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Preview: SFGate: Sam Whiting

Sam Whiting


24-hour sun exposures of Arctic Circle at Haines Gallery

Wed, 19 Apr 2017 17:13:29 UT

To get into position to make a picture, Chris McCaw loads his century-old panoramic view camera into his van and drives north. When he runs out of the continental United States, he catches a ferry to Alaska, then keeps driving north past the treeline to Deadhorse, near the Arctic Ocean, 4,000 driving miles from his home in Pacifica. A single exposure can take as long as three days, without sleep, and the end result of all this artistic sacrifice is on the walls of Haines Gallery for “Time and Tides,” an exhibition that has just been extended until May 20. “If you are in the Arctic Circle, standing in one point, the sun will orbit around you without ever setting,” says McCaw, 45. The sun literally burns its path onto the photographic paper and what you see is a depiction of this unending and infinite duration of time. If you were to see just the ball of the sun, it could get repetitive, but during any 48-hour exposure, the camera catches clouds, snow and hail, and 50 mph winds. McCaw’s working season is from May until the summer solstice, when the clouds of mosquitoes become “maddening,” he says.

LP release party at Noise marks Record Store Day

Mon, 17 Apr 2017 23:18:11 UT

LP release party at Noise marks Record Store Day Record Store Day 2017 is Saturday, April 22, and the place to honor the resurgence of vinyl is Noise, which will hold a record release party for local bands putting out albums in the LP format. The son is Daniel Brown, who plays sax in the Nick Culp Quintet, which will introduce a new album during a 5 p.m. set at the back of the store.

Civic Auditorium to get public art treatment

Wed, 12 Apr 2017 21:37:11 UT

The side that gets the most traffic, along Polk Street, is stupefyingly boring with only a Brutalist fire escape to break up the monotony. Using white neon that shines day and night, Kosuth’s design is to break the words “Civic” and “Auditorium” into their etymology in illuminated text. [...] “Civic” will be broken into several ancient languages — there is the Latin civis meaning “a member of the community,” and the German hiwun meaning “married couple.” “An important consideration that makes it a special challenge is that it must be accessible to a non-specialist audience, while at the same time providing an enriching cultural contribution,” Kosuth wrote in his proposal. Because the Civic Auditorium is a city landmark, the public is invited to weigh in on this piece before final approval by the Arts Commission.. “W.F.T. (San Francisco)” is the first public arts project that requires a Certificate of Appropriateness from the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, a division of the Planning Department.

Join a Chronicle Chat on the future of the left

Tue, 11 Apr 2017 20:17:49 UT

Does the left have a future in a world where Donald Trump is president and the Republican Party controls both houses of Congress? The event is the first in a series of Chronicle Chats to be hosted by Northern California’s largest newspaper, and it will be moderated by Chronicle columnist David Talbot, author of the best-seller “Season of the Witch.” The panelists will include Becky Bond, senior adviser to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign; Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter; and Laura Guzman, Latina organizer and founder of the Mission Neighborhood Resource Center. “We are thrilled to bring these longtime community organizers together to discuss one of the most pressing questions about the state of national politics,” said Audrey Cooper, The Chronicle’s editor in chief.

6 songs that embody the San Francisco Sound

Tue, 11 Apr 2017 17:14:11 UT

The San Francisco Sound, as it came to be known, worked best in a dance hall, under the influence of psychedelics with a liquid light show and an unreadable concert handbill to take home. The sound was less successful in the recording studio, and mostly got airplay on the pioneering free-form radio station KMPX-FM if it aired anywhere at all. Album-wise among 1967 releases, only Jefferson Airplane’s “Surrealistic Pillow,” was able to bottle the city’s musical tones and it hold its own, even against the Beatles “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” the breakthrough album of the year. A structured single by the standards of the Fish, it has the requisite organ and guitar mix. Recorded in 1966, it was released following Big Brother’s heroics at the Monterey Pop Festival. “The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)” by the Grateful Dead [...] it was the only song from the first album that managed to make it onto the band’s greatest hits album “Skeleton from the Closet,” which was released nearly a decade later in 1974. Oakland-born Bill Champlin, who graduated from Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley (along with Quicksilver guitarist John Cipollina), sang and played keyboards on this conventional pop-rock single, with vocal harmonies. When the Sons finally released an album in 1969, their sound had been funked up with horns and “Sing Me a Rainbow” wasn’t on it. Sam Whiting is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.

