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Preview: SFGate: Sam Whiting

Sam Whiting


Ciel Bergman, Berkeley-born painter and art professor, dies

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 21:38:25 UT

Ciel Bergman, a Berkeley High School yell leader who once modeled for a Norman Rockwell painting, then later became an acclaimed postmodern landscape painter in Santa Barbara and Santa Fe, N.M., has died at 78. The cause of death was lung cancer, said her daughter, Bridgit Koller. The gallery had represented Ms. Bergman since a show called “The Last Sunset of the 20th Century,” for which she made a painting of nearly every Santa Fe sunset of 1999. A human response to the world of nature, said Peter Selz, professor emeritus for the History of Art department at UC Berkeley. The adjective ‘beautiful,’ abhorred by most contemporary critics, identifies her work. Once a registered nurse who worked in a hospital psychiatric ward, Ms. Bergman was a struggling single mom of two when she couldn’t resist the pull of her art. Upon graduation, she became a lecturer in painting and drawing at both UC Berkeley and California State University Hayward (now Cal State East Bay). In 1975, she got a SECA Award in painting from SFMOMA and was also featured in the 1975 Whitney Biennial, an exhibition of contemporary American art hosted every two years at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. Ms. Bergman had been appalled by all the litter on the beach, so she and her students went out and collected enough trash to fill seven garbage bins and installed it at the Santa Barbara Contemporary Art Forum. While on the faculty at UC Santa Barbara, Ms. Bergman traveled to China, where she had an epiphany to only make paintings of beauty from that point on. In 1956, she graduated from Berkeley High School where she was head varsity yell leader, which led to a brief stint as an art studio model. “I have strived to create work that is sensuous, luminous, alive with emotional heat, honest and transcendental,” Ms. Bergman stated on her website,

50th anniversary tributes to Summer of Love

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 15:00:00 UT

Human Be-In 50th Anniversary Celebration: A multimedia event put on by the Unity Foundation and the 17th Digital Be-In. Highlights will be the 50th Anniversary All-Star Band, made up by veterans of the San Francisco scene, performing a “Jam for Peace.” The show, sponsored by the San Francisco Arts Commission, will be on the ground floor and in the North Light Court through spring. Three contemporary artists — Sarah Hotchkiss, Kate Haug and Deborah Aschheim — will re-examine the Summer of Love through a series of posters in bus kiosks along Market Street, between Eighth Street and the Embarcadero. The Struggle for Utopia: A major exhibition of the art, architecture and design of the counterculture in the 1960s and ’70s opens Feb. 28 and runs through May 21 at the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA). An exhibition highlighting the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender participants in the 1967 Summer of Love opens April 7 and runs through Sept. 27 at the GLBT History Museum in San Francisco’s Castro District. An exhibition of rock posters, photographs, ephemera, light shows and avant-garde films opens April 8 and runs through Aug. 20 at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. On display will be 150 items from the permanent collection of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. On the Road to the Summer of Love: A comprehensive overview of the cultural upheaval that brought on the hippie mass migration opens May 11 and runs through Sept. 8 at the California Historical Society on Market Street in San Francisco. Summer of Love Ballet: A dance tribute by choreographer Trey McIntyre makes its world premiere at Smuin Contemporary Ballet, as part of “Dance Series 02” on May 5 through June 3 at various Bay Area locations. The American Conservatory Theater will open a stand-alone production of the Broadway musical on June 7. The San Francisco Public Library will showcase images and literature focused on the Summer of Love from June 15 through September in the Jewett Gallery at the Main Library.

ArtHaus celebrates 20 years keeping it small

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 21:53:48 UT

Before it was illegal, Carolyn Meyer would take iPhone images from her car window while driving from Sausalito to San Francisco, where she directs the painting department at the Academy of Art. ArtHaus, owned and operated by James Bacchi and Annette Schutz, represents just 18 artists, 80 percent of whom have been with the gallery since the day it opened in Bacchi’s one-bedroom apartment on lower Nob Hill. “Because ArtHaus has so few artists, they (Bacchi and Schutz) are able to spend time getting to know each artist,” says Meyer. When Bacchi was fed up, he invited his fellow gallery director Schutz for a drink at the Red Room, a suave single-colored saloon on Sutter Street. ArtHaus was going strong for nine years, until Bacchi got an eviction notice for running a business out of a rent-controlled unit. Whether clients walk in as corporate collectors or as individuals buying their first artwork, they all deal directly with Bacchi and Schutz. The gallery is divided into three exhibition spaces, and every quarter there is a group show and a solo show. Since driving while photographing was made illegal starting Jan. 1, Meyer has switched her approach. Sam Whiting is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.

