Shoving Out Art Again

It’s spring and the city is sprouting condos.

Every blighted corner has sprouted a fresh building like a flower in the desert.

The next casualty is my favorite art store.

It’s slated to be demolished this year.

For 37 years it has supplied artists of all genres the materials for their craft. Some people like clothes, I love art stores and this was one of the best.

It made me smile the moment I walked in. cropped-photo-59.jpg

I bought my canvases and paintbrushes there. My paints, pens and pencils, and papers for collages. And many gifts for my friends.

The store is moving to the farthest end of the city, practically under the Golden Gate Bridge where the birds are. I’ll need to rent a segway to get there.

Meanwhile a cold, impersonal building is going up in its place. I saw the renderings today. Looks like every other building built in the last nano second. These architects lack creativity and guts. The investment groups just want to make a buck, I get it, and capitalize on the hordes of young tech workers moving in to make their mark in the city. Except their living spaces look like their work spaces. It’s a crime.

It’s a shame they didn’t think of a way to build on top of my art store and weave the smells and colors into the steel and cement. That way the newbies in town could take painting classes on the roof like the little children they are.

Calvin says, “Money sucks the fun out of things. Look at dog houses these days. They’re revolting.” beagle

 

 

 

 

 

 

Give Me Space

Alf and I made plans to spend the day in Carmel the weekend after Christmas.

Instead of taking the sane way, we chose the back roads that took us through the center of Gilroy and up and around and down the mountains that paralleled highway 101. That turned out to be a 30-minute detour that left Alf fuming and me hyperventilating. The day was already ruined.

What were we thinking? We envisioned a casual stroll down cobbled stone streets, lazily peering into store windows for the Christmas decor, enjoying a leisurely lunch at a French restaurant expertly prepared by the chef of many years with a fine reputation.

Instead we jostled our way down the streets side-stepping the tourists with their pedigree dogs, which didn’t want strangers petting them with gooey fingers from their over-priced pastries. Why don’t people leave their dogs at home? When did it turn trendy to wear them shopping? I can sort of understand a purse dog, if you can call that thing a dog, but a Burmese Mountain dog? There’s no avoiding him, he’s a defense tackler blocking the street.

I saw more dogs than children. Probably the kids stayed home with the grandparents and the dogs went to town. There’s something wrong here. IMG_9666

Lines were out the door at every decent restaurant. Casual wear in the stores was priced at $300 and up. And that was the sale price. Really? I can get that same sweatshirt online for $15.95.

It was cold gorgeous – sharp blue skies, piercing sunlight – boot and jacket weather. Boots were popular. Everybody was wearing them, except me. I checked the price of an elegant leather pair that caught my eye – $475. With a few more dollars, I’ll go to Europe.

The art galleries disappointed me. Mostly touristy seascapes in glaring colors, the kind you see in every beach town from Maui to La Jolla to Acapulco. I think the same painters make a circuit. Jose takes Acapulco, Sven’s is Carmel, Max paints in a bar in Maui, and Teresa is the barracuda in La Jolla. They’re all related. These were Teresa’s last three husbands.

Calvin says, “Next time leave Alf home and take me. My nose needs an outing and I love gooey.” beagle

A Little of Nothing

On our walkabouts, we see things that capture our attention. Here are a few you might enjoy:

 

bed

Ash8Charliesun


The bed lives at the entrance to a B&B in Half Moon Bay. It’s covered in pink flowers and crawling vines. It’s not a sample of what you’ll find in their rooms. In them it’s down quilts and naked geese quacking their complaints.

The nymph statue is perched on top of water fountain in Lithia Park in Ashland, Oregon. It’s an escapee from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Puck harassed it so much, it fled.

The sun hugs a fence to somebody’s garden in Half Moon Bay. It’s Picasso-like expression was the reason it was rejected during auditions as an understudy for the real thing.

Charlie spends his time walking the streets in Niles reminiscing about his earlier movie making days. He’s the silent type. You won’t get a word out of him, but he’s hoping to be spotted by a talent agent who is out antique shopping.

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I think the price of a therapy session has gone up since then, but Lucy is one of best. She’s irritating, impatient, and you’ll get what you pay for.  If you’re desperate she keeps office hours at the Schultz Museum in Santa Rosa.

Calvin says, “That nymph’s spray rivals anything I can produce.” beagle

 

Shakespeare with a Spin

We just returned from the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon where we saw four plays, two of which were from the Shakespeare canon. The Comedy of Errors was ridiculous, The Tempest was great. The other two were modern dramas full of angst and despair, the kind of thing I like because it’s kinda where I live. It also brings out the best in a cast.

Alf and I have been going to Ashland for 27 years now so you can imagine how many plays that translates into – yikes we should be experts, but we’re not. Acting companies muck around with the settings and costumes and even with some of the lines so every play looks and feels different from year to year. We’ve seen Julius Caesar performed in gym outfits, The Taming of the Shrew in a boardwalk setting (right picture), and Romeo and Juliet with a Mexican backdrop.  Screen shot 2013-05-11 at 2.46.42 PM

ErrorsThis year an African-America cast did the Comedy of Errors (left picture) and the director set it in Harlem, so you can imagine the farce and mayhem on stage. The costumes were everything you’d expect to see in a Sunday church setting. Alf loathed it. I enjoyed the spin.

