Sunday, April 24, 2011

Edible Landscaping or How to Plant a Potager orné

Ornamental kitchen gardens – potagers ornés – have a long and fascinating history. In medieval monasteries the monks planted medicinal and edible flowers in between their herbs and vegetables and to keep the plots separate they surrounded them with low hedges. In the fifteenth and early sixteenth century travelers returning from the Americas brought back exotic new edible plants – potatoes, tomatoes, egg plant, pumpkins, corn – and began to plant them in their gardens to show them off to their guests. Intrigued by their appearance and captivated by the novel tastes they added to the dinner table the guests soon started to grow the new plants in their own gardens. Since the prevailing style of garden was the formal parterre, the new vegetables were grown in these formal patterns of low boxwood hedges. At Versailles, Louis XIV had his gardener set up a kitchen garden, the famous Potager du Roi, in the most ornate of these patterns. It is the French name, potager orné , that we use today for “ornate vegetable gardens.” The Potager du Roi still exists and is a training ground for landscape architects.

Over time the concept of the potager orné migrated from palaces and stately homes to lesser dwellings. Labor intensive clipped hedges were replaced by sturdy plants or narrow paths. Patterns became less ornate. Sometimes simple squares or triangles of wood boards delineated boundaries between beds. Then gardeners devised raised beds that elevated the planting surface and boxes made of wood or other materials, filled with soil, that could be moved to different places and achieve their own unique style. Then it was only a short step to use containers of all kinds to plant vegetables and/or flowers and arrange them to your pleasure.

With the resources we have today it is possible to create an edible landscape that can rival any garden planted with grass and trees, with bushes and flowers. Traditionalists want to recapture the charm of boxwood potagers in the antique patterns. Others prefer the simplicity of wood bordered or raised beds or the versatility lent by container gardening. Whatever the choice, a well-designed vegetable garden brings delight to the eye and bounty to the table.

Happy gardening and bon appétit!

The Main Library has a small dispaly on the theme of ornamental vegetable gardens at the Art, Music and Recreation Center on the 4th floor. A print bibliography can be had at the Art, Music and Recreation Center reference desk.

Selected reading:

The Art of the Kitchen Garden by Jan and Michael Gertley (Taunton Press, 1999).

The Chef's Garden by Terence Conran with Andi Clevely (Conran Octopus, 2008).

The Complete Book of Edible Landscaping
by Rosalind Creasy (Sierra Club Books, 1982).

The Container Kitchen Garden
by Antony Atha (Collins & Brown, 2000).

Designing the New Kitchen Garden: An American Potager Handbook by Jennifer R. Bartley (Timber Press, 2006).

Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn (Metropolis Books, 2008).

Homegrown: A Growing Guide for Creating a Cook's Garden in Raised Beds, Containers, and Small Spaces by Marta Teegen (Rodale, c2010).

The Kitchen Garden Month by Month by Alan Buckingham (DK, 2010).

McGee & Stuckey's the Bountiful Container: A Container Garden of Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits and Edible Flowers by Rose Marie Nichols McGee and Maggie Stuckey (Workman Pub., 2002).

The Ornamental Vegetable Garden by Diana Anthony (Warwick Pub., 1998).

The Patio Kitchen Garden by Daphne Ledward (Robson Books, 2001).

Square Foot Gardening: A New Way to Garden in Less Space with Less Work by Mel Bartholomew (Rodale, 2005).

Monday, April 18, 2011

Dances For Camera - Dance Film Festival

Please join us for “Dances for Camera” on Saturday, April 23rd from 3-5 pm and/or Wednesday, April 27th from 6-8 pm. Two distinct programs at the San Francisco Public Library will showcase highlights from the San Francisco Dance Film Festival, with some of the best dance films from around the globe, selected out of more than 100 entries from 25 countries.

These short experimental dance pieces are created specifically for the camera, independent from the traditional stage. Interpretations can range from narratives to collages of music, movement and images, sometimes including the use of animation and other new media. Local directors will be available for Q&A following the screenings.

Saturday, April 23rd
Screendance shorts program, 3pm

The Watch
(USA, 2010) 3 min Director: Shal Ngo & Ryan McNamara
- A playful collaboration between a filmmaker, a fashion designer and young freelance dancers in New York.

(USA, 2010) 8 min
Director/Choreographer: Eric Garcia & Kat Cole
- With no destination in mind, a pair of vagabonds hitchhike, stumble, and inch their way through striking landscapes.

Study for an Underwater Film
(Sweden, 2010) 3 min
Director/Choreographer: Pontus Lidberg
- An early study for a potential new film by the award-winning Swedish choreographer/filmmaker, filmed in Sweden and at the Headlands Center for the Arts in Marin.

