Monday, January 31, 2011

January 31, 2011 – Tape

Happy Birthday Tape! Yes, today is the 80th birthday of Scotch Tape. I love tape, all kinds of tape. Where would you be without tape? Where would I be without tape? It’s such an essential art supply. I have a whole plastic bin filled with my tape collection. I don’t own a car, a dishwasher or a microwave oven. I don’t have cable. But I have a lot of tape.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

January 30, 2011 – It’s all about the light

This morning is one of the reasons I live in San Francisco. It’s all about the light. The light in the Bay Area is unique. It’s easier to render in a painting that it is to describe in words. After a dry few weeks in a wet winter, the rain came down last night. A front is blasting through. My windows are open letting in cold, crisp and amazingly clean air. The clouds are still lifting letting in these intense bursts of bright white light. Light that has the houses climbing up to Buena Vista glowing while the park looms dark and wet waiting for the day to dry out.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

January 29, 2011 – Afro

Is the Afro back? I have some old class photos from the 7th Grade. Anyone can laugh a little at the outfits we wore, and if we’re talking the 1970’s, the hair always dates the photo. My shaggy mop of big hair is one thing, but nothing beats some of my African-American classmates. Afros so big they expanded to the borders of the photo filling out their respective little rectangles. One of my 12 year old pals has let his hair grow out. It is getting pretty big. A few more months and he may fill out the picture too.

Yes, it looks likes the Afro is back…

Friday, January 28, 2011

January 28, 2011 – Radio

No matter how old we are, radio has always been a part of our lives. Maybe that is why it will take some effort to let it go. It’s had a good run, a nice healthy century. But the life of radio is coming to an end. In many ways, radio was really the beginning of the rapid acceleration of technology that has marked all of our lives.

KUSF, a local college radio station, was abruptly shut down by the University of San Francisco this month. The dedicated volunteers who staffed the station, as well as their listeners, are understandably, quite distressed. While I sympathize with their loss, it does not mean much for me on a personal level. About the only time I listen to broadcast radio anymore is a bit of NPR on a road trip. Radio stations do not have a significant role in my life anymore.

I was also thinking about radio for another reason today. Today is the 25th Anniversary of the space shuttle Challenger disaster. I was living in Switzerland in 1986. I found out about the disaster when I came home from class and turned on the radio. In those days radio was my main source of media (I did not have a TV).

When I first arrived in Switzerland, I diligently listened to German language radio. When setting up my phone service, I naïvely admitted to owning a radio. As soon as I saw the tax bill for radio service, I went to the post office with a great tale about exploding radios and American electrical converters. “Oh no, I was not getting a new radio.” Yes, I was one of those immigrants the Swiss complain about. Truthfully, I never listened to Swiss radio. Much to my surprise, I grew to prefer AFM, the U.S. Armed Forces Radio. I had a year where I seldom had the opportunity to speak English. That is when I finally understood why many immigrants need a radio station in their native language. Sometimes we just need to hear your own language.

Immigrants still depend on radio, but today it mostly is via the internet. I myself am an avid internet radio listener, but what we call “radio” today is no longer the box that many older people used to call “the wireless.”

For today’s piece I used an image of this cute, little, retro transistor radio. I bought it years ago at a yard sale. It’s is labeled a “boys radio.” It normally sits with some kitsch on the bathroom shelf. I’ve had it for over 10 years. Never even put batteries in it, I am not sure if it would even work. But it is cool.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

January 27, 2011 – Fortune Cookie

Today I reached blindly into one of the collage boxes today and pulled out a postcard from San Francisco’s Japanese Tea Garden. Perfect as our “winter” is fooling us again with a warm 66° sunny day. Pink blossoms are already popping out on trees all around town.

One of our local mythologies is about the invention of the fortune cookie. It was invented sometime after 1890 at the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco. Apparently influenced by a similar confection in Japan. History and the timing of inventions often can be a bit muddled. And there is the irony that a dessert invented at a Japanese Tea Garden became a staple of American Chinese restaurants. Details aside, in the U.S., the fortune cookie surely got its start here in San Francisco.

