reportage

Bouquets to Art 2019

You have to take a deep breath before plunging into the scene at the de Young art museum in San Francisco for those few days when the Bouquets to Art exhibit reigns each year. There must be many thousands of floral enthusiasts in the Bay Area who live for this show, which pays homage to the art of floral arranging. What I love about it is that the stunning floral displays are inspired by the collection of artworks in the museum and actually the museum architecture itself.

I brought my sketchbook and pencil and took pictures so that i could add color later.bouquets1

The floral displays use live flowers, which is why the show only lasts 5 days. I imagine by the fourth or fifth day the flowers can get pretty limp and brown around the edges. The structures are as mind-bending as the flowers.

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Everyone was taking pictures and trying to get the right angle for a shot. People were particularly respectful of the sketcher, standing valiantly in their midst. But I was trying to stay somewhat out of the way as well, and choosing subjects that were not as mobbed.

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This was one of my favorites and a really interesting challenge. Here I’m sketching my reflection in the mirror in the arrangement structure as well as the art that inspired it!

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And this one challenged with another reflection, of the dangling roots on the shiny surface beneath.

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The petroglyph-inspired art behind the arrangement was the inspiration for this magical piece!

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At some point my feet were quite tired, not to mention my ears. The din and press of humanity made me seek rest in the native art section, where there were no floral arrangements or people! A bench across from this statue beckoned. I was sure I was looking at an androgenous figure, more male than female, until I read the sign. Surely a male artist at least, certainly one who had never witnessed childbirth!

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Volunteers at TLR

Still a highlight of my week, after 6 months of almost weekly visits, is The Living Room, a day shelter for at risk and homeless women and children. I’m a volunteer artist there, recording visual stories, making friends with the women, watching the children play, getting to know some of the unique challenges of living without a home.

Yesterday I hung out in the small building where all the clothing, toiletries, bedding and other donations come in. The two volunteers there allowed me to take up precious space while I sketched their story.

 

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In the hour I was there a steady flow of donations came in and the phone rang with offers of even more.

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It was quite a job, keeping track of it all, sorting and organizing. And I know from hanging out with the women who take advantage of this program, that these free items not only sustain them, but lift their spirits when so many other parts of their lives are not working for them. Being able to dress their children up in cute outfits, to bathe with fragrant toiletries and put on make up and dress in “new” outfits and jewelry, helps them to feel that at least some of the world is on their side.

L.A. Trip

A week trip to L.A. and now I’m back again, and happy about it. Some of my garden has grown several feet in that time and the pipevine caterpillars are plump and juicy from all that green munching.

The purpose of our trip was to do a bit of art sightseeing, since neither Bob nor I had been to LA in decades.

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I managed to get a bit of sketching in, though that was not the point of this trip (granted, a bit unusual for me.) It was so lovely to fly direct from Santa Rosa’s airport (one hour in the air) and not have to deal with cars the entire time!

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I brought my small and larger handmade sketchbooks which are lighter to carry and have good Fluid watercolor paper.

We were staying Downtown to make it easy to get around on public transport (more on that below) and the first day visited the Walt Disney Concert Hall, which looks like a regatta of sailboats madly reflecting light off its curved stainless steel walls. Designed by Frank Gehry. I sat briefly in the garden to capture some smaller perspectives.

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I would have loved to sketch this scene in the MOCA Grand art museum live, but that was not possible, so I took a picture. The design was so perfect so I sketched it later. I loved seeing classes of students of many ages in the museums we visited.

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This was the view from our AirBnB apartment downtown. Seemed like a good idea to be centrally located. But oh my, I think this sketch tells the story. Suffice it to say we were situated between the Bang Bang Room and the Cabinet of Curiosities with its 5 bars on different levels.

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I had to get one of the electric Lime scooters in this. You can pick them up anywhere and drop them anywhere when you’re done, or at least that’s what people do, after careening helter skelter down the crowded sidewalk.

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A bookstore with big comfy chairs to lounge in while reading! (or to lounge in while sketching the loungers.) The Last Bookstore. I bought a book too – on writing poetry by Mary Oliver.

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Two of my Urban Sketch friends invited me for a meet up in the historic part of Downtown, el Pueblo de los Angeles. There was such a friendly Mexican community vibe to the place, and within minutes we were enjoying the company of families interested in checking out our sketches.

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A quick capture of City Hall and Grand Park.  As often happens with urban sketching, the sketch, however simple, reminds you later of the people you met while sketching. In this case the friendly Latino family of 7 or 8 siblings, cousins and parents, who stopped to marvel at what I was doing with my colorful paints and water brush. The six year old told me that if I mixed all my  colors together I would get brown. And the teenage boy said they were learning about color mixing and value scales in school. I think the kids would have stayed with me a long while, but the parents (wrongly) thought they might be intruding and ushered them off.