North Richmond documentary to screen in Richmond

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 00:27:02 UT

Past Present and Future, a 90-minute documentary by Doug Harris that’s scheduled for a hometown premiere Saturday, Jan. 14, at the Richmond Museum of History. Harris, 56, has built an award-winning career as a documentarian of the African American experience in the East Bay, where he grew up and still lives. Made partly by at-risk teens from North Richmond under Harris’ direction, “North Richmond” depicts the resilience of residents who have faced down gun violence, the drug trade, chemical spills and refinery fires. “This is a hot-button film,” says Harris, who will join several Richmond residents from the film in a post-screening discussion.

Bob Castaneda, pilot of famed Radio Fiyer art car, dies

Thu, 5 Jan 2017 01:04:38 UT

Bob Castaneda, a Vietnam veteran and art car creator known for driving around in an oversize Radio Flyer red wagon powered by a 350 Chevy engine, died on the day after Christmas. Mr. Castaneda suffered a heart attack at the Alameda home of his longtime partner, Joy Davis. “When a person would see a giant Radio Flyer wagon going down the street it transcends their fantasy into reality,” said Blank. The wagon was street legal, and Mr. Castaneda drove it to the grocery store and yard sales. In one infamous episode on “Home Improvement,” TV host Tim Allen was put at the controls and was to surprise viewers by driving the Radio Fiyer out of a garage. Mr. Castaneda toured the Radio Fiyer around the country, and wherever he made a paid appearance he would also make a free one at a hospital for children. After graduating from high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and was stationed at an ammunition depot in Danang during the Vietnam War. In an interview for the Chronicle feature “My Ride,” published in 2011, Mr. Castaneda described how he built the wagon, in the secrecy of a cousin’s garage in Davis, and debuted it at Andy’s Picnic, a hot rod show, in 1996. Though it looked and rolled like an art car, it also had a polished chrome engine to match its wheels, and brassy exhaust pipes.

Market Street quick-draw shooter gets a solo show

Wed, 4 Jan 2017 20:40:57 UT

Among the crush of morning commuters walking along Market Street, Troy Holden is disguised in his hoodie, hands in its pouch. To get a truly candid image, Holden has to be able to pull out the camera, slide open the lens cap with his thumb as he raises it and press the shutter button all in one motion with one hand, before the moment is lost. “I do try to be fast, either to get an absurd moment or an interesting interaction or gesture,” says Holden, 41, who is best known on Instagram as @troyholden. The show’s title, “Colorful Streets,” derives from the fact that Holden has switched to color from black-and-white to better match the colorful characters who catch his eye. To get the 25 images for the show, Holden worked six days a week for a year, which is a squeeze because he is still an amateur, self-taught. During his morning commute, Holden is at the intersection of Fourth and Market streets, where, hustling along the sidewalk, he crashes into people emerging from the BART station. First posted on Instagram, the image got 1,600 likes. [...] his followers are only viewing the photo on a tiny screen.

Evicted artist thinks inside the box with portable studio

Tue, 3 Jan 2017 22:29:49 UT

When multimedia artist Alex Nichols got evicted from her Mission District studio, she took to the streets with what she called a Portable Studio, made of foam so she could fold it up and carry it on her head. In film and wall-size photography, “Kontakt” documents what happens when two people are put together with the only rules being “no touching and no talking,” Nichols explains. On its first day on the street, the Portable Studio was visited by a Korean British artist named Mushi, 25, who brought his video camera and then became a collaborator in the project. An underlying theme of “Kontakt” is the great diaspora of San Francisco artists. Nichols got bounced from Studio 17, along with 80 other artists, and to see her studio is to see how resourceful artists are in adapting to gentrification. Nichols is now working above Maclac, a factory for wood varnish and lacquer. In addition to photography and video of the project, the installation includes a version of the Portable Studio that is like two glass phone booths. Visitors are invited to enter and interact while separated by a glass partition, like in prison. Sam Whiting is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.

Winter blues at Nancy Toomey Fine Art

Tue, 20 Dec 2016 19:41:52 UT

Seen from the gallery door, Lisa Bartleson’s abstract painting “Sphere” is as cold as the winter sun in Minnesota. For Bartleson, 48, the color was blue because one year ago she was living near Venice Beach, where the winter sky is cleared by Santa Ana winds blowing away the smog and leaving the sky a crisp blue. First she cut it into hundreds of strips, each 4 feet long, and pinned them to her studio wall. Starting with a bucket of white paint, she painted one strip white; then, using an eyedropper, she added a single drop of ultramarine blue to the white and painted a second strip. [...] she added two drops to the mix, and so on, until the bucket of white was transformed into a darker blue. To turn the painted strips into a sphere, she cut each strip into 1-inch squares and assembled them in the fashion of a mosaic, with the squares getting darker as they radiated outward. The intent is to have a darker outside color embrace the painting while the light in the center draws the viewer in. Sam Whiting is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.