I have a habit of hanging onto those fortunes. They get buried in the recesses of my wallet, find themselves between the pages of books and scattered in a messy desk drawer. If we hang on to the fortunes they come true, right?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

January 26, 2011 – The Carr Family Vacation

I never met the Carr Family, but I do know that 50 years ago they took a month long trip around the Mediterranean. In 1996 I bought a large scrapbook/album at a yard sale on Page Street that documented their adventure. It made me sad to see the album so casually discarded. It was clearly a labor of love. I took it as a mission to rescue it for $10. The album had already been cannibalized. Every personal photo had been removed, only the hand written captions remained giving me a clue to what was missing.

The album did have the carefully typed and detailed itinerary created by a travel agent. There were maps, boarding passes, ticket stubs from tours, museums and nightclubs. Menus, matchbooks, hotel stationary, postcards and all sorts of ephemera that I also love to accumulate when I travel.

What I do know is that at the beginning of August 1961, Mr. and Mrs. John F. Carr Jr. their daughter Joyce and son John Carr III set out from Cambridge, Mass. for Madrid, then to Rome, Greece, Israel and Jordan. The return had them visiting Egypt and then Lisbon before returning to the U.S. All this accomplished in a little over a month. As all the family photos were removed, I have no idea what they looked like. It’s clear from the hand written captions that the son John put the album together. Over the years it has been a great source of material in my own mixed media work and it gets remembered again in my piece for today.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

January 25, 2011 – Lichens

It helps to be a painter to really appreciate lichens. Some of them come in garish, bright colors. Colors that, at times, only nature can really get away with. As far as the natural world goes, lichens don’t generate a lot of excitement. You won’t be seeing a National Geographic special on lichens.

Years ago Bay Nature ran a great piece on California lichens that gave me a far greater appreciation of them beyond just their pleasing color palette. When we think of biodiversity, a tropical rainforest is often the first thing that comes to mind. While we don’t have rainforests in California, we are the real hotbed of plant life biodiversity in North America. About a third of the endemic species in North America are only found in California. Lichens are no exception with over 1,200 species present. These intense oranges and chartreuse were everywhere on a trip down to Pinnacles National Monument last Fall. Pinnacles is a little visited treasure of the National Park System. It’s best in the Spring when the wildflowers are blooming, but November is good too, when the lichens have the stage to themselves.

The First 24

The First 24 Pieces. I am starting to get a sense of the scale of the project.

Monday, January 24, 2011

January 24, 2011 – Hadrian’s Wall

I have a lifelong fascination with borders. Particularly changing ones. From an early age, I’ve spent hours pouring over those maps that show the expansion and decline of empires. History, when illustrated in maps, is a very simple reminder of how impermanent nation states can be. I have a pile of atlases I use for collages. They are filled with Berlin Walls and Soviet Unions.

Hadrian’s Wall is one of those places I’ve wanted to visit. I am fascinated by the idea of it once being the outer limit of a vast empire. Today it is a rather unassuming stone wall running through the countryside. Hedeby is another place like that. It was the largest Viking city at one time. Where a city was, I found a cow pasture in Germany near the Danish border. The fact that such a significant place of Viking history is no longer within the borders of Scandinavia reinforces the idea that no border is permanent.

We have our own Hadrian’s Wall in Northern California. There is a relatively unknown historic park near Bodega Bay called Fort Ross. When I first heard about it, I was immediately drawn to the spot and got up there soon afterwards. Fort Ross is a re-creation of the original Russian fort and fur trading outpost. Southernmost Alaska if you will. It is literally the spot where the far flung empires of Imperial Russia and Spain once met. It takes some imagination on a quiet spot along the California Coast to believe that two European empires once stretched so far to meet there, if even tenuously.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

January 23, 2011 – Bounty Day

Feeling mutinous? Today is Bounty Day on Pitcairn. It is the anniversary of the burning of the H.M.S. Bounty in 1790. On Pitcairn the descendants of the H.M.S. Bounty mutineers still celebrate by burning replicas of the ship. They also celebrate on Norfolk Island, but not until June 8. June 8 is the anniversary of the day when many of the descendants relocated to Norfolk Island due to overcrowding on Pitcairn.

