Tuesday, May 24, 2016

On the Road: Lake Powell (May 22)

The road out of Grand Canyon north to Page skirts the Little Colorado River Gorge, which cuts through a plateau dotted with green sage bushes and Mormon tea. I noticed the people here never seem to say "the Grand Canyon" but only "Grand Canyon." I wonder why.

I spent the entirety of May 22 in the vicinity of Page, Arizona, making an early visit to the overlook at Horseshoe Bend, a dramatic curve cut through sandstone by the Colorado River just outside Page. A short walk takes you from the parking lot to a ragged outcropping of tawny rock that gives a view of the river channel several hundred feet below. A local resident told me three to five people fall to their death from the unprotected overlook each year, mostly trying to take pictures of themselves too close to the edge. As I was leaving, a bus load of elderly Japanese sightseers arrived for a look, crouching far too close to the edge for my comfort. It was hard to watch. The view is impressive, though.

I then headed out for a day on Lake Powell, motoring into Padre Bay, which gives panoramic views of the lake and the dramatic rock formations, once canyon walls, that form its perimeter. The lake, like Lake Mead to the west, is artificial, created by the Glen Canyon Dam, built between 1957 and 1963, which blocks the flow of the Colorado River here. The lake is about 180 miles long and is said to have more shoreline than the US West Coast. Before the dam was built, the now-filled canyon must have looked much like Grand Canyon.

Eventually I arrived at Rainbow Bridge, about two hours north of the marina near Horseshoe Bend that was my starting point. From the landing near the bridge it's a mile walk into a side canyon before the arch appears. This is sacred ground to the Navajo who, according to my guide, view natural arches as gives from the gods, gifts useful for crossing streams, fleeing flash floods, and escaping from enemies.

The stone that forms Rainbow Bridge is part of the redder formation known as the Navajo sandstone. The same rock is visible in parts of Grand Canyon, in Monument Valley, which straddles the Arizona/Utah border, and in Arches National Park, further into Southern Utah.

Something of a rock hound as a child, I know a thing or two about how rocks fracture. Obsidian perhaps has the most obvious conchoidal fracture among rocks that most people know, but the Navajo Sandstone, too, fractures in a way that leaves behind concentric curves. Many of the formations have a rounded quality. Natural arches form when the inner portion of a conchoidal fracture face erodes away more quickly than the rock above it. But the geology here is complex. There are many different layers of stone, including natural conglomerates, sandstones, and limestones. Some surfaces are pale, others redder, reflecting different amounts of iron oxide present. Some are smooth, some rough. Others are fractured and eroded into what look like rows of stacked pillows. Some are reminiscent of Chinese landscape paintings in ink, others of Egyptian statuary carved into the rocks. In several places I was reminded of photos I've seen of Egyptian statues near the water bodies created by the Aswan High Dam.

Friday, May 20, 2016

On the Road: The Grand Canyon (May 20, 2016)

On the road, truly. No time to write much today. Suffice it to say that the Grand Canyon is as beautiful as they say it is. Monumental in scale and constantly changing in aspect as clouds pass over and the light changes.

Here I post views from the easily accessible rim trail along the south canyon rim The last of the three is a view from Pima Point where I had gone to watch the sunset. The rock faces change color dramatically as the sun drops below the opposite canyon rim. About an hour before sunset, a bank of heavy clouds rolled in, however, blocking the sun and the light display. On the opposite side of the sky a nearly full moon rose. I'll be up at 4:00AM tomorrow to try for sunrise over the canyon.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

On the Road: Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon (May 18-May 19, 2016)

Following a day in Las Vegas, headed east toward the Grand Canyon. Looking to get views out over the city of Las Vegas (or, strictly speaking, the City of Paradise, Nevada, as the main Las Vegas strip is in that town) and into the desert, I went up the Stratosphere Tower--according to something I read, the highest observation tower in the United States, at 1,149 feet. I also rode the High Roller Ferris Wheel, the highest observation wheel in the country, at 550 feet. Both offer excellent views. The tower, although stationary, is somehow scarier than the slowly turning wheel, which takes about 30 minutes to make a revolution. It runs until 2:00AM.

