Wednesday, December 21, 2011

"Handprinted posters are colorful memories of San Francisco concerts"

photograph by Bonnie Eva Chan / image source: The

If you're a fan of rock poster art, don't neglect to come the 4th floor of the San Francisco Public Library's Main Library. High Volume: Rock Art from the Chuck Sperry Archive and Firehouse Goldenvoice Poster Series will remain on display through January 6, 2012.

For a review of the exhibit you can read Lulu Orozco's article "Handprinted posters are colorful memories of San Francisco concerts" published in the December 6, 2011 issue of the Guardsman, the newspaper of the City College of San Francisco.

Earlier blog entry:

High Volume: Rock Art From The Chuck Sperry Archive and Firehouse Goldenvoice Poster Series (October 11, 2011)

Monday, December 12, 2011

John King at the Library: Cityscapes - San Francisco and Its Buildings

Cityscapes: San Francisco and its Buildings
, is a handsome, new, pocket-size book by John King, columnist and urban critic for the San Francisco Chronicle. Cityscapes is a collection of columns in which he comments, in vivid prose, on the state of the city’s urban environment and the efforts made to update, renew and expand it.

King has been an astute observer of the Bay Area’s architecture scene for a number of years. While he may touch, in passing, on some of the City’s iconic structures, mostly he talks about regular, ordinary buildings, buildings that are so familiar that they have slipped from conscious awareness unless a special feature is pointed out or they are in the news in the context of new construction. But it is the City's unique structures, here and there, that by good fortune have been saved from the wrecker’s ball, that draw his special attention.

He reminds us of some of the small urban oases that dot the city in unexpected places. Buildings of different styles and periods, or buildings and a unique natural setting come together to create small enclaves that please the eye and nurture the spirit. Four small, connected cottages, white stucco and dark bays, that could have been plucked from Carmel and deposited on top of Russian Hill make just such a place. There, amid shrubbery and bougainvillea, they sit, through some alchemy of topography and space and light, in serene harmony with the residential tower with which they share a brick alley.

And then there is the magic of color. He observes how some dismal, depressing high rise apartments for seniors were totally changed by rectangles in soft blue and ocher that highlighted architectural details. The moody, grey monoliths were transformed into domiciles that project liveliness, energy and cheerfulness.

In some ways, Cityscapes is probably a guide book. It’s a guide that shows how a lively, energetic, modern city comes to terms with new needs through progress and renewal. It demonstrates how, in San Francisco, the past integrates with the present and allows for change in the future. And it opens our eyes and makes us appreciate the vibrant, architectural kaleidoscope that is San Francisco.

John King will talk about Cityscapes: San Francisco and its Buildings in the San Francisco Public Library’s Latino/Hispanic Community Meeting Room on December 14, 6:15 PM. This program is supported by the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library. All Library programs are free and open to the public.

Cityscapes: San Francisco and its Buildings
by John King (Heyday, 2011).

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Musicians of the San Francisco Symphony: Their Stories and Music

This panel discussion features members of the San Francisco Symphony who share their unique perspectives on life as a member of a world-class orchestra and perform chamber music selections. Participating musicians include: Catherine Payne, flute/piccolo; Robin Sutherland, piano; Jessica Valeri, horn and Mark Volkert, violin.

This program will take place on Tuesday, December 13, 2011 at 6 PM in the Koret Auditorium in the Main Library's Lower Level. All library programs are free and open to the public.

Come early to hear San Francisco Symphony Archivist Joe Evans lead a curator talk and walk-through of the related exhibition in the Jewett Gallery at 5 p.m.

For related reading see The San Francisco Symphony: Music, Maestros, and Musicians by retired Symphony violinist David Schneider.

The San Francisco Symphony: Music, Maestros, and Musicians by David Schneider; foreword by Edo de Waart (Presidio Press, 1983).

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Happy Birthday San Francisco Symphony!

Let's all hoist a glass -- metaphorical or actual, as you please -- to the San Francisco Symphony to celebrate their 100th birthday! At 3:30 PM on Friday, December 8, 1911, Henry Hadley raised his baton to conduct the Meistersinger Overture by Richard Wagner and the music continues. Today the Library celebrated the Symphony's Centennial with 146 viewers who came to the Koret Auditorium to watch the Symphony's Keeping Score video program Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique.

We continue to have two Symphony-related exhibits on display through January 9, 2012. Music for a City, Music for the World in the Jewett Gallery on the Library's Lower Level was curated by the Symphony itself and features many photographs and artifacts illustrating the Symphony's history. The San Francisco Symphony in the Library’s Collections in the Steve Silver Beach Blanket Babylon Music Center on the 4th floor was created by Library staff and draws upon the Library's books and files.

Join Thomas Hampson and Michael Tilson Thomas in singing "Happy Birthday" to the Symphony!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Keeping Score: Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique

Portrait of Hector Berlioz by Émile Signol (source: Wikimedia Commons)

This Thursday's noon film will be Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique (2009) from the San Francisco Symphony's award winning documentary film series Keeping Score.

Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony explore this orchestral sonic spectacular as they follow Hector Berlioz to the brink and beyond in this one-hour documentary film. This is followed by a 56 minute filmed concert performance of the work by the Symphony.

This documentary will be screened at 12 noon, Thursday, December 8 in the Koret Auditorium at the San Francisco Public Library's Main Library.

All library programs are free and open to the public. This program has received support from the Friends of San Francisco Public Library and the San Francisco Symphony.

Further reading:

First Nights by Thomas Forrest Kelly devotes a lengthy chapter to the circumstances surrounding Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique and its premiere on December 5, 1830 (181 years ago today).

The Norton Critical Score of the Fantastic Symphony, edited by Edward T. Cone, includes historical background, musical analysis, critical reception and a bibliography for the work.

Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique produced and directed by David Kennard and Joan Saffa (SFS Media, 2009).

Fantastic Symphony: An Authoritative Score, Historical Background, Analysis, Views and Comments; edited by Edward T. Cone (W.W. Norton, 1971).

First Nights: Five Musical Premieres by Thomas Forrest Kelly (Yale University Press, 2000).

Monday, November 28, 2011

Keeping Score: Gustav Mahler: Origins and Legacy

The Main Library's Thursday Noon Film series in December will be devoted to the San Francisco Symphony's Keeping Score series. Keeping Score is an ongoing educational classical music series originally broadcast on PBS that features the Symphony's Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas. We are very happy to present five of these programs in conjunction with the celebration of the Symphony's Centennial season.

Our video series will kick off with the 2011 film Gustav Mahler: Origins and Legacy. In this program, Michael Tilson Thomas journeys to rural Bohemia to rediscover the inspirations of Gustav Mahler’s music. This two-part, two hour documentary traces the composer’s life through the premiere of his first symphony in 1888 and examines Mahler’s creative growth, from the 1890s to his death in 1911. The documentary is shot on location in the Czech Republic, Austria, New York, and in performances by the San Francisco Symphony at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco.

