Monthly Archives: May 2012

3 Things to Like About “Gerhard Richter Painting”

I thought the Gerhard Richter Painting movie would only be here a week but it arrived in early May and it’s still running in San Francisco and Berkeley. In case you haven’t heard of Gerhard Richter, he’s an internationally accomplished, energetic 79 year old artist from Dresden, Germany, with an extensive body of work that covers over five decades. I didn’t discover him until a few years ago.

You may find out all you need to know about him at his website. It’s one of the most thorough artist sites I’ve seen, created and maintained by Joe Hage.

Richter currently has a studio in Cologne, Germany. A superbly detailed chronologyof his life is on his website.

How famous is he? One clue is his painting, “Abstrakis Bild,” sold for $20,802,500 at Sotheby’s in 1997!

It is not a reflection on the movie but I was true to a habit of mine and fell asleep briefly during the film. I am not sure what I missed, but I enjoyed the gentle pace and the peek inside Richter’s life.

Implanted somewhere past the beginning, there’s a montage of photographs from his childhood, and how his family had to move to Poland. He talks briefly about how his parents wanted him to be a doctor, then he tried becoming a dental assistant and failed at that.

You get to see how much his studio assistants help with mixing paints and photographing his art, and an array of other tasks. His wife, his manager, and various museum and gallery personnel make an appearance as well. Once in a while you hear the filmmaker, Connie Belz, asking him questions while she’s behind the camera.

The movie documents Richter between April and September of 2009, at work in his studio in preparation for a show at the Marian Goodman Gallery in New York. But that’s not all you see about how he prepares.

One of my favorite things was seeing the meticulous preparation made for exhibitions. There’s careful study of the space using to-scale architectural models dissecting every wall, hallway, and sometimes the lighting system. Then shrunk to-scale Richter paintings are placed on the model’s walls to see how it will look.

Later in the movie there’s what I think is a big reveal — the work hasn’t always been created yet even though the show is already booked!

Abstract 525 by Mary Gow

“Abstract 525,” Mary Gow’s Gerhard Richter-inspired painting

The second favorite thing I liked was seeing this world famous artist like his work and two hours later hate it, and two days later like it again. Richter admits sometimes he doesn’t know where the painting is going, or it doesn’t go where he thought it would as the painting has a life of its own that he honors.

One other thing I really liked was getting to see the use of Richter’s custom-built giant squeegee. He paints an undercoat of colors which in themselves look like a finished abstract painting. In the example towards the end of the film he says he uses red in the undercoat because he’s going to squeegee green. Then he applies one big glob of paint on the canvas and moves it either across or down with his arms wide (maybe 5 feet) squeegee. This looks like palette knife painting taken to a scientific level! How gestural can you get with a palette knife that size?

I don’t want to ruin the surprise at the end. There you’ll hear the three words that say what making art is all about to Richter.

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Filed under Creativity, Images, Inspiration

12 Ways to Embrace the Galactic Alignment of 2012

Rose during Solar Eclipse

Rose at the Eclipse, photo by Mary Gow


Are you feeling a creative surge of energy from the solar eclipse on May 20th?

“[D]uring periods of great change, personal creativity is radically enhanced.” – Barbara Hand Clow

I am feeling that surge of energy that San Francisco astrologer, Linea Van Horn, calls the Galactic Embrace. According to Van Horn, 2012 marks the peak of a span of time we have been approaching for the last 30 years, 6,000 years, and 26,000 years.

Safely watching the solar eclipse of 2012

Safely watching the Solar Eclipse of 2012

In Van Horn’s “Galactic Embrace” presentation to the San Francisco Astrological Society, she used two hula hoops to explain what is going on in our galaxy. Imagine one hula hoop spinning east-west, the other spinning north-south. One of the hula hoop includes our solar system. The other spinning hoop and represents the Milky Way. The “precession”) of equinoxes in our solar system brings about a super-unique (my term) proximity to the Milky Way.

