Our next stop on our grand tour was San Francisco, the city by etc… The agenda was deceptively simple – we would spend a couple days in the city, highlighted by one day at Lisa’s sister’s home and then the other day in her mom’s end of town. There was an extra bit of serendipity that fell into our lap, too. Well, John’s lap at least. Mostly, though, it was a couple of days of a very over-used but appropriate phrase: quality time. Of course, the most important quality time in our lives is the time that we spend with each other. We love all of our adventures together and wouldn’t change a thing about being there for each other, each and every step of the way. So, naturally, the first thing we did when we landed was for John to put Lisa in a cab and then head in the opposite direction for the day.
So, about the serendipity. John has a deep and abiding love for the musical group Nickel Creek. He’s seen them on almost every tour they’ve ever had, but it had seemed like that streak had come to an end. OH, there had been some near misses. The band actually toured in the UK and a little smidge of Europe at times that were mostly convenient. They were even in the UK a couple of days after the end of our time in Dursley. Each time, Lisa would say it was totally ok for him to go, and each time would scribble on a napkin and decide it was just too expensive. Even with cheap travel and cheap lodging it would be hundreds of dollars just to indulge this little urge. Long story short, the stars aligned and it turned out that Nickel Creek was playing in Oakland on the very day that we landed. The cost had been reduced to a few bucks in public transportation, plus the cost of a ticket. Sold. We aren’t here for concert reviews, so he simply reports that it was a great show and he’s so glad that he went.
Meanwhile, Lisa was whooshed away to our hotel downtown, where she dropped the luggage before meeting her sister Corynne for some nice face-to-face time. We actually do a pretty good job of staying in touch, but there’s still nothing quite like locking eyes, clinking glasses, and reconnecting while breaking bread. It was lovely, even if the place we ended up at was so noisy that “putting our heads together” wasn’t just metaphorical(!). It was that or shouting.
The next day was highlighted by a dinner being hosted at Corynne’s place. We hadn’t spent much time in a kitchen in a dog’s age, so we volunteered to take care of the cooking. The assemblage consisted of Lisa, her mom, her sisters, and the attached partners and children. It’s one of those clusters of folks that don’t get together that often, a lot like John and his immediate family. And just like at his parents’ anniversary dinner a week or so prior, this was a grand time. We grilled salmon (the nature of Pacific vs. Atlantic salmon is a conversation for another day, but suffice to say we were thrilled to be in on the proper side of the country) and put together salad and such, and the hours just galloped on by. The gathering eventually broke up as night fell, and back we went to our hotel. Our agenda for the following day was to meet Lisa’s mother in Golden Gate Park at the deYoung Museum.
Mmmmmmm . . . deYoung!
One of the nicer surprises of our trip was seeing the de Young Open 2023 exhibit at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. The second triennial of this juried community art exhibition celebrates the voices and visions of 883 artists who live in the nine counties that make up the Bay Area. 7,766 artists submitted, and the chosen works are hung “salon style” — installed nearly edge to edge and floor to ceiling — and grouped by theme: political and social issues, the urban environment, the human figure, nature, abstraction, and surreal imagery. The full web gallery is available here and it’s a gorgeously curated collection of Bay Area art.
For Lisa, this was deeply familiar. She knew this art from her time here as a child, even to recognizing specific images or areas depicted. The variety was vast in both scope and perspective. I what we thought was a particularly Smart Move, the museum provided only a number for each piece and encouraged visitors to look up the artist and other information online (link). As with most collections, each piece stood on its own, and some weren’t as appealing or provocative as others. The total collection is 860 works spanning acrylic, oil, photography textiles, chalk, mixed media, and cast metal.
It was reminiscent of the philosophy behind the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, another place where a large amount of art is hung “salon style.” Doing so allows viewers to make associations and linkages between works that otherwise would not be readily apparent. For some it feels like a kind of visual cacophony; for others it is stimulating.
Some pieces were fascinating in their illusion, such as Empty Nest by Iva Hladis. What looks like an excellent ink pen drawing is actually created from cream paper mounted over a black surface, with a sharp instrument used to create the image.
Then again, Yi Wang’s Farmer’s Home strongly evoked the “Old Masters” with its rich detail, despite the sepia-toned palette.
Some artists got too cute for our sensibilities. Such as “A Tribute to Frans Hals.” The artist, Calvin Bohner, says this piece was conceptualized and structured using a variety of instruments directly upon an enlargement of a close-up photograph he took of a small segment of the painting “Portrait of a Young Man” by Frans Hals (1648).
Bohner felt that his efforts on the surface of the enlargement allowed a landscape to emerge which removed the realism of the photograph, making it abstract. We just wondered how much of a tribute it could be when we could not find a connection to Hals.
Jean-Marc Brugeilles’s The Fountain of Youth was brilliantly surreal, and worthy of Hieronymous Bosch
Alas, tempus fugit and tomorrow so would we, and so after an invigorating afternoon (and a late lunch at the robust cafe in the deYoung) we parted ways and caught a rideshare back our hotel. We had a crack-of-dawn flight to the east coast to catch, for the next-to-last stop on this whole expedition: Philadelphia!