Distance: 1 mile, yoga
Walk: AMC Kabuki (The Quiet Girl)
Distance: 2 miles, yoga
So today Ciwt completed her viewing of the Oscar Nominees for Best Internaitonal Feature. Another Irish Oscar nominee, another well acted lament filled with wandering roads, emerald hills, dirty sad homes. But mercifully no lost fingers or dead pets......
Walk: No! Cold, Windy, Wet, Snow, Hail, Etc.
Distance:30 miles driving around San Francisco
So today Ciwt's sister brought her husband to sightsee in San Francisco. Ciwt was tour guide and chauffeur. I think they could see a few things through the driving rain, thick clouds - if they looked really, really hard. He probably needs to come back another time...
Walk: SF Ballet (Giselle)
Distance: 5 miles, yoga
|Albrecht and Giselle|
Of all the Romantic ballets still performed, “Giselle” is the oldest, and its staying power lies in the romantic grief that has inspired poets, songwriters and storytellers for centuries.
The ballet is 182 years old and still fresh today. And demanding! Giselle and Albrecht are two of the most complex, difficult, downright scary roles for any ballet artist. Today Ciwt was lucky to see Esteban Hernandex and the ethereal, exquiste Jasmine dance those centuries old, still new (and exhausting even to watch) parts. She thinks a couple of the people around her were in tears by the end.
|Esteban Hernandez (Albrecht) and Jasmine Jimison (Giselle) in rehearsal|
Distance: 4.5 miles, yoga
So to loyal readers who live in the ususal snow regions this picture might seem ho hum. But those of us in the Bay Area look in wonder because this accumulation is just 60 miles south of here.
It missed us, but the forecast is for more ahead, so we'll see. If it does snow, it will join the few exceedingly rare times snow has fallen in San Francisco.
Distance: 2.5 cold, windy miles, yoga
|Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), Portrait of Omai, 1776, oil on canvas|
|Sir Joshua Reynolds, Anne, Viscountess (then Marchioness) of Townsend, ca. 1780|
|Lady Bampfylde by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792)|
|Lady Christian Acland, 1771|
Walk: Trader Joe's
Distance: 4 miles, yoga
So a friend sent Ciwt an article profiling some current high profile Art Advisors, and it put her in mind of a member of that unregulated, wide open field from her past.
One day years ago Ciwt was working as manager of an art gallery when a newly divorced woman with a large settlement from her doctor husband came in. She did not know one thing about art - pink from purple, Manet from Michelangelo, etc. so Ciwt and the two owners spent a few hours informing her as best we could. It is doubtful she retained much as she just kept exclaiming "Art is so wonderful!". Other gallery owners we learned had had similar experiences and we all shook our heads.
Well, two weeks later the woman showed up again - with a client!! She shamelessly and brashly paraded this unwitting client through the gallery regaling her with complete but authoritative nonsense about the works before her. The owners and Ciwt stood by with our mouths agape at this ego and ambition. Ciwt doesn't remember if the newly minted Art Advisor sold her client anything that day, but she does know that advisor is still in business 40 years later.
The topic of Art Advisors is complex, and there is a lot to talk about. Certainly somewhere in the conversation would be : Collectors be advised! The 'business' of art is wild and often not particularly pretty.
Walk: No! Even grown men were grabbing onto something to stay standing in today's ferocious wind. Plus it is cold.
Distance: 0, yoga
|Nawelle Ewad in Cyrus Neshvad's excellent short film The Red Suitcase|
Stand back Alfred Hitchcock. Another master of suspense was at work in the Best of the Oscar Nominated Shorts: Live Action. His name: Iranian born, Luxembourg based director, Cyrus Neshvad. His movie: The Red Suitcase.
At the start of this film the audience doesn't quite understand what is happening. A young woman in a burka headscarf is reluctant to cross the bridge into the airport from the arrival area. She keeps peering beyond but pulling back. Eventually this catches the eyes of two security guards who ask to see her passport. We then learn she doesn't speak a word of the language where she has landed and our knuckles tighten. When the guards find a way to communicate with her, they grab for her suitcase. She hugs it tight and our knuckles tighten even more. From then on the audience white knuckles through nearly every breath this young woman takes as she thinks on her feet from moment to moment until the movie ends in a way that keeps the viewer engaged for days after. At least if that viewer is Ciwt.
The Red Suitcase is a masterful, highly intelligent short movie on an ancient, important, universal topic by a passionately caring and skilled director. Ciwt has learned Neshvad is at work on his first full length movie, and she plans to be one of the first in the theater when it is released.
Walk: Vogue Theater
Distance: 4.5 miles, yoga
So Ciwt and her movie-going, Oscar-watching (maybe) friend on the opposite coast are getting each other to the shorts. Her friend has seen them all, and Ciwt is scheduled to see her last group, animation, tomorrow.
