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:

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:

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Music I'm Listening To: Charles Dutoit Conducting the San Francisco Symphony, Nikolai Lugansky Soloist

Renowned Swiss conductor Charles Dutoit is serious and precise on the podium (I'm sure he accepts no nonsense) but behind the seriousness, he seems to have a healthy sense of humor. He usually has an impish half-smile on his face and an air of amiable unflappability before and after he works. He almost dances when he conducts, seeming not so much to coax as to command music from the performers, and, apparently, they can't help playing at their best when he's in charge. At Friday night's concert (March 11, 2016), he drew forth some of the best music I've heard in a long time anywhere. Dutoit is something of a magician. On the program were Ravel's Mother Goose, Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini and, after intermission, Fauré's Pelléas et Mélisande Suite, and Stravinsky's Firebird Suite—a longer program than usual.

Mother Goose is rather amorphous, but it has a lot of color and interesting detail. It was well played and a good warm-up for the Rachmaninoff.

The  Rhapsody must be challenging. It frequently alternates long passages of notes that seem impossibly fast with strings of widely spaced single notes that mostly accent the orchestral part yet have to remain melodically coherent. Timing is critical to keep things together. Lugansky was nothing short of phenomenal, the orchestra behind him, equally superb. I can't imagine a better performance of this piece and have never heard a better one. Despite an enthusiastic standing ovation of several minutes, Lugansky declined to play an encore, suggesting with a gesture that his fingers weren't up to it. It was easy to forgive him. He had already done more than his duty.

Dutoit and the Symphony gave us more magic in the second half of the concert. I thought the Fauré particularly well done—lush and intense, but not overdone. Dutoit seems especially good at pushing boundaries of tempo and dynamics just enough to make familiar music exciting and fresh without going too far.

Photograph of Nikolai Lugansky by Marco Borggreve, courtesy of the San Francisco Symphony website. Photograph of Charles Dutoit, courtesy of the San Francisco Symphony Website.

Plants I'm Growing: First Blooms--Ceanothus, Rhododendrons, Michelia, Flowering Crabapple

In the past couple of weeks, a number of plants have come into bloom in the garden, including the large Julia Phelps Ceanothus outside the kitchen window; Michelia Yunnanensis, a magnolia relative native to China; our flowering crabapple tree; and the large white Rhododendron called "King George." The Ceanothus and the Michelia came into bloom on March 3, the crabapple on March 10, the Rhododendron on March 11.

Rain: Approaching Normal Levels (March 13, 2016)

More rain in the past two days (March 12-13) has added 1.30 inches to our total for the 2015-2016 rain year. So far, we have had 27.50 inches of rain at my Northeastern Santa Rosa location. Other locations are reporting slightly less than that, but the historical average for March 13 in Santa Rosa is 29.69 inches. This is the closest we've been to normal rainfall in several years. Although the rain this season hasn't been enough to make up the deficit from the past few droughty years, it's a good thing.

[Update: So far, as of 6:00PM on Sunday (March 13), we've had another 0.45 inches, but I'll update the total tomorrow morning, as it's still coming down.]

[Update: On the morning of Monday, March 14, the skies cleared. The forecast for the next few days is for sun, which will be a welcome break. That said, the precipitation has been good. The world is damp and green. A total of 0.75 inches accumulated since last reporting. That brings the total for the 2015-2016 rain year to 28.25 inches at my location--less than two inches below average.]
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