Monday, February 5, 2024

Rain: More Rain and Wind

On February 4 and 5 we had almost continuous rain accompanied by high winds. Since last reporting, we've had 5.3 inches of new rain. That brings our total at my location so far this rain year to 20.55 inches.

[Edit: Since last reporting, we've had another 0.50 inches. Our total as of February 8 is now 21.05 inches.]

[Edit: Another wave of storms has been passing through since yesterday (February 18) and as of the morning of February 18 another 4.40 inches of new precipitation had accumulated in the rain gauge. That brings our total now to 24.45 inches – and it's still raining.]

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Art I'm Making: Untitled Collage No. 284

Here's another fairly recent collage. This is the last in a string of pieces I did over this past summer that incorporate bits of a couple of sheets of pseudo-calligraphy I had made earlier in the year. This is Untitled Collage No. 284 (Santa Rosa). August 1, 2023. Acrylic on paper, acrylic monotype, collage. Image size 19.4cm x 10.5cm (7.5in x 4.1in). Matted to 14 x 11 inches. Signed on the mat. Signed and dated on the reverse.

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

If you're in the Northern California area, some of my work will appear in "Paper's Edge" a show of collage and mixed media work at Hammerfriar Gallery, in Healdsburg, CA, from February 24 (opening reception 3-6PM) through May 11. I'll be doing a live demonstration of my collage process at the gallery on Saturday, April 13. See you there!


 

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Music I'm Listening to: Michael Tilson Thomas conducting Mahler's 5th Symphony

I attended the San Francisco Symphony concert last night (January 26) at Davies Symphony Hall. On the program was a single piece, Mahler's Symphony No. 5. Michael Tilson Thomas conducted. It was played straight through with no intermission. I hadn't known it before, but, according to the program, MTT made his debut with the SF Symphony in 1974, conducting another Mahler symphony – Symphony No. 9. So, MTT has been conducting Mahler in San Francisco for 50 years. 

The concert hall was packed – not an empty seat. I don't think I've ever seen the place completely full like that before. The entire audience rose to give MTT a standing ovation as he walked on stage. The concert ended the same way – with an extended standing ovation for the conductor, who was looking a little frail, but no frailer that when I last saw him, which was during his first performance after recovering from his brain surgery. Before that, the last time I saw him was in March 2018, in a concert that, coincidentally, included the Mahler 5. That was a brilliant performance. 

This performance was almost as good. There was a little highly uncharacteristic wobbling in the brass section in one or two places last night, but, aside from that, the SF Symphony was its usual highly competent self. MTT takes this piece slowly, letting the spaces speak in a way that is highly effective, never rushing. As I've noted before, I've not been especially fond of MTT as a conductor over the years – except when he does Mahler. 

MTT looked deeply touched by the long ovation after the performance, after a few minutes he raised his hands to stop the applause and he addressed the audience. He thanked the orchestra and the audience for the many years and many experiences shared by all of us. He seemed a bit wistful, giving the impression that he knows and has accepted the fact that most of his career and his life are behind him. The entire audience seemed to understand. There was much love in the air.

Rain: More storms

We've had a number of storms pass through in recent days (today is January 27). I hadn't checked the rain gauge for a few days, but this morning I found 4.8 inches had accumulated. That brings our total for the current rain year so far to 15.25 inches at my location in northeast Santa Rosa. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Art I'm Making: Show at Hammerfriar Gallery

I'm pleased to announce that I'll be participating in a show of collage and mixed media work along with Molly Perez and Deborah Salomon at Hammerfriar Gallery, in Healdsburg, from February 24 to May 11, 2024. There will be an opening reception on Saturday February 24 (3PM-6PM) and I will be doing a collage demonstration at the gallery on Saturday, April 13 at noon. I hope to see you there.



Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Art I'm Looking at: Botticelli at the Legion of Honor

I found a recent article on Hyperallergic about drawing on blue paper interesting (actually a review of a book on the subject) – particularly interesting having recently seen the show of Botticelli drawings now at the Legion of Honor, in San Francisco.

It was striking that so many of the Botticelli drawings were done in ink on tinted paper, mostly pink paper in this case, heightened with white chalk. 