And she's not looking to those animated showings in the least. In years past many of the shorts have been excellent and a few have been positively brilliant and memorable. But that spark is missing this year in the two categories Ciwt's seen (with Live Action being better than Documentaries), and she hears that she could 'happily miss' the animated ones. Too bad; she was hoping the shorts would be so good she could get excited about or at least not dread Oscars 2023.
Walk: Vogue Theater (Oscar Nominated Shorts: documentaries)
Distance: 2.5 miles, small yoga
Ciwt came out of the theater after watching the Oscar Nominated Short Documentaries feeling like she had been relaeased from some sort of confinement. All five were technically excellent but for Ciwt there was a certain flat sameness to all of them. They felt over long, ultimately dreary and kind of 'Nicely done, but so what?'
Walk: No, cold and tired. Home puttering instead.
|Winner, Travel Photographer of the Year 2022. Tacande, La Palma, Spain: footage of a ravaged mountainside with a single tree withstanding the lava flow during an eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano|
Photographer: Matjaz Krivic / www.tpoty.com
Distance: 4 miles
|Najin with friend and caretaker, Nanyuki, Kenya. photo by Matjaz Krivic|
Distance: 3 miles
So, Ciwt kept getting little messages about sweets, flowers, romantic getaways in her inbox and noticing little articles in online papers about same. Finally she clicked - Today! Is Valentine's Day. Wishing a happy one to all her appreciated readers.
Walk: LP Nails, AMC Kabuki (Avatar:The Way of Water)
So to honor her Oscar watching tradition as well as support the silvr screen, Ciwt is getting in as many nominated movies as possible. And today she went to the second one she has left early. The first was Everything, Everywhere, All at Once (see Day 12/30) and today it was Avatar: the Way of Water.
She left before seeing a drop of water so you'll have to go yourselves to learn about that. But she did stay long enough to guess this must be what video games look like: colorful, fantastical, superficial nonstop action, killing, fighting, good guys with animals, bad guys with machines, end of the world, up to good guys to save it. That sort of thing from beginning to end (probably). If you are a grandparent, your grandchildren will love you if you take them. Otherwise, drink water (maybe with some scotch in it) at home.
Now, here's one she stayed all the way through. Belgium's nominee for Best Foreign Feature, Close, is an exquisite study of deep friendship between young boys. Warning: it will stay with you for a long time after you leave the theater.
Walk: AMC Metreon
Distance: 5 miles, yoga
|Tiit Helimets, San Francisco Ballet Principal Dancer, 2005-2023|
So, this season there have been many empty spaces at the Opera House where the San Francisco Ballet performs. But yesterday afternoon every single one of its 3,146 seats was filled. People had come from many places (the woman next to Ciwt had made the 4 hour drive from Tahoe) to honor, say their very fond farewells and godspeeds to transcendent principal dancer, Tiit Helimets.
Tiit is one of those very rare talents so superb he has lifted ballet, his art, to another level. Not just with his dance gifts but with his humility, graciousness, kindness, absolute love of and commitment to his dream of learning and giving all in his power to his beloved dance. To follow that dream he left his native Estonia - where he made history as the youngest male dancer ever to perform the role of Siegfried in Swan Lake - to join the Birmingham Royal Ballet. Part of his courage to embark on such an undertaking was a video he'd seen of as a young man of fellow, but much older, Russian, Rudolf Nureyev. Nureyev's example of defecting in pursuit of more dance freedom sank deeply into young Helimet.
Later in 2005 Tiit followed his dream even further, off the European continent and to San Francisco Ballet which already had the reputation of being courageously cutting edge, of moving ballet into the future. Once again, he joined as Principal Dancer, the highest rank in ballet, but the European star found he had much to learn. European ballet is classical - certain movements are done certain ways in perpetuity more or less - so Helimets' muscle memory was in that tradition. To learn a more personally and dramatically expressive techniques was a grueling undertaking physically, mentally, emotionally. And to be doing that under the spotlight as Principal Dancer almost always injured from the demanding new movements is unimaginable to Ciwt. To do it as a gentleman with elegance, graciousness, generosity and helpfulness to his company, well....
Tiit naturally a exudes grounded gracefulness that has the audience asking each other "who is that guy?" even in a minor role or crowd scene. He is also deep into character at all times and has a dual dedication to character development. Soon upon arriving in San Francisco he realized just doing the technical work, however perfectly, was not enough for him - or the audience. He felt the need to create characters that would engage the audience, characters whose story they could understand and feel. From that realizationcame a legendary number and variety of major and minor roles he created from scratch or bent to his understanding.
|Swan Lake (Prince Siegfried and Von Rothbart)|
|Sofiane Sylve and Tiit Helimets in Lifar's Suite en Blanc|
|San Francisco Ballet principal Tiit Helimets with his daughter Chloe |
backstage before a performance of Alexei Ratmansky’s “The Seasons.”
