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Preview: SFGate: Sam Whiting

Sam Whiting





 



Creative flow: landscapes of the city’s sewer plant

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 20:07:08 UT

“Without pride or embarrassment, I can say that I find the rebar and concrete of a construction site every bit as beautiful as fir trees delicately outlined by freshly fallen snow, and the apparent solidity of an office building as lyrical and ephemeral as fog floating over a sunlit ocean,” Citret says. The beauty in his statement was that he was talking about the Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant, commonly known as the sewage treatment plant. Twenty years later, these construction images are getting their gallery premiere at RayKo Photo Center, a few blocks south of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The photos are mingled among the large-format cameras, 1940s photo booth and photography ephemera that make up RayKo, a unique private photo facility that is free and open to the public. Called “No Child Left Behind,” the digital color images are by former teacher Victoria Heilweil, who was able to infiltrate, among others, the elementary school where her daughter is a student.



Farmworker images from California and Mexico come to Belmont

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 18:33:22 UT

To accurately document a group that is as off the grid as farmworkers, you have to live and move among them, as photographer Matt Black has done from Exeter, a railroad town deep in the San Joaquin Valley where he grew up and still lives. Photos of Migrant Labor by Matt Black, a solo show in the Wiegand Gallery at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont that opens Thursday, Sept. 15. The gallery is in the stone carriage house attached to the summer mansion of financier William C. Ralston, who drowned in 1875. “With immigration being one of the big issues in the presidential election, this is a visualization of the lives of migrants,” says Robert Poplack, director of the Wiegand Gallery and professor of art at Notre Dame. Sam Whiting is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.



Marion Gray, photographer of performance art, dies

Thu, 8 Sep 2016 20:20:07 UT

Marion Gray, a San Francisco artist who developed a niche photographing the performance art scene here and around the world, died Sept. 2 after a five-year battle with cancer. Ms. Gray had been hospitalized but was released so she could pass away in her favorite environment, her live/work studio in an art cooperative in the Mission District, said her daughter, Jennifer Tincknell of Healdsburg. In a 40-year career that started as a volunteer photographing Christo’s “Running Fence” in Marin and Sonoma counties, Ms. Gray developed a reputation for making candid pictures of artists as they were making art, whether it be dance, music, theater or painting. “She was both an incredibly dedicated artist and a really bright spirit,” said Christina Linden, associate curator of painting and sculpture at the museum and curator of that show. While teaching at an elementary school in Seaside (Monterey County), she met and married Robert Gray, an engineer who had graduated from Stanford University. [...] after the marriage ended in divorce, Ms. Gray moved to Europe for three years, to begin her education in the arts, which meant dragging her young daughters to “every single museum in Europe,” Tincknell said. Upon their return, they lived in Kentfield, where Ms. Gray began her academic education in the arts, first at College of Marin and then at UC Berkeley, where she earned both a master’s in fine arts in ceramics and photography and a master’s in art history, in 1975. Among the artists she portrayed were David Ireland, Tom Marioni, Karen Finley, John O’Keefe and Survival Research Laboratories.



New CFO takes over at Fine Arts Museums

Thu, 8 Sep 2016 00:51:43 UT

In its latest attempt to straighten out a long period of administrative and board upheaval, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF) has hired a new chief financial officer. Ed Prohaska, the longtime CFO of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, will take over fiscal management of the city-owned museums, the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park and the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park. Gutierrez was replaced on an interim basis by Laura Hussey, who resigned in April after suggesting changes to the FAMSF financial structure that the board declined to act on. Prohaska has a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Texas in Austin and has served as the chair of the finance committee for the boards of both KQED in San Francisco and the California Association of Museums. To fully achieve its promise, the institution must be top of class in every aspect of its operation and I am thrilled to join Max and his talented team to lead that effort on the finance front. “Ed has deep roots in the financial management of nonprofits and will be a valued partner, operationally and strategically, as we further develop our great institution’s reputation,” Hollein said in a statement.



