Archive for May, 2010

Moholy-Nagy (Part 1): In Memory of Beulah Seckinger

05.31.2010  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

I’m sitting in a radiology room at Kaiser with my left hand resting on a square metal plate that I assume contains film. The x-ray tech twists my hand to the left then flicks off the overheads. A box of light floats over the wrist, a cross-hatched shadow dividing it into quadrants. Beneath the focused beam my hand turns sculptural, the gracefu... More

Five Questions: Walter Logue

05.28.2010  |  By
Filed under: Conversations

[Five questions to SFMOMA artists, staff, or guests. Walter Logue has worked at SFMOMA for 12 years as an operations technician.  Walter knows the building through and through and if things need doing, he’s there to make it happen.  (He also has the best gossip).  Walter is also a visual artist—you can see some of his work here and here.... More

Stop the Presses! – Paul Clipson’s BUCKYS to Be Shown As Live Super-8 Performances Tonight!

05.27.2010  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd

One-man army Paul Clipson, stemming the tide of digital madness, is currently editing the first two BUCKYS to show in Super-8 tonight! Scheduled to be shown on video, the celebrated experimental celluloid filmmaker “just couldn’t take it anymore”, and sat down to the editing table to create true celluloid works of pieces original... More

Three Heads, Six Arms

05.26.2010  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

If you haven’t yet seen Shanghai-based artist Zhang Huan’s monumental new public sculpture, “Three Heads, Six Arms,” it is now on display at San Francisco’s Civic Center and is well worth a look. The piece will be on display through 2011.

(Shanghai is one of our 17  sister cities, not including Paris which, in what we... More

75 Reasons to Live: Raelle Myrick-Hodges on John Collier Jr.

05.26.2010  |  By
Filed under: Projects/Series

Raelle Myrick-Hodges is the Artistic Director of Brava! for Women in the Arts. John Collier Jr on the SFMOMA website.

Remember the end of Manhattan, when Woody Allen asks himself what makes life worth living? Last January, during SFMOMA’s three day 75th anniversary celebration, 75 people from the Bay Area creative community gave extremely sh... More

Conversation with Zachary Royer Scholz

05.25.2010  |  By
Filed under: Conversations

Zachary Royer Scholz is one of the interesting young artists-who-write who have emerged on the local art scene in the past two or three years and who have added a great deal of optimism for folks like me. I was lucky enough to start to know Zach this year when he participated in my class on Art and the Invisible for SFMOMA’s Pickpocket Almanack, curated by Joseph del Pesco. After the last class a couple of weeks ago, Zach and I began a little exchange via e-mail about the ideas that the little group discussed that night. It had been a very warm, serious, open discussion that left everyone energized. It fulfilled, I suspect, the intention of del Pesco and Dominic Willsdon in launching the program—i.e., the initiation of processes that can lead to the creation of intellectual community. So it seems appropriate, in that spirit, at the end of my initial blogging period here, to share with the readers some of the work that my class did, and to offer the thoughts of Zach, who I think... More

75 Reasons to Live: Tony Labat on Howard Fried

05.24.2010  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd, Projects/Series

Remember the end of Manhattan, when Woody Allen asks himself what makes life worth living? (“Groucho Marx, Willie Mays… Swedish movies…those incredible apples and pears by Cézanne…”) In celebration of SFMOMA’s 75th anniversary, Dominic Willsdon & I invited 75 people from the Bay Area creative community to give extre... More

Visitor Flickr Photo of the Week

05.21.2010  |  By
Filed under: Back Page

This week we have an example of two ways to see Sol Lewitt’s Steel Structure.   SFMOMA’s image:

And our Flickr pic of the week from Doug Smith:

Doug says: “I find it intriguing that a medium (photography) can portray another medium (sculpture) in a whole new light/perspective.” Thanks Doug!

We choose the Flickr pictures of ... More

Henry Urbach speaks on Ewan Gibbs; Ian Padgham orders in a Knit-In

05.20.2010  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd

Tonight Henry Urbach, SFMOMA Helen Hilton Raiser Curator of Architecture and Design, will be giving a short talk on British artist Ewan Gibbs’s drawings of San Francisco, currently on view on the third floor landing. Ewan’s works are based on knitting patterns (slashes, circles, dots), and thus communications assistant/art-loving spinner of yarns/SFMOMA Facebook impresario Ian Padgham has organized an impromptu evening knit-in to go with.  Henry’s talk starts at 6:30 in the Atrium, and then heads upstairs. Knit-in anytime after... More

Deborah Remington R.I.P.

05.19.2010  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

I read in The New York Times that the American artist Deborah Remington died last week, nearly 80; what a wave of regret and desolation blew through me when I read these words. And yet I can say I had a grand encounter with her, just last year. Yes, I met her but once yet it was unforgettable.

