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Preview: SFGate: Leah Garchik

Leah Garchik





 



SFJazz holds its 5th annual gala, a tribute to Zakir Hussain

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 02:09:46 UT

There was a seated VIP dinner in the upstairs lobby of SFJazz for its fifth annual gala Wednesday, Jan. 18, and I got a glimpse of long tables neatly set with flowers, place cards and the stately accoutrements of such events. The crowd was so big that there was pleasant jostling, a buzz, and people jammed into a jitterbuggingly crooked line to pick up tickets, good-naturedly stood elbow-to-elbow at the bar. (Every guest was given a red or pink linen scarf with a note: “As a symbol of our honoree, music and culture, we invite you to wear this scarf in a manner that inspires you!”) The honoree, especially known for his collaboration with other musicians, was on stage during much of the concert that was the gala’s main event. Watching Hussain’s fingers flicking over the surfaces of his drums was as much fun as counting the heads of audience members who can’t keep still when the drums are playing. Right at the concert’s start, as tenor saxophonist David Sánchez sounded the first notes while making his way to the stage from the back of the hall, we noticed a man sitting in the second seat in just across the aisle, wrapping his left hand around the exposed right thigh of the woman in the aisle seat, whose red dress had ridden up around her legs. Next night it was on to the San Francisco Ballet gala, where most well-behaved audience members are likely to keep their eyes on the performers’ bodies and their hands to themselves. [...] as the days dwindled down to inauguration day, one man took to NextDoor in my own hood, the central Haight, to look for suggestions for protest signs for his girlfriend, who was on her way to Washington, D.C. Neighbors suggested he turn to http://jointheuproar.com, where suggestions ranged from the powerful “Resist” to the playful “Stay Nasty.” [...] (there’s always a biz angle), the Oakland graphic design marketplace 99designs is offering tips for sign-makers — perhaps too late for inaugural demonstrations, but in the next four years there may be other opportunities — (1) Be clear; (2) Use humor and wit; (3) Be brief; (4) Presentation matters; (5) Have some heart/ be passionate/ be genuine. Allen Matthews’ NextDoor listing included a guilt-laden plea from a writer looking for a cozy place “around Oakland where I can sit with my laptop for a few hours without spending $$$ on a meal? I don’t mind buying coffee and a sandwich, perhaps, but I usually feel weird if I don’t buy more.” Leaving a funeral at Peninsula Temple Beth El in San Mateo, Phil Abrams overheard one person commenting to another about the music the family had arranged to be played, in honor of the deceased.



Untitled and Berggruen: homage to art and art-lovers and dealers

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 22:24:38 UT

Dodging raindrops and jumping over puddles, intrepid art-lovers splashed over to Pier 70 Thursday, Jan. 12, for the opening of Untitled, San Francisco. San Francisco-style edginess encompasses both a beautiful giveaway shopping bag imprinted with the words “Rich Bastards Beware” and a Tartine coffee bar where a cup of joe and a cookie rang up $8. [...] it was on to the new Berggruen Gallery, where John and Gretchen Berggruen were celebrating their South of Market move with the exhibition “The Human Form.” The gallery, 10,000 square feet on three floors designed by Jennifer Weiss Architecture — Weiss is daughter of Gretchen Berggruen — was abuzz. Works by such artists as Pablo Picasso, Kiki Smith, Barry McGee, Chuck Close, Richard Diebenkorn, David Park, Willem de Kooning and (swoon) Lucian Freud were vivid enough to create a high, although N.Y.-style, nary a glass of white wine was served. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art director Neil Benezra cited New York’s Gagosian Gallery — the San Francisco branch of which was having an opening next door — as a pioneer in the trend for curated shows. “What we’re looking at here is the Berggruen Gallery not just moving to a better space, but really raising the level of their programs, to do museum quality exhibitions,” Benezra said. Drawing people to the gallery is always a plus, and despite the Smith drawing that included the words “Maybe We Have Everything,” it’s possible an eager art-lover could convince an owner to sell. The eclectic crowd of veteran San Francisco partygoers included our dinner companion Tom Kelley, who, as the musicians’ raft floated to the center of the pool, said his mother had come up from Hillsborough in the 1930s to take synchronized swimming lessons there. John Berggruen also pointed out his brother, successful venture capitalist Nicolas Berggruen, founder of the Berggruen Institute think tank and philanthropist.



