The Artist

I am so excited to share this posting with everyone. My college friend/roommate/homegirl Nicole Lampl is officially an exhibiting artist. After meeting Nikki in our shared “Dutch Golden Age” art history class at Berkeley in 2007, we’ve been fast friends ever since. Nikki is an extremely talented artist and has the brave sense of abandon to paint not only large-scale canvases but also works that are incredibly personal and raw. We’ve been very lucky to have our own in-house artist to decorate our apartment walls over the years and over different apartments. Well now, our Nikks is moving on up in the art-world.

The Artist with her work

August 3rd – September 1st the Olivia Art Hyde Gallery in Fremont, CA is hosting the exhibit “In Full View” consisting of local Bay Area artists. Our very own Nikki is lucky talented enough to be one of the exhibiting artists selected. Her works on display explore the cellular geography of breast tissue and the cancer that lies within. A subject that she was compelled to explore while watching her own mother go through the terrible journey of battling breast cancer. These works are deceptively colorful and abstract at a first glance, but in fact they are representations of different cancerous cells found in breast carcinoma. Being in the Art History club with Nikki – we were all very impressed not only with her execution but also how effectively she tackled such a complex and difficult subject matter.

Art History Club re-unites

The ladies and I have never been prouder of one of our own. We made a mini-road trip down to Fremont after work to make it in time for the gallery reception and opening. I’m so glad we went and were able to have these memories of the girls all rallying together around one of our own. If you’d like to find out more about Nicole’s work and her inspiration – please visit her portfolio here : http://nicolelampl.com

In Paris (aka in HEAVEN)

Baryshnikov and Sinyakina in “In Paris”

It’s difficult to put into words the incredible experience of seeing a childhood hero/idol/visionary performing less than 20 yards from you. It’s part surreal, part dream come true but mostly unbelievable. Last Wednesday I had the immense pleasure to see my lifelong hero Mikhail Baryshnikov in the production “In Paris” at the Roda Theater in Berkeley. I’d always known that Baryshnikov has a  special, personal relationship with the city of Berkeley (I’d always secretly hoped that I’d run into him at Chez Pannise when I was in school). So when I heard that he was helping to bring the Dmitry Krymov directed and adapted production to Berkeley – it took me all of eight minutes to already have tickets in hand.

So many dreams are coming true right about now!

Before I start, I really do want to reiterate what a huge fan I am of Baryshnikov. Whenever you mention his name, most people go, “WHO?!” and then when you say that he was Carrie’s Russian Boyfriend on the last season of SATC, then all of a sudden everyone has an opinion . Such a shame. When I was 2-4 years old I CONSTANTLY watched his ballet’s on VHS. I have no doubt that watching him and Gelsey Kirkland in the Balanchine’s Nutcracker is what inspired me to study dance for 12 years. One of my favorite memories from my childhood is being 4-years-old and with my mom in the pediatrician’s office. All the other kids were busy on the floor playing with Lego’s or Lincoln Logs or reading books about some dog named Spot running all over the place. I, on the other hand, was sitting quietly with my mom. She later told me that I was starting to worry her because I wasn’t interacting with any of the other kids or building anything, but not wanting to be an overbearing mother who hovers, so she continued to silently read her PEOPLE magazine beside me. Then out of nowhere, I point my finger and cry out “Look Mom! Its Mikhail Baryshnikov!” after spotting his picture in Star Tracks. All the other mothers in the room turned in stunned silence and gaped at me unwilling to believe that a 4-year-old not only knew who Baryshnikov was but could also pronounce his Russian name! Then when I was 16, my interest in him and his impressive career had a large resurgence with his White Oak Dance Project. So, the idea of finally being in the same room with such a huge artistic inspiration in my life was…actually pretty intimidating. Just ask my friend Ali who went with me to the show. I was hardcore blushing for the first 10 minutes and had a face-splitting grin plastered to my face for the rest of it.

