Thursday, April 30, 2009

desperate private space

The AIA convention is in our town. My job was at the sketch tour of the Ferry Building. 30 people "signed up" to spend the morning sketching outdoors in perfect weather! (Twist my arm!!) Around 3pm in the windowless convention hall, many of the folks staffing the exhibits were drooping. One exhibit had a good-looking, thick storage wall, spacious enough to hold all their supplies...and a cat-napping employee!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

long lost geometry

B Baker was in town this week and we talked about phantom bikes, as in phantom limbs. He does a double-take whenever a bike goes past that looks like the Bianchi he lost 30 years ago. In my university town, bicycles are all over the place, like visual static. My trusty Diamondback served me for 20+ years until it was stolen. 2 years later, as I was leaving a bookstore, the familiar frame geometry of one parked bike jumped out from the static. An identifying repair weld on the frame confirmed: MINE! And unlocked! What strikes me is that 2 years after the loss, a particular frame geometry was seared in my memory, like the silhouette of one's beloved.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

too much geometry?

A friend and I went to see Kanna Aoki's paintings last night at Brit-Marie's cafe on Solano. I've seen Kanna's work in life-drawing classes over the past 7 years, but only recently saw one of her street paintings -- on a note card! These paintings might be from photos; they feel well observed, with metered emotion. I particularly like the freeway scene with the reflective rear-end of a tanker. (How many times have you wished you could take a picture in that situation, except that you're driving at least 55mph?) The ghost of the painter of modern life appears in her triptych composition of a laundromat. Best in show. The friend knows Kanna, and said she had struggled with perspective of the rows of circular windows on the washing machine doors. I said I could show her how that works in perspective. But why?? Geometric accuracy is useful, but not always an enhancement. Truth is, I prefer how the authentic struggle is evident in the painting. In this case, close looking and confident handling of paint and color trump geometric accuracy.

too much geometry

This small re-do of the curbside garden next to a church reminded me of the wisdom of the late Nancy Sullivan, horticulturist, environmentalist and educator. Liz Wing helped me get time away from the parallel-rule and computer programs to build a couple raised beds outside my kitchen. Nancy had urged us to get a worm box a few years earlier for good soil, and I wanted the vegetable planting to be just right. I called Nancy and asked her if the rows should run north-south or east-west. Her response: "Why do they have to be in rows?"