June 15, 2013 § Leave a Comment
FOR MORE than three decades, watercolorist Gary Bukovnik has created a painting every year to announce the new season of the San Francisco Symphony. Here’s a video preview of his latest for 2013-14.
ARCHIVE: San Francisco Symphony posters
June 10, 2013 § 1 Comment
A MESSAGE arrived on the gallery Facebook page:
“My name is Joan Longas and I’m a painter from Barcelona, Spain,” it said. “I just thought of sharing my last painting with you. It’s from my visit to California last summer, and from the pictures I took on June 20 and 21. This is a corner that I particularly like.”
We responded to thank him for sharing the image, which is now a matter of history, since the gallery’s longtime neighbor Johnny Rockets has closed. He wrote back:
“I will miss Johnny Rockets next time I visit San Francisco. The painting I mailed to you before was the third one of that same corner, from three different years. For some reason I loved it from the minute I first saw it. Perhaps the yellowish color of the facade, and the way the building is located that makes no other building show behind.”
He added: “If you take a look at the other two versions you’ll see that they are joyous images, like a crisp early summer morning. That’s the way I feel every time I think of it.”
“But I wanted to try a nocturnal version of it,” he wrote. “Nocturnals in the city always offer a festival of lights and colors. Also there is that compelling suggestion hidden behind windows in the evening.”
May 5, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Q & A | GARY BUKOVNIK
A conversation between master watercolorist Gary Bukovnik and Clare Henry, art critic for the Financial Times.
Cezanne spent many years painting apples. Your vocabulary has always been flowers. Yet it’s obvious to me that with your remarkable draftsmanship, you could draw anything you chose. Why flowers?
It’s not an option. Flowers chose me. I tried for years to escape. Flowers are the vocabulary of the language that I speak. I originally fought it, with varying degrees of success. You search and travel to explain who you are. Eventually I understood. These are the true representations of me — for better or worse. Take it or leave it. It has to be.
Georgia O’Keeffe, Robert Mapplethorpe, Odilon Redon, Fantin-Latour, Monet, Van Gogh — think of those sunflowers and water lilies — Demuth, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, all are famous for their glorious flower pictures. Which artists do you admire? Have they influenced your work?
I particularly admire Demuth. If I could have chosen a teacher, it would have been Demuth. He was such a facile watercolorist and had an amazing ability for selective vision, including exactly and only what he wanted to include. I feel a great sympathy with Mackintosh, in particular his watercolors, which in addition to benefiting from his keen eye have a great deal of heart and soul. I love his Zinnias. O’Keeffe and Mapplethorpe use flowers in a completely different way from me; their sensibility is not mine.
Your pictures are very beautiful. Yet you have said that in America having flowers as your subject is a disadvantage and makes for problems. Why is this?
Because flowers are innately beautiful. It’s easy to dismiss something beautiful. In this age of angst and gritty confrontation, curators these days seem to want edgy work. It’s different in Europe, where there is an art historical dimension. And sometimes people feel that watercolors have less value or that those using watercolor are not so committed. To me, that’s ridiculous.
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April 20, 2013 § Leave a Comment
PAUL KWILECKI was born in Bainbridge, Georgia, in 1928 and died there in 2009. In between, he raised a family, ran the family’s hardware store, and taught himself how to use a camera. Over four decades, he documented life in his community, making hundreds of masterful and intimate black-and-white prints.
Kwilecki developed his visual ideas in series of photographs of high school proms, prison hog killings, shade-tree tobacco farming, factory work, church life, the courthouse. He also wrote eloquently about the people and places he so poignantly depicted, and in this book his unique knowledge is powerfully articulated in more than 200 photographs and selected prose.
Paul Kwilecki worked alone, his correspondence with other photographers his only link to the larger art world. While Kwilecki ranks among the most important American documentary photographers of the 20th century, he is also one of the least well known. “Decatur County is home,” he said, “and I know it from my special warp, having been both nourished and wounded by it.”
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March 6, 2013 § Leave a Comment
“FOR ME,” said the English artist David Carr, “the greatest paintings are those where the paint becomes what it depicts.” In these videos, Carr discusses his life and work and also his philosophy of what it means to be an artist. Working on Primrose Hill in London (below), he explores the rewards and challenges of painting on location.
His advice to other artists was always the same: “Just do the work,” he would say, and everything else will take care of itself.
View a portfolio of David Carr’s work
March 4, 2013 § Leave a Comment
PHOTOGRAPHER David Johnson recently returned to Fillmore Street in San Francisco to talk about his new book, A Dream Begun So Long Ago. Johnson came to the Fillmore in 1945 and photographed the neighborhood and its residents, celebrated or not, for decades.
EARLIER: “From old Fillmore photos, a rebirth“
February 2, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Q & A | ROBERT PICCUS
Before they returned to San Francisco in 2000, Pacific Heights residents Robert and Alice Piccus lived in Hong Kong for three decades. Both were inveterate travelers and knowledgeable collectors who had the interest and proximity to seek out Vietnamese ceramics, Southeast Asian sculpture and Tibetan silver, among other treasures. They also built an important collection of traditional Chinese furniture.
In the mid-1980s they became interested in Tibetan rugs, which were beginning to appear in Hong Kong. During the next decade they assembled a notable collection of almost 200 Tibetan rugs, now celebrated in a lavish new book, Sacred & Secular: The Piccus Collection of Tibetan Rugs, published by Serindia Publications in Chicago.
How did you begin your collection? Alice and I had the good fortune to live in Hong Kong from 1968 to 2000, a 32-year period that saw Hong Kong grow from a relatively sleepy colonial backwater to its present status as the dynamic business, financial and art-collecting center of Asia.
The Asian art that surrounded us in Hong Kong and that we found during our extensive travels throughout the region led us to collect in a number of areas. During the 1970s and early 1980s we collected early Chinese rugs made for use in temples in the Tibetan religious and cultural areas of western China and Mongolia. But the Tibetan rugs available then were never of interest to us, and we assumed that would always be the case.
So what changed? Westerners were not able to visit Tibet until the mid-1980s, but some Hong Kong Chinese dealers did, and so did certain Tibetans living in Nepal. Some of the leading Katmandu dealers were accumulating huge piles of rugs. The condition of these seemingly never-washed rugs was horrible. It was clear that Tibetans did not put much care into their rugs, which in the absence of furniture and fixed accommodations were functional objects on which to sit, sleep and give some protection from the cold. The mid-1980s became a dynamic time for collecting Tibetan art, including the previously ignored rugs. We were concentrating on putting together our collection of classical Chinese furniture while continuing our interest in Chinese rugs and Tibetan silver and manuscript covers. We were aware of developments in Tibet, and we began to pay attention to the Tibetan rug market.
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