Tag Archives: San Francisco

McSweeney’s San Francisco Panorama arrived today

It was scattered across the porch, but no matter. A delivery person’s vigorous toss would have been needed to loft the hefty stack up two flights. I can’t wait to dig into this juicy Sunday-sized newspaper’s words, images, and design. The paper was created by McSweeney’s to, “…demonstrate the unique possibilities and appeal of the American newspaper.”

By formatting their latest edition as “a one-time newspaper prototype” McSweeney’s provokes a discussion around the usefulness and relevancy of newspapers, books, and magazines in the age of the internet and electronic book readers. I haven’t had a newspaper subscription probably since I left Chicago! However I do enjoy reading the paper, whether its the free daily’s for reading on the bus or train, or checking out the New York Times left in the lunch room. It has, however, been quite some time, since I actually paid for a printed newspaper.

I highly recommend you go to the McSweeney’s store and buy a book or a subscription to support these innovative publishers who are constantly pushing the envelope in contemporary art, literature and design.

Tara Firma Farms – a Food Community

Fresh eggs come from here

Last weekend, Dwayne and I drove out Petaluma for a visit to Tara Firma Farms. Inspired by Michael Pollen’s Omnivore’s Dilemma, a picturesque old dairy farm has been transformed by Craig and Tara Smith into farm that offers “…healthy chemical-free, all-natural produce and raising grass-fed, pasture-raised and humanely-treated pigs, cows, and chickens.”

They have created a community where anyone can buy vegetables and meats grown and raised locally. Their land is offered  as an educational and community resource for all of their customers. Come out for a tour, and then their world is your oyster. Need a turkey for Christmas? They are growing about 150 right now. Want to take a hike or have a picnic? Just let them know and you can go out and explore the property, blessed with a natural spring, a fishing pond and acres of pristine rolling hills and pastures. But if you want the fresh eggs ($6 doz) – you have to be a regular!

They host events that bring together people who care where their food comes from and how it’s grown and processed, whether foodie, vegetarian, or born-again carnivores, like myself. On Sunday, the chef from the Slanted Door restaurant was there with his son, checking out the new litter of piglets.

At the end of our tour, we were unexpectedly presented with a complimentary pasture-raised 5lb broiler chicken. Filling out a survey and promising to spread the word was a small price to pay. Last night we roasted chicken for the first time, and now I have a pot of stock simmering on the stove. Later, I’ll make chicken soup–a new experience–but with  some advice from my mom, I’m sure it will be tasty and delicious.

Time for Art

Changes to my personal living space, nature’s rainbow on the lawn of the Getty, and the urban fight against graffiti on city structures are simply stories about the passage of time as documented through my photographs. Because we all have access to digital media and the medium to display it, we can create endless stories to share with the world. I have recently come across some cool projects with a similar theme.

Urban Destruction and Renewal:

Invincible Cities is an interactive website created by sociologist and photographer Camilo José Vergara. It presents “A Visual Encyclopedia of the American Ghetto.” Through this interface, we can see the same storefront as photographed in 1977, and in 2008. I would love to have something like this for some of the places I called home in my life – like the Lizard Lounge building in Chicago @ 1824 W. Augusta Blvd. Or maybe our first house at 96 Oak Drive, in New Jersey.

Humans Aging:

The photographer Nicolas Nixon, photographed his wife and her sisters each year starting in 1975. The name of the series is The Brown Sisters. The consistency of the project is inspiring – never missing a year, the women always arranged in the same order… seeing how they’ve aged year to year, is very humbling.

Nature Never Stopping

San Franciscians are fortunate to give a home to Andy Goldsworthy’s Spire in the Presidio.

“In 2006, artist Andy Goldsworthy visited the Presidio and was inspired by the history and character of the forest. He saw an opportunity to create a sculpture with the felled mature trees. Constructed in October 2008, The Spire tells the story of the forest, celebrates its history and natural rhythms, and welcomes the next generation of trees. It is a poetic reference to the forest’s past; as new young trees grow up to meet the sculpture, it will eventually disappear into the forest.”

Goldsworthy works almost exclusively in and with nature. From building long stone walls, to creating an icicle sculpture, to floating a delicate chain of flowers down the river, his works are ephemeral and temporal, not made last, never made to stay the same. This is true ‘sustainable’ art. There’s a very good documentary film about the artist called Rivers and Tides where you can see his art in action.
Andy Goldsworthy's Spire

Hands and breath make sounds

Bodies and instruments make rhythm and notes makes Music in Twelve Parts. Philip Glass and his ensemble of committed, talented, devoted artists created order out of chaos in a system that I will never understand. For four hours, accompanied by no video, no pictures, no screensavers our eyes closed we accomplished the act of meditating on the pure unfiltered experience of listening with our hearts. Surprisingly enjoyable as notes come and go and little did you know or remember that sound from just five minutes ago. One journey that’s not for everybody – but so surprisingly accessible – for even a music neophyte such as myself. If you ever get a chance to see this performance – please take the opportunity. You might be heading for the door after 45 minutes, or you might just might finally understand what it feels like to be enveloped in the sound of artistic genius. Listen for yourself. (itunes link)

photo via flickr by Jamie Hillman

photo via flickr by Jamie Hillman

Shitty Art

You know, I don’t like to see shit in art. Really, I don’t. However, at the Gilbert & George show at the De Young Museum in San Francisco, I got past shocking imagery (including nudity, depictions of sexual acts, and various bodily fluids) and savored the rainbow avalanche of saturated glorious technicolor on the wall enveloping photo montages. The show concluded with a small room filled with ephemera created by the pair including various “postcard sculptures”. The G&G show ends May 18th. See my own take on the postcard sculpture on the next post.

Dream, 1984

… on 10 Tools For Managing a Creative Environment

The Web 2.0 Expo keynote presented by Bryan Mason, COO and Sarah Nelson, Design Analyst from Adaptive Path, connected their experiences as professionals in the arts with their other role as experience designers for clients in an agency setting. Mason began his career in the stage arts and Nelson is a classically trained, lifelong violin player.

They gained insights from the processes and organizational structures of various creative entities such as the highly structured restaurant kitchen, and the theater experience, “Too Much Light makes the Baby go Blind” written and performed by Chicago’s Neo Futurists .

As a creative professional in a dynamic agency setting, it is thrilling to see a project go from initial seeds of an idea, to a fully formed product. However getting through the process can be intense, complex, and challenging. Ultimate success relies on a certain set of constantly changing rules, circumstances, and resources.

By dissecting other successful creation models, and applying the analysis to their current business model, Adaptive Path is saying: We don’t know it all. We can be better. We can be different. We’re always learning.

Adaptive Path’s work environment seems like one that supports and fosters creativity — and it’s not just about putting your people in a room and asking them to emerge at the end of the day with THE BIG IDEA. It’s about finding activities and processes that will allow that stuff to naturally and smartly emerge.

I want to work in an environment that subscribes to the following points Adaptive Path presented:

  • Cross train the team. Foster empathy – let people see what it’s like for others. Its about cross-pollination, more like a web, not nodes.
  • Rotate creative leadership. Don’t let people get burned out. Let leaders play a support role sometimes.
  • Actively turn the corner. Know when its time to stop brainstorming (where collaboration rules and roles are less important) and start making/producing (roles become more important people need to know what’s expected).
  • Know your roles. Hierarchy streamlines production. Clear sets of responsibility enables communication.
  • Practice as a team. When in execution mode, it’s not time to practice individual skills. The group needs to work things out and trust each other.
  • Make your mission explicit. What’s the creative project you are trying to solve? Develop strong process for making decision. Clarify communications. Increase constraints is counter-intuitive but helps decision making.
  • Kill your darlings softly. Don’t be afraid to let go of good ideas. Put it in Phase 2!
  • Leadership is a service. I love this one!! Its your job to enable others to do their job well.
  • Generate projects around creative interests. This will keep people engaged and give them a sense of ownership.
  • Remember your audience. How many times are decisions made to benefit business needs at the expense of user’s needs are forgotten.
  • Celebrate failure. It’s ok – only by taking risks, can we get to something great.

Adaptive Path – Sign me up!

The Missing Peace

Yesterday, I went to the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts to see The Missing Peace – organized by the Committee of 100 for Tibet and The Dalai Lama Foundation. The show displays “works by upwards of 88 artists from 30 countries in a landmark exhibition that offers up art as a lens through which we experience our common humanity.” (Sorry but the show is ending today, but maybe it will travel to a museum near you.)

Overall, the show was very moving. I got blessed by the Dalai Lama. It was a video blessing, which is probably not the same as getting a blessing from him in person, but it made my heart feel lighter. I loved the simplicity of it. Here’s a picture:

Dalai Lama video blessing

It’s not the greatest picture because I got caught and they asked me to put my camera away. It’s funny these days in a museum. I was just in London and was taking pics of everything! Anyway, there was lots of great stuff to look at – I wish I could have recorded more on camera – like the names of the artists, etc.

I took one other picture of a giant video wall that had a grid of videos of different monks in prayer:

The video was accompanied by a wall of sound that layered all of them on top of each other and it was very relaxing and beautiful. I sat there for a long time – wondering if any of those monks was this guy:


and hoping that all of those monks are safe and sound. What kind of world do we live in? When peaceful, non-violent people are treated so horribly to an unfair ‘cultural genocide’.

Although I found the Missing Peace yesterday, I am fearful, that for the people of Tibet, it’s a long way off.