Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Gee but ...

A fun game to play while using the Dorothy Starr Collection database is to enter the first couple words of a title and see the alphabetized list of completed song titles.  The opening "Gee! but" (or "Gee, but") is a nice example.  The word "gee" is not as common an exclamation as it once was.  The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as "An exclamation of surprise or enthusiasm; also used simply for emphasis."  It's a milder, less irreverent way of exclaiming of "Jesus!" 

In "Gee! But there's class to a girl like you" (1908), the "gee" is almost an expression of wonder. There are song titles of opposing sentiments - "Gee! but I'm blue" (1927) and "Gee! but I'm happy" (1936 - lyrics by the famous "Ukulele Lady" May Singhi Breen).  "Gee, but it's good to be here" (1922) contrasts strongly with "Gee! but I hate to go home alone" (1922).  There are also two lovelorn country songs -- "Gee, but it's lonely" (1958) by Phil Everly of the Everly Brothers and "Gee, but it's lonesome out tonight" (1950) by Fred Rose.

The OED dates the earliest usage of "gee" from 1895.  In our older collection of HP "hit parade" sheet music collection there are three early "Gee, but" songs: "Gee! But this is a lonesome town" (1906), "Gee, but it's great meet a friend from your home town" (1910), and "Gee, but I'd like to furnish a flat for you, dear" (1910).  The latter song was from the show The Summer Widowers is an indirect marriage proposal (change your "Miss to Missus" and I'll let you wear my name), and the syllable "Gee" adds a little emphasis.

The latest songs of this batch date from 1958, indicating that "gee" as an exclamation was on the wane.  "Gee, Officer Krupke" (1957) from West Side Story signals this with the mock innocence of the Jets sang.  But a cross section of songs gives a sense of the popular language of the first half of the twentieth century.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Chagall, Modigliani and Delaunay: 3 Artists of Uncommon Beauty


A Slide Show and Discussion with Marlene Aron

Enjoy a fascinating slide lecture on three artists who created work that was bold, beautiful and deeply personal. Chagall, Modigliani, and Delaunay worked in paint, stained glass, stone, and clay. They designed sets for ballet and theatre, collaborated with poets, and were part of the new avant-garde sweeping Europe and America at the turn of the 20th Century. Marlene Aron will discuss the lives and art of these three dynamic artists who created work that was diverse and powerful and who paved the way for the modern art movement that was to come. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2018
6:00pm - 7:30pm
Main Library, Latino/Hispanic Room, lower level


Further readings from our collection:

Chagall : love, war, and exile / Susan Tumarkin Goodman (709.2 C346g)

Chagall : modern master / Simonetta Fraquelli (759.7 C346fr)

Modigliani : a life / Meryle Secrest (759.5 M72s)

Modigliani / Amedeo Modigliani (709.2 M721fr)

Modigliani unmasked / Mason Klein (709.2 M721kl)

My life / Marc Chagall (759.7 C346a 2011)

Sonia Delaunay / Sonia Delaunay (709.2 D375k)

Sonia Delaunay : art, design, fashion / Sonia Delaunay (709.2 D375a)

Sonia Delaunay : the life of an artist / Stanley Baron (709.2 D375b)

Monday, July 9, 2018

Index to Art Periodicals

The reference set Index to Art Periodicals is a reprinting of a card catalog from the Ryerson Library at The Art Institute of Chicago. The cards, reproduced over 9,635 pages across eleven volumes each 14 inches tall, index nearly 300 periodicals from the early twentieth century through 1960.

This publication is strictly a subject index. There are subject cards for people, artistic subjects, names of artworks, countries, cultures, cities and institutions.  The index includes both fine arts and crafts.


I enjoy consulting indexes to see what kind of coverage they bring to our city, San Francisco.  The image above shows three entries.  The first two entries are from non-art publications -- Harper's and Life -- which would not surface in an art database search.  The third publication is kept in storage at the Library.  Photo-Era magazine of November 1923 has an article by Charlotte H. Mackintosh entitled "San Francisco, My City Beautiful" that shows photographs City scenes taken by members of the California Camera Club.



