Women’s difficult stories honored

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I work with words in my art – memories, stories, and history. So when the Northern California Women’s Caucus for Art Exhibition curator for the “Choice Exhibition” asked me if I wanted to work on displaying the letters, I said, “Yes!”

These were not just any letters. They were written by women describing their abortion experiences – charged, powerful, emotional, factual, empowered, sad, grateful stories. Women from twenty to eighty-something and from all over the country submitted their writing to the exhibition website.

My goal was to honor these women and their stories visually and to invite gallery visitors to read them.  The colors came to mind immediately. I selected blue for its symbolism to water, emotions, the throat and communications. Violet and purple was picked for its connection to the seventh chakra, about peace and wisdom.

Each letter was read, formatted on the computer for fonts, margins, and type size. Some blue and purple color was added to each page, along with matte medium to strengthen the paper front and back. Then each page was punched top and bottom. Eyelets were added to reinforce their hanging connection using a papaya colored string. Longer letter pages were tied with gray string.

The metal stainless steel ring that supported the letter strands was purchased at Alan Steel. It had to be hack sawed and attached to create the circle.

I felt connected to each woman’s story. When I hung the test run in the outer room of my studio, a breeze came through and danced with the stories. The letters felt alive and released in the wind. A one point I stood in the middle of the hanging pages and the strength and emotions of the stories was very intense.

I deemed the installation a success as I watched women and men interacting with it and reading the stories.

At the last moment I decided to include a stool and a basket of blank paper with an invitation to viewers to write their own stories. I was surprised to hear that on the night of the opening reception, a brave young woman sat in the circle and wrote her story.

A big thank you to NCWCA members Judy Johnson-Williams and Susana van Bezooijen for working the installation too.

This installation is part of the Northern California Women’s Caucus for Art Choice Exhibition curated by Kelly Hammargren. The show is about women’s reproductive rights and is at Arc Gallery in San Francisco. For more details on the exhibition click here.


Creating kimonos by hand, day one

I’ve spent a couple of years deconstructing kimonos. I wondered what it would be like to make a kimono. I found the perfect class at the Workshop Residence in San Francisco. These photos are from the first day of the four day workshop.

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Tsuyo Onodera has devoted fifty years of her life to the art of kimono making in Japan, having trained hundreds of students to become licensed kimono makers during five year long apprenticeships at her school in Sendai, Japan. She serves as the president of Miyagi Kimono Association, and in 1982 invented Mai Yamato, a pre-tied kimono and obi system.

Collaborating in Onodera’s Workshop Residence project is her daughter, Sonoma based artist Maki Aizawa. Maki grew up in her mother’s kimono making school surrounded by creativity, studying floral arranging, calligraphy and studying the musical instrument the Koto.

Some SF restaurant finds

I have been going into San Francisco every Friday to teach my elder art class in the mornings. I treat myself to lunch after and have been going around the City exploring for tasty delights.

I like Rose’s Cafe in Cow Hollow http://www.rosescafesf.com/. They are simple, snappy, and good. I had a roasted beet, fennel, radicchio, and avocado salad and then a very yummy dessert which was a special – warm fig and raspberry flaky tart with a big scoop of caramel ice cream which melted lovingly with each bite. I had to take a bite before I photographed it! I looked on their website and they make all their own breads and pasteries, so no wonder it was so special.


pieSpeaking of sweet things, another place you have to try is Mission Pie in the “Mission” duh. I first went there with Janet and Susan a few months ago. Ander and I went again and it had opened up a wall and moved it’s entrance to Mission Street at 25th Street. Both times I went it was scrumptious! Great crust and not too sweet filling. We had a good cup of coffee to go with it. lucas-pumpkin

This not your ordinary pie shop. It has ties on the Coastside:

Mission Pie is a business venture that collaborates with the non-profit Pie Ranch, a diversified small-scale educational farm one hour south of San Francisco. Through hands-on work and collective reflection at Pie Ranch, San Francisco teenagers discover new competencies and insights that benefit them as individuals and in community.

The idea of Mission Pie is rooted in a conversation with Mission High School youth during their first visit to Pie Ranch in 2005. They remarked that many people in San Francisco don’t have the means to visit Pie Ranch to experience the personal connection with the farmland that sustains us. Mission Pie is an attempt to bridge that gap. Mission Pie is a tangible connection to Pie Ranch; a place, like the ranch, where people can gather with a sense of community purpose and belonging. Since our opening on January 3, 2007, Mission Pie has provided jobs and training for the youth Pie Ranch works with at the farm.

They are taking orders for Thanksgiving pies:

Apple Pie
The classic double-crust pie made with an assortment of apples from NanaMae Orchards and other California growers.
Pear Cranberry Pie
Sweet, ripe Bartlett pears and fresh cranberries are topped with a brown sugar crumb.
Walnut Pie
Craig McNamara’s walnuts have inspired our spin on the traditional pecan pie.
Pumpkin Pie
Our seasonal favorite is made with a mix of roasted pumpkins and winter squash from Pie Ranch, enriched with milk and cream and sweetened with brown sugar and apple juice.