All about the women at Fog Art + Design

Sat, 14 Jan 2017 22:11:50 UT

The Fog Art + Design fair was planned by Stanlee Gatti, and at its opening event on Wednesday, Jan. 11, plenty of men there seemed as elated as their sisters by both the art itself and the art-community camaraderie. There’s an abundance of sculpture, paintings and photographs, of meeting and greeting, of food and drink (replenished constantly by the mighty McCall’s team). Between the giant panels, which were suspended from the ceiling to the floor of the space, working flower artists, all women, created exquisite floral likenesses from paper and glass: Anandamayi Arnold was presiding over a garden of bulbs and fronds, understatedly elegant versions of sticky-stalked daisies, flowers she portrayed in sculpture as they grow in New Zealand, reaching up from beds of rocks. Aimée Baldwin refers to her art, framed flower sculptures as precise as they would be in antique botanical drawings, as “vegan taxidermy.” Alexis Berger uses glass to make flowers for personal ornament, a headpiece, for example, that seemed to make a garden in her curly red hair. “When something like this happens,” said art dealer and For-Site Foundation founder Cheryl Haines, who brought Ai Weiwei’s work to Alcatraz and “Home Land Security” to the Presidio, we have to focus on building a community. [...] Carole Shorenstein Hays’ Curran, which was one of the sponsors of the event, hosted a bar-and-dessert lounge at which Machine Dazzle, Taylor Mac’s costume designer, sat at a sewing machine and created costumes in keeping with the Curran’s coming opener, “Fun Home.” Behind him, a kaleidoscopic video projected multicolored images; in front of him, embroidered, embossed and glittering fabrics lay twisted into dazzling knots, and costumes inspired by the colors of the renovated theater were draped on mannequins. Artist Amanda Weil was showing tall, slender wood boards on which were photographs of birch trees, simple silhouettes of trunks of the trees. In a corner of the mosaic of blooms closest to the entrance, written in yellow roses, was the name “Cathy,” a tribute to steering committee member Cathy Topham, who is gravely ill. The flowers in the display had been received several days before the event; Gatti described soaking them in water, cutting their stems and putting each bloom in a separate tube filled with water, to make them last.




Using ‘In Memoriam’ page to honor standing up for convictions

Thu, 5 Jan 2017 14:00:00 UT

“Dohnanyi grew up in Berlin and became a government lawyer shortly before the beginning of the Third Reich,” said the notice. In response to extrajudicial killings carried out by the Nazis in 1934, he joined the resistance within Germany and made records of the Reich’s crimes to have as evidence should the regime fall. After his involvement in the July 20, 1944, assassination attempt against Hitler became known, Dohnanyi was condemned to death on Hitler’s orders on April 6, 1945. Googling Dohnanyi, I learned he was the brother-in-law of the well-known resister Dietrich Bonhoeffer, that he saved numbers of Jews and that he is honored for his righteousness at Yad Vashem in Israel. “My plan is to run a similar notice every month,” emailed J.A. — she would have liked to do it weekly, but for the cost, she wrote — to honor otherwise ordinary and mostly forgotten individuals who stood up to wrongs in the face of overwhelming power. J.A. had not heard of him until an online search for “resistance 1 January” turned up his name. “A big challenge during this political upheaval,” she observed of the current era, is knowing — and owning — our values and taking meaningful action when we see they are compromised or threatened. J.A. said she also wants her ad fee to help support “newspapers and real journalism. ... and hopefully to reinforce that facts (and history) still matter at a time when technology and media are often deployed to conceal the truth.” At “Beach Blanket Babylon,” Leslie Gordon heard a Millennial male ask his pal, “Who’s Barbra Streisand?” The reply: “She was in ‘Meet the Fockers.’” At the Strand theater on Jan. 23, San Francisco Giants announcer Renel Brooks-Moon will host what’s being called an “Inaugural Benefit” for BaseBallet, dancer Weston Krukow and Ben Customer describing New Year’s Eve at Union Square to proprietor of Phill’s Barber Shop, overheard in Pacific Grove by Bix Whitcomb






