Friday, August 31, 2012

Art in August

What with one thing and another the tail end of the summer tends to be a bit of a light art time for me. But I did enjoy a trip to Hang Art gallery this month, where the green-y image above, by Corbett Leith, was a particular favorite. And also a visit to the Mexican Museum, whose show on portraiture "Caras/Cuentos" featured the below lovely image by Cecilia Concepcion Alvarez, among other treasures.

image source for top photo is here

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Ongoing Poem Cycle About the Winter of 2005 Continues Like This

December 9, 2005
Yesterday I went for work

to the offices of
a certain large animation company
located in Emeryville

and strange as it is to say
it may well have been
one of the most beautiful modern buildings I’ve ever set foot in

glass and girders
warm yellow brick
honeyed wood

a huge space
full of a vast quantity
of liquid light and air

image source is here

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pantone for Authors

Breaking my usual self-promotion embargo here in order to tell you about an awesome feature some colleagues of mine put together for the Huffington Post: pairing color palettes from our new Pantone: 35 Inspirational Color Palettes with famous authors whose work or personality they best suit. Above, "Afternoon at the Metropolitan" was a natural match for Henry James.

Basically, I love everything about this--I love that it's about literature and color, I love that it promotes our book in a cool and interesting way, and I love the fact that, not only was it written for the top internet newspaper, it was also picked up by the sites of the Los Angeles Times Books section, and The Paris Review.

Proud and entertained. Is there a better combo?

Here are a few more of my favorite pairings from the feature: "Silent Screen" for Raymond Chandler, "Pup Tent" for Ernest Hemingway, and "Cottage Garden" for Jane Austen. Masterly, people.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Foodie Love in the 'Loin

There's a mini food revolution afoot in my neighborhood. It all started a number of years back with the opening of my all time favorite restaurant: the beyond fabulous Canteen (above). This spot is in the heart of our neighborhood, which I always think of as being right in the borderland between the Tenderloin and Nob Hill, so it's funny to read reviews that talk about how fantastic Canteen is, and how it's even worth braving going deep into the Tenderloin, or whatnot, to go there.

Then, a couple of years back, Farm:Table opened up around the corner. A tiny coffee-plus-food spot of the highest order, it now also has a fantastic parklet out front, and the people are as sweet as can be. Both of these establishments brought what was, at the time, an unexpected does of gourmet sophistication and adorable decor to the hood. 

But now, just in recent months, the ball has really gotten rolling. Sweet Woodruff--a takeout spot from the people behind Sons & Daughters--opened and was, almost immediately, about as near to perfection as a chi-chi takeout joint can be. When the day's unraveling and cooking as planned is just not going to work out, Sweet Woodruff saves the day with their upscale comfort food. It doesn't hurt either that they know Mabel by name and give her cookies.

And then just the other day I stumbled upon Hooker's. An adorable place for coffee and sweets, a good deal further down into the 'Loin than any of the above. Perhaps I'm corny but I do love finding a new place nearby with second-decade-of-the-twentieth-century-retro-vintage-nostalgia-contemporary decor and delicious lattes.

Obviously I'm not blind to the fact of what all of this may foreshadow, in terms of gentrification and its discontents. But I have the hope that the neighborhood is big enough, and diverse enough, and gritty enough, to contain it all. That the new hipsters and long-standing residents can live side by side in harmony. Pollyannaish? Perhaps. But after all, that's even kind of what ended up happening in the Mission, ground-zero for last decade's gentrification battles. You heard it here first, folks: The Tenderloin is the new Mission. (Actually, I'm sure someone smarter and savvier than me has already said this, and then probably proved it wrong. But ah well).

Monday, August 27, 2012

Po-Po Tails!

Practically since the day she was born with a little cap of dark curls, we've known Mabel was going to be a short-haired child. So mostly she goes around with her hair short, curly, and unadorned by the bands and clips and bows that deck out most little girls' heads these days. But now and then she gets the urge to have me make her some "po-po tails" just for kicks, and every once in a great while she requests that I go ahead and make myself some, too. This is a picture of one of those times.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Grandpa and Big-Girl Collaborative Art

One of my fond memories from my own childhood is of my father drawing for me--funny animals and people saying and doing various amusing things that I would like. And now that this same guy is Mabel's Grandpa, he does the same for her. Except now it's even better because she collaborates in the art-making process, adding her abstract expressionist renderings to his more literal forms. He babysat the other afternoon, and when I got home I found these four drawings, which I adore.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Next Entry in the Continuing Poem Series About the Winter of 2005