We are at the special spot where these two hula hoops touch. Van Horn explains that it takes 26,000 years for the zodiac to circle once around the constellations.

John Major Jenkins’ diagrams about the galactic alignment help explain the “precession of equinoxes,” if you want to check those out.

“We are now in a temporary portal of time and space that invites us to participate in no less than the evolution of mankind and the earth itself,” says Jenkins, author and independent researcher who focuses on Mayan culture and civilization and its connection to the cosmos.

Not only was there an annual solar eclipse on May 20th, but there will be a lunar eclipse on June 4th followed by what is called an “occultation” (a fancy name for eclipse but rarer) of the planet Venus traveling between the earth and Sun on June 5th and 6th. This is a completion of an 8 year cycle that only occurs every 121 years!

Ecliptical, drawn using Harmonious app

"Ecliptical," drawn with Harmonious app, by Mary Gow

2012 represents the culmination of a zing of energy that has been building and building. Van Horn offers some tips for embracing this special time:

1. Congratulate yourself for being alive at this remarkable time.
2. Do what matters to you.
3. Be grateful!
4. Simplify.
5. Help others.
6. Plant good seeds.
7. Be flexible, ready to change at a moment’s notice.
8. Let the past go, don’t hang on.
9. Hold steady in your light.
10. Limit your exposure to “news.”
11. Resist fear.
12. Cultivate good will and positive thinking.

Van Horn has been an astrologer for over 35 years and will be presenting at the annual conference of the United Astrology Congress in New Orleans this coming weekend and at the the 44th Annual Conference of the Astrological Association of Great Britain September 7 to 9 at Wyboston Lakes.

Looks like there is no better time than the present time to be creatively expressing. If you’ve been waiting for when the planets are aligned, the time has arrived!

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Filed under Creativity, Images, Inspiration

A True Art Spirit in a New Documentary

When I found Gerhard Richter‘s work I felt validated. Here’s a successful artist who works in photography and painting has elements of reality and non-reality. He isn’t working in one narrow genre. I like that.

Richter’s “Forty Years of Painting” show appeared in 2002 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. I didn’t know about him till someone who loved his work pointed it out to me a few years ago and I saw Richter’s work in SFMOMA’s 2010 Fisher Collection.

I love Richter’s visual vocabulary. Photography, painting, realism, abstraction. Vibrant colors. Streaking green lines the color of Granny Smith Apples next to raspberry red made by Richter’s huge squeegees moving chunks of paint on canvases you can jump into, stretching seven or ten feet wide.

If you can catch the documentary about him, don’t miss it!

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Filed under Inspiration, Painting, Photography

The Longest Running Annual Art Exhibit in San Francisco

Seeds of Joy

“Seeds of Joy,” scanogram by Mary Gow

I have a secret about a scrumptious view of San Francisco. It’s at an exquisitely light-filled space and its staff has for 54 years had the generosity to host an annual art show! The Potrero Hill 54th Annual Artists Exhibition runs through June 1st.

The current show features the work of sixty artists ranging from sculpture and ceramics to painting and photography.

If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path place to see San Francisco, check out this awesome space, especially the six seats on the other side of the magazine showcase on the second floor.

The library was designed and renovated by the San Francisco Department of Public Works. It reopened in 2010. Here’s a slideshow the SFDPW produced that show’s off the space.

This is the same neighborhood where painter Wayne Thiebaud moved to in 1973. For more about Thiebaud and the Potrero neighborhood see Philip’s Garden Blog’s observations of the streets of Potrero Hill and Thiebaud’s depictions of them.

My piece in the show is a digitally manipulated scanogram titled “Seeds of Joy.” I produced it by placing objects on my scanner, and then pushed it further using Photoshop.

The scanner offers a stable surface for placing objects and the photo mechanism is securely mounted. What a treat for composing elements.

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Filed under Art, Creativity, Images, Painting, Photography, Scanography