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There’s more to the trip of course, but you’re getting the sketch version here. I’ll end with the airport where I had lots of time to capture travelers looking at their screens.!

Occidental Fools Parade

Tomorrow is Fool’s Day of course. But you’ll have to wait til next Saturday to celebrate Occidental-style with the annual Fools Parade. This is some of the best sketching of the year with many of the townspeople dressing up as the fools (I am sure they are not) and parading down the main street of town, accompanied by the Hubbub Club marching band and lots more foolery.

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Whether or not you want to dress up as some kind of fool and march in the parade, or just come and gawk and sketch, you are invited to join me and others for a sketch meet up. Here’s the details:

Details

Join in the fun of this whimsical tradition where families in this picturesque town in the redwoods dress up as “fools” and parade their silly way down the main street in town, ending at Occidental Center for the Arts.  Experience extreme frivolity, bands, music, crowning of the King and Queen of Fools, Lunapillar rides and more!

Meet at noon in the parking lot of the Occidental Community Center to sketch people getting ready for the parade, which starts at 1pm. Walk in the parade while sketching, or sit on the street and watch. To sketch people in costume, there’s no better setting. (Some sketchers will be in costume too.)

The Hubbub Club band will provide live music, and there will be food of course. It’s all totally foolish and fun. What better excuse do you need to get out of the city and go exploring in Sonoma county?

There are people to direct traffic and help with parking nearby.

I will be there in my tutu at noon and later walking in the parade. We can meet back in the same parking lot of the Community Center after the parade to see presentations by Zero the Clown and others on the Podium of Impossibility and share sketches after that, around 2:30 or 3 behind the Community Center where the bleachers are.

See sketches from an earlier year’s parade here 

Meet you there?! Contact me if you have questions.

Land and Me – Fire Sketches

Before this month ends tomorrow I want to report on the fascinating interactive performance event called The Land and Me which was held at the DeTurk Round Barn on March 2. It was an opportunity for us to have the first public showing of our entire body of fire story sketches (120 in all!) at an interactive event, created by artists, musicians, dancers and thinkers! It featured live music, dance, poetry and participatory performance, all packed into about two hours.

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If you haven’t been to the DeTurk Barn, it’s a real gem owned by the city and rented out for events. It’s not out in the country as you might expect, but in a small park near Western Farm Supply just west of Hwy 101 in Santa Rosa.

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To give you a feeling of the inside of the barn, here’s a panoramic shot I took with my iPhone! We were all standing around the balcony calling out lines of poetry and releasing the slips of paper to float leaf-like down to the first level.

 

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Carole, Bettina and I came early to install our show called Sketching Fire Stories: Artists are Second Responders. The sketches date back to right after the devastating firestorms of October 2017 when we dedicated our skills as visual journalists to telling the stories of the people, places and events that so severely impacted our community. Rather than use a camera, we traveled to many of the affected sites armed with our pens and watercolors and sketchbooks to record our impressions of the scenes and personal stories. Other artists joined us and we later archived the sketch stories in a body of work to be shown to the community in various venues.

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The Land and Me project, designed by two gifted Bay Area artists, Carol Mancke and Trena Noval,  afforded an opportunity to share the project and talk to interested people about it. We hung the sketches on clips on the round walls of the barn and had binders of more sketches on tables for viewing. Some people spent time looking at each of the hundred or so sketches and took pictures. . .like this Press Democrat reporter who quietly snapped dozens of pictures.

We were glad to represent the impact of the firestorms on the land and people of our community for the Land and Me project. It was and is our heart-felt offering for the healing and rebuilding of our community.

The event featured multiple layers of activities and artistic expressions.

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You can get a glimpse here of the range of activities at the event. (If you can’t see the slideshow, try this link)

For more information about the project and the contributing artists visit the Facebook page.

And if you’d like an opportunity to view the Fire Sketches, we will be presenting them again in August in a six-week show downtown Santa Rosa sponsored by the S.F. Parks and Rec Dept. More on that closer to the date.

You can also view some of my firestorm sketches on my website and Carole Flaherty’s  on her website. As well you can see sketches from the events surrounding the first year anniversary of the fires, Sketching Fire Stories.

On the Slopes (of San Francisco)

No, it hasn’t been snowing in S.F., but I was on the slopes there last week for a few days. My husband Bob had portfolio reviews over the weekend at Photo Alliance , which is held at San Francisco Art Institute up on a hill in North Beach. It’s hard to go anywhere in S.F. without encountering some steep elevation changes.

