Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Atmospheres: Rivers & Art

November 4, 2021

Well, gee, I almost sent the blog you will find below on October 24 but I wanted to add a little bit more to it. And then somehow life intervened and also on Oct. 25 I looked like a total fool for minimizing the fierce storm that CLOBBERED the region (see headline at left). "Clobber" is a great word, isn't it, although it's always a very bad thing to be on the receiving end of a clobber.

Then I went on a 5-day meditation retreat (online and in my house) and had a lot of great revelations about myself. So Blogmistress is perhaps
PERHAPS approaching enlightenment. Perhaps not. But it does feel good to be writing you even though I'm sending you evidence that I'm a pompous fool. At least I was on October 24.

That is a giant water drop hanging off the beautiful fruit on my tomatero tree. This is a result of what scientists call an atmospheric riverwhich is "a concentrated area of rich moisture that funnels into a specific location," according to the National Weather Service. We've had an atmospheric river flowing over Northern California for a few days, today (Sunday) being the heaviest flow.

Got a morning email from my East Coast friend very concerned that we were going to have LOTS OF RAIN here in San Francisco! When I texted back, "Sky juice ain't it wonderful," she responded with a very skeptical "If you say so...."

I think people back east have come to see us California fools as staggering from one catastrophe to another. But dammit..

Gotta Build Up That Sierra Snowpack!

I have been here since 1974, and we have often had major rainstorms that lasted for several days. Roofs leak, mud slides, roads flood. Yes, these are problems. But ultimately we can live with too much water. We cannot live with no water. So, after even one year of drought, we walk around with a little cloud of anxiety hovering over us in the Fall: "What if the rain never comes?" And when the clouds burst with water, the cloud of anxiety evaporates.

Okay, I admit it, there is a little water in my basement. But believe me, I can live with it. I am a happy camper. And all the plants in my garden are happy campers.

I do wonder if people in other areas of the country gloat a little when bad things happen in California. Isn't that human? I think I would gloat. After all, California such a great place to live so big so beautiful such great weather (except when it's not) so rich biggest population birthplace of the tech revolution that's destroying civilization blah blah blah.

I think the NY Times gloats a bit. It likes to see us as a basket case. Headline: "California Prepares for heavy Rain and Floods" Hey, we prepare for that FREQUENTLY. No biggie. No cause for a HEADLINE in the New York TIMES, fer Pete's sake!!

But Lady Dear, my oldest friend, reads that and sends me a worried text.

November 4: In my defense, the Chronicle quotes a man who lives near the Russian River saying he was thrilled with all the water and that area was one of the worst flooded. Also, I didn't only talk the talk, I walked the walk. Yes, I went out like an idiot in all that water to a memorial service in a park. And I've got photos of drenched poodles who accompanied me to prove it. That's the next blog.


Judy Chicago, she of the fabulous Dinner Party and many other gorgeous creations, is having a major retrospective at the De Young Museum. Last Saturday she staged one of her "Atmospheres," which is an event where she sets off all these beautiful colors of smoke that can combine in amazing ways. Chicago loves her some bright colors. And so do I.

Elizabeth took the most fantastic photo of Saturday's ATMOSPHERE event in Golden Gate Park:
Every time I say what a fabulous photo that is, Elizabeth replies that it was just luck because she just kept snapping and snapping. But she was smart enough to DO that. I wasn't. Also, she framed it so brilliantly with the strip of people at the bottom. I only snapped when I saw something I wanted to capture, so I was always behind the curve and got a lot of photos like the one on the left, below. And nobody likes photos that remind us of the Orange Day last year.The one on the right (from the internet) shows the colors billowing from the structure built in front of the museum for the event.
You really should go see the exhibit INSIDE the museum if you can. Chicago is an astonishing artist, very feminist, very political. Most of her work is visually... I'm trying to think of the right word... luscious... even when she's dealing with very painful subjects. The first thing you see in the exhibit is a series, "Stages of Dying," where she imagines her own death, speculating on different possibilities. This one is "Will I die screaming?"
It's an image of something so terrible, but it's also beautiful and luscious, painted with glass paint on black glass which is then kiln-fired. She's working with new material in new ways imagining her own death. I was very moved by this series. I'd never seen anything like it. I also loved her images of birth. This is Earth Birth:
Chicago says that she started creating images of birth because this very crucial event simply wasn't considered a fit subject for art! There were no pictures or statues of women giving birth in the history of art.

The dark colors of the work above are atypical. This is a woman who has figured out how to actually create a world that explodes in gorgeous color, if only for a few moments. That's what she did in front of the De Young Museum. Judy Chicago is a passionate and serious lover of color:
This one on the left is a set of SKATEBOARDS. This is a photo I took myself at the museum. It's not officially on display yet. I can't remember how I came upon it.

AND if you go to the gift shop, you can buy a gorgeous set of coasters of four of The Dinner Party plates:
Each plate represents a different woman from history. Starting at the upper left and going clockwise:

  • Isabella d'Este (1474-1539): Cultural and political leader of the Italian Renaissance
  • Hypatia (360-415): Philosopher, astronomer & mathematician in Alexandria, Egypt
  • Sappho (630-570 BCE): Great lyric poet of ancient Greece and founder of a school for girls on the island of Lesbos. Of course she's my special favorite, as the first known lover of women.
  • The Primordial Goddess

The Brooklyn Museum, where The Dinner Party resides, says:
  • The Dinner Party, an important icon of 1970s feminist art and a milestone in twentieth-century art, is presented as the centerpiece around which the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art is organized. The Dinner Party comprises a massive ceremonial banquet, arranged on a triangular table with a total of thirty-nine place settings, each commemorating an important woman from history.
Click the image to read more .....
When I talk to friends who have seen the exhibit, they responded differently from me -- loved parts that didn't grab me and didn't love the parts that did grab me. Chicago is 80 now and has always been seeking new subjects and new materials and new techniques for her entire career. It's an astonishing body of work, often explicitly political and feminist, sometimes disturbing but always beautiful. I need to go back again. It runs through January 9. Go see it.

Well, Bloggelinis, in writing this blog, I learned about Isabella d'Este. Now I want to know more about her. As a child, I lived in a world where women were not considered capable beyond their prescribed duties. I was told repeatedly that "We live in a democracy -- any boy could grow up to be President!" Really, it never occurred to me or anyone I knew that there was no reason a GIRL couldn't become President. It was simply inconceivable. Women barely existed! We all said "Mankind" when we talked about humanity. I always KNEW I wasn't part of "Mankind." It was all men. I didn't exist! It all seems preposterous, looking back: "Any boy can be President." But that's how it was. Thus, I have an inexhaustible hunger to learn of the lives of amazing women. Judy Chicago is one of the people who did courageous work battering down the wall that hid our true history from us! Not only ARE we powerful and brilliant and visionary world-changers, we HAVE ALWAYS BEEN SO. It's obvious, simple. And yet this was hidden from us for thousands of years. Judy Chicago, you done good. You done great. You done magnificent.

All for now. Terry


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