Monday, September 27, 2021

Hello, Sis --- Days 10/137, 138, 139, 140, 141, 142, 143

Walk: 1.GG Pickleball 2. Buying gorceries for sister visit 3. GG Bridge sightseeing/bonding begins 4.  GG Park 5. Legion of Honor 6 .Japantown, Chinatown sister leaves

Distance:1. 1.6 miles, 90 (hot 🌞) minutes pickle 2. 2.8 miles 3. 6 miles 4. 7.5 miles 5.7 miles 6. 3.5 miles 7. staring into space

So, Ciwt has a sister!  22 years younger, a different mother, unseen except about four times in either of our lives.  And, suddenly last week, her sister got inspired to make a last minute (to say the least!) trip to visit Ciwt.  Scary, strangers really; how would it go?!

Well, she and the trip were fabulous!  She's smart, curious, loves to walk and explore, champion athlete, high energy, tons of fun, real, funny.  We spent 3.5 days together mostly walking to as many sightd and  restaurants as we could pack in while laughing, talking, bonding.  It was amazing.  

Turns out it's great to have a sister.

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.*