Saturday, May 5, 2012

'Tis Derby Day!

It's Christmas in May!  'Tis the Kentucky Derby today - the horses will be running for the roses and I am pumped.  I just wish my brother was still alive so we could do our usual coast-coast derby betting - it's just not the same without him .  I still miss him every single day and would give anything for him to be here. But I will put money down on a horse or two for him and send it up to the heavens for him.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Spring Break 2012

My Spring Break started last Thursday and it promises to be a grand 11 days of fun-filled times.  Here's what's occurred and what's going to occur - Thursday: saw A Room with a View at the Old Globe  - fabulous.  Friday: up to Los Angeles for a symphony performance by André Watts playing Grieg at the Walt Disney Concert Hall (and no, the concert hall isn't in the Disneyland park - it's on South Grand, the hall is designed by Frank Gehry and it's the home for the Los Angeles Philharmonic) - fabulous.  Saturday: back down to San Diego for the San Diego Crew Classic - quite nippy and long day but some great rowing.  Sunday: San Diego Zoo during the day, The Prado for dinner and then Eugene O'Neill's Anna Christie at the Old Globe [Sheryl & Harvey White Theatre in the complex] - Zoo was packed, The Prado and Anna Christie were fabulous. Monday through Wednesday: after doc appointment off to San Francisco - 3 fold purpose for the trip - 1. visit and stay with some dear, dear friends 2. dinner at The French Laundry (reservations scored 3 months ago by the aforementioned to coincide with my visit) 3. See the following specific exhibitions at the deYoung, SFMOMA and the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford (planned by the aforementioned specifically for this trip). At the deYoung - Sculpture of Stephen De Staebler, Arthur Tress photographic exhibition. At SFMOMA- Rineke Dijkstra retrospective, Mark Bradford (only West Coast showing of the retrospective), Buckminster Fuller, and Paul Klee portraiture. At the Cantor Arts Center - Walker Evans, Dan Flavin and Robert Irwin, and Rodin. Thursday through Saturday: Sedona for some decharging and recharging. Sunday: back home in time for Easter gathering with close friends.  Yes indeed, promises to be a full and fabulous 11 days.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

This is how I started this morning:

This is how the evening will play out:

And, in keeping with the day, a toast for all:
Sláinte agus táinte!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Back from the land of Walt...Again

Disneyland again last weekend - went up Friday and came back Sunday morning. Gotta make full use of the Annual Passport I purchased. Stayed at Disney's Grand California Hotel & Spa and a grand time was had. This Wednesday, in honor of leap year, the park is going to be open from 6AM Wednesday until 6AM Thursday - although I have classes Wednesday going up after classes may be a possibility. Whilst some - and I'm not naming names - poo poo Disneyland it's always lots o fun. Plus it provides great cardio with all the walking - I wore my pedometer and I walked well over 6 miles each day - of course some of those calories were replinished during happy hour and dinner...

In any event, great fun.

As an added bonus I batted 100% on my Oscars prediction - yea me, I won the pool :-)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Trying to see all the movies nominated for Best Picture before the Academy Awards - saw Hugo last eve

Saw Hugo in 3D last evening - Martin Scorsese has created a wonderful piece. Many people thought this was a children's film so they stayed away from it. Wrong move. It's not a children's film - it's Scorsese's homage to film making and cinema and is a true delight. Whilst the piece does have a 12 year old protagonist the film intertwines his story with that of Georges Méliès (and if you don 't know who Méliès is you should be ashamed of your lack of knowledge about early cinema). It's set in 1930s Paris and does a great job of establishing context. Also, Scorsese really shows his chops with creating a 3D film and it's no wonder this film has been nominated for so many awards. This is just a lovely lovely film worth seeing and, interesting side note, Johnny Depp is one of the producers - I didn't know that until the credits came up and was an added bonus (at least for me since I'm a big fan of Depp). Try to see it in 3D rather than not.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Anything's possible when beating the horses

ARCADIA, Calif. – No one hits the pick six on a ticket that costs only $20.

The pick six is won by big bettors that play big tickets. For the rest of us, the pick six is too steep, with too many combinations to cover. It costs too much. The losing streaks last too long.

The pick six is not a good bet, for most of us.

But horseplayers are dreamers. So occasionally, we take a stab. Who knows? Maybe today is the lucky day. Sure, it is.

The pick six Feb. 12 at Santa Anita started tough – a turf-route claimer for nonwinners of two, a filly-mare sprint claimer, and a turf sprint for statebred maidens. Geez, a bettor would need to use lots of horses – spend lots of money – just to stay alive halfway.

The carryover was $135,446; bettors wagered another $831,146. Apparently, many still consider the pick six a good bet. Fools like me say it is not, and then we bet it anyway. This story is about one such guy, a small pick-six bettor taking a $20 shot.

Restricted claiming races are a curse, and in the first leg, race 4, the bettor narrowed the nine-horse field to five contenders. There goes most of the $20. His ticket was five deep and two deep, followed by four singles. Who plays the pick six like that? What an idiot.

Leg one was a “spread,” and whenever a “spread race” includes a Marty Jones trainee, it is a good idea to include that horse. Jones works horses slowly, which inflates the odds they often outrun. Eight of the past 16 years, Jones runners produced a flat-bet profit.

Jones trained the longshot Long Legged Lovely, returning from a one-year layoff with leisurely works. She was a trainer-angle longshot in a difficult race, nothing more. When jockey Hector Berrios guided her to victory at $33.20, the pick six was off to a good start.

The second leg, race 5, was a claiming sprint for fillies and mares, with obvious favorites Classy Attraction and All the Love. The bettor used both; bet-down Classy Attraction paid $6 winning in a romp under Chantal Sutherland.

Two races into the sequence, the bettor’s small pick-six ticket was live. All he needed was to win the remaining four races with four singles. Good luck with that.

The best-bet designation on the Daily Racing Form analysis page can be a misnomer. It should be called most probable winner. “Best bet” is often a favorite at low odds, and not necessarily a reasonable horse on which to wager. But occasionally, the term “best bet” does apply. It did for leg three, race 6. The pick-six bettor noticed.

Abella, 4-1 in the program, was making the second start of her career after a respectable debut. Tom Blincoe trains Abella. Blincoe also trained her siblings Jet Set Girl and Bell Zone. Both won maiden races for Blincoe the second start of their career. Interesting.

Perhaps, Abella would follow the pedigree-trainer pattern and also win her second career start. Best bet, indeed. Abella and jockey Martin Pedroza waltzed home at a big, fat $7. The first of four singles had landed. The pick six was halfway home.

Small-ticket pick-six bettors always face a decision – use logical contenders (favorites) in each leg and hope to merely cash for any amount, or key longshot runners and go for a home run. Who doesn’t like to swing for the fences?

My Brite Caroline was an 8-1 longshot in race 7, up in class following a first-off-the-claim win for trainer Gerard Piccioni. Andy Harrington, clocker for National Turf, noted that her jockey, Corey Nakatani, worked her between starts. Harrington liked what he saw.

Analyzing a Feb. 4 work, Harrington wrote this about My Brite Caroline: “C. Nak up, filly is really going well finishing with purpose.”

My Brite Caroline was “outclassed” by the 2-1 program favorite Melissa Rose. But the odds discrepancy made My Brite Caroline a reasonable gamble. She was a sharp horse up in class, always a potent angle. Nakatani gave My Brite Caroline a fantastic ride. He saved ground, cut the corner, and won by a neck at a bet-down $12. Four down, two to go.

