A Very SF Weekend

Part of the reason I wanted to write for this shiny new site was quite selfish.  I needed something to make me spend more time with the city.  Something to force us together – me the reluctant resident and SF the difficult city.  So this weekend was another chance to bond.  And bond we did.

First up was Kezar – which you’ve heard about already.  On Saturday, art all day – on canvas, in silver, in fabric, and finally, on a plate. 

You have until July 5 to check out the Art Deco exhibit at the Legion of Honor.  If you’re a Deco person, or even a museum enthusiast, it’s a must.  It costs a few more clams than art usually should – but it’s worth it. 

More than any other genre or period, Deco moves me.  Its simple, reduced lines, streamlined elegance, and the way it unites mechanized convenience and human emotion are evidenced throughout the exhibit.  Perhaps what’s most striking is the number of everyday objects in the show – the cups, the lamps, the clocks, chairs, and even an outboard motor.  There’s nothing deco didn’t touch in its heyday, nor anything today that escapes its influence.  Deco developed as a response to the fluid, organic, nouveau period – deco strips away the swirls and flowers and leaves just the geometric remains of design.  A good example is the change from Tiffany glass (those fancy stained glass lamps) to Frank Lloyd Wright’s geometric wonders, also flowers in their own way.  It’s simple on the surface, but how do you know which lines to leave and which can be removed without destroying the form, function, and beauty of an object? 

We chose to rent the audio sets for the more guided tour experience.  It was educational, but the headphones cut me off from the gallery and the objects I looked at.  The segments always ran a bit long too, especially given the volume of traffic trying to circulate between the displays.

The show sets up your lesson nicely – moving you through an introductory section and then through the various forms of art and regions of the world that influenced deco. The discovery of King Tut’s tomb in Egypt and the romantic fascination with ancient Egyptian culture gave deco some of its most pervasive themes and colors.  Ancient Greece, early Latin American cultures, and the far East all come out in deco pieces. 

Toward the end of the exhibit – the full influence of the machine in undeniable.  The sleek lines, the gears, the silver, and the sheer scale of the pieces are striking.  There are models of Rockafeller Plaza and a series of photos to remind you how much of the New York skyline is a deco dreamscape.  Even dressing tables are larger than life – with round mirrors dwarfing the polished wood base and ornamental drawers supporting them.  It was Hollywood, baby, convenience and stature – Xanadu and the Chrysler Building – all available for your bedroom set, placesettings, or alarm clock.  And it was all beautiful.

Trying to follow a theme (or sort of backtracking through art history), we had dinner at Boulevard.  No, I can’t really afford to eat there – but sometimes, you gotta do it up right.  It’s a nouveau beauty that tasted as good as it looked.  From the cocktails to the dessert – this place knows how good it is and it isn’t afraid to show it.  For purely journalistic reasons, we ordered the foie gras to start. I’m sorry, PETA friends.  I won’t do it again.  But before they outlaw it, I had to see what the fuss was about.  It was good.  I’m so sorry.  But it was.

So that was my Saturday.  I’d recommend it to anyone.  Except the foie gras – I know real San Franciscans wouldn’t have eaten it.

[I had a stolen photo (not allowed in special exhibits - what's that about?) from the deco show - but I'm still learning how to use this site . . . .]

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