The top entry above indexes a photograph in Scribner's Magazine of February 1910.  Searching the caption text in Google books brings a scan of the magazine and places the photograph within the context of an article by Henry T. Finck entitled "The Progressive Pacific Coast."

We can access the second publication -- Brush and Pencil -- through the JStor database.  JStor is a fantastic resource, but this article would be very far down the lists of results in a search of this database. A search for the terms art earthquake san francisco 1906 in JStor pulls in over 1400 results, but "Details of the Art Loss in San Francisco" appears very far down in the search results.

The article from Horizon by Allan Temko, the long-time the long-time architecture critic for the San Francisco Chronicle.  This article is a beautifully illustrated nearly 20 page color spread on the arts scene in San Francisco in the late 1950s in a general periodical.

When researching there is a danger of assuming that everything can be found on the internet or in databases.  The information may be there, but it may not be readily accessed.  Do not searching in older print indexes and bibliographis that provide other access points that can pull in fruitful results.

Friday, June 22, 2018

The Band Name Book


In the preface to The Band Name Book, author Noel Hudson states that one of his hopes for the book is to motivate readers to search out new bands they’ve found through browsing. He continues to explain, "there are plenty of lists out there with hilarious band name whose existence cannot be proven...I decided to insist on hearing some music by each artist in the book."

The organizing feature of the book is  the category – some are straight forward - The Animals, e.g., and others mimic the zany humor of band names themselves:  “Enough About Me, let’s Talk About My Hair.”  Within this theme there are two subcategories, “On the Outs with the In Crowd” and “Dyed and Coiffed Up.” One of the entries in the former section is from a group from Denver who play with grammar: “Drop Dead, Gorgeous,” riffing on “drop-dead gorgeous.”

Neither the list of categories or subcategories are alphabetical, presumably to encourage browsing, or confound librarians. The page(s) of contents are visually oriented, with a picture of an album from the category placed in a left hand column. The category name in bold san serif type is easy to read; the subcategories are listed in much lighter type underneath. The column on the right holds the page numbers in large light type.

Categories within the book have their own title page using an illustrative photo; subcategories are listed here also. The author uses sidebars for comic effect and visual interest, including names that are still available in a particular subcategory, ("Sockmonkey’s Uncle,"Fleetwood Macaque"…) The entries for the band name themselves vary in length from one sentence to several paragraphs. On the shorter side is the entry for Savage Garden:

The name comes from a line in Anne Rice’s novel, The Vampire Chronicles: ‘The mind of each man is a savage garden.'

The larger entries may also include details about where the band is from, names of first records, titles of hits, etc. Unfortunately, it is rare that dates of activity are listed  (though this would be a daunting task.) Back matter includes image credits, a bibliography and an index with minuscule print.

It should be noted that the book was published in 2008. To date the book another way, the author listed myspace as one of his sources.  There are some conspicuous absences, also – the author apologizes to initial and number bands such as U2, UB-40, INXS, and royal themed bands such as Queen and Kings of Leon. "You're in the sequel, I promise."

The band name book / Noel Hudson.
Erin, Ont.: Boston Mills Press, 2008.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Potrero: 1980s - Jo Babcock Photography

19 Pennsylvania - Jo Babcock

The Art, Music and Recreation Center and the San Francisco History Center are thrilled to announce a new exhibit on the 4th floor of the Main Library featuring local photographer Jo Babcock. On view are close to 60 photographs of the Potrero Hill / Mission Bay neighborhoods of San Francisco taken in the late 1970's and early 1980's.  Babcock has augmented the exhibit with historical research into the buildings, lots and businesses of the time.       