The Sweet Life Stakes for 3-year-old fillies was next, and anyone who saw Indigo River win her U.S. debut for trainer Jeff Mullins a month earlier on the same downhill course had to be impressed. Indigo River reproduced the win, bursting clear late under Joel Rosario to win by a 1 1/2 lengths at $5.20. Now it was five down, one to go.

The pick six is not a good bet for most players.

But here was one small bettor on a sleepy Sunday afternoon, holding a $20 pick-six play that was 5 for 5. Daily Racing Form ’s handicapping tool Formulator suggested he was on the right horse in the final race, a starter allowance around two turns.

Mike Mitchell is one of those high-percentage trainers that make one wonder – why bother with Formulator? Mitchell wins often, at all levels, with many angles. You don’t need Formulator to see that.

Mitchell’s recent maiden sprint winner Pulpit’s Express was the speed of the race. On numbers, he was the fastest horse based on a bias-aided sprint win last out. But he faced a double challenge – winners and two turns, both for the first time.

It is a tough combination. Not so tough for Mitchell, according to Formulator.

The past five years, Mitchell was 6 for 12 with maiden sprint winners stretching out against winners.

At the first click of the tote board, Pulpit’s Express opened at even-money. That is always a good sign for a Mitchell runner. The gelding looked terrific in the post parade. He was dry and on his toes. Meanwhile, the pick-six bettor quietly washed out.

Only one of the first five winners in the pick six was a program favorite. A mythical $2 win parlay already exceeded $5,000.

Now, it all came down to one horse. Pulpit’s Express was 4-5 when the gates opened, and Rosario put him on the lead. The pace slowed on the backstretch as Rosario sat still.

At the top of the lane, in the blink of an eye, it was over. Pulpit’s Express opened up. He was in front by two lengths, by three, by four at the eighth pole, 4 1/4 at the wire. It was not even close.

No one hits the pick six on a ticket that costs only $20. But horseplayers are dreamers, and occasionally we take a stab.

That is the true story of what happened Feb. 12, 2012, at Santa Anita.

It was, in fact, my lucky day.

The pick six paid $41,418.40.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

New Picasso exhibition

Man o man, I wish I could fly over and see this exhibition!

First exhibition to explore Pablo Picasso's lifelong connections with Britain opens at Tate

LONDON.- In February 2012 Tate Britain will stage the first exhibition to explore Pablo Picasso’s lifelong connections with Britain. Picasso and Modern British Art will examine Picasso’s evolving critical reputation here and British artists’ responses to his work. The exhibition will explore Picasso’s rise in Britain as a figure of both controversy and celebrity, tracing the ways in which his work was exhibited and collected here during his lifetime, and demonstrating that the British engagement with Picasso and his art was much deeper and more varied than generally has been appreciated.

Pablo Picasso originated many of the most significant developments of twentieth-century art. This exhibition will examine his enormous impact on British modernism, through seven exemplary figures for whom he proved an important stimulus: Duncan Grant, Wyndham Lewis, Ben Nicholson, Henry Moore, Francis Bacon, Graham Sutherland and David Hockney. It will be presented in an essentially chronological order, with rooms documenting the exhibiting and collecting of Picasso’s art in Britain alternating with those showcasing individual British artists’ responses to his work. Picasso and Modern British Art will comprise over 150 works from major public and private collections around the world, including over 60 paintings by Picasso.

Picasso and Modern British Art will include key Cubist works such as Head of a Man with Moustache 1912 (Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris) which was seen in Britain before the First World War, when Cubism was first introduced to a British public through Roger Fry’s two Post-Impressionist exhibitions. It will also include Picasso’s Man with a Clarinet 1911-12 (Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid) and Weeping Woman 1937 (Tate), works which were acquired by the two most notable British collectors of Picasso, Douglas Cooper and Roland Penrose, both of whom were to become intimately associated with the artist and his reputation.

While many British artists have responded to Picasso’s influence, those represented in this exhibition have been selected to illustrate both the variety and vitality of these responses over a period of more than seventy years. This is a rare opportunity to see such work alongside those works by Picasso that, in many cases, are documented as having made a particular impact on the artist concerned; in other cases, they have been chosen as excellent examples of a stylistic affinity between Picasso and the relevant British artist. For example, David Hockney is said to have visited Picasso’s major Tate exhibition (1960) eight times, starting a life-long obsession with the artist. A selection of various Hockney homages to Picasso will be shown. In addition Francis Bacon's Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion 1944 (Tate) will be compared with Picasso’s paintings based on figures on the beach at Dinard which first inspired Bacon to take up painting seriously.

The exhibition will look at the time Picasso spent in London in 1919 when he worked on the scenery and costumes for Diaghilev’s production of The Three-Cornered Hat. It will assess the significance of his political status in Britain, from the Guernica tour in 1938-9 to the artist’s appearance at the 1950 Peace Congress in Sheffield. The final section will also consider the artist’s post-war reputation, from the widespread hostility provoked by the 1945-6 V&A exhibition which re-ignited many of the fierce debates about modern art that first raged before the First World War, to the phenomenally successful survey of his career at the Tate in 1960.

After Tate Britain, the exhibition will tour to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh. Picasso and Modern British Art is devised by James Beechey with additional contributions from Professor Christopher Green (Courtauld) and Richard Humphreys. It is curated at Tate Britain by Chris Stephens, Curator (Modern British Art) & Head of Displays, Tate Britain, assisted by Helen Little, Assistant Curator, Tate Britain.

Image shown:

The Three Dancers 1925
Les Trois Danseuses

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

How cats celebrate Valentine's Day

A friend of mine's cats (Leo and Pippi - Pippi is the female redhead and Leo is the blond male) celebrating yesterday - even they knew it was Heart's Day. How cute are they?

p.s. their "older brother" Stoli (yes, as in Stolichnaya vodka) was nowhere to be found. But he's an irritable crank and anti-social (maybe he should have been named after a better tasting vodka?) so...there you have it.  Anyway, I hope everyone had a fabulous Valentine's Day!

Saturday, January 28, 2012


And what are you having for dinner?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Off to the east coast where the temperature is currently 50 degrees - man o man! There's going to be one temperature whilst I am on the east cold - cold, cold and cold - what's a native born San Diegan to do? Stay indoors and drink warm beverages? Enjoy the song for old Saint Nick. Happy Holidays, everyone!

Monday, December 19, 2011

This is for you, Keith

I've kept myself busy intentionally this month so the memories don't flood back. However, as I leave for the east coast tomorrow to spend the holidays with my mom my thoughts and my heart draw to my brother. Keith died on the 17th of December last year and we had his funeral services on Christmas Eve day. We were two peas in a pod, there's not a day that goes by without me thinking of him and missing him. My heart just breaks and aches at his absence and whoever said things get better with time are full of shit - things don't get better, we just learn to adapt and live without the loved ones who go much too soon, as did my brother. The heart doesn't heal as there will always be a portion missing with the void. I don 't want, nor do I have the fortitude to get into a long blog about my brother. However, my brother was a great Dave Matthews Band fan - in fact, we had planned on seeing him in concert on the east coast but, alas, he was taken before we could go. Anyway, he liked all of Dave Matthews' work and particularily "Why I Am" and the Grux intro off Matthews' GooGrux King cd. So, Keith, here's a clip of the band playing "Why I Am" on the Letterman show as well as a studio track of "Grux". I miss you, I love you and I would change places with you in a heartbeat - I'm hope you and Dad are looking down on all of us who treasured our time with you.