SF Street Photography Group makes gallery debut

Wed, 14 Dec 2016 21:06:43 UT

SF Street Photography Group makes gallery debut [...] when it comes to supporting each other, these visual artists are immediately social, and that is the founding principle behind the San Francisco Street Photography Group. “People see these moments all the time and say to themselves, ‘I wish I had a camera,’” says group founder Michael Kirschner. In all, 300 entries submitted by the group were judged by seven anonymous professional curators, and 52 images from 28 artists were selected for the walls. Sam Whiting is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.

‘Hamilton’ ticket frenzy is revolutionary

Mon, 12 Dec 2016 19:07:03 UT

Bowman, an 18-year-old freshman at San Francisco State, was the first person in line for tickets to “Hamilton,” the Broadway sensation that will open at the Orpheum Theatre in March. SHN subscribers had first crack and many bought the whole package, regardless of the other shows on the schedule, just to get tickets to “Hamilton.” American Express card holders got second crack at tickets and many waited all day online only to either have the system crash or to be turned away. Each person in line was entitled to six tickets, and though it seemed that Bowman was assured, she’d already been burned in the American Express online market and “Hamilton” horror stories went up and down the line. [...] Bowman remained nervous until the moment the shade lifted on the ticket window at 10 on the dot. Simultaneously tickets were also available by phone and at the SHN web site but even people who had the number pre-dialed on their iPhone’s and pressed the call button at 10 exactly, were told that there were too many callers in line and no more were allowed.

Last of 36 names released as agonizing wait comes to an end

Sat, 10 Dec 2016 02:37:30 UT

Last of 36 names released as agonizing wait comes to an end Peter Wadsworth was the resident computer genius at the Ghost Ship warehouse and art collective. Michele Sylvan was a singer and clothing designer. Barrett Clark was a sound engineer and DJ who worked at some of the Bay Area’s biggest nightclubs. [...] the number that will stick is 36 for the staggering tally of victims of the conflagration that erupted seven days ago at a warehouse music event in Oakland. The list of names is the longest to emerge from a fire in California since the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco. [...] most of those names were delivered by sheriff’s deputies to people waiting in the family assistance center set up in a sheriff’s office facility several blocks from the fire scene. When the news came they usually had the same question: “Did they suffer?” “Smoke inhalation knocks you unconscious,” he’d tell them. The names were released in clusters of eight or nine at first, then trickled to three or four a day. The oldest person claimed by the fire was 61. [...] in those last moments, just before 11:30 p.m. Dec. 2, there was a shining assembly of avant-garde musicians, eccentric personalities and artists of every medium gathered in the innocence of an underground warehouse party and electronic music show on a Friday night. By Saturday morning, all that was left were their cars parked outside or their bicycles still chained to the fence at the Ghost Ship, and their life stories to be pieced together. The victims weren’t all musicians, but they all shared a love for music. Most of all they shared a love for the artistic community that has evolved in Oakland, or Oaktown or just the Town. [...] though a $10 or $15 cover charge was a tough nut for some of these people, they dug deep for it to keep that Town spirit moving along. “There has been a spotlight put on this magnetic community,” said the Rev. Jayson Landeza, a volunteer chaplain for the Oakland Fire Department who probably spent more time at the scene than anybody. For a solid week, Landeza was embedded among the artists, honoring the spirit of those that perished, the grief of those that made it out, and the luck of those that did not happen to be there that night. “They’re creative, they’re vibrant, they’re wonderfully edgy,” Landeza said. There is just a wonderfully innovative and diverse spirit that bodes well for the city. Loss in educated talent is easier to measure, and it is staggering. A social justice lawyer who was Phi Beta Kappa at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A grad student a year away from her doctorate in health psychology from UC Merced. Juniors who were roommates at UC Berkeley. [...] those are just the victims identified Thursday. To generalize among the characteristics of all 36, the words that surface the most are open, nonjudgmental, kind. Once the families of Wadsworth, Sylvan and Clark were notified and their names released, the family assistance center was closed, and the space was returned to its regular use. International Boulevard, the main thoroughfare that had been closed for a week, finally reopened to traffic. Sam Whiting is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. The identities of all 36 people who died in the Dec. 2 fire at a converted warehouse in Oakland known as the Ghost Ship have been released.