Holiday traditions with burnings and/or bonfires abound throughout human culture. And, if you think driving to Nevada to go to Burning Man is a journey, well try Bounty Day. It’s not easy to get there. The remoteness makes me want to visit the place.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

January 22, 2011 – Swinging London

There have been vestiges of Swinging London seeping into my world the last few weeks.

I recently happened on the trailer for Michelangelo Antonioni’s film Blow-Up. The trailer is brilliant. It promised “the dazzle and madness of London today.” A friend and I tried to watch the film on DVD. Alas, I just don’t have the patience for the artsy slow bits. Maybe when people used to smoke in movie theatres, this was easier to endure.

Last night I was watching an episode of one of my guilty pleasures. Yes, I love Midsomer Murders. It’s formula, a bit corny and just plain entertaining after a long day. The episode I watched last night had a particularly glamorous, elderly actress. She was camping it up as a penniless member of the gentry living off of borrowed money. True to form, she came to an untimely end. Apparently rural England is just full of rather quaint murderers.

This morning, I was so curious that I had to see just who that actress was. It was Honor Blackman. No wonder she was so fabulous! Perhaps her most famous part was as one of the greatest Bond Girls — Pussy Galore. So, with some groovy British radio playing with a nod to Honor Blackman and somewhat influenced by Gilbert & George, I was inspired today by Swinging London

Friday, January 21, 2011

January 21, 2001 - Postage Stamps

Is it a map? You may see a collage of old stamps. I see an autobiographical map reflecting the countries I have visited and lived in, so far. So yes, it is a map. A map made of stamps. The patchwork of stamps and the curves and lines of postmarks even create an appearance of some exotic country.

Many of the stamps used were received attached to letters and cards. Mail from friends I made and family I visited in those different countries. Email may be quick, efficient and free. But it lacks the magic of opening the mailbox to see a card or letter covered with stamps from some distant place. A real piece if mail, in your hand, from far away, carries the energy of the sender in a way that no email really can. I continue to send and enjoy receiving good, old fashioned mail.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

January 20, 2011 – Ask

I found an old Peace Corps postage stamp the other day as I was perusing one of my collage fodder boxes. It got me thinking and I realized that we were coming up on a big anniversary. It was 50 years ago today that President Kennedy gave his inauguration address where he said, “ Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.”

The Peace Corps was one of the greatest achievements of Kennedy’s brief presidency. This week also saw the passing of the first director, Sargent Shriver. Reading his obituary reminded me how times have really change. Shriver was from an era when more of our political leaders were focused on the common good. Sadly, today many of the loudest politicians seem motivated out of desire to create an atmosphere of adversity.

Perhaps it’s time for another question. How will treating government as an adversary make our society better? I don’t think there is a good answer to that one.

John F. Kennedy, Inauguration Speech, Peace Corps, Sargent Shriver

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

January 19, 2011 – Street Art

I finally saw the documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop. The title lead me to assume it was an indictment of the commercialization of museums and their big spectacle shows. Just last weekend I even saw the DVD for sale in the SFMoMA’s gift shop. It’s a great title, but, if you’ve seen the film, you know it really doesn’t fit.

I have a little patience for long documentaries. 30 Minutes would have probably covered it. This one is rather disjointed. The beginning is a mix of fairly interesting footage of street artists. The footage was taken by Los Angeles-based filmmaker/artist Thierry Guetta. The last hour of the film becomes a documentary about Guetta and his work. Let’s just say, France has exported a new P.T. Barnum to the United States.

For the past six months I have been repeatedly asked if I’d seen Exit Through the Gift Shop? My friends all knew I would have something to say about it. Honestly, that’s about it. But it did get me thinking again about the nature of street art.

Last summer Banksy was in town. It was amazing how much of a buzz his visit created. Sighting his work was the thing to do in July 2010. Some of my fellow citizens acted as if we were blessed by a royal visit. Should we really feel so honored? Or was Banksy like a waning pop star in the 1980’s who had to start touring Japan. Or worse yet, was San Francisco on the state fair circuit in terms of the international art scene. I realize I am bordering on blasphemy, if I question the cultural significance of the City I do love.