Dancing around the art at Clark gallery

Wed, 7 Sep 2016 19:44:40 UT

An exhibition of photographs and video inspired by dance marathons of the Great Depression will be accentuated by a modern dance marathon on a spiral platform built in the center of her gallery. “It’s one of the coolest things I have ever done, because it bridges visual art and dance, and commercial galleries and nonprofit,” says Clark, 48, who was a professional modern dancer before an injury switched her from the performing arts to the visual arts. While visiting Olujimi’s studio on Governors Island, N.Y., Clark was introduced to a mix of sculpture, video and works on paper, all dealing with marathon dancing — she finally had her link to the show she’d always wanted to organize. What is central is this idea that dance can be a symbol of persistence and resilience,” Clark says, “and I thought it would be interesting to invite performers to respond to that idea in the context of the gallery space. The opening-day dance by the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company will be a free sneak peek of a full-length performance Jenkins has choreographed to be presented at a ticketed event on Sept. 17 at Clark Gallery. The exhibition component, “What Endures,” features long-exposure photographs of dance marathons that Olujimi staged in New York, and a video of him dancing and skipping rope in a tribute to Muhammad Ali.



Foundation puts ballistics test inside mothballed Presidio bunker

Wed, 7 Sep 2016 00:09:10 UT

A bullet fired from a Soviet-era military rifle and one fired from an American rifle smash into each other. Called “AK-47 vs M16,” the artwork is composed of the two bullets encased in a gel block and an action video of the gunfire that got them there. “This is the first time the general public has been invited into these locations,” says For-Site founder Cheryl Haines, who is bringing life to three ghostly missile batteries built more than a century ago to protect against invasion by sea and air. Haines chose works that were “site responsive” to address issues of national borders and cultural misunderstanding. The low-slung and foreboding Nike Administration Building will be the hub, with its long-moribund offices broken into eight galleries. To reach it you go down a ramp and a flight of stairs and through a creaky dungeon door. The thick concrete walls are striped with rust stains and lining the tunnel are a miniature mosque and a church, both made of spent ammunition casings by San Rafael sculptor Al Farrow. The tunnel opens into the mezzanine where one-ton projectiles were stored, waiting to be hoisted to the launch pad on the ground level above it. Nguyen belongs to an international collective called the Propeller Group, and though its three members are not obsessed with guns or violence, Nguyen admits to being “very, very obsessed with the Cold War.” The Propeller Group’s objective was to re-create this moment using the weaponry shouldered by American and Soviet ground soldiers in the Cold War. The Propeller Group visited a ballistics facility in Maryland, and technicians were able to achieve the near impossibility of getting the two bullets to collide midair. “The gel was designed to mimic the density of human tissue,” says Nguyen, as he lifts the block onto an observation stand, lit from beneath by LED.




Film explores Brian Willson, activist unafraid of sacrifice

Sun, 4 Sep 2016 03:01:11 UT

Film explores Brian Willson, activist unafraid of sacrifice The freight train comes rolling down the tracks, bells ringing and horn wailing, and there is nothing that anyone can do to stop it as it moves toward Brian Willson, who is sitting on the tracks. To be a radical, you have to be willing to risk life, limb and prison. Everyone in Oakland’s Grand Lake Theater on Tuesday night will know what is about to happen in the Bay Area premiere of the documentary film “Paying the Price for Peace.” Willson, a veteran of both the Vietnam War and the nonviolence movement, got back up and onto prostheses and kept moving, to seemingly every war protest everywhere, and there has always been somebody filming him, going back to that gruesome day of Sept. 1, 1987, on the tracks outside the Concord Naval Weapons Station. Brian really wants to let people know what he thinks,” Boudart says, “and he’s been doing this for a long time. Sam Whiting is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.



Ocean paintings for gallery near Ocean Beach

Wed, 24 Aug 2016 17:21:56 UT

Marie Van Elder has always been terrified of the ocean, so she forces herself to sit at its shore and make paintings of it. Van Elder’s series of paintings will be on display Thursday, Aug. 25, in a solo show at Lindsey’s gallery, aptly named the Great Highway, which is as specific to the Pacific Coast as Van Elder’s works. The art gallery is on Lawton Street, but still is close enough that Lindsey can walk out his front door, see the surf, hear the wind and smell the fog. “I have recently become visually fascinated by the northern coast and its unruly ocean and crashing waves, unpredictable currents, enduring rocks, ever changing contours and light, moody reflections, moving skies,” Van Elder says in her artist’s statement. Lindsey operates the Great Highway as a small artist-run gallery in a former video store six blocks from the beach. Since he opened five years ago, three galleries — Irving Street Project, Far Out Gallery and Three Fish Studios — have joined him in the Outer Sunset, defined as the 12 blocks between Sunset Boulevard and the Great Highway. For the opening of “Entre Fleurs et Mer,” Lindsey is bringing in the Rusty Ladle Soup Factory to sling Belgian chicken chowder at the adjacent Lawton Trading Post, and a guitar-ukulele duo featuring Anastasia.