Halloween for the Halloween-haters

Sun, 30 Oct 2016 13:00:00 UT

The easiest method is probably to just stick an empty bowl on your front porch. Coupled with a sign that says, ‘We are out for the night, take a few pieces of candy,’ it’ll look just like you’re gone and celebrating, but that some mean kid came and took all the candy. Learning that General Mills is going to introduce Girl Scout Cookie cereal (Caramel Crunch and Thin Mint) in January, I turned to nutrition expert and internationally known food powerhouse Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University. [...] at least these are ‘better for you sugar: no high fructose corn syrup, no artificial colors, no artificial flavors and whole grain.’ The artist’s description emphasizes the erosion of the drawing material, the phenomenon of the simultaneous creation of a drawing and disappearing of its tools. The graphite, carbon remains of perished animals and vegetables, was “exhumed from a deep, million-year hibernation” to be incarnated briefly into a skeleton body. [...] opening on Nov. 5, at the George Lawson Gallery, is a group show, “I Dreamt Bees Made Sweet Honey From My Past Failures,” which I’m mentioning just because of its title. According to the gallery, it’s a paraphrase of a line by the Spanish poet Antonio Machado. When Mary Flaherty took out her Wells Fargo card to pay the cashier at Monterey Market in Berkeley recently, the cashier sang to her: “My banky does the hanky-panky ...” Ken Maley says the duty-free shop at Charles de Gaulle airport outside Paris offers free samples of spirits, displaying (and pouring from) open bottles at whiskey, vodka and Tequila sections. Picture the lace-up corset-like garment worn by ladies in period movies. Underneath that lace-up part is an inverted triangle of cloth that covers the chest and midriff.




The music, the caviar, the gowns, the beading ... and the ketchup

Thu, 8 Sep 2016 20:06:53 UT

The music, the caviar, the gowns, the beading ... and the ketchup On his way to the festivities, cultural stalwart Norman Larson, who lives at the corner of Haight and Ashbury, cut a natty black-tied swath through the neighborhood regulars on his way to the Symphony. A Supreme Court justice nominated by a woman might have to cast a deciding vote on this: If a party-goer wears a dress with a long train to such a crowded event, doesn’t it violate the constitution to impose on others the responsibility of not stepping on it? Bernard Tyson, CEO of Kaiser-Permanente (which sponsored the patron’s dinner), recalled the first time he’d heard a symphony play. Folks,” said the conductor to the major donors gathered ’round, “This is the stuff of legend that you heard tonight. Nion McEvoy reported having glimpsed Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks of the Tedeschi Trucks blues rock band, which was to play the Fox in Oakland on Friday as part of its Wheels of Soul Tour. Consider that, I say to the spiffed-up gentleman who said at the cocktail reception, “This is like the first day of school ... for old people.” Amy Tan, glimmering in silver, and Lou DeMattei described having been invited to the White House for the Aug. 2 state dinner for the president of Singapore. After a circuitous trip that included a stop in N.Y. to pick up DeMattei’s tuxedo, they checked into their Washington hotel about 90 minutes before the dinner.




Which movies to watch this weekend, Aug. 26

Thu, 25 Aug 2016 17:28:17 UT

Which movies to watch this weekend, Aug. 26 Anna Gunn plays an investment banker attempting to steer an Internet encryption company through its initial public offering while federal agents, duplicitous co-workers and an unscrupulous lover all strive to undermine her. Rated R. 110 minutes. The film explores her personal fears and uncertainties and her professional self-assurance. An exceptionally good modern Western, focusing on two bank-robbing brothers (Chris Pine, Ben Foster) pursued by a pair of Texas Rangers (Jeff Bridges, Gil Birmingham) across dusty and economically depressed West Texas. Weighty themes are examined here — the law, racial issues, American history, family loyalty, institutional responsibility — but there are some very humorous moments as well. Rated R. 102 minutes. Groceries learn the truth of what happens when they’re taken out the door in this very rude — and surprisingly thoughtful — comedy for adults. Rated R. 89 minutes.