The exhibit will be up from May 26, 2018 - August 23, 2018 on the 4th floor of the Main Library / 100 Larkin Street, SF 94102               

Artist's Statement:

"Between 1979 and 1983, I photographed extensively around San Francisco’s Potrero Hill and Mission Bay neighborhoods. Shooting over 200 color negatives with a high quality 4"x 5" view camera, I documented major features of the area including its local architecture.

During the 1970s & 80s, Mission Bay and lower Potrero were still active, maritime and industrial neighborhoods. Noise, pollution and flammable gas tanks were tolerated in close proximity to Victorian houses and residents of low to modest incomes. Artists lived in raw, asbestos-ridden warehouses with cheap rent and tremendous views. In 1977, while still a graduate student, I moved to the area and built a loft inside a massive warehouse located two blocks from the bay. My windows overlooked Third Street, Bethlehem Shipyards and Mission Rock Resort.  

For four years, on weekends and early mornings when the streets were mostly deserted, I went out with my camera, documenting the cottages, lunch counters, warehouses and railroad yards. Many of the buildings and businesses I captured on film 35 years ago are now gone or changed beyond recognition. They remain only as a photographic memory."

                                                                                   Jo Babcock, 2018



Related Reading:


Artists File on Jo Babcock held at the Art, Music and Recreation Center desk.  Contains resume, CV, magazine articles. exhibition listings and other ephemera. 






Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Black Cedar Trio in concert, Sunday, June 3, 2018


The Black Cedar Trio is returning to the San Francisco for the 3rd consecutive year.  This ensemble employing the unusual instrumentation of wooden flute, cello and guitar has actively created its own repertoire by commission many works and arrangements.  Last years performance even featured a few world premieres.

The Blakc Cedar Trio will perform at 3:00 PM on Sunday, June 3, 2018 in the Koret Auditorium in the Lower Level of the Main Library.

All San Francisco Public Library events are free and open to the public.

Here is a video of the Black Cedar Trio performing John Dowland's Fortune My Foe at their 2016 program at the Library.  Here is a link to the other works they have performed.

 
Fortune My Foe by John Dowland

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Most Popular Art, Music and Recreation Center books, May 2018







Because this list reflects the cumulation of an entire years circulation it does not include 2018 titles that have not had enough time to circulate as highly.  Unsurprisingly, the top three titles on the list were among the books with the largest number of holds placed in November 2017.

Given the excitement over the Golden State Warriors, it's no surprise that Golden: The Miraculous Rise of Steph Curry is ending up the hands of a lot of our readers.  Memoirs by entertainers and comedians continue to be circulate well represented here with books by Tiffany Hadish, Kevin Hart, Gucci Mane, John Hodgman and Eddie Izzard.

The musical Hamilton appears twice -- both the accompanying book with the libretto and a score of the songs arranged for easy piano.  Along the lines of easy piano, the piano instruction manual Adult Piano Adventures.  This interest in musical self-learning in our community is also evident in the popularity of Music Theory for Dummies and Jake Shimabukuro Teaches Ukulele Lessons.

There are a few older titles on the list.  Molly's Game: From Hollywood's Elite to Wall Street's Billionaire Boys Club, My High-stakes Adventure In the World of Underground Poker became a successful movie.  Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud has become a classic on the subject.

Happy reading!


Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah (Spiegel & Grau, 2016).

Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson (Simon & Schuster, 2017).

Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell by David Yaffe (Sarah Crichton Books, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017).

Golden: The Miraculous Rise of Steph Curry by Marcus Thompson II (Touchstone, 2017).

The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish (Gallery Books, 2017).

I Can't Make This Up: Life Lessons by Kevin Hart with Neil Strauss (37 Ink; Atria, 2017).

Hamilton: The Revolution: Being the Complete Libretto Of the Broadway Musical, With a True Account of Its Creation, and Concise Remarks on Hip-hop, the Power Of Stories, And the New America by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter (Grand Central Publishing, 2016).

The Autobiography of Gucci Mane (Simon & Schuster, 2017).

Music Theory For Dummies by Michael Pilhofer, MM and Holly Day (John Wiley & Sons, 2015).

Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud (Paradox Press, 1999).

The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, The Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made by Greg Sestero & Tom Bissell (Simon & Schuster, 2013).

Molly's Game: From Hollywood's Elite to Wall Street's Billionaire Boys Club, My High-stakes Adventure In the World of Underground Poker by Molly Bloom (It Books, 2014).

A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction by Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, Murray Silverstein, with Max Jacobson, Ingrid Fiksdahl-King, Shlomo Angel (Oxford University Press, 1977).

Rock Climbing: Mastering Basic Skills by Craig Luebben (Mountaineer Books, 2014).

Jake Shimabukuro teaches ukulele lessons (Hal Leonard, 2017).

Vacationland: True Stories From Painful Beaches by John Hodgman (Viking, 2017).

Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens by Eddie Izzard (Blue Rider Press, 2017).

Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool: A True Love Story by Peter Turner (Picador, 2017).

Adult Piano Adventures: A Comprehensive Piano Course: All-in-one Lesson Book: Solos, Technique, Theory. 1 by Nancy and Randall Faber (Faber Piano Adventures, 2010).

Hamilton: An American musical; Easy Piano Selections / book, music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hal Leonard, 2015).


Monday, April 30, 2018

Dances for Camera - 2018


Thursday, May 3rd, 5:30-7:45
Koret Auditorium - Main Library
100 Larkin Street

In celebration of Bay Area National Dance Week, SFDFF and San Francisco Public Library will continue the tradition of presenting SFDFF's popular highlight reels – this year from their 2017 festival, which includes award-winning international screendance shorts plus a collection of screendance shorts made by local Bay Area filmmakers.

Schedule:

5:30pm: SFDFF 2017 International Screendance Shorts

6:30pm: 2017 Bay Area Screendance Shorts


Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Literature of Rock - Hoffmann & Cooper


The researcher today has the internet and databases at hand to search for articles and information on all subjects.  For the subject of rock music, the library subscribes to three very good databases.

The Music Index - article citations and full text for more recent coverage

Rock's Backpages - full text of articles by well-known rock critics and scholars, not thorough coverage

JStor - full text of articles in selective scholarly periodicals

Between these three resources and a good web search, a large amount of information can be found.  But at times the amount of information is too great and it becomes difficult to choose and evaluate sources.  This is where a good print bibliography can help out.

The Literature of Rock, compiled first by Frank Hoffmann and later together with B. Lee Cooper (with assistance from Lee Ann Cooper), was published between 1981 and 1995.  The three volumes cover articles written respectively between 1954 to 1978, 1979 to 1983, and 1984 to 1990.  The final volume also includes "additional material for the period 1954-1983".

Each volume has an index that lists the artists, bands, films, and subjects covered.  This book is organized in a unique way that progresses chronologically and stylistically through the genre, thus grouping together music scenes and related artists.

Where the book shines is in the annotations that accompany each citation.  This can give the researcher a sense of how useful an article will be for one's purposes.  In addition to indexing articles, the Literature of Rock also includes book chapters and encyclopedia entries.  The section for "Protest Songs" lists articles from mainstream publications like Life, Public Opinion Quarterly and Saturday Review, as well as sections from books.  Because each volume adds new entries it can be necessary to consult each of the three volumes.

Anyone researching rock music, both its genres and artists, will discover valuable information.  Of course, a bibliography like this is only the first step.  Researchers then need to search the Library's online catalog to see whether the Library has the publications (in print or online).  Sometimes knowing the citation information makes the article more easily found through an online search engine.  When we do not own a book or magazine title, we can usually obtain it for our patrons through Inter-Library Loan.


The Literature of Rock by Frank Hoffmann (and B. Lee Cooper) (Scarecrow Press, 1981-1995).