Las Vegas remains the pit of excess it always has been. The hotels are too big, the casinos are too big, the distances between them are exhausting. Gambling seems a fool's amusement, but I had a truly excellent steak dinner at Gallagher's Steak House, in the New York, New York Hotel complex. I'm not a big meat eater. In fact, I'd be quite happy vegetarian, but the Rib-eye steak I had, with a shallot and Beaujolais reduction sauce, was easily the best piece of meat I've ever consumed.

 On the morning of 19th, I head out in the direction of the morning sun on the only road more or less that leads to the Grand Canyon. There's some picturesque scenery with scrubby vegetation, chollas, a few Joshua trees, and a show of spring wildflowers as well. Distant mountains, mostly eroded volcanic formations, provided a backdrop. I then road the Grand Canyon Railway to Williams, where I'm staying the night. Tomorrow I'll ride the train back to the canyon to start a day of photography there. Today I got only a glimpse, but it looks every bit as spectacular as people say it is.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

On the Road: Las Vegas (May 17, 2016)

Just arrived in Las Vegas after an uneventful flight—although, annoyingly, I hardly got to see out the windows. I really don't understand people who have the opportunity to look at the world from 30,000 feet and never even open their window shades. I will make sure to get a window seat on the way home.

As always, I enjoyed looking at some of the exhibitions at SFO while waiting for my flight. In contrast, the Las Vegas airport is fairly dull. While I've been to Las Vegas before, I've never entered through the airport. Its only decorations seem to be kitschy slot machines.

SFO really is a treat to visit. I was able to see the show of pottery by Marguerite Wildenhain now on. I missed it last time I visited the airport because it is behind security and I wasn't flying. Some of her very early work in Europe is on display, including formal dinner ware she designed while working for a pottery company in Germany. I had no idea she had been at the Bauhaus for several years before eventually being hounded out of Germany by the Nazis. She ended up at Pond Farm, an artists' colony in Guerneville, by way of the Netherlands and Oakland, California. Most of the work on display is from her time at Pond Farm. Well worth seeing. The photo above is an abstraction made on the bus on the way to the airport.

Art I'm Making: Untitled Collage No. 143 (Santa Rosa)

Feeling I didn't have enough green in my life, I made a stack of monoprints in green and black and in green and blue. From these will emerge new collage work. Here is the first such piece.

Untitled Collage No. 143 (Santa Rosa) May 10, 2016. Acrylic on paper, acrylic monoprint, pastel, collage. Image size 19 x 26.4cm. Matted to 16 x 20 inches. Signed and dated on reverse. Signed on the mat.

For more of my collage work, visit my collage site at http://ctalcroft.wix.com/collage-site. Click on the image for a larger view.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Serendipitous Art: Incised Tree Bark (May 16, 2016)

A cross-shaped incision in the bark of a tree and the background of natural fissures around it looked like art to me. Serendipitous Art.

For more unintended art, see my blog Serendipitous Art.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Wines I'm Making: Sulfur Spraying 2016

Spraying the grapes with sulfur, to prevent mildew, is a game of tag with the rain, and it always requires judgement when the vines start to bloom—as they have already. The Sangiovese buds have opened, the Cabernet Franc vines are just beginning to bloom and the Cabernet Sauvignon buds  will soon be open too. We've probably had our last rain and I wanted to get them protected before full bloom, so I sprayed them yesterday. I had sprayed once before this year, about two weeks ago, but most of that got washed away by rain. I hope yesterday's spraying will hold them for a while, although I'll probably have to spray once more, just after bloom is over, in a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Art I'm Making: A New Collage

Another new collage. This one is made using scraps of older papers (papers I monoprinted or painted quite a while ago), mostly in warm tones.

Untitled Collage No. 142 (Santa Rosa). May 7, 2016. Acrylic on paper, acrylic monoprint, collage. Image size 11.3 x 12.8cm. Matted to 11 x 14 inches. Signed and dated on reverse. Signed on the mat.

