Friday, August 30, 2013

Art Friday Art Round-Up: The Time of the Beautiful People Edition

To my eye today's Art Friday images (all of which have caught my attention online over just the past few days) share a common thread. All three of these pieces evoke, for me, a sort of shimmery nostalgia for a prelapsarian time that never was, when people were impossibly lovely and chic. I know many folks object to the pretty in art, but I am not one of them. It seems to me that there can be as must to see in (or, if you prefer, say about) the pretty as the non-pretty--that the fact of the pretty's prettiness does not preclude (and indeed can itself catalyze) the emergence of complex feelings on the part of the viewer. Anyhow. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

The above dress is a sculpture all made out of painted wood (wood!) and is by Ron Isaacs. I owe my knowledge of it to The Jealous Curator.

Above: a photo by Hannes Caspar, as seen on The Fox is Black.

Below: a painting by Roeland Kneepkens, for which we have Artist a Day to thank.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Continuing Poem Series About the Winter of 2006 Carries On Like This

February 19, 2006
What upsets me

is when I notice
I am fretting
about work
during the rest of my life
while in the shower
or in bed or making dinner

I get angry
It’s just ridiculous!
I don’t work anything out
or come to any useful conclusions
or anything
I just rotate all the details
of whatever given problem
in my mind again and again
Like gray and brown rocks in a tumbler
that never get smooth

When I’m at home I don’t want
to worry about work
I exclaim in a huff

Bill says you have to accept the worry and just
let it pass through you and then move on

My father says you have to
“care and not care at the same time”

I say it’s five o’clock on Friday and I’m going home

image source is here

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My Fall 2013 List!

Ok! Here they are! All the art books I edited for Chronicle Books Fall 2013 season. Twice a year I get so excited when the last advance copy finally arrives and I can shamelessly self-promote these volumes (plus one set of notecards and a sketchpad) that I've been working on for the past couple of years, and with which I am inordinately pleased. This season's crop (reading the above photo from from top to bottom, left to right) goes like this:

The Pantone Fashion Sketchpad

Ten Thousand Stories

Brian Eno: Visual Music

This is Happening: Life Through the Lens of Instagram

Dorothea Lange

Eva Zeisel: Life, Design, and Beauty

Polaroid Love Notes



The Art of I Love You

Comic Genius

A Compendium of Collective Nouns

Street Fashion Photography

Art Made from Books

And can I just say? I love this list. Like love and adore it beyond reason. I am so tremendously proud of all the amazing artists and authors whose work is contained in these pages, and so honored to be colleagues with all the myriad people here in this office (and elsewhere) who made all of this book amazingness happen. Damn. I am just one pleased as punch book editor.

Previous seasons lists, if you're interested: F11, S12, F12, S13

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hearting Civic Center

As I mentioned the other day I am now dropping Mabel off at preschool in the mornings, and doing so has necessitated me finding a new path to work afterwards. My current scheme involves cutting through Civic Center at one point in the route. And I am reminded of something I discovered back last year when I spent a week down around there for jury duty: it's a neck of the woods I really really like. My guess would be that most San Franciscans don't care about it much one way or the other. But to me its monumental buildings and stretches of lawn and alleys of trees and slanting morning sunlight, heck, even it's more derelict aspects, all make it feel like someplace you might stumble upon half by accident while traveling in a city not your own, and then feel so very lucky that you did. If there's one thing I'm sure of, it's that achieving that traveler's sense of serendipitous wonder and rejoicing in your own city is a great gift.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Kisses from Mamma

Ok, so I may now officially be on a kick. I apparently can't, or won't, stop posting polaroids of teeny tiny person-faced Mabel. Can you blame me?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Tord Boontje at the Royal London Hospital

You know when an idea's time has just kind of come? Something you've never heard of or given any thought to before, and then all of a sudden you find it mentioned two or three or four times in as many months, or even weeks? I've recently started to notice that kind of momentum gathering around the notion of putting art--real art, not cheap knock-off impressionist posters--in hospitals. Above, an installation by Tord Boontje at the Royal London Hospital. When I think of the times I've had to spend time in hospitals, and the small but palpable lift I would have received from seeing something like this there, it drives home what an obviously good idea this relatively simple notion really is. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

More From The Ongoing Poem Series About The Winter of 2006, Today on Poetry Thursday

February 18, 2006
Yesterday I worked from home

reading galleys in my pajamas all day
which was quite pleasant
And at the end of the day
when my work was done

I found myself sitting on the closet floor
super-gluing errant dark and light green buttons
back onto their respective
homemade hairclips

This in turn clearly required me
to empty the entire contents of the button jar
out onto the floor and then to sort the buttons
into a fan-shaped pattern by size shape and color

None of this was exactly what you would call
In spite or indeed perhaps because of that fact
it was deeply satisfying

I really do love buttons
I never can explain in words
the passion of satisfaction
that certain kinds of objects

