Is the new Lawrence Ferlinghetti show at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art his last? Maybe so! At 93, the poet, publisher, bookstore owner (of City Lights), and painter clearly has death and dying on his mind. Or so his dazzling art, up now at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, suggests.
One of the most dramatic works on display, “The Golden Bird of Memory Attends Proust on his Deathbed,” depicts the last living moments of the famed French writer, Marcel Proust. Not just artists, but cities are also dying in Ferlinghetti’s phantasmagoric world. “Cross-Pollination” is the name of the show and it highlights the impact of poetry on art and art on poetry. It also shows the power of sex to influence both poetry and art. At 93, Ferlinghetti still has sex on the mind, and if viewers want to psychoanalyze him and his work, he doesn’t mind.
“Freud” depicts two naked figures: a black man with a white penis and a longhaired white woman, who look as though they’ve just had sex. But neither the museum’s executive director, Kate Eilertsen, nor the guest curator, Diane Roby, are playing up the sex and the death, but rather Ferlinghetti’s dedication to his medium, whether oils, acrylics, or pen and ink sketches from his notebooks. “In Ferlinghetti’s art words give rise to image-making, and word and image meld in paint,” Roby says.
“Cross-Pollination” offers a breathtaking introduction to Ferlinghetti’s life and work as a poet and as a painter that began in Paris in the 1940s. A recording of Ferlinghetti performing his poetry brings his voice to life. On display are his books, including The Coney Island of The Mind, which has sold more than one million copies since it was first published in 1955. English majors will get the literary references to James Joyce and T.S. Eliot’s anti-hero, J. Alfred Prufrock. Art majors will recognize Pablo Picasso. But you don’t have to know Eliot’s poetry or Picasso’s art to appreciate the work of the last of the original Bay Area bohemians. “Cross-Pollination” pays homage to an artist who won’t give up and who hasn’t called it quits. Locals have taken to staking out the museum, hoping for a glimpse of a genius just reaching his prime at 93.
Cross-Pollination: The Art of Lawrence Ferlinghetti. The Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, 551 Broadway, Sonoma, through September 23, 2012. Wednesdays through Sundays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. $5; free for students grades K-12 and for all visitors, Wednesdays. www.svma.org and (707) 939-7862.
Six professional photographers, including Jess Knubis and Suzanne Becker Bronk, and one filmmaker collaborated to capture the people and places of Napa. The photographs are reminiscent of Dorthea Lange’s work (“Migrant Mother,” shot during the Great Depression, is the photograph that we know best from her), just as beautiful, powerful, and captivating. The four short documentaries transport its audience to incredible locations during interviews of those that lived and worked in a Napa very different from today’s, offering viewers an inside scoop of Napa’s rich history.
Additionally during the time of exhibition, behind the scene talks, gathering, and events compliment Memory Bank II, including panels of those that worked on the project, the Memory Bank “Old Timers” that had been interviewed, and of the photographers that contributed.
The board members of Preservation Napa Valley are currently raising money to fund turning Memory Book II as a book and DVD, which will be available for a limited time. “Memory Bank is not pursuing nostalgia but asking us to see, feel and understand how this Valley came to be, to the place it is now...to get beneath the golden shimmer into a long and fascinating heritage,” states Wendy Ward, director of the organization in their funding campaign site. “If we understand the past, we are richer for it and may perhaps see today and the future clearer.”
Memory Book II aims to capture the “true Napa, one reflective of all peoples” and this year, is focusing on the diverse cultures (among them, Chinese Japanese, Mexican, and European) that have come to Napa and shaped its evolution across generations. And while the photographs are in black and white, the images they hold will not be fading for long.
She’s had the idea for a while now, but for whatever reason, didn’t want to really go through with it. This weekend my mom finally took the plunge and got her first tattoo.
When she saw my first tattoo, she shook her head either in disgust or disbelief. My second one, she feigned indifference. But the next time, something changed. I heard she told my sister, regarding tattoos and the stereotype she had associated them with, that I was “above the influence.” Mind you, this was when the commercials featuring the same tagline were running on television, but those were about staying away from drugs, not tattoos.
She’s had this drawing in her head of a tattoo for some years now, and for her birthday this weekend decided to get it inked. “Gentlehands” Wes at Monkey Wrench in Santa Rosa was her artist, and he did a good job with the art and working with her. He made helpful suggestions and explained why some of her ideas wouldn’t quite work out (in a very patient tone).
Overall, I think it looks good. It’s her children’s initials in their favorite colors surrounded by Mardi Gras beads. It might need a touch up, but that’s to be expected with color.
By piercing the flesh and leaving ink under the skin she has completed the generational link between her father and her son, both of whom have tattoos and only one of whom regretted it 40 years later. Happy birthday, Mom. Here’s hoping you will regret your tattoo at least 40 years from now, too.
Ty Jones walks around Railroad Square, relieved and excited.
