Sunday, April 29, 2007

Great Weather, Great Art, and Great Basketball

The Bay Area has enjoyed a weekend of great weather, great art (Picasso and Brice Marden at SFMOMA) and great basketball- Baron Davis and company now are one win away from a historic playoff upset.
Davis scored 33 points as the Warriors beat the Dallas Mavericks by a score of 103-99 Sunday night and hold a 3-1 lead over the Mavs in their first-round playoff series.

Dallas Maverick's fans watch in disbelief as their team is bewitched by Baron Davis and the Golden State Warriors

Golden State's Monta Ellis

Friday, April 27, 2007

Cellist Rostropovich Dies

Mstislav Rostropovich gave an impromptu concert at Checkpoint Charlie after the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989.
photo- Reuters

Listen to an excerpt from Rostropovich's performance of Bach's Suite No. 1 in G Major: I. Prelude

Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich has died. He will be remembered for his music and his brave efforts to keep the arts free from censorship and tyranny. This story from the Los Angeles Times is particularly poignant:
"In July 1991, Rostropovich performed a concert in Prague to fulfill his 1968 promise to play there when the last Soviet soldier left Czechoslovakia. A month later, when he heard that hard-liners had put vacationing Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev under house arrest, seized power in Moscow and surrounded Russian Federation President Boris N. Yeltsin in the republic Parliament building, Rostropovich, at considerable personal danger, raced from Paris to Moscow, sweet-talking his way past KGB guards at the airport, to stand by Yeltsin's side.

"There was no storming of the Parliament building for one reason," a Russian youth told Rostropovich, according to the London Sunday Times, shortly after the crowd toppled a statue of Felix Dzerzhinsky, founder of the KGB. "Because you were with us."

Monday, April 23, 2007

NASA Releases 3-D Images of the Sun

An image of the full sun in 3-D. This photo was captured by SECCHI/Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope on March 20, 2007, and combines 4 different wavelengths into one image. Photo courtesy of NASA

NASA describes the program:
"STEREO (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory) is the third mission in NASA's Solar Terrestrial Probes program (STP). This two-year mission, launched October 2006, will provide a unique and revolutionary view of the Sun-Earth System. The two nearly identical observatories - one ahead of Earth in its orbit, the other trailing behind - will trace the flow of energy and matter from the Sun to Earth. They will reveal the 3D structure of coronal mass ejections; violent eruptions of matter from the sun that can disrupt satellites and power grids, and help us understand why they happen. STEREO will become a key addition to the fleet of space weather detection satellites by providing more accurate alerts for the arrival time of Earth-directed solar ejections with its unique side-viewing perspective."

3-D images, known as anaglyphs, combine left and right eye images
The 3-D image can be seen with red and cyan 3-D paper glasses.

A close-up of loops in a magnetic active region is shown in this false color image taken on December 4, 2006.
Photo courtesy of NASA

More at :

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Orange and Maroon Effect

Mark Rothko
Untitled (Seagram Mural), 1959
Gift of The Mark Rothko Foundation, Inc.
Copyright © 1997 Christopher Rothko and Kate Rothko Prizel
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Sometimes a painting will seem to carry the weight of the moment solely by means of color or form. Mark Rothko wanted his paintings to convey the depth of myth and the struggles of humanity. Richard Lacayo at Time also had an urge to turn to Rothko after the shootings at VirginiaTech. Lacayo only recently learned how to "see" Rothko and has discovered what Rothko was up to: " I understood that all those hovering fog banks of color weren’t gateways to anything, they were emblems of thwarted longing. Rothko was trying to invoke the power of myth, even the power of God, all the while knowing that he could summon those things, but they might not come. Would not, more likely."

VirginiaTech ~ Rothko

VirginiaTech ~ In Memoriam ~ Lacayo

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

VirginiaTech ~ In Memoriam

We are Virginia Tech.

We are sad today, and we will be sad for quite a while. We are not moving on, we are embracing our mourning.

We are Virginia Tech.