Beautiful San Francisco Birthday Tour

For our dear friend Charlene’s birthday, Ander and I took her for a San Francisco whirlwind tour of some of our favorite places. We did not tell her where we were going, so each stop was a surprise.

First we had a lovely lunch at Fog City Diner on Battery and The Embarcadero. I used to go here a lot when my friends were working around the corner. The food was still great after all these years. Luckily we made reservations ahead because it was pretty hopping. I had a crispy reddened snapper sandwich which was spicy and delish, and Ander had a 1/2 pound Niman Ranch burger. Charlene had the Chicken Schnitzel with broccolini and lemon caper butter. Everything was served promptly by a very responsive waitress and was terrific. The restaurant looks a bit garish on the outside, but the inside is all dark wood and there are booths or tables  and a busy liquor and oyster bar.

After our meal we moved on to the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park. I chose this because she and I both enjoy gardening and flowers. It turned out Charlene had always wanted to go here and so it was perfect!

The Conservatory is one of the finest examples of Victorian architecture in San Francisco and the 12,000 square-foot greenhouse is the oldest existing glass and wood conservatory in the United States. i think it looks like the American version of the Taj Mahal!

The greenhouse is divided up into environments: lowland tropics, highland tropics, aquatic plants, potted plants, and a special exhibit area. The temperature changes as you move from one are to the next.

These tropical flowers brought a smile because they reminded me of my mother and grandmother who lived in Hawaii.

This little guy was fascinated by the fiddle heads. There were many kids there with their parents.

The special exhibit area featured info on pollinators of all kinds – bats, birds, wasps, bees, and butterflies. A few butterflies fluttered about to the delight of the many kids.

I love the aquatic area – check out the video:

Walking in this most wondrous place I really got a sense of peace and calm. Charlene’s comment was, “How can you not believe that there is a higher source after being here.”

Last on the tour was the De Young Museum. Here we stopped for coffee and shared a fruit tart and opened presents. We then went up the elevator to the 9th floor to see the view of Golden Gate Park and surrounding San Francisco area. It was a bit foggy, but that just added to the timeless, mysterious, landscape of The City.

birthday beauty

Here is the birthday beauty!

It was nice to be a tourist and have a play date with our dear friend. I recommend getting out there and enjoying our local venues to remember why you live in this terrific area.

The baby boomers fucked everything

We went to Southern Exposure’s new temporary space at 14th and Valencia in San Francisco. The event we saw was called “The baby boomers fucked everything, a psychedelic light show.” It was described as “an epic journey of sight and sound exploring the war’s effect on the American psyche to mark Independence Day.” Performing were Steven L. Andersn, Karl Erickson, and Robby Herbst, three Los Angeles based artists whose interests include counter alternative cultures, rhizomatic plants and color praxis, with sound by The Faraway Places (Modal Energy Music Configuration).

The performance was a light and music show that tipped it’s hat to the liquid projections of the ’60s. There is a great link I found that talks all about the origins of this art form: http://wild-bohemian.com/liteshow.htm. Since I had never been to a live light show, it was great fun to sit around on the floor and on bean bag chairs, with a bunch of strangers and take it all in. I think I even smelled a bit of herb floating through the air. I’m sure it was nostalgic for some of the viewers, but most of the audience weren’t even born then or at least weren’t teenagers in the ’60s. Though the light and music were great, I kept watching the light and color makers putting together their magic in the back with their overhead projectors. As far as being a profound piece about the war, well, it wasn’t. The videos say it all, so have a groovy experience watching them.

Southern Exposure’s Gallery Hours:
Tuesday – Saturday, 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm

417 14th Street (@ Valencia)
San Francisco, CA 94103
t: (415) 863-2141
w: www.soex.org

No charades here

The Mallory Cocktail- ask her what’s in it!

Thank you so much to Mallory and Tom and Tiana for inviting us the SF Mime Troupe 4th of July this year. We had no idea what we were in for except that we knew we usually had a blast with these guys and they usually have some great food. What could be more fun then sitting on a blanket at Dolores Park in the sunshine? It was funny though, because as we were at New Leaf getting our picnic supplies, Ander and I both admitted to ourselves that we hated mime, and we were nervous about being stuck in a crowd of people and not being able to escape! Oh well, we thought, just go for it, stretch our comfort zone.

Well, it was a blast! And we found out that the SF Mime Troupe were not at all silent about their message. They were right on target concerning the political state of the nation. Ander thought the music was great and the play well written – and that’s a lot coming from him! It was funny to hear him singing the songs the next day.

Music, humor, and satire were very effective ways to convey some deep and important issues about our economy, lack of citizen support, and our ineffective government. What I really appreciated was in the end the message was not about supporting a particular candidate, but that citizens must stand up for their rights no matter who is in power.