While at the Botticelli show, I was startled when a living Botticelli appeared beside me, gazing at the drawings on the wall. Her hair was long and blonde, flowing in loose curls, and her doe-eyed face was dainty with a pointed chin. Had she not been dressed in modern, casual clothing, she could have emerged from Botticelli's Primavera. It was all I could do to keep myself from staring at her. I had to wonder whether it was pure coincidence or whether she had done her hair that way purposefully, to create a stir. If she hadn't been wearing headphones, listening to a taped tour of the show, I would have approached her and asked her to pose in front of one of the drawings. Surreptitiously, I photographed her. She gave me goosebumps. 



Saturday, January 13, 2024

Rain: New Precipitation

It's raining this morning, January 13, 2024, a light drizzle. There is 3.55 inches of rain accumulated in the rain gauge, but that's rain from earlier in the month that I haven't yet recorded. Adding that to our last total of 6.90 inches brings the total so far this season to 10.45 inches at my location in northeast Santa Rosa, which is on the low side for this time of year, but it's supposed to rain most of today and there's more rain in the forecast for next weekend. 

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Art I'm Making: Untitled Colage No. 283 (Santa Rosa)

Still catching up on posting recent work. This one, a small piece measuring 9.7cm x 12.3cm (3.8 x 4.8 inches), completed July 13, 2023, is Untitled Collage No. 283 (Santa Rosa). Acrylic on paper, acrylic monotype, collage. Matted to 11in x 14in. Signed on the mat. Signed and dated on the reverse.

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

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Books I'm Reading: New Art City

2023 has not been a great year for reading. There was a time, when, living in Tokyo, when I had a long commute, that I read a book a week or more using my time on the train to and from work. Since returning to the US, 22 years ago now, I've been reading a book a month or so, but this year, with the death of my mother in January and all the responsibilities that stemmed from that, I've been able to get through only a handful of titles. 

I most recently finished Jed Perl's New Art City (Vintage, 2007), which was an interesting look at New York in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, but rather dense and I was slow to get through it. It starts off with a chapter that underscores the importance of Hans Hoffman as a teacher in New York in the 1930s before moving on to look at the major artists of the period based in New York – Joseph Cornell, Jackson Pollack, Robert Rauschenberg, Ellsworth Kelly, Willem de Kooning, Joan Mitchell, and others – as well as the critics who were writing about these men and women. Inspired, I'm now reading a book about Helen Frankenthaler, and I have another on deck specifically, about the women who were working as artists in New York during the period. So many books, so little time....

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Art I'm Making: Untitled Collage No. 282 (Santa Rosa)

A collage from earlier this year, again incorporating some pseudo-calligraphic brushwork. For me, a comparatively large piece. This is Untitled Collage No. 282 (Santa Rosa). 30 June 2023. Image size: 32.3cm x 41.2cm (12.7in x 16.2in). Matted to 20 x 24 inches. Signed on the mat. Signed and dated on the reverse. 

Click on the image for a larger view. For more of my abstract monotype collages, visit my website at http://ctalcroft.wixsite.com/collage-site/


Rain: End-December Rain

Today, 27 December, it's been raining most of the day and the rain continues. So far there's 0.80 inches of new rain in the rain gauge, but it's supposed to continue to rain into tomorrow, at which time I will update our total precipitation so far in the current rain year. 

Friday, December 22, 2023

Art I'm Making Untitled Collage No. 281 (Santa Rosa)

Here's a small collage from the middle of this year. This is Untitled Collage No. 281 (Santa Rosa). June 14, 2023. Acrylic on paper, acrylic monotype, collage. Image size 11.7cm x 9.2cm (4.6 x 3.6 inches). Matted to 14 x 11 inches. Signed on the mat. Signed and dated on the reverse.

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

Rain: New rain in December

In the past few days, mostly December 19 and 20, we have had rain on and off. This morning there was 3.05 inches of new rain in the rain gauge. That brings our total so far for the 2023-2024 rain year to 6.90 inches at my location in northeast Santa Rosa, which seems low for this time of year, but more rain is forecast for next week. 