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Motel California: an author's talk

Event detail

Saturday, April 7th, 1 - 2 p.m.
Latino/Hispanic Community Room
Lower Level, Main Library

San Francisco Bay Area-based cultural historian and freelance writer Heather M. David discusses her latest book MOTEL CALIFORNIA. It is the story of the rapid rise and subsequent decline of the individually owned mom-and-pop motel in The Golden State. It is an exploration of theme-based marketing and a documentation of American culture at what may be the most prosperous time in United States history.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Bob Marley: The Illustrated History - Presented by local music historian Richie Unterberger


Koret Auditorium, Main Library - 100 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94102

Thursday, March 29th 6:00pm-7:30pm



 
The Art, Music and Recreation Center of the San Francisco Public Library is pleased to host local music historian Richie Unterberger. Coinciding with the publication of his book, Bob Marley & the Wailers: The Ultimate Illustrated History, Richie Unterberger will show film clips, images from the book and host a presentation about Marley & the Wailers.

We would like to recommend the following titles from our book collection to learn more about Bob Marley & the Wailers.

Bob Marley: The Untold Story by Chris Salewicz (London: Harper Collins, c2009)

So Much Things to Say: The Oral history of Bob Marley by Roger Steffens (W.W. Norton & Company 2017)

Catch a Fire: The Life of Bob Marley by Timothy White (St. Martin's Griffin c2006)

Marley Legend: An Illustrated Life of Bob Marley by James Henke (Chronicle Books c2006) 

Soul Rebel: An Intimate  Portrait of Bob Marley by David Burnett (Insight Editions, c2009)

Bob Marley and the Golden Age of Reggae, 1975-1976 by Kim, Gottlieb-Walker (Titan Books, c2010)


Search the catalog for subject Reggae Music -- Jamaica to find CD's, LP's and streaming audio.


 

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Song and Dance Bollywood Style


The San Francisco Public Library is pleased to present Dhaval and Gunjan and friends who will rock the Koret Auditorium with their Bollywood singing, from the classics of Rafi, Lata, Kishore and Asha to great songs of the modern era, intermingled with a dance performance to get the groove going. Come sing along with the greatest melodies of all time at 3:00 PM, Saturday, March 3, 2018.

As such a recognizable word and global phenomenon, Bollywood is often incorrectly assumed to be synonymous with Indian cinema. The “Bolly” part of the term refers to Bombay film industry but only which is rooted in the Hindi/Urdu/Hindustani language, which is spoken and understood all across India and Pakistan, perhaps even some parts of Bangladesh. That’s a potential audience close to a billion and a half people, including generations of South Asians living in the global diaspora.

The actors and film playback singers of Bollywood are respected, loved, even revered by the masses. Due to language cross over between India and Pakistan, the Hindi cinema reminds both Indians and Pakistanis that there are things that bind them together culturally against the divisive rhetoric of the politicians. Even where linguistic and political tensions have threatened the unity of India, Hindi cinema, due to its language and magical, immortal songs, has acted as a glue that holds a nation together.


It's not clear who first coined the term Bollywood, but it came to prominence in the 1970s when Indian cinema over took Hollywood in terms of total movies produced each year. Today Bollywood movies are premiered in many western capitals due to the large South Asian populations living in those metropolitan centers. 

Those interested in checking out Indian films DVDs from our collection are welcome to browse our DVDs collection in the foreign language section or do an online catalog subject search  for:

Motion Pictures – Hindi; or
Feature Films – India.


We would like to recommend the following titles in our book collection for those who are interested in learning more about Hindi or Indian cinema.

Funky Bollywood: The Wild World of 1970s Indian Action Cinema: A Selective Guide by Todd Stadtman (FAB Press, 2015).

Encyclopaedia of Indian Cinema by Ashish Rajadhyaksha and Paul Willemen (British Film Institute, 1995).

Bollywood and Postmodernism: Popular Indian Cinema in the 21st Century by Neelam Sidhar Wright (Edinburgh University Press, 2017).

Indian Cinema: A Very Short Introduction by Ashish Rajadhyaksha (Oxford University Press, 2016).