The Nutcracker

Saw The Nutcracker yesterday - one of my favorite holiday activities. Enjoy the clips below - they weren't from the production I saw yesterday (they're from the San Francisco Ballet's 2008 production, which I did see) but a)the russian dance is one of my favorite scenes and the included version is excellent, and was live when I saw it and b) the second clip is just so lovely (clip starts at the end of the Nutcracker/Toy Soldiers and Mice fight- you'll see the Mouse King slithering down a hole at the very beginning). Enlarge to fukll screen for best effect, enjoy and may visions of whatever dance in your head :-).

Sunday, December 18, 2011

It's not Christmas until...

It's not Christmas until, besides watching The Grinch Stole Christmas, one watches A Christmas Story. Below are three of my favorite scenes (with regard to the second scene - wait for the little 10ish second intro). Enjoy...and "don't shoot your eye out"

mindless factoid - the kid who gets his tongue stuck on the pole
grew up to do porn for a while.

Holiday Live Theatre - The Grinch

Saw Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! at The Old Globe Friday eve - as usual, the production was fabulous (as was dinner at The Prado before the event and adults beverages after the event). Today it's The Nutcracker.

Enjoy the clip from the original animation ('tis better viewing if you enlarge the screen to full size).

The photos are from this year's production. Photography by Henry DiRocco.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

'Tis the mad dash to finish grades

About 250 final (and in cases of the slackers who turned in late work, multiple essays) papers to grade, final semester grades to compute and post before leaving for the holidays. The image below says it all - god, Starbucks loooooooooooooooves me... .

image from gosmellthecoffee

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

It truly was a magical day at Walt's place

This was Snow White's castle tonight. Got to the park at 9:30 this morning and just got home about a half hour ago. Awesome day - small crowds, didn't have to wait in line for any rides due to a special pass - great Christmas themed parade - fabulous Christmas fireworks - "snow" falling this evening. Everyone should experience Disneyland during December - the whole park is decked out in Christmas finery - some of the rides (like the Haunted Mansion, It's a Small World are changed for the Christmas holiday). Must have walked about a jillion miles but it was totally worth it - just an awesome day all around.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Off to the land of Disney

Off to Disneyland tomorrow - 'twill be my first time to experience a Christmas Disneyland - everyone who's been this time of year so it's quite groovy and magical. The weather is going to be cooooooooooooold but, hey it's "the happiest place on earth" so it should be a blast!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

May everyone have a day filled with blessings, thankfulness, love, joy, peace, friends and family...and fabulous food :-).

Friday, November 18, 2011

Off for R & R

Off to the airport for a trip to Sedona to stay at L'Auberge until mid-next week - will be back in town the morning of Thanksgiving for Thanksgiving plans. I'm so beyond ready for this trip and I'm so glad my campuses get the week of Thanksgiving off - woo hoo! - I need it. Let's hope a fun time is had by all. Ah....

Monday, October 17, 2011

Thrilling come from behind

Yes, I know - I don't bet the "chalk" (the favored horse) unless I absolutely have to in my exotic wagers but I love love love it when a gray wins, especially when overcoming traffic and coming from behind. Watch Winter Memories, she is the #4horse (look for the yellow) - she just rocks it when she comes blazing at the end.

Friday, October 7, 2011

See this

Brad Pitt is wonderful, wonderful, wonderful - at the top of his game - like a fine wine he delivers. If he doesn't get nominated and awarded it'll be wrong on so many levels. A great film that's worth the price of admission and worth seeing more than once.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Scott Walker vs. education: An open letter to NBC News anchor Brian Williams

Dear Mr. Williams,

I was shocked to learn that you are featuring Gov. Scott "Teachers Are Thugs" Walker on your program The State of Education, streaming online via the NBC News initiative Education Nation, at 1 p.m. on Monday, September 26.

Being familiar with some of your work on the Late Show with Jimmy Fallon, I'm aware you not only know that Scott Walker is an enemy of teachers, but have in fact slow-jammed that news yourself on at least one occasion.

Given your familiarity with Walker's attacks on educators and other public servants, you must be aware of his equally devastating attacks on public education itself in Wisconsin. But the fact that he has been invited to participate in this summit, and the eagerness with which he has already begun to reveal the lies he plans to further espouse on your show, compel me to provide you with a partial list of the many ways Scott Walker has waged war on public education in Wisconsin, and is shamefully ill-qualified to participate in a forum on education.

I hope you will use this information to expose him as the anti-education policy-pusher that he is, and use this opportunity to reveal the truth about his sinister plans to privatize public education rather than provide him with a platform to spout his usual lies about "reform" (which is his codeword for defunding public education).

1.Walker cut $1.6 billion from Wisconsin’s public education budget over the next two years, even as he passes out tax breaks like candy and increases public funding to private and charter schools. Most districts in the state had to deal with these cuts this year by forcing our top commodity, experienced teachers, into early retirement to get some short-term balance in hiring new, "less expensive" teachers.

Programming cuts are rampant all over the state. Districts are forced to raise taxes up to the existing levies, if they haven't already. Walker calls cuts "tools." Get ready to hear him say that word a lot on your show. He may also mention jobs, since he has a hard time not using "job" and "tool" in the same sentence, but don't fall for it. As the people of Wisconsin have been telling him since February, he needs to keep his brown bag full of "tools" away from our schools.

2.Walker is heavily funded by, and answers to, anti-public education privatization policy-pushers like the Koch brothers, the Walton family and Betsy DeVos' ironically named American Federation for Children, at whose annual event Walker was a keynote speaker last spring.

These groups have the admitted goal of privatizing public education and are using Wisconsin as a staging ground for advancing their political aims for our schools. They’re using the puppet Scott Walker, who is more than willing to sell out our kids to such high-rolling bidders. They have trained him to use words like "choice" and "merit" as codes for long-term agendas toward privatization and segregation of schools. His efforts to "reform" education in Wisconsin are little more than a financial venture.

3.Scott Walker is a proven and habitual liar. His biggest lie is that Wisconsin is "broke" and that we need his "reforms" to "balance the budget." The financial "crisis," which Walker manufactured in order to attempt to illegally push through his draconian budget, was the direct result of the tax cuts he distributed to his cronies in the weeks before declaring this phony state of fiscal emergency.

Further, Walker pushes a myth that the Wisconsin education system is in need of major reform, often blaming our excellent teachers for problems that do not exist. Wisconsin public schools are a national model in many areas, and we are number one in the nation in graduation rates, even as we spend less per pupil than most other states. With many of our schools already running on bare-bones budgets, Walker's cuts are devastating. Our kids are paying the price as Walker's funders cash in their checks.

4.The people of Wisconsin do not support Scott Walker. As soon as legally possible, recall efforts will begin full force and are in the planning stage as we speak. Educators throughout the state are near-universally opposed to his policies and further disgusted by his arrogant contempt for the welfare of our children and our education system. He has an approval rating around 40% and sinking. He is at the heart of an FBI "John Doe" investigation related to illegal campaigning. He engaged in campaign ethics violations at Marquette University, and he has made clear throughout his many campaigns that he did not value his own education; hardly the man we should trust to preserve and protect the education of our children.