Click on the image for a larger view. For more of my collage work, use the Art I'm Making tab here, or visit my collage site at http://ctalcroft.wix.com/collage-site.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Rain: 0.4 Inches in May (May 7-8, 2016)

Even if El Niño wasn't as spectacular as some had hoped, we've had more rain than last year, and, importantly, more rain much later in the season. Last year, the rain stopped in January. Last night we got 0.4 inches of new rain, which, while not a lot, is not insignificant either. That brings our total at my northern Santa Rosa location to 30.80 inches for the 2015-2016 rain year (October 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016). We're unlikely to get much more, as the rains usually stop about now even in a good year, but we're already way ahead of the last couple of years. The overall deficit remains, however, as average annual rainfall in Santa Rosa historically has been around 36 inches.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Art I'm Making: Untitled Collage No. 141 (Santa Rosa)

I  have been making collages at a fairly steady pace, new papers rather sporadically. The result of that difference has been a cyclical effect in my collage-making. A batch of new papers induces a flurry of activity—a group of new works that are fed by the excitement of having new material to work with. These pieces tend to be larger, as they use newly created full-sheet monoprints. Gradually, new material is consumed. The work that follows becomes smaller, more delicate, fed by the scraps and leftovers of other work. Eventually I reach a place where it's difficult to create at all using the bits and pieces left behind (although these are treasured as accents and unexpected additions—little is thrown away). And then, suddenly, in a burst of energetic activity, I create new papers. And from these, new collages emerge.

Today, at the end of a phase of this cycle, I finished a new piece that was a considerable struggle. I was pleased to have arrived at a good place despite aching to get out my tempered glass plate and my paints to spend a few hours monoprinting (perhaps tomorrow, or over the weekend).

This is Untitled Collage No. 141 (Santa Rosa). May 5, 2016. Acrylic on paper, acrylic monoprint, collage. Image size 13.7 x 21cm. Matted to 16 x 20 inches. Signed and dated on reverse. Signed on the mat. For more of my collage work, use the Art I'm Making tab here or visit my collage site at http://ctalcroft.wix.com/collage-site.

Serendipitous Art: A Wall of Invisible Marks

Recently at the De Young Museum in San Francisco I saw a wall covered with marks—marks made by human hands—around the hand railing on a staircase. They are invisible in most lights, but, at one oblique angle and with the light coming down from above, they appear momentarily...until you move slightly and they become invisible again.

For more unintended art, see my blog Serendipitous Art.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Music I'm Listening To: A Week of Music

I heard Midori in recital at the Green Music Center on April 23 and Hilary Hahn in recital at Davies Symphony Hall on the 26th. On the 29th, I'll be in San Francisco again to hear a concert conducted by Pablo Heras-Casado featuring Shostakovich's Symphony No. 9.

It's sad a name as big as Midori can't fill the Green Music Center. Filling the hall seems to have been a persistent problem since its opening, about four years ago. The first two seasons, I was delighted to subscribe to reasonably priced San Francisco Symphony concerts at the Center, but that program was abandoned—because the hall was usually no more than two-thirds full. Is Rohnert Park too far to drive if you live in San Francisco? I suppose people who live in San Francisco don't feel the need, no matter how good the sound, and it appears the native (Sonoma County) audience for classical music isn't big enough to support the venue unaided. I've heard it suggested that the Center hasn't been well enough advertised in San Francisco. Perhaps attendance will pick up if Bruno Ferrandis is replaced by a better, more charismatic conductor at the Santa Rosa Symphony (his contract runs out at the end of this season and will not be renewed).

At the Midori recital on the 23rd, I sat in the seats behind the stage for the first time. They are closer to the performer than I realized, but it's easy to forget how directional the sound projection of a violin is. I remember noticing sharp changes in dynamics at concerts by Kyung-wha Chung (who virtually dances while playing, frequently turning from side to side). Midori, mostly facing away from my vantage point, was sometimes hard to hear, especially during the opening piece, a Bach sonata for violin and piano that lacked impact. However, I very much enjoyed her performance of Schubert's C Major Fantasy for Piano and Violin (although it always seems a little longer than it needs to be) and her performance of the Brahms Piano and Violin Sonata No. 1, in G Major). Two pieces by Tchaikovsky rounded out the program—The Valse Sentimentale and the Valse-Scherzo. Midori also played an encore, a song by Grieg, as she told us in the lobby after the performance. She was accompanied on stage by pianist Özgur Aydin.