His final scene and also the moment I was able to see Baryshnikov dance in person…

But after all the build-up I am so happy to say that B did not disappoint! He was at once graceful, broken, strong and haunted. “In Paris” follows the brief but cathartic romance between two Russian expats in 1930’s Paris looking for some sort of solace from their country, from their past and from their lonely future. The production spoken entirely in French and Russian was very artfully executed. My favorite scene included a sequence where Baryshnikov’s character Nikolai Platonovitch dances through a Spanish Bullfighting scene. In reality the scene shows his character dodging and fighting his imminent death. B’s co-star in the production, Anna Sinyakina was also incredibly breathtaking – at the curtain call I found myself completely in awe of her after she was suspended, upside down in the air for about 5 whole minutes without moving even an inch. THAT’S TALENT!

I highly suggest that you see this breathtaking play and its legendary cast before the whole production moves to New York.
Baryshnikov FOREVER!

Behind The Shot

How many times have we come across these iconic images? So many of us have seen these inspiring, emotional and sometimes violent photographs splashed across the covers of magazines and newspapers so many times that they have taken on their own legendary status. However, how much do we know about the people behind these infamous images? Last week I came across an article that talks about a new book entitled Behind Photographs: Archiving Photographic Legends by Tim Mantoani. The book looks at the efforts of immortalizing and recognizing the brave photographers who have taken some of the most moving images of the 20th and 21st century and cataloguing their own unique experiences in capturing the shot of their lifetime.

Interestingly for Mantoani, getting his own pictures of these noted photographers proved to be just as much of a challenge. Each of his photographs were taken using the nearly extinct large scale 20×24 Polaroid cameras. As you can imagine, obtaining the film needed for these cameras was not only difficult, but highly expensive. Each shot cost $200. And when Polaroid went under a few years ago, it isn’t hard to realize how coveted any specialized and rare  film out there might have been. But the scarcity and uniqueness of his medium only lends an added weight to these shots of photographers and their famous images. His subjects deserve no less than the most rare film out there if only to illuminate how unique their own photographs are.

If you would like more information, or like to see more of these amazing photos and hear about the inspiring stories behind them, check out this site and look into Tim Mantoani’s book, Behind Photographs: Archiving Photographic Legends

Un hommage à l’art

Before I get started I just wanted to acknowledge that this will be my 50th post! When I first started this blog a few years ago, I kind of half expected it to be an act of folly (can you tell I’ve been watching a Downton Abbey marathon this past weekend??) Knowing myself, I like to start things but as time goes on I forget about them and usually never pick them back up (read: gym memberships, learning to read tarot cards and about 4 books I’m currently in the middle of reading) but I’m so happy to say that this blog has not fallen victim to my own apathy about my creative outlets. WOO HOO! Here’s hoping for another 50 posts!

Anyways, back to the real task at hand. Anyone who knows me knows that art holds a very close place to my heart. In college I studied Art History, I lived in Italy for a few months studying the Italian proto and high renaissance masterpieces and of course my time in Amsterdam made me fall head over heels with Northern Baroque art. I LOVE ART. So of course I had an artgasm when I came across this link from BOOOOOOOOM! which challenged its readers to recreate a famous work of art using photography. There are a lot of great ideas and reinterpretations so I highly suggest you check them all out. Imitation is the most sincerest form of flattery is it not??

"The Two Fridas" by Claire Ball"The Two Fridas" by Frida Kahlo

"The Two Fridas" by Frida Kahlo

"Bedroom in Arles" by Joshua Louis Simon

"Bedroom in Arles" by Vincent Van Gogh"The Ship" by Justin Nunnink

"The Ship" by Justin Nunnink

"The Ship" by Salvador Dali

"Portrait of a Man in a Turban" by Loli

"Portrait of a Man in a Turban" by Jan Van Eyck

"Sunflowers" by Qi Wei Fong

"Sunflowers" by Vincent Van Gogh

"Pot Pourri" by Tania Brassesco

"Pot Pourri" by Herbert James Draper

"Self Portrait 1889" by Seth Johnson

"Self Portrait 1889" by Vincent Van Gogh

Turandot

 
The Final Scene

Last night I got to partake in a centuries old tradition that I’ve always wanted to experience. THE OPERA!

