Saturday, March 28, 2015

Art I'm Looking At: John J. Audubon's Birds of America

A friend of mine has just pointed out to me that all the plates from Audubon's birds of America are available for download in high-resolution format from the National Audubon Society. Cool.

Art I'm Making: Two More New Collages (March 2015)

Here are two relatively new pieces--these from early March: Untitled Collage No. 91 (Santa Rosa) and Untitled Collage No. 92 (Santa Rosa). Both are comparatively small pieces, the first measuring about four inches square, the second about six by five inches. As usual, I had no image in mind when I began these pieces, but No. 91 looks like a somewhat surreal landscape, perhaps a Martian landscape, although they say the surface of Mars isn't really the red we often imagine it to be. The colors here remind me of the rocks in the Arches National Park area of Utah, but, again, I had no place in mind when I began. This is another piece that incorporates a pastel-covered scrap of paper I got from another artist. Otherwise, these are colored papers I've made myself by monoprinting with acrylic paints*.

The second piece shown here (below) uses black papers I made recently with nothing particular in mind, just prompted by a desire to work with form rather than color. Mostly black, although I've incorporated leftover blues from past work and accented the blues with a hint of green at lower left.

Click on the images for a larger view. For more, use the Art I'm Making tab to the right or visit my collage website at (requires Flash Player). Come see my work in person during the Art at the Source open studios event, June 6 & 7 and June 13 & 14, 2015--at Studio 48, in Sebastopol

*I completely reworked the piece described here later, in October 2015, as I was never quite satisfied with it. I very much like the new version--which is pictured here.

Art I'm Making: New Collages (February 2015)

It's already the end of March, but the most recent collages I've posted previously on this blog are from early February. Here are two more, both from later in that month--Untitled Collage No. 89 (Santa Rosa) and Untitled Collage No. 90 (Santa Rosa). I started making collages in the third week of July 2013. I set out to make one collage a week at that time, thinking it would be useful to be steadily productive--not because quantity matters, but because the process of working matters. Each new collage is an attempt to better what I've done before. Each one is a new attempt at solving the problem of creating a compelling composition. As of today (March 28, 2015), I've finished 95 pieces. To stay on schedule, I should have completed 104 by the third week of July in 2015, two years after my start. Thus, I have to complete nine more pieces in the coming 14 weeks--which is to say I'm somewhat ahead of schedule. The discipline has been very good. The more I make the better the work gets. I hope to continue at this pace for the foreseeable future.

Untitled Collage No. 89 (Santa Rosa) is a bit of a departure for me in that it uses more scissor-cut shapes than usual. I feel sometimes I rely too much on the paper cutter, that I use too many straight lines. Certainly, straight lines have their place, but I'm consciously trying to use more irregular shapes. In particular, this piece uses a comb-like shape that works rather well, I think. Untitled Collage No. 90 (Santa Rosa), shown below, uses more straight-edged shapes again, but these are strongly offset by the swirls in the deep lavender paper. This piece, too, is somewhat unusual for me in that I've used a piece of semi-transparent mulberry paper, which shows but transforms the colors and shapes behind it.

Click on the images for a larger view. For more, use the Art I'm Making tab to the right or visit my collage website at (requires Flash Player). Come see my work in person during the Art at the Source open studios event, June 6 & 7 and June 13 & 14, 2015--at Studio 48, in Sebastopol

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Music I'm Listening to: Ton Koopman, Mark Inouye with the San Francisco Symphony

I always wonder how orchestra performers feel when they sit through an encore by a soloist. Impossible to generalize, of course. I imagine some genuinely enjoy listening from the best seats in the house, but I always suspect some may be a little jealous, that some may be in a hurry to get home and hope the encore doesn't go on too long. And usually encores don't. Is two to three minutes normal perhaps? Following his performance of the Hayden Trumpet Concerto last Friday (March 20), a prolonged standing ovation prompted an encore from Mark Inouye, principal trumpet of the San Francsico Symphony. Instead of taking center stage, however, he walked to far stage left and stood beside principal bass Scott Pingel. With a nod of the head from Inouye, Pingel began a jazz riff that morphed into a seven or eight minute-long improvisation by the two based on "Corcovado" (the 1960 bossa nova tune by Antônio Carlos Jobim, known also as "Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars"). Inouye is clearly a gifted jazz trumpeter. It was an extraordinary performance. The concert was worth the price of admission just for this unusual bit of stretching out. As I say, I always wonder what the other performers are thinking during encores, but the expressions on the faces of the symphony members suggested they truly enjoyed this extended bit of fun. The audience loved it, too. Afterward, I asked Pingel about the encore from the edge of the stage. He laughed and said they had planned to do something but hadn't thought too much about what. Pingel said that Inouye had told him to do something based on "Corcovado" and that he (Inouye) would just jump in--and so he did.

Before the Haydn concerto, guest conductor Ton Koopman--an incurably jolly-looking elf of a man (although he looks rather serious in the photo here)--led the symphony in the first suite of music from Handel's Water Music, which involves quite a work out for the French horns. After intermission, Koopman gave us a tight, precise, but expressive reading of Haydn's Sypmhony No. 98. Listening to this music from 1792, I was struck in places by how modern it sounds--a feeling I've had listening to Haydn before. There were passages that seemed to point directly to Beethoven and to Brahms. All in all, an excellent night of music.

Photos of Mark Inouye and Ton Koopman courtesy of the San Francisco Symphony.

Wines I'm Drinking: 2006 Ardente Atlas Peak Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Grande Reserva

Intensely colored. A rather youthful-looking purple--which is unusual in a wine that already has spent nine years or so in bottle. Tobacco, earth, chocolate, leather, and black cherries on the nose at first, with something slightly musky in the background. Good acid, bright on the attack. Richer mid-palate with some nice tannins, but with a rush of acidity again toward the finish. Decent length, with leathery, chocolatey tannins lingering on the finish. Tasty, but still seems quite young, at least when just opened. I let the wine sit for a while and I began to get hints of butter and sandalwood on the nose, and later marzipan, brandied cherries, and even mint, and the rather prominent acidity on the palate began to soften a little. The bright acidity suggests this wine will keep and that it would nicely compliment rich meat dishes. I got this for just under $10 at my local Grocery Outlet. Recent vintages sell for about $36 a bottle elsewhere. Good value.

Art I'm Looking At: Suzanne Jacquot, Abstract Painter, on The Art Wall at Shige Sushi, Cotati

In my role as a curator, I'll next be showing the work of Sonoma County painter Suzanne Jacquot on the Art Wall at Shige Sushi in Cotati. The show opens this coming Tuesday, March 31 and will run through the end of May. Artist reception Monday, April 6.

This week is the last week to see the current show: Janis Crystal Lipzin—Color Photographs from The "Starflex Series" (through March 29). For more information, visit

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Rain: Unexpected Overnight Rain (March 21-23, 2015)

We had showers in the early morning hours last night--showers that I don't remember being in the forecast. We got 0.15 inches, which is hardly enough to make much of a difference, but better than nothing. That brings the total for the 2014-2015 rain year (which ends on June 30, 2015) to 22.90 inches at this location (other Santa Rosa locations have reported closer to 21 inches for the season). In either case, that's well below the historical average for this date (March 22), which is 30.88 inches.

[Update: More rain overnight on the March 22 - March 23 gave us an additional 0.25 inches, bringing our total to 23.15 inches.]
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