Gustav Mahler: Origins and Legacy will screen at noon on Thursday, December 1, 2011 in the Koret Auditorium. All programs at the Library are free and open to the public.

Recent books about Mahler in the San Francisco Public Library collection include:

Reading Mahler: German Culture and Jewish Identity in Fin-de-siècle Vienna by Carl Niekerk (Camden House, 2010).

Why Mahler?: How One Man and Ten Symphonies Changed Our World by Norman Lebrecht (Pantheon Books, 2010).

We also have most of Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony's recordings of Mahler available to borrow. Place any title on hold to have it sent to your neighborhood branch.

When you visit the Main Library don't forget to visit our two Symphony-related exhibits, Music for a City, Music for the World in the Jewett Gallery on the Lower Level and The San Francisco Symphony in the Library’s Collections in the Steve Silver Beach Blanket Babylon Music Center here on the 4th floor.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Return of the Aurora Mandolin Orchestra

The Aurora Mandolin Orchestra will be bringing their dulcet tones to the Koret Auditorium this Saturday, November 19 at 2pm.

Their impressive string section includes mandolin, mandola, mandocello, guitar and string bass. Accordion, flute and percussion fill out the sound. The Aurora Mandolin Orchestra’s repertoire includes traditional and romantic pieces and includes melodies from Italy, Spain, and Russia.

In addition to the 26 member orchestra the performance will include special guests: soprano Annemarie Ballinger and professional trumpeter Jay Rizzetto. Please join us for a musical afternoon.

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

This program has received support from the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Music of the Barbary Coast and Beyond: San Francisco’s Musical Origins

In celebration of the San Francisco Symphony's Centennial, the Library and Symphony have been presenting special exhibits and a series of related programs. On Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 6:00 PM we will co-present the program Music of the Barbary Coast and Beyond: San Francisco’s Musical Origins in the Main Library's Koret Auditorium.

San Francisco has always been a music-loving town, from the music halls of the Gold Rush to the emergence of a full-time professional orchestra in the early 20th century. James Keller, organizer of the forthcoming exhibition at the Society of California Pioneers', Singing the Golden State, and Leta Miller, musicologist from UC Santa Cruz and author of the forthcoming Music and Politics in San Francisco 1906-1945 (UC Press), paint a vivid portraits of the diverse musical forces that laid the groundwork for the founding of the San Francisco Symphony in 1911. San Francisco musicologist Susan Key moderates.

A selective bibliography of books by our presenters:

American Mavericks, edited by Susan Key and Larry Rothe (San Francisco Symphony; in cooperation with the University of California Press, 2001).

Chamber Music: A Listener's Guide by James M. Keller (Oxford University Press, 2011).

Lou Harrison by Leta E. Miller and Fredric Lieberman (University of Illinois Press, 2006).

Music and Politics in San Francisco: From the 1906 Quake to the Second World War
by Leta E. Miller (University of California Press, 2012).

Other blog entries relating the Symphony Centennial:

Music For a City, Music For the World: 100 Years with the San Francisco Symphony (September 12, 2011).

Alfred Hertz and the San Francisco Symphony
(September 21, 2011).

San Francisco Symphony at 100
(October 3, 2011).

An Audio History of the San Francisco Symphony
(October 17, 2011).

Recollections of Alfred Hertz (November 3, 2011).

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Our Books - Read On Public Transportation!

One of the life's cheap thrills for librarians is to see books we have selected in the hands of readers on the bus, MUNI or BART. That's why it was a delight to come across these images from the blog People Reading Books In Public Places.

This book, photographed on the K Ingleside train, is clearly a San Francisco Public Library book - the barcode placed in the upper left hand corner and date label at the top of the spine are the clues.

The photographed reader is enjoying Simon Reynold's Totally Wired: Post-Punk Interviews and Overviews, a companion to his earlier Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984.

For all you Simon Reynold's fans we have his two newest books at the Library. Bring The Noise: 20 Years of Writing about Hip Rock and Hip Hop covers Reynold's more recent music journalism. His Retromania: Pop Culture's Addiction to its Own Past is a work of cultural criticism where he argues that the instant availability of nearly all of audio musical history that we have with the advent of internet has contributed to a contemporary culture that revels too much in stylistic imitation at the expense of originality.

The blogger identifies this second book as Found: A Daughter's Journey Home by actress Tatum O'Neal. She notes that it is a library book being read on BART - but we don't know which library it was borrowed from. It could be one of ours - as of today's writing, San Francisco Public Library has 16 copies of this title. If a copy is not available at your branch, place a hold.

Here is a summary of Found from our Library catalog: "The actress reveals her efforts to pull her life together, make peace with her children, and forge a fragile relationship with her estranged father, Ryan O'Neal, after twenty-five years of public and private feuding."

If you have already read Found and enjoyed it, we also have several copies of Tatum O'Neal's 2004 book, A Paper Life.

Reading List:

Bring The Noise: 20 Years of Writing about Hip Rock and Hip Hop
by Simon Reynolds (Soft Skull Press, 2011).

Found: A Daughter's Journey Home by Tatum O'Neal; with Hilary Liftin (William Morrow, 2011).

A Paper Life by Tatum O'Neal (Harper Entertainment, 2004).

Retromania: Pop Culture's Addiction to Its Own Past by Simon Reynolds (Faber & Faber, 2011).

Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984 by Simon Reynolds (Penguin Books, 2006).

Totally Wired: Post-Punk Interviews and Overviews by Simon Reynolds (Faber and Faber, 2009).

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Recollections of Alfred Hertz

Cover image from 1925-1926 San Francisco Symphony season programs

Alfred Hertz, the San Francisco Symphony’s second conductor, though a beloved a figure, was a formidable musical force and personality.

Winthrop Sargeant was the music critic for the New Yorker from 1947 to 1972. A native San Franciscan he was a member of the second violin section of the San Francisco Symphony as a youth in the early 1920s. In Geniuses, Goddesses, and People, he describes Hertz as the first true genius he had ever met and recounts his impressions of the conductor.

In San Francisco, where he had taken over the conductorship of the local Symphony and whipped it into a standard of performance that was then new to the Pacific coast, Hertz was a great man. Few people honestly liked him, and I have rarely met a man who so consistently went out of his way to be disliked. With Hertz, being disliked was a point of pride and a proof of power. His appearance, to begin with, was somewhat frightening, and he made the most of it. His shiny, totally bald head, from which even the suggestion of a fringe had been studiously clipped, surmounted a neck that bulged with overlapping layers of fat. His thick, sensual lips and sawlike teeth peeked obscenely from behind a luxuriant and carefully tended black beard. His powerful shoulders and stocky body swayed uncertainly on legs pitifully withered by infantile paralysis, and his walk, painstakingly aided by a heavy cane, was like the halting progress of some wounded but defiant animal.