Walker does not speak for the people of Wisconsin, who see his power grab for exactly what it was: a purely partisan bait-and-switch that led us down a path of abuses of power. It has produced painfully divisive policies that pit the erstwhile friendly and accommodating people of Wisconsin against each other.

When bragging about being part of your summit, Walker said, "I believe we have a great story to tell about our reforms and our bipartisan collaborations to further improve our schools." This from the man who famously said "There's nothing to negotiate" when revoking teachers' rights and lying about how doing so would help "balance the budget."

There has not been a single instance of bipartisan collaboration related to Walker's education agenda since he took office. And I've been paying attention. I watched live as citizen after citizen, teacher after teacher, expert after expert, testified in opposition to his budget, his education-gutting, his plans to expand charter schools at the expense of traditional public schools across the state. Walker shows open contempt for anyone who opposes him and refuses to even acknowledge citizens with whom he disagrees. (I myself have been writing to him regularly since February and have never received more than an automated email response).

Walker continues to this day to suggest that the educators who gathered by the thousands to protest his cuts to education and his abuse of power in taking away their rights were "a handful of out-of-state protesters." He is perhaps the most deceitful and divisive governor in America, and a staggering example of how to destroy public education. I trust you will expose him as such.

Yours sincerely,

Heather DuBois Bourenane
Wisconsin parent, educator, PTO member, state employee and public education advocate Saturday 09/24/2011 8:00 am

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Republicans' latest ploy to keep the economy lousy through election day

Whatever shred of doubt you may have harbored about the determination of congressional Republicans to keep the economy in the dumps through Election Day should now be gone.

Today, in advance of a key meeting of the Federal Reserve Board's Open Market Committee to decide what to do about the continuing awful economy and high unemployment, top Republicans wrote a letter to Fed Chief Ben Bernanke.

They stated in no uncertain terms the Fed should take no further action to lower long-term interest rates and juice the economy. "We have serious concerns that further intervention by the Federal Reserve could exacerbate current problems or further harm the US economy."

They didn't threaten to "treat him pretty ugly" - as Texas Governor Rick Perry told his supporters last month he'd deal with Bernanke if he "printed more money" between now and the election.

But the threat was there. "It is not clear that the recent round of quantitative easing undertaken by the Federal Reserve has facilitiated economic growth or reduced the unemployment rate."

Translated: You try this, and we rake you over the coals publicly, and make the Fed into an even bigger scapegoat than we've already made it.

Top Republicans believe they can block all or most of Obama's jobs bill. That leaves only the Fed as the last potential player to boost the economy. So the GOP will do what it can to stop the Fed.

After all, as Republican Senate head Mitch McConnell stated, their "number one" goal is to get Obama out of the White House. And that's more likely to happen if the economy sucks on Election Day.

To say it's unusual for a political party to try to influence the Fed is an understatement.

When I was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton Administration, it was considered a serious breach of etiquette - not to say potentially economically disastrous - even to comment publicly about the Fed. Everyone understood how important it is to shield the nation's central bank from politics.

If global investors suspect the Fed is responding to political pressure of any kind, investors will lose confidence in the independence of the Fed and its monetary policies. Even if the pressure is to tighten the money supply and keep interest rates high, it's still politics. And once politics intrudes, lenders of all stripes worry that it will continue to intrude in all sorts of ways. Lending to the United States becomes a tad riskier. As a result, lenders charge us more.

The Republican letter puts Bernanke and his colleagues in a bind. If they decide against another round of so-called "quantitative easing" to lower long-term rates and boost the economy, they may look like they're caving to congressional Republicans. If they decide to go ahead notwithstanding, they're bucking the Republicans and siding with Democrats. Either way, they're open to the charge they're playing politics.

Congressional Republicans evidently don't care. They want Obama out, whatever the cost. Besides, they've never met a government institution they don't mind trashing.

By Robert Reich, 21 September 2011


Robert Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written thirteen books, including "The Work of Nations," "Locked in the Cabinet," "Supercapitalism" and his latest book, "AFTERSHOCK: The Next Economy and America's Future." His 'Marketplace' commentaries can be found on and iTunes

Image is of the Federal Reserve building

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Robbie Robertson

New music from his How to Become Clairvoyant CD

Monday, September 5, 2011

Celebrating the true meaning of Labor Day

As a Vice-President for the AFT - American Federation of Teachers Guild (hence the image above) - in my hometown I am proud to celebrate this day. For some this day has turned into just another day off for partying. For others it has come to symbolize the end of summer and wearing white. However, I think it's important that we remember what this day truly symbolizes and how important it remains for worker's rights to be protected. To that end I'd like to share two articles this Labor Day. The first article is a history of this day from the U.S. Department of Labor and the second piece was written this morning by Dr. Walter Brasch, Professor of Journalism at Bloomsburg University.

Labor Day: How it Came About; What it Means

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

Founder of Labor Day
More than 100 years after the first Labor Day observance, there is still some doubt as to who first proposed the holiday for workers. Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a day to honor those "who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold." But Peter McGuire's place in Labor Day history has not gone unchallenged. Many believe that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, not Peter McGuire, founded the holiday. Recent research seems to support the contention that Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. What is clear is that the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic.

The First Labor Day
The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883. In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a "workingmen's holiday" on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.

Labor Day Legislation
Through the years the nation gave increasing emphasis to Labor Day. The first governmental recognition came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886. From them developed the movement to secure state legislation. The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on February 21, 1887. During the year four more states — Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York — created the Labor Day holiday by legislative enactment. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania had followed suit. By 1894, 23 other states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers, and on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.

A Nationwide Holiday
The form that the observance and celebration of Labor Day should take were outlined in the first proposal of the holiday — a street parade to exhibit to the public "the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations" of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families. This became the pattern for the celebrations of Labor Day. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civic significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement. The character of the Labor Day celebration has undergone a change in recent years, especially in large industrial centers where mass displays and huge parades have proved a problem. This change, however, is more a shift in emphasis and medium of expression. Labor Day addresses by leading union officials, industrialists, educators, clerics and government officials are given wide coverage in newspapers, radio, and television. The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation's strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.

Labor Day: The Unknown Holiday
by Walter Brasch

"It’s Labor Day, and that means millions of Americans are celebrating. Most Americans have no idea what Labor Day is, other than self-serving political speeches, hot dogs, burgers, a pool party, and the last day of a three-day holiday. Few even know that Labor Day exists to allow people to remember and honor the struggles for respect, dignity, and acceptable wages and working conditions for the rank-and-file employees.

We don’t know that the Knights of Labor created the first Labor Day in 1882 and that Congress made it a national holiday in 1894.

Almost none of us, including life-long union workers, know the personalities of the labor movement. About Mother Jones (1830-1930), the militant “angel of the coal fields” for more than six decades. About “Big Bill” Haywood (1869-1928) who organized the Industrial Workers of the World, a universal coalition to fight for the rights of all labor. About cigar-chomping Samuel Gompers (1850-1924), the first president of the American Federation of Labor, a job he held for 38 years.

We don’t know about Sidney Hillman (1887-1946) who led strikes in 1916 to reduce the work week to 48 hours, from the standard 54–60 hours, and then helped create the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) before becoming a major political force for workers during the labor-friendly Roosevelt administration.