King of Bollywood: Shah Rukh Khan and the Seductive World of Indian Cinema by Anupama Chopra (Warner Books, 2007). [also available as an ebook]
 
Fingerprinting Popular Culture: The Mythic and The Iconic in Indian Cinema, edited by Vinay Lal and Ashis Nandy (Oxford University Press, 2006).
 
The Kapoors: The First Family of Indian Cinema by Madhu Jain (Penguin Group, 2005).

Indian Popular Cinema: A Narrative of Cultural Change by K. Moti Gokulsing and Wimal Dissanayake (Sterling, 2004).

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Handkerchief Heroes: a slide show and discussion with Ann Mahony


Handkerchiefs have served us in life’s tender moments – catching a bride’s tears of joy, worn over a soldier’s heart as he marches into battle, fashioned into a newborn’s christening bonnet, as well as life’s large celebrations – waving bon voyage from an ocean liner, cheering “hooray” at the Super Bowl or royal coronation. Handkerchiefs were the Pinterest of their day, recording our progression from railroad to air travel, from the birth of television to women’s right to vote, from Shakespearean sonnets to children’s nursery rhymes. Come discover the stories hidden in their folds; let your eye delight, your mind engage and your heart connect with these survivors of history.

Join Ann Mahony, a historian of vintage artifacts and handkerchief collector, as she shares pieces from her private collection.

Sunday, February 25th, 2018
2:00pm - 4:00pm
Main Library - Learning Studio, 5th Floor

Visit the Art, Music & Recreation Center on the 4th Floor to visit The Amazing Handkerchief Chronicler of Romance, Heroism, History, Fashion and Art through the Ages display and for your chance to win a vintage wedding handkerchief.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

NEW EXHIBIT (1/27/18 - 5/17/18)

The Amazing Handkerchief:
Chronicler of Romance, Heroism, History, Fashion and Art through the Ages

The ubiquitous handkerchief is with us in large and small moments of life–wrapping a child’s cut finger, catching a bride’s tears of joy, worn over a soldier’s heart into battle. Handkerchiefs date back to the Chou dynasty (1000 BCE) and possibly earlier. Once considered a sign of nobility, they later transitioned into a coveted accessory for both fashion and flirting.

Their size and versatility made handkerchiefs the perfect souvenir. From the Paris Exposition of 1900 to the 1939 New York World’s Fair, handkerchiefs carried images of architecture, amusements and adventures to share and remember. Many were saved and passed to future generations, along with the stories and memories they carried.

In times of sacrifice - the Great Depression, World War II - handkerchiefs were often the lone adornment a woman could afford, costing between five and fifty cents. Vogue magazine carried ads for “Handkerchief of the Month”. After the war, Balmain, Dior, Rochas, and others continued to feature handkerchiefs as a final touch to their haute couture.

These couriers of history carried images that recorded our progression from steamship to railway to flight, from women’s suffrage to the birth of television, and from children’s nursery rhymes to Shakespearean sonnets. “Hankies” chronicled adventure, travel, romance, history, politics, sports and more, with style, wit and enchanting graphics. Come discover the stories hidden in their evanescent folds. Your mind will engage and your heart will connect with these heroes of history. Also, you'll have a chance to win your very own vintage handkerchief in our "Hankie in a Hankie" drawing! (see the Art, Music & Recreation reference desk for details)

This private collection has been curated and shared by Ann Mahony, a historian of vintage artifacts and handkerchief collector (over 5,000+ pieces including several over a century old!). Her blogs include www.TheAccidentalCollector.com and www.HandkerchiefHeroes.com. She is a member of the Textile Arts Council, deYoung Museum, The Vintage Fashion Guild, The Costume Society of America and the National Speakers Association. Ann is a handwriting and forgery expert by trade (www.forgerysleuth.com) and is thus habituated to searching for the obscure and interesting.