Relieved because just last week, he and Handcar Regatta co-founder Spring Maxfield—with lawyers, both—officially dissolved the Handcar Regatta name. "It was like a divorce," Jones explains. "We had different ideas about the way things should work, and they way companies should work. I've got nothing bad to say about her."
Excited because this morning, he's announced Dr. Erasmus P. Kitty’s Kinetic Frenetic Opera of Mechanical Mayhem, a Regatta-esque festival planned for Summer 2012 "featuring music, film, performance, and kinetic railcar mayhem."
No exact location is set for the event, but that doesn't get in the way of Jones' many ideas for the new event, which he plans as a multi-day arts festival that perhaps "won't look like the Regatta."
"It'll still be a rail race," he says, adding that he's been talking to some of the old Regatta crew, gearing up for another run. "But one of the ideas with the Regatta is that it would expand to incorporate these ancillary events"—he mentions the Wiskeydrunk Cycles gang, the Feed Barn in Rincon Valley. "So how can it spin off into the community, and foster the arts?"
Jones cites the Sonoma Arts Council's recent move to Rohnert Park as a symbol of the splintered nature of the arts community in Santa Rosa, and recognizes that the Regatta represented a coming together of disparate organizations.
Just this week, Jones has been in talks with Chops Teen Center and the Sixth Street Playhouse, but he's not counting on being able to return to the Santa Rosa railroad tracks, where SMART has development planned. Last September, SMART informed Jones and Maxfield that the site wouldn't be available in 2012 due to construction for the long-awaited SMART train.
The Frenetic Kinetic Opera could be held along the tracks in Windsor or Healdsburg—anywhere north of Coddingtown, really—but if construction hasn't yet begun in Santa Rosa by summertime, Jones is hoping that SMART will see the value of hosting the festival again in Depot Park.
I can think of 15,000 others who've attended and loved the Handcar Regatta in Santa Rosa, and who'll be hoping the same thing.
Wherever it's held, Jones says, "it's just too much fun to let it go."
For more, cue up the Frenetic Kinetic Opera whirly-gig virtual bulletin of web-site bill-posting.
This photograph of Rene was taken by local fine art photographer, Bruce Temuchin Brown. Rene loved Bruce's photographic work on copper and was the first to buy from him in early 2006 after I introduced the two at a gallery where Bruce's work was showing.
Enamored with Bruce's style and process, I asked Rene if he would pose for Bruce, to which he said "yes," as long as he didn't have to "completely disrobe." Bruce's work is figurative and has to do with the human condition in all of its glorious forms, thus Rene's query about being full-on nude when posing. I was present the day the photos were taken at the Preserve, and Rene was a dream to work with, seemingly titillated to be a part of something he admired. When he saw the finished traditional photographic treatment of his image on copper, he fell in love with it and wanted to buy it for his home at the Meadows, where it is still hanging there, no doubt.
I share this because not only is it a stellar capture of one amazing art-loving human being, but also due to the sheer beauty in how Rene is depicted in art, as he was art, which is riddled with irony. This same image, though a bit different in treatment on the copper, was also collected by the Crocker Art Museum for its permanent collection. The Crocker Museum also loves the painterly quality that the piece have, and they, too, collected another of Bruce's images, which ironically is the same one that Rene purchased as a first sale for Bruce. Great minds?
Rene supported a lot of Bay Area artists and contributed to their success due to his visions and forward thinking. I loved going along with Rene when he went "shopping" or looking for art because of his keen eye and sense of folly, as he somehow knew to trust that there was a brilliance he was sure no one else might see. He did pride himself on being a first buyer of an emerging artist and for paying small amounts that would later pay off in what has proven to be bucket loads of success for many artists.
Knowing Rene as well as I did and for so long, and in the spirit of wishing to promote a local extremely talented emerging artist that Rene admired, it feels prudent to pass this along to share what I see as brilliance times two.California art collector Rene di Rosa died on Sunday, Oct. 3, at age 91. To learn more about his art of collecting, go to www.disrosaart.org.
Local street artist Ricky Watts has entered this amazing drawing in Paul Frank's "Art Attack" contest—one of those online voting things where Paul Frank gets a zillion hits from Facebook posts and the winner gets cash for art supplies and exposure in magazines. Watts has consistently been one of our favorite local artists, and he could use both—won't you cruise on over and click on some monkey heads to help him out? (You don't have to register or give your email, it's one-stop.)
Or, just look at the thing! It's a giant crazy-looking rooster in front of McNears! Awesome!"This drawing was inspired by musician Arann Harris of The Green String Farm Band," writes Ricky. "He came up with the concept and I brought the idea to life. It is a futuristic interpretation of a growth hormone experiment gone bad on the downtown streets (of my hometown) of Petaluma, California, once known as the 'Chicken Capital of the World.'"
(While they last, 11x14 prints can be ordered here.)