Northern California artists, academics win Guggenheim funding

Fri, 7 Apr 2017 07:01:00 UT

[...] she also knows that she was born in 1973, the year of the oil crisis, and connecting those dots is what has landed Malmendier a Guggenheim Fellowship. The fellowships, to be announced Friday in New York, include 16 winners from Northern California, among 173 artists, writers and academics chosen from 3,000 applications in the United States and Canada for the annual grants given by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. In Malmendier’s case, the grant will be used to continue research on the Experience Effect, her theory that financial behavior is determined by the economic conditions that a person has lived through. “If you give me your birth year, I can take the average of all the years, throw them in my model, and they have strong predictive power,” Malmendier, 43, says in a phone call from her office in Evans Hall on the UC Berkeley campus. Five years later, he is still in Flint, commuting from his houseboat in the Berkeley Marina and, until recently, uncomplaining about the water he was drinking from the tap at the Flint Holiday Inn Express, on a monthly rate of $1,000. When the Flint water story made national news in 2015, Canepari was there for the media invasion. When I go into the world to raise money and try to continue working on this project,” he says, “the Guggenheim will be very helpful. [...] helpful for filmmakers Michael Kuchar and Rodrigo Reyes and choreographer Keith Hennessy, the only other independent artists among the fellows. For eight years, she has been studying risk aversion, having started out with Americans who grew up in the 1930s. Continuing forward, she has found that people who grew up during periods of inflation are attracted to real estate investment, as a hedge.

Northern California 2017 Guggenheim fellows

Fri, 7 Apr 2017 07:01:00 UT

Northern California 2017 Guggenheim fellows Here are the 16 Northern California winners among the 173 fellows being announced Friday by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Wendy Brown — Political science professor, Zackary Canepari — Film and video maker, Berkeley: Margaret Cohen — Professor of French language, literature and civilization, Stanford University: Cindy Cox — Music composition, UC Berkeley: Thomas Griffiths — Psychology professor, UC Berkeley: Julie Guthman — Geography and environmental studies, UC Santa Cruz: Stefan-Ludwig Hoffman — Associate professor of European history, UC Berkeley: Michael Kuchar — Film and video, San Francisco: Ulrike Malmendier — Professor of finance and economics, UC Berkeley: Bissera Pentcheva — Professor of art history, Stanford University: Jesse Rodin — Associate professor of music, Stanford University: Tim Roughgarden — Professor of computer science, Stanford University: Sam Whiting is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Guggenheim Fellowship winners Here are the 16 Northern California winners among the 173 fellows being announced Friday by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Wendy Brown — Political science professor, UC Berkeley: Margaret Cohen — Professor of French language, literature and civilization, Jesse Rodin — Associate professor of music, Stanford University: Tim Roughgarden — Professor of computer science, Stanford University:

