Saturday, March 10, 2007

Art About Town... San Francisco

"Personally, I experience the greatest degree of pleasure in having contact with works of art. They furnish me with happy feelings of an intensity such as I cannot derive from other realms."

-Albert Einstein

Art and Albert Einstein... all in one day! Well, just imagine it. I could totally see myself museum hopping with Einstein, who I consider to be one of the sexiest men of the 20th Century. Intelligent, witty, great hair, and a wild sense of humor. If he were alive today, I could see myself and Albert, roaming around, gazing at the various public art displays throughout the Bay Area, and engaging in great conversations about what we think, and feel, as the art inspires us. :) Yeah, I like to dream, and when I do, I like to dream big. Imagine... a day with Einstein.

I love art, especially public art, because there is a certain rare freedom in it. You might see it in passing, while driving past it in your car. Or it might be placed in a park or along the main avenue of the town you live in. It might be a commission of a great artist who is well known, or it might be the first piece of an up and coming artist on the edge of immortality through their creative vision. And as you either pass the art at 35 mpg, or while sitting in a park for as long as you want, the art will have changed you in some small way. You will have had a memory evoked, or a passion stirred... even if only for a moment.

In 2004, the city of San Francisco had heart. That is the year, San Francisco General Hospital commissioned the "Hearts in San Francisco" public art display. 130 beautifully painted hearts were placed all through the city, and were designed and painted by a number of artists, including Tony Bennett. The heart he designed, remains on permanent display, in Union Square. I am sure you remember the entry I wrote about it last year. If not you can read the entry here. Anyway, while I was in the city on Thursday, I had time to stop by, and photograph, one of the other hearts, from the 2004 collection, that remains on display as public art, titled, "I Left My Heart... And Shoes In San Francisco," by artist Stan Dann.

San Francisco General Hospital eventually auctioned off most of the hearts, with the proceeds going to the enhancement of patient care at the hospital. The monetary goal for the auction was to raise $1 Million, as of February of 2005 they have raised nearly $2,000,000. It's so amazing to me, when art goes from raw materials and vision, to a reality that benefits the community. There is something soul stirring in that for me. I don't know, maybe it is because over the years, at times of great sadness and grief, art has always been available to help heal the pain I was in. My friend H. P. tells me that I do some of my best photography, when I am depressed. LOL. He never wishes pain on me mind you, but he does remind me that depression doesn't have the lock on me it once did. When those times of sadness, that everyone has, appear like a dark cloud, he tells me to pick up the camera. So does Alan. In fact, as you probably remember, it was Alan who put a camera in my hand, when I was at my lowest, and encouraged me to find life, not avoid it.

This year, San Francisco General Hospital is again participating in the "Hearts in San Francisco," project, and have recently held a fundraiser, where tabletop versions of the hearts were actioned off at charity luncheon, with the proceeds again going to the enhancement of patient care at the hospital, and a special award was given to a member of the community who had displayed "exceptional and inspirational" behavior. There are four full sized hearts, 60-inches tall x 39 inches wide, that are currently on display in Union Square. I am hoping to get over there sometime later this month to photograph them. This next week, I am planning to finally get up to the Sierra to photograph some snow around Lake Tahoe. There is nothing like the art of natural beauty as well. :)

"A good exercise for the heart, is bending down and helping someone to get up."


"I Left My Heart And Shoes In San Francisco"
San Francisco, California
March 8th, 2007

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Focus We Choose

"It's a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it."

-William Somerset Maugham

Long day with the camera. Good day. Productive day. A day where at the end, I feel like I accomplished something... GOOD. I am helping with a project, more of which I will share at a later time, that is helping me weed out all the head noise that has been bogging me down since late December. Sometimes, when we are willing to set the bar higher, and not settle, the best things come our way, and we find that what we thought we could never do, is only a matter of closing our eyes and jumping head first into the future. I know I make it sound easy... it's not... resistance to the future is normal... but sometimes the future is the focus we choose, for me, the future lives in the lens of my camera. :) Don't you just love the affirmations this time of year provides? :) It's all new, in every direction. Life.

"In The Pink"
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, California
March 7th, 2007

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Round Robin Challenge: "The Hand... Untouched"

"Fine art is that in which the hand, the head, and the heart of man go together."

-John Ruskin

The great female photographer, Diane Arbus, once said, "The world can be grasped by action, not by contemplation. The hand is the cutting edge of the mind." She's right, it's true. Sometimes, when I have had an especially good day with the camera, I will sit in front of the computer, looking at the images that I was able to capture with the camera earlier in the day, and wonder about how quickly the message goes from my brain to my right hand... the hand that snaps the photo.

Many times, it doesn't even seem like my brain has anything to do with the photos I achieve, when I am on the run, and I have to go on instinct. I think maybe, after the point where I am aware of the lighting around me, it's like little unseen, artsy, fairies who actually get the photo. LOL. Nah... it's me who takes the picture, but it is certainly a combination of eye, hand and the quiet mind, not the noisy mind, that sees the photo in time, as to not loose it to momentary hesitation. Sometimes contemplation makes me over think the shot, and lose the perfect photo because I hesitated. I think my photos have been getting better in the past year, because I have learned to slow down my thinking, block out the noise in my brain, that has nothing to do with the picture in front of me.