I've heard Hilary Hahn twice before in San Francisco, playing the Tchaikovsky violin concerto, with James Gaffigan conducting, and playing one of the Prokofieff concertos, with Osmo Vänskä conducting. I'd never heard her in recital before. It was an excellent opportunity to listen closely to the sound of her violin (according to the Wikipedia article on Hahn "an 1864 copy of Paganini's Cannone made by Vuillaume"), which seems particularly sweet in the mid-register and rather nicely balanced throughout its range, unlike some violins that seem to favor either the low or the high end.

The program was varied, earlier music in the first half, more modern music after intermission. It began with Mozart's Sonata in G Major for Violin and Piano (Cory Smythe accompanying) followed by the Bach Sonata No. 3 in C major for Solo Violin. Hahn played the Bach absolutely purely, absolutely correctly—every note articulated and right where it was supposed to be—without sounding in the least cold or distant, somehow being  utterly confident and charismatically present yet almost transparent, the music seeming to flow through and out of her. Her performance was mesmerizing—probably the most convincing performance of one of the Bach solo violin pieces I've ever heard, its only possible rival in my experience being one by Itzhak Perlman I heard as a college student in the early 1980s in Columbus, Ohio. Hahn was deeply moving. The entire audience immediately rose to its feet after she finished and brought her back on stage to acknowledge the applause several times before letting her go and starting the mid-concert leg stretch. She wore a beautiful floor length skirt—black with embroidered metallic discs.

She was equally impressive in a selection from Anton Garcia Abril's Six Partitas for Solo Violin (which I'd like to hear more of), in the Copland Sonata for Violin and Piano that followed, and in Tina Davidson's Blue Curve of the Earth, which is one of the 27 pieces Hahn commissioned for her recording In 27 Pieces (Hahn played this as an encore at the May 25, 2012 concert with Osmo Vänskä that I attended, so I've heard her perform it twice now).

For an encore, Hahn played the world premiere, she said, of Catch, by Aaron Severini, one of the honorable mentions among the 400 or so pieces she received as entries in her encore competition. She spoke directly to the audience in introducing the piece. After the concert, signing autographs for the longest line of people I've ever seen at Davies Symphony Hall waiting for a signing, she kindly wrote the name of the piece in my program for me. She gives the impression of being an extremely gracious, down-to-Earth person. When I asked her to date the CD cover she signed for me, she didn't know what day it was. It must be hard to keep track sometimes when you travel as much as a touring performer does.

[Update: The concert on the 29th was wonderful. Heras-Casado was overflowing with energy and so was the music. The program included Dance Suite by Bartok, the world premiere of Auditorium, by Mason Bates, Ravel's Le Tombeau de Couperin, and Symphony No. 9, by Shostakovich. ]

Photo of Midori courtesy of the Green Music Center website. Photo of Hilary Hahn courtesy of the San Francisco Symphony website.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Art I'm Making: Untitled Collage No. 138 (Santa Rosa)

Another new collage, although the first I've done in a couple of weeks. This one was inspired by a piece of Japanese textile stencil I found at a rummage sale. I usually avoid found paper in my work, because I don't trust ephemera not to fade, discolor, or stain the other papers I use. Found papers often have too strong a personality of their own, drawing attention away from the abstract qualities of the composition, which, for me, always are primary.

I loved the color of the stencil, though—a deep maroon or oxblood with an ever-so-slightly iridescent effect when side-lit—impossible to reproduce photographically. I'm confident this paper will retain its qualities: it's already decades old, and these stencils, stained with persimmon tannin for water repellency, always seem to be this color or something close to it, thus stable.

Untitled Collage No. 138 (Santa Rosa), acrylic on paper, acrylic monoprint, found paper (Japanese textile stencil), collage. Image size 23 x 27cm, matted to 16 x 20 inches. Signed on dated on reverse. Signed on the mat.

Click on the image for a larger view. For more, use the Art I'm Making tab here, or visit my collage website at: http://ctalcroft.wix.com/collage-site/

Serendipitous Art: Scratched Window

Although this looks like a piece of modern calligraphy, it's scratches on a window I saw somewhere in San Francisco not long ago. The window had been painted over. Looked like art to me. Unintended art, serendipitous art.

For more unintended art, see my blog Serendipitous Art.