December 8, 2005
One thing about me is that I am clumsy

Always have been
Or at least since

When I was younger
I thought it would go away when I got older
but that did not happen or at least not much

I don’t actually fall down on the ground
quite as often as I used to
but that’s about the extent of the improvement

I do things like turn the paperclip holder upside-down
shake it vigorously to shake out one clip
and the lid falls off and paperclips spill all over my desk

Things like knocking the glass bottle of flower essences
out of the medicine cabinet into the sink where
of course it shatters

Things like stabbing a hole in my finger
with the little staby white hook part
of one of those dark green hanging file folders

Mysterious cuts appear on my hands
that I don’t know
where they came from

I splash stuff
all over the stove
when I cook

You’re going to say
everyone does these things

this is all within the last twenty-four hours

image source is here

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Pound of Paper

Am in the midst of reading (and very much enjoying) Susannah Conway's book This I Know (full disclosure: Conway is one of my authors, co-author of the delightful book Instant Love). The book is a memoir about loss, grief, recovery, spirituality, mindfulness, and creativity, all illustrated with Susannah's dreamy polaroids. For some reason Mabel has become convinced that this is "Daddy's book!" and keeps taking it out of my purse and giving it to him. This morning as he handed it back to me he exclaimed "Man! This book is heavy!" And it is. And I was pleased to be able to tell him the reason why: that, although it is primarily a reading-book, because it has photos throughout it's printed on an art-book paper stock which is much heavier (both in thickness and in weight) than the paper a normal memoir would be printed on. I looked it up and, specifically, at 256 pages it weighs 1.2 pounds.

The reason I know about this is that I recently finished working on author and artist Danny Gregory's new book A Kiss Before You Go. Coincidentally, Danny's book is also an illustrated memoir about grief and creativity--a profoundly moving one. And in this case the book is illuminated with his amazing paintings. Every page is full of images and so this book, too, is printed on heavy art-book-type paper. For a slim book, its heft in the hand when you hold if feels substantial and satisfying. At just 128 pages it weighs in at 1.1 pounds.

For purposes of comparison, the most recent standard black-and-white, text-only reading-book I've read was Hillary Mantel's mind-bogglingly wonderful Bring Up the Bodies (if you haven't read its predecessor, Wolf Hall, you must, and I mean absolutely must rush out right this minute and get it--you won't regret it). Printed on a nice-but-normal-weight hardcover-fiction paper stock, even at a whopping 432 pages it only weighs 1.4 pounds. So, ok, I'm perfectly happy to grant that perhaps no one else will find these sort of book wonk facts of interest. But I do, so hey, I figure you never know, you might, too.

image sources are here, here, and here

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Watermelon Cake

For several months now, every time the subject of birthdays, birthday parties, or birthday cakes has come up, Mabel has gleefully and forcefully asserted that for her birthday she would like a watermelon cake. And so for our foggy little picnic party on Saturday, that is exactly what we made. There was also real watermelon, and lots of kids to eat both, and a good time--I hope and trust--was had by all. 

All images, except the very top one, courtesy of Mabel's grandpa:

Monday, August 20, 2012

Shopping at the Farmer's Market

As readers of the Thursday poetry series will know, one of my very favorite San Francisco rituals is the Saturday morning farmer's market at the Ferry Building. This was true seven years ago, when those poems are set, and it's just as true today. Back when I was pregnant with Mabel I used to sit on a bench there (probably eating some enormous amount of baked goods and fruit) and watch all the families with little babies and small children and think how fun it would be to bring our own daughter there, once she existed. And, though common wisdom would have us believe that a pleasure frequently handled in anticipation can, once it arrives in actuality, seem a bit dull or stale, that is far from being in the case in this instance. Wandering around and feeling the oranges with Mabel is every bit as joyful as I thought it would be. Indeed, more so, since I never really could imagine in advance what it would really feel like to have this whole new awesome person woven into the fabric of our lives. Well, obviously I'm still a bit drunk on birthday sentimentality. You can expect that to continue for another day or two. I figure I get a week.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Phantoms of Asia

Yesterday I had to leave work early for the dentist, and afterwards took the opportunity of being out in the world to meet up with the family and go check out the Phantoms of Asia show at the Asian Art Museum. I really liked this show. All about spirits, death, and the afterlife, it employs the very cool curatorial device of mixing cutting-edge contemporary art with ancient objects from the museum's permanent collection, all to great effect. You visit a museum differently with a two-year-old, drifting and careening about, letting the artworks just make fleeting impressions on your inner eye, which you can then think more about later on.