We are strong enough to stand tall tearlessly, we are brave enough to bend to cry, and we are sad enough to know that we must laugh again.

We are Virginia Tech.

We do not understand this tragedy. We know we did nothing to deserve it, but neither does a child in Africa dying of AIDS, neither do the invisible children walking the night away to avoid being captured by the rogue army, neither does the baby elephant watching his community being devestated for ivory, neither does the Mexican child looking for fresh water, neither does the Appalachian infant killed in the middle of the night in his crib in the home his father built with his own hands being run over by a boulder because the land was destabilized. No one deserves a tragedy.

We are Virginia Tech.

The Hokie Nation embraces our own and reaches out with open heart and hands to those who offer their hearts and minds. We are strong, and brave, and innocent, and unafraid. We are better than we think we are and not quite what we want to be. We are alive to the imaginations and the possibilities. We will continue to invent the future through our blood and tears and through all our sadness.

We are the Hokies.

We will prevail.
We will prevail.
We will prevail.

We are Virginia Tech.

-- Nikki Giovanni, University Distinguished Professor, poet, activist

VirginiaTech ~ Nikki Giovanni
VirginiaTech ~ In Memoriam

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Jackie Robinson Day

Jackie Robinson during his collegiate years in Los Angeles

"A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives."
-Jackie Robinson

Today marks the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Jackie Robinson was the first African-American baseball player to compete in the major leagues when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.

Across the United States, players from each major league baseball team will wear tributes to Jackie Robinson. Every player on the Los Angeles Dodgers will wear Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 today. Bill Pennington of the New York Times explains that the movement to honor Jackie's memory began with a suggestion from the Cincinnati Red's Ken Griffey Jr. -

"Sixty years after Jackie Robinson shook the baseball establishment and broke the sport’s color barrier, an unforeseen grassroots movement by today’s players has suddenly shaped the way Major League Baseball will commemorate the anniversary. More than 200 players will wear Robinson’s No. 42 retired by baseball 10 years ago in ballparks across the country on Sunday, the anniversary of Robinson’s first appearance with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.

While the tribute has received baseball’s approval, it grew spontaneously from a request by the Cincinnati Reds’ Ken Griffey Jr., who asked Commissioner Bud Selig earlier this month if he could wear the number on April 15. What has evolved since is surprisingly organic for a group of famous, feted athletes with multimillion-dollar contracts.

As word of Griffey’s gesture spread, small groups of players — among them stars like Barry Bonds, Dontrelle Willis and Gary Sheffield — decided also to wear 42 that day. Soon, there was a representative from every team. The Los Angeles Dodgers then decided to have their entire roster wear 42.

Now, there are six major league teams that plan to have everyone in uniform wearing No. 42 — players, coaches, manager and bat boys. Those teams are the Dodgers, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Philadelphia Phillies, the Milwaukee Brewers and the Houston Astros."

-The Dodgers are one of six big league teams whose every player will wear Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 today
(Gina Ferazzi / L.A. Times )

The New York Yankees Derek Jeter will also wear Jackie Robinson's #42 today and he stated to the press, "I am so proud to honor this man who opened the doors for blacks to have an opportunity to play in the major leagues alongside everyone else."

Rachel Robinson, Jackie's wife, still has vivid memories of April 15, 1947:

"As Jackie Robinson was getting ready to break baseball's color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Rachel was hustling to get to Ebbets Field in time to see it."

"She waited a long time for a taxi because drivers routinely passed up black passengers. She worried their baby, Jackie Jr., would be cold because she had dressed him in spring clothes. And she stopped at a hot dog stand in the ballpark, where a vendor was kind enough to heat the boy's bottle."

Rachel Robinson at the stadium. (From Spike Lee's documentary on Baseball and Jackie Robinson)

"It was an exciting, exhilarating time — but it also was a stressful time," Rachel Robinson said.
Rachel and Jackie met while they both were students at UCLA. Rachel Robinson earned a degree in nursing from the UCSF School of Nursing in 1945 before marrying Jackie in 1946. A few years after Jackie Robinson's retirement from baseball, Rachel returned to school and earned a masters degree from New York University. In 1965 Rachel became an Assistant Professor of Nursing at Yale University.