Magnes museum gets big collection of Jewish art, thanks to Taube

Mon, 3 Apr 2017 07:01:00 UT

The Magnes Collection at UC Berkeley has made a major acquisition of works by Polish emigre Arthur Szyk, a book illustrator and political artist who addressed the traumatic events of Jewish life before, during and after World War II. The acquisition by what is formally called the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life comes thanks to a $10.1 million donation by Taube Philanthropies, making it the largest single monetary gift to acquire art in the long history of UC Berkeley. “It will now be exposed globally through various traveling exhibitions,” said real estate investor and philanthropist Tad Taube, 86, from his office in Belmont. Born in 1894, Szyk (pronounced “shick” ) was drafted into the Russian army and served on the German front in World War I. It was then, as a foot soldier, that he began illustrating the suffering of war, his comrades in fur hats and greatcoats, bandaged up and limping home through the snow. At the outbreak of World War II, Szyk, who was Jewish, fled to New York where he published “The New Order,” one of the first books to satirize fascists, according to the website of the Arthur Szyk Society. Not so much as an artist but as a Polish Jew who was able to escape the ravages of the Holocaust. A Taube Philanthropies donation in 2010 helped the museum convert from a private nonprofit to an asset of UC Berkeley. With that transfer came 15,000 items, making it the third-largest Jewish museum collection in the United States, before the arrival of the Szyk work. Spagnolo predicts the first major exhibition of the collection at the Magnes will be next year, but in the meantime, pieces of the collection will be at the New York Historical Society in September.

Immigrant art show starts as chain letter

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 21:10:01 UT

The resulting exhibition, “With Liberty and Justice for Some,” is at the San Francisco Arts Commission Main Gallery in the Veterans Building. [...] when gallery director Meg Shiffler saw the work at the Maciel Gallery, she squeezed it in as the first installment of “Sanctuary City,” a yearlong tribute to immigrants and refugees in the sanctuary city of San Francisco. “We felt like it was important enough to have it here, even if just for two weeks,” says Maysoun Wazwaz, manager of education and public programs for SFAC Galleries. “People were really excited that somebody was doing a project like this at such a poignant time,” says Lundy, 43, who cranked out seven immigrant paintings of her own in six weeks. [...] Lundy gets extra points because she packed and loaded the squares into the trunk and back seat of an Audi sedan and drove them up from L.A. The paintings are grouped by color palette, so the cooler shades of blue and gray form the stars and the warmer reds and yellows form the stripes. Lundy’s own mother, Maura DiBartolo, an Italian immigrant, is in the stripes, and her close friend, Nicholas Sher, a South African, is in the stars. The media vary from painting to photography to collage to the embroidered self-portrait of Maria Peneres, taken from her own green card picture.

John Sampas, Kerouac estate guardian, dies at 84

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 22:43:03 UT

John Sampas, Jack Kerouac’s brother-in-law who ended up controlling the late author’s literary assets and getting many of them published, has died at his home in Greenwich, Conn. A polarizing figure in the small but passionate world of Beat literature disciples, Mr. Sampas fought long legal wars over the legitimacy of the will of Kerouac’s mother, Gabrielle, who outlived her son by four years. “John’s mission in life was to develop everything that Jack had written,” said his niece, Mary-Claire Paicopolis, a New Hampshire cardiologist who confirmed his death. Mr. Sampas died last Thursday, just one day after conclusion of his last battle, the auction of the long-lost “Joan Anderson Letter,” written by Neal Cassady to his buddy Kerouac and credited with inspiring the spontaneous writing style Kerouac would adopt for “On the Road.” Kerouac had been the childhood friend of Mr. Sampas’ older brother, Sebastian, a poet and writer who died while serving in World War II. The Sampas version is that Stella Kerouac became Gabrielle’s caretaker, and when Gabrielle died in 1973, a combination of her estate and rulings by a Florida judge left Kerouac’s literary estate to Stella Kerouac. “John was very smart, and very interested in preserving the legacy of Jack Kerouac,” said George Tobia, Mr. Sampas’ longtime attorney. Challenges to Mr. Sampas’ authority over the estates came from representatives of Kerouac’s blood descendants, namely a daughter from an earlier marriage, Jan Kerouac, who died in 1996, and a nephew, Paul Blake. There was speculation at the time that if this was the source for “On the Road,” then its value could approach or even surpass that of the original scroll. Mr. Sampas never married, and he is survived by an adopted son, John Shen Sampas of Greenwich, Conn.; his twin sister, Helen Surprenant of Dracut, Mass.; and more than a dozen nieces and nephews.

