Friday, March 27, 2015

Fertile Ground: Art and Community in California

I went and saw the show "Fertile Ground: Art and Community in California" at the Oakland Museum of California last week. I really enjoyed this show--a co-production with with currently shuttered, and therefore currently mobile SFMOMA--for many reasons, but most particularly because it meant I got to see some old friends and familiar faces from the SFMOMA collection. And it reminded me how much I love the stuff in that museum, and how much I miss going there and seeing these artworks. Well, the new museum opens next year, and this show should tide me over for a little while at least. It's about 4 Bay Area artist communities: the WPA and visiting Mexican muralists in the 1930s, The California School of Fine Arts in the 40s and 50s, UC Davis in the 60s and 70s, and the Mission School in the 90s through to the present day. Just as a matter of personal taste, I liked the second and the fourth sections best, but the whole thing was very cool. Thanks OMCA!

Above, Diego Rivera

Frida Kahlo

Debora Remington

Clifford Still

Mark Rothko

James Weeks

Richard Diebenkorn

Elmer Bischoff

Wayne Thiebaud

Wayne Thiebaud again

Margaret Kilgallen

Chris Johanson

Alicia McCarthy

Barry McGee

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Poem Series About the Summer of 2006 Continues Today on Poetry Thursday

June 7, 2006
This morning was another one of those mornings

with the sun shining
straight up the street at me
as I walked down it

The result being
that the whole sidewalk
gleamed like metal

and every scrap of paper
shard of glass
drop of water
manhole cover
and even
some strange bright green moss growing out of a crack
shone like the purest sparkles

image source is here

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


As I mentioned briefly here, I was among a large team of people who worked on the book @Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz, companion volume to the astonishing art show. I went and saw it back in October, and a few images from that visit are rehashed below, but I'm excited because events have conspired such that I get to go see it again tomorrow before it comes down next month. Woo!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Le Bestiaire

Mabel is always coming up with Halloween costumes. I believe she currently has multiple ideas in the running for each upcoming Halloween until she's about 9. Frequently they are amazing things--an anchor! a gargoyle!--where the first thing I think when she says it is: that's amazing, and the very next thing I think is: how would we ever do that? Which is where this amazing project comes in. First brought to my attention by Pattern Pulp, this collection of children's costumes is part of an exhibition curated by Ionna Vautrin, called Le Bestiaire that "gives children the chance to slip into the skin of all kinds of animals, from the very tame to the very wild." Part of the Biennale internationale design de Saint Etienne 2015, this show included the work of: Brichet Ziegler, Ionna Vautrin, Perrine Vigneron and Gilles Belley, Louise de Saint Angel, Anne Lutz, Joachim Jirou-Najou, Felipe Ribon, Les Graphiquants, Twice, Helkarava, Bonnefrite, Malika Favre, Amélie Fontaine, and Leslie David. I know what I want to be making come October!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Yellow Hat on Boxing Day

Regular readers of the Cabinet may by now be beginning to guess (from this post, this other one, and now today's) that I recently unearthed a cache of baby Mabel polaroids from the winter of 2010--images that were diligently scanned and captured by my archivist dad on his site (and this makes the perfect opportunity to proffer him my perpetual but likely-too-infrequently-expressed gratitude for being the keeper of these vital records for the past four-and-a-half years) but that, because back then the polaroid project was daily rather than weekly and so I had a greater abundance of photos than a weekly blog post could ever keep up with, I never actually presented on this site before in all their adorable baby glory. Think of that! These days, whenever I see a wide-eyed (for for that matter a sleepy) baby cruising around on its parents chest in a carrier like this, I nearly swoon with nostalgia and cute-overload. And here's why.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Bjork / McQueen / Matisse

The Bjork show at the MoMA is getting pretty universally panned, but I don't really care--I still wish I could see it. But alas I don't have any plans to travel to nyc anytime real soon. I wonder if it will end up lodged in my memory on the short and infamous list of New York Art Shows I Am Super Bummed I Missed. The first and foremost and forever-always of which is, of course, "Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty" at the Met back in 2011 (and currently at the V&A in London). More recently "Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs" was added to that list. Whether the Bjork show makes it onto this mental role-call will only reveal itself with the passage of time.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Still-Relatively-New Poem Saga About the Summer of 2006 Carries On Today