My neighborhood, The Lower Haight, could be called one of the centers of street art in San Francisco. A city where a good deal of interesting street art is created and displayed. For all the good stuff I see out there, I often sense this blind, unquestioning love of street art that borders on fanaticism. There are some who seem to profess that if art is plastered to a building or stenciled on the sidewalk, that it must be good. Some of the biggest champions of street art will totally reject any artwork in a gallery or museum. How can you legitimize art solely because it is on the street yet reject art solely because it hangs in a gallery?

Part of the appeal of street art is the relative ease of showing it to the world. There are no curators acting as gatekeepers to the art world in the streets. Street art has given the public access to a lot good art that may never been seen otherwise. But, it also has resulted in a lot of crap around the neighborhood. I realize that art appreciation is inherently subjective and then we could step into the debate of where we draw the line between tagging an art.

Street art is to art as blogging is to journalism. There are a lot of good blogs and some are better than newspapers. With both street art and blogs, there are no gatekeepers. Anyone can do it. We have to remember, just because anyone can do it, it does not make it legitimate.

The street often adds a legitimatizing context to bad art in the same way that a posh gallery can show terrible photos. The sort of bad blurry, photos that have been blown up, framed and attached to a price list.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

January 18, 2011 – Yellow Peril

When we think of the Yellow Peril, the first thing that comes to mind is racist attacks on Asian immigrants a century ago. Well, it seems the good people of Marin are once again facing a yellow peril. Or so they would have us believe.

Last night I saw a piece on the news, and it has also made the papers. People in San Rafael are having a fit over the paint job on a pizza place. Pizza Orgasmica has opened up in San Rafael and painted the façade of the building bright yellow. The business owners are originally from Brazil, and like many Americans, enjoy celebrating their ethnic heritage. The Yellow is the brilliant yellow of the Brazilian flag.

Now what is really going on up there in Marin? Are nimby control freaks just working out their issues? Do some people have deep-rooted fears of the color yellow? The sort of things that might be best discussed on a therapist’s couch. Is there an actual zoning violation against bright yellow? Or perhaps, is something more sinister going on? I don’t know the people personally who are opposed to the color yellow, but I can see how one could assume, from their remarks, that they might have an issue. An issue with people that look and sound different than them. I can’t say for sure, but it is troubling. One of the critics was quoted in the Marin Journal using the term “urban squalor.” That sounds like a code word for….

Sunday, January 16, 2011

January 16, 2011 – An Homage to the Fast Pass

The MUNI Fast Pass in its color striped with a dash of foil design is no more. The embedded high tech pass on the Clipper Card has as much charm as an ecard. As goofy as it sounds, I used to always have a sense of anticipation when I bought the new pass. What will the colors be for next month? It was kind of like when you turn the page on a wall calendar on the first. It’s probably the only time of the month you might pause and regard the image

There are quite a few artists out there doing work with old Fast Passes. John Kuzich’s work even made it to the de Young (deservedly so). Chronicle Books’ blog has more Fast Pass art. Last year I got these groovy buttons made from the gang at PunkPunk. They feature old Fast Passes. I wear them with pride and  amused when little kids comments on them.  Even they recognize they are Fast Passes. But that won’t be for long.

I think I wouldn’t mind the Clipper Card half as much if the design looked like a good old Fast Pass.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

January 15, 2011 – How have your last 20 years been?

Tomorrow is the 20th Anniversary of the Gulf War. 20 years of war! At 20 we might consider a bit of reflection. Ask yourself, “What would my life have been like if I survived and spent the last 20 years living in Iraq?”

Chances are your life has been better than any life you would have had spending the entire last 20 years in Iraq. (If you have access to a computer and are reading this.)

Yes, it really has been 20 years of war. During the Clinton presidency there was a lull, but there were occasional bombing raids and the economic sanctions punished the poor and most vulnerable in Iraq. In recent years things have finally improved, but the costs are huge — the costs in both human and economic terms. Thousands have been killed on all sides with a staggering amount of civilians caught in the war.