Mikkel Aaland’s brother killed their father — so he wrote a book

Sun, 21 Aug 2016 01:51:26 UT

Every other week, photographer-writer Mikkel Aaland drives from his North Beach home to Oakland to take his youngest brother, Hans, to lunch. Hearing the voice of God, Hans used a T-shirt to smother his father in his bedroom in the family tract home in Livermore 12 years ago. To figure it out, Aaland and his wife, Rebecca, pulled their two daughters out of school in San Francisco and spent a year in the 1893 house where his father grew up, on the Eidsel River, in small-town Ulefoss, Norway. There is the mental illness aspect of it, the genetic aspect of it. Hans also has schizophrenia, an illness that he was never properly diagnosed or treated for, Aaland says, and denied having. Here is how The Chronicle described the event on Dec. 11, 2004, under the headline “Eccentric Accused of Killing His Father.” Police say Aaland smothered his father, Kristian Aaland, early Saturday in the bedroom of the home he shared with his son and wife. Hans Aaland, police said, told his mother what he had done, left a confession note full of biblical quotations and walked away from the home. When the police came to investigate the scene, they called city inspectors, who red-tagged it, deeming it unfit for human occupancy. There was illegal wiring everywhere, including in the bomb shelter inside a boxcar buried in the front yard. Elizabeth Aaland cleared out her belongings and slunk away while still protecting her son Hans, and denying that he was mentally ill, even after killing his father. When he moved his family out of the country, his plan was to take nature photos, keep a diary, and stitch the words and images together in a book he would call “A River in Norway.” In an odd family, he is the even one, an Eagle Scout and an All-American breaststroker and captain of a Chico State swim team that won the NCAA Division II championship in 1973 and ’74. [...] when he showed his beautiful photographs and journal to his wife, she asked the question that every reader would want to know. By the end of his year in Norway, Aaland had followed enough tributaries to give him a bleeding ulcer that required emergency treatment as soon as the plane landed back in San Francisco. “Dad struggled but then he looked me in the eye and said, ‘Are you trying to kill me?’” Hans told his brother. After driving him back to the mental hospital where Hans remains in custody, Mikkel gave his brother a box of Norwegian chocolates, which compelled Hans to say, “You know, if Dad wasn’t dead, you wouldn’t have Norway, and your daughters and Rebecca wouldn’t have it, either.”



Butterflies in glass at Burlingame on the Avenue

Wed, 17 Aug 2016 18:03:03 UT

Putting a butterfly into an acrylic panel with its wings spread so it appears to be flying is a more technical skill that is practiced by only a few hands worldwide. For 26 years, San Mateo artist Steven Albaranes has been working exclusively with butterflies, and this weekend he’ll be at Burlingame on the Avenue, an annual art fair on the downtown streets of this Peninsula town. Albaranes cannot demonstrate his skills at the event because he works in a clean and pristine studio. Albaranes buys his insects dead and with their wings closed from commercial butterfly farms in South America and Indonesia. Visitors to his booth will find the morpho, straight from the Amazon rain forest with wings of brilliant blue, and the purple heart, which has the heart-shaped design in its middle, and comes from Papua New Guinea.



Imagery of water runs through Stanford art show

Wed, 17 Aug 2016 17:55:24 UT

Ever since the first flume of the Gold Rush, industrial Californians have been figuring out ways to divert water to their advantage — with photographers and painters there to document these diversions. [...] some of these acts of interference, plus the way the landscape looked before and after, are portrayed in California: All 50 works in the show have a viewpoint on water, starting with Albert Bierstadt’s painting “Sacramento River Valley” from the early 1870s, which was exhibited in New York to lure people west. Dorothea Lange shot irrigation workers wading in ditch water. The creeks dry up, the oaks are thirsty and you can barely see the snaking outline of Andy Goldsworthy’s sculpture “Stone River,” in the open land across from the museum.