There is a Place
(UK/China, 2010) 7 min
Director: Katrina McPherson Choreographer: Sang Jijia
- Soloist Sang Jijia, an ethnic Tibetan born in Gansu, struggles with his position in the world.

(Canada, 2006) 4 min
Director: Robert Prowse Choreographer: Andrea Pass
- The slow, melodic rhythms and quiet energy of this film offer a powerful dichotomy to the frenetic pace of today’s dominant urban culture. The movement flows with the grace of poetry to an original score that takes us back through our collective rural history.

The Perfect Vacuum
(Canada, 2010) 6 min
Director: Alana Cymerman Choreographer: Benjamin Hatcher
- Mona left a glamorous life back home because of war. Now, she finds home in vacuum dancing.

The Wait of Gravity (Italy/USA, 2010) 5 min
Director: Renata Sheppard Choreographer: Renata Sheppard & Caitlin Marz
- A human form shifts in and out of a relationship with gravity in an elusive architectural space—a journey of sound, vision, and kinesthetics.

The Greater the Weight
(Canada, 2008) 5 min
Director: Marlene Millar & Philip Szporer Choreographer: Dana Michel
- Dancer and choreographer Dana Michel assembles extremely physical movement—a remnant from her previous training in track and touch football—with mathematical precision and poetic improvisation: The result is an exploration of the body as an instrument in a symphony of rupture and flow.

Connect 4
(USA, 2006) 3 min
Director/Choreographer: Nadia Oussenko
- Four dancers work within four spaces of a warehouse to connect a single movement phrase.

Feature Presentation, 4pm

Finite & Infinite Games
(USA, 2010) 45 min Director: RJ Muna Choreographer: Katherine Fisher
- The San Francisco premiere of local filmmaker RJ Muna’s Finite and Infinite Games, choreographed by former ODC dancer Kate Fisher and shot in New York City’s Judson Memorial Church. Includes documentary about the making of the film.

Wednesday, April 27th
Screendance shorts program, 6pm

Motel Deception
(Australia, 2009) 5min
Director/Choreographer: Chrissie Parrot
- A seedy motel room, money and a gun set the scene for a very physical confrontation between the scheming Clare and Dexter.

After the Water the Clouds
(Netherlands/Spain, 2009) 10 min
Director/Choreographer: Carmen Rozestraten
- Playful and poetic voyage of a young Catalan woman, whose world becomes surreal as she encounters mythical and unusual characters.

Light in Warped Time (USA, 2010) 7 min
Director: Jennifer Schwed Choreographer: Lucy Bowen McCauley
- A fantastical exploration of the desire to be free from social boundaries.

Texas Plates
(USA, 2010) 3 min
Director/Choreographer: Marta Renzi
- A playful roadside romance set to music by country artist Patti Scialfa.

(USA, 2010) 7 min
Director: Kate Duhamel Choreographer: Jason Samuels Smith

Entre Nous
(USA/UK 2010) 7 min
Director/Choreographer: Blair Brown
- An intimate look at the body in motion and an exploration of the emotions behind the ideas of separation, vulnerability, and loneliness.

January (USA, 2009) 4 min
Director: RJ Muna Choreographer: Rachael Lincoln
- A solo made within the real and imagined confines of winter. In a slate-walled room with chalk dust as snow, a woman follows her mind's small agitations as she meditates on the passage of time.

(UK, 2010) 4 min
Director/Choreographer: Wilkie Branson
- Two new-found companions embark on a journey adventuring up a wooded mountain.

Feature Presentation, 7pm
The Nightingale
(USA/SF, 2011) 21 min
Director: Greta Schoenberg
- A short narrative in classic 1940s film noir style, shot entirely in San Francisco with an all-local cast and crew of dancers, musicians, and visual artists.

Q & A to follow

Both programs will be presented in the Main Library's Koret Auditorium. All library programs are free and open to the public.

Reading List:

Dance On Camera: A Guide To Dance Films And Videos, edited By Louise Spain (Scarecrow Press, 1998).

Modern Dance & Ballet On Film & Video: A Catalog, compiled And edited By Susan Braun (Dance Films Association, 1986).

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Reading About East German Cinema

Starting April 15, the Free University of San Francisco is bringing a pair of five week classes on cinema to the San Francisco Public Library’s Main Library. For five Fridays (April 15-May 20, excluding May 6) Rand Crook will present Responsive Cinema to Corporate Empire: Workshop from 2:00 to 3:45 PM and Jim Morton will present East German Cinema: A History from 4:00-5:30 PM. Both classes will be held in the Library’s Koret Auditorium.

For those wishing to read up on the subject of East German cinema the library has the following books on the subject:

DEFA: East German Cinema, 1946-1992 is a collection of scholarly essays about DEFA, the Deutsche Film-Aktiengesellschaft, the primary film studio throughout the nation’s history. Those essays cover individual filmmakers and issues like censorship, the depiction of women and of youth rebellion. This book also provides an appendix of “Research Sources for East German Cinema” which provides leads for renting and buying these films.