At this date, it is no longer about where you stood on the issue: cheering the war, opposing it, or with the majority in ambivalence. There is no point debating the merits of the war. I believe we all know there was no defense of Saddam Hussein and his evil regime. I think we also know that Iraq has been a horrible place for years.

There are Americans who have a personal connection to Iraq. There are those have served overseas in Iraq. Many have come back injured and about 5,000 have not come back at all. And of course there are their friends and family. There are even newer Americans, immigrants who were lucky enough to get out of Iraq. But, in a country of 300 million, for most Americans, Iraq is no longer on their minds. 20 years is a long time, requiring an attention span that most people our not willing to devote to something happening far away.

So ask yourself, “How have your last 20 years been?”

Friday, January 14, 2011

January 14, 2011 – It’s our fault

No, we are not to blame. It’s the San Andreas Fault and other faults I am thinking of. Blameless, but at times we are in collective denial about where we sit on the edge of the North American Plate. The recent seismic activity down near Monterey is just a reminder. Are we prepared? It’s more than batteries and water we need to think about. It’s really a matter of mental preparedness and the inevitability of the “big one.” It’s not exactly profound to predict an earthquake, but I do feel it’s coming sooner than later.

I rarely have prophetic dreams about events or people. My dreams tend to be about spaces and places before I see them. Often I have dreams seeing a space and time over and over. Sometimes it as ordinary as seeing a friend’s new apartment before they find it themselves. There are times when I see a new city or town I’ll visit over and over before I go there. And then there are the post-earthquake San Francisco dreams.

I have two different types of post-earthquake dreams, each about 5-6 times a year. The first series of dreams find me wandering in a rebuilt San Francisco that is radically changed about 10 years in the future. Market Street is a corridor of new, mass high rises, subways everywhere, less cars and more urban plazas. It is the sort of radical change that could only happen after a large earthquake. The second dream is the one where I am coming home in the evening to a street that is dug up. Trenches and scaffolding are everywhere. My building is there, but there are usually a lot more people living here.

It’s hard to say when, but it’s not a question of “if.” It is our fault.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

January 13, 2011 – To fold or cut?

I love collecting origami paper. I have a big pile of it for future projects. I collect a lot of things for my collage fodder boxes. I am really no different than sewers who buy fabric they may use one day. My mom has quite the fabric pile in the attic. Now, I do appreciate the spectacle of a huge hanging mass of origami cranes, but honestly, I don’t have the patience for all the folding. It’s a funny thing to say considering the labor-intensive quality of so much of my work. But the paper is fun to cut up and use and other things. My hands can handle the exacto knife, but all that folding is just not going to happen.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

January 12, 2011 – Abandoned Shoes

If I really wanted to be timely I’d be painting abandoned Christmas trees. Right now there are a few on pretty much every corner in the Lower Haight. But today is about abandoned shoes. There are always abandoned shoes to be found on the sidewalks and gutters of my neighborhood. What are the stories behind all those shoes? Last summer, just to be silly, I started photographing them and putting them up on Flickr. I had no idea how popular they would turn out to be. I have to keep at it. Can you say coffee table book? This shimmery pair was spotted on Oak just down from the car wash. Hurry, maybe they’re still lying there, they could be yours.

First thoughts about the installation next year

It has been like waiting to open Christmas presents. I have been waiting to get enough pieces done so I can start thinking about what it will look like when there is an installation of 365 of these. Here is a shot of just nine so far…

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

January 11, 2011 – Ou est le pamplemousse?

On New Year’s Eve a friend brought over two grapefruits from his dad’s garden in Palm Springs.

This is what happens when you’re spoiled by the cut up and sweet grapefruit in the jar. You peel one. Find that it is surprisingly small inside. And oh was it bitter. You pulverize the grapefruit as part of your morning smoothie and have to add some extra honey. So, the middle of the month approaches. You sit there watching the other one in the fruit bowl. How long until you “forget” to eat it and it has to go to the compost bin. This one is hanging in there. Well, it’s a nice shade of yellow and made for a good model.