Some background on this group from their site:

The San Francisco Mime Troupe does not do pantomime. We mean ‘mime’ in the ancient sense: to mimic. We are satirists, seeking to make you laugh at the absurdities of contemporary life and at the same time, see their causes. We’ve done shows about most of the burning issues of our time, generally shows that debunked the official story. We perform everywhere from public parks to palaces of culture, aiming to reach the broadest possible audience.

Here is a synopsis of their performance:


What if a small town found itself at the forefront of a political fight? It’s Election Day in small town America, and that’s what happens when, due to an Electoral College tie, the entire Presidential Election comes down to the one tiny town. Suddenly, the ignored, disregarded Bluebird, Kansas is the most important town in America. And they are being pressured to quickly cast the deciding vote, and vote the “right way.”

But what would happen if they decided to wait? Can one little town hold an entire nation’s election hostage? Should it? Is bread on the farm house dinner table tonight more important than deciding who sits at the Oval Office desk tomorrow? Yep, this election could take a while . . .

You can still catch the troupe this summer. The schedule for next week is:

7/16 Montclair Ball Field (Wed)
6300 Moraga Avenue, Montclair
Music 6:30pm, Show 7:00pm

7/19, 7/20 Cedar Rose Park (Sat & Sun)
1300 Rose Street, a block from Cedar & Chestnut, Berkeley

Check out the rest of the schedule by clicking here.

Glass gardens and more at de Young Museum

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We went to opening night of Chihuly at the de Young, June 14 – September 28 and it was spectacular. The de Young did not disappoint with the terrific lighting and installation that really showed of the beauty of the magical environments and pieces. I appreciated that they have timed tickets, so the place as not jammed.

Chihuly attributes growing up with his mother’s abundant flower gardens and watching sunsets with her over the years as having an influence on his work. You can really see that in his organic shades and bright colors. His color style also developed when he was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to work at the Venini glass factory in Venice, Italy.

He references ikebana, a kind of Japanese flower arrangement, and picking up glass balls floating from Japan on the Puget Sound beaches in Washington. I took note of this since it is the same area my father grew up.

Two installations had a completely different more monochromatic tone and a quiet, yet powerful feel. Towering lavender spheres grew out of tree logs were stunning. Another room had a more earthy feel and here the influences were Native American woven baskets and blankets. Beautiful golden translucent glass baskets were spread out on a split redwood log which span the large room.

Something I also spent some time looking at were paintings he did before and during his creation of his glass pieces. It was interesting to me how they had a more matte quality which is so opposite of his usual translucent medium.

I think the show is very much worth going to. Even if you have seen his ceiling in Las Vegas or some of his smaller pieces, I think you still will be delighted and awestruck by the show.

A Sotheby’s Appraisal Event


My partner got a beautiful Buddhist painting handed down to him. His mom’s aunt brought it back from China. We have always wanted to know more about it and have wondered what it may be worth. Now we will get a chance to ask the experts!

A Sotheby’s Appraisal Event in Celebration of

Power and Glory: Court Arts of China’s Ming Dynasty

Sunday, June 22 , 2008

Hilton San Francisco Financial District, 750 Kearny Street

11:00 am – 5:00 pm

$5 per artwork appraisal

World-renowned auction house Sotheby’s invites the general public to bring Asian works of art toMing and Other Things, a benefit appraisal day in celebration of the Asian Art Museum’s Power & Glory: Court Arts of China’s Ming Dynasty. Sotheby’s Ming and Other Things event provides the public with the opportunity to discover what treasures may be hidden away in their basements and attics. Sotheby’s Asian Arts specialists will appraise Asian artworks from 11 am to 5 pm, in the grand ballroom of Hilton San Francisco Financial District, the official hotel sponsor of Power & Glory. The appraisal fee is $5 per artwork with 100% of the proceeds to benefit the Asian Art Museum. Only cash or check can be accepted.  The public is encouraged to arrive early. Appraisals are available to the first 500 attendees.

Sotheby’s appraisers participating in the Ming and Other Things event  include Anu Ghosh-Mazumdar, South East Asian art specialist, Alexandra Wang, Chinese contemporary art specialist, Christina Prescott-Walker, porcelain specialist, Mee-Seen Loong, Chinese art specialist, Sachiko Hori, Japanese art specialist and Phillip Jelley, generalist. Lark Mason, a former Senior Vice President with Sotheby’s who is familar to many viewers through his appearances on the Antiques Roadshow, will also be present.

Appraisals for Ming and Other Things are limited to artworks of Asian origin. All valuations will be verbal, not written, and available to the first 500 attendees. All artworks must be portable and must remain with attendees at all times.  Neither the Asian Art Museum nor Sotheby’s nor the Hilton Hotels shall be responsible for any loss, damage or theft of objects or other property of attendees.

For further information, please call 415-772-9028.