Hertz was a conductor of experience, knowledge and enormous sincerity. He could perform Brahms with a leisurely grandeur that has become practically extinct in the modern concert hall, and Wagner with a certain very Teutonic nobility. He never spared himself in his devotion to his work.

Fear the beard, indeed!

Leon Fleisher, another San Francisco native, encountered Alfred Hertz as a child prodigy in the 1930s. He reminisces about Hertz in his 2010 memoir My Nine Lives: A Memoir of Many Careers in Music.

Hertz was as bald as a billiard ball, with a formidable dark, bushy beard that was salt-and-pepper gray by the time I knew him and round wire-framed glasses: a bona fide representative of the great European tradition, straight out of the concert halls of Gustav Mahler. Crippled as a child by what they used to call infantile paralysis--that is, polio--he walked with a cane for all of his adult life, but this did not diminish his notable vigor.

He was also a formidable and renowned musician. Hertz’s stature was such that he was able to attract a whole new caliber of player to San Francisco, both as soloists and as orchestra players. The violinist Louis Persinger, for instance, was the concert-master of the Berlin Philharmonic before Hertz lured him to take that position at the San Francisco Symphony. With this kind of musician on its roster, the San Francisco Symphony quickly developed into a serious professional orchestra.

Hertz was also forward-looking. He was committed to education and outreach--words that didn’t have as much currency in the classical music world in those days as they do now--and was happy to explore new ways of reaching audience. He was also eager to explore recording and radio. The San Francisco Symphony became one of the first American orchestras to make commercial recordings, starting in the 1920s.

The display The San Francisco Symphony in the Library's Collections features some of Alfred Hertz's correspondence and other ephemera. This display may be viewed in the Steve Silver Music Center on the 4th floor of the Main Library.

Leon Fleisher and Anne Midgette, My Nine Lives: A Memoir of Many Careers in Music (New York: Doubleday, 2010).

Winthrop Sargeant, Geniuses, Goddesses, and People (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1949).

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bob Grimes (1922-2011) - An Appreciation

Bob Grimes, photographed by Basya Petnick in "Bob Grimes - The Music Man," Nob Hill Gazette (January 1999), p. 20.

Musicians all over the world lost a dear friend when Bob Grimes passed away recently at the age of 89. We miss him at the Library as well. A recent obituary by Peter Hartlaub in the San Francisco Chronicle of October 14, 2011 provides a nice appreciation of Bob Grimes and his life.

Bob Grimes was a legendary collector of sheet music - his collection consisted of more than 34,000 pieces until he sold it to the Michael Feinstein Foundation near the end of his life. While Bob was happy to be known as a collector, his true passion was for the songs themselves. He wanted to play whatever part he could in bringing back what he saw as a Golden Age of American music. To that end he shared his collection and knowledge of this rich repertoire with countless singers and other musicians.

The Sheet Music Mogul of Post Street, source: Youtube - Channel 3 Evening News (2007).

In addition to possessing such a marvelous collection, he was a living encyclopedia, an endless font of knowledge about the songs of American film and stage. We librarians often called upon him to help library patrons. When you told him a song title he’d say, “That’s from [movie title], I pretty sure I’ve got it here, hold on a minute.” Or he’d answer “Oh, that one was never published.” Then you knew you were sunk.

He could recall significant details about every song often about their setting and creation. Today the internet, databases and recent reference books have made it much easier to track down an elusive piece of sheet music. But a mere twenty years ago the amazing memory of collectors like Bob Grimes and dealers like Dorothy Starr were absolutely essential.

Bob was always delighted to hold court and share his enthusiasm and knowledge with anyone who was interested. I’m sure many others can recount instances of Bob introducing them to some obscure, wonderful number captured on celluloid. I remain grateful for Bob playing me a movie scene where Lyda Roberti as Mata Machree sings the over-the-top number “It’s Terrific (When I Get Hot)” from the delightful W. C. Field’s vehicle Million Dollar Legs (1932). According to Frederick Nolan, famed lyricist Lorenz Hart anonymously contributed these lyrics to Ralph Rainger’s melody. But I’m sure Bob must have first told me that.

Matta Machree, The Woman No Man Can Resist (source bunæn’s Flickr photostream).

Bob was very generous with the Library and its patrons. Often after learning that Bob indeed did have a copy of a very elusive song, I would walk up to his apartment on Post Street where he would a have a copy awaiting me that I could provide for an astonished and grateful library patron.

We continue to aspire to provide what Bob Grimes did -- access to the vast ocean of American popular song. Our collection of sheet music is vast, if less focused than Bob’s. In 1990 we were fortunate have community members raise money to acquire the stock of Dorothy Starr’s music store. We have a database consisting of nothing but vocal sheet music that presently has more than 35,000 unique items. This supplements our already extensive collection of songbooks and piano / vocal scores to Broadway shows and film musicals. While we cannot provide this service with the same charm and aplomb that Bob did, we hope we aspire to continue his legacy of helping to unite singers with songs.

For those interested in learning more about Bob Grimes the Art, Music and Recreation Center has newspaper clippings about Bob Grimes spanning more than 30 years in our Musicians and Performing Artists File.


Bob Grimes biography at the Internet Movie Database.

Lorenz Hart: A Poet on Broadway by Frederick Nolan (Oxford University Press, 1994).

Monday, October 17, 2011

An Audio History of the San Francisco Symphony

Victor Records advertisement from the San Francisco Symphony programs, 1929-1930.

Scott Foglesong, musicologist and chair of the San Francisco Conservatory department of musicianship and music theory, has spent the last two years unearthing rare recordings and broadcasts by the San Francisco Symphony. On Tuesday night, October 18, 2011, from 6:00 - 7:30 in the Koret Auditorium, Foglesong will lead a fascinating curated musical journey through time, from 1925 to the present.

** Rumor has it that there will be an audio demonstration of the "Hertz lunge."

Foglesong has also compiled a complete discography of the San Francisco Symphony that is available on the Symphony's website. For related reading, check out Larry Rothe's new centennial history of the Symphony entitled Music for a City, Music for the World: 100 Years with the San Francisco Symphony (Chronicle Books, 2011).

When you visit the Library don't forget to visit our two Symphony-related exhibits, Music for a City, Music for the World in the Jewett Gallery on the Lower Level and The San Francisco Symphony in the Library’s Collections in the Steve Silver Beach Blanket Babylon Music Center here on the 4th floor.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

High Volume: Rock Art From The Chuck Sperry Archive and Firehouse Goldenvoice Poster Series

High Volume: Rock Art From The Chuck Sperry Archive and Firehouse Goldenvoice Poster Series will be on display on the 4th floor in the Art, Music and Recreation Center from October 7 through January 6, 2012.

An auburn-haired songstress holds a fawn. Shocking magenta hair falls to the shoulders of a blue nude strapped with artillery. A 1950s-model cop car rests peacefully at the bottom of the sea, washed in blues and purples revealing a silent white angel. Each outstanding print on display represents a prominent rock band. Each was created by Chuck Sperry.