What to look at now.ArtBabble
Video interviews and small short features on the fine arts, featuring everyone from collectors like Indianapolis sweeties Dorothy and Hubert Vogel to such art stars as Brice Marden.C-Monster
In which a smart, anonymous hipster with an acute eye travels to Peru to visit family, eats memorable meals everywhere, makes it to the Venice Biennale and has appropriate disdain for Damian Hirst.Artworld Salon
Edited byMarc Spiegler Ian Charles Stewart,
By Gretchen Giles
Talk about your fish out of water! OK, not a fish but neither a mammal, Mocha Dick, Tristin Lowe’s 52-foot whale at Philadelphia’s Fabric Workshop and Museum is a sculptural dynamo that fills a full third of the FWM’s eighth floor gallery with the irresistible pulse of its presence. Prompted by Herman Melville’s epic comic novel Moby Dick—itself prompted by apocryphal tales of the killer albino whale said to have terrorized 19th century whalers in the South Pacific Ocean with an eerily human intent—Mocha Dick is a harmless, even benign being stuck far away from the ocean and placed high above city streets.
Made of white industrial wool felt and animated with a tight bladder that inflates during the day with a noisy fan, Mocha Dick is vulnerable to all exploration, and that is one of its many delights. Working with FWM staff, Lowe directed the museum’s seamstresses to mark the body with divets and scars, barnacles and the other random abrasions that come from a long life in the sea. The animal’s eyes are appropriately anthropomorphic, the viewer guiltily stopped by their sad silent stare before moving on (we, after all, are alive and it is not! sings the relieved cheer). Cleverly, the sculpture’s “skin” zips off the internal bladder, allowing the piece to be easily shipped in an ordinary crate, the zipper lines themselves adding structure to the whale’s fully tamed self.
Curious to a new visitor, Lowe’s massive woolen piece is only one of two installations in the FWM’s new exhibit to actually use fabric in its execution. Founded in 1977, the FWM has excitingly elasticized its mandate from the early post-macramé days to encompass work done in all media, some with nary a thread in sight. The FWM also seems to have tapped into some uncanny fount of funding that allows it to richly experiment. Sometimes, as with Mocha Dick, that money is delightfully spent; at other times, as with Pete Rose’s work, it is merely lavishly expended.
Sharing the eighth floor with Lowe, Rose’s video installation Pneumenon slightly acknowledges its benefactors by having a sheet of fabric physically hanging from the ceiling. Pneumenon insists upon the unsurprising fact that behind many sunny facades lie dark underpinnings. Showing a suburban campsite on a pleasant day, the soundtrack periodically booms, the camera focusing on a wind-blown tarp, our eyes aligned to the piece of physical fabric before us. Poof goes a fan, the fabric billows up, the cinematic tarp dissolves and the screen darkens with the specter of a tree in a lightning storm. Wow. Nature sure is scary.
Rose’s triptych video in the main room, Journey to Q’xtlan, is entirely outside of textile tradition, the video screen gyrating dully with dark random violence, the piece’s warp and weave knitted together only through a wearying art-speak project tag referring to “transfaluminations” and “sussurations” that ding like tin coins.
A short elevator ride brightens things considerably. The FWM’s current exhibit is dedicated to Philadelphia-based artists and, in addition to Lowe and Rose, Virgil Marti and recent “Younger Than Jesus” participant Ryan Trecartin generously enliven the institute’s first floor and adjacent New Temporary Contemporary gallery, respectively.
Marti’s ground-level installation evokes the waiting room to limbo itself. Gaudy gold floor-to-ceiling curtains are cast from human bone shapes, trompe l’oeil wallpaper glistens with the cream satin sheen of coffin upholstery and marvelously garish hotel lobby seating is capped with faux-mink and run with succulent fabrics too fine to merely sit upon; it would be far more appropriate to make savage love with a stranger or simply die alone on these rotund couches. Lighting sconces are arranged to form dragonflies and overripe flowers but, like the “beaded” curtains, are fashioned from human bone facsimiles. It’s all cheerful and bright and doomed and dead and utterly satisfying.
The greatest triumph in this rotation, however, belongs to video artist Trecartin, whose three short works—K-Corea Inc. K (Section A), Sibling Topics (Section A) and Re’Search Wait’S (Edit One: Re’Search Missing Corruption Budget) are part of a larger body that will expand over the coming year. Screened in rooms jumbled with furnishings and symbols found in the films, these riveting, loud, disturbing videos comment variously upon business structure, family dynamics, global corporate domination and shrill pop culture standards in which each one of us is our own shallow brand.
While the images are certainly disquieting—one quick cut reveals a disembodied human leg stuck in an ice chest where the beer should be while in another passage the innocent tip of a man’s penis repeatedly peeks out from beneath his skirt—the comment is acute. Narrative arc is buried in Trecartin’s pieces but nonetheless holds structure as “characters” take meetings, get advice, simulate sex, break glasses and scream at each other in ways that anyone who’s ever breezed past a reality television show will instantly and wincingly recognize as interactions uniquely our own in this 21st century.