Missing from our collective knowledge is the life of Saul Alinsky (1909-1972), known as the “father of grassroots political campaigns” who worked alongside Cesar Chavez (1927-1993) who used Alinsky’s tactics to organize the United Farm Workers.

Most of us probably never heard about Eugene Debs (1855-1926), Joe Hill (1879-1915), and thousands of others who went to prison or were murdered defending the rights of the workers not only to organize, but to demand better working conditions. The names of Tompkins Square, Cripple Creek, Homestead, Lattimer, Lawrence, and dozens of other places where police forces massacred workers are unknown. We don’t know about the Avondale mine fire that killed 110, because of faulty construction of the colliery and a disregard for worker safety, or of the fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory, where 148 women, some as young as 12, working under brutal sweat-shop conditions, died because a fire door was chained. We won’t become involved in the struggle, risk our jobs and futures. That’s someone else’s responsibility. We’ll just follow inane rules and complain privately.

Most Americans, and certainly most journalists, don’t know the story of Horace Greeley, a social activist and the nation’s most prominent ante-bellum publisher, who created The New York Typographical Union for his typesetters and printers because he believed they needed representation. Most journalists also don’t know about Heywood Broun (1888-1939), one of the nation’s best-paid columnists who risked his own financial stability to create The Newspaper Guild in 1935 to help those reporters making one-hundredth of his salary. Most media don’t even have local stories about Labor Day, preferring to run nationally-distributed stories and not “waste” any of the few reporters they have left.

The national syndicates and wire services, plus a few socially-conscious newspapers, may make the effort to find a current labor leader who will say organized labor is having a tough time but is still strong and vital, the only recourse against poor working conditions and unfair labor practices. The stories will tell us that about 12.4 percent of all workers are in unions, down from a peak of 35 percent in 1954, but the reporters don’t dig into myriad ways of intimidation by Management, or of the professionals who mistakenly believe because they are professionals and not workers they don’t need unions.

The reporters may interview the workers. An elderly man’s remembrance of his life in the coal mines or breakers, and what Black Lung did not only to his own health but to his family and friends. They might chat with an elderly woman who worked 12-hour days six days a week for $3–$4 a day in the heat and humidity of a garment factory. They may talk with a few current workers who tell us the Recession has cut deep into their lives, but they work hard and are pleased that they still have a job.

Some stories may even dryly point out statistics—that the unemployment rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), is 9.7 percent, up from 4.8 percent when the Recession began in December 2007, that 14.9 million Americans are unemployed, up from 7.4 million. The stories might even note that 9.1 million Americans work part-time either because their hours and wages were “downsized” or because they couldn’t find full-time work. Another 2.3 million Americans are “marginally attached,” according to the BLS; these are unemployed Americans who aren’t listed as “unemployed” because they haven’t looked for work in four weeks; of these 2.3 million, about 760,000 are “discouraged”—their unemployment benefits have run out, they have tried to find work, but have given up.

Meanwhile, corporate executives are taking multi-million dollar bonuses for improving the “cash flow.” Even if executive management makes significant mistakes, and the “return on investment” isn’t what the Board of Directors expects, or the companies fail because of management incompetence and greed, almost all CEOs and their immediate underlings have the “golden parachute” that allows a soft drop from employment, yielding termination packages that amount to millions of dollars and considerable benefits and bonuses that no working class person will ever receive.

Business euphemistically claims because of “downsizing,” “rightsizing,” and “outsourcing,” mostly to foreign countries, the “bottom line” is improved; corporate investors are being “optimally compensated.” Since the recession began, more than a year before President George W. Bush left office, about 4.3 million Americans have been “downsized,” according to data compiled by Challenger, Gray and Christmas Inc. Data collected by NowPublic reveals that 2008 was “the worst year for layoffs and job losses in the United States since World War II.” Although terabytes of data reveal the Recession is slowing under the massive Obama stimulus package, another one million Americans will be laid off this year. Recent Department of Labor studies report that American workers are “the most productive” ever. That’s because not only are they are doing so much more to compensate for their fellow workers having been laid off, but because they live with the fear if they don’t work even harder they, too, may be laid off or lose promotions in an economy that went as far south as our manufacturing plants.

Of course, there are some industries that have gained in the past year’s plunging economy. Retail sales, which the Department of Labor reports as having the lowest average wages, is gaining workers. But, that’s because it’s just “good business sense” to hire 75 low-paid part-timers and save the cost of benefits than to hire 50 full-time clerks. Only about 16 percent of all retail workers even receive health care benefits, according to the BLS.

To the 50-year-old who worked hard for one company more than half of his life, showed up for work on time, left on time, and tolerated the company’s banal preaching about everyone is “part of our happy family,” and then is laid off as an “economy measure,” the numbers don’t matter. To the worker who put in 20 years in one job, and then is fired for reasons that would be questionable under any circumstance, the numbers don’t matter. To the $20,000-a-year worker who is told she won’t receive a raise because “we’re having a bad year,” but sees upper management not only get raises and more stock options, but also hire other managers, all of them making five times or more than her salary, the other numbers don’t matter.

But, millions of Americans will have their bar-b-ques and family reunions, they’ll splash in the ocean or hike mountain trails, and they will have no idea why the struggle for worker rights must be fought every day by every worker."

Have a wonderful Labor Day and please continue to support the tireless work done to ensure every worker's entitled rights. We continue on because the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dreams shall never die.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

I know where I'll be spending part of tomorrow...

Monday Pick 6 Carryover at Del Mar $273,832 - woo hoo - here I come early bird betting windows (I don 't wanna deal with the big crowds tomorrow so I'll just go early, place my bets and then have the rest of the day to do Labor Day holiday stuff whilst awaiting race results).

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I have the perfect decanter...

BEVERLY HILLS, CA.- A case of Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1982, Pauillac, brought $50,788 to lead the day in the joint Heritage Auctions and Greg Martin Auctions $2.7+ million June 16 Signature® Wine Auction, held at the company’s Beverly Hills offices and simulcast live to Hong Kong. “Good results across the board,” said Frank Martell, Heritage’s Director of Fine and Rare Wine. “Collectors responded to this wonderful grouping of wines and with enthusiastic bids on both sides of the Pacific.”

All told, more than 260 bidders vied for 768 total lots, translating into a 96% sell-through rate by total value.

Following the top lot was a fine 11-bottle lot of Chateau Petrus 2000, Pomerol, which showed considerable spirit at a $46,555 final price realized, while a case of late release Musigny 1949, Leroy , realized $35,850.

Chateau Lafite Rothschild 2000 , Pauillac saw an impressive run in the auction, providing fully four of the top 10 lots in the auction, starting with a case of the vintage that realized $31,070 with another two cases following that one at $29,875, respectively. The final Chateau Lafite Rothschild 2000 in the grouping was 24 half bottles, which realized $23,900.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Pinacotheque de Paris Announces Alberto Giacometti and the Etruscans Exhibition

Figurine, 1958, bronze, 63 x 11,5 x 19,5 cm. Collection Fondation Maeght, Saint-Paul de Vence. Photo: Claude Germain © Succession Giacometti / ADAGP, Paris 2011.

PARIS.- It is the most eventful exhibition of the fall, an exhibition that the specialists and art lovers of Giacometti, have been expecting for over fifty years. Giacometti’s attraction to the primitive figure was present very early on in the artist’s oeuvre. Etruscan art, which he first of all discovered in the Louvre, in the archeological department, where he went regularly, then during the exhibition on the Etruscans in 1955 in Paris, was, however, to produce in the artist a very meaningful turmoil, and made up one of the essential keys to the understanding of his best known and most powerful form of creation. The exhibition will be on view from September 16, 2011 through January 8, 2012 at the Pinacothèque de Paris.