I was writing a biography of the California poet Jack... More

Final thoughts on the invisible

05.18.2010  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes


Throughout human history cultures and peoples have been evicted, slaughtered, assimilated, swallowed up. Some live in legend; most are forgotten. They slide over each other like continental shelves colliding, with one slipping under the other, invisible but still there, forever hidden, waiting under the surface. Patrick Fermor is a nonagenarian English travel writer who has written extensively about the history of Greece and surrounding areas. He is famous for his memoir about walking from London to Constantinople in the late 1930s, recordin... More

Five Questions: John Davis

05.17.2010  |  By
Filed under: Conversations

[Five questions to SFMOMA artists, staff, or guests.  John Davis is an artist and filmmaker who lives in the Napa valley. John’s film Mark You Make Believe My Dear, Yes is currently on view at the museum as part of the Long Play: Bruce Conner and the Singles Collection exhibition. SFMOMA is also lucky to have John on-call as  projectionist,... More

Happy 75th Once More SFMOMA: Birthday Bash

05.15.2010  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd

Every last picture is fantastic. The full set is here.


Five Questions: Fiona

05.14.2010  |  By
Filed under: Conversations

[Five questions to SFMOMA artists, staff, or guests.  Fiona is the Marketing Events Manager at SFMOMA. That means she organizes and shepherds through any outside corporate events or parties held here. And always with grace and aplomb.]

Do you collect anything?

I do. I collect rock climbing equipment and guitars. My house is full of things like c... More

For the Next Two Weeks @The Roxie: Elliot Lavine’s Box of Cracker Jack Noir Oddities

05.13.2010  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

I Still Wake Up Dreaming, the third in the Roxie Theater’s bi-annual Festival of Poverty Row Noir, culled from 35mm Studio Restorations and 16mm collector’s prints, plays May 14th thru May 27th, starting this Friday—that is, Tomorrow!

Pssst… Hey, kid… You heard about the Noir Festival? Oh, yeah, sure, everybody’s hea... More

Science Fiction and Art

05.11.2010  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

William Gibson’s Neuromancer changed everything in 1984. For those of you who haven’t read it, Gibson coined the term cyberspace, and posits a near-future world in which people can go on line directly from their brain; where body augmentations are routine and extensive; where corporations run the world, brutally; where artificial intelligence is routine; where consciousness can be stored on discs after death. The ripple effect in the arts of this vision has been felt as more and more innovations in the field come from those using internet and digital technology. Two artists who come to mind are San Francisco’s Amy Franceschini, who uses her web organization, Futurefarmers, to network and organize environmental activism worldwide, and Lee Walton, a former San Franciscan who is currently teaching at the University of North Carolina. Some of Walton’s work is among the strongest internet-derived artmaking I’ve come across. I particular enjoyed his 2009 body of... More

The Finalists for SFMOMA’s Expansion Project Have Been Announced.

05.11.2010  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd

SFMOMA has selected architecture firms Adjaye Associates, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Foster + Partners, and Snøhetta as finalists in our upcoming expansion project. Normally I leave this kind of announcement safely in the hands of the PR dept, but this kind of thing is my personal obsession, so I include details about each of the four candidate fir... More

Tuymans, etc.

05.11.2010  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

I’ve taken so long to write this post about the Luc Tuymans show that the show closed before I could finish. The longer I spent, the more I realized that it wasn’t really Tuymans’ paintings I was most interested in, or concerned about. What was really bugging me was the hyperbole of exhibitions, the engineering of careers, and what museums have decided they must do to sell art, and artists, to their publics.

Dodie Bellamy’s post mentioning Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present reminded me of this just the other day. Mo... More

Shadows and the city

05.10.2010  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

The word ‘shadowflage’ hasn’t been properly coined as far as we know, so for what it’s worth we’ll do so now. We’ve been interested in the art of camo for some time, but back in February while visiting Paris for the Smart City Conference we had occasion to visit an Italian academic who has devoted himself to the study of making things disappear in a slightly different way. In his cramped modernist flat with two young daughters running wild around the stuffed bookcases (and yelling in French and Italian for chocolate) he patiently explained how he’d spent the day on a freezing playground captivated by his own shadow—and the possibility of using ice-covered pebbles to make it disappear. He’d traveled to Africa specifically to watch the shadow cast on the ground by an eclipse. And he written an entire book on the subject of shadows, in which he observed that shadows are as much responsible for making things seem more themselves, as makeup makes the face more legible by ... More

Collection Rotation: Caitlin Freeman

05.10.2010  |  By
Filed under: Projects/Series

Our regular feature, Collection Rotation. Every month I invite someone to organize a mini-exhibition from our collection works online. Today’s guest is our resident  pastry genius, Caitlin Freeman, who invents the many beautiful, delicious, and humorous sweet takes on SFMOMA artworks for the Blue Bottle cafe upstairs. Welcome, Caitlin!