Mabel very much liked this show, too. Afterwards we had time to wander through some of the museum's monumental spaces. The building is an astonishing modern conversion by architect Gae Aulenti (best known for designing the Musée d'Orsay in Paris) of what used to be the main branch of the San Francisco Public Library. A grand staircase has been transformed into a display area for ceramics, and one great big old reading room has been left almost entirely alone. Good places to drift.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Next Installment in the Ongoing Poem Series About the Winter of 2005

December 7, 2005
Yesterday morning I could see my breath

The first time that’s happened this winter
in spite how cold it’s been the past few weeks
Especially at the start of the walk
as I sipped my hot coffee
each exhalation was
a huge white puff

Your body is hot inside
much warmer inside my lungs and my mouth
than outside
nearly all the time
and certainly in December
but somehow the coffee still makes a difference

By the time I got to work it was much less dramatic
the coffee had gone cold in the cup
or perhaps I’d inhaled enough cold air
by then
to make the difference between my breath and the air
not so great

And the sky was the strangest color
The palest pale blue verging into pale gray
almost no color at all
And this was the actual sky
infinitely faded and remote
not the cloud cover or fog or anything else

image source is here

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Recently, Elsewere

The other day I wrote a post over on the blog of the fine publisher I work for, all about folk music and childhood as they pertain to a new book I edited called The Littlest Birds Sing the Prettiest Songs by artist Jennie Smith. I'll leave it to my work-blog-self to tell you all about that over there. But I did just want to share, over here, two images I managed to scare up for the post, in addition to Smith's wonderful art (an example of which is above).

Here, a spread from Beverly Cleary's immortal Romona Quimby, Age 8 in which Willa Jean forces an unwilling Romona to play a frenetic make-believe game based on the song "Froggie Went a Courting." (This moment is of course especially pithy when one recalls all the aggravating spots a nursery-school-age Romona used to get her grade-school-age sister Beezus into in the earlier books).

And this one, a photo of my own dear child enjoying The Littlest Birds Sing the Prettiest Songs with her Daddy just before nap time, way back last week when she was not yet two.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Happy Birthday Mabel!

Two years ago today this child came into the world looking like a cross between a putto and a prize-fighter.

But most of all looking tiny. 

Tiny tiny tiny.

Today she looks like this: big. Big big big. 

She runs. She swings from bars and terrifies her parents.

But though she has grown so gigantic in such a short span of time (and if I've learned one thing in the past two years it's that time is relative, and that it's speeding along at its fastest possible pace right now), she is still our darling baby girl. Happy Second Birthday Mabel! You're awesome.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Feeding the Goat

In this picture Mabel is demonstrating to her two grandmothers how to feed the goat at The Little Farm, in Berkley's Tilden Regional Park, a stalk of celery. This was during a visit from her paternal grandmother--whom she calls her Nooe, or more often, Noh-Noh--from North Carolina. The Little Farm is one of toddler Mabel's favorite places and so of course she had to show it to her Noh-Noh. You can feed the goats and cows and sheep and pigs and poultry the two healthful and virtually calorie-free foods: celery and lettuce. Considering how many little kids are plying these creatures to eat all day long, and considering that as far as we can tell farm animals have no appetite control whatsoever, this seems to be an excellent ruling on the part of the powers that be.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Summer Artist Round Up

Every few months those of us who work on art books at the fine publisher where I am employed have a meeting where we bring and share artists who've caught our eye lately. Illustrators, painters, and photographers tend to predominate, but door is wide open and we get to see all kinds of cool stuff this way. I'm always intrigued to see what my colleagues have been looking at. So, I've been preparing for that meeting this week and thought it would be fun to share with you a few of the people I'm excited to bring!

Above, Elizabeth Graeber.

 Michelle Morin

Riikka Sormunen

Jen Gotch

Alyssa Nassner

Yago Hortal

Megan Martin

Amber Alexandra

Holly Coulis

Celine Loup

Cassia Beck

Ana Montiel

Charlotte Trounce

James Ward