Walk: SF Ballet
Distance: 4.4 miles, yoga
|John Singer Sargent, Neapolitan Children Bathing, 1874, 11" x 16", oil on canvas|
Did you ever summer at the beach as a child? Or just go occasionally or take your children or grandchildren? There is something everlastingly relaxed, self-absorbed and innocent about those times.
|John Singer Sargent, Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose, 1885-86, 5' x 5.7' oil on canvas |
|John Singer Sargent, The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit, 1882, 7.3' x 7.3', oil on canvas|
Walk: West Portal
Distance: 3 miles, Yoga
|John Singer Sargent, Women at Work, 1912, oil on canvas|
If Ciwt earned her keep as a professional art reviewer and described the works of one of history's greatest artists as "nice" and "likeable," she would be looking for a new job. But since she is her own 'employer' and sole writer of CIWT, she will go right ahead and say those things about John Singer Sargent's art.
To explain a bit: You know how "he/she/it's so nice" was the complete kiss of death when someone wanted to introduce you to a blind date? But then many years later, when you've matured, you really value nice people, maybe wish you'd gone on that date. Niceness and likeableness are qualities with integrity; they endure. In the face of all life presents it takes character to stay those ways, and they shine through when some of the flashier types don't any more.
The professional and paid art critics would point out Sargent's loose, bold, innovative brushwork. They would speak of his works' lifelike passages that pause or sparkle or nearly break the viewer's heart with their delicacy. Of course they would mention the way Sargent assimilated the techniques of the masters he revered: Goya and Velasquez especially. Sargent worked at that; he was a registered copiest at the Prado and learned directly from their work - as well as Hals in Belgium and other artists across the continent. They would go on to say that Sargent then went on to innovate, to bring his own skilled, exacting, interested, honest eye and talent to his art. And the critic would be spot on about these and other descripitons of Sargent's artistic proficiency. So really Ciwt is just adding "likeable" and "nice' to all that has been deservedly said of John Singer Sargent's artistic output - from portraits, to landscapes, to architectural, costume, ornamental and botanical renderings.
In the works of the Legion of Honor's current show, Sargent and Spain, Sargent recorded aspects of that country he held dear. Instead of the often seen toreadors, romanticized bullfights and alluring festival dancing, Sargent painted Spain's architectural details, courtyards, landscape, everyday life. A virtuoso pianist, banjo and guitar player himself, when he did paint dancing scenes it was the passion of the music, and the perfomer's messmerizingly intricate movements he captured.
|John Singer Sargent, La Carmencita Dancing, 1890, oil on canvas|
|Courtyard, Casa del Chapiz, 1912-13, oil on canvas|
Walk: Back and forth between homes and appointments
Distance: 5 miles
Walk: Legion of Honor (Sargent and Spain Exhibition*)
Distance: 2.5 miles
|John Singer Sargent, Driving in Spain, ca 1903, watercolor over graphite|
Walk: AMC Kabuki (Missing)
Distance: 2 miles
Ciwt was in a movie mood, and the only one that worked for her schedule was Missing. Turned out to be a tech chase thriller that it was all done by an 18 year old girl with a cell phone. And for Ciwt who still uses one finger to punch in her iphone numbers the teen's virtuoso tech display was positively chilling. Different universes, hers and Ciwt's.
Walk: SF Opera House
Distance: 4 miles
Remember when you used to get kind of lost watching a ballet? Dancers all over the stage, but what were they trying to tell us? Luckily there was a story to the ballet so you guess those ballerinas trying to wedge their big feet into small shoes were Cinderella's stepsisters, or the wildly spinning black swan was up to no good. But that was then..
Now...the San Francisco Ballet is celebrating its 90th Season! with a festival of premieres by nine contemporary choreographers. And there is rarely a storyline in sight. Intentionally. The 'new wave' it seems is unconcerned with stories and focused on non-stop, thrillingly precise, demandingly courageous (Ciwt needed to hold her breath during some mid-air catches) free form. Solo performances are random throughout the ballet and short lived; no more nearly stopping the action so that an artist like Nureyev can leap again and again, round and round the stage.
It is taking Ciwt a while to get 'with the program.' To her, some of the new dances go on a without particularly engaging her. But then there was a new Bolero dance that will be impossible to forget whenever she hears that piece of music. She assumed no dance could enhance Ravel's compellingly perfect score. But, she was wrong. So onward to who knows where with San Francisco Ballet.
Walk: Errands various
Distance: 2 miles
|Caspar David Friedrich, Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog, 1830, oil on canvas|
|Gustav Grunewald (German), Niagra Falls, @1830|
|Frederic Edwin Church, Rainy Season in the Tropics, 1866 |
Walk: Curbside Cafe on Fillmore Street
Distance: 2 miles
Approximately 150 Japanese macaques live in the mountain valleys of the Jigokudani Yaen-koen monkey park in Yamanouchi, Nagano prefecture, Japan. Also called snow monkeys, the wild macaques are well known for spending their winter months keeping warm and relaxing in the waters of a natural hot spring. For years, the park has been a top destination for tourists, and its popularity is now rebounding as Japan has relaxed some of its COVID-19 restrictions.
|"I didn't come to this hot spring to have my picture taken all the time."|