(in addition to buttons:
glass jars and floral tablecloths
grosgrain ribbon and ceramic mixing bowls
eggs and cardboard egg cartons)

give to me
But it is real
and true
and right

It mystifies me why more people don’t talk about this phenomenon
though presumably their touchstone objects would be different
Is it because they don’t feel it?
Or do they just not have the words for it either?

image source is here

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Editor Humor

If you are a book editor I can say with pretty much total assurance that you will find the above vintage board game, as displayed in my boss's office, positively hilarious. If you are not, well, I'm not sure I can explain the joke. But for more universally accessible editorial humor, see here.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Third Birthday Party

Saturday we had Mabel's birthday party in the park. The weather was lovely, a dozen kids were in top running-all-over-the-place form, and an excellent time was had by the birthday girl. I must admit to not documenting this event nearly as well as I might have done (as a wise person once said: you can perhaps simultaneously host and attend a party, but you cannot host, attend, and properly photograph a party), but I've borrowed photos from a few pals' instagram feeds and managed to piece something together here that at least shows you the party's two key visual elements: a) the giant doughnut strawberry cake, and b) pin-the-tail-on-the-panda. About both of these brilliant things I can simply say: there is someone in our house (I'll give you a hint: she's short) who comes up with all the good ideas, and then there are those of us (the tall ones) who execute them.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Eight Weeks Old Today!

In honor both of Mabel's third birthday party over the weekend (about which more soon) and today being Bill's first day of teaching his brand new crop of students at his brand new school, I offer the above Polaroid of these two darlings, taken to commemorate the occasion of the baby's eight-week anniversary. It was around this time that someone said to me that Mabel had a "person face" rather than a "baby face," and I knew exactly what was meant--though teeny tiny she always did look exactly like her own distinct self and never like the sleepy lump of flesh (adorable, of course, but as-of-yet-a-bit-indeterminate) that some infants resemble.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Moment to Moment

My pals (and forthcoming authors!) Jonn Herschend and Will Rogan of The Thing Quarterly have teamed up to do an interesting project with Levi's Made and Crafted. Called Moment to Moment, and based on Dan Graham's work from the 1960s--where he bought advertising space and used it as a display space for art--this project commissions artists and writers to create new work to be posted up in public places in various cities, as well as online, and in a specially printed newspaper. I haven't seen any of the San Fransisco installations yet, but good photos of them are available on the project site, and I caught a glimpse of the quite fab paper this morning. The artist roster so far (the project is ongoing) is really great; no less than one would expect from the powerful curatorial brains of The Thing guys. So here are a few of my favorite pieces for your Art Friday enjoyment.

Above, a newspaper kiosk poster by Susan O'Malley

A billboard by Leslie Shows

 Kota Ezawa

More Susan O'Malley (adore her)

Jason Kalogiros

Dave Muller

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Next Up in the Still Continuing Poem Series About The Winter of 2006

February 17, 2006
When I walked this morning

past the weird and ugly
semi-open-air mall
that as far as I can tell
nobody likes
but many people use

I could smell the red and yellow
hothouse smell of the florist
that’s downstairs inside there
wafting out

That had never happened before

image source is here

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Beatirx Potter

This collection of Beatrix Potter books, held over from my own childhood days, has been in heavy rotation around our house lately. Just about every parent of a preschool-age child I know reports the same phenomenon. I'm fascinated with the idea that these Twenty First Century children, many of whom can swipe before they can walk, are still transfixed by these classics of Nineteenth Century literary production (and Twentieth Century publishing). Of course the lasting love Miss Potter's books evoke is richly deserved. Quite oddly, the person who best expressed why may actually very well have been John Updike, of all people, in this (admittedly somewhat sexist) poem from 1960 (which my 8th Grade teacher--who happened coincidentally to be my own mother, the same Grandma who passed the above stack of books on to Mabel--had our class memorize, and of which I find I still know considerable chunks):

Agatha Christie and Beatrix Potter

Many-volumed authoresses
In capacious country dresses,
Full of cheerful art and nearly
Perfect craft, we love you dearly.

You know the hedgerows, stile, and barrow,
Have sniffed the cabbage, leek, and marrow,
Have heard the prim postmistress snicker,
And spied out murder in the vicar.

You've drawn the berry-beaded brambles
Where Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle rambles
And mapped the attics in the village
Where mice plot alibis and pillage.