Thank you Brad, I learned a lot from this challenge. Now to answer the questions about the settings I used. In the case of this photo, I used the portrait setting, in low lighting, with the auto focus setting. Other than a soft focus (noise reduction) I used no other enhancements.

Be sure to visit all the participating Robins, just follow the links below...

Linking List

1. Brad... We-Is

2. Carly... Ellipsis... Suddenly Carly

3. Janet... Fond of Photography

4. Suzanne R... New Suzanne R's Life

5. Karen... Outpost Mavarin

6. Julie... Julie's Web Journal

7. Linda... Blah Blah Blog

8. Steven... (sometimes) photoblog

9. Gattina... Keyhole Pictures

"My Hand"
Berkeley, California
March 5th, 2007
Late Evening

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Orator

"The hidden harmony, is better than the obvious."

-Pablo Picasso

This sculpture is one of my favorite pieces by Picasso. It is titled, "The Orator." I first saw it in person, last year, while visiting the Legion of Honor, during the Monet exhibit. I can't tell you how many times I have opened the file of photographs I took that day, just to be transported back to one of my most inspirational days with my camera. Not only had I got to spend the whole day admiring some of my favorite art pieces by Rodin, Gauguin, and of course, Monet, but when I was walking out of the museum, there was a young couple, just married, and in full wedding attire, posing for their wedding photographs on the lawn in front of the museum. I was able to photograph the candid moments of such love between the two, and the overwhelming adoration that was in their eyes, as they became living portraits... a true work of art. I found the following quote tonight, as I was studying an article on Picasso, earlier this evening. I had a long day today, and I am feeling a bit tired, but it was so lovely that so I thought I would share it with you. It seems to fit life at this moment, and like with most truths, it's message is timeless...

"The Orator" Pablo Picasso, 1933 or 1934 (Plaster and Mixed Media)

"Each second we live is a new and unique moment that will never be again. And what do we teach our children? We teach them that two and two make four, and that Paris is the capitol of France. When will we also teach them what they are? We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique in all the years that have passed, there has never been another child like you. Your legs, your arms, your clever fingers, the way you move. You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel. And when you grow up, can you can then harm another who is, like you, a marvel? You must work, we must all work, to make the world worthy of the children."

I was a lucky little girl, that I had some amazing teachers who encouraged me to spend time looking at art books, and studying the natural beauty of the world around me. The best day of my life as a child, was when a teacher put a camera in my hand, and told me to look beyond the obvious, to find the light that surrounds everything. It was the best piece of advice that I ever got, in regards to art, photography, and life. :)

So tell me, is there a particular piece of art, or an art form, that you find especially inspiring? Please share with me in the comment thread for this entry.

"The Orator"
Legion Of Honor Museum
San Francisco, California
July 27th, 2006

Monday, March 05, 2007

As Of February 28th, 2007

"I've decided to cut out the part of the speech where I say anything nice about Democrats."

-Ann Coulter

I wasn't going to address the latest mean spirited pearls of wisdom that came pouring out of conservative political commentator Ann Coulter's mouth this past week, but I can't help it, the woman offends me on all levels, and sometimes, I just have to say exactly what's on my mind. Ann Coulter doesn't belong in the public eye, she is the worst possible influence on our young people, especially the young women of this country, and her kind of hate will only further widen the painful tear this country has suffered. Does she have a right to freedom of speech, of course she does, but it should be stifled at hatred. What constitutes a hate crime anyway. Are mere words enough to be charged, or do you actually have to inflict bodily injury? Her most recent attack, this past week on former North Carolina Senator, John Edwards, is not by far the most heinous words every spoken by Coulter, does anyone remember this bit of nonsence?

"These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by griefparrazies. I have never seen people enjoying their husband's deaths so much."

-Ann Coulter, referring to the widows of the victims of 9/11.

In her attack this past week, in front of an audience at the annual, Conservative Political Action Committee, Ann had this to say about Edwards...

"I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go to rehab if you use the word, "faggot."

Shameful. Republican Presidential candidates, John McCain and Mitt Rommey, where quick to distance themselves from the remarks by Coulter, so I have to wonder, who was sitting in the audience, and who found it so funny? It bothered me that laughter could clearly be heard after her remarks. What kind of person would laugh at such idiocy? I have many conservative friends who I have a great deal of respect for. We have been able to share our opposing views, without bending to this type of hatred. I have learned from them, and I would like to think they have learned a little from me. In a perfect world.

