Growing by the Bay

Category: art Page 1 of 2

Artemisia pycnocephala, Sandhill Sage

Artemisia pycnocephala (Sandhill Sage

This is the final piece for the artemisia essay I’m working on. This replaces the version below, which I wasn’t happy with.

Artemisia pycnocephala, Sandhill Sage


Photo-derived botanical art series

Here’s the whole series I’ve worked up over the past few days.

Artemisia californica, California Sagebrush

Artemisia californica, California Sagebrush

Artemisia absinthium, Wormwood

artemisia absinthium
Artemisia absinthium, wormwood

Artemesia douglasiana, Mugwort

Artemisia douglasiana, Mugwort

Continuing my project of photography-derived botanical art. This is Artemisa douglasiana (Mugwort), a California native.



Sisyrinchium bellum, Blue-Eyed Grass

Sisyrinchium bellum, Blue-Eyed Grass

A California native.



I think this is some sort of Sempervivum (like Hens and Chicks).

Papaver glaucum, Tulip Poppy

Papaver glaucum, Tulip Poppy

Iochroma cyanea ‘Royal Blue’

Iochroma cyanea 'Royal Blue'


Julius Shulman at new Robert Berman Gallery

julius shulman photography at robert berman galleryNot all businesses are contracting in the down economy. Robert Berman, based in Santa Barbara, has opened a new gallery in San Francisco, located at 1632 Market Street. For its inaugural show, the gallery is featuring historical photos (newly printed) of San Francisco by Julius Shulman. Shown is San Francisco Bay Bridge under Construction, 1934.


The Upper Crust

art installation by patrick dougherty

The strange shapes lurching over the pollarded trees of Civic Center Plaza are not homeless shelters — they are an “environmental sculpture installation,” entitled The Upper Crust, by Patrick Dougherty. The eight-foot tall structures are made of  18,000 lbs. of willow saplings interwoven into the sycamore trees. No fastenings were used; instead, the saplings were bent and twisted through the branches.

The installation will run through November.

environmental art installation by patrick dougherty


Ellen Christensen at Cafe 504

A display of Ellen Christensen’s ink drawings will be on view at the 504 Cafe, 504 Wesley Avenue, on the northeast side of Lake Merritt in Oakland, through March 1. It’s worth checking out!

ellen christensen at cafe 504, oakland


Love (now get back to work)

Here’s a belated valentine for back-to-work day following Valentine’s Day and the Presidents Day holiday. For Valentine’s Day Namastenancy linked to Robert Indiana’s Love painting — though a different version than the one featured on the SFMOMA web site, which I won’t show since it carries a copyright notice from the artist (so much for free love).

The sculpture in Philadelphia’s JFK Plaza (“Love Park”) is fair game though. Here’s a photo I took a few years ago.

love park, philadelphia


Maxwell Loren Holyoke-Hirsch


More than one hundred examples of work by San Francisco artist Maxwell Loren Holyoke-Hirsch will be on sale at Tiny showcase at 7:30 EST, July 15. Via San Francisco Art & Design Lover.


Alton Kelley, 1940-2008

alton kelley

Alton Kelley, one of the pioneers of the SF psychedelic graphic arts movement, has died. Kelley and his longtime collaborator Stanley Mouse helped to fashion a style that featured bold colors, play with figure-ground, allusions to art nouveau, and wildly subversive typography. Psychedelic artists like Kelley were forerunners of the more grunge-oriented illegibility movement in graphic design of the end of the twentieth century.

But, as in this poster for a tribute to Chet Helms — despite its brash colors — Kelley at times showed a tendency to restraint and even classical balance in composition. He was one of the people who defined an era in the city, and I’m sorry to see him go.


Victor Arnautoff, Bay Area depression era muralist

city life by victor arnautoff, at san francisco's coit tower

Victor Arnautoff studied at the California School of Fine Arts before going to Mexico, where he worked as an assistant to muralist Diego Rivera; his subsequent work shows a strong Rivera influence. He created several murals in the Bay Area during the 1930s. Above is City Alive, which is located at the base of Coit Tower. Arnautoff was influential in developing the art program for the San Francisco landmark. A close look at his contribution shows the Daily Worker and other leftist papers on the newsrack — but no Chronicle.

Arnautoff also did several paintings for the Roth Building in Palo Alto. Commissioned by a co-founder of the Palo Alto Medical Clinic, the paintings celebrate medical progress. “The Exam,” below is said to have caused traffic accidents when unveiled. Other locations of works by Arnautoff in the Bay Area include the chapel in the Presidio and the library of the San Francisco Art Institute. Arnautoff taught at Stanford University from 1939 until 1963 and then returned to Russia.

the exam by victor arnuatoff, in palo alto's historic center


Source of images: landaz’s photostream and


Vicki Saulls

vicki saulls

Vicki Saulls does interesting ceramic sculpture. The image above is from the North Beach pool and clubhouse in San Francisco. The work was commissioned by the San Francisco Arts Commission.

