Friday, November 17, 2017

Books I'm Reading: Goshawk Squadron

Derek Robinson's Goshawk Squadron (Cassell Military Paperbacks) was first published in 1971, but I read the 2000 edition pictured. This is one of the books left behind by my father who had an interest in military history, among many other things. It's not something I would have bought myself and I went into it with no particular expectations, but it turned out to be well written.   The central character, is the young but seasoned leader of Goshawk Squadron who has a simple, brutal philosophy: aerial combat is about killing enemy pilots. The idea of chivalry in the air is alien to him. He sees no honor in combat. He does his best to drill this idea into a string of utterly green replacements in the hope of keeping some of them alive. This reminded me a little of Andersonville, which I recently read, in that it is fiction but fiction apparently based on careful research. Much of the impact of Goshawk Squadron can be traced to the fact that it feels entirely authentic. A short but worthwhile read.

Rain: 2.55 inches of New Precipitation

It's rained on and off the past few days, at times heavily. We've had 2.55 inches of new rain since I last reported. That brings the total for the current (2017-2018) rain year to 4.90 inches.

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Cocktail Glass Collection: The Page, San Francisco

At 298 Divisadero St., in San Francisco, is The Page, a small neighborhood bar with a nice neon sign out front. I like the custom script here and the contrast between the yellow lettering and the blue cocktail glass.

For more, click the "Cocktail Glass Collection" label at right at the top of the page.

Art I'm Making : Untitled Collage No. 189 (Santa Rosa)

My latest collage—a rather large one for me, although small by the standards of most. This is Untitled Collage No. 189 (Santa Rosa). October 30, 2017. Acrylic on paper, acrylic monotype, collage. Image size: 34.6 x 25.3cm (13.6 x 10.0 inches). Matted to 24 x 20 inches. Signed on the mat. Signed and dated on the reverse. This one features some venetian red papers I made recently that are suggestive of writing. These asemic scrawls were entirely unintentional, but I liked them.

For more of my collage work, visit my website at

The Cocktail Glass Collection: The Boom Boom Room, San Francisco

I recently drove by the Boom Boom Room, at 1601 Fillmore St, in San Francisco. The glass in this one appears generic (although the blue-green hue is unusual), but the rest of the sign is a custom design with a lot of nicely done text.

For more, click the "Cocktail Glass Collection" label at right at the top of the page.

Art I'm Looking At: Edvard Munch in San Francisco

Edvard Munch, Puberty, 1894.
Munch museum, Oslo. Photo by the author.
It's been weeks now
since I saw the recently closed Edvard Munch show at SF MOMA (which ran from June 24 to October 9, 2017). I had intended to visit a second time and to write something, but time slipped away and then the fires hit (on the day the show closed). I did want to record a few impressions, however, even if belatedly. Mainly, I was struck by two things: the extraordinarily loose brushwork in many of the later canvases and a boldness of color that I have never associated with Munch. The latter, in particular, was a surprise. Munch is best known for two or three distinctive images: primarily The Scream and Madonna (in their various forms), and perhaps Vampire and Puberty (both of which exist in a number of versions as well). These are all angst-ridden, psychologically dark works rendered mostly in somber colors. This is the Munch I suspect most people know. The SF MOMA show brought together a large number of less familiar works, an extraordinary number from the Munch Museum in Oslo, that, seen together, fundamentally changed my view of the artist.

Edvard Munch, The Death of Marat, 1907.
Munch museum, Oslo. Photo by the author.
His brushwork often was bold—daring even. Many of the canvases look barely finished. They give the impression of roughed-in sketches to be completed later. Faces are mask-like, skull-like, or cartoonish. The Death of Marat (1907), for example, is a loose lattice of lines in thinned paint that allows the canvas to show through.

Edvard Munch, Self-portrait with Bottles, 1938.
Munch museum, Oslo. Photo by the author.
There is no denying that Munch was fairly obsessed with the death of his older sister Sophie, obsessed with sickness and death in general. His was a morbid mind, apparently, and many of the paintings are of morbid subjects. Yet, what was most striking about stepping into the galleries at the SF MOMA show was the color. If Munch was psychologically dark, he was by no means always dark in a literal sense. Munch was a strikingly distinctive colorist, as some of the examples here show, even if he often used slightly garish, starkly contrasting color combinations mainly to heighten a sense of unease.

Edvard Munch, Model by the Wicker Chair, 1919-21.
Munch museum, Oslo. Photo by the author.

Edvard Munch, The Artist and His Model, 1919-21.
Munch museum, Oslo. Photo by the author.

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