Related Program: Handkerchief Heroes
Slide show and discussion with Ann Mahony
Sunday, February 25, 2 PM
Learning Studio, Bridge at the Main, 5th Floor

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Ukulele for Absolute Beginners


On Jan. 27th the Art, Music, and Recreation Center launched its first ever ukulele workshop. This is an on-going workshop for those with no experience playing an instrument. Staff are there to help patrons with the basics, which include, tuning, holding, strumming and forming chords on the ukulele.

The workshop meets the last Saturday of the month in the 5th floor Learning Center from 2-3pm. It is open to all ages and ukulele's are provided (to use in class) for the first 10 patrons. You can also bring your own or borrow one from a friend.

Here's a link to the next workshop on February 24, 2018.

For those ready to dig into our collection of ukulele song and method books, here are a few suggestions:


Jake Shimabukuro Teaches Ukulele Lessons (Hal Leonard, 2017).

The 4 Chord Ukulele Songbook (Cherry Lane Music, 2013).

Play Ukulele Today!: A Complete Guide to the Basics. Level 1, by Barrett Tagliarino (Hal Leonard, 2015).

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Resource Guide of Asian American Artists in the San Francisco Bay Area (1996)

Since the days of the Gold Rush, Asian-Americans have made significant contributions to the Bay Area's culture.  Yet for many years the arts and literature of Asian-Americans remained on the margins.  In the 1960s student movements on college campuses led to community activism that helped bring Asian American culture into the wider community.

One result of this activity was the founding of the Kearny Street Workshop in 1972.  Elsa S. Cameron described the Workshop arising "because of the initiative of ethnic artists who decided to go back and work in their communities."  She quotes founder Michael Chin who described the impetus as a "search for cultural identity."  Nancy Hom places the work of the Kearny Street Workshop as coming within an "exploration" that looked into questions of "identity, history and cultural pride."

In 1996 the San Francisco Art Commission Cultural Equity Endowment funded the Asian Art Museum and the Kearny Street Workshop to compile and publish the Resource Guide of Asian American Artists in the San Francisco Bay Area.  More than twenty years old now this work is no longer a timely guide to the Asian American arts and artists, but it does serve as an important time capsule documenting the activity of the time.

The Resource Guide is a directory of individuals and organizations active in the visual, performing and literary arts.  It provides contact information, a description of which ethnic community each person or organization represents, the number of years that they have been presenting programs and who their primary audience is.  Each entry also includes the artist's or organization's mission statement.  Occasionally an email address is given for a contact, but at this stage nobody had a webpage yet.  An index at the end of the volume is organized by artistic form.

A lot of changes can happen over a couple of decades. Many of the organizations have moved or ceased to be active. Many artists have moved out of the Bay Area or have passed away.  (But it is nice to see an entry for the late Ruth Asawa).

It was interesting to see our City's elected Public Defender Jeff Adachi (Jeffrey Adachi in the directory) listed as the contact for the apparently now longer extant Asian American Arts Foundation (AAAF).  This organization's mission was to "[provide] financial support and public recognition and acknowledgement for Asian American Art projects that present and true to life portrayals of Asian Americans."  This foundation had a web presence at http://www.aaafoundation.com/ that was last updated on June 12, 2000 and that disappeared by sometime in 2002.  (The "Wayback Machine" of Archive.org has captured these webpages for the years 1998 to 2002).

Nowadays the information in this directory would be readily available on the web.  But as we have seen webpages come and go on the internet.  The Resource Guide of Asian American Artists in the San Francisco Bay Area gives us a picture of a vibrant scene for one moment.  It provides a way to find the roots of part of the Bay Area's rich cultural tapestry.


Asian American Arts Foundation [website archived on March 22, 2002]

Cameron, Elsa S., "The San Francisco Art Comission's Neighborhood Arts Program," in The Art Museum as Educator: A Collection of Studies as Guides to Practice and Policy by the Council on Museums and Education in the Visual Arts (University of California Press, 1978).