In early 2011, Chuck Sperry, San Francisco artist and co-owner of Firehouse Kustom Rockart Company, made an unprecedented donation to the Library's Art, Music and Recreation Department of over one-hundred limited edition, hand-printed rock art posters. Officially entitled The Chuck Sperry Archive, this collection comprehensively documents the Goldenvoice Music Series (at the Regency and Warfield Theaters) from 2008 to present, as well as selected Firehouse productivity related to the cultural-life of San Francisco.

This collection is exciting in both use of color and variety of content. Each silkscreen print is comprised of up to sixteen colors, applied as individual layers. The pieces reference styles ranging from Japanese nishiki-e, Austrian Expressionism, 1960s psychedelia, to the provocative punk poster tradition of Sperry’s youth. Musicians such as Neko Case, Danzig, Bad Religion, Nick Cave, Sound Garden and The Black Keys are represented, as are a talented group of Bay Area graphic artists (Ron Donovan, Alex Fischer, Gregg Gordon, Dave Hunter, Alan Hynes, Scott Johnson, Dennis Loren, Chris Shaw, Frank Zio, and Zoltron) who contributed to the Firehouse Goldenvoice Poster series under the art direction of Chuck Sperry.

An opening reception will be held on Thursday, October 20th from 6-7 p.m. in the Latino/Hispanic Room A & B.

Related reading:

Eyesore: Recent Litter from the Firehouse Kustom Rockart Company by Chuck Sperry & Ron Donovan (Coniglio Editore, 2002).

Monday, October 3, 2011

San Francisco Symphony at 100

San Francisco Symphony Orchestra playing at the San Francisco Civic Auditorium [1935] (image source: San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection)

On Wednesday, October 5, 2011 at 6 PM, the San Francisco Public Library will screen the film San Francisco Symphony at 100 in the Koret Auditorium of the Main Library.

This one hour documentary film screening paints a portrait of the role of an orchestra in its community and the power of music to inspire--from the Symphony's founding in the wake of the 1906 earthquake through the Symphony's multimedia initiatives in today's fast-paced world. The film is narrated by author Amy Tan, a longtime friend and fan of the Symphony.

An audience Q & A with producer Janette Gitler will follow the screening.

Be sure to visit to on-going exhibits at the Library -- Music for a City, Music for the World in the Jewett Gallery in the Library's Lower Level and The San Francisco Symphony in the Library’s Collections in the Steve Silver Beach Blanket Babylon Room on the Fourth Floor.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Alfred Hertz and the San Francisco Symphony

Mr. Hertz at Cloyne Court. May 17th, 1942
image source: Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, from the Online Archive of California

The San Francisco Symphony in the Library’s Collections
, a display in the Steve Silver Beach Blanket Babylon Room on the Fourth Floor of the Main Library, prominently features material about Alfred Hertz.

Alfred Hertz was the second conductor of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, leading the organization from 1915 until 1930. After resigning from the orchestra he continued to live in San Francisco until his death in 1942.

Born in Frankfurt in 1872, Hertz began his conducting career with various orchestral and opera companies in Germany. In 1903 he became the conductor of German language repertoire for the Metropolitan Opera company in New York, and was in San Francisco on tour with the Met during the 1906 earthquake. He was invited to come to San Francisco after conducting at the Panama Exposition held in Los Angeles in 1915. He was introduced to the San Francisco public as the conductor of the Beethoven Festival during the summer of that year.

Being the conductor of its professional orchestra, Hertz was at the center of San Francisco's musical life. He received a great deal of adulation for bringing a high standard of musical performance to San Francisco, but also was at times the focus of controversy (largely owing to being German with a proclivity to play German music during a nationalistic period like World War I).

Hertz should be remembered as the individual who did the most for professionalizing and raising the musical standards of the San Francisco Symphony. When he arrived, the members of the Symphony had been assembled from the various hotel and theatre orchestras around the City. Many of the musicians continued to work in these outside venues limiting their endurance and attention. Hertz persuaded the Symphony’s management to pay competitive wages and made the musicians sign exclusive contracts during the Symphony season.

As conductor of the San Francisco Orchestra he lead the orchestra in recording for the Victor Recording Company. Concurrent with his tenure in San Francisco, he also conducted frequently in Los Angeles. He was the first conductor of the Hollywood Bowl orchestral concerts in 1922 and has been called the "Father of the Bowl."

He and his wife Lilly found California life to their liking. He wrote in his Memoirs (serialized in the San Francisco Chronicle between May 3 and July 26, 1942) about experience on the West coast that "I have worked hard but, invariably, I have found time to play as well. Fascinating motor trips, the balmy weather of the South, the lazy life on the beach -- they have all become an important part of our life. No wonder with deep gratitude in our hearts we have learned to call this playground home."

Alfred Hertz, photograph by Peter Stackpole image source: Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, from the Online Archive of California

Also be sure to visit Music for a City, Music for the World, an exhibit prepared from the archives of the San Francisco Symphony, on display in the Jewett Gallery in the Library's Lower Level through January 9, 2012

Monday, September 12, 2011

Music For a City, Music For the World: 100 Years with the San Francisco Symphony

We are entering the centennial season of the San Francisco Symphony. The Library is pleased to join in this celebration with exhibits and programs through the 2011-2012 season.

On the Lower Level of the Library in the Jewett Gallery there is the exhibit Music For a City, Music For the World: 100 Years with the San Francisco Symphony. This exhibit traces the Symphony's history using objects from their own archives. The Symphony has also commission a book written by Larry Rothe that shares its title with the exhibit.

Here, on the Library's Fourth Floor, the Art, Music and Recreation Center has prepared a smaller exhibit The San Francisco Symphony in the Library’s Collections. This exhibit draws from programs, posters, newspaper clippings and other ephemera from our historical files. Both exhibits will be available to view through January 9, 2012.

On Tuesday night, September 13, 2011 at 6 PM we will present our opening program with the Symphony. Larry Rothe and Symphony archivist Joe Evans, the curators of the Jewett Gallery exhibit, will appear in conversation in the Koret Auditorium. This event will be followed by a book signing with Larry Rothe.

All programs at the Library are free and open to the public. Supported by the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library.

We have many copies of the new book on order. Place a hold to be notified of its arrival.

Music for a City, Music for the World: 100 Years with the San Francisco Symphony by Larry Rothe (Chronicle Books, 2011).

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Craft Resources At The Library - Brown Bag Lecture

Get Crafty! Save Money! Be Green!

Do you love to knit, sew, scrapbook? Want to make your own gifts this holiday season and throughout the year? It saves money and you can transform things you already have around the house. Bring your lunch and join us for this inspiring class where you'll learn about the library’s collection of craft books and magazines, and some surprising projects found within their pages.

