Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Impromptu: Thursday Noon Videos - Women's History Month

In the month of March, the Art, Music & Recreation Center will present a series of five large-screen videos celebrating Women's History Month for the Library's Thursday noon series in the Koret Auditorium.

The opening program of the series will be Impromptu on Thursday, March 1. This 1991 film focuses on the nineteenth century French woman novelist George Sand (the Baroness Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin) and her relationship with composer / pianist Frederic Chopin. These two, along with composer / pianist Franz Liszt, author Alfred de Musset and a coterie of others are invited for a weekend at a country estate where they indulge in romance, and intrigue befitting a Shakespearean comedy. The movie focuses specifically on Frédéric Chopin as he is pursued romantically by the very determined, individualistic George Sand. The movie stars Judy Davis as George Sand and Hugh Grant as Frederik Chopin and lasts 107 minutes.

This program is supported by the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library. All library programs are free and open to the public.

The following week's program on March 8 will be Atomic Mom and will feature a Q & A with the filmmaker after the film's screening.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Styles, Schools and Movements: The Essential Encyclopaedic Guide to Modern Art

Modernism, a movement that began during the closing decades of the 19th century, released artists from the academic and classical teachings in which art had been locked for centuries. The various “-isms” and styles that grew out of, or that went against earlier styles, can pose problems for students new to the avant-garde. Styles, Schools and Movements by Amy Dempsey serves to illuminate these different movements of modernism. The author describes the attitudes and mores that served to fuel these movements within the context of their times. The book includes the major proponents as well as the critical reaction to each movement.

The book is arranged according to five broad times periods:

1860-1900, Rise of the Avant-Gardes
1900-1918, Modernisms for a Modern World
1918-1945, Search for a New Order
1945-1965, A New Disorder
1965-Today, Beyond the Avant-Gardes

There are about 20 chapters within each of these sections and very chapter begins with a quotation. To introduce the chapter on Impressionism, the author chooses an 1874 quotation by the critic, Louis Leroy:

"Wall paper in its embryonic state is more finished than that seascape."

The text goes on to inform the reader that when asked for the title of one of his paintings, the artist Claude Monet called it an "Impression, Sunrise." Leroy coined the term Impressionism from this interchange.

The chapters vary in length with the majority being two to three pages. At the end of each entry, text in a shaded box lists key museum collections as well as a short bibliography.

The preface includes a timeline fold-out placing each movement within a bar alongside others of the day. Within the timeline the schools are divided into three categories: Art for the People, Art and Style, and Art and Mind. This overview provides another method of contextualizing the information.

The excellent scholarship and writing of this book make interesting reading, even for those familiar with the art world.

Styles, Schools and Movements: The Essential Encyclopaedic Guide to Modern Art
by Amy Dempsey (Thames & Hudson, 2010).

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Conceptual Elegance: The Art of Jason Munn

Benn Gibbard, by Jason Munn

Jason Munn got his start as a graphic artist in the Bay Area doing posters for local bands and venues under the name Small Stakes. Over the last 10 years his work has grown in popularity and scope. He now works under his own name and concentrates on posters, and design and illustration commissions. His clients include such musicians as Mark Kozelek, the Books, and Stars. He has also done work for Wired Magazine, Best Made Co. and SFMOMA. His trademark is conceptually rich yet simple designs.

Jason has generously donated twelve of his posters made in 2011 to the Art and Music Center’s Poster Collection. These can be seen in a display on the 4th floor that runs through March 31st.

Reading list:

The Small Stakes: Music Posters by Jason Munn; foreword by Nicholas Harmer (Chronicle Books, 2010).

Do-It-Together Screen Printing by John Isaacson (Microcosm Pub., 2007) includes a profile of Jason Munn.

1000 Music Graphics: A Compilation of Packaging, Posters, and other Sound Solutions by Stoltze Design (Rockport, 2010) also includes Jason Munn's work.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Painting Bolinas

Celebrate the life and artwork of Peter Lee Brownlee with this special screening of Painting Bolinas on Saturday, February 11th at 3 p.m. in the Koret Auditorium. The filmmaker, Wendy Elkin, will be present to answer questions about the artist and the four year process of creating the documentary.