Hollywood Behind the Wall by Daniela Berghahn is a complete history of East German cinema. It looks in-depth at several films and contextualizes these films within the Soviet bloc and compares them with those of West Germany.

The JSTOR database provides dozens of full-text articles about East German Cinema. This database lacks subject access, so the best way to search this topic is with keywords like “East Germany” “cinema” “GDR” “DDR” and “DEFA.” Library patrons can access this database with their library card number and PIN.

The Library also has DVDs of the following East German films:

Rotation (1949)
Goya - oder Der arge Weg der Erkenntnis (1971)
Jakob der Lügner (1975)
Schneeweisschen und Rosenrot (1979)
Coming Out (1989)

The two DVD set Das war die DDR (1993) uses footage created by the DEFA studios to trace the history and culture of East German.

Reading list:

DEFA: East German Cinema, 1946-1992, edited by Seán Allan and John Sandford.
(Berghahn Books, 2003).

Hollywood Behind the Wall: The Cinema of East Germany by Daniela Berghahn (Manchester University Press, 2005).

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

With Needle and Thread. . . .

"My Window and the Cat in the Corner" by Cher Delamere

Quilting is presumed to have originated thousands of years ago in the Orient. The technique was used to strengthen textiles that were fragile as well as to produce layered covers and clothing for protection against the cold.

Quilted fabric consists of three layers of cloth. The central layer is a padding of wool, cotton or other material; the layers are held together by continuous lines of stitches. It is generally believed that this technique was brought back to Europe from the Near East by the Crusaders. The soldiers, in their bulky full armor, were often defeated by a more agile enemy clad in light quilted shirts and chainmail. European quilted armor shirts quickly became popular and were usually made from linen cloth stuffed with padding.

After firearms were introduced, quilted armor shirts became obsolete, but by then the quilting technique had been adapted for the production of various utilitarian textiles such as quilted coverlets, jackets, cloaks, petticoats, vests and children’s clothes.

The fabrics used for quilting were usually linen, silk or cotton. These fabrics would be filled with carded wool or cotton, although at times simpler materials like feathers, leaves and straw were also used. Poorhouses and orphanages often had bedding made from cotton bags filled with paper.

Due to the fragile nature of textiles, it is hard to determine whether patchwork or quilting is the older technique. Patchwork is roughly defined as sewing small pieces of cloth to and onto each other. Most people use the term patchwork interchangeably for “pieced work” and appliqué.

In the past, the materials used for patchwork have included rind, husks, felt, cloth made from animal and plant fibers, leather and fur. The choice of materials depended upon what was available and who was doing the work. Frequently leftover rags and scraps were used and repurposed into bedcovers and other items.

The oldest surviving example of patchwork is an Egyptian canopy quilt from 980 BCE. In Central Asia, an example of felt appliqué in the form of a saddle blanket has been dated to the 6th-4th century BCE. In the early 20thcentury, some costly silk textiles put together in rectangular patchwork manner were discovered in India that dated back to the 6th-9th centuries CE.

Quilting, patchwork and appliqué have thrived in many forms and cultures throughout the centuries. These techniques are still popular today and are being practiced less as a necessity or tradition and more as a leisure activity and art form. It is estimated that there are about seven million quilt makers in the United States alone. Specialty shops that offer quilt-making resources and instruction can be found online and in every major city. Each year more books are published and quilts are getting more attention as an art form in museum and gallery exhibitions.

The Main Library is currently celebrating the craft of quilting and patchwork with two displays. The 5th floor is presenting the exhibit Primal Green: Environmental Art Quilts through July 30. On the 4th floor, we have made a display of some of the quilting books from the collection through June 1.

Source: The History of the Patchwork Quilt: Origins, Tradition and Symbols of a Textile Art by Schnuppe von Gwinner (Schiffer Publishing, 1988) [on order and available through Link+]

Reading list:

Art + Quilt: Design Principles and Creativity Exercises by Lyric Kinard (Interweave Press, 2009).

The Art of Machine Piecing: How to Achieve Quality Workmanship through a Colorful Journey by Sally Collins (C&T Pub., 2001).

Beautifully Embellished Landscapes: 125 Tips & Techniques to Create Stunning Quilts by Joyce R. Becker (C&T Pub., 2006).

Color and Cloth: The Quiltmaker's Ultimate Workbook by Mary Coyne Penders (Quilt Digest Press, 1989).

The Quilting Arts Book by Patricia Bolton (Interweave Press LLC, 2008).

Ruth B. McDowell's Piecing Workshop: Step-by-step Visual Guide--Indispensable Reference for Quilters--Bonus projects (C&T Pub., 2007).