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Art I'm Making: Untittled Collage No. 280 (Santa Rosa)


Earlier this year
, I made seven or eight collages using my usual handmade monotypes but also several sheets I had made simply by painting with black paint on paper, mimicking calligraphy, although this was asemic writing – that is, gibberish; I was simply using the brush as if writing characters, drawing on my informal study of Japanese calligraphy (I lived in Japan 19 years). Here's another in that group of collages.

This is Untitled Collage No. 280 (Santa Rosa). Completed March 23, 2023. Acrylic on paper, acrylic monotype, collage. Image size: 10.3cm x 11.8cm (4.1in x 4.7in). Signed on the mat. Signed and dated on the reverse. 
 
Click on the image for a larger view. For more of my abstract monotype collages, visit my website http://ctalcroft.wix.com/collage-site/.

Rain: November-December 2023

I've not been diligent in recording rainfall this season. I've a lot to deal with in the past few months, but I note here that we've had rain on and off in the past few weeks, although nothing in the way of a major storm yet. There is 3.80 inches in the rain gauge, which I haven't emptied recently, so that may be fairly accurate (it is raining now, so it will go up). In any case, I'll use it as my starting point recording rainfall going forward for the 2023-2024 rainy season.

Monday, November 20, 2023

Art I'm Making Untitled Collage No. 279 (Santa Rosa)

Earlier this year, I made seven or eight collages using my usual handmade monotypes but also several sheets I had made simply by painting with black paint on paper, mimicking calligraphy, although this was asemic writing – that is, gibberish; I was simply using the brush as if writing characters, drawing on my informal study of Japanese calligraphy (I lived in Japan 19 years). Here's another in that group of collages, a small piece.

This is Untitled Collage No. 279 (Santa Rosa). Completed March 23, 2023. Acrylic on paper, acrylic monotype, collage. Image size: 10.3cm x 11.8cm (4.1in x 4.7in). Signed on the mat. Signed and dated on the reverse.

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

Monday, November 13, 2023

Wines I'm Making: 2023 Grape Pressing

Yesterday, November 11, the fermentation of this year's wines largely over, I racked the Sangiovese rosé into the container it will rest in until it clears. I added the yeast on October 23, so it was a long, slow fermentation of 19 days (8-12 days is typical for the rosé). Because of the late harvest this year, we had much cooler weather during fermentation than usual. We'll get 15 bottles of 2023 rosé. The wine should be ready to drink before Christmas.

I also pressed the 2023 Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc. We ended up with nine gallons of pressed wine, which will yield 45 bottles of wine. I added the yeast to the Cabernet on October 26 after a four-day cold soak. Fermentation took 16 days, which is slightly longer than usual (typically 12-14 days). The next step will be to inoculate the new wine to start malolactic fermentation. In addition, it will soon be time to bottle our 2022 Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc wine, which has been resting since this time last year. Thanks to my friends David and Kimiko for their help with the pressing yesterday. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Art I'm Making: Untitled Collage No. 278 (Santa Rosa)

In the early part of this year, I made seven or eight collages using my usual handmade monotypes but also several sheets I had made by just painting with black paint on paper, mimicking calligraphy, although this was asemic writing – that is, gibberish; I was simply using the brush as if writing characters, drawing on my informal study of Japanese calligraphy (I lived in Japan 19 years). Here's another in that group of collages.

This is Untitled Collage No. 278 (Santa Rosa). Completed March 22, 2023. Acrylic on paper, acrylic monotype, collage. Image size: 12.4cm x 10.7cm (8.4in x 4.2in). Signed on the mat. Signed and dated on the reverse.

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

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Music I'm Listening to: Concerts at Davies Symphony Hall

I attended San Francisco Symphony concerts at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco on October 6 and then again on October 13. Esa-Pekka Salonen conducted both concerts. The first one featured an electronically augmented, very abstract violin concerto by Jesper Nordin (a world premiere). Pekka Kuusisto was the soloist. 

The second concert featured Emanuel Ax playing The MAX Concerto, written for him by Anders Hillborg, another world premiere, and, after intermission, a strong performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 2. During intermission, I took an opportunity to photograph some of the double basses, which are always photogenic. 




A Visit to SF MOMA

I recently purchased a collage made by artist Sara Post out of a show in Danville called "Paper Trails." The show closed last weekend. This weekend offered the first opportunity I had to go pick up the art.


