Friday, February 17, 2017

New Presidio Gateway

What was once the nation’s premier Army post—The Presidio—is now a vibrant 1,500-acre national park but there hadn’t been a front door to the Presidio experience until now

The state-of-the-art William Penn Mott, Jr. Visitor Center, the new gateway to the Presidio has just opened. 

The center, filled with many kid-friendly exhibits, is a destination for families, a platform for discovery, using video, engaging exhibitry, interactive tools, and knowledgeable staff to help visitors uncover the incredible array of experiences that are possible. 

The new Presidio Visitor Center is housed in a refurbished historic (1900) guardhouse in the heart of the park with views overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Rodin Rocks the Legion

Marking the centenary of Auguste Rodin’s death in 1917, the Legion of Honor now presents a completely new installation of its extraordinary Rodin holdings in Auguste Rodin: The Centenary Installation

Approximately 50 objects in bronze, marble, and plaster—all from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s permanent collection—will be presented in a new context. The exhibition will examine the artist’s celebrated life and influential work—from his early days courting controversy with sculptures that bore unexpected levels of naturalism—to his later renown and lasting influence. 

Christ and the Magdalene 1894

Auguste Rodin: The Centenary Installation is part of a worldwide series of major Rodin projects and will provide Bay Area audiences a significant opportunity to examine and recontextualize the legacy of the artist known as “the father of modern sculpture.”

“Our Rodin holdings are one of the finest and most significant collections in the United States,” notes Max Hollein, Director and CEO of the Fine Arts Museums. “This exhibition will surprise visitors and inspire dialogue about Rodin and his impact on artists working today. It is a must-see for anyone who thinks there is nothing left to learn about this towering figure in the history of Modern Art.”

Together with the bronzes and marbles, the Legion of Honor has one of the most comprehensive Rodin collections in the United States. On the occasion of this exhibition, an extensive scholarly catalogue—the first to document these collection highlights—was produced by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. 

Auguste Rodin: The Centenary Installation is curated by Martin Chapman and will be on view at the Legion of Honor from January 28 – April 9, 2017. 

At a recent press reception, Mr. Chapman noted that Rodin "was first and foremost, a keen observer. Perhaps that was because his vision was bad when he was growing up. He had to pay close attention to everything."

The artist was not only plagued by bad eyesight, said the curator: "His personal life was not always something to celebrate. He was a complicated man."

Thursday, February 9, 2017

SF Opera Lab to Feature Super Diva in Recital

We were wowed by her at the world premiere of “Two Women when she starred with SFO in June 2015. Now there’s a chance to see internationally acclaimed soprano Anna Caterina Antonacci in a unique and intimate setting.

SF Opera Lab presents three performances of Francis Poulenc’s 1958 monodrama La Voix humaine (The Human Voice) starring Antonacci with pianist Donald Sulzen on March 11, 14 and 17, 2017.

In these rare appearances outside of Europe, Antonacci will perform “Elle,” the distraught character at the heart of the opera and one of the soprano’s most celebrated portrayals, along with a program of French art songs in the intimate, 299-seat Dianne and Tad Taube Atrium Theater at the Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera.

Based on Jean Cocteau’s play about a woman’s desperate, final phone conversation with a soon-to-be ex-lover, Poulenc’s score complements the rhapsodic narrative with musical tension. A vocal and dramatic tour-de-force, La Voix humaine requires a virtuoso performer and Antonacci has emerged as one of the work’s leading interpreters today.

After a recent performance at New York’s Alice Tully Hall, The New York Times observed, “Ms. Antonacci’s remarkable talent is a suspension between artifice and naturalness, theatricality and subtlety. She may be putting on an act, but she’s also telling the truth.”

La Voix humaine marks Antonacci’s fifth engagement with San Francisco Opera, a relationship that began in 1992 when she performed the title role of Rossini’s Ermione, followed by Adalgisa in Bellini’s Norma in 1998. The Italian soprano thrilled San Francisco Opera audiences in 2015 when she returned to perform two roles in repertory:

Cassandre in Berlioz’s Les Troyens and Cesira in the world premiere of Marco Tutino’s Two Women, the latter a role that was composed with her in mind. The San Francisco Chronicle called her Cassandre “riveting” and proclaimed her Cesira “a dynamo of emotional and vocal majesty.”

Along with La Voix humaine, Antonacci and Sulzen will perform Berlioz’s dramatic ballade “La mort d’Ophélie (“The Death of Ophelia”) and a series of art songs, including Debussy’s trio of erotic mélodies set to poems by Pierre Louÿs, Chansons de Bilitis, and Poulenc’s seven-part song cycle La fraîcheur et le feu (The Cool and the Fire), which the composer dedicated to Igor Stravinsky.

San Francisco Opera presented Nicolas Joël’s production of La Voix humaine on the stage of the War Memorial Opera House in 1979 with the famed Italian soprano Magda Olivero as Elle, and it was revived in 1986 for American soprano Karan Armstrong.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

MTT Schedules March Madness For SF Symphony

Michael Tilson Thomas conducts John Cage’s avant-garde ballet, The SeasonsMarch 23–26 with visualization conceived by MTT with projections designed by video artist Clyde Scott and lighting design by Luke Kritzeck

A provocative canvas of color palettes designed to bring viewers into a deeper realm of imagery associated with each seasonthe projections and lighting were created for an earlier performance at the New World Symphony in 2016 and have since been further developed and re-worked for these performancesThe concerts also feature Bartók’s virtuosic Concerto for Orchestra. SFS Principal Tuba Jeffrey Anderson is featured in the U.S. premiere of concertante for tuba and orchestra, Europa and the Bull by Robin Holloway on March 23 and 24

A SFS co-commission with Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Europa and the Bull is inspired by the tale and paintings of Jupiter’s pursuit of beautiful nymph Europa as he woos her in the form of a bull, portrayed by the tuba. The work received its world premiere in Liverpool in October 2015. Violinist Nicola Benedettireturns on March 25 and 26 to perform Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1.

