Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Baseball and An Old Bridge

Watch Out For Flying Objects
Bats, Balls, Etc.
Left to Right; Gina Ascercion, "Gamer Bird", Lauren Alexander at AT&T Park on April 13, 2011
I found the Giants hat I'm wearing and we beat LA!

     During the past two years I've been working in the historic South End District of San Francisco so its been easy to catch some Giant's games. I've enjoyed exploring this vibrant, thriving part of The City with old red brick buildings that remind me of Boston. On Mission Creek, the funky houseboats are refreshing in comparison to the more touristy ones in Sausalito.

     Each weekday as the sun rises over the bay I cross the historic Lefty O'Doul Bridge just past China Basin Park then spanning over McCovey Cove next to AT&T Park. It was built in 1932 and is sometimes referred to as a drawbridge or bascule bridge, a French term for seesaw and balance (see videos below). If you look West and use your imagination it can be reminiscent of the Venice canals. And if the siren blows, you either walk down a block or learn to cultivate some patience.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Simple, Elegant World of Elizabeth T. Rightor

Preparing lunch with Elizabeth in front of her home.
Lourmarin, Le Mas Theotime.

Journal Excerpt - August 1976

Saying hello again to Elizabeth, this time at her home in Lourmarin, a charming village in the south of France, felt as though we were old friends coming to visit rather than two inquisitive young women whom she'd met by chance aboard the Leonardo da Vinci www.thegreatoceanliners.com/leonardodavinci.html the ocean liner we sailed on from New York City to Genoa, Italy last April. She greeted us with open arms and a warm smile in the courtyard outside the small stone farmhouse she'd appropriately named, Le Mas Theotime. She was as elegant as ever and possessed a type of self-assured, eternal beauty - an innate quality - that glistens through every pore of any woman fully aware of her place in the world. I remember the first day we stepped into her house and how I felt so immediately at home. The feeling grabbed and shook me, placing me in countless situations I'd experienced in the past, yet isolating me in this unique moment of the present.

Five of the most lovely days of my life followed - each filled with peace and a type of tranquility that I'm sure could be found no place else in the world - Elizabeth's modest home was welcoming to all. Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven played continuously accompanied by the earthy smells of mint, lavendar, and thyme. I shall never forget the day the mistral blew (and it blew hard!) and we went out to pick thyme in the field behind her house.

Her furniture was old and built sturdily out of dark wood - dried wild flowers decorated her walls and one could imagine her out picking them in the warm sunshine out in the fields behind her house. Her kitchen was so small that the only thing that separated it from the living room was a divider over which she had carefully draped a beautiful silk shawl. During our first visit I immediately noticed a painting of Mount Saint Victoire. She informed us, proudly, that her Grandson, Hank, had painted it in a class at the Leo Marchutz School www.marchutz-school.org/marchutz where I'd applied for a scholarship. The excitement of being at Elizabeth's coupled with the prospect of attending art school in Aix-en-Provence was a bit overwhelming. After she showed us upstairs to our room, we took showers (a luxury!) and calmed down abit.

How did it come to be that I met this amazing woman aboard the Leonardo who connected me with the art school so that I would remain in France for another year? Elizabeth made me realize how to get the most out of life by enjoying the simplest of pleasures. She changed my life forever and I will always be grateful for this enriching, magical encounter.

Journal Excerpt - late 1970's or early 80's

I will never forget Elizabeth's world as it is probably the only place visited in all my travels where I could not somehow dig up even the most subtle fragrance of hell. I am not referring to the colorful, and at times, even comic pictoral Hell of Bosch or the more serious literal Hell depicted by Dante but rather that dimension which sometimes exists as a real part of our lives in the Twentieth Century.

The old stone chateau surrounded by soft cascading hills and lush purple vineyards is for the lonely young wanderer what a brimming oasis is for that individual who has lost all hope within a vast and engulfing wasteland.

