Thursday, February 21, 2013

San Francisco Victorians

Rebecca and Penelope met us after the Art Deco walk--they had been at the MOMA--and transported us to the start of the Victorians walk, sort of on the edge of Fillmore.
So we have long been big fans of San Francisco's City
Guides, a major program of the San Francisco
Public Library; of course, we're big fans of just about
anything libraries do; but this one is special, and especially
good; more than sixty people turned out for this free
Sunday afternoon tour of one of The City's many
Victorian neighborhoods

Beautiful old Eucalypti at the meeting point,
Bush and Octavia

Eucalyptus flowers; it's spring here, the camellias going

California's smallest park...National Black History Month,
our guide observed...

Victorians; OK, I am not really into Victorians; on the plus
side, they had indoor plumbing; on the minus, they were
ridiculously ornamented, dark, overly large, expensive to
heat, highly flammable...


Artsy-fartsy view



Wait a did this get into a
Victorian neighborhood?!

Another Victorian beauty


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

San Francisco Art Deco

Sunday we went into San Francisco again, this time for more architecture, first the Art Deco guided tour and then the Victorian tour. The Bay area is studded with some great old art deco structures, office buildings, skyscrapers, but also movie theatres, and more. Our walk Sunday focused on the downtown skyscrapers.
The grand-daddy of them all, so to speak, was Timothy Pfleuger's Pacific Telephone
and Telegraph building, now under lengthy restoration; note the torchiere figures...

And torchiere figures on this contemporary office building: our guide called this
"deco echo"

The Shell Building

Above the entry; this is Shell Oil, I think, not Rococo

Massive Stackpole sculpture on the San Francisco Stock
Exchange,  another Pfleuger design; he engaged Diego
Rivera to do the 10th floor murals 

Russ Building

Not a skyscraper, but definitely deco

My personal favorite, 111 Sutter, the Hunter-Dulin building


Lobby ceiling

The offices of Spade and Archer, Private Investigators, were located in the
Hunter-Dulin building: there's Sam with clients Joel Cairo, Brigid
O'Shaughnessy, and Kaspar Gutman; who will take the fall? The first
great American film noir... "I hope they don't hang you, precious, by that 
sweet neck. Yes, angel, I'm gonna send you over. The  chances are you'll 
get off with life. That means if you're a  good girl, you'll be out in 20 years. 
I'll be waiting for you. If they hang you, I'll always remember you. "

And 450 Sutter

Exquisite lobby ceiling

Detail; Mayan motif throughout

Monday, February 11, 2013

De Girl With De Pearl At De Young

Somehow, when in the Netherlands, we always seem to have missed The Hague and its Mauritshuis museum.  But we have seen our share of Vermeers. And a decade ago we read Tracy Chevalier's excellent novel The Girl with a Pearl Earring with our Missoula book group (which we still miss). So when we learned that Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring and numerous other Mauritshuis treasures were coming to San Francisco's de Young museum,  we had to go. (We also viewed the film, same name, which also was quite good). Rebecca, Jeremy and Penelope motored us in again, took in the visiting show, and then occupied themselves in the Golden Gate Park area while we did the rest of the splendid de Young. Penelope has limited tolerance for museums, and R & J had been there before.
Thus; in addition to the paintings there also were scores of
prints, etc.

And thus, the "Dutch Mona Lisa"; stolen directly
off the Mauritshuis website, I think; they had a no
fotos policy at the de Young's exhibit, so there will
be no fotos of the many Hals, Steens, and others
we admired; nor even of the obligatory Rembrandt

At this point, the considerable imp in me
requires that I again post, for comparison,
Dali's immortal The Girl with the Pearl,
which is actually, I suppose, a reference to
Las Meninas

And now we return to the de Young's very
eclectic and largely American collection, just
a few bits we particularly liked; here, Karen
LeMonte's Dress 3, cast entirely in glass

Edward Hicks' Peaceable Kingdom

Edward Hovenden's Last Moments of John

Albert Bierstadt's Arch of Octavius (Roman Fish Market)

Detail: ugly Americans even in 1858

Thomas Moran's Yellowstone Falls

And his Grand Canyon

Willard Leroy Metcalf's Winter Festival; reminds me a lot
of Russell Chatham; and here, a note: we signed up for one
of the 30 minute museum guided tours, but no one else
showed up, and en route to our first masterpiece collected
three more docents who had no takers: thus, four docents
to lavish their expertise on us...a real privilege!

Jerome Thompson's 1857 Recreation; OK, lose a few ladies,
lose the ladies' clothes, and you've got Manet's Le déjeuner
sur l'herbe
; or better, Giorgione/Titian's, Pastoral Concert

And, a KO for us, Whistler's The Gold Scab:
Eruption of Frilthy Lucre
; we'll see the
decor that led to it at the Freer someday in

All in all, another pretty good day in The City

Coit Tower Murals

I became interested in 20th century muralism in the early 90s, while visiting Mexico to learn some Spanish and to further the Mexican interests of my Texas employer. It was probably not what they had in mind. In any case, learning that the Depression-era Coit Tower murals were done by Diego Rivera students and admirers made it an imperative for me. A few of Rivera's murals are in San Francisco--he painted here in the early 1930s--I'll have to get to them some other time.
Fast-backward to 1994: Rivera's History of Mexico at the
national palace

Ditto, Frida Kahlo home and museum, Mexico City

Fast-forward to 2013: at the entrance to Coit
Tower; the murals are all on the main and
second floors, and on the stairwell between
them; completed c. 1934 by a variety of San
Francisco artists

The murals generally depict life in California and specifically
the Bay area

Agriculture, for example...

But throughout, there is abundant social commentary, much
of it disapproved by the city fathers, some even removed
(NRA was the New Deal "National Recovery Act," one of
FDR's excesses)

In The City now, the Daily Worker at the

Life on the streets

Not much has changed...

In the public library, a patron at the right reaches for Das

Workers of the world...

While some live in tents, developers show
up to survey the scene (click to enlarge and
note the difference between their dogs)

Upstairs, plans are shown to Mrs. Roosevelt 

More city scenes

And at the end of the tour, a glimpse of the elegant life