The month of March concludes March 30–April 2 with MTT conducting a program of two of Mahler’s Adagio from Symphony No. 10 and Symphony No. 1. MTT’s Mahler recordings with the San Francisco Symphony have garnered seven Grammy awards. 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

“Broadway Under the Stars” at Jack London State Historic Park

“Broadway Under the Stars” at Jack London State Historic Park in Sonoma is fast becoming a “must do” summer entertainment event in the Bay Area—truly a new addition to what defines the Sonoma Wine Country experience. 

2017 will be the 6th season of Broadway artists performing in the 150 year-old Winery Ruins at Jack London Park--these musical concerts capping off a few hours of festivities featuring picnics, wineries pouring, food trucks in a spectacular setting and then Broadway stars competing with the night time constellations as dusk becomes starlight.

The other aspect to this story is that this theater company has helped save Jack London State Park from closure—the first concert occurred just as the Park was about to close and the money raised helped keep it open. 

Then, Transcendence Theatre Company--now a resident Northern California arts organization, set a stake in that ground, entered into an innovative partnership to continue the shows each summer and contribute to the Park’s operation. Since 2011 81,000 people have attended and the tickets have raised $267,000 for the Park.

They are bringing a “Best of Broadway Under the Stars” to the Marin Center March 18 and 19. 

The core artist company is comprised of Broadway performers who have relocated to the North Bay to build this company. And every summer, 60 Broadway performers take time from their shows to come to the North Bay to participate—Transcendence Theatre Company is gaining momentum among New York artists as much as it is among Bay Area audience.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

California International Antiquarian Book Fair Returns

Long recognized as one of the world’s largest and most prestigious exhibitions of highly valued and collectible books, the California International Antiquarian Book Fair Returns to Oakland this month.
The event coincides with the celebration of its 50th Anniversary, Friday, February 10 through Sunday, February 12, 2017 at the Oakland Marriott City Center.
The Book Fair’s venue in downtown Oakland is an added convenience for bibliophiles, as it is a short distance from ferry service to Jack London Square.
Sponsored by the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (ABAA) and the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB) and featuring the collections and rare treasures of nearly 200 booksellers from over 20 countries around the world, the three-day Fair gives visitors the opportunity to see, learn about and purchase the finest in rare and valuable books, manuscripts, maps, autographs, graphics, photographs, fine bindings; children's and illustrated books, and ephemera from many centuries and countries.

Les Enluminures_Vulgate Bible
In Latin, illuminated manuscript on parchment, 141 illuminated initials, including 78 historiated initials, France (Paris?), c. 1250
160 x 110 mm

This year’s Book Fair will include a special exhibit from The Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, which has a long history of collecting the literary fiction of California. In more recent years, that scope has expanded to include mystery and detective fiction, fantasy and science fiction, and western fiction. This special exhibit will highlight California authors’ notable contributions in genre fiction and will emphasize recent donations to the library by featuring materials from the extensive collection of influential author, critic, and literary mentor Anthony Boucher, first editions by early members of the Northern California Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, selections by popular western and adventure writer Kenneth Perkins and MWA Grand Master Ross Macdonald, and more.
The Book Fair will work with local “book art” artists and organizations to create an interactive, informative, and entertaining area at the Fair.
Local libraries and universities will be exhibiting one-of-a-kind works from their collections. Calligraphers, bookbinders and a small press operator will once again be creating unique souvenirs for attendees to take home.
The Book Fair’s schedule will also include events and special exhibits, free with Fair admission.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Of Dogs and Other People: The Art of Roy De Forest

With great anticipation, we await the arrival of this new tome from the University of California Press.

Roy De Forest’s brightly hued, crazy-quilted paintings and sculptures are dotted with nipples of color and inhabited by a cast of characters uniquely his own, a perennial favorite being his instantly recognizable, wild-eyed and pointy-eared dogs. 

Published in conjunction with a retrospective exhibition of the American painter’s fifty-year career, Of Dogs and Other People reassesses De Forest’s art-historical position, placing him in a national rather than solely West Coast context.

Despite the playfulness of his work, close study of De Forest’s art reveals deep layers of meaning. He was a fan of adventure stories, pulp fiction, and underground commix, but he also commanded a vast knowledge of art history and read widely in a variety of disciplines, including poetry, literature, philosophy, psychology, science, and mathematics. 

He enjoyed secreting obscure art-historical references into his work: animals assume postures found in Medieval or Renaissance art, and his compositional strategies draw from sources ranging from the romantic landscape painters of the Hudson River School to the austere geometric abstractions of Piet Mondrian.

This engaging publication presents gorgeous color reproductions of De Forest’s finest artworks, plus a variety of figure illustrations that illuminate the artist’s diverse sources and freewheeling social and creative milieu in Northern California.

The book is authored by Susan Landauer, and published in association with the Oakland Museum of California. Bay Crossings will carry a full review in the coming months. 

Meanwhile, be sure to bookmark the exhibition dates:

Oakland Museum of California: April 29–August 20, 2017