God bless you, girls, for in these places
You give us cozy scares and chases
That end with innocence acquitted--
Except for Cotton-tail, who did it.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


We've got a new world order around our house this week--Bill started his new job yesterday (yay!) and I took over the morning preschool run. This in turn necessitates me finding a new route to get myself to my own work once I drop the kiddo off. Having walked from home to office for years and years and years my first impulse was of course to walk, and I found a route on the map that looked intriguing, running, as the last leg of it did, along Mission Creek. And, indeed, it looked pretty awesomely intriguing in person, too, as seen above. Alas, however, it took forever. What was meant to be a half-hour stroll turned into more like an hour-long slog, and I arrived at work sweaty and late. I foresee public transit in my future, which makes me a trifle sad. But nevertheless I do also find it rather exciting to be forging these new paths.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Piggyback Ride

This is Mabel's first attempt at a piggyback ride. We are still working on it.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Sassen / Carven

I really really really like these photos by Vivian Sassen for French fashion house Carven. So much so that I have cribbed them straight from Spencer Alley (the very fine blog maintained by my very own dad), in order to put them up here on Art Friday and say, ooh! look! pretty! and very little else.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Long-Running Poem Saga About The Winter of 2006 Continues to Unwind

February 16, 2006
Can’t believe I’ve never told

About the piece of artwork
that hangs above my dresser

I see it as I lie in bed
and am continually surprised
at how often I find myself
looking at it
and more than that
seeing it

That’s the thing
about having real art
you really like
in the house I guess

It keeps on giving

I resort to the colored squares
again and again in my mind
sorting and re-sorting them
into different groupings

My favorite assemblage right now
a larger square
like a quilt block
made up of
two pale blue squares
one of them nearly gray
an almost tan square
and a yellow square

art by Jessica Dacher, photo by Benjamin Watson as seen on Little Paper Planes

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Editors in the Great Outdoors with Art and Stripes

The other weekend my three fellow art editors and I took a sculpture tour of the McEvoy Ranch. Much hilarity ensued when we all showed up that morning wearing black and white stripes. Not planned! as we went on to tell the myriad people who asked the question. Great minds just really do think alike.

Marching around the ranch and seeing the artworks set here and there sculpture-garden-style was really cool. Above a perfectly-placed piece by Joel Shapiro

This one was my favorite of all the art we saw that day, an almost achingly beautiful statue by Stephen de Staebler.

We also got to hang out inside this crazy stunning pavilion and taste the olive oil the ranch produces, as well as some of their new wine (rose! yay!). 

This is what the pavilion looked like on the inside. Pretty amazing, right? We went on this jaunt with the idea of inspiring and aerating our little editorial brains with art and sunlight and air and creativity. It worked.

Top photo by helpful fellow tour-group member Sutton Long, second photo by Kate Woodrow, fourth photo by Christina Amini, other photos by me.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

But We Don't Talk About That Anymore

Bill and I were talking the other day about our respective times working in coffee shops in the late nineties and early aughties. This was, we now know, during the Second Wave of coffee--which people today tend to shorthand as meaning Peet's and Starbuck's, though at the time the places we work served brews from places Chatz and Trieste.

We were discussing the kinds of extra-caffeinated drinks we used to make. They had names like the Fog Lifter, the Corpse Reviver, and the Depth Charge. The wakening properties of coffee were much discussed. Sleepy students and (first wave) dot-com-ers would shamble in and order these concoctions with an air of sleepy bravado, cracking jokes about how they wished they could get coffee on an intravenous drip.

Then, more recently, we got the Third Wave of coffee--artisan places like Blue Bottle, Ritual, Four Barrel, Sightglass, Bicycle, Stumptown, and Phil's. And I'd been chatting a while back with my coworker who has, in her time, worked in Third Wave coffee shops.

She had mentioned the verbiage people who work in, and patronize, such new coffee places use--about respecting the true flavor of the bean as a fruit, with adjectives to describe subtle differences in flavor so copious and colorful as to rival those used in wine tasting.

And it suddenly occurred to me that the differences between how people talked about coffee during the Second Wave and how they talk about it now during the Third Wave are nearly identical to the differences in the ways people talk about drinking alcohol in their twenties versus their thirties.


Like the Second Wave coffee drinkers nattering on about the sheer caffeinated power of coffee to wake them up, twenty-somethings talk openly about the intoxicating powers of booze. In both cases there's a frank admission that basically a drug is being used for it's person-altering properties.

But thirty-somethings and Third Wavers feel it's more adult and sophisticated to discuss esoteric matters of flavor, sourcing, and creation. Not that they don't also get drunk or woken up, respectively. They've just decided it would be deeply uncool to cite those effects as the reason for their consumption.

As a person in her late thirties who drinks her fair share of fancy Third Wave coffees (somewhat embarrassingly, this post is illustrated by all the instagrams of coffee I've taken just in 2013), I am very curious to see what attitude toward our subtly-flavored legal drugs emerges in the forties / Fourth Wave.

Monday, August 5, 2013

No, Seriously, What Just Happened?

Ok, here's the thing--by the calendar it all sort of makes sense. Three years ago this month a baby was born. Now that baby is a kid starting preschool. No big deal, right? Except for the fact that there's a reason the phrase "they grow up so fast" is a worn-out cliche. Because it's true! It's like those odd nights of sleep where you close your eyes and seemingly the next moment you're waking up and it's morning. A minute ago I was wearing my monkey bathrobe and holding the little sugar lump above, and then I blinked and I'm standing outside on the sidewalk this morning taking a First Day of School photo. What the heck!? Where did the baby go? I sometimes think maybe Mabel ate her.