Monday, January 10, 2011

January 10, 2011 – Current Life

It’s the time of the year when I give my art supplies a thorough reorganization. It takes more than putting the brushed and paints in order. There are boxes of maps, shelves of old atlases and a few boxes of random scraps of paper. The boxes contain old photos and ephemera. It’s all filed under “collage fodder” in my world. No time for that task today, but I decided to just reach up into a box on a high shelf and blindly use the first piece of paper I pulled out.

It was a renewal card for Life Magazine. I can’t say how old it was, but the card referred to a “postal zone number” instead of a zip code. Zip codes came into use in 1963. The preprinted address on the card read, “San Francisco 2 Cal.” The person lived in the 200 block of Page Street. That’s 94102 nowadays, of course. I immediately can remember where and when I found this. I can’t say the exact date, but it was around 1996. I was walking to work downtown and happened on a box of old greeting cards, postcards, photos and things like this. It was abandoned at the corner of Oak and Octavia under a freeway. The Central Freeway is now only a memory for those of us who have lived in San Francisco for a while. I’ve incorporated many of things I found that morning into collages over the years.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

January 9, 2011 – Washington State Blue

Something exciting yet unexpected is happening with the 2011 Project. Many of these pieces, today’s in particular, are turning out to be studies for larger pieces.

The second Sunday and the color again is all about blue. Today was a trip to the Vintage Paper Fair in San Francisco. They happen a few times a year in the City. The fairs are becoming a real don’t miss for me. I first went to one about two years ago. I became totally inspired as I was sifting through old postcard booklets. That summer I did a project where I made a series of my own, handmade postcard booklets. Each booklet was constructed with 12 original paintings. Today’s piece involved deconstructing some vintage, Washington State postcards and reconfiguring in a way I usually do when I work with maps.

January 8, 2011 – Tactile Art

When we go look at art and galleries we sometimes have to control our impulses to touch the work. It’s not always easy, and we’ve all probably seen someone break the rules and touch the art. While I wouldn’t want people just pawing my work either, I do sympathize. I like finishing my map pieces with a thick coat of acrylic varnish, which gives them a good deal of protection. I also like to make some pieces that are just meant to be touched. One medium I haven’t used in a while is sandpaper. Not sandpaper as a tool, which I use at times, but sandpaper as part of the work.

This cold, gloomy winter weather is making me think about a winter trip to Death Valley. I usually go every year. The rocks, the layers, the canyons all inspire my work. I am ready for the big ride and a few days of taking photos to paint from.

Friday, January 7, 2011

January 7, 2011 – Mandarins

People with cars never really understand what it’s like to be car-less. When you live without a car you appreciate the opportunity to have a car for running errands. If you do get use of a car, it’s a strategic event to maximize the amount of things you can get done that require a car. It’s also time for some serious schlepping.

Today was a zipcar day. In five hours of buzzing around the East Bay and SF I got quite a lot accomplished. Importantly I took advantage of a big sale at Blick ( I love Blick for art supplies), and now have over 200 4”x4” canvases on hand. I also have a full freezer. Lene Lovch’s song New Toy was running through my head as I jammed stuff in. And, last but not least, those California Mandarins, or Clementines if you prefer, are in season and oh so tasty. I schlepped a five pound crate home today.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

January 6, 2011 – Los Reyes

On this day in 1603, so the story goes, Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizacaino sighted the land we know as Point Reyes. He named it for the Feast of the Three Kings on January 6. It became “la Punta de los Reyes" or the Point of the Kings. Sir Francis Drake is believed to have been the first European explorer to visit back in 1579. But he probably saw little of the place. Point Reyes is best in the winter when the fog clears and the rain stops. The light is dazzling. It’s a place that I love year round, but as a painter, the light on a Winter’s afternoon is amazing. Just thinking about it reminds me I need a day trip soon. In the meantime I need to get out my yellow chalk and follow the Polish tradition. Tonight I’ll mark my doorframe with B.M.K.; the initials of the Three Kings. It’s done to let them know they can stop by on the way to Bethlehem and it means they also will bring me some good luck for the New Year.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

January 5, 2011 – Panhandle Deconstructed

I like to get a decent walk in every day, weather permitting. I haven’t owned a car in 25 years. One of the truly “European” features of San Francisco is the ability to live well here without a car. On some days running around doing errands, etc. will get my walk in. Other days I walk to and around Golden Gate Park. I am a few blocks from the Panhandle so I quickly can be in the “park zone.” My walk varies but I do have a standard route. Out on the paths along Oak Street back on the north side of the Panhandle along Fell. I turn around at the Conservatory of Flowers. According to Google Maps the walking distance is 3.4 miles and should take 1 hour and 9 minutes. I have long legs and do it in just under an hour, if I don’t make any stops.