‘Eva Hesse’ documentary about ‘a good painter’ and more

Thu, 18 Aug 2016 00:08:08 UT

To make a variety of observations, these fragments are not presented quite chronologically; rather, they are interspersed throughout the documentary. With the cyclical nature of fashion, the ’60s, when most of the still pictures of the adult Hesse were taken, are once again stylish. [...] she was. Fearlessly, Hesse abandoned paint and brushes to experiment with other materials — latex, plastic, rope — and, five years before her death, morph from painter to sculptor. The movie portrays Hesse making art feverishly, her work eliciting great respect from artists like Sol LeWitt, Richard Serra and her friends. Born in Hamburg, Germany, Hesse was 2 when she and her older sister were sent out of Germany in a Kindertransport headed to the Netherlands, where they lived in a children’s home. At the end of the war, by which time her parents had divorced, they realized that no one else in their families had survived the Holocaust. The day that Hesse’s mother learned that her parents had died in a concentration camp, she threw herself off the roof of the apartment building where she was living with her daughters. (She was in analysis most of her adult life.) She was a prodigious letter writer and journal keeper, and it is mostly her own words that piece together the narrative of this film.



Art, bonhomie and inescapable violence mingle in Wine Country

Wed, 13 Jul 2016 13:00:00 UT

A curator explained, for example, that one section of Amalia Ulman’s mixed-media “Destruction of Experience,” which printed materials said was an exploration of womanhood, had to do with Justin Bieber hiding his identity as a woman; another section was a tribute to a former CEO of Bayer Pharmaceuticals. When we first saw Rirkrit Tiravanija’s “Untitled 2011 (Police the Police)” a couple of years ago, artists were working on the piece — a commissioned installation “intended to develop over time,” said the program — at the party. A few years later, in its expanded version, it included references to marriage equality, transgender acceptance, “no to evictions” and most of all, Black Lives Matter. A pile of T-shirts, gifts to guests, read “Police the Police.” Among those guests were people whose lives, in a variety of ways, have been intertwined with various aspects of the law: enforcement (former mayor and onetime police chief Frank Jordan), justice (former chief justice of the California Supreme Court Ron George), legislation (Rep. Nancy Pelosi). [...] the days of this 2016 season — usually filled with the slow pleasures of summer, a walk down the street with ice cream cone in hand — are saturated with bloodstains, unacceptable but all too explicable results of history. After the play, dramaturge Philippa Kelly conducted a talk-back, the actors, having changed into street clothes, sitting onstage in a row. The play’s gripping; they were sitting in a circle of audience affection. [...] the conversation turned to one particularly electric moment, when Rose (played by Margo Hall) decides to raise the infant girl fathered by her philandering husband. At a Thursday, July 7, reception for the exhibition, it was impossible to merely glance at the photos without reading the words of each person. Most are touching expressions of peace, hope, regrets over lost love, gratitude for long love. [...] there was Nelly, who said (among many other things), My last husband was blind and wasn’t able to have sex during our 16-year marriage. Many stories are told, of course, and they are different from each angle.



Woman leaving flyers in SF asking people to date her best friend

Wed, 6 Jul 2016 15:59:35 UT

On the windshield of her Jeep one recent morning in San Francisco, Barbara Trice was surprised to find a flyer headlined, "Please, someone, for the love of God, date my best friend."