From Art to Cake to Art

It all started with this painting:

It was the mid-1990′s and I was a photography student at UC Santa Cruz. As part of the curriculum, we would take day trips to San Francisc... More

Got (sm)Arts & Skills?

05.07.2010  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

Curatorial Romance

05.06.2010  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

Wednesday, May 5: I’m on a San Francisco-bound plane, whizzing above the clouds at 440 mph. I’m avoiding writing my next Open Space blog post because I’ve made such a big deal out of it—hours of research, pages of notes, contextualizing up the wazoo. I’ve just spent four days in New York City, the second visit where I didn’t go see the Marina Abramovic show at the MoMA. But I’ve had many discussions with people who have seen the show. Someone told me that some guy grabbed the ass of one of the naked performers, and that guy w... More

People Watching

05.06.2010  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces is a wonderful film based on a book by William H. Whyte (and produced by The Municipal Art Society of New York), which analyzes urban spaces mainly by simply watching what people do in them. Beginning with analysis of NYC’s Seagram building’s successful outdoor plaza and continuing through an exami... More

If I still have your attention… Save Plus-X!

05.05.2010  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

If interested in helping to preserve all the currently available Kodak black & white motion-picture film stocks for use by artists and others, please sign this petition created by Alain LeTourneau and Pam Minty of 40 Frames.

I was very excited to discover that, due to my post from yesterday receiving an astonishing number of Tweets (including from some movers-and-shakers) it, and more importantly, the message it helped to convey, has spread far and wide—our cause has built momentum. An unfortunate vagueness in that piece, however, led some to believe that Kodak plans on ceasing sales of ALL black & white motion-picture film stocks. This, thank God, is NOT the case, but might rather be described as HALF the case — while their low speed Plus-X Negative and Reversal film stocks (in 35mm, 16mm, and Super-8 forms) are scheduled to be phased-out, their HIGH speed Negative and Reversal black & white stocks, Double-X and Tri-X, remain in production.

Plus-X is a low contra... More

MFA Exhibition Season

05.04.2010  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

When I was a kid growing up in Brooklyn in the 50′s, we had what we called seasons. These had to do with what and how we played. It followed the predictable paths of sports–baseball, football, etc. But also more regional and cultural things: ringolevio (a war game), skelly (a board game with bottlecaps on the sidewalk), the two weeks before Halloween when everyone had colored chalk broken up in old socks that left colored circles on every surface in the neighborhood. Well, it’s MFA exhibition season again, time for adult games. I always get a kick out of these shows, and it’s a reasonable barometer to the vitality of the Bay Area art scene. While you will see much work that won’t be important to you, you can pretty much be assured that you will also see one artist or more per show who will become a mainstay of the local art scene for years to come. The big shows with dozens of artists are at California College for the Arts on their 8th Street, San Francisco, campus, a... More

Celluloid Lovers Alert — Save Plus-X!

05.04.2010  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

My friend Timoleon Wilkins recently sent me an email conveying the dire news that Eastman Kodak has announced they will be eliminating production of their low speed black & white motion picture film, Plus-X, in both Negative and Reversal forms, and in all gauges (35mm, 16mm, and Super-8), and asking me to sign this petition which urges Kodak to reverse this shortsighted decision.  Tim makes a compact and trenchant argument:

“Kodak’s decision represents a serious blow to the film community because there is no equivalent substitute for the tonality and resolution of these films—many cinematographers agree, even the best digital methods fall short. These are the classic black & white films of Hollywood, independents and students. These are the films we cut our teeth on: Whether you are a filmmaker, preservationist or just a passionate film watcher, it’s important that our voices be heard. Decisions like this can have dire consequences for cinema culture and ou... More

Five Questions: James Williams

05.03.2010  |  By
Filed under: Conversations

[Five questions to SFMOMA artists, staff, or guests.  James Williams is senior graphic designer at SFMOMA, currently acting head of graphic design. He has has won many awards for his work at SFMOMA and elsewhere, including First Prize in the 2009 AAM Museum Publications Design Competition for Brought to Light: Photography and the Invisible, 1840... More

Harvard Bestows Hardware on Lord

05.01.2010  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

I made a quick trip to Cambridge, MA yesterday to attend Harvard University’s award ceremony for Catherine Lord, recipient of the 2010 Harvard Arts Medal. Lord is one of the most original writers on art, archives and photographs of her generation – though I think she’s far less known than her exceptionally witty, insubordinate, and thoughtful writing earns her the right to be. Previous Harvard Arts Medal recipients include the likes of John Ashbery, composer John Adams, Mira Nair, John Updike, Jack Lemmon – big shots in ... More