When I was a teenager, J.M.W. Turner was one of my favorite painters and I squeaked with glee when I discovered that the London museum had an entire WING of his paintings. I think I spent a couple of days there. I liked blurry paintings then — they seemed more artistic than photographic paintings.
Now that everything looks blurry, I prefer paintings with sharp lines, but I didn’t want to miss this show. I enjoyed the movie with some of my art friends, but none of them could go to San Francisco when I could, so I went by myself. It was very crowded, even at 11 a.m. on a Wednesday, so now I know to go as early as possible, and to leave by 1 p.m. to beat the traffic back. It only took about an hour, each way.
This show focuses on work Turner produced from age 60 to 75 and includes some of the scathing criticism by his contemporaries. My favorite is the image on the right, above, of a steamship in a snow storm. The apocryphal story is that Turner had himself lashed to a mast for two hours to experience the storm and watch the steamship founder. The art books at the museum question this story but the painting is very dramatic.
I was struck by Turner’s work ethic, and how much he traveled to find compelling subjects. The watercolors from his visit to Switzerland come with detailed descriptions of the techniques and materials he used. My watercolor friends will love the show!
In Sept, 2012 I read book three in the Bruno Series, The Dark Vineyard. It has taken me this long to get to the first book in the series: Bruno, Chief of Police. It is a quick read and I love the way Martin Walker writes.
As a working journalist, 13 of his books have been non-fiction, with many about the Soviet Union. When he retired to the Périgord region of France, he embarked on his first fiction book, The Caves of Périgord which was very ambitious with three intertwined story lines. The first, in the prehistory of the area, described how the caves may have been created. The second story line dove deeply into the French Resistance in the Périgord region during WWII and the third story was set in present-day London and Périgord. It was very interesting but complex and sometimes hard to follow.
His next fiction book, Bruno, Chief of Police, is much lighter and more playful. The caves get only a few paragraphs and we meet Bruno who embodies the world-renown charm and discretion of Frenchmen. It also touches on the horror of war and the toll it takes on the bodies and souls of men, women and children. In this book, it is Bosnia as well as WWII. Martin Walker really has a reporter’s eye for detail and he moves us quickly through the mystery, but it is the charm of the people we meet through Bruno’s detective work that is the real pleasure in this book.
I am really looking forward to the next one. Thanks for loaning it to me, Russ!
On the evening of my birthday, I attended our regular Threshold rehearsal but it was sparsely attended because it was so close to Christmas. About a week earlier, our leader, Kay, had decided it was time for me to graduate because of my successful singing at the bedsides of the dying. First, I sang to Kay and Robin, then they put me in the chair and sang “O Sister My Sister” to me along with Venus who had just arrived. I spoke a little about how the choir gives me an opportunity to be fully-present and to open my heart-space to the person to whom we are singing. Then, the famous Maria Culberson arrived (an important leader and song writer for Threshold) and we had a wonderful practice. At the end of the practice session, they sang several birthday songs for me. It was great. I felt really loved.
Yesterday was the first meeting of the semester for the “Acrylic and Mixed Media” art class at Bell Manor in Windsor and my first time taking this class. I was surprised and delighted to find another Senior Peer Counselor in the class. Lia had previously taken the class during the summer semester that just ended and she had completed an impressive landscape in acrylic, so I am looking forward to seeing what comes. We started with learning brush technique, then cutting up the practice paper into small squares which we affixed to another sheet with “Yes!” glue.
The instructor, Little-Bear, arranged our art in a kimono shape. She had invited the students to work with two colors and most students chose colors that went well with each other: blue-green or yellow-orange. I chose opposing colors and my composition emphasized the edges of each color, so it stands out in the center of the kimono. Many of the students are taking the class for the second or third time because there is no charge for the “unlimited repeats” class. I like the teacher and am excited about what I will learn.
Normally I would put this image on the right side of the column because of the way the woman is facing, but Richard Diebenkorn’s composition of images showed me that this isn’t always right. The point of view of the artist is from THIS side.
I liked this painting the best of all in this show because I felt she was French and I felt I could smell the coffee and hear the almost inaudible sound of her enjoying the first sip. The key is that I felt something. Which was a relief because I HATED the first paintings in the show. They were his early, abstract works and they were awful. And I wasn’t the only one in our group who thought so. Of course, there were others who seemed to have “drunk the kool-aid” and swooned over everything. This show was limited to the work he produced in the Bay Area. He didn’t get famous until he moved to Santa Monica.
In the bookstore we found some books with his “Santa Monica Series” and those abstracts were wonderful. I realized they would look wonderful in the new, modern houses that were being built in the Hollywood Hills by the successful people of the time. I realized that Richard Diebenkorn was a very handsome man with a master’s degree in art who was very articulate about his process and his vision. I liked his quotes which were painted on the walls better than the paintings in this show. He was very social and I suspect he romanced the people he needed to in Los Angeles to get the coverage he wanted. The museum’s descriptions of his work were devotedly pandering.
The best part of the day was lunch at Cavallo Point in Fort Baker. After we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, we took the first Sausalito exit and took a right into Fort Baker and wound around past the beach and the Children’s Museum to find this wonderful resort built into the old buildings. Lunch had enced at Murray Circle, but we enjoyed their upscale Pub Grub on the porch. I had four tiny fish tacos embellished with radish slices and Hollyn D’Lil had the mussels featured on the website. Even the chips and dip was classic yet refined. Made two new friends: Liza who teaches Feldenkrais, and Robin Hale, international midwife to the poor. She told amazing stories of her three visits of Afghanistan.
The view was sensational and the old buildings had those wonderful, old-fashioned second story porches with rockers facing the protected cove of Fort Baker. There were some more modern units behind them, up the hill, with more conventional architecture and probably better plumbing and wiring. The the old-fashioned places were full of charm and featured a cooking school and a full service spa facility. A great place to get away and recharge while being only minutes from the city.
Gorgeous place intentionally kept secret. Don’t tell anyone.
Eight weeks ago I started with my first Senior Peer Counseling client, a lady in her 70s who had recently left the hospital after a one-week stay and was feeling down. I was thrilled yesterday when she showed me this artwork that she created this past week.
Our goal is to get her more socially integrated so that she does not further stress her over-burdened daughter. I have not yet been able to get her to go to community activities in the senior community where she lives, and have not yet persuaded her to visit the Finley Senior Center which is fairly close to where she lives.
My great hope is to get her to enroll in the FREE semester-long art classes offered by SRJC in seven locations in the county, including a previously unknown (to me) campus near the intersection of Hwy. 12 and Fulton Rd.
I spoke with Judy Butler, who teaches this class at the Petaluma Senior Center. She was very kind and enthusiastic.
When I asked if my client, who does not have online access, could drop-in to check it out and register in class, Judy replied,
Hi, Anet – – Your client can sign up in class. The teachers will have the registration materials (very easy to fill out, plus no charge for class.) The names of the three teachers at the Wright site for fall are Adriane Hatkoff, Susan St. Thomas, and Judith Selby. They are all very experienced watercolorists and teachers, no doubt open to accepting art students working in other mediums. All your friend has to do is show up with her art supplies at whatever class schedule time works best for her. Drop-ins are also welcome (but they will probably be asked to fill out the basic reg forms (filed out only once for the whole semester). Sonoma County is filled with many experienced older artists, who thrive in this gorgeous wine country retirement area. I know, because I’m one of them)!
It would make me so happy to see my client in a semester-long art class with other seniors. I know they will see her talent and encourage her. I really think this would help her become more emotionally self-sufficient which would go a long way toward healing her relationship with her long-suffering daughter.