For today’s piece I deconstructed the map of my standard walk into 16 parts, each approximately one inch square.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

January 4, 2011 – Multiples of Four

This morning, as the last of the fog was clearing up, I found myself on the Embarcadero under the western span of the Bay Bridge. It’s the bridge with the four towers on the fourth day of the New Year. Like the Golden Gate Bridge, I find the perspective one finds under a large bridge intriguing. I have photographed both spots but, until today, never painted the underside of either bridge.

My appointment to see the new museum at Pier 24 was what brought me under the bridge. The collection of photography wowed me and more details can be seen here. My coat check number was 12 at the museum at Pier 24. A few hours later I checked my bag again when buying art supplies, again number 12. The universe seems to be teasing me with numbers.

Monday, January 3, 2011

January 3, 2011 – Flower Power

Today is my mom’s birthday. I dug up this old photo from 1969 of mom and her cart at the Allentown Art Festival in Buffalo. She was pushing flower power. To be exact, old, clay flower parts were decorated with spray paint. They were filled with potted flowers like marigolds and impatiens.

The project started when my mom took my brother and I too the dump behind the cemetery. There we were able to fill the truck of the Ford Galaxy with discarded flower parts. They were hosed off in the yard and set to dry before they were painted. I’m telling this story just to reinforce the crafty (and entrepreneurial) legacy in my family.

In the photo you might notice the sign that reads “You saw her on Channel 7 Late News.” The day before my mother wore a sticker above her navel that read “flower power.” They showed her on the late news that Saturday night. Mom was exposing her navel on TV years before Cher did it and scandalized America. Perhaps Bob Mackie was slumming it in Buffalo that weekend and got a little inspiration.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

January 2, 2011 - Two Blue

Day Two and the color is blue. Not in terms of mood – it’s just a color I love using. The piece was done this morning. It’s all about two. I looked at the stamps on a package from Australia and there were more lush, tropical shades of blue staring pack at me. Images of sunny Australian beaches on a cold winter day.

In the afternoon I went to see the Japanesque show at the Legion of Honor. Blue, blue, beautiful blue wherever looked. I could lie and say I was inspired by Hiroshige woodcuts. But no, it was just a happy coincidence.

January 1, 2011 - The Golden Year

Here it is, the first one. Even though I do not intend to install the finished pieces in any particular order, the first one seems weighted. It needs to be extra special, making coming up with an idea for this one even more challenging.

New Year’s Eve and the entire New Year’s weekend were gloomy, cold and gray in San Francisco. At 4:45 pm on New Year’s Eve I was working at my desk. I suddenly noticed the change of color in the light well in front of me. The light was a golden glow. I looked towards the front of the apartment and could see the entire street was glowing. I looked out in the direction of Ocean Beach and saw the entire City bathed in a golden light. This lasted all of ten minutes.

In years past have spent the sunset on New Year’s Eve at Ocean Beach. There a small group of locals participate in the Afro-Brazilian ritual for the Goddess Yemanja. The ten minutes of light made me long to be out at the beach. Even though I didn’t make it out there, the entire City and the coming year now feel blessed.

So, the color for 2011 is gold. It shall be a Golden Year. As I worked on the first piece on New Year’s Day I wanted to include a reflection of time. The image is of an old, gold watch given to me by my Uncle Walter. He would be 100 if he were still with us. I had gone over halfway through the first day of the year without listening to Yma Sumac. Her five octave voice filled the room as I added pieces of a map of Peru to finish the piece.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

January 1, 2011 - It's begins

A few images of New Year's morning of the first piece in progress.
Photos courtesy of David Wilson.