It seems to me that as long as someone, somewhere, welcomes the likes of Ann Coulter to speak at universities, and rallies, and talk shows, the longer we will have an air of misinformation too available. We live in times like never before. Times when it seems like every country in the world has their finger on the trigger. God I hope I am wrong about that. Things in Iraq are NOT improving, they are getting worse. Walter Reed Hospital, in Washington, was supposed to be the flagship of care for our wounded men and women who have returned home from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. What kind of a conscience allowed them to live in such deplorable conditions? Who dropped that ball? We have problems way too devastating on American soil, to be taking up our time giving our attention to a person or persons consumed with hatred. Ann Coulter is a person, consumed with hatred. I wonder sometimes, if my conservative friends cringe when she speaks. Shrug. To be truthful, that is none of my business, that is between them and their conscience.

There is interest in the next presidential election, like never before. I have to say, I admire Edwards for not lowering himself to Coulter's level, by slinging a slur back in her face. That is what I am looking for in a candidate. Someone who can see ignorance for what it is, and remain calm under the circumstances. Someone who recognizes the true needs of America, which is to feel safe and prosperous on our own soil, and to be able to provide for our families. Someone who will bring an end to the national nightmare, that is the Iraq war. It would be nice to have someone in office who will actively pursue Osama Bin Laden... remember him? It would be nice to know that the young men and women we are trying to woo into the armed services, will have the proper care as veterans. America needs to be fixing the existing problems we suffer with right here in America. Bigotry, health care, literacy, living wages, the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast. You know the list. How long do we want to be updating our memorials? Do we have time for the influence of Ann Coulter? Do we have time to continue to hold her up as any kind of positive example?

Your turn, you tell me, is Ann Coulter hurting, or helping America? What should our focus, as a nation, be on? Who in politics is really listening to and addressing our needs? Who, at this point, seems like they are most in touch with America? Will we every be free from the current air of division in America? When does freedom of speech go too far?

As of December 2nd, 2006

As of January 24th, 2007

In Memory Of 3154 Soldiers Killed in Iraq As Of February 28th, 2007

NOTE: The Lafayette Memorial is updated each weekend.


Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Puppy Song In February

"I've seen a look in dogs eyes, a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt, and I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts."

-John Steinbeck

Have you ever looked at your pet, be it dog, cat, hamster, opossum, parrot, rabbit, goldfish, ostrich, cobra, otter, chimpanzee, and noticed them looking back at you, with an expression on their face that seemed to say... "Just what exactly is wrong with you?" LOL. Sometimes, I will be sitting here at my computer, writing an email, which I tend to say out loud as I write, or maybe editing some photos, when I will feel the strangest sensation that I am being stared at. Some might think their house is haunted, but not I, because I know when I turn around, there will be Elvis... contemplating the wonder that is me.

He always has this, somewhat perplexed, yet completely loving look on his face when he is looking at me, as if he is thinking, "I don't get it, she is weird, but she is mommy, so I love her." LOL. And he does. We are best friends, and over all we do understand each other, still, there are those times when I think both of us wonder about each other. Cat, unlike dogs, do not have to love you if they don't want to. They are much more discriminating when it comes to love. Dogs will pretty much love anyone who feeds them. For the most part. When you have been gone all day, a dog will run to the door to welcome you home, a cat will shoot you a look that says, "What took you so long?" Again, not all dogs and cats are the same, Elvis usually meets me at the door, because he wants to be fed, always, and he is not afraid to tell me the minute I come home. :)

Sometimes I miss having a dog. Cats don't like the beach, and sometimes, I miss playing on the beach with a puppy. I spotted the dog in the above photo at Baker Beach, in early February, when I was there to photograph the arrival of the Queen Mary 2. I had a blast watching him running in and out of the surf, playing in the cold winter water of the San Francisco Bay. Actually, I suppose at that particular point it is actually the Pacific Ocean, as it is just outside the Golden Gate. But he was a happy camper all the same. I could imagine him on his own surf board, riding the waves to shore, barking happy thoughts, and wondering to himself, why his human companion doesn't go to the beach every day. How nuts is it, to not go to the beach every day? :) There is nothing like a warm, sunny day in winter, sitting on a California beach, listening to happy noises, and having your own happy, nutty, thoughts.

The Puppy Song
By Harry Nilsson

Dreams are nothing more than wishes
And a wish is just a dream, you wish would come true, woo woo

If only I could have a puppy, I'd call myself so very lucky
Just to have some company to share a cup of tea with me
I'd take my puppy everywhere, La, La La, I wouldn't care
And we would stay away from crowds, and signs that said
No dogs allowed
Oh we, I know he'd never bite me, whoa la, la, la,
Oh we, I know he'd never bite me

If only I could have a friend to stick with me until the end
And walk along beside the sea, share a bit of moon with me
I'd take my friend most everywhere, La, La, La, I wouldn't care
We would stay away from crowds with signs that said no friends allowed
Oh we, we'd be so happy to be whoa, la, la, la
Oh we, we'd be so happy to be together

But dreams are nothing more than wishes
And a wish is just a dream, you wish to come true
A wish to come true.

"Wishes In February
Baker Beach
February 4, 2007