-Jackie Robinson during his collegiate years at UCLA played football, ran track, was the leading scorer on the basketball team and played baseball.

More on Jackie Robinson and Rachel Robinson at:

L.A. Times on Jackie Robinson Day

Los Angeles Dodgers Site on Jackie Robinson

New York Times on Jackie Robinson

Rachel Robinson at UCSF

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A Different Eakins Sold to Wal-Mart Heiress's Crystal Bridges

Eakins’ “Portrait of Professor Benjamin H. Rand” (1874), sold to Alice Walton’s Arkansas museum.
The painting is destined for the new Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, now under construction in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Carol Vogel in the New York Times is reporting that Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia has been at it again in their attempt to sell an Eakins to Crystal Bridges. This time it is Thomas Eakin's portrait of Benjamin Howard Rand. "Less than four months after Philadelphians thwarted its bid to buy “The Gross Clinic,” an 1875 masterpiece by Thomas Eakins, an Arkansas museum founded by the Wal-Mart heiress Alice L. Walton has quietly purchased another much-loved Eakins painting from the Philadelphia medical school that sold the first."

Michael Kimmelman describes the painting:

"A tour de force from 1874 -Benjamin Howard Rand- a chemistry professor whom Eakins knew as a teacher from his school days. He sits, reading and distractedly stroking a cat (an echo of Manet’s “Olympia” perhaps) at a desk almost comically crammed with microscopes, test tubes, quills and papers. Raking light picks out, like flashes of colored fireworks, the polished brass instruments, a pink rose and a woman’s afghan draped over a chair before the desk. The cat stares at us. Professor Rand remains absorbed in his book.

"At the Centennial, where Eakin's “The Gross Clinic” was banished to the medical tent for being too graphic, critics praised the Rand painting as more than a portrait because of the still life of objects in it. Now it seems brilliant but anecdotal."

In Memory: Sol LeWitt at SFMOMA

Sol Lewitt at SFMOMA

Monday, April 09, 2007

No Fear of Beauty: Sol LeWitt in San Francisco

"Artists are mystics rather than rationalists. They leap to conclusions that logic cannot reach."
--Sol LeWitt, 1969

Sol LeWitt's retrospective, which ran from February 19, 2000 - May 21, 2000 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art was a revelation. The timing of the exhibition was deeply personal for me. It was the end of one phase of my life, an introduction to a new path, and ultimately a springboard -both personally and artistically- to a new world.

Sol LeWitt's life work as laid out in SFMOMA's exhibition was intellectually stimulating and ravishingly beautiful. This was an artist who was deeply serious, yet who had no fear of beauty.

Sol LeWitt
"Cube-Circle 4"
wall drawing
from Sol LeWitt: New Wall Drawings & Photographs at the Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco which ran from Sep 9 - Oct 30, 2004
"I would like to produce something I would not be ashamed to show Giotto."
--Sol LeWitt, 1980's

"Born in 1928 in Hartford, Connecticut, LeWitt moved to New York in 1953, just as Abstract Expressionism was beginning to gain public recognition and was dominating contemporary art. He found various jobs to support himself, first in the design department at Seventeen magazine, doing paste-ups, mechanicals, and photostats, and later, for the young architect I.M. Pei as a graphic designer. This contact proved formative, for as LeWitt would later write, "an architect doesn't go off with a shovel and dig his foundation and lay every brick. He's still an artist."
-from the SFMOMA website created for the Sol LeWitt retrospective which ran from February 19, 2000 - May 21, 2000.

Sol LeWitt at SFMOMA

Sol LeWitt
Wall Drawing at Crown Point Press, 657 Howard St Entrance.

Sol LeWitt's essay "Paragraphs on Conceptual Art", from 1967, provided a clear explanation of his artistic aims:
"No matter what form it may finally have it must begin with an idea."
"When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine that makes the art."