Book I'm Reading: Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia

Much has been written about Thomas Edward Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia. I've read five or six biographies myself. This one—Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia (By Michael Korda, Harper, 2010)—is probably the best of those. It seems unusually well researched, it's fluidly written, and, perhaps most important, while it details Lawrence's time in the desert with the Arab Revolt, it presents a balanced picture of his life, devoting more space than usual to his childhood and also to his later days, after he attempted to retreat into anonymity as an airman in the budding RAF. In the first instance, Korda elucidates Lawrence's relationship with his religiously zealous mother in particular, in the latter, his uncanny ability to stay connected with and influence the most influential people in Britain even as an airman. His intellect was irresistible. Reading Hero, I'm left wanting to read Seven Pillars of Wisdom again.

Rain: Another Half Inch Overnight (April 21-22, 2016)

Rain has been in the forecast for today, Friday, for the past couple of days, but it started early, late on Thursday and it was enough to make a difference. I found 0.55 inches in the rain gauge this morning. It's still drizzling. So far that brings our total for the 2015–2016 rain year to 29.90 inches at my Santa Rosa location. That's still below normal (historically, almost 34 inches by this time of year), but the most rain we've had in three or four years.

[Update: It rained hard again later in the day. By the end of the 22nd we had had 0.90 inches of new rain, this 0.45 inches in addition to the amount reported above. So, the total at my location now stands at 30.35 inches for the 2015-2016 rain year. This may be the last significant rain of the year. If it is, we will end up about six inches below normal but still far ahead of the last couple of years. So, much better in the short term, but not real relief from the long-term drought.]

[Sudden rain again on the night of April 26-27 sounded impressive, but left only 0.05 inches in the rain gauge, raising the total to 30.40 inches.]

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Art I'm Making: Untitled Collage No. 137 (Santa Rosa)

My most recent collage. This is Untitled Collage No. 137 (Santa Rosa). March 14, 2016. Acrylic on paper, acrylic monoprint, collage. Image size 18.3 x 15.3cm. Matted to 16 x 20 inches. Signed and dated on the reverse. Signed on the mat.

Click on the image for a larger view. For more, use the Art I'm Making tab here, or visit my collage website at: http://ctalcroft.wix.com/collage-site/

Rain: Unexpected Rain Overnight (April 14, 2016)

A sudden downpour woke me last night. I found 0.35 inches of new rain in the rain gauge this morning. Rain hadn't been in the forecast. This new precipitation raises our total for the 2015-2016 rain year to 29.35 inches at my northern Santa Rosa location. While that still leaves us below average, the very fact of appreciable rain this late in the season is a good thing.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Art I'm Making: Untitled Collage No. 136 (Santa Rosa)

Following a comparatively large piece, I made another diminutive one. It measures 10.8 x 10.6cm, or roughly four inches square. This is Untitled Collage No. 136 (Santa Rosa). March 11, 2016. Acrylic on paper, acrylic monoprint, collage. Matted to 11 x 14 inches. Signed and dated on the reverse. Signed on the mat.

Click on the image for a larger view. For more, use the "Art I'm Making" tab here, or visit my collage website at: http://ctalcroft.wix.com/collage-site/

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Rain: April Showers (April 9, 2016)

More rain. It was beginning to look like rain was over for this year, but we've had a half inch of precipitation overnight and this morning. Before this new rain, our total for the 2015-2016 rain year stood at 28.25 inches at my north Santa Rosa location. The historical average for this date is 32.83 inches. Thus, we are still about 5 inches below normal, but the rain virtually stopped in January last season, so we are miles ahead, even if this is the last rain we get until autumn. Let it rain.

[Update: Further drizzle has left 0.75 inches in the rain gauge this morning (April 10). That brings our total for the current rain year to 29.00 inches at my Santa Rosa location.]

Friday, April 8, 2016

Art I'm Making: Untitled Collage No. 135 (Santa Rosa)

I've been doing collage work for almost three years now. In that time, I've never made a piece bigger than about 8 x 10 inches and my smallest pieces have been no more than about 2 inches on a side. This hasn't been by design. It's just happened that way. The monoprinted papers I use, seem to work best at a size that requires close examination.

I recently made a large piece, however,—or at least large for me. Untitled Collage No. 135 (Santa Rosa) is about 9 x 14 inches, although I can't measure it as I write this because it's in a show at the O'Hanlon Center for the Arts, in Mill Valley, through April 19. Acrylic on paper, acrylic monoprint, found paper (automatic drawing fragment in archival markers made by a Doodlebot). February 25, 2016. Matted to 20 x 24 inches. Signed and dated on reverse. Signed on the mat.