This lunchtime Brown Bag Lecture will happen on Monday, September 12, 2011 from 12-1 PM in the Latino / Hispanic Community Meeting Room on the Lower Level of the Main Library.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Bay Area Sabor

Malo album cover, from the American Sabor Website

American Sabor: Latinos in U.S. Popular Music is on display in the Skylight Gallery on the 6th floor through November 13, 2011. This exhibit views the contributions of Latino musicians through the lens of five regional scenes - New York, Miami, Texas, Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Art, Music and Recreation Center has long documented the musical life of the Bay Area. We have documented San Francisco Bay Area Latino musicians both through our book collections and through the Bay Area Musicians and Performing Artists newspaper clipping files we have created.

We have books about sisters Joan Baez and Mimi Fariña, Linda Ronstadt, and Carlos Santana. The Art, Music and Recreation Center also has newspaper clipping files on Latino musicians and groups like Francisco Aguabella, Altazor, Azteca, Joan Baez, Bobi and Gladys Cespedes, Francisco Cruz-Sandoval, Carlos Duran, Eddie Duran, Mimi Fariña, Pete and Sheila Escovedo, Los Microwaves, Juanita Newland-Ulloa, The Nuns, Orquesta Batachanga, Linda Ronstadt, Carlos Santana, John Santos, Los Tigres del Norte, Cal Tjader, and Tower of Power.

The American Sabor website includes a page for “The San Francisco Sound.” This includes audio and video excerpts as well as biographies of Joan Baez, Michael Carabello, Pete Escovedo and Azteca, Malo, Carlos Santana, Los Tigres del Norte, Cal Tjader, and Tower of Power.

Reading list:

Joan Baez and Mimi Fariña

And a Voice to Sing With: A Memoir by Joan Baez (Summit Books, 1987).

Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Fariña, and Richard Fariña (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001).

Linda Ronstadt

Linda Ronstadt by Vivian Claire (Flash Books, 1978).

Linda Ronstadt, It's So Easy! by Mark Bego (Eakin Press, 1990).

Carlos Santana

Carlos Santana: Back on Top by Marc Shapiro (St. Martin's Press, 2000).

Soul Sacrifice: The Santana Story by Simon Leng (Firefly Pub., 2000).

Space Between the Stars: A Memoir by Deborah Santana (One World/Ballantine Books, 2005).

Garage Bands from the 60's, Then and Now, stories written and edited by Bruce Tahsler (Teens N' Twenties Pub., 2007) covers the East Bay scene including the Tower of Power. Gimme Something Better: The Profound, Progressive, and Occasionally Pointless History of Bay Area Punk from Dead Kennedys to Green Day, interviews by Jack Boulware and Silke Tudor (Penguin Books, 2009) covers the punk scene including The Nuns.

See earlier blog entry: Garage Bands from the 60's, Then And Now (March 2, 2011)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Picasso at the Library

Currently on display through October 10 at the Main Library is "The Making of a Masterpiece: Picasso and Guernica." This small display located in the elevator lobby on the 4th floor is presented in conjunction with three other Picasso-related shows presently on view in San Francisco:

Seeing Gertrude Stein: Five Stories at the Contemporary Jewish Museum through September 6, 2011

Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris at the de Young Museum through October 10, 2011

The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde at SFMOMA through September 6, 2011

The Library's display features selections from its copy of a special limited edition Picasso publication which offers exact facsimiles of the drawings rendered by Picasso in preparation of his 1937 masterpiece "Guernica." Each drawing has been reproduced precisely in the same size and on the same kind of paper as the original. Insights into the artist's creative process are also presented.

This display is an abbreviated reprise of a display presented by the Art, Music Recreation Center in 2007.

The Library offers the following titles for those wishing to further research Picasso's "Guernica."

Guernica by Picasso: A Study of the Picture and its Contexts by Eberhard Fisch (Associated Universities Presses, 1988).

Guernica, Pablo Picasso by Juan Larrea (Arno Press, 1969).

Guernica: The Biography of a Twentieth-Century Icon by Gijs Van Hensbergen (Bloomsbury, 2004).

Guernica: The Making of a Painting by Joaquin de la Puente (Silex, 1983).

Picasso-Gernika 70th Anniversary by Juan Pablo Fusi, et al (Ayuntamiento de Gernika-Lumo, 2007).

Picasso's 'Guernica' by Anthony Blunt (Oxford University, 1969).

Picasso's Guernica: History, Transformations, Meanings by Herschel Browning Chipp (University of California, 1988).

Picasso's Guernica: Illustrations, Introductory Essay, Documents, Poetry, Criticism, Analysis by Ellen C. Oppler (W.W. Norton, 1988).

Picasso's War: The Destruction of Guernica and the Masterpiece that Changed the World by Russell Martin (Dutton, 2002).

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dressed for the Photographer: Ordinary Americans and Fashion, 1840-1900

Many costume books show the fashions of royalty and the upper classes, but few show the fashion of people of more modest means. Joan Severa’s Dressed for the Photographer: Ordinary Americans and fashion, 1840-1900 looks at historical photographs to acquaint the reader with the everyday fashion of those times.

The book is divided into chapters by decade. In the first part of each chapter, Severa describes the trends for the span of ten years in general terms, giving the historical context and quoting from the foremost fashion arbiter of the time -- the 19th century "queen of the monthlies" Godey's Lady's Book and Magazine. Though the United States class system was quite fluid, it was necessary to dress in the prescribed manner to achieve upward mobility.

The author points out that a new invention such as the home sewing machine also figured into fashion assimilation. what could take several days sewn by hand, might only take several hours to sew with a sewing machine. After the sewing machine was patented in 1851 it took less than a decade for this invention to become a part of many households.

After generalities about each decade, the author focuses on fashion, broken down into areas for women of dress, undergarment, accessories, headgear and wraps. There are also briefer parallel sections for men.

The second part of each chapter is devoted to photographs and accompanying explanatory text. Each photograph is given a half page, with the text making up the other half. The type of photography, if known, is labeled in the top left hand corner with a range of dates within which the picture was taken. The owning institution is also noted.

In a daguerreotype listed as having been created between 1850-1853 an African American woman holds a partially open book while gazing into the camera. The woman’s hairstyle is more current than the dress and is the element that dates the picture. The dress looks to be constructed of fine wool which could be worn in the North during winter. The author conjectures that it was probably made for a larger woman and altered for the sitter. Reconstructing a fitted garment for a smaller woman is difficult, especially if one leaves the bodice on the dress. Here the back, front and midsections have been altered separately with the results that the seams are off center and darts look to be at odd angels. The dress should have fit snugly over the shoulders but, since it was not altered in this area, puffs up. Despite these alterations it is clear that the dress was of high quality.

