Thursday, May 31, 2012

Day 0, E-ville to Philadelphia, May 31, 2012

Day 1: E-ville to Philadelphia

Quote of the day: 

Weather: Cool, little breeze, and then we got to Philly: Warm and touch humid 

Pics: NY video art, THB and LHB take in a game in Oakland this week, the future home of the Emeryville A’s, sofa free in homage to LHB, Philly train station, local street art(?), Nan Zhou, fitness center

First, THB has to explain the video art that we bought on the recent NY trip: THB was enthralled by the video playing in the gallery, watching it over and over; turns out the video is free! Ooops, you have to buy one of the images from the video to get the free video. No problema: $800 later, THB and DB have their first piece of video art, and THB figures out to put magnets on the back of the pic and now it can hang on the steel TV case while the video plays. Damn!!!!

Flight on United in Premium Economy, very pleasant, take train from right in terminal to within 2-3 blocks of the Embassy Suites downtown. Nice room, complimentary breakfast and wi-fi. Dinner at Nan Zhou for hand drawn noodles (THB – thin, LHB – flat) and crispy (raw, spicy) turnip dish, $26.

Book Review: A Regular Guy by Mona Simpson. A fictionalized view of Steve Jobs as written by his biological sister, published in 1996, so before the I-craze started and Steve’s ascendancy to design God of the universe. A bit of a slog because, as Mona portrays Steve, he’s really not a very nice guy, always falling in love with a pretty young thing and finding a way to dump or cheat on the current woman in his life, and using money to solve relationship problems. Hey, wait, that’s Isaacson’s view of him also. Mona also makes her niece, Jane (Steve’s first child, real name Lisa, that he did not acknowledge as his for many years), a key part of the story. A good companion to the Isaacson book.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Detroit, San Gabriel, Guadalupe

Detroit, San Gabriel, Guadalupe

Cool, hot, hazy and breezy

Two men in Detroit, Ohira art, Far Western in Guadalupe

Final Final on Detroit:

Pic of the only two men on the tour. THB has been mulling about Detroit, and has concluded the best (only?) answer is that Detroit should start planting trees as soon and as many as possible, building America's first truly urban (very urban, say within 500 yards of Tiger Stadium) forest. Trees should not need (much) soil remediation nor long-term care, and a great replacement for the millions of dead pines in the Rockies. Detroitians: start planting NOW!

San Gabriel: Lunch at Green Zone, one of an amazing number and variety of Asian cuisine spots in this area of LA. Sauteed mushroom salad, variety of spring rolls (salmon best), chive and chicken/pork gyoza (more dumpling like), tofu with sweet topping for dessert, unlimited specialty passion fruit iced tea, all organic, $45.

THB and DB then visited Minoru and Echiko Ohira at their joint studio in San Gabriel, close to Green Zone. Minoru-san is the "curator" at Mori Sushi, THB's recommendation for best meal in LA. Mori always has art up on the wall, ever-changing, and in the display case is dishware by Masamichi Yoshikawa, a very well known ceramicist (DB and THB made a special visit to see his huge installaton in the Nagoya airport). Minoru-san is also an artist, as is Echiko (see pics). He makes large sculptural work (out of our range) and works on paper, and Echiko works in paper and metal. We decide to buy an early drawing by Minoru.

Minoru does not have work for sale by Masamichi-san, just pieces given to him by Masamichi (we gave tea in Masamichi cups!). Minoru will get a CD from Masamichi of available work.

Guadalupe: On the drive from LA to Monterey Dunes, THB and DB stop at our favorite steak place, Far Western Tavern (see pics) in Guadalupe. They keep threatening to move to Nipomo (a step up? at least closer to 101). Steak sandwich (the best), prime rib sandwich, terrific fries, piquito beans with fresh salsa, ice tea, $48.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Day 6, Detroit, one Observation

Day 6: Detroit to E-ville, Observations

Quote of the day:
Father, father
We don't need to escalate
You see, war is not the answer
For only love can conquer hate
You know we've got to find a way
To bring some lovin' here today

Weather: Overcast, a touch humid, thunderstorms possible

Pics: Not DB’s foot, work from the Habitat Gallery (Bothwell, Reekie), work from the private collection (Betty Woodman, Nick Cave, Jun Kaneko, a great Viola Frey work on paper)

DB and THB are the only people in the fitness center today; everyone either slept in or went home. Cereal and berries, coffee at the hotel, included.

This is travel day, everyone boards the bus with bags packed and stowed. First stop: Habitat Gallery, specializing in glass and a retrospective of work from the artists that they carry plus a traveling exhibit in a separate building next door that covers 40 years of work, some of which is for sale. THB and DB don’t collect much glass (Adams’ heads seen in prior days) and Habitat has a Reekie (which THB isn’t wild about) and a Bothwell (decent).

On to the gallery owned by the ceramics artist the group visited yesterday. Some paintings, items that might be non-wearable jewelry, and some small plates (not done by Paul) that allow DB and Evans to do some recreational shopping.

Next up, the last part of our tour agenda, a visit to a private collection (where DB gets the “are you related to Barry Briskin” question, somehow they always ask her, not THB, even though she most likely is an in-law) in a very contemporary house with a lot of light. They have a nice set of Kaneko plates, a great collection of Betty Wookman vessels, lots of wood pieces, and the best Viola Frey THB has seen: a set of four related works on paper (see pics). Viola is known for her large ceramic figures, clearly she could have had a parallel big time career of 2D work.

From there it is to the airport bound, with box lunches served: chicken sandwiches, salads, and more sweets, drinks, included. Easy flight home and a taxi ride from SFO, $83.

Observations: Aside from another great art trip, the obvious is that Detroit in and around the downtown is dramatically and probably fatally broken. There will be small pockets of survivors (think the Lakeshore neighborhood with its one block of shopping, with smattering of small businesses, a movie theater, and a few parks nearby, multiplied by maybe 4 or 5, around 100 square miles).

What remains: apocalyptic square mile after square mile, slowly letting nature take its course? Maybe a huge preserve? Farms? Farms after a lot of industrial waste cleanup? It won’t happen in THB’s lifetime. Maybe not in THB’s kids’ lifetimes. Will it happen again? Maybe not here in the US, for sure in other countries that have cities that are very large bets on one industry.

And, the juxtaposition of the affluent suburbs surrounding the inner city is very stark. One suggestion: pick up the downtown and move It to the burbs. Not gonna happen.

Comments welcome, bizarre solutions anyone?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Day 5: Detroit

Day 5: Detroit

Quote of the day:

She's a very special girl
(The kind of girl you want to know)
From her head down to her toenails
(Down to her feet, yeah)

Weather: Perfect

Art from around town, Detroit Institute of Art DIA), collectors, everywhere

THB and DB do something nobody else visiting does in Detroit: we walk almost two miles away from downtown to breakfast at the Avalon Bakery (and pick up cookies and brownies for later). Then we do something else nobody else does: we walk back almost two miles to the see the Guardian building (see pics) and then on to the hotel. Nobody visiting town walks around on their own.

Today we visit the DIA, led by the Contemporary Curator, and first up is the massive Diego Rivera mural (see lots of pics). It is pretty spectacular and lives up to the advance billing. And, the rest of the DIA is not bad either. A very small and terrific contemporary art collection, and smattering of other impressive work.

Lunch in the museum cafĂ©: salads for all, iced tea, included. From the museum we go to one of the few big abandoned buildings in use: 800k sq feet remodeled to be artist accessible. We visit three studios, and in the one where the ceramicist explains how meticulous he is in process and firing, there is no work for sale. Hmmmm….this was the one spot where buying might actually occur (other than museum gift shops) and the group was primed.

Then we visit two private collections, and the second is someone who lives alone (so it appears) and collects work on paper (prints/lithos/etc) and is also intimately involved in the art scene and trying to help Detroit recover. After we tour around, the group settles around a long table and he asks the group for our impression so far and gives a bit of the state of the city. Confirms what THB thinks is happening: within the large city proper, there are a few pockets of regeneration (phew) and much (95% in THB‘s estimation) that is not recovering and there is no good way for it to.

Dinner at Roast, in the hotel but not of the hotel (separate ownership): tomato and eggplant soup , steak, and beer and pretzels (Guinness ice cream and chocolate covered pretzels) for THB; salad, chicken and chocolate cake for DB, wine, included.