Michele ‘Colette’ Sylvan, clothing designer and ‘quirky artist,’ identified as Oakland fire victim

Sat, 10 Dec 2016 00:14:41 UT

Michele ‘Colette’ Sylvan, clothing designer and ‘quirky artist,’ identified as Oakland fire victim In her upstairs loft at the Vulcan, in East Oakland, Michele Sylvan was always making clothes — shirts and dresses that she would design, cut out the patterns for, and sew to fit on a dressmaker’s dummy. Otherwise shy and reserved, “She wasn’t reserved about the clothing she made,” recalled a former neighbor named Joshua who declined to give his last name. Sylvan, 37, who was identified Friday as one of 36 people to die in the Dec. 2 fire at an Oakland warehouse music show, lived for several years at the Vulcan Lofts with her partner, Wolfgang Renner, 61. Joshua, a photographer, once did a photo shoot of Sylvan modeling her clothes, but he never heard her discuss clients or marketing. Sam Whiting is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.

Ghost Ship fire from the eyes of an ever-present chaplain

Fri, 9 Dec 2016 22:01:07 UT

When the second alarm buzzed his cell phone at 11:31 p.m. Friday, the Rev. Jayson Landeza got out of his bedclothes and into his “turnout” in the rectory of St. Benedict in East Oakland. By the time he’d driven his black Crown Victoria 10 minutes to the Ghost Ship fire, he’d transformed himself from Catholic priest to “minister of presence.” What he does is stand there with his coat open so his clerical collar is visible, with an open expression on his face to show that he’s approachable. “We don’t do the Catholic thing,” he said in an interview Wednesday at the nearby Wendy’s which has served as his temporary sanctuary during the five days and nights he has been at the scene of the tragedy that claimed the lives of 36 people. When he was not at the scene of the fire, among first responders, onlookers and media from all over the world, he was back at the rectory in quiet prayer and reflection over what he had seen and heard and felt. Officially, Landeza is a volunteer chaplain for the Oakland Fire Department, Oakland Police Department and Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, which also houses the county coroner. “He brings a certain calm to situations, where families show up that are grieving, and it’s invaluable” said J.D. Nelson, public information officer for the Sheriff’s Office. Police officers and firefighters will come up to me and say ‘Jeez, you know, I’ve got a kid the same age,’ and that’s all they have to say. Strangers would approach him to go take a photo of the fire scene, or ask him to place a flower at the door, “just so they would have a sense of closure about the place where their loved one passed away.” Even after the coroner’s office had removed all the victims, the fire department and demolition crews had pulled out, and the family members were gone, there was Landeza, in his white helmet and turnout with the word “chaplain” in yellow letters on the back. [...] he left the site and drove his cop-style Crown Vic to visit his mother at a rest home four blocks away.

Nick Walrath, attorney and MIT grad with brilliant future, among victims of Oakland fire

Thu, 8 Dec 2016 21:21:10 UT

After completing highly sought-after clerkships at the U.S. Court of Appeals and the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, attorney Nick Walrath had his choice of law firms to join in the city. When he signed with the litigation boutique Durie Tangri LLP, “His credentials were as good as anyone you could hope to meet,” said founding partner Ragesh Tangri. Walrath planned to specialize in intellectual property litigation, dealing with patents and copyrights, and do as much pro bono work as he could. Walrath’s bicycle was found chained outside the Ghost Ship warehouse, and his death in a fire there that killed 36 people was confirmed Thursday by his mother, Deb Walrath, a Pittsburgh lawyer. Walrath grew up in Point Breeze, an old neighborhood on the east end of Pittsburgh, and attended Taylor Allderdice High School, where he played soccer and lacrosse and was valedictorian in 2003. After a year pursuing his PhD in atomic physics at the University of Colorado, he switched interests and earned his JD at New York University School of Law, where he was on the Law Review. [...] Walrath also wanted to come west because “he liked to explore new places, especially places that had a vibrant art and music scene,” said his mother. After working a year at the appellate level, Walrath wanted to round out his education as a clerk in district court.

Ancient medium of wax makes a comeback in Marin

Tue, 6 Dec 2016 22:03:46 UT

Using objects and pieces of fabric she dips into hot wax, Miot creates what she calls “wall sculptures,” which include wax painted on by brush and wax poured from a pot. “Poured, painted and dipped” is how she describes the finished product that will be on display starting Saturday, Dec. 10, at the Marin Museum of Contemporary Art, located at the Novato Arts Center where Miot keeps her studio. All five windows in the gallery have been covered in sheets of rice paper painted in pigmented wax, alternating aqua, blue, purple and red. When the sunlight passes through the waxed windows onto the wall sculptures, the effect “will be like being underwater and looking at an astonishing array of creatures,” Miot says. Marin Museum of Contemporary Art, Novato Arts Center at Hamilton Field, 500 Palm Drive, Novato.