A painting of San Francisco

Painting Bolinas is a documentary about a 90 year-old artist, Peter Lee Brownlee whose lifestyle mirrors a king in a court of chaos and imagination. His whimsical and colorful paintings are of urban and rural down-towns and famous landmarks all across America. His court includes an eccentric collection of people who have lost their dreams and found their way to Bolinas, California, an isolated magical village that seems to teeter between the edge of the world and the edge of the Pacific; a haunt not unlike a Steinbeck novel. It serves as the living backdrop for a film about this brilliant artist, the aging process, a woman who wants to save his paintings from ruination and the zany characters that choose to live out their lives with him. For more information please visit http://paintingbolinas.com/

A Bolinas scene

The artist at work

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Book talk and slide show: Left in the Dark: Portraits of San Francisco Movie Theatres

On Tuesday, February 7, 2012 at 6:30 in the Koret Auditorium, the Art, Music and Recreation Center and the San Francisco History Center will present a book talk and slide show for Left in the Dark: Portraits of San Francisco Movie Theatres. This new book celebrates twentieth century movie theatres and movie-going through lush full-color fine art photographs and personal essays that offer both scholarly and literary appeal.

Julie Lindow, editor of Left in the Dark, will introduce the book. Authors Katherine Petrin and R.A. McBride will then present a "then-and-now" slide show with commentary. There will be a book signing following the panel discussion where Left in the Dark will be available for purchase. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library. All Library programs are free and open to the public.

San Franciscans are fortunate to live in one of the world’s most vital movie-going cities and one with so many of its historic movie houses still standing. By showing a continuum from past to present, Left in the Dark offers hope that even as these landmarks crumble, the spirit of cinema thrives.

San Francisco’s film industry and movie theater tradition is a long and significant one. Between the gold rush boom of the 1850s and the advent of the moving picture in the 1880s, San Francisco’s population grew rapidly and with it, so did its reputation as an entertainment town. The City became a nexus for cultural life, known for its live theatres and other ‘palaces of amusement’ such as opera houses, dance halls and eventually, vaudeville theatres where many of the first short films were introduced as part of the variety-show programming.

San Francisco also boasts several film industry firsts. In 1878, in nearby Palo Alto, San Francisco resident Eadweard Muybridge took the first stop-motion photos which lead directly to the birth of the movies. In 1880, on Pine Street at the San Francisco Art Association, the world’s first public movie exhibition was made possible with the debut of the Zoopraxiscope movie projector. In 1902, brothers Herbert, Harry and Earl C. Miles, established the first movie “exchange” on Market Street for renting (instead of selling) prints to exhibitors--a more cost efficient practice, which enabled the new art form to spread and increase in popularity.

Since the late 1970s, The Art, Music and Recreation Center has collected newspaper articles on many topics relating to the art and musical life of San Francisco and has organized them by subject in the Newspaper Clipping Files. One such file is titled Moving Picture -- Theaters. Included within this file are hundreds of articles from our local press (including the Chronicle, Examiner, Bay Guardian, SF Weekly and other local neighborhood publications, many of which are not archived online). Within these files one can find documentation of theaters opening, such as the article “A Flashy New Theater to Open in SF” about the Galaxy on Van Ness (Chronicle 11/28/1983), and theaters closing, “City Losing another Single-Screen Theater”, lamenting the loss of the Coronet on Geary (Examiner 7/21/2000). Many articles also document the life of a theater, for example “Lumiere to Join Repertory Club (Chronicle 8/18/1998) reports that the Lumiere converted one of its screens making SF the leader in repertory cinemas.

Left in the Dark: Portraits of San Francisco Movie Theatres, R.A. McBride, photographer; Julie Lindow,editor (Charta, 2010).

Additional resources:

Theatres of San Francisco
by Jack Tillmany (Arcadia, 2005).

Fox, The Last Word: Story of the World's Finest Theatre by Preston J. Kaufmann (Showcase Publications, 1979).
Fox Theatre, San Francisco, California: Thomas W. Lamb, Architect, Steve Levin, author and editor (Theatre Historical Society, 2003).

The Man Who Stopped Time: The Illuminating Story of Eadweard Muybridge: Pioneer Photographer, Father of the Motion Picture, Murderer by Brian Clegg (Joseph Henry Press, 2007).

San Francisco History Center Historical Photograph Collection