel Moranda continues to add so much to our cultural lives.  Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly gave a succinct review Ciwt likes: A Technicolor marvel as heady as Old Hollywood, and as modern as this moment.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Personal Bouquet Favorites --- Day 10/41

Walk: Presidio

Distance: 4.5 miles

Forget Me Not Florist, Maggie Wan; Jullian Mak, co-exhibitor (San Francisco) in front of Flora C. Mace and Joey Kirkpatric, Watercatcher, 1995

Floristika, Emma Soloveychik, MS, EMS, CCF (San Francisco)  in front of Robert Henri, O in Persian Costume, 1913

Noovo Bloom, Alan Hhan Do (San Francisco), in front of Richard Mayhew, Rhapsody, 2002

Maybe for their overall simplicity and colors, Ciwt particularly enjoyed these bouquets to their selected art pieces.  If you go to the site ourself yourself, maybe you'll have other favorites.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

"A Celebration of Their Lives" --- Day 10/40

Walk: Green Apple Books, Sloat Garden Center

Distance: 4.5 miles, Yoga

Eko W. Tjoek (San Francisco)

So, today Bouquets to Art, a weeklong display of fresh floral installations inspired by works in the de Young's permanent collection returned to our Fine Arts Museums for the 37th year.  It is their principal fund raising event -  gorgeous, and immensely popular. And always sold out so that Ciwt long ago abandoned the idea of  attending.  But, to her happy surprise, this year Bouquets is being offered on line*. 

On her first virtual visit, understandably, Ciwt found that the pandemic, along with the art, has inspired many of the talented and specially invited floral designers. She thought the arrangement above was particularly lovely, and was deeply moved by Eko W. Tjoek, the artist's, statement:

This past year has been a difficult and unprecedented time for all of us.  The pandemic has affected our daily lives, our way of living and how we think.  There is a lot of heartache and sorrow.  But it also allows us to pause and slow down.  I want to dedicate this arrangement to my parents, whom I lost to this virus, and to millions of  families who also lost their love ones.  Think of this arrangement as a celebration of their lives.

I chose this location because of its simplicity  No art, no paintig or sculpture.  Just the room, glass windows, and the garden outside.

Peace and serenity.  That's all the world needs right now.

*You can attend too! (just click on this link).  

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Who is M.B.? --- Day 10/39

Walk: GG Pickleball

Distance: Just a mile, 90 minutes pickle, yoga stretches

So just a week ago Ciwt didn't know who Mayim Bialik was and now she's rooting for her to be permanent host of Jeporady.  

Every single guest host so far has commented repeatedly on how difficult it is to fill Alex's shoes.  Not just his likeability, but the fact that Alex made an exceedingly challenging job look easy.  And isn't that the ultimate sign of exceptional talent?  You watch Roger Federer speed around the tennis court like a graceful and beautiful gazelle hitting the most remote shots with perfect timing and think "tennis looks so fun." Not, omg, what a struggle, he's trying so hard, I could never do that, etc.

And Bialik has that special something.  Like Alex, smart as a whip, personable with the contestants, fast on the draw with comments and evaluations of the contestants' answers, human, humane, humble, fun.  Etc.  She is so good she handles every moment as if it is perfectly natural, plus she's likely to draw a whole new crowd of viewers while keeping us old ones glued to the show.  So, in answer to one of TV's most pressing questions, Ciwt is ready to answer "Who is Mayim Bialik?"

(But then again a few weeks ago she was championing Buzzy or Ken or Bill.  So guess she better wait to see all the candidates before buzzing in.  The really good news is there already are several great ones).

Monday, June 7, 2021

Not Blowing in the Wind --- Days 10/36, 37, 38

Walk: 1. Presidio Pickleball  2. Vogue Theater (NT Live: Cyrano de Bergerac  3. Monday errands

Distance: 1. 2.8 miles, 1 hr. pickle, yoga  2. 2.4 miles, tiny yoga  3. 3.5 miles, Yoga

So where has Ciwt been past few days?  Well, it is summer, so like any good San Franciscan she has gone inside.  To get away from the wind and cold, that is.  While the rest of the country comes to life, sun bathes, swims, has backyard barbeques, plays horseshoes, we turn on our heaters or just stay in our down jackets when we give up chasing pickleballs in the wind.  Did Ciwt tell you about the birds that were blowing over trying to stand next to a golf green she was putting on?

With all her excess energy Ciwt turned to not just one but three cultural events yesterday.  First, National Theater Live's Cyrano de Bergerac.  Like many people who know that play, Ciwt was expecting to see a bough covered balcony with Cyrano hidden beneath crooning sweet poety to Roxane.  Nope!  Not in 2021 where classics are a thing of the past.  This Cyrano was haughty, vaguely homosexual, dancing hip hop, swearing like mad and speaking in modernized rap verse.  He was also quite gorgeous and completely buff (with no artificial nose) and played beautifully by James McAvoy.

Then it was back for an informative and passionate art lecture about the ever impassioned Vincent van Gogh.    
Vincent van Gogh, (Last) Self Portrait. 1889

Finally she Netflixed a movie she'd missed from a recent film festival. Turned out the (gay) main character was the opposite of the two emotive artists she had spent the day with: cold, remote, cruel. 

Alfonso Herrera in Dance of '41

Finally, she threw her down comforter on top of all her other covers and went off to sleep with her cats curled up beside her.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Puzzles, Quizes and Ciwt --- Day 10/35

Walk:  Hood

Distance: Just 1.8 miles (So Windy­čś×)

Ciwt's lowest score so far on the NYT daily mini.  Do Not ask about her NYT Weekly Quiz scores....

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Respectful Farewell --- Day 10/34

Walk:  Presidio

Distance: 4 miles, Yoga

Always hard for Ciwt to let go of all the artful covers and high quality writing.  

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Around the Table --- Day 10/33

Walk: LP Nails

Distance: 2.5 miles, Yoga

Horace Pippin, Domino Players, 1943, 12 3/4" x 22," oil on fiberboard 

DC is an art lovers heaven for, among others, young working women, which CIWT was when she lived there in the 60's.  Many first rate museums were - and are! - free, so Ciwt's big decision on her walk home was whether to stop in at the Smithsonian or the National Gallery of Art or, closer to her home, The Phillips Collection.  If she chose the last, she couldn't to wait to come around the Collection's blind corner and encounter, boom, Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party 

Maybe because she was so blissed out by colors and the merriment of Renoir's party, she doesn't recall seeing Horace Pippin's Domino Players, which, since Duncan Phillips acquired it in 1943, has been in the Collection.

Renoir's young and beautiful friends are enjoying food and drink in a convivial river setting while Pippin's  domino players are occupied with other humble daily pleasures: table games, friendly competition, quiltmaking.  But, take away the different settings, and Ciwt sees everyday people enjoying the relaxed pleasure and comfort of each other's company.  And this warms her heart. 

She's beginning to contemplate a trip back to DC, and, if she takes it, hopes to encounter that old Luncheon friend around the corner and meet a new one somewhere near it on the walls of the Phillips.


Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Pickle-Tennis Anyone? --- Day 10/32

Walk: Lisa and Douglas Goldman Tennis Center

Distance: 6 miles, 1 hour pickle



Hurray!  San Francisco has a great new tennis and Pickleball facility in Golden Gate Park.  The generosity of certain old SF Families and Foundations is truly amazing.  We are very lucky.