When I first arrived, the lace curtain covering her doorway was being lifted ever so slightly by the afternoon breeze, so typical of Provence. The smell of thyme from a nearby field awakened new senses and I had the sudden urge to raise my arms in exultation at this final and most amazing discovery. It was indeed comparable if not superior to Milton's Paradise yet, fortunately, there were no Serpents to contend with and no Hell.

As the sun cast a bright orange and pink light over the mountains, the people in the village quickly filled their baskets with vegetables and fruits. The church bell chimed eight times as the narrow little streets were quickly emptied in preparation for dinner.

I have never eaten a meal at Elizabeth's that was not an occasion. She would prepare these meals so effortlessly that one got the feeling that there were tiny elves dancing around her feet. Yet, at the same time, she would be the most gracious of hostesses bestowing her gift of vibrant conversation as the most beautiful classical music played. Then candies and fruits would suddenly appear magically as we sipped, with elegance, un petit peu du vin ordinaire.

Soon it would be time to build a fire from the wood we had gathered earlier. Outside, the Mistral was once again making its presence known as shutters banged noisily against stone walls and trees scraped their branches against windows. This infamous wind would pay us a visit three days on and three days off. It was a dreaded enemy of those who lived in the village but for the visitor it was a strange and dramatic force that seemed to bring those inside closer together.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Fort Mason Center Art Exhibit, San Francisco

 Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, 2008
Spherical Harmony
Mixed Media on Canvas, 2008
Featured in Fort Mason Newsletter, October 2008, San Francisco

In this painting, I used both abstract and figurative elements to show the connection that exists between everything in the universe. Terror and beauty are intertwined to depict a dangerous world in which life and death co-exist. War, love, nature are in the swirl of it together. This idea of connection inspired me to create this piece.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Dino's SeaGrill

Boston, 1981
Photo taken with police recording film
developed and printed in Cambridge, MA

Searching for Windmills in the Lassithi Valley

Woman Walking on the Island of Crete
Oil on Cardboard, 1976
Journal Excerpt (May 30 - 1976)

After Neapolis, we started our trek searching for the windmills of the Lassithi Valley. The sun was brilliant and all that could be heard was a chorus of animal noises. Bird song in glorious anticipation, donkeys joining in with their low, guttural groans. I find them to be so humorous.  Chickens, pigs, and roosters. Everything so alive - breathing in the last days of May.

We finally reached a monastery where we sat anxious to rest and contemplate the long walk up the mountain to a Cretan village.  We had no plans for a place to sleep that night but had bought some food at a tiny country market that we'd, fortunately, stumbled into to sustain us, a couple of chocolate bars, can of beans, biscuits, and a small package of cookies. We left the village and climbed further up the mountain. I occasionally stopped to wipe the sweat from my brow finally feeling as though my red bandanna was fulfilling its purpose - no longer merely an ornament to decorate my neckline but a useful piece of cloth from which to relieve myself from the day's heat.

The scenery was breathtaking - this is Crete, I thought. Should I see nothing else here I'll feel satisfied. You must feel Crete with your feet. Mountains looming high, shadowing each other. So many shades of green trees with the sun shining through them. An occasional donkey would pass overladen with wheat or a variety of  herbs and vegetables picked by a sun-burned, leathery hand.

Another rest then we ran across the road to pick a few choice onions from a farmer's field to add to our dinner. After continuing a ways up the road, we came across a small cafe. An old Greek woman sat out front shelling beans for dinner, stopping ever so often to reprimand some small children.  A weathered-looking man sat in front spitting occasionally but mostly he just stared at us. His friend picked us some white berries from large, leafy vines that hung over us. They were juicy and tasted sweet. Next, a German couple came up in a Greek man's car who had rescued them after one of their motorbikes broke down. He said he'd pick us up on his way back and give us a ride to the Lassithi Valley. As we waited the friend of the father there brought us ouzo with a small plate of olives. You need a bit of nourishment as this typically Greek liquor can certainly knock you on the head.