Friday, April 28, 2017

Helen Frankenthaler at Berggruen

I went into the recently-opened big new Berggruen Gallery in SOMA yesterday, specifically to see this enormous Helen Frankenthaler. The canvas must be at least fifteen feet across and -- a fact never captured in photos as accurately as one hopes it will be -- the colors, particularly that blue, are almost luminous. Such a thing! Well well worth a special trip.

Thursday, April 27, 2017


In honor of having seen the radiant Solange perform last night at the SFMOMA Birthday Bash, I propose we read some of her lyrics today for Poetry Thursday:

Cranes In The Sky
music and lyrics by Solange Knowles

I tried to drink it away
I tried to put one in the air
I tried to dance it away
I tried to change it with my hair

I ran my credit card bill up
Thought a new dress would make it better
I tried to work it away
But that just made me even sadder

I tried to keep myself busy
I ran around in circles
Think I made myself dizzy
I slept it away, I sexed it away
I read it away

Away, away, away, away, away
Away, away, away, away, away

Well it's like cranes in the sky
Sometimes I don't wanna feel those metal clouds
Yeah, it's like cranes in the sky
Sometimes I don't wanna feel those metal clouds

I tried to run it away
Thought then my head be feeling clearer
I traveled 70 states
Thought moving round make me feel better

I tried to let go my lover
Thought if I was alone then maybe I could recover
To write it away or cry it away
Don't you cry baby

Away, away, away, away, away
Away, away, away, away, away

But it's like cranes in the sky
Sometimes I don't wanna feel those metal clouds
Yeah, it's like cranes in the sky
Sometimes I don't wanna feel those metal...

Away, away, away, away, away
Away, away, away, away, away
Away, away, away, away, away
Away, away, away, away, away
Away, away, away, away, away
Away, away, away, away, away

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Me on TV

So, a couple of months before my trip to Portland, the lovely publicist for my book How Art Can Make You Happy emails me to ask if I'm "going to be in Oregon any time this spring?" Well, yes, actually I am -- why are you asking me this rather random question? Well, it turns out a morning show called AM Northwest on local Portland station KATU wanted to have me on to talk about my book! Um ... what now?! Being on television struck me -- and, honestly, still strikes me! -- as something I never thought I'd have any reason to do or ever be asked to do. But there it was. And so, there I went.

On my last morning in town I made my way through the drizzle -- all dressed up under my raincoat -- to the innocuous TV station building. I waited in the green room (see above) with other guests for my turn to go on, then was ushered into the studio. A tv studio looks pretty much exactly like you think it looks from having seen them on tv on shows like Thirty Rock that take place on the sets of television shows (whoa, meta) -- all extra nice in front of the three great big cameras on wheels, and all normal with metal pipes and folding chairs and whatnot behind the cameras. They pinned a mic to the lapel of my sweater, tucked the battery back for it into the back of my belt, and sent me up to sit on the sofa on the set and talk with the very nice host lady, Helen Raptis, about my book. You can see what I said here if you are so inclined.

The whole thing was over quickly and was just about as surreal as you'd expect. From the ads that played between show segments, I gathered the audience was probably mostly made up of older people -- and I hope they buy my book for themselves and their kids and their grandkids, and bring a little more art happiness across the generations. That's the dream anyhow. The reality looked something like this:

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Just got back from a work trip to Portland! I reviewed photographers' portfolios at Photolucida for four days; sold Chronicle books at the Photobook Fair; hit up Powell's Books and Stumptown Coffee (a lot); visited several amazing artists in their studios; marched in the Science March; did a bunch of fun retail reconnaissance (and, ahem, shopping); and generally just enjoyed the lovely Portland-y-ness of Portland. Oh, and I also went on television (what the heck?!), but that's a story for another day.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Going For a Walk With Daddy

Here is tiny baby Mabel, just three months old, and her handsome father, ready to face the world.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Wardrobe Snacks

Photographer Kelsey McClellan and stylist Michelle Maguire have collaborated on a project called Wardrobe Snacks with which I am seriously enamored. These images celebrate the twin pleasures of fashion and food, with color-matching so exquisitely perfect it makes your heart race. First found via Colossal.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Color Poem #9

on a california day in the spring
the sky is a paler yet deeper
blue than you expected
a forget-me-not shade with
white behind it and the
hills are a light bright
green so vivid it nearly glows

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

My PW Soapbox Essay

The April 17 issue of PW 

I am very honored to gotten to write a piece for Publisher's Weekly's Soapbox column -- a spot for writers with something to get off their chests. 

My essay is about retiring the term "coffee table book," because when we say that what we really tend to mean are art books that sit around our houses being used as items of interior decor and thus gathering dust, rather than actually taking them out and looking at the art inside. Both as an art book editor and as the author of a soon-to-be-released book on how art can make you happy (called, funnily enough, How Art Can Make You Happy), this is a subject near and dear to my heart.

You can read my piece online here, or take a peek below at how it will appear in the print issue.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


We saw Hamilton in San Francisco the other night, and it is truly not overstating the case to say it was one of the most exciting, magical, and transformative pieces of theater -- or, really, pieces of anything -- that I have ever seen. So thrillingly physical! (I know the music word for word but could not begin to anticipate all the wonders of staging, costumes, dance, and lighting). So fast-paced! (much faster than the cast album, I feel certain). So surprisingly funny (all sorts of laughs I did not see coming). Of course one misses the original cast one knows and loves from the recording, but the new cast was utterly fantastic in their own fresh way. I was, quite literally, bouncing up and down on the edge of my seat for much of the performance. Plus there were girls doing Schuyler sisters cos-play in the lobby. And I nerdily bought a tee-shirt and wore it to work the next day (something I haven't done since I saw R.E.M. in concert about 25 years ago). Just... damn. Inspiration of the very highest order.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Opening B-Day Gifts With Grandparents

A hazy sunlit image, with drifts of colored tissue all around, from the fairy child's first birthday.

Friday, April 14, 2017


There were things I liked and things I did not like about the Matisse/Diebenkorn show at SFMOMA. But, let's be honest, most of the things I didn't like were quibbles. Namely: no photography being allowed, which always makes it so much more difficult for me to remember what I have seen; and second, the fact that the pairings and juxtapositions of the two artists' work seemed to invite spectators to make overly simplistic and literalistic parallels and cause-effect relationships between the two (I overheard more than one conversation about how Diebenkorn would have seen X Matisse painting on X date and therefore was directly influenced by it when he made X painting of his own X years later). Yes, the one artist was influence by the other, yes they share similarities of style, composition, and color palette--and, yes, that's one of the things that makes hanging their works next to each other interesting. However, and now we arrive at the biggest and best thing I liked about the show: this is at its base a big show full of amazing canvases. The dual-artist conceit is clever and well-executed, but its the paintings themselves that are glorious. I just wanted to wander amongst them, letting them pour into my eyeballs, aware that sometimes they did so in new and fresh and interesting ways because of what they happened to be hanging next to. Because you can't take photos in there, I'm using, here, the promotional images provided by the museum, which show the pairings (Matisse is always on the left, Diebenkorn on the right) so you can decide for yourself. The other absolutely wonderful thing was the final huge room of the show which was full almost entirely of some of Diebenkorn's enormous Ocean Park paintings. And man-oh-man is standing in a room surrounded by those a transformative experience. Scroll down for a glimpse of their majesty.