Click on the image for a larger view. For more, use the "Art I'm Making" tab here, or visit my collage website at: http://ctalcroft.wix.com/collage-site/

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Music I'm Listening To: Master Class with Cellist Zuill Bailey

Cellist Zuill Bailey, in Santa Rosa this week to perform with the Santa Rosa Symphony, gave a master class for string players of the Santa Rosa Symphony's Youth Orchestra and Young People's Chamber Orchestra on Monday, April 4. Bailey worked with three young cellists during the class, but I was deeply impressed by the broad applicability of the ideas he stressed. Much of what he said pertained to efficient and productive practicing—of any instrument.

He emphasized getting the structure of the music down solidly before attempting to make it your own, reflecting his view that really good music has most of its expressive qualities written into it and that the music and its audience  often are best served simply by faithfully playing what's written, paying attention to rhythm in particular. Several of his remarks drew laughter from the young cellists and the spectators, but he got an especially big laugh when he suggested you can easily save hundreds of dollars in music lessons simply by buying a good metronome and using it.

Bailey also pointed out that efficient practicing is essentially problem solving—that it's pointless aimlessly to run through pieces you're working on without a goal. He suggested always asking yourself what you aim to achieve before a practice session and he recommended focusing on the technically difficult passages or—and this seems very important—the passages that may not be technically difficult that you nevertheless have trouble with or feel uncomfortable about, whatever the reason.

He emphasized the importance of not just repeatedly trying to get these right without finding the cause of the problem. To do less, he said, is to repeatedly play the passage wrongly—thereby reinforcing the wrong way to play it rather than mastering the difficulty. He recommended always playing through these difficult or otherwise troublesome spots while practicing (not stopping in the middle of them) by at least two bars and, when going back to try again, always starting at least two bars before the trouble spot, to avoid creating the habit of stopping at these places or becoming unnecessarily apprehensive about their approach because, as he put it, "practice makes permanent." That is, practice reinforces both good and bad habits and eventually solidifies them.

Using this method, he suggested, clarifies problems, finds the right way to surmount them, and reinforces a relaxed overcoming of them while avoiding repeated frustration and repetition of mistakes and errors to no purpose. I very much wish my son, a clarinetist with the Youth Orchestra, had been able to see the class. Although Bailey spent a lot of time working with the young cellists on string-specific problems such as finding the most comfortable and solid fingerings, he said much that was applicable to anyone studying a musical instrument. It was a pleasure to hear him play and watch him teach. The almost instantaneous improvement he drew out of the performances of his pupils in the class was remarkable as well.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Books I'm Reading: Arguing About Art

Arguing About Art, subtitled Contemporary Philosophical Debates (edited by Alex Neill and Aaron Ridley, Routledge, Second Edition, 2002), appears to be intended as a textbook, although I didn't know that when I acquired it. How and when this book found a place on my bookshelf now escapes me, but I liked the title. It's a series of paired essays of opposing viewpoints, each preceded by a summary that neatly captures the issues raised. Re-reading these introductory texts after reading the related essays helps retain the main points of each argument.

The subjects range widely. The first pair of essays attempts to decide whether food is art. The last section examines questions related to public art, specifically the installation and later removal of Richard Serra's sculpture Tilted Arc, in Washington D.C. (this section differs from the others in that it comprises four sub-sections rather than two—a transcript of hearings about the sculpture, the two main essays, and an essay that looks at the Serra sculpture alongside Maya Lin's Vietnam Veterans' Memorial). In between, writers discuss authentic musical performance; fakes and forgeries; rock music and musical culture (this pair seems dated now); appreciation, understanding, and nature; photography and representation; feelings and fictions (about why we empathize with characters we know to be fictional); the seeming paradox of enjoying horror; sentimentality; art and morality; and feminism and aesthetics. I thought the essays on fakes and forgeries, on photography, on enjoying horror, on sentimentality, and on public art most interesting, but generally worth a read as an introduction to some basic questions in aesthetics.