Hom, Nancy, "Kearny Street Workshop," Nancy Hom Arts (March 24, 2009).

Resource Guide of Asian and Asian American Artists in the San Francisco Bay Area (Asian Art Museum: Kearny Street Workshop, 1996).

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Schubert's Winter Journey: Anatomy of An Obsession


With Schubert's Winter Journey we do get what the subtitle promises, an "anatomy of an obsession." -- tenor Ian Bostridge's obsessive plumbing of the depths of the song cycle Winterreise.  It’s a real treat to read a loving account of a piece of music by somebody who has lived fully with the composition.

Bostridge has written a chapter for each of the 24 songs of the cycle where he gives a close reading of both Wilhelm Müller's poems and Schubert's musical setting.  He also brings a personal perspective to his account, describing how, as a child, he came to Schubert’s music and Winterreise, and the variety of circumstances where he has performed the cycle.

He details Schubert's creative path to the work as well as its performance history.  Bostridge goes into the circumstances of composer's life, discusses his circle of friends, plus the literature, politics, wars, censorship of that time, as well as Schubert's health difficulties and their effect on his outlook.

The changing reception and meaning of the work over time is also discussed, even the work’s place in Nationalist Socialist Germany.  Climate science, energy usage, changes in transportation, changes in social and sexual mores through history are not outside the book's purview.

Bostridge writes that the complete Winterreise was performed for the first time in 1860 by Julius Stockhausen.  Other sources, most recently Graham Johnson's Franz Schubert: The Complete Songs, state that the complete was first performed by Stockhausen in 1851.

The first complete performance of Winterreise was given in San Francisco on November 16, 1941 at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, then located at 3438 California Street.


San Francisco Call November 14, 1941, source: San Francisco Programs. Music.

Pianist Ashley Pettis reviewed the performance in The Argonaut. (Pettis, a California native, had founded the Composers Forum Laboratory in New York in 1935 which he moved to San Francisco when he joined the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in 1940).

He was struck that this was the cycle's first complete San Francisco performance which he described as "an illuminating commentary on the general run of program building, especially by singers, where, paradoxically, the lesser often obscures the greater." He reported that "Nicholas Goldschmidt succeeded to a remarkable degree in projecting the deeply subjective moods of Schubert's great songs" and that "Carl Fuerstner, at the piano, was completely en rapport with the singer as well as the requirements of Schubert's difficult and musically demanding accompaniments."
 source: The Argonaut (November 21, 1941).

Pettis sums up the event:
In the hands of these artists, who approached their task with admirable and unusual self-abnegation, Schubert's Winterreise sounded as fresh and modern as the day they were born, and took their listeners on a journey of rare musical experience for which we shall ever be grateful.
Nowadays a complete performance, while still a special occasion, is not such a rare event.  The library offers several recordings, in CD, LP, and streaming audio and video formats.  There are also myriad performances online. One recent treat in our collection is a DVD performance of the cycle by Matthias Goerne accompanied by Markus Hinterhäuser with an animated film by South African artist William Kentridge.

Even though it's an in-depth look at a complex musical composition, Bostridge’s presentation includes very few passage that require a knowledge of music or music theory. A read through Schubert's Winter Journey will deeply enrich the experience and understanding of this timeless music.


"American Music's Spark Plug," by Alfred Frankenstein, San Francisco Chronicle (September 1, 1940), p. 26.

Franz Schubert: The Complete Songs by Graham Johnson; translations of the song texts by Richard Wigmore (Yale University Press, 2014).

Julius Stockhausen: Der Sänger des deutschen Liedes (Englert und Schlosser, 1927).

"Music," by Ashley Pettis, The Argonaut (November 21, 1941), p. 14.

San Francisco Programs. Music (San Francisco Public Library, Oct./Dec. 1941).

Schubert's Winter Journey: Anatomy Of An Obsession by Ian Bostridge (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015).

Winterreise [videorecording] by Franz Schubert (C Major Entertainment, 2017).