I’d like to show you her beautiful California native plant ceramic tiles. But that image is running with a copyright notice, so I can’t. This is why I urge you to consider replacing copyright notices with creative commons licenses.

San Francisco graffiti

graffiti of san francisco

The image is from GypsyRock’s photostream. GypsyRock has been documenting San Francisco graffiti for some time, having amassed a photoset comprising 1110 photos.

What has always struck me about graffiti, throughout the world, is how essentially conservative it is. You might expect that such a transgressive medium would give birth to a chaotic range of expressioin, but in fact there are a few main styles that you see over and over again in different elaborations.

With such a large photoset, the graffiti depicted in GypsyRock’s images vary in quality, but some strikingly original and expressive examples are included.

Gallery 415

Pata Negra, by Luis Luna Matiz of Colombia

Gallery 415, located at 49 Geary Street, features work by emerging and mid career Latin American artists. It’s great finally to see a gallery in the city devoted to this large, diverse, and creative region. I think Gallery 415 will be celebrating its first anniversary this weekend. It is currently displaying work by Claudio Roncoli of Argentina. Shown is Pata Negra, by Luis Luna Matiz of Colombia, from the gallery’s inaugural show a year ago.

I learned about this gallery from Namastenancy.


Bouquets to Art

The Fine Arts Museums presents its 24th annual Bouquets to Art at the de Young March 11 through 15 this year. It’s always a good idea to go early before the flowers start to look a little wilted (prepare for crowds). This year floral arrangers will prepare some 150 bouquets to accompany the museum’s regular artwork.

I posted quite a few photos of the 2006 Bouquets to Art but, although I took photos the next year, I don’t think I ever managed to find the time to put many of them on the web. The light level in museums is always low, and this is a case where a digital SLR would be a real benefit. Instead, I still shoot with my Canon A620 — without a flash of course; it pains me to see people ruining their photos that way! — and then fix the images in Photoshop. Because of the low lighting I keep the aperture wide open and the zoom at the wide extreme (I just move the camera closer if I need to zoom in). Since I can’t bring myself to post raw images, my photo prep work is a little time consuming

Here are a couple of images from last year’s event.

bouquets to art 2007

bouquets to art 2007

San Francisco Ballet: pornography?

san francisco ballet

This year the San Francisco Ballet, celebrating its 75th year, will premiere ten ballets by ten choreographers, including Julia Adam, Val Caniparoli, Jorma Elo, Margaret Jenkins, James Kudelka, Mark Morris, Yuri Possokhov, Paul Taylor, Stanton Welch and Christopher Wheeldon. I was interesting in learning more. But when I looked on Google for the ballet’s website, this is what I found (exactly as I found it, nothing manipulated, except for the addition of the red arrow):

google says san francisco ballet is pornography

In the interest of research, I clicked on the editorializing link, and I was taken here:

stumbleupon's opinion of sf ballet

So what has happened here is a few (presumably) members of StumbleUpon tagged the San Francisco Ballet’s website as a porn site — perhaps they are uptight types who object to images like the one at the top of this post, harmless as it is. (Yuan Yuan Tan and Damian Smith in Wheeldon’s After The Rain, © Erik Tomasson, from the ballet’s website.) And, on the basis of that, Google dutifully passes along the porn tag with its site links. This seems to me a dangerous practice. For example, it would be easy for a dirty trickster to tar an opposing candidate’s site in this way. I wonder if the inclusion of the tag would lock the site down on computers with certain parental controls in place.

With the objectionable images of all kinds that are thrown at us every day, it is discouraging to see a beautiful site like the SF Ballet’s marred with this kind of tag. Again, to be clear, the tag comes from StumbleUpon, not Google — I think you might need to be running the StumbleUpon toolbar in order to see it. But whether it is Google or StumbleUpon that is responsible, is it really appropriate to pass on such tags with search results?


Abstract rhythms

Abstract Rhythms: Paul Klee and Devendra Banhart is the title of an exhibition at SFMOMA that will feature a performance by Banhart. He will perform 8:00 p.m., January 17, in the Phyllis Wattis Theater. The event is sold out, but the museum is selling tickets for a live simulcast of the performance. Banhart will also perform Jan. 19 at Amoeba Records. From the museum’s website:

Music was a consistent source of inspiration for Paul Klee, spanning the arc of his career and informing much of his practice. This exhibition features works by Klee that reveal his affinity for music, as well as new drawings by Devendra Banhart, a musician and visual artist, made in conjunction with his most recent album, Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon. Part of an ongoing presentation within Matisse and Beyond, the exhibition highlights the synesthetic relationship present in both artists’ works on paper, drawing on Dr. Carl Djerassi’s gifts and extended loans to SFMOMA of more than 150 works by Klee.

Here is a video of a performance by Banhart.

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