No exhibition on the Etruscans has been shown in Paris since 1955. But it was precisely that show which enabled Giacometti to discover that extraordinary civilization, based on the economy of a seafaring people; a people of pirates according to the Greeks who regarded them as their chief rivals. That still strange and mysterious civilization was one of the most brilliant before Rome.

The Etruscans devised an outstanding art form, exceptional in its quality, richness and beauty, chiefly made up sculpted sarcophagi and of powerful warrior figures. They also developed a kind of very slender sculpted figure. It was such a shock for Giacometti that he wanted to go further in his quest and in his understanding of that people and its art.

For Giacometti the next step was to go to the Etruscans’ own land, in Tuscany. The journey to the centre of that world seems to have led him to Florence, to the archeological Museum, and then later on, to Vol¬terra, a city in Etruria, close to Pisa. There he discovered the emblematic figure of the Etruscan world, L’Ombre du soir (The Evening’s shadow). That work – that had not travelled to Paris in 1955 and which has never left Italy – is the Etruscans’ Mona Lisa. There exists a less striking version in the Louvre, that Giacometti already knew about for several years, but the one in Volterra provided a real shock for him.

A willowy figure, fine, powerful, mysterious, sensual, soulful and with an outstanding magnetic force, the Ombre du soir was a revelation. The artist was left speechless before that unique piece.

His work was totally overwhelmed: in order to prolong that discovery, Giacometti drew, painted and sculpted with reference to the Ombre du soir. None of the artist’s most famous figures, from the series of Femme de Venise to that of the Homme qui marche can be imagined, conceived without reference to the Ombre du soir.

It is that outstanding confrontation – which provides a new reading of Giacometti’s oeuvre – that the Pinacothèque de Paris is showing for the first time in Paris. The Ombre du soir shall be accompanied by more than one hundred and fifty Etruscan objects, exhibited alongside a unique group of about thirty sculptures, among the most famous by Giacometti.

The Collections of the Pinacothèque de Paris
« The Museum must not become a graveyard. » That sentence by Malraux is important because it expresses a fear which, unfortunately, has not been disavowed for years all over the world and not just in France.

Through that quote there exists a basic question, that of the work’s future once it has left the collector’s walls to enter the museum. Personally, for years now, I have never ceased to question myself as to the reason why the work of art dies, loses its life as soon as it is sanctuarized. Being lucky enough to see them in the collectors’ homes and being amazed by their splendor, I can never understand how, the moment I come across them years later in museums, they have lost that magic, that aura we find in the homes of those who loved them for so many years. Is that the fear Malraux wished to express, he who – an enlightened art lover – knew the collectors so well and was for a long time at the head of the French museums as Minister for Culture?

If we go back to the beginning, to the very essence of the work, to its initial function, we inevitably return to what the museum was in the very beginning: the curiosity cabinet. The place where the collected objects were stored and exhibited, i.e. the private museum put at the disposal of a chosen un public.

The idea was to renew to-day with everything the museum has lost of its essence and of its meaning, but this time by offering the secrets of the art lover’s cabinet to all our visitors. Transversality, as I often describe it, allows us to explain that all the artists from all times, of every culture and of all origins, make up a community out of the ordinary, but whose methods of thinking, of reflection and of approach are the same. The museum-sanctuary seems to have forgotten, by its ency¬clopedic approach, its chief role: to bring the works to life, gathered together and exchange a dialogue beyond the frontiers and periods, because, finally, they are all saying the same thing. They speak of beauty, of references, of convergences and of histories, and, above all, they summon up everything we hold in common. Thus you will notice that Tintoretto, Van Dyck, Reynolds or Bonnard represent the “worthies” in the same manner, be he French in the 19th century, Italian in the 16th, Flemish in the 17th or English in the 18th centuries. You will also note that Van Gogh painted interiors in the same fashion as Peter de Hooch or Delvaux, that Léger thought about and composed his still-lives in the same way that Heda painted a Vanity, that Brueghel, Daumier or Teniers had the same approach to popular festivities, and that landscapes by Hobbema or Courbet are constructed along the same lines. That Primitivism and the central placing of the body is the same from Rembrandt until Duchamp.

Marc Restellini, director of the Pinacothèque de Paris, provides us with his reflections on the part the museum must play at the heart of the city and of its period. Les Collections in the Pinacothèque are proof of his conclusions : about one hundred works, from the Primal Arts to the Moderns, gaze at each other, have a dialogue and query the pertinence of classification, of schools and of chapels, grouped together in thematic rooms: still-lives, Nativities, landscapes. The visitor is free to think about art in his own way: at the entrance to each room, a quote attracts his attention: « The private or religious feast, on the village square or in front of the cathedral; community living has always fascinated artists throughout the ages»; then it is up to the visitor to discover the correspondence between Utrillo’s La Cathédrale de Reims, La Danse de Mariage by Brueghel and Modigliani’s Hancka Zborowska . These paintings have come from all over the world, and they take over the spaces for various lengths of time; because Les Collections are not fixed, the deposit will increase and will live in accordance with the various and unusual hangings.

Crater with little columns. End 4th– early 3d century BC, terra cotta. Volterra, Etruscan museum Guarnacci © Photo : Arrigo Coppitz.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

John Lennon/Bob Dylan Owned and Played Gibson Guitar Expected to Bring $200,000+

A 1967 Gibson J-160E Sunburst acoustic-electric guitar bought by John Lennon and later gifted by Lennon to Bob Dylan is expected to bring $200,000+ as the undisputed centerpiece of Heritage Auctions July 29 Signature® Music & Entertainment Auction.

Lennon played and wrote songs on this beautiful Gibson during the period of the famous Beatles retreat with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Rishikesh, India, possibly even taking this guitar with him on the journey - one of the most tumultuous and creative periods in the band's history, which resulted in 1968's The White Album, one of the greatest albums ever made. Lennon later gave to Bob Dylan, who wrote, recorded and toured with the guitar himself.

"It's a cliché to say it, of course, but if this amazing guitar could only talk," said Margaret Barrett, Director of Music & Entertainment Auctions at Heritage. "What an incredible amount of Rock n' Roll history it has witnessed, having been owned, played and beloved by, arguably, the two most important rock musicians of the 20th century."

Lennon bought this instrument new in 1967, a model he was particularly fond of, in the months before the untimely overdose death of original Beatles manager Brian Epstein. The spring of 1968 found the Beatles - and possibly this guitar - in Rishikesh, India taking a transcendental meditation course from the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. For John, it was a way to "get away from everything." Though they were supposed to spend most of their time in meditation, John and Paul spent many of their afternoons writing songs.

"Regardless of what I was supposed to be doing," Lennon would recall, "I did write some of my best songs there."

This new music became the nucleus of one of the greatest albums of all time, The Beatles, better known as The White Album, released in late November, 1968.

A month or so later, around Christmas, Lennon gifted this J-160E to one of his musical idols, Bob Dylan, who took over stewardship of it for a number of years, keeping it at his New York home, writing songs on it, touring with it and using it in the recording studio during the late 1960s and early 1970s. This was the period in which Dylan released such major works as Nashville Skyline, Planet Waves and Blood on the Tracks, making it easy to assume that this guitar figured prominently in the Dylan's writing process of those seminal recordings.