Our biggest adventure was missing out on the Groucho Marx play, The Cocoanuts. All the other plays were at 8 pm and I assumed this one was too, but no it wasn’t, it was a matinee, and we were at the mall shopping while Groucho was yucking it up with the audience. I could have kicked myself. We rushed to the box office, told them our plight, asked to be added to the next performance only to be told it was on the day we were going home. So Groucho came and went without us. “Man does not control his own fate. The women in his life do that for him.” Alf couldn’t agree more.

Calvin says, “All those settings, all those new smells, why don’t you take me with you? I know the hotel takes pets. I checked online.” beagle

 

Street Art

Yesterday afternoon as I walking to the subway station I stopped abruptly in front of a display of toilets.

Yep, toilets.

Only in San Francisco.

And they weren’t the ordinary white porcelain variety either, although even those would have caught my attention, lined up in a neat row on the red brick street.

An art display or what? I thought.

“May I photograph them?” I asked the curator of this odd display. He was jeans and a T-shirt guy.

“Sure,” he said.

I took my pictures. “What’s your statement with these?” I asked when I was done.  photo (4)photo (5)

“This is my way of bringing awareness to the need for more public toilets in San Francisco,” he said.

Come to the think of it, he had a point.

You’re hard pressed to find a bathroom in the city if you’re desperate. Your only alternatives are to duck into a restaurant, coffee shop or hotel lobby.

If you can hold it, always shoot for an upscale department store. Their bathrooms are always a pleasure with clean stalls, piped in music, and perfumed soap. Granted, you might have to purchase that $100 dollar frilly camisole on the way out, but it’s worth it.

Calvin says, “I don’t have these issues. Any ol’ tree will do me, and the smellier the better.” beagle

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are Museums For Americans Too?

In his book Priceless, author Robert Wittman says that more Americans visit museums than go to ball games.

Hmm.

I was recently at the MoMA in New York on a Friday night when you can get in for free. There were hordes of people waiting in line, more crowds already inside the building, and there were ten people deep by almost every painting hanging on the walls.

All of them were speaking a foreign language. French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian, you name it, I heard it.

And the Americans?

There were two. My friend, Elle and me. We didn’t speak much because we were craning our necks to see the Picassos, Van Goghs, and Monets in the room.  

There was a group of Italians occupying the middle of the room listening with rapt attention to their guide. He was a tall man, with greying hair at the temples, immaculately dressed in a European-cut suit and a yellow ascot. He was pointing out historical details about the artists with a flourish of hand gestures. This all in Italian, of course. And without a textbook.

Behind me were people of all ages, jostling for position, photographing Van Gogh’s Starry Night on their iPads. They spoke Russian.

Even the guards, in their blue uniforms, whose job was to make sure visitors kept a respectable distance from the masterpieces, looked foreign-born.

So where were the Americans?

In the Architecture and Design exhibit? No.

Viewing the current exhibit? No.

In the contemporary galleries? No.

When I rounded the corner by the Painting and Sculpture Galleries, that’s where I spotted them.

In line waiting to get into the restaurant.

Does that count as a museum visit?

Calvin says, “Only if you snap a few pics on the way to the bathroom.” 

Eccentric Art

Two friends met in a pub and over beers exchanged stories about their college years as art students.

Michael was British, 30’s, balding hair, with glasses that slipped down his nose.  Jeremy was American, 30’s, with a pony tail, and a beard. They became friends while at a gallery opening in Chelsea, New York.

“I lived in a house owned by a woman who married all the divorced men in town. By the time I got there she was hostile to everybody,” Michael said sipping his beer.

“Our RA played the blues on his harmonica every night. Midway through the year we plotted his murder,” Jeremy said wiping the foam from his upper lip with his fingers.

“Were you caught?”

“We stole his harmonica,” Jeremy said with a smirk. He knew we did it, but could never find it.

“Another guy is the house was a transvestite. He was tall and walked with a golden cane with an eagle handle,” Michael said pushing up his glasses.

“No wait. He lived in my dorm,” Jeremy said.

“Must have leased himself out. It’s how he paid his tuition,” Michael said. “There was another guy, weasel-like, lived in his left brain. Wasn’t friendly.

“I hated by those types. They talked in lists and appointments. Why they were art majors baffled me,” Jeremy said.

“It salved their little brittle brains. A third guy grew weed in his room in his mother’s tea cups under goose-neck lamps,” Michael said.

“Like the guy in my dorm. He grew it in the bathroom, under fluorescent lights, in Styrofoam containers from the local fast food joint. No pun intended,” Jeremy said chuckling.

“Sounds like we went to the same school.”

“Did you learn to make good art?” Michael said.

“No. Just how to dodge the bullets until graduation. That’s why I have a PhD in Oceanography.”

“Mine’s in Culinary Arts. I make a mean brioche,” Michael said.

Calvin says, “My career was defined the instant I smelled rabbit on the puppy farm.”