Royal Robbins, mountaineer and clothing company founder, dead at 82

Thu, 16 Mar 2017 00:48:04 UT

Royal Robbins, mountaineer and clothing company founder, dead at 82 Royal Robbins, a legendary clean climbing mountaineer who conquered Yosemite’s Half Dome in Tretorn tennis shoes, and opened a clothing line in his own catchy name, died Tuesday at his home in Modesto after a long illness. The standard was to pound or drill pitons into the granite. In a 2010 interview with The Chronicle, Mr. Robbins said he strengthened his courage as a kid by jumping from the roof of a moving boxcar train onto the roof of an oncoming train. In 1957, he made the first ascent of the northwest face of Half Dome as part of a four-man team. A tourist snapped their photo, and when they got the film back and saw what they were wearing, “They decided they’d better get into the outdoor clothing business,” said Royal Robbins chief executive Michael Millenacker. The couple started the company in 1968 in the carport of their Modesto home, selling to retailers like REI. In addition to kayaking and climbing all over the world, he published a three-part autobiography, My Life: When I touched the rock, it had in turn touched my spirit, awakening an ineffable longing, as if I had stirred a hidden memory of a previous existence, a happier one.

Matt Phillips, master of the monotype print, dies

Mon, 6 Mar 2017 20:24:33 UT

Matt Phillips, an artist and academic credited with reviving and promoting the monotype style for making singular impressions on paper, died Wednesday at age 89. Mr. Phillips, a longtime resident of Emeryville, died at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland from congestive heart failure, said his son, Joshua Phillips of New York City. “Matt helped foster a new regard for the monotype as an artistically viable medium,” said his ex-wife Sandra S. Phillips, curator emerita of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Mr. Phillips taught literature and philosophy at the American University of Paris, and later built up the art department at Bard College in upstate New York, where he taught for 27 years. “He often described himself as a ‘painter-poet,’” said his youngest daughter Miriam Phillips, a professor of dance at the University of Maryland. [...] the image was pressed onto rice paper to create the finished artwork. “My one concession to a mechanical tool is an etching press,” he told The Chronicle in 2002. In 1964, he returned to join the art department at Bard College in New York, where he met the former Sandra Sammataro, who was on her way to a doctorate in art history. Mr. Phillips was also married to paper conservator Susannah Hays, his collaborator on limited edition art books. Survivors include his partner, poet Elizabeth Chapman of Palo Alto, daughters Kate Phillips of Oakland and Miriam Phillips of Washington, D.C., a son, Joshua Phillips, of New York City, and a brother, Alan Phillips, of Seattle.

Aileen Clarke Hernandez, NOW leader and activist, dies

Thu, 2 Mar 2017 02:25:37 UT

A City Hall memorial will be held Monday for Aileen Clarke Hernandez, an entrenched San Francisco civil rights activist, labor leader and feminist, and the second national president of the National Organization for Women. Ms. Hernandez died Feb. 13 of complications of dementia in a memory care community in Orange County where she had been in living to be near her niece, Annie Clarke. “Aileen was the strongest and most influential woman leader on behalf of minorities and women that we have seen in this country,” said Belva Davis, who was the first black woman to become a TV newscaster in the West, at San Francisco’s KPIX-TV, an achievement she attributes largely to the inspiration of Ms. Hernandez. “I grew up knowing about Aileen and knowing her significance in the African American community,” said board President London Breed, who read the proclamation. Among the list of advocacy groups that Ms. Hernandez either started or ran are NOW, Black Women Organized for Action in San Francisco, Black Women Stirring the Waters and the California Women’s Agenda, an action alliance of more than 500 advocacy organizations statewide. An outstanding student, she attended Howard University, where she was introduced to politics and became active in the NAACP. In that capacity, she was a featured speaker at the Commission on the Status of Women Conference, where NOW was conceived, in June 1966. Ms. Hernandez later resigned the EEOC in protest of its inaction on sex discrimination cases. According to Clarke, Ms. Hernandez moved to San Francisco in the 1970s, bought a pair of flats in the Outer Richmond and opened her own consulting firm, Hernandez and Associates, to take on racism and sexism in government and corporations nationwide. “Aileen was well known because she was in the forefront, marching or standing with women and addressing issues not only related to women but to young people,” said Williams, who recalled meeting Ms. Hernandez at an action in the Bayview. In 2008, Mayor Gavin Newsom named Ms. Hernandez chair of the African American Out-Migration Task Force, to address the city’s shrinking black population. Survivors include nephews Steven Clarke of Huntington Beach (Orange County) and Mark Clarke of Ottawa, and nieces Susan and Annie Clarke of Orange County.