The Cocktail Glass Collection: International Cocktail Lounge, San Francisco

I came across this neon cocktail glass sign yesterday in San Francisco, outside the International Cocktail Lounge, near the corner of Taylor and Columbus. Another addition to my growing collection. For more, use the "Cocktail Glass Collection" tab at right.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Art I'm Looking At: Lewis Bodecker—Paintings and Drawings on The Art Wall at Shige Sushi

New show opening soon on The Art Wall at Shige Sushi, downtown Cotati. Enigmatic Bay Area artist Lewis Bodecker (1926-2009). Abstract paintings and drawings. April 5 through May 29, 2016. Opening reception, Monday, April 11, 5:30PM to 7:30PM. Light refreshments served. This week is the last week to see work by Lisa Beerntsen and Deborah Salomon (closes April 3, 2016).

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Art I'm Making; Collage/Assemblage at O'Hanlon Center for the Arts, Mill Valley (March 31 - April 21, 2016)

I'm pleased to announce that two of my collages have been chosen for inclusion in the juried Collage/Assemblage show at O'Hanlon Center for the Arts, in Mill Valley. March 31 - April 21. Opening reception Tuesday, April 6 from 6:00 to 8:00PM. For information and directions, call (415) 388-4331.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Art I'm Making: My First Cyanotype Attempt--An Interesting Failure (March 20, 2016)

My first cyanotype attempt. An interesting failure. On the whole, though, better than I thought likely for a first try. The most obvious problem is the paper I used, which is too light and absorbent. It was looking blotchy already when I coated it with the cyanotype solution--although the finished image is much less obviously blotchy than the paper was when wet, after it had dried following the initial coating, or after exposure and during "development". The image itself is too contrasty. The highlights in the branch on the left are whiter than I want (the scan here is better than the original, with the bright whites softened). Still, this is in the ballpark.

The image shown here was made using the Bostick & Sullivan cyanotype kit, a traditional cyanotype formula. I used 90 drops of finished solution (45 drops each of parts A and B mixed) to coat an 11 x 14 inch sheet of paper. The exposure was about 8 minutes in late afternoon sunlight on March 19, 2016 (partly cloudy). The digital negative (printed on PictoricoPro transparency film, using the glossy photo setting on an Epson 3880 printer) was made from a color digital image converted to B&W that I then adjusted using a cyanotype curve I found online. I next converted the B&W image to orange by using Color Balance, in Photoshop, boosting the yellow and red sliders all the way up. I then flipped the image horizontally so that the image would be right way around when placed against the cyanotype paper with the printed side closest to the paper (flipped). With the rain, I'll be able to expose no more images today, but I may go to the art supply store to seek a better paper to work on. I'm also reading up on toning cyanotype prints with tea, which darkens the highlights a little and convert the bright Prussian blue of the cyanotype to a deeper, navy blue.

Rain: More Rain (March 20-21, 2016)

It started raining again on March 20, the rain continuing into the following day. By the end of the 21st,  we had 0.80 inches of new precipitation in the rain gauge, which brings the total for the 2015-2016 rain year to 29.10 inches at my location in northeast Santa Rosa. The historical average for Santa Rosa is a little over 36 inches.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Art I'm Making : Untitled Collage No. 134 (Santa Rosa)

And yet another collage from February, again using some recently made monoprinted papers mostly in warm tones.

This is Untitled Collage No. 134 (Santa Rosa). February 23, 2016. Acrylic on paper, acrylic monoprint, collage. Image size: 16.1 x 18.0cm. Matted to 16 x 20 inches. Signed and dated on reverse. Signed on the mat.

Click on the image for a larger view. For more, use the "Art I'm Making" tab here, or visit my collage website at: http://ctalcroft.wix.com/collage-site/

Monday, March 14, 2016

Art I'm Making: Untitled Collage No. 133 (Santa Rosa)

A recent collage using some of the pink, brown, yellow, black, and white papers I monoprinted a few weeks back. This is Untitled Collage No. 133 (Santa Rosa). February 20, 2016. Acrylic on paper, acrylic monoprint, collage. Image size: 20.0 x 26.0cm. Matted to 16 x 20 inches. Signed and dated on reverse. Signed on the mat.

Click on the image for a larger view. For more, use the "Art I'm Making" tab to the right, or visit my collage website at: http://ctalcroft.wix.com/collage-site/
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