In another example from the 1850s, a man sits one hand on hip, holding his outer shirt open so that a gun is exposed. The other hand holds a pick axe. The portrait is labeled “Joseph Sharp of Sharp’s Flats,” most probably indicating that he would be overseeing a plot of land to be mined for gold. Since his clothing is clean, and the equipment looks new, the author surmises that the picture was taken soon after these items were purchased, dating the period at the beginning of the California Gold Rush. The manner in which the necktie has been pulled out is at one end is consistent with many pictures of men from the early 1850s. Taking into consideration these two elements - the beginning of the Gold Rush and the idiosyncratic necktie, Severa arrives at the date for the photograph as between 1850-1852.

source: Bancroft Library (hosted at Calisphere)

We look at these photographs, taken 150 years ago, and though the clothing is from another era, we are tied by the commonality of fashion, and the wish to keep a record of oneself. It is also gratifying that the author pays attention to our country's diversity including images of African Americans, Chinese immigrants and Native Americans are included here. Through her scholarship and knowledge we gain insight into the lives of these people. Her ability to read the photographs reveal details that might have been lost to us – one different detail on a dress that would’ve been dated earlier pulls the year that the photograph was taken into the next decade.
Severa sums up her outlook in her preface with an epigraph written by a woman portrayed in a photograph:

Look upon this face, and know
That I was a person, here, in this time and place,
And I was happy.

Dressed for the Photographer also includes a glossary, contacts for the photographic sources, an index, and an extensive bibliography.

Dressed for the Photographer: Ordinary Americans and Fashion, 1840-1900 by Joan L. Severa (Kent State University Press, 1995).

Thursday, August 4, 2011

An Afternoon with Silent Film Star 'Baby Peggy'

(image source: Niles Essanay Silent Movie Museum)

In the 1920s, Diana Serra Cary was known as "Baby Peggy." Signed to a million dollar contract at age five, this child actress was once one of the biggest little film star celebrities in the world. At this special event, Cary will speak about her remarkable life in Hollywood more than 80 years ago, her recent work as a writer and film historian, and her lifelong love of books and reading. A short film is included and a book signing will follow.

This event will be presented on Sunday, August 7, 2011, at 2:00 PM in the Koret Auditorium, Main Library, Level. All programs at the Library are free and open to the public. This program is supported by the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library.

This event is offered in conjunction with the library exhibition "Reading the Stars: The Silent Era." This special exhibit, on display on the in the Steve Silver Room on the Library’s fourth floor, looks at some of the many books about movies and movies stars published more than 80 years ago during the silent film era; the exhibit is part of "Shhhhh! Silents in the Library."

Exhibit organizers Thomas Gladysz, Christy Pascoe and Donna Hill will lead a guided tour of the exhibit from 1:00 to 1:30 preceding An Afternoon with Silent Film Star 'Baby Peggy.'

To learn more about life and career of Diana Serra Cary, read “The Return of Baby Peggy” by Thomas Gladysz.

Books by Diana Serra Cary:

The Hollywood Posse: The Story of a Gallant Band of Horsemen Who Made Movie History (Houghton Mifflin, 1975).

Hollywood's Children: An Inside Account of the Child Star Era / new foreword by Kevin Brownlow (Southern Methodist University Press, 1997).

Jackie Coogan: The World's Boy King: A Biography of Hollywood's Legendary Child Star (Scarecrow Press, 2003).

What Ever Happened to Baby Peggy?: The Autobiography of Hollywood's Pioneer Child Star (St. Martin's Press, 1996).

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Large Screen Videos: Opera Series 2011

“Ritratto di giovene unomo” by Dosso Dossi, said to be a portrait of Lucrezia Borgia, Duchess of Ferrara (image source: National Gallery of Victoria)

The Art, Music & Recreation Center of the San Francisco Public Library in association with San Francisco Opera Guild will present their annual program of large screen videos. These programs feature selected clips of previously filmed productions of operas from the upcoming San Francisco Opera season. Narration and commentary is provided by Opera Guild director George F. Lucas.

The August 4 program features a screening of excerpts of Lucrezia Borgia by Gaetano Donizetti. The cast of this 2009 Munich production includes Edita Gruberova as Donna Lucrezia Borgia, Pavol Breslik as Gennaro and Alice Coote as Maffio Orsino. The conductor is Bertrand de Billy.

On August 11 we will screen excerpts from George Frideric Handel’s Xerxes performed in 2000 by the Semperoper from Dresden. The cast includes Paula Rasmussen as Xerxes, Isabel Bayrakdarian as Romilda, Patricia Bardan as Amastre and Sandrine Piau as Atlanta. The conductor is Christophe Rousset.

Excerpts of Georges Bizet’s Carmen will be screened on August 18 featuring a Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London performance from 2007 conducted by Antonio Pappano. The featured performers include Anna Caterina Antonacci as Carmen, Jonas Kaufmann as Don Jose, Ildebrando D’Arcangelo as Escamillo and Norah Amsellem as Micaela.

Our final screening on August 25 features Giuseppe Verdi’s Attila in a 1991 Teatro alla Scala, production conducted by Riccardo Muti featuring Samuel Ramey as Attila, Cheryl Studer as Odabella, Kaludi Kaludov as Foresto and Giorgio Zancanaro as Ezio.

Each screening begins at noon at the Koret Auditorium, Main Library, Lower Level and will last approximately 60 minutes. All programs at the Library are free and open to the public. This program is supported by the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library.

The library has scores, libretti, and recordings of Lucrezia Borgia, Xerxes, Carmen, and Attila.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

It Sounds So Sweet! The Wonderful World of Jug Band Music

The Dixieland Jug Blowers (source: The Red Hot Jazz Archive)

On Saturday, July 30, 2011 from 2:30 to 5:30 the Art, Music and Recreation Center and the California Jug Band Association will present "It Sounds So Sweet! The Wonderful World of Jug Band Music" in the Main Library's Koret Auditorium.

Paul Oliver in the New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments writes that the jug band is "an instrumental ensemble developed among black Americans in the 1920s and 1930s." Oliver notes that although the standard jug was an "earthenware demi-john," some musicians also used items like kerosene cans and stovepipes to get the desired effect.

Jug band music was originally most popular in the Mississippi and Ohio River valley cities of Memphis, Louisville and Cincinnati. Its influences can readily be found in the Chicago blues tradition and rock & roll but has experienced a re-emergence of its own in recent years. Jug band songs touch on all aspects of life – from the sad to the joyful and silly, from personal experiences to larger socio-political issues.

Saturday's program will cover all aspects of the music – its history, its practice and the experience of a live concert from a working jug band. Film clips of original and contemporary jug bands and the world premiere of the documentary film "Music in a Jugular Vein" will fill out an entertaining and informative afternoon.

The program will also include jug playing lessons with Pete Devine and Waxwing John Cowan and a live concert by Waxwing John and guests. All programs at the Library are free and open to the public.

Recommended reading:

The Country Blues by Samuel B. Charters (Da Capo Press, 1975) has a chapter entitled "Memphis Jug Bands."

The History of the Blues by Francis Davis (Hyperion, 1995) has a chapter entitled "Blues vaudevillians, jug bands, and medicine show songsters."