Tony Bennett sculpture going up in heart of San Francisco

Mon, 15 Aug 2016 11:00:00 UT

Sculptor Bruce Wolfe was working in the studio of his Piedmont home, alternating between busts of former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and actor Clint Eastwood, when in walked a man in a tailored gray suit with a pocket square. Wolfe put Newsom and Eastwood aside, got out his calipers and set to measuring every aspect of the singer’s face, using the ear hole as a point of reference. The two men had never met before, and they won’t meet again until Bennett sees the finished product, a full-body statue 8 feet tall and cast in bronze atop a pedestal of white granite. The Tony Bennett Commemorative Statue is a 90th birthday gift from the city to the singer, who made his San Francisco debut at the Fairmont in 1954. “Every person that comes to visit San Francisco for the first time will be looking at me with outstretched arms saying ‘come in to this great city,’” he said from another apartment, this one overlooking Central Park in New York. The birthday celebration will continue Friday with Tony Bennett Night at AT&T Park, where his signature song, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” has become as familiar after Giants games as the flock of sea gulls searching for targets in the seats. On Saturday night, Aug 20, it will be back to the Fairmont for a dinner concert at the Venetian Room where, in December 1961, Bennett first performed the song heard round the world, which has sold an estimated 14 million records. With tickets starting at $1,000, “An Evening with Tony Bennett in Concert” will open a new charity called the Tony Bennett Fund for Emergency Pediatric Care at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. Bennett is donating his performance plus that of his four-piece touring band, and he is not the kind who will refuse to play his hit just because he’s not being paid. Tony and his song have been our ambassador around the world, encouraging people to come here. The idea for the statue came to Shultz five years ago, after a City Hall event to honor the 50th anniversary of the song. Wolfe, 75, grew up in Redwood City, graduated from Sequoia High School (class of ’59) and has been married to his high school sweetheart, Linda Sullivan, for 53 years. Among those who have driven up into the hills to sit for him are golfer Arnold Palmer, San Francisco Opera directors Kurt Herbert Adler and Lotfi Mansouri, heart transplant pioneer Norman Shumway, Bennett’s handler sat at the back of the studio while Bennett posed beneath the skylight, in the company of a niece who lives in the East Bay. On the phone, Bennett cannot remember who wrote it (Brooklyn songwriters George Cory and Douglass Cross), but he can remember the first place he saw it — on sheet music under a stack of shirts belonging to his accompanist, Ralph Sharon, during a tour of the South. Sam Whiting is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. The public dedication and unveiling is at noon Friday, Aug. 19, on the lawn of the Fairmont Hotel San Francisco, atop Nob Hill.




Tony Bennett sculpture going up in heart of SF

Mon, 15 Aug 2016 02:46:00 UT

Sculptor Bruce Wolfe was working in the studio of his Piedmont home, alternating between busts of former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and actor Clint Eastwood, when in walked a man in a tailored gray suit with a pocket square. Wolfe put Newsom and Eastwood aside, got out his calipers and set to measuring every aspect of the singer’s face, using the ear hole as a point of reference. The two men had never met before, and they won’t meet again until Bennett sees the finished product, a full-body statue 8 feet tall and cast in bronze atop a pedestal of white granite. The Tony Bennett Commemorative Statue is a 90th birthday gift from the city to the singer, who made his San Francisco debut at the Fairmont in 1954. “Every person that comes to visit San Francisco for the first time will be looking at me with outstretched arms saying ‘come in to this great city,’” he said from another apartment, this one overlooking Central Park in New York. The birthday celebration will continue Friday with Tony Bennett Night at AT&T Park, where his signature song, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” has become as familiar after Giants games as the flock of sea gulls searching for targets in the seats. On Saturday night, Aug 20, it will be back to the Fairmont for a dinner concert at the Venetian Room where, in December 1961, Bennett first performed the song heard round the world, which has sold an estimated 14 million records. With tickets starting at $1,000, “An Evening with Tony Bennett in Concert” will open a new charity called the Tony Bennett Fund for Emergency Pediatric Care at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. Bennett is donating his performance plus that of his four-piece touring band, and he is not the kind who will refuse to play his hit just because he’s not being paid. Tony and his song have been our ambassador around the world, encouraging people to come here. The idea for the statue came to Shultz five years ago, after a City Hall event to honor the 50th anniversary of the song. Wolfe, 75, grew up in Redwood City, graduated from Sequoia High School (class of ’59) and has been married to his high school sweetheart, Linda Sullivan, for 53 years. Among those who have driven up into the hills to sit for him are golfer Arnold Palmer, San Francisco Opera directors Kurt Herbert Adler and Lotfi Mansouri, heart transplant pioneer Norman Shumway, Bennett’s handler sat at the back of the studio while Bennett posed beneath the skylight, in the company of a niece who lives in the East Bay. On the phone, Bennett cannot remember who wrote it (Brooklyn songwriters George Cory and Douglass Cross), but he can remember the first place he saw it — on sheet music under a stack of shirts belonging to his accompanist, Ralph Sharon, during a tour of the South. Sam Whiting is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. The public dedication and unveiling is at noon Friday, Aug. 19, on the lawn of the Fairmont Hotel San Francisco, atop Nob Hill.



