Monday, September 28, 2009

Kimono Display

In Japan, kimono is a generic word that literally means “thing to wear”. While this could cover a wide range of garments, it is usually used to describe the full-length robe that people associate with Japanese attire.

In earlier times, Japanese clothing closely resembled Chinese-style robes. “During the Nara period (AD 710-794), however, garments resembling the kimono began to appear, and after Japan suspended contact with China. . . a style began to emerge that became uniquely Japanese” (Jenni Dobson. Making Kimono and Japanese Clothing. London: Batsford, 2008).

Through October 19, the Art and Music Center will display a contemporary art style kimono designed by Northern California fiber artist Sharon Cahn. Colorful reproductions of book covers from books about kimono are displayed as well.

For further reading, the following books may be of interest:

The Book of Kimono by Norio Yamanaka. (Tokyo: Kodansha, 1986).

Fashioning Kimono by Reiko Mochinaga Brandon and others. (Milan: 5 Continents, 2005).

Kimono as Art by Itchiku Kubota. (London: Thames & Hudson, 2008).

Kimono: Fashioning Culture by Liza Crihfield Dalby. (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1993).

Kimonos by Sophie Milenovich. (New York: Abrams, 2007).

Knit Kimono by Vicki Square. (Loveland, Colo.: Interweave Press, 2007).

When Art Became Fashion by Dale Carolyn Gluckman. (Calif.: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1992).

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Splendid Survivors

Splendid Survivors: San Francisco's Downtown Architectural Heritage is perhaps the most meticulously prepared book to date on the history of San Francisco's buildings. This book was created with a purpose of documenting the City's downtown architecture with an aim of taking stock of what deserved preservation.

The authors compare their mission of preservation with environmental conservation: "a broader and more sophisticated understanding of environmental quality [should] encompass natural and man-made factors that make up our environment." They lay stress on preserving a "sense of place" and "cultural continuity." They also maintain that in most cases, older buildings were better constructed and better suited to the native climate.

Splendid Survivors is primarily an inventory of 790 buildings in San Francisco's Financial District, South of Market, Union Square and Market Street districts. This inventory includes the address, the name of the building, the date of its construction and when available the architect(s). Most entries include a paragraph about the building and a photograph. They also
rate the buildings on a scale from A to D - the "A" buildings having "outstanding qualities of architecture, historical values and relationship to the environment."

This book also includes an excellent essay by Michael R. Corbett entitled "Historical Background" that traces the architectural history of downtown San Francisco. It also details the buildings that survived the 1906 earthquake and fire buildings.

In light of the construction boom that took place in San Francisco in the late 1990s and early 2000s the work that went into this book probably played a role in preserving San Francisco's architectural character. It also documents the City as it was before this transformation.

Strolling with this book through San Francisco's downtown, one can truly develop an appreciation for the layers of historic and the dynamics of change on the City's streets.

Splendid Survivors: San Francisco's Downtown Architectural Heritage, prepared by Charles Hall Page & Associates, Inc., for the Foundation for San Francisco's Architectural Heritage,text by Michael R. Corbett. (California Living Books, 1979).

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Punk Passage and Punk Penelope

The band Crime photographed by Ruby Ray

Don't forget to check out two new exhibits at the San Francisco Public Library.

Punk Passage: San Francisco First Wave Punk 1977-1981 in the Jewett Gallery on the Lower Level of the Main Library is an exhibit of photographs taken by Ruby Ray for the magazine Search And Destroy. In addition to the striking photography there is are also 'zines, flyers, posters and other ephemera, including material from the Art, Music and Recreation Center Collection.

Additionally, in the Lower Cafe Exhibition Case opposite the Jewett Gallery the library is presenting Punk Penelope. This is a small display includes original artwork, albums, lyric sheets and other ephemera from Penelope Houston's days with The Avengers.

Both exhibits will be on display from September 12 through December 6, 2009. Visit the library's web page for related events.

A booklist for the San Francisco / Bay Area punk scene

Dead Kennedys: The Unauthorized Version edited by f-Stop Fitzgerald; written by Marian Kester. (Last Gasp of San Francisco, 1983).

Gimme Something Better by Jack Boulware and Silke Tudor [on order]. (Penguin Group USA, 2009).

Hardcore California: A History of Punk and New Wave by Peter Belsito and Bob Davis. (Last Gasp of San Francisco, 1983).

Loud 3D: Hardcore Rock'n'Roll by Gary Robert, Rob Kulakofsky, and Mike Arredondo. (IN3D, 1984).

Music For Vagabonds: The Tuxedomoon Chronicles by Isabelle Corbisier. (OpenMute, 2008).

Punk '77: An Inside Look at The San Francisco Rock'n'Roll Scene, 1977 by James Stark,
with an introduction to reprint by V. Vale. (RE/Search Publications, 1999).

Search & Destroy #1-6: The Authoritative Guide to Punk Culture (Complete Reprint) edited by V. Vale. (V/Search Publications, 1996).

Search & Destroy #7-11: the Authoritative Guide to Punk Culture (Complete Reprint) edited by V. Vale. (V/Search Publications, 1996).

Streetart: The Punk Poster in San Francisco, 1977-1981
by Peter Belsito, Bob Davis and Marian Kester. (Last Gasp of San Francisco, 1981).

Weird Angle by f-Stop Fitzgerald. (Post Contemporary Productions: Last Gasp, 1982).