Bus shelters bring Summer of Love’s ghosts back to life

Wed, 1 Mar 2017 21:06:34 UT

To get the answer, the San Francisco Arts Commission assigned a series of six bus shelter poster designs to Deborah Aschheim, a ’60s-centric Los Angeles artist who was alive during the Summer of Love — just barely. “I wanted to bring these ghosts back to life so as you are walking down Market Street, you are time traveling,” says the 52-year-old artist. With a degree in anthropology from Brown University, Aschheim put what she learned to work while searching through the archives of the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley and the GLBT Historical Society, and in the special collections at UC Santa Cruz. The hard part was tracking down the photographers or their estates, 50 years later, to get permission from the owner of the copyright, which in some cases was not the photographer. “At the time I was drawing these, I was thinking about how we live now with our focus on careers and material success,” Aschheim says by phone from Los Angeles, where she recently marched to protest President Trump’s immigration policies. “Since the election, the values that people were fighting for in the ’60s have become more urgent,” she says. Aschheim will be followed by Sarah Hotchkiss’ interpretation of the cultural scene as covered by the underground press, and Kate Haug’s Summer of Love trading cards. If the six posters by Aschheim are not enough Summer of Love, you can proceed directly from Market Street to the ground floor of City Hall for “Jim Marshall’s 1967,” an exhibition of 80 blown-up images by the king of all San Francisco rock ’n’ roll photographers.

Modernism on the move again, 37 years later

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 04:23:36 UT

When Martin Muller arrived from Geneva by way of Little Rock, Ark., to open a San Francisco art gallery in 1979, he was too new to know not to put it upstairs in a lighting warehouse South of Market. Modernism, as he called it, turned out to be the first commercial art gallery in SoMa. [...] Modernism is pushing the frontier again, having come to rest wedged between an SRO hotel and an auto body shop on Ellis Street. “I find it personally exciting, as someone in the world of culture, to be a pioneer in a neighborhood where I feel I can have a meaningful contribution,” says Muller, who laces his formal English with a French accent. When asked the precise name of this neighborhood, he is unashamed to summon his gallery director, Danielle Beaulieu, to tell him where he is sitting. Pioneer though he is, Muller is not the first art dealer to stake a claim on the raggedy side of Ellis. Jessica Silverman opened her gallery in a vacant corner store at Ellis and Leavenworth three years ago and “it’s been fantastic,” she says. The door is locked, and if you press your nose against the glass you can see an oversize painting of a young girl holding an assault rifle. Anyone enticed enough to find out can press the buzzer for admittance through a heavy metal door. “In 1979, people were calling the (SoMa) gallery asking if it was safe,” Muller says. Bohemian clubbers and nightclubbers stood shoulder to shoulder to see Gottfried Helnwein’s paintings of children smeared in blood, wrapped in bandages and pointing automatic weapons at them. During gallery hours on a sunny day, the north side of Ellis is a good place for people to warm in the southern exposure, often while lying down on the pavement. The commotion that bothered him the most was a rent increase he describes in his typically overheated way as “dramatic and exorbitant, to the tune of doubling.” In response, he sent his broker to follow the art gallery wagon train south to Dogpatch and the Do Re Mi (Dogpatch, Potrero, Mission) Arts District.