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We started out with some shopping in Union Square. From a sunny spot the world flowed by at big-city speed.

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Next morning we were at Fort Mason on the Bay front, checking out the SF MOMA gallery and just filling our lungs with that fresh sea air.

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After lunch we headed downtown to the Contemporary Jewish Museum to see the “Show Me as I Want to be Seen” exhibition, which I highly recommend. The description of the show is, “How do we depict “the self” if it is unknowable, inherently constructed, and ever changing? How does the concept of portraiture shift when categories are in crisis, and visibility itself is problematic?” (For those of you who know me, I guess it’s pretty obvious why I would want to see it.) It will be there til July 7 if you want to see it.

Sitting on the grass at Yerba Buena Gardens, enjoying the warmest sunshiny day in months, I got a bit greedy with trying to put everything in, until I got numb-butt and gave up!

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It’s such a treat to ride the bus all over S.F. It’s inexpensive for seniors:  with my Clipper card it’s only $1.35/ride, and there are no parking woes or dealing with crazy drivers and one-way streets, and more.  And if you stay  on the bus for longer than three or four stops, you move through a variety of cultural ecosystems. Friday morning on Bus 19 down Polk St. there was a sudden onslaught of wheel chairs and the necessity to quickly rearrange seating patterns to accommodate.

One gets a new appreciation of what it takes to get around the city in a wheelchair with items like. . . musical instruments, and then to board crowded buses. This keyboard, held together with masking tape and protected by a strip of cardboard, had found a spot behind its owner where it would be safe.

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Bob wanted to check out the SF Center for the Book on Portrero Hill, and next I showed him Mission Bay, and made him sit and rest while I sketched a house boat. Then down to Dogpatch to see the art shows at Minnesota Street Project.

There was lots more bus drama on the ride back, with invasions by teens, just out of school, who never looked up from their smart phones, even to talk to each other. Then more wheelchairs, and finally, the last stop at Fisherman’s Wharf where we were staying.

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If you’re still with me here, this is the part about the real slopes of SF. On Saturday the SF Urban Sketcher Meet up was at Macondray Lane, which is itself flat – a narrow and verdant alleyway off a particularly vertiginous street with knockout views of the city and bay.

For whatever reason I woke up that morning feeling particularly shaky and unsteady, but slowly made my way up the hill, still hopeful that I could capture the city in its undulating glory. When my inner undulating wouldn’t stop, I found a shady spot in the Lane with an obstructed view, and very slowly and with great patience constructed a calmer scene until my brain cleared.

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It sort of worked, because minutes later I was back to my usual rough and ready style,  much relieved and enjoying the company of my beloved SF sketchers. The afternoon ended with a mini “salon” to share our sketches at STUDIO Gallery and see the current show of “Tales of the City by the Bay”.

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And I got to meet the handsome sketcher named Jeff who had been a subject in the sketch!

On my last day in the city, once again I hit the slopes and I trudged up the steps of Telegraph Hill to see Coit Tower up close, the murals inside and the views. It’s actually a more impressive sight from the distance as a recognizable icon of the cityscape.

telegraphhill Five days in the city, along with all the steps I’d climbed, had exhausted me, so I found a relatively quiet street to do this study. I call it that because I’m more used to sketching people and animals and country scenes and such, and city architecture requires “study” before I can attempt it. (Actually I may have studiously ignored it here!) There were few people on the street, and they were moving quickly, but the lone figure in the doorway sufficed to give scale. She came by to see my sketch, and when I showed her that she was in the sketch, she clutched her chest and shrieked with delight!

Beatles Sing-a-long

I arrived at Coffee Catz in Sebastopol at about 2:40pm on Saturday, 10 minutes after the monthly Beatles Sing-a-long had started. The room was packed with Baby Boomers belting out the lyrics, accompanied by my friend David Klotz with alternating guitar and piano, along with another guitarist. I squeezed onto the end of a bench at the back, next to a young couple who had their heads together doing chemistry homework, seeming oblivious to the loud singing. I think they were the only people under 50 in the crowd.

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Clearly this crowd was composed of regulars, because not only did they know all the songs (myself included of course), but had learned gestures to go with some of the lyrics.

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There were songbooks available for people who wanted to sing all the verses. We all know the refrains of course.

Afterward I talked with a couple of ladies who had come from Marin and Napa Counties for this event.  They were old friends of David Klotz, who moved here from Berkeley and was quickly embraced by the Sebastopol music scene.

Next month instead of the Coffee Catz singalong there will be a Beatles Night at the Sebastopol Community Center April 12. Should be fun!