"A few years after Lennon's tragic death in 1980," said Barrett, "Dylan's superstitions about owning this guitar led him to gift it to his friend, famed guitarist and guitar technician César Diáz, a legend in his own right. To the best of our knowledge, it's never been offered before at public auction."

Monday, July 11, 2011

Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles Presents George Herms: Xenophilia

George Herms, Xenophilia, 2011, collage, 22 x 28 in., courtesy of the artist, © George Herms. Photo: Brian Forrest.

LOS ANGELES, CA.- George Herms: Xenophilia (Love of the Unknown) presents the work of legendary West Coast assemblage artist George Herms alongside the work of a younger generation of Los Angeles and New York artists, which is bringing new energy to the assemblage tradition. The exhibition features works from a circle of friends Herms found in Florence, as well as artists introduced to him by the exhibition curator, Neville Wakefield, including Rita Ackermann, Kathryn Andrews, Lizzi Bougatsos, Robert Branaman, Dan Colen, Leo Fitzpatrick, Elliott Hundley, Hanna Liden, Nate Lowman, Ari Marcopoulos, Ryan McGinley, Melodie Mousset, Jack Pierson, Amanda Ross-Ho, Sterling Ruby, Agathe Snow, Ryan Trecartin, Kaari Upson, and Aaron Young. The exhibition is on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA) from July 10th through October 2nd, 2011.

Ever since he first started exhibiting in Los Angeles in the late 1950s, George Herms has been a central figure in the development of so-called West Coast aesthetic. Influenced by a beat generation more attuned to the musical nuance of the everyday than the modernist requiem to order, Herms's commitment to counterculture is expressed through his use of impoverished materials and his rejection of compositional devices in favor of loose associations of materials and ideas. The resulting assemblages blur the boundaries between art and life to make of each the other. Herms salvages elements from the trash heap of popular culture, combining them with words and phrases to create final entities that are neither pure thought, nor pure object—they are both prop and proposition. At times, Herms has been associated with landmarks of the developing L.A. art scene—Wallace Berman and Semina, Walter Hopps and the Ferus Gallery, Dennis Hopper and the film culture of Easy Rider—but his art has refused any singular identification. An advocate of all things free—spirit, material, and love—Herms is the spiritual godfather to an art of the unknown, forging something out of nothing, which continues to be a driving compulsion of artists today.

In 2008, Herms was invited to Florence by designer Adam Kimmel who was being celebrated by the fashion event organizer Pitti Imagine. It was there that he got to know and hang out with a generation of New York–based artists, including Lizzi Bougatsos, Dan Colen, Nate Lowman, Ryan McGinley, and Rita Ackermann, along with artists from a somewhat older generation, namely Ari Marcopoulos, and Jack Pierson. Herms’s predilection for privileging the found over the made and for using the raw materials around him as the stuff of his art immediately dovetailed with the raw, unfiltered, and anti-art-establishment tendencies of a group that came of age when ever-higher production values corresponded with auction records and spiritual bankruptcy. Like the open dialogue that fueled the Semina collaborations of Berman, Herms, Hopper, Edward Kienholz, and others, this is a group for whom the free trade of ideas and art blurs the boundaries, not just of authorship, but also of distinctions between art and the everyday.

George Herms: Xenophilia: (Love of the Unknown) embraces these tendencies. Exploring the notion of assemblage from both material and conceptual viewpoints, the exhibition displays Herms’s signature junk art of the past six decades and recent collages alongside the work of a group of much younger artists from both coasts. The presentation merges the New York School, which emerged out of the first decade of this century, with artists from a similar generation who are living and working in Herms’s hometown of Los Angeles. The opportunity to reconsider not just the centrality of Herms's role but also the spiritual and material legacy of his improvisational aesthetic is offered out of the chaos.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Norton Simon Museum Presents Vermeer's "Woman with a Lute," on Loan from the Metropolitan

Johannes Vermeer (Dutch, 1632–75), Woman with a Lute, ca. 1662–63. Oil on canvas.

PASADENA, CA.- The Norton Simon Museum presents the rare loan of Johannes Vermeer’s “Woman with a Lute,” ca. 1662–63, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. One of about 36 known works by the Dutch master, five of which make their home at the Metropolitan Museum, the painting will be on view from July 8 through Sept. 26, 2011, providing audiences with the extraordinary opportunity to see a work by Vermeer on the West Coast. Its presentation at the Norton Simon Museum marks the painting’s first appearance in California.

The loan of “Woman with a Lute” comes as part of an agreement with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which borrowed the Simon’s Raphael painting “Madonna and Child with Book,” 1502–03, for the 2006 exhibition “Raphael at the Metropolitan: The Colonna Altarpiece.” In return, the Norton Simon Museum was given the opportunity to host this remarkable painting.

“We are delighted to welcome Vermeer’s ‘Woman with a Lute’ to Southern California,” says Norton Simon Museum President Walter W. Timoshuk. “Vermeer’s works are housed in museums in Europe and the Northeastern United States exclusively, thus the painting’s installation at the Norton Simon Museum presents a unique and riveting art-viewing experience to our visitors.”

“Woman with a Lute” will be installed in the Norton Simon Museum’s 17th-century Dutch gallery, alongside the Museum’s significant collection of Rembrandt portraits and other genre paintings. During the three-month installation, the Museum will present a series of free public programs centered on the special loan. This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

The Painting
Johannes Vermeer (Dutch, 1632–1675) is one of the world’s most venerated artists, yet he left behind only a few dozen paintings and no drawings or prints. One of Vermeer’s beloved “Pearl Pictures,” “Woman with a Lute” evokes expectation, longing, and perhaps even mindful restraint or temperance, all in a mere 20 x 18 inches. Objects familiar to viewers of Vermeer’s work, such as the remarkable pearl drop earring that catches the sunlight, the chair with lion-headed finials, the map of Europe and the yellow jacket trimmed in ermine, are carefully and precisely staged in this quiet interior scene. There is no doubt that the musician is the focal point here, and the large map, the imposing profiles of the lions’ heads and the signature-blue curtains on the leaded window all frame her face, and especially her eyes. Vermeer’s muted tones and gauze-like shadows capture a moment where we can imagine the music stopping long enough for this young woman to tune her instrument and perhaps catch the first glimpse of the object of her desire. The sheet music and the viola da gamba in the middle foreground hint at a pending duet, as does her look of longing and desire. The map of Europe, however, studded with sailing ships, may be a subtle suggestion that her wait, and the duet itself, may be somewhat delayed.

“Woman with a Lute” was in the collection of railroad developer Collis Potter Huntington, who bequeathed it and numerous other paintings to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His second wife, Arabella, and her son, Archer, were both given life interest in the painting, but it was passed to the Metropolitan Museum in 1925, the year after Arabella’s death. Other paintings from a collection that she herself assembled now reside at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, which was erected by Arabella’s later husband, Henry Huntington, the nephew of Collis Potter.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

San Diego Museum of Art Presents Great Spanish Masters from the Pérez Simón Collection

Salvador Dalí, The Ascension of Christ, 1958. Oil on canvas. Pérez Simón Collection.