 

I’ve always wanted to have a night “at the opera” but for whatever reason haven’t yet had a chance to go. Not only was last night my first time going to the Opera, but what a better way to introduce yourself to such a revered art than to experience through Puccini’s famous “Turandot” featuring the classic Nessun Dorma. Not only did the SF Opera completely blow me away with their super saturated color palette and vibrant costumes, but the singers Irene Theorin (Turandot) and Marco Berti (Calaf) had the most powerful and moving voices. They not only embodied the roles of the bitter ice-cold princess and lovesick prince, but their performances were charged with poetry, drama and passion. Every element that you need in order to bring a masterpiece to life.

Breathtaking costumes and makeup

I firmly believe that everyone should have access to the arts. It should not be a province of the rich. We should all have it.
So on that note:
The San Francisco Opera is partnering with the San Francisco Giants and Webcor Builders to bring the Opera to AT&T Park!
Sunday, September 25th at 2:00pm you can go down on the field and watch Turandot on Park’s HD screen tucked under a blanket and eating a dog and a beer (HEY! It’s the ballpark after all!)
Then you can see for yourself how intricately detailed the imperial costumes, sets and makeup are and how wonderfully the SF Opera embodies this timeless Puccini classic.  
For more information follow this link  

Opera at AT&T Park

 

Floating Angels

Lorena Feijoo in front of City Hall

7×7 is showcasing some absolutely breathtaking photos of SF Ballet dancers Sarah Van Patten and Lorena Feijoo proving why they are stars in their own right in different parts of our fair city. I’ve always admired Sarah Van Patten and now I am even more enamored by her grace and sophistication. This pictorial stops my heart completely. I’d give anything to be an angel floating on the tops of buildings today…

Sarah Van Patten on the rooftops in Downtown SF

Picasso! Picasso!

Henri Matisse, Woman With Hat

Henri Matisse, Woman With Hat

All San Franciscans are incredibly lucky right now. Not only has the weather taken an uncharacteristically sunny turn today, but for the next few months we all have access to some of the most incredible art work that the world has to offer. Currently, at SFMOMA  is the wonderful Steins Collection which is full of artwork collected by Gertrude, her brothers Leo and Michael as well as Michael’s wife Sarah. The Steins, Gertrude in particular were prolific art collectors and their collection of the Parisian Avant-Garde are highlights from some of the best artists such as Matisse, Cezanne and Renoir.

Willem van de Velde the Younger, Fishing Boats by the Shore in a Calm

Meanwhile (at my favorite SF Museum), the Legion of Honor  is hosting a collection that makes my heart sparkle with excitement! The Dutch and Flemish Masterworks from the Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Collection is an exhibit dear and close to my heart. Dutch and Flemish works ALWAYS take me back to the summer I spent in Amsterdam in 2008 living on the Princengracht – steps away from the Rijksmuseum. This weekend I plan on seeing these great works from artists such as Gerrit Dou, Salomon Van Ruysdael and an absolute fave Jan Brueghel the Elder!

For now though, one of the most popular exhibits showing is the Picasso exhibit at the DeYoung Museum. Currently showing some of the greatest works from the Musée National Picasso, Paris – these paintings, sculptures and sketches were from Picasso’s own personal collection that he couldn’t bear to part with. I was lucky enough to view these pieces last weekend and I came away with a new appreciation and also fresh viewpoint of the infamous artist.
Most people have a love/hate relationship with Picasso and find his art either too esoteric or too indulgent. When it comes to Picasso you either love him…or you don’t. I have to admit, I’m a huge fan of Guernica and every time I see that painting I can’t help but want to cry out in solidarity for the war-torn figures. That painting can touch my soul in ways that I didn’t expect any Picasso to. But as far as his other paintings and sculptures, I never really felt as strong of a connection to any of his other work.

In the Exhibit

Then this past weekend at the Picasso Exhibit, I was surprised to have had such an intimate experience with the works on display. I felt through these paintings, that were Picasso’s personal and favorite works, that I really got a collective vision of his life, his women, his politics, his loves and his struggles with fidelity, inspiration and also his sexuality as he aged. Of course each painting on display is immersed in imagery, Spanish folklore and layers and layers of symbolism. Thats something that I most appreciate about Picasso – his freedom of work. He allows his audience to travel as deeply into his paintings as they would like to go. And frankly any direction that the viewer takes is justifiable and acceptable. There is no wrong answer with Picasso.