The potato chip challenge for DIYers

Wed, 6 Jul 2016 13:00:00 UT

Intriguing pledge made in a radio ad heard while driving, for a company touting the sale and installation of replacement windows in older homes: “Your house could be covered with potato chips, and we wouldn’t crack a one.” [...] why would you cover your house in potato chips? If you insist on potato chips, and this project takes your entire supply, you may be left with tubs of onion dip. Despair not, the dip could be pressed into use to spackle the spaces between the siding and the window frames. Checking out the weekend’s movie offerings and noting that the Embarcadero Center Cinema was showing both the tragic documentary “Weiner” and the comedy “Wiener-Dog” moved Marsha Monro to pose the question: “Got mustard?” There was a picture of an attractive young woman with notes about her assets (“She has a real job doing sports stuff”) and qualifications for candidates ( “Know things about sports”). An inquiry emailed to the address on the flyer elicited a response from a woman who said she is just trying to find my best friend a great guy! I’m sick of all the terrors of Tinder and online dating. After new car had three tires and rims stolen, the victim left a note on the car: To whoever stole my wheels, may you use them for a positive purpose. The man was “making a splashy public display of washing down the hood of his black Mercedes convertible sports car,” using bottled water. Daniel Ellsberg was one of the speakers at the memorial service Saturday, July 2, for Ben Bagdikian, Pulitzer and Peabody Award-winning reporter, former national editor of the Washington Post and until 1990 dean of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. In 1971, the New York Times’ publication of excerpts from the Pentagon Papers was stopped by a federal judge invoking national security. The memorial gathering, at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Berkeley, included a family-led sing-along to songs by Pete Seeger and Peter, Paul and Mary, including “Mr. Bigot,” which L.S., who was there, described as “particularly apropos of today’s politics.” [...] doesn’t that seem like George W. Bush plowing ahead with reading “The Pet Goat” after receiving news of the attacks of 9/11?



Dissident SF museum board members resign in protest

Sat, 30 Apr 2016 03:54:37 UT

Two trustees of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, including former City Attorney Louise Renne, have quit the board in opposition to the leadership of embattled board President Diane B. Wilsey. Renne and Dan Johnson, also an attorney, gave up their seats on the Board of Trustees, claiming they could no longer uphold their duties to protect the financial integrity of the city-owned FAMSF, which includes the de Young Museum and the Legion of Honor. “I just felt that the governance at the museum made it virtually impossible for any board member to fulfill their fiduciary duty,” Renne said on Friday. The resignations come in the wake of an ongoing controversy that erupted when Wilsey allegedly authorized a $450,000 disability severance payment without board approval to a former city engineer who worked at the museum. Wilsey has consistently claimed she did not need board approval for the payment, but the office of state Attorney General Kamala Harris launched an investigation. “I did not believe it was appropriate for a public entity to anonymously repay the money that was owed because it did not address the underlying problem, which was the decision to pay the money in the first place,” Johnson said on Friday. Gutierrez had claimed Wilsey had acted improperly in issuing a check to Bill Huggins, the retired engineer, who was also the husband of the late Therese Chen, a FAMSF registrar said to be a close confidante of Wilsey.



The Met’s dilemma: Which comes first, party or exhibition?

Thu, 14 Apr 2016 20:48:26 UT

The only reason The Chronicle’s Little Man is not jumping out of his chair here is that the Little Man has scored a seat at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala, and he’s afraid if his bottom isn’t in constant contact with his chair, some ne’er-do-well will slide into it. On the one hand, curator Andrew Bolton, whose trademark is socklessness, presides over the exhibition, which is a collaboration between the Anna Wintour Fashion Institute at the museum and its Department of Asian Art. [...] Vogue editor Anna Wintour, after whom the Costume Institute has been renamed, presides over the party, pushing out the riffraff while she beckons hordes of waxed, Spanxed and/or near-naked movie stars. “He can’t be on his cell phone the entire time,” she says of someone else, ordering an aide to call whoever he is before the party to share that dictum. Curators who watch over the Asian statuary and paintings fret over the possibility that their treasures will be used mainly to accessorize the dresses and robes. [...] on gala night when the exhibition opens, those art lovers who can drag themselves away from such cultural pursuits as ogling George Clooney and Kim Kardashian ooh and aah over the combination of objets and wearables. Koda, incidentally, is shown in the film referring to Rihanna’s fur-embellished Guo Pei gown, which requires at least three macho schleppers in suits to help her get the train up the outside stairway, as “transcendent.” [...] there are 800,000 visitors to the exhibition, a record.



Is 'Butler' on your resume? Here's the $175,000 SF job for you

Wed, 23 Mar 2016 22:14:01 UT

The salary, "depending on experience," is $175,000 a year. Considering the lure of that, I'm imagining that even Carson is polishing his resume.