 

On my way home, I decided to stop in at SF MOMA. I enjoyed seeing some old favorites in the permanent collection as well as a few new things, including some small pieces by Paul Klee, among others.  

The last photo here is a detail of Diego Rivera's mural "Pan American Unity," temporarily on display at SF MOMA.




Monday, October 23, 2023

Wines I'm Making: 2023 Cabernet and Sangiovese Harvest

I tested the grapes this year on October 5. The Cabernet was at 22º Brix and a pH of 2.95. The Sangiovese was at 21.5º Brix and a pH of 3.00. The seeds were still noticeably green. It was clearly too early to pick, and that was consistent with the sense I had that, because of the cool weather we've had this year, that we were still about three weeks away from harvest. At the same time, there were a fair number of clusters starting to turn to raisins, which, in moderation is not an issue, but too many raisins is not ideal either. In the end, this past weekend seemed like a good compromise. 

I harvested on Saturday, October 21. The grapes were generally in very good condition. There was almost no mildew or any animal damage until the night before I harvested. While picking, I discovered that something tore a big hole in the nets and stripped an entire plant of grapes. In the end, though, the harvest was a fairly typical 22.8kg (or 50lbs) of Sangiovese and 56kg (123.2lbs) of Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc. 

After crushing, the Sangiovese tested at 22.4º Brix, ideal for the rosé that we normally make from it. The Cabernet tested at 23.8º Brix, just shy of the 24.0º I shoot for, but close enough. Those sugar levels will theoretically yield wines of 12.3% and 13.1% alcohol, respectively, which is just about right. The Sangiovese has already been pressed and inoculated with Epernay II yeast. Pressing yielded a little over three gallons of juice, which will translate into 15 bottles of rosé. 

The Cabernet is resting. I usually add the yeast to the Cabernet after a cold pre-soak of two to three days. It was a very tiring weekend, but most of the hard work is done for the year. The Cabernet fermentation will take about two weeks after the yeast is added. Until then, I'll just be watching the rosé fermentation.



Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Art I'm Making: Untitled Collage No. 277 (Santa Rosa)

There was a lot going on for me in the first part of 2023. I completed a collage in early December of 2022 but didn't complete another until March of this year. This is Untitled Collage No. 277 (Santa Rosa). It is the first of about eight pieces I did in the first half of the year using papers I made drawing on my experience with calligraphy. Completed March 21, 2023. Acrylic on paper, acrylic monotype, found paper, collage. Image size: 15.3cm x 12.4cm (6.0in x 4.9in). Signed on the mat. Signed and dated on the reverse. This piece recently sold to a private collector.

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

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Wines I'm Making: Harvest 2023

I plan to harvest our backyard vineyard this coming weekend. The grapes are almost ideally ripe. The recent, very light rain has not caused the berries to swell and crack (this year, I have been able to dry-farm them; they've received no supplemental water at all), and we're starting to get some raisining, which is not an issue, as long as it's not extreme. I tested the Cabernet at just under 22º Brix last week (October 5) and a pH of 2.95 and the Sangiovese at 21º Brix and a pH of 3.00. The problem is that it is ideal to pick when the grapes are physiologically ripe; sugar level alone is not enough. I wanted one more degree of sweetness, the pips still looked a little green, and the pH is on the low side, so I waited, but I won't be able to wait much longer. It will be a busy weekend. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Plants I'm Growing: Hot Peppers

I bought several pepper plants at the start of the season and one of them has done extraordinarily well. These were supposed to be Jimmy Nardello peppers, which are a sweet variety. I harvested some recently and roasted them with a little salt and olive oil and nearly died after the first bite. They turned out to be very, very hot, about as hot as a cayenne pepper. 

I was rather confused until a couple of weekends ago I talked to a grower at one of our local farmer's markets and he said that there was a seed mix-up at one the major suppliers of starts and that it was likely mislabeled. I have no idea what these actually are, but I'm going to dry them and use them (very judiciously) as a seasoning. 