The SFMOMA site on the Sol LeWitt exhibition explains, "In 1960 LeWitt took a job at The Museum of Modern Art, working first at the book counter and later as a night receptionist. He met other young artists working there (Dan Flavin, Robert Mangold, Robert Ryman, and Scott Burton), placing him in the midst of a community of young artists searching for a new direction."

Other artists were important to Sol LeWitt. As Tyler Green points out: "Stories of LeWitt's generosity to other artists and to the art world are everywhere. In addition to supporting groups such as Printed Matter, for years LeWitt traded work with near any artist who wanted to trade with him. He kept the works he received in a warehouse near his home, in Chester, Conn. He sent his collection of contemporary art around the country, mostly to small museums that have limited access to top new art."

LeWitt most often used assistants to execute the works based upon his detailed instructions.

Below are LeWitt's instructions for the execution of Wall Drawing #340, 1980:

"Six-part drawing. The wall is divided horizontally and vertically into six equal parts. 1st part: On red, blue horizontal parallel lines, and in the center, a circle within which are yellow vertical parallel lines; 2nd part: On yellow, red horizontal parallel lines, and in the center, a square within which are blue vertical parallel lines; 3rd part: On blue, yellow horizontal parallel lines, and in the center, a triangle within which are red vertical parallel lines; 4th part: On red, yellow horizontal parallel lines, and in the center, a rectangle within which are blue vertical parallel lines; 5th part: On yellow, blue horizontal parallel lines, and in the center, a trapezoid within which are red vertical parallel lines; 6th part: On blue, red horizontal parallel lines, and in the center, a parallelogram within which are yellow vertical parallel lines. The horizontal lines do not enter the figures."

Sol LeWitt Wall Drawing in the Lobby at SFMOMA

LeWitt's work strikes a delicate balance between the physical work and the idea. His wall drawings begin with a series of mathematical calculations laid out on papers, which are crafted into precise yet open instructions that a team of collaborators executes.

LeWitt's massive, vibrant wall drawings are like Renaissance frescoes in their ability to create a new kind of space which is both painting and architecture.

Sol LeWitt Wall Drawing in the Lobby at SFMOMA

Even though LeWitt used industrial materials that he felt would erase any trace of craft and employed assistants to execute his ideas, the importance of the artist's hand is still evident in the subtle shifts in color and line in the wall drawings. LeWitt's desire to adhere to a system did not negate his wish to create truly beautiful wall drawings. As the artist said in the early 1980s, "I would like to produce something I would not be ashamed to show Giotto."

More at:

Tyler Green
Video: Sol LeWitt Makes a Drawing from SFMOMA*

*The interactive media works created by SFMOMA'S education department are consistently remarkable. Artist,
Tim Svenonius, is deeply involved in many of these projects, including his work on the groundbreaking discovery of an early Picasso found hidden under SFMOMA's "Street Scene" painted by Picasso in 1900

Hidden Picasso Under SFMOMA's "Street Scene" painted by Picasso in 1900.

Interactive Site: SFMOMA's Hidden Picasso
Tim Svenonius Site

Painting in SFMOMA lobby
photo by Clay Vajgrt

Sunday, April 08, 2007

A Trinity of Light - L.A.

I am re-reading Lawrence Weschler's volume of essays: "Vermeer in Bosnia." Weschler's piece on the light of L.A. resonates:

The architect Coy Howard, a true student of the light explains:
"Things in the light here have a kind of threeness instead of the usual twoness. There's the thing -the object- and its shadow, but then a sense of reflection as well. You know how you can be walking along the beach ... and you'll see a seagull walking along ahead of you, and a wave comes in, splashing its feet. At this moment, you'll see the bird, its shadow, and its reflection. Well, there's something about the environment here - the air, the atmosphere, the light - that makes everything shimmer. There's a kind of glowing thickness to the world - the diaphonous soup- which in turn, grounds a magic-meditative sense of presence."

Icons From Sinai