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Traces of Mary Pickford's "The Library" Found in The Library

source: San Francisco History Room - San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection

While researching in the San Francisco History Room’s Historical Photo Collection for the current exhibition Shhhhh! Silents in the Library, I discovered this little gem.

Here we see two images of Mary Pickford, taken at least thirty years apart. On the left she is shown as at the height of her career, with her trademark curls and the angelic smile that contributed to her reputation as ‘America’s Sweetheart.’ On the right, she appears as she did in the year of this 1951 press release. The caption states, “Mary Pickford announced today that she’ll end her 19-year retirement from the movies to make a one-picture comeback in a film titled ‘The Library.’

Though the film was announced, it was apparently never shot. This made me curious for an explanation. In 1950, United Artists Corporation, the company Mary Pickford co-founded with Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin in 1919, was in dire financial trouble. Perhaps the film was announced in an attempt to stimulate public interest in UA films, but the financing fell through? By early 1951, while the corporation’s finances remained poor, Mary Pickford brokered a deal and “signed over effective control of the company to Arthur Krim,” thus freeing herself from the financial burden. Perhaps this relief made room for acting again. Undoubtedly the success of Sunset Boulevard in 1950 factored. Gloria Swanson, also a silent film icon, made her comeback and met rave reviews in the role of Norma Desmond, a role Mary Pickford had also considered.

I had hoped to get a quick answer directly from the silent film expert, Kevin Brownlow, at a book signing last Sunday where he was speaking as part of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. Unfortunately, I was not the only person there wanting a bit of his experise. So, while I did not get a chance to get an answer, I did hear Kevin Brownlow's marvelous presentation about his monumental restoration project of Abel Gance’s Napoleon. For the first time in almost 30 years this restored, five and a half-hour Napoleon will be screened, with a new orchestral score, and for the first time with a three projector system to properly serve Gance's 'polyvision' Tricolore.

For those wanting to read more, the library owns numerous silent film histories by Brownlow, and many works on Pickford, including Brownlow’s gorgeous volume, Mary Pickford Rediscovered: Rare Pictures of a Hollywood Legend.

Behind the Mask of Innocence by Kevin Brownlow (University of California Press,1992).

David Lean: A Biography by Kevin Brownlow (St. Martin's Press, 1996).

Hollywood, The Pioneers by Kevin Brownlow (Knopf, 1979).

Mary Pickford, America's Sweetheart by Scott Eyman (D.I. Fine, 1990).

Mary Pickford, Comedienne by Kemp R. Niver (Locare Research Group, 1969).

Mary Pickford Rediscovered: Rare Pictures of a Hollywood Legend by Kevin Brownlow (Harry N. Abrams, Publishers, in association with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, 1999).

Napoleon, Abel Gance's Classic Film by Kevin Brownlow (Knopf, 1983).

Napoleon [videorecording] [Images Film Archive, Inc.] (MCA Home Video, 1989).

The Parade's Gone By by Kevin Brownlow (Knopf, 1968).

Pickford: The Woman Who Made Hollywood by Eileen Whitfield (University Press of Kentucky, 1997).

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Film Screening: Son of the Sheik

Sunday, July 10th 2:00 pm
Koret Auditorium
Main Library, Lower Level

image courtesy of Donna L. Hill

The 1926 film, Son of the Sheik, is based on a bestselling novel; it was the sequel to an even more popular film and book. Son of the Sheik was also the last film to star Rudolph Valentino - one of the great stars of the silent era.

Join us for a screening of this classic film! Donna Hill, author of Rudolph Valentino: The Silent Idol, will introduce the movie with a fifteen minute slideshow about the life of the actor. Following the film there will be a booksigning with Hill and event organizer Thomas Gladysz, author of the "Louise Brooks" edition of The Diary of a Lost Girl.

This event coincides with the 4th floor exhibition Reading the Stars: The Silent Era. Included among beautiful vintage books of the era, is a display case devoted to writings by and about Valentino. For loan, the library also has many circulating books (including Emily Leider's Dark Lover) and a DVD collection of two feature films and additional short films.

image courtesy of Donna L. Hill

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Shhhhh! Silents in the Library

An exhibition from June 25th - August 28th, 2011
Main Library, Fourth Floor & Sixth Floor History Center Exhibit Space

In our modern world, where moving images meet us in every size at every turn, from enormous billboards astride the freeway to the tiny screens on our handheld devices, it is perhaps difficult to imagine a time, a mere 130 years ago, in which the representation of objects in motion was nothing short of miraculous. From its earliest phases of development through its wild success as popular entertainment, cinema emerged from the shadows like a figure stepping forward from the fog, right here in the Bay Area.

In 1878, Eadweard Muybridge made a series of stop-motion photographs of a galloping racehorse in Palo Alto that led to the birth of the movies. Within two years, the world's first public moving picture exhibition took place at the San Francisco Art Association building on Pine Street. The Western genre and Charlie Chaplin's 'Tramp' character both have their roots in nearby Niles, CA. Through the 1920s, San Francisco served as set and setting for hundreds of silent pictures and was home to movie palaces that rivaled those of any city.

Shhhhh! Silents in the Library is a multi-display exhibition exploring silent film, both through its connections to the Bay Area and through the popular literature of the era. The most prominent part of the exhibition, Reading the Stars: The Silent Era, consists of books published about the movies, including vintage biographies, pictorials, how-to titles and even novels, poetry and self-help works written by some of the biggest names in Hollywood. Also included is a salute to The San Francisco Silent Film Festival (July 14-17, Castro Theatre) where scholars, preservationists and fans annually prove the festival's motto, 'True Art Transcends Time.'

This exhibition is made possible by The Friends of the Public Library and through the generous efforts of members of the city’s silent film community, especially Thomas Gladysz, Christy Pascoe, Donna Hill, Rory J. O’Connor, Brian Darr, David Kiehn, Stephen Salmons, Stacey Wisnia and the staff of SFSFF.

A Short List of Additional Reading

The Silent Film Era and the Bay Area:

Bell, Geoffrey. The Golden Gate and the Silver Screen. Rutherford: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press ; New York : Cornwall Books, c1984.

Kiehn, David. Broncho Billy and the Essanay Film Company. Berkeley, CA: Farwell Books, c2003.

Solnit, Rebecca. River of Shadows : Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West. New York: Viking, 2003.

Tillmany, Jack. Theatres of San Francisco. Charleston, SC: Arcadia, c2005.

General Reading:

Brownlow, Kevin. The Parade's Gone By. New York : Knopf, 1968.

Card, James. Seductive Cinema: the Art of Silent Film. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999.

Everson, William K. American Silent Film. New York : Da Capo Press, 1998.

Kobel, Peter. Silent Movies: the Birth of Film and the Triumph of Movie Culture. New York : Little, Brown and Co., 2007.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Art in America Annual Guide, Museums, Galleries, Artists

The Art in America annual Guide to Galleries, Museums and Artists is an indispensable resource for artists, collectors and researchers.