Art I'm Making: Untitled Collage No. 276 (Santa Rosa)

Here's a collage from the end of last year. This is Untitled Collage No. 276 (Santa Rosa), Acrylic on paper, acrylic monotype, found paper (fragment from Carol Dalton). Image size: 41.4cm x 32.0cm (14.8in x 11.0in). Signed on the mat. Signed and dated on the reverse. 

Click on the image for a larger view. For more of my abstract monotype collage work, visit my website at http://ctalcroft.wixsite.com/collage-site/
 
Better yet, if you're in Northern California or you're planning a visit soon, stop by my studio during the second weekend of this year's Art Trails open studio event and see my work in person. October 7 and 8. Studio open 10:00AM to 5:00P.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Art I'm Making: Untitled Collage No. 275 (Santa Rosa)


Here's another collage from about this time last year
, around the time of Art Trails 2022. Art Trails 2023 is this weekend and next (more below).

This is Untitled Collage No. 275 (Santa Rosa). Acrylic on paper, acrylic monotype, collage. Image size 29.7cm x 14.8cm (11.7in x 5.8in). Matted to 14 x 11 inches. Signed on the mat. Signed and dated on the reverse. 
 
Click on the image for a larger view. For more of my abstract monotype collage work, visit my website at http://ctalcroft.wix.com/collage-site/
 
Better yet, if you're in Northern California or you're planning a visit soon, stop by my studio during this year's Art Trails open studio event and see my work in person. More than 130 artists all over Sonoma County will be opening their studios to the public on two weekends – September 30 and October 1 and October 7 and 8. Studios open 10:00AM to 5:00PM on all four days.

Monday, September 25, 2023

Miscellaneous 2023 Alameda All-Italian Car and Motorcycle Show

Yesterday I attended The Alameda All-Italian Car and Motorcycle Show, in Alameda, for the first time in six or seven years. I was able to go this year because for the first time in that many years it didn't coincide with Art Trails (this coming weekend and the following weekend). 

 It's always fun to see what shows up – tiny Fiats and luxury Fiats, sporty Lancias, all kinds of Alfas, Ferraris, and some obscure vehicles I'd never even heard of this time around. I washed, waxed, and spruced up my 1978 Alfa Spider and she got more attention than in the past. Several people stopped to admire the car. A few people were interested enough to take pictures. Perfect weather. A nice way to spend a Sunday morning.



Friday, September 22, 2023

Art I'm Making: Untitled Collage No. 274 (Santa Rosa)

A collage from around this time last year.
This is Untitled Collage No. 274 (Santa Rosa). October 16, 2022. Acrylic on paper, acrylic monotype, collage. Image size 32.2cm x 41.4cm (12.7in x 16.3in). Matted to 20 x 24 inches. Signed on the mat. Signed and dated on the reverse.

Click on the image for a larger view. For more of my abstract monotype collage work, visit my website at http://ctalcroft.wix.com/collage-site/.
 
Better yet, if you're in Northern California or you're planning a visit soon, stop by my studio during this year's Art Trails open studio event and see my work in person. More than 130 artists all over Sonoma County will be opening their studios to the public on two weekends – September 30 and October 1 and October 7 and 8.

Art I'm Making: Untitled Collage No. 273 (Santa Rosa)


I'm pleased that one of my collages has been included in the juried 19th Annual Wabi-Sabi show at the O'Hanlon Center for the Arts (616 Throckmorton Ave., Mill Valley, through October 12).

My Untitled Collage No. 273 (Santa Rosa) is in the show, which features work reflective of the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi – a rather slippery term, but one that usually connotes simplicity, impermanence, imperfection and the effects of the passage of time, and an acceptance of these as beautiful.

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

Better yet, if you're in Northern California or you're planning a visit soon, stop by my studio during this year's Art Trails open studio event and see my work in person. More than 130 artists all over Sonoma County will be opening their studios to the public on two weekends – September 30 and October 1 and October 7 and 8. Studios are open from 10:00AM to 5:00 PM on all four days.

Food I'm Eating: First fresh figs of the season

It's that time of year. We're just starting to get the first figs of the season. These are a variety called "Brown Turkey." Fresh figs with yogurt and honey from our beehive make the best of all breakfasts – well, maybe except for smoked kippers, buttered toast, and tea....

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