June 6, 2006

I walked through
the dreaded mall
on my lunch-hour
to go get soup and stamps
and found there was
a new bakery in there
full of pretty bread
Nice looking stuff

image source is here

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Joys of Good Publicity

Three of the new books that I edited for Chronicle Books and that have come out so far this spring are getting loads of good publicity. I should mention that other books I worked on are doing well, too, in different ways. Good press isn't the only thing that drives the sales of a book, but it can be a major and important factor in getting the word out, and in turn getting the books into people's hands. So it's always an exciting time of year when the media hits start to roll in.

The biggest splash in this regard so far has been made by Art Before Breakfast by Danny Gregory. It's been featured Design Crush, Geek Mom, Scoutie Girl (which gets photo credit for the lovely image above), Archetypes, and the Princeton University blog, among many others.

Artists and Their Cats by Alison Nastasi has appeared in the New York Journal of Books, Cat Tipper (hands-down winner of the Best Publication Name in This Post award), and Mental Floss (who called it "Brain Candy" (yes!) below).

And last but not least From Rain to Rainbows got an awesome feature on the Huffington Post.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Cyndi Lauper

When I was in about the third grade, the by-far coolest girl in my class had a birthday party. Instead of the usual party games were generally playing at that age, the "activity" for this party was that we all walked from her house to the local record store. Did I mention this girl was super cool? I don't think I'd ever even been in a record store before. I bought my first ever cassette tape that day, She's So Unusual by Cyndi Lauper. I've written here many times before about how certain things in my 1980s childhood (the Esprit catalog, the magazines Elle and W, the daughters on the Cosby Show) seared themselves into my brain, to the point where, deep down, this is secretly how I still think things--particularly clothes--should look to this day. And of nothing in the world is this more true than the fashion choices of the divine Ms Lauper. Basically every morning I am trying to figure out a work-appropriate version of the awesomeness you are about to feast your eyes upon. Explains a lot.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Tutu and Tie-Die

Apparently, at one time, Mabel owned both a red tulle tutu and tie-dye socks. And sat on her daddy's chest in the week between Christmas and New Year's, when she would have been about four-and-a-half months old. She is now four-and-a-half years old (as she delights in telling anyone who asks, and even a few people who don't) and I have no memory whatsoever of these clothes or this occasion. Thank goodness for photography.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Susan O'Malley

This week I attended the memorial service of Susan O'Malley. She was one of my forthcoming authors, an amazing social practice artist, and the best friend of a dear friend of mine. But most of all Susan was an absolutely magical human being. She died young and while pregnant with twins, and the baby girls didn't make it either. It is a tragedy in the truest sense of the word. I, along with everyone who learned of her death, was rocked by profound sadness, shock, and anger. So how could her service be anything other than unremittingly sorrowful? Because of who she was. Of course it was deeply sad, as of course it should be. Her myriad devoted friends and family put on a beautiful event for her, but the true glimmers of light that shone in the darkness of the day came from Susan herself--her astonishing combination of smarts and positivity, silliness and thoughtfulness--and while these are of course some of the very things that make her loss so hard, they are also the qualities that bolster us up in the face of this disaster. It's an all-too-easy cliche to say when someone dies "let's celebrate their life" or "they wouldn't want us to be sad" or "we owe it to them to carry on" or "they live on in our memories of them / they live on in their work" when of course, of course we should be sad, even devestated. But as Susan's close friend, the journalist Christian Frock puts it "we must do the painful work of focusing on the life she lived and the optimism in her work, even as we grapple with incomprehensible tragedy. It is the only way forward to honor her life and celebrate her legacy." Susan's compassion and fierce optimism really do live on in her artwork. And Christian is right--it is hard hard work to engage with that positivity, to take receipt of the gifts Susan has left us. But it's the right thing to do.

These images are from the book I was working with Susan on. It's called Advice from My 80-Year-Old Self. For this project she interviewed people of all ages on the street (San Pablo Avenue  to be specific) and asked them what advice they thought the 80-year-old them of the future would give to the them of today. She made these images from their words. The book will come out in about a year. I hope we can do her justice.