SAN DIEGO, CA.- The San Diego Museum of Art is the only U.S. museum to show From El Greco to Dalí: Great Spanish Masters from the Pérez Simón Collection. This spectacular survey of Spanish art from the 16th century to the 1970s features 64 works drawn from one of the world’s finest private collections, on view from July 9 to November 6, 2011. From the golden age of Charles V and on through the modern period, this exhibition showcases such acclaimed masters of the Spanish school as El Greco, Ribera, Murillo, Goya, Sorolla, Picasso, Dalí and Miró.

Spanning five centuries, this selection of works by some of the world’s most celebrated artists illustrates a splendid chapter in the history of Spanish art. Visitors to the exhibition are also invited to discover dazzling artists little-known in the U.S., such as the Romantic Manuel Barrón y Carrillo, or the Modernist Romero de Torres.

This exhibition proposes new perspectives on the story of Spanish art, considered both thematically and historically. An outstanding selection of old master paintings underscore the importance of religious piety and royal patronage from the 16th to the 18th century, including Jusepe de Ribera’s sensational Saint Jerome, Bartolomé Murillo’s sublime Immaculate Conception, and Francisco de Goya’s masterful Doña María Teresa de Vallabriga y Rozas. The struggle between tradition and modernity is considered from the late-18th to the 20th century, featuring six works by Salvador Dalí, among them his monumental Ascension of Christ, and the diptych Gala’s Christ, painted for his wife and muse in 1978. Monuments of painting, the masterpieces assembled for this exhibition are also a testament to a preeminent collector’s enduring passion.

A native of Asturias, Spain, Juan Antonio Pérez Simón has made Mexico City his home. It is also home to his collection, begun in the 1970s, which now ranks among the greatest in the world. From El Greco to Dalí: Great Spanish Masters from the Pérez Simón Collection, a choice selection from the outstanding works that comprise this stellar collection,premiered in Paris, at the Musée Jacquemart-André, before traveling to the Musée national des beaux-arts in Québec City.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Exhibition of Photographs from the Legendary Mexican Suitcase at Les Rencontres d'Arles

Robert Capa, (Exiled Republicans being marched down the beach to an internment camp, Le Barcarès, France), March 1939. Negative. © International Center of Photography / Magnum. Collection International Center of Photography.

ARLES.- The legendary Mexican Suitcase containing Robert Capa’s Spanish Civil War negatives, considered lost since 1939, has recently been rediscovered and is exhibited here for the first time. The Suitcase is in fact three small boxes containing nearly 4,500 negatives, not only by Capa but also by his fellow photojournalists Chim (David Seymour) and Gerda Taro. These negatives span the course of the Spanish Civil War (1936–39), through Chim’s in-depth coverage in 1936-37, Taro’s intrepid documentation until her death in battle in July 1937, and Capa’s incisive reportage until the last months of the conflict. Additionally, there are several rolls of film by Fred Stein showing mainly portraits of Taro, which after her death became inextricably linked to images of the war itself. Between 1936 and 1940, the negatives were passed from hand to hand for safekeeping, and ended up in Mexico City, where they resurfaced in 2007.

The Spanish Civil War broke out on July 19, 1936. In the broadest terms, the war was a military coup, led by General Francisco Franco and instigated to overthrow the democratically elected government of the Spanish Republic, a coalition of leftists and centrists. From its inception, the civil war aroused the passions of those who saw Franco’s actions as the front line of a rising tide of fascism across Europe, as he received material support from Germany and Italy. Many leftist intellectuals and artists were committed to the antifascist struggle, and they provided vivid images and texts in support of the Republican cause for the international press.

The Mexican Suitcase negatives constitute an extraordinary window onto the vast output of these three photographers during this period: portraits, battle sequences, and the harrowing effects of the war on civilians. While some of this work was known through vintage prints and reproductions, the Mexican Suitcase negatives, seen here as enlarged modern contact sheets, show us for the first time the order in which the images were shot, as well as images that have never been seen before. This material not only provides a uniquely rich view of the Spanish Civil War, a conflict that changed the course of European history, but also demonstrates how the work of three photojournalists laid the foundation for modern war photography.

Gerda Taro, (Crowd at the gate of the morgue after the air raid, Valencia), May 1937. Negative. © International Center of Photography. Collection International Center of Photography.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Luc Tuymans

Luc Tuymans Exhibits for the First Time in Spain at Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Málaga

MALAGA.- “Art is not derived from art. Art derives from reality.” Tuymans’s words constitute a statement of intent and a clear explanation of the nature of his work in which he aims to evoke and insinuate but in which it is the viewer’s responsibility to fill in the gaps that have been deliberately left there and to construct his or her own narrative. Tuymans is a committed artist and his work engages with events that have marked contemporary society despite the existence of a collective desire for amnesia that aims to forget or to distort these events within the context of a society that at times seems closer to the deceptive reality presented by Aldous Huxley in Brave New World.

The CAC Málaga is presenting Retratos y vegetación, the first exhibition devoted to Luc Tuymans in Spain. It comprises a selection of 16 oil paintings of different sizes that reveal the technique that has made Tuymans a key reference point for a new generation of figurative artists for whom painting is the optimum means of expression, contrary to those who still consider it a conservative one that contradicts the heterogeneous nature of contemporary art. Fluid brushstrokes (Soldier, 1999), diffused lines (The Rumour, 2001) and muted colours (Singing Flowers, 2008) are used to envelop the figures in a tense silence in the manner of a metaphor for the fog that seems to shroud historical and collective memory on occasions.

Tuymans has focused on painting in his work since the mid-1980s. However, he abandoned this medium for a period in order to focus entirely on filmmaking. That passing phase left its mark on his subsequent output, which he has meticulously created through preparatory drawings, photographs, slides, stills from films and a wide range of techniques that have functioned to enrich his compositions.

For Fernando Francés, director of the CAC Málaga: “Many people have described Tuymans’s painting as pessimistic, perhaps due to the violent, crude force behind it, which he uses as a vehicle to dissect reality in a manner devoid of grandiloquence and moralising intent. It is clear that we are in the presence of one of the figures most admired by both established artists such as Alex Katz and by younger ones for whom Tuymans is now one of the legendary names of international painting.”

In Tuymans’s paintings ideas are not explicitly revealed but rather emerge through concealed allusions and indirect references. He offers us apparently innocuous images but ones charged with intensity, as a result of which they generate disquiet and disturb the viewer. Thus behind the imperturbable gaze of the figure in Secrets (1990) lies Albert Speer, architect of the Third Reich and armaments minister under the Nazi regime. The restrained way that Tuymans depicts Speer, with his eyes closed, encourages us to find out the secrets referred to in the title. Evidence (2005) depicts the unidentified victim of a Russian serial killer. The diffused brushwork and almost unrecognisable face reveal Tuymans’s aims of insinuating rather than showing and of referring to memory. Portrait (2000) refers to the photographs of dead people that are used to announce funerals in Belgium.

Luc Tuymans (born Mortsel, Belgium, 1958) is heir to the extensive northern European pictorial tradition and Jan van Eyck is one of the artists whom he most admires. Other artists particularly esteemed by Tuymans include Velázquez, El Greco and Zurbarán and their influence is evident in many of his works. Tuymans’s paintings have been exhibited in leading museums and art centres such as the MoMA, New York, Tate Modern, London, the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Artwork shown: Secrets, 1990. Oil on canvas, 52×37cm; Within,
Oil on Canvas, 223 x 243cm