We're Desperate: The Punk Photography of Jim Jocoy: SF/LA 78-80
, photos by Jim Jocoy, interview by Thurston Moore, prose by Exene Cervenka, and intro by Marc Jacobs. (powerHouse Books, 2002).

X-capees: A San Francisco Punk Photo Documentary by Raye Santos, Richard McCaffree, f-Stop Fitzgerald and Howie Klein. (Last Gasp of San Francisco, 1981).

The following titles contain interviews, discographies and or related performance information on various local punk performers:

Cinderella's Big Score: Women of The Punk and Indie Underground by Maria Raha. (Seal Press, 2005).

Real Conversations. No. 1, Henry Rollins, Billy Childish, Jello Biafra, Lawrence Ferlinghetti Interviews By V. Vale. (Re/Search Publications, 2001).

Unknown Legends of Rock'n'Roll: Psychedelic Unknowns, Mad Geniuses, Punk Pioneers, Lo-Fi Mavericks & More by Richie Unterberger. San Francisco: Backbeat Books, 1998.

We Owe You Nothing: Punk Planet, the Collected Interviews by Daniel Sinker. (Akashic Books, 2001).

The 4th Floor Art, Music and Recreation Desk has reference vertical files related to Penelope Houston (Avengers), Club Foot Orchestra, The Contractions, Dead Kennedys, Dils, Flipper, The Mutants, The Nuns, Tuxedomoon and Dirk Dirksen.

Special bonus: Guitar Hero. 3, Legends Of Rock: Songbook (Hal Leonard, 2008) includes an authentic guitar transcription of Holiday in Cambodia by the Dead Kennedys.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Purge and Plunder: Art Under The Third Reich

Allied Monuments Officers Recovering and Safeguarding Stolen Art (source: website for the 2006 documentary film The Rape of Europa)

It started with a simple reference question. A person needed to write a report on Nazi degenerate art. He asked if I had heard of it and if the library had any books on it. When I replied in the affirmative, he looked relieved. “I’ve been to many bookstores” he said “and you wouldn’t believe the strange looks I’ve been getting with this request”.

Coincidentally, I was currently embroiled in a novel at home that also dealt with the Nazis and art entitled Pictures at an Exhibition. Written by local author Sara Houghteling, the story masterfully weaves in historical figures of the Paris art world of the 1930’s and 1940’s while focusing on the Nazi’s systematic looting of French museums, art galleries and private art collections. I realized that I was being introduced to a whole new perspective on the history of the Third Reich and of World War II.

Before World War I, avant-garde German art was at the forefront of the 20th century modern art movement. Despite an encouraging atmosphere for German contemporary artists, there was also a growing opposition movement of conservatives that viewed their art as “degenerate.”

The move to rid Germany of all its modern art began in earnest when Adolf Hitler became Chancellor-President in 1933. He passed laws dictating what art forms were acceptable. He believed that it was the state’s responsibility to prevent people from being driven to madness by purging those things that he viewed as corrupt and degenerate. German artists, art dealers and museum officials were given four years to comply with the new standards of what was acceptable.

Artwork that was not in compliance was confiscated by the Gestapo. Confiscated art was then sold to support the Third Reich or dismembered, defaced, destroyed or buried. Many avant-garde artists fled the country; those who stayed were not allowed to work. Art that met Hitler’s standards became at risk as well, as he and some of his officers began to collect and acquire artifacts for their personal collections.

In her book The Rape of Europa, Lynn H. Nichols writes: “When the German occupation of Poland, France, the Low Countries, and finally Italy began, a colossal wave of organized and casual pillage stripped entire countries of their heritage as works of art were subjected to confiscation, wanton destruction, concealment in damp mines, and perilous transport across combat zones.” All of Europe’s cultural treasures were at risk of becoming lost forever.

In the years following the end of World War II, an international corps of “Monuments Officers” worked tirelessly to sort through the huge Nazi cache of stolen art and return the works to their rightful homes. To this day, thousands of artifacts remain missing. Museum officials continue to work with governments and individuals to recover the treasures that were looted by the Nazis.

The San Francisco Public Library offers many books for the reader who wants to learn more about this unique time in cultural history:

Art, Culture and Media Under The Third Reich by Richard A. Etlin, ed. (Univ. of Chicago Press, 2002)

Art of The Third Reich
by Peter Adam. (Abrams, 1992)

Art Under A Dictatorship by Hellmut Lehmann-Haupt. (Oxford Univ. Press, 1954)

The Battle of The Louvre: The Struggle to Save French Art in World War II by Matila Simon. (Hawthorn Books, 1971)

“Degenerate Art”: the Fate of The Avant-garde in Nazi Germany by Stephanie Barron. (Abrams, 1991)

The Linz File: Hitler’s Plunder of Europe’s Art by Charles De Jaeger. (Webb & Bower, 1981)

The Lost Museum: The Nazi Conspiracy to Steal The World’s Greatest Works of Art by Hector Feliciano.

The Rape of Art: The Story of Hitler’s Plunder of The Great Masterpieces of Europe by David Roxan. (Coward-McCann, 1964)

The Rape of Europa: The Fate of Europe’s Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War by Lynn H. Nicholas. (Alfred A. Knopf, 1994)

Second National Exhibition of the Words of Art Recovered In Germany: Catalogue by Rodolfo Siviero. (Sansoni, 1950)