Obama poster painter Shepard Fairey paints murals in S.F.

Sun, 14 Aug 2016 19:44:52 UT

Filled with hope, they crossed the alley, craned their necks, stared up into the glare of the western sun and held that pose for 20 minutes as the black wall was slowly spray painted in shades of red and yellow. The Los Angeles artist — who gained fame for painting the unofficial Obama “Hope” poster that surfaced in 2008 to become the most memorable political image since “I Like Ike” in 1952 — was here last week to do what he’d never done before, paint the side of a building in San Francisco. “It’s not easy finding people wanting to give you a wall, so I was lucky to get this fantastic location,” said Fairey, who has had murals here before, but those were works on paper slapped up with wheat paste, hit-and-run with the stealth of a tagger. The mural is not directly related to the presidential election, but all of Fairey’s art is political to an extent, and this painting of Cesar Chavez, backed by slogans for a higher minimum wage and the logo of the National Farm Workers Association, is part of a series called “American Civics” that made its debut at the Democratic National Convention. The series is based on the photography of Jim Marshall, a San Francisco freelancer who outflanked all other shooters in capturing every important music and cultural figure to pass through here between the 1960s and his death in 2010. The themes are: “Voting Rights,” “Gun Culture,” “Mass Incarceration,” “Workers’ Rights” and “Two Americas.” [...] the Jim Marshall Estate would seem like a dangerous choice for Fairey, who has already had one costly legal tangle over usage. Turns out the image of Obama he used for the “Hope” poster was lifted from an Associated Press photograph and violated copyright law. In the ensuing legal skirmish, Fairey pleaded guilty to destroying incriminating documents and ended up with two years probation, 300 hours of community service, a $25,000 fine and the unmeasured cost of embarrassment. Fairey himself has seen it co-opted in China where “the Obama head from my illustration is wearing this Communist cap with the star on it, so that’s kind of awesome,” he said. Jason Harris waited for Fairey to take a break at one of the tables just so he could tell the artist he’s “super excited to have this in the neighborhood.” “I really like his focus on social justice issues,” said Mapes, who plans to show the video to her students at Buena Vista Horace Mann.



Jacques Terzian, founder of Hunters Point artist colony, dies

Sun, 14 Aug 2016 03:03:47 UT

“The shipyard arts community has lost the person whose inspiration, vision and love for the arts and artists brought it into being, the person who was, for more than two decades, its animated and animating spirit,” longtime tenant Scott Madison said in a posting on the shipyard website. When he wasn’t in his welding mask, he was in his trademark cap and black-rimmed glasses, going around in the studios of his artists. “A lot of people don’t realize the effort Jacques put into making sure the Point did not turn into the Alamo, a fort in the middle of Bayview-Hunters Point,” said Joe Sam, who was the first African American artist to join the colony 35 years ago and is still in the same space. Hagop Terzian was born in Fresno on Aug. 31, 1921, and grew up in the Armenian section of town, raised by his immigrant parents, along with four siblings and lots of cousins. After graduating from Fresno High School, he became a welder and came to the Bay Area to work in both the Richmond and Hunters Point shipyards, as they built and maintained ships for World War II. There was a retail shop in front, and in back he built the furniture and sculpture that was to become his signature artwork once he had been evicted and found his way to Hunters Point. Mr. Terzian was always interested in arts and ideas and civil rights, and the places where those converged on the Peninsula were Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park and the Peninsula School. Survivors include son Stephan Terzian and his wife, Kay Marie Terzian; daughter Paula Terzian; daughter Leslie Terzian Markoff and her husband, John Markoff; daughter Carla Terzian Pierce; son David Terzian; six grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. In lieu of flowers the Terzian family requests that donations be made to the Parkinson’s Institute and Clinical Center, 675 Almanor Ave., Sunnyvale, CA 94085; (408) 734-2800; www.thepi.org/giving-to-the-institute.