Wednesday, January 25, 2017

art-SITES san francisco

When and how does a reference book become obsolete?

The clearest answer to the question is when the information in it is no longer accurate or is superseded, and more critically, if the inaccuracies in the reference could lead to misinformation or harm.

Often travel guides fall into this category -- hotels, restaurants or attractions may open or close, the prices for attractions and accomodations may have changed.  Yet for the locale written about, obsolete travel guides provide a historic perspective and may even reveal unseen features of a place to the reader.

In San Francisco we are fortunate to have many guides for those interested in the arts.  Even some of the oldest ones remain important, if for no other reason, than they show the persistence of objects, buildings, and institutions over time.

art-SITES: san francisco: The Indispensible Guide to Contemporary Art-Architecture-Design was published almost 15 years ago.  Obviously there have been many changes to the San Francisco Bay Area's cultural landscape over that decade and a half.  Nevertheless, this reference book still opens up locations for artistic exploration that might escape the attention of many of us.

Organized geographically, San Francisco itself takes up about 70 percent of the book's pages.  And those pages are devoted to the usual districts and neighborhoods -- Union Square, Civic Center, SOMA, the Financial District, Pacific Heights / The Presidio and Golden Gate Park. However, this is one of the few books to look at any of the site-specific art work at the San Francisco International Airport.  It also includes the public art in and around the, then newly constructed, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.  Even more helpfully, it details some of the artwork concealed to many of us in hotels and office buildings.

Many of the Geary Street art galleries are listed and described, detailing the artists they represented.  Of course, in the intervening years many of these art galleries have succumbed to market forces and had to close or to move to lower rent districts.  art-SITES: San Francisco does capture that moment for those of us who want to remember that scene.  Imagine the value of this information for someone creating a novel or a film about San Francisco in the 1990s?

Another way this book works as a time capsule is by documenting some of the street art of that moment.  The Luggage Store Gallery gets a nod along with two works of art by a pair of Mission School painters who exhibited there - the husband and wife team of Barry McGee and, our late San Francisco Public Library colleague, Margaret Kilgallen.  Both of these art-works were painted on the building's roll-down security doors at 1007 Market Street.

 "Untitled" by Margaret Kilgallen

"Untitled" by Barry McGee

Both of these works are still documented on the Luggage Store Gallery's webpage.  But a book like this tells us when the works were there and what they meant at that time.  Google Street View only came later and gives us a different view:

1007 Market Street captured in Google Street View February 2014

art-SITES san francisco also has short chapters on the South Bay, the East Bay, Marin County and Napa and Sonoma Counties.  In the chapter on the South Bay I came across art and architecture at Stanford that I was unaware.  On the campus there works of sculpture by Mark Di Suvero, Andy Goldsworthy and Maya Lin.  Additionally I learned about two university buildings designed by James Ingo Freed, the architect for the  San Francisco Public Library's Main Library.

This reference opens with a directory of entry types -- museums, exhibition and performance spaces, galleries, public art, film centers, architecture, architects, urban planning, parks, gardens, plazas, design and bookstores.  It concludes with an index of people, buildings and places.

art-SITES san francisco remains a valuable resource for anyone interested in understanding and exploring the culture of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Most Requested Art, Music and Recreation Center books in January 2017

The top three titles on our current list match well with the nonfiction bestsellers listed in last Sunday's Chronicle.  In the Bay Area, Born a Crime ranks at number 6 and The Princess Diarist ranks at number 4.  Bruce Springsteen's memoir ranks number 3 nation-wide.

Books on hollywood, show business and entertainment in general often do well on the lists of holds.  Memoirs by Anna Kendrick, Lauren Graham, Megyn Kelly as well as the oral history of the Daily Show are all very popular.  In past lists rock and pop music memoirs have also faired well, but only Born to Run and Robbie Robertson's Testimony place on this list.

One slightly surprising title is Walking Through Walls by Marina Abramović.  While Abramović has achieved great renown in performance art circles, she seems out of place among the celebrities of this list.  But, I think the book's popularity reflects San Francisco's readers who have also shown favor towards two books about fine art - How To See by David Salle and a History of Pictures by David Hockney.

Sex sells - even sex from 80 years as Mary Astor's Purple Diary shows.  And anything with the Murakami touch will do well with our readers as can be seen with his book of conversations about music with Seiji Ozawa.

If these books excite you as well, you may have get in line to read them.  Thankfully, the majority of the titles are also available in eBook formats.

Happy reading.

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

2. The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher (Blue Rider Press, 2016).

3. Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen (Simon & Schuster, 2016).

4. Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick (Touchstone, 2016).

5. Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, (And Everything In Between) by Lauren Graham (Ballantine Books, 2016).

6. Settle For More by Megyn Kelly (Harper, 2016)

7. The Daily Show (The Book): An Oral History As Told By Jon Stewart, The Correspondents, Staff and Guests by Chris Smith (Grand Central Publishing, 2016).

8. The Godfather Notebook by Francis Ford Coppola (Regan Arts, 2016).

9. Kathy Griffin's Celebrity Run-Ins: My A-Z Index by Kathy Griffin (Flatiron Books, 2016).

10. Mary Astor's Purple Diary: The Great American Sex Scandal of 1936 by Edward Sorel (Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2016).

11. Testimony by Robbie Robertson (Crown Archetype, 2016).

12. Superficial: More Adventures From the Andy Cohen Diaries by Andy Cohen (Henry Holt and Company, 2016).

13. The Magnolia Story by Chip & Joanna Gaines, with Mark Dagostino (W Publishing, , 2016).

14. Walk Through Walls: A Memoir by Marina Abramović, with James Kaplan (Crown Archetype, 2016).

15. How To See: Looking, Talking, and Thinking About Art by David Salle (W.W. Norton & Company, 2016)

16. Absolutely On Music: Conversations by Haruki Murakami with Seiji Ozawa, translated from the Japanese by Jay Rubin (Alfred A. Knopf, 2016).

17. Celebrate Everything!: Fun Ideas to Bring Your Parties To Life, written and illustrated by Darcy Miller (William Morrow, 2016).

18. Harry Potter: The Artifact Vault, written by Jody Revenson (Harper Design, 2016).

19. A History of Pictures: From the Cave to the Computer Screen by David Hockney & Martin Gayford (Abrams, 2016).

20. Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson (Riverhead Books, 2016).