La Celestina, Pablo Picasso

Surprisingly, I found myself connected with many of the works on display. However, some that particularly stuck with me were La Celestina and Nu Couché. La Celestina is the stereotypical “blue-period” Picasso. It is cold and eerie yet full of dimension. One of the interesting ideas behind this piece is that in Spain, it is believed that you can take possession of something or someone with a look. A hard glare is all it takes to suddenly become an “owner”. While the figure is blind with cataracts in one eye, this in no way diminishes her strength and her presence. She continues to glare out onto a figure out of our line of sight and still carries with her the power of possession through her eyes. I am in love with this painting! I love seeing figures (and women especially) that through a perceived “weakness” still carry an intense amount of strength.

Nu Couche, Pablo Picasso

Nu Couché is another painting that really stuck with me. This one depicts a sensuous post-coital lover gently sleeping while her voluptuous curves shine in the moonlight. During this time Picasso was married to Olga Koklova, a Russian Ballerina Dancer who through her bourgeois Russian connections, changed Picasso’s work and social life. Years into their marriage Picasso began a romantic affair with his 17-year-old model, Marie-Therese Walter. He often depicts her as the complete antithesis of his wife. Olga is personified through violent and aggressive colors and lines. Marie-Therese is soft, round, inviting and bright. She completely takes over Picasso as the muse and source of his erotic inspiration. As his lover he envisions her rounded curves emanating sexual energy and heat. These waves call out to him and to all other lovers who share this same voracity.

Not all is praise though. I wasn’t completely taken with all of Picasso’s works. The way he depicted the women in his life is cruel. One moment they are his sole inspiration and the next they become the weeping women, gone mad over his indifference. Many of them had nervous break-downs, lost their sanity and two committed suicide. I believe that he used them. He used all of their love and sincerity for his own benefit. It’s hard to be so admiring of an artistic genius yet at the same time so hateful of an infamous Lothario. And this specific dichotomy is why we  the audience are still enthralled with Picasso today.

Perfect Timing for a Grecian Getaway

Dreaming of this gorgeous Santorini Landscape

Ever since I stumbled upon one of my most favorite blogs on the world-wide web, Mr & Mrs. Globetrot – I have been desperately trying to find a way to travel again. I can’t believe that the last time I went on a vacation was in 2008. Sad to say (even sadder to think about). Thanks to the most inspiring travel photos (as well as power couples) I have ever seen, I have been trying to fight this incessant travel bug. But thank god – I don’t have to resist any longer. Tomorrow I am soooo excited to leave behind the city by the bay and head for the Cyclades!

I have always wanted to go to Greece. In fact ever since my mom went there with a friend in 1997, Greece has always been this place in my mind that is not only magical but supremely ethereal. A land of marble columns, airy tunics, succulent olives, and of course powerful gods. I imagine everyone eating feta all day long, while lounging by an infinity pool and wearing as much gold as their bodies will allow.  And of course, as an Art History student having studied the Parthenon for the past 6 years – the thought of finally being able to see this monumental historic structure is almost too much for me to even wrap my head around. I don’t know what I’m going to do when I see the Caryatid porch from the Erechtheion in the Acropolis. Swoon?!

Swoon

I feel so lucky to embark on this fantastic adventure not only with 3 of the most amazing women I know, but with some of my best friends in the entire world. I can’t imagine ever taking this journey with people less dear to my heart and soul. But of course, this trip isn’t only for our own enjoyment. My best friend lost her mother to liver disease two months ago. I have never seen such courage, strength and grace come from two greater women than Alexandria Brown and her mother Ladye Susan. One of Susan’s last wishes was to visit the Greek Isles before she became too sick. Tragically, she was never able to make this trip. I feel so honored to go with Ali to the place her mother wished to visit most in the world and be with her as she scatters her mothers ashes into the ancient Greek Caldera. I truly can’t think of a more poetic and beautiful farewell for anyone.