At its heart this annual August issue of the magazine is a directory of galleries and museums. These are listed alphabetically first by state and then by city. There are abbreviations that distinguish whether a space is a gallery, university gallery, nonprofit exhibition space, corporate consultant, a private dealer, or a print dealer. Every entry provides contact information, hours of operation and the name of a director. This resource is made even more useful by an index of the names of artists that each gallery, dealer or museum represents. There is also an index for category of art space.

Near the beginning of the guide there is a small directory of auction houses. At the end there is an additional directory of art schools by region. Finally there is also page dedicated to obituaries of noted artists.

This resource opens with a section previewing museum shows all across the United States listed by month. This is followed by a section summarizing the most noteworthy auction sales of the preceding art season. The guide also functions as a visual reference since many galleries, dealers and art schools place color advertisements in the publication.

We keep the latest issue of the Guide at hand for ready reference. Back issues are incorporated in our bound run of Art in America housed in the Magazines and Newspaper Center on the Library’s Fifth floor. These back issues provide a chronology of the art scene in the United States and can provide a history of an artist’s exhibition and galleries.

Most of the information in this Guide can be found online. However, using the print directory allows one to browse the wider scope of the field of selling and exhibiting art that can be the stimulus to further online research.

One benefit of your San Francisco Public Library library card is that the Art in America Guide to Galleries, Museums and Artists is available to you for viewing or download through our collection of subscription databases. From the online catalog entry for Art in America there is one for Art in America online. From here, follow the link for “Full text options” where you can find full text of the magazine (including the annual Guide) in two databases: Academic Search Complete and MasterFILE premier. In these databases you can choose the year and month of the issue. The Guide to Galleries, Museums and Artists in the August issue.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sports and Recreation - An Overview

Books on Sports and Recreation are assigned the Dewey Decimal numbers 793 to 799. Here is a summary of the classification of these subjects:

793 - Indoor Games and Amusements (including social dance and entertaining)
794 - Indoor Games of Skill (billiards, board games)
795 - Games of Chance (casinos, cards, lottery, backgammon, pinball, bingo, mahjong)
796- Athletic and Outdoor Sports and Games (competitive sports and outdoor recreation)
797 - Aquatic and Air Sports (swimming, sailing, ballooning, hang gliding)
798 - Equestrian Sports and Animal Racing (think running horses )
799 - Fishing, Hunting, Shooting

There has long been popular interest in books on all forms of recreation, books written for the competitor, the coach and the fan.

For the armchair reader there are classic works by authors like David Halberstam and John Feinstein. Boxing is a subject that has produced classic writing by authors like A. J. Liebling and Joyce Carol Oates.

We have a continuous demand for chess books -- there are classics in this subject that always go out and that our neighborhood players consult as references. Our gambling collection also circulates well. There are many books written to help the gambler develop a winning edge.

We have books on every manner of martial art, a subject that also proves very popular in San Francisco. Running books are very popular in our community as are books on hiking, cycling and camping. (Some hiking books are classified as travel books instead of recreation).

The vicissitudes of the Dewey Decimal system and our Library’s cataloging methods cause some related books to be found in other Main Library departments. All sports biography since 1995 has been classed in the general biography (“B”) section. Running and swimming are usually our subject, but some books in this subject also are assigned to the physical fitness area (Dewey number 613.7). Similarly other forms of exercise and fitness like yoga, calisthenics, stretching, pilates, chigong, aerobics and strength training find their way into that section.

The subjects of competitive and team sports are also known for their histories of players and franchises, and especially for the mountains of statistics that document these histories and invite comparisons across seasons and eras. Library patrons used to rely very heavily upon their public library for very heavy reference encyclopedias to supply them with their statistical fix. Annual directories from the Sporting News used to be essential resources to stay up to date.

Today there are more historical and current sport statistics than the sports fan of 20 years ago could have ever imagined. The quantity of depth of statistics have also increased vastly. Websites for the individual sports leagues, for the sports media, as well as the wiki-like Sports Reference network provide up-to-date scores, standings and statistics.

Our department’s Delicious Reference page provides links to a number of these statistical websites.

The 1910 San Francisco Seals from the Reach Official American League Base Ball Guide - source: Google Books

Trivia questions:

Who had the first at bat in San Francisco Giants history - what did he do?

Who had the first hit as a San Francisco Giant?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Top Twelve Most Borrowed Sports and Recreation Books of the Past Year

Here is a list of the top circulating sports and recreation books in our department since July 2010:

1) Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall (Alfred A. Knopf, 2009).

The story of a group of super endurance runners of the Tarahumara people in Mexico. Impetus for the new barefoot running movement.

2) Hardcourt Confidential: Tales from Twenty Years in Pro Tennis Trenches by Patrick McEnroe with Peter Bodo (Hyperion, 2010).

An opinionated account by John McEnroe's brother about the past few decades in the professional tennis world.

3) Play Their Hearts Out: A Coach, His Star Recruit, and the Youth Basketball Machine by George Dohrmann (Balantine Books, 2010).

A Sports Illustrated reporter follows a group of 9 and 10 year old basketball prospects until they reach college age to expose the corrupt atmosphere pervading prep basketball.

4) Baseball for Dummies by Joe Morgan with Richard Lally (Wiley, 2005).

A primer written by a Hall of Famer and broadcaster for new fans.

5) Death to the BCS: The Definitive Case against the Bowl Championship Series by Dan Wetzel, Josh Peter, and Jeff Passan (Gotham Books, 2010).

An expose and polemic against college football’s bowl and ranking system.

6) Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports are Played and Games are Won by Tobias Moskowitz and L. Jon Wertheim (Crown Pub., 2011).

Another Sports Illustrated reporter takes a “freakonomics” approach to debunk much of sport’s conventional wisdom.

7) Ball Four: My Life and Hard Times Throwing the Knuckleball in the Big Leagues (World Pub. Co., 1970).

A well-written and entertaining memoir filled with humorous antics, written before free agency altered the game. Considered a classic of baseball literature.

8) Daniels' Running Formula by Jack Daniels (Human Kinetics, 2005).

Takes a scientific approach to the subject of training for runners.

9) Giants: What I Learned about Life from Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry by Pat Summerall and Michael Levin (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2010).

A retired football player and sports broadcaster finds valuable life lessons in his experiences with his NFL coaches.

10) Rise of a Dynasty: The '57 Celtics, the First Banner, and the Dawning of a New America by Bill Reynolds (New American Library, 2010).

Retells the Boston Celtics rise to a major force in the NBA with their game changing rookie center, Bill Russell.

11) Rock Climbing: Mastering Basic Skills by Craig Luebben (Mountaineers Books, 2004).

Teaches the techniques of climbing through detailed instructions and illustrations.

12) No Way Down: Life and Death on K2 by Graham Bowley (Harper, 2010).

A New York Times reporter retells the events that led to the death of 11 climbers on the world’s second highest mountain located between Pakistan and China.