Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year Arriving

With thanks to the silent readers and to the readers who send messages. My daughter tells me that the silent readers are (by the young, who know these things) called "lurkers" – so I am a lurker myself, since I never make comments on the blogs I follow. There is no comments function here (and in that sense all Spencer Alley readers are lurkers by default) but the encouraging emails never fall on fallow ground either, and I am grateful to those who take the time and trouble to send them.

Image here

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dawn to Dusk

I was out early this morning, cutting across the Safeway parking lot at Market & Church. San Francisco was damp and cold, nothing new.

I walked up Webster behind the Safeway and encountered the wall work (above) and a pristine miniature Victorian (below) like a dollhouse.

Another olden-days carved-granite curb on a San Francisco street like I was talking about before, and this one curved! Below are some views of the elderly wild-grown fig trees that grow along Laussat Alley, as it winds its way behind that miniature Victorian house.

Laussat is a damp alley, not really a salubrious-looking sort of place.

Eventually it became evening and the sky started doing lovely things again.

All Modern

Tuesday was a somber day in San Francisco, never quite raining but always about to. Even underground at the 16th Street Station in the Mission, the light was restrained and unencouraging. But I bravely caught the train anyway and rode downtown.

Walking past the Contemporary Jewish Museum I could not remember ever before seeing Daniel Libeskind's uptilted blue cube without sunshine on it. It looked unfamiliar, a whole different color. As the museum's web site later explained, " ... from the outside, the extension is most remarkable for its unique shape, as well as its skin: a vibrant blue metallic steel, which changes color depending on the time of day, weather, or one's vantage point." Vibrant would not be the adjective anybody sane would pick for its color on Tuesday.

But my destination was around the corner – the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art – where I got my first exposure to the large ambitious 75th Anniversary show from the permanent collection. And there I saw enough wonders to do a good temporary job of offsetting the gloom that descends like inevitable weather every year in the week between the two big Holidays.

To my mind the gold-bead curtain below, while labeled as a Work Of Art, looked like it came from Ikea. But for all I know, that's what it was supposed to look like. There is probably an official Chain Store school, on a par with Postminimalism or Earth Art, and I just haven't heard of it yet.

All the same, the newest & most adventurous work seemed to be reserved for the top floor galleries on the far side of the floating pedestrian bridge below.

Above, another bridge, opened only this year (as first viewed here back in May) connects the top floor galleries with new gallery space and a sculpture garden built on top of the museum's parking garage.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Every day is fashion day at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, an institution celebrating its 75th anniversary with a special show from the permanent collection (with much homage paid to donors, as donors expect). This afternoon I saw several exciting things never displayed before, such as a tall, coffin-shaped, ochre-colored early Motherwell oil. Alas my camera is not subtle enough in its workings to capture anything useful about the Motherwell. This show is worth many repeat visits.