Thursday, November 26, 2009

de Young no 1

The M.H. de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park at the Music Concourse in San Francisco houses a magnificent collection of American art, particularly of the 18th and 19th Centuries as well as African and Oceanic collections.

Here, Frederick Edwin Church's painting, "Rainy Season in the Tropics (1866)" occupies the same room as the contemporary cast glass sculpture, "Dress 3" (2001), by Karen La Monte.

Another cast glass sculpture, "Untitled 2006", by Nicolas Africano.

de Young no 2

The American collection on the second floor of the museum emphasizes 19th Century artists and period furnishings.

Frederick Remington's bronze of "The Bronco Rider (1895) stands beside Albert Bierstadt's "Indians Hunting Buffalo (1888)".

John looking at "Still Life, 1872" by Henry D. Morse. To the left, Alexander Pope's "The Trumpeter Swan (1900)".

Students sketching the Renaissance Revival oak and marble fireplace (1873) made by the Paris firm Guére Frère for the mansion of railroad robber-baron, Milton S. Latham.

de Young no 3

Here's John's detail of Penelope by Franklin Simmons, 1896. Marble.

And two details of John Singer Sargent's Caroline de Bassano, Marquise d'Espeuilles, 1884. Oil on canvas.

And a detal of Sargent's Trout Stream in the Tyro., 1914. Oil on canvas.  John wanted to look at the brush strokes up close.

de Young Cafe

We loved the de Young Cafe. We had kefta with tomatoes and eggplant on couscous in this elegant cafe. One gets terrific food in museums and art galleries in San Francisco.

John liked the water coolers. Bill was chatting with one of the guards when John took this picture. As they watched she said, "Maybe I should go fill those up?"

Overhead view of the Cafe patio which they had just encased in plastic sheeting against the coming cold. It was nice.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Legion of Honor

Entrance to the Legion of Honor, Lincoln Park, San Francisco. Built in 1920 by Alma de Bretteville Spreckels to house her collections which include around 80 sculptures by Auguste Rodin in bronze and marble.

Lincoln Park is often shrouded in fog, making visits to the site magical.

Here is Rodin's The Age of Bronze in the central courtyard.

Laocoon at the lower entrance to Lincoln Park from the museum.

Legion 2

The Legion of Honor houses a large collection of European paintings, furniture and period rooms emphasizing the 18th Century but including Victorian and Impressionist painters.

Legion 3

One of John's pleasures in museums is looking closely at details.

Landscape with Venus and Cupid (detail). Circa 1651. Giovanni Francesco Grimaldi, called Il Bolonese (Italian, Bolognese, 1606-1680). Oil on canvas.

An Italianate River Landscape with a Poling Boatman and a Woman with a Basket of Crabs (detail). ca. 1605. Domenico Zanpieri, called Il Domenichino (Italian, 1581-1641). Oil on canvas.

Mother and Child (detail). ca. 1895. Pierre-August Renoir (French, 1841-1919).

Le Chinois (detail). 1872. Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, (French, 1827-1875). Bronze.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) designed by Swiss Architect, Mario Botta, is situated on 3rd St, just across from the Yerba Buena Gardens.

It houses a wonderful permanent collection and very exciting special exhibitions.

When we visited there was an amazing retrospective of Richard Avedon's Portraits as well as a show of contemporary Chinese, Korean and Japanese photographers. Very inspiring!

The top floor of the museum has a sculpture garden and galleries of recent art purchases.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Yerba Buena

The Yerba Buena Gardens sit right outside the front doors of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA).

The open grass Esplanade surrounded by trees in the center of the Gardens is a very popular meeting and lounging spot in the SOMA (South of Market) neighbourhood.

The Contemporary Jewish Museum with its additions by Daniel Libsekind is situated on Yerba Buena Lanes between Mission and Market Streets. We saw a fabulous show of original illustrations by Maurice Sendak there.


We've been enjoying Toronto's Cafe Diplomatico for decades.

Sundays will generally find us taking lunch or a late breakfast.

And the people watