miércoles, 14 de febrero de 2018

Gallery Showing of Fine Vintage Mid-Century Paintings

So I've got these big wonderful paintings that were done by a distant cousin of mine in the 1960s & 70s - vintage paintings from that artistic year that hasn't got a satisfactory name yet but which exploded notions of art & artistic endeavors in our culture.  

And these wonderfully creative works have been in storage for years, and the fact I didn't know about storage is that things can get damaged while sitting still in a cool dark  place.  Like, just sitting there.  Who knew?

Anyway, these massive painterly paintings also went through the notorious Northridge Earthquake of 1994 - you know, the one that split Highway 10 across all the lanes of traffic and jolted the west part of it up about 9 feet so that trucks and cars ran into a wall of dirt, gravel, sand and concrete like a wild slice of gritty Neapolitan ice cream.  Ka-boom.

Well, in general the effect of jumping off a wall onto the furniture below has an expected outcome, and this case was pretty typical, plus some added damage due to the fact that some bozo hung two of the paintings up off the floor about 18 feet over a dining table and four chairs with pointy backs.

So, in order to sell them (or otherwise move them on to appreciative art-lovers), I had to have them spruced up a bit.  And in that activity, there's the choice of options:  have them restored, or have them conservationally repaired, or have them just painted over and done with it.  

And cost is of course a factor, especially since the restorers and the 'conservors of art' have been through years of expensive schooling to learn the mysteries of their chosen field and that costs lots of money and time and all, so... they tend to be expensive.  Like 50 or 75 bucks even before the work to just diagnose exactly how to fix the problem and then - whee! - things go up from there into literally thousands of dollars.

Add to all that confusing need-for-the-right-decisions, there were TEN paintings to be dealt with, so all the money was adding up to times-ten.

So, to make this convoluted story a bit more circuitous, I then had to find some artist (or artists) who had the skills to help me but also could work within my budget and still not be insulted by what I was able to pay and then would not feel as though someone's 'exploiting' them and their art.  Literally, their art.   

By the way, I was so ready to get moving on this project that I would have even been able to be persuaded to trade art (other art - or, wait... maybe even some of that art) with some artist who would have liked what I had to trade and didn't need the money to lay down carpet in his or her garret before the winter to avoid the fate of Mimi La Boheme...

So I interviewed a sleighful of artists and they all demurred due to a variety of reasons and excuses ranging from lack of insurance to lack of skill, until i was ready to just spray-paint graffiti on them all and call them L'Arte d'Tritus.  So I went back to work and forgot them for a couple days.

Anyway, at that point who shows up but a great Russian portraitist who agreed to make them beauties beautiful again, and boy do they look grand, thanks to his profound expertise and enormous patience.  Also, this wonderful painter - Dimitri Stroganov, of that famous aristocratic Russian family - works out of a studio in Sausalito (and he's available if anyone wants a portrait of their dog or a fine plein air landscape).  

So here's what I got.   The second set of measurements in each listing is of the frame.  And pardon my poor photography but I really didn't think I'd be trying to put them up on a blog when I took those pics.

A little note here:  these pics were taken BEFORE the renovation of these paintings... but now, far from being a bit haggard, they look great! 

The first four paintings - and the next-to-last (Hell's Horizon) - will be on display at the Mom&Pop Gallery in Point Richmond, running from April 6, 2018 the the end of the month.  The Opening Party will be Friday night, April 6.  Please join us for viewing, conversation, wine & snacks.

Manuel's Still, 1964

Manuel’s Still        48 ½” x 22”  – 54 ½” x 27 ½”     1964            $ 2,350

Mountains, 1967

Mountains        63” x 34”  – 67” x 38”         1965        $ 2,350


Tryphids        30” x 40”  – 36” x 46”        1969        $ 1,350

Orphids, 1969

Orphids         30” x 40”  – 36” x 46”        1969        $ 1,350

Starfish, 1966

Starfish      12” x 15 ½”  – 24 ½” x 34 ½”      1966        $ 1,150

Frankfurt November 1934, 1967  

Frankfurt, Nov 1934    18” x 36”  – 24½” x 42 ½”     1967    $ 1,150
Sorceror, 1970

Sorceror    30” x 40”  – 36” x 46”         1970        $ 1,150

 Aries, 1975

 Aries    20½” x 24 ½”  – No frame          1977        $ 1,150

Hell's Horizon, 1970

 Hell’s Horizon    36” x 48”  – Self-framed    1970        $ 1,550

 Leo, 1970

Leo    24” x 36”  – 28 ½” x 40 ½”        1970        $ 1,150
Hell's Horizon, 1970

 Hell’s Horizon    36” x 48”  – Self-framed    1970        $ 1,550

And so that's my story...  as usual, just trying to get to the next point, in a story that's been a series of next steps. Ah, the already-past steps... when I think of the amount of money I've spent just storing the dang things.  But they sure look grand now!

And such is life, and (whether you think life's poorly made or not) it's still the best we've got at the moment.  So stay steady, and practice sanguinity - and maybe you can join us for wine & art in April!


April 6 Friday 
at the 
Mom & Pop Art Gallery
24 West Richmond Av
Point Richmond 

jueves, 13 de julio de 2017

My mother passed out of this life a few months ago, and several people have asked about pictures of her.

My sisters & I produced a wonderful Celebration of Life for my mother, and part of that was a PowerPoint presentation.

But I discovered that I couldn't upload that PowerPoint, so I've uploaded the individual photos.

 Here they are:

My mother & her sister at their childhood home in Jackson Heights, New York.

Happy days in Hidden Hills - the last house on Long Valley Road, and the T-Bird she loved.

In her favorite classic sweater dress - the 1960s.

With my grandfather Frank, during his times of declining health - he was in his late sixties.

A happy time i n the photo booth - I must be about 9 or 10 years old in these shots.

Probably Easter or Christmas - with her sister and their folks, Frank & Connie.

This was a happy dinner - informal, just the family, no holiday stress. 

This was likely at one of the Oscar events with Daddy.

A trip that my folks took, driving north to Vancouver.

 Not sure where this was, but Mom was pretty happy that day!

martes, 5 de agosto de 2014

I Miss Lark Camp, the Music – the Music...

So a series of events has kept me away from my normal summer-camp sojourn, a most welcome escape from the city starting with a ride up twisty mountains roads to Mendocino, then a turn onto Little Lake Road and into the Jackson State Forest to Lark Music Camp, where I’m immersed in a full week of music in the redwoods.  

(Above, Steve, Alec & Mitch, ready for the after-dance rush in 2009.)

Nestled within Jackson State Forest is the area of the Mendocino Woodlands – a WPA project built  during the Great Depression – comprising three separate campgrounds complete with cabins, eating & meeting lodges, and tent camping areas.

(At left, 2008's stripey canopy, and look at Mitch's beauteous butterflies... definitely the best-looking C2CH of all time!  And yah, this is really a lark week here at the green tiger lounge...)

The cabins are rustic, most with stone fireplaces, bare wood floors, tiny closets and metal-frame spring beds with thin mattresses covered in oilcloth.  Getting anywhere in camp requires a good deal of walking, most of it on uneven ground, often using switchbacks to scale seventy or more feet of elevation between places.

(At right, Lawwy on the night shift in 2006 - after shredding 4 pounds of ginger, midweek fatigue begins to show...)

 A stream runs through the valley, wending its way among second- and third-growth redwood trees, many arranged in ‘fairy rings.’  The fairy rings are actually new growth of trees springing out of the radiating roots of trees that have been cut down.  All along the seven-mile tortuous road leading from the end of Little Lake Road to the Woodlands, fallen trees and burned-out stumps (some eight or ten feet high, most about that diameter as well) line the forest on either side of the road.

The forest is beautiful, despite a covering of dust all over all the trees & ferns & undergrowth lining the roads.  The dust comes from the road, churned up by cars – the cars that run that road all summer long, as week by week the camps fill and empty when the campers come and go.  All kinds of camps rent space at the Woodlands – family camps, church camps, youth camps, music and dance camps.   

 (At right, Hakim, Vytas & DB in 2007. Vytas really wasn't as pissed off as he looks [probably just annoyed at losing the rhodopsin in his eyes]... The other two goofballs just couldn't see for ten minutes or so, blind as opossums [which is ok, because Hakim & DB are/were members of the Opossum Clan].  Can you tell I'm missing Lark?)

The family camps are few, since there aren’t that many families who mount summertime rendezvous of 100-500 people.  Most of the other camps are pretty ordinary, but the music camps are best.

(Below, A big parking lot jam in 2009, with Crystal standing at left & Lori center in group at right...)

Mickie Zekley, captain of a cohort of loyal musician/volunteers, hosts the week-long Lark Camp, which occupies all three of the Woodlands’ camps to play temporary home to about 800 campers, and a bus runs twice an hour from one camp to the other taking campers to music classes and jams.

I’ve been going to Lark off and on since the 80s, when I discovered a great escape in the redwood forest filled with music from scores of cultures.  Any kind of music you can think of is played there at all hours (well, mostly no rock ‘n’ roll, nor rap, by choice of the campers), and a short walk will take you through many distinct paradigms:  Irish folk, Balkan bagpipes, Andean flute, Western Swing, jazz, bop & hard bop, Greek dance, Turkish, Egyptian, classical, American folk, etc.  

Over there a very funny raconteur plays 300-year-old French tunes.  And a little way beyond is a wacky Armenian American jamming on accordion with some Tunisians playing old tribal music.  A dance class down by the creek shakes the dust from a stage built in a few hours by that cohort of volunteers, and a jazz band is cooking in a rehearsal at the striped pavilion for the swing dance on Friday night.

(At right, The Kids, 2009 - it's crazy love you know for Rosie & Jed...  That's Sarah in the middle...)

And in front of the coffeehouse – an impromptu service counter set up under a tent at the far end of the parking lot which is used all during camp as an outdoor dining area, flea market and gathering place – a fire in a metal firepit warms a group of guitarists having a little jam.  The coffeehouse staff buzzes about, keeping the coffee brewing & the goodies coming... an expertly-run bakery in Camp 3 turns out excellent baked goods at a fraction of the price you'll pay down in town - or anywhere else. 

 (At left, in a daytime concert, Eric Hoffman in a cool faux-mudcloth hat! 2009)

That coffeehouse was for years my domain.  I managed Camp Two Coffeehouse, also known as C2CH and called by many the best of the three simultaneous versions of the Inn of the Mullah Nasrudin’s Donkey.  I ran the joint like it was my own.  Which, in a way, it was.  

(At right, Nancita Abuelita relaxes before an evening of playing music, 2009 [note freshly-washed hair...])

But the dust did me in.  The dust ended my carefree camp days.  That dust on the road – the stuff boiled up from the tires of hundreds of cars – contains spores from the bark of the redwood trees.  And amid all the things I am not allergic to, among the very few things I am allergic to, those spores are the most virulent.   

I was fine for years – I guess my youth and naturally tough constitution helped me out.  But then I started getting sick after camp.  For several years, my week in the redwoods confined me to three weeks in bed once I got home.  I suffered through terrible bronchial attacks that kept me from any sort of healing sleep and tortured me almost to the point of regretting my time at Lark.  Almost.  

(At left, Captain Slanty & Bonnie Barnum during the Scavenger Hunt held for the Sea Shanties Workshop, 2007)

But not quite.  I missed camp in 2010, when I was living in Greece. I’d been sick the year before that, quite badly.  And the year before that.  And the year before that one.  So when I came back to camp in 2011, I tried going for just four days.  That four days was not enough to let the spores get into my lungs with any strength, and I’ve been making that curtailed journey into the forest ever since… until now.

(At right, Sarah shows off her fine crocheted hats during the flea market, 2009...)

 Now I’m missing camp for the first time since Greece.  And my life this year has evoked much more of a need in me to go to camp – but unfortunately events conspired to keep me in Los Angeles (adding insult to injury).  So I pulled out some pictures and started posting them on Facebuchenwald.  And they got a lot of notice, much of it from other would-be Larkers who are stuck away from their preferred summer rendezvous.  And that got me thinking.  

(At left, a leisurely dinner in the Camp Two lot, 2013...)

 So I brought those pictures over here. Here, where I could tell more of a story than merely giving a gallery of pictures with some cute captions.  Where I might be able to find a way to say why & how I miss Lark.  

I miss seeing my friends.  I miss the smell of woodsmoke all around at camp and then in my clothes when I take them to launder after camp, back home where Lark is hundreds of miles and a whole lifestyle or two away.  

(Above, C2CH Manager Lori is delighted by it all, 2007)

I miss the coffeehouse, troublesome gamin that she can be, meting out lessons & rewards in a seemingly haphazard way, but always leaving the attentive observer with the gift of wisdom.

I miss the sounds day & night – of music floating on the breezes coming through the trees, of songs sung for centuries in scores of languages, telling stories, recounting romances and heroic deeds and country humor.  

(At left, Steve & Sam the NASA Man prepare for the evening rush, 2007...)

I miss the dueling marching bands, each coming from a different direction, each playing beautiful ancient songs from far-off places, coming this close to clashing as they try to drown each other out –  then the sudden shift as both entire groups play first the one song, then the other.  

 I miss seeing strangers sitting down to play together, people who many times cannot communicate in words because they don’t speak each other’s language, but who can and do communicate beautifully in the music.   
 (At right, James takes time out of being lost to offer cookies all around, 2009)

In the music is the history of our people – all our peoples.  In the music is stored our aspirations, our loves and our dreams, the ties of family and of loyalty, the emotions and intentions that make us human, that raise our spirits and give us our power, that send us into flights of hope and longing, that temper our hot blood and soothe us in our fatigue & sorrow.

And I miss how, in the late chill of the night, the sound of sweet musical notes comes faintly wafting like a melody woven only of smoke or fog, a welcoming, the music reminding you of home, as a curtain lifted by a breeze might reveal the warm glow of a fire on the hearth within to the traveler returning after a long journey…

(At left, Hakim demonstrates a well-tied Magic Headwrap, 2013...)

I miss Lark.

We never close.  Last call!
And I know that I shall make a return next year, that I shall see many of those good friends in the months between now and then, that I can always make contact (virtual & otherwise) – and all that will assuage my homesickness as time goes on, but it does little for the hiraeth, the sensucht that gnaws at me now.

I really do miss Lark.  Really.

(Artwork at left copyright 2014 Geonni Gray Banner - thanks, G!)


David Hakim is an internationally-published journalist and award-winning author who has run several newspapers – and recently received a commendation for his short story That Man in the London Aesthetica Competition.  He can be reached at dhakim at earthlink dot net

 © 2014 Hakim - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: use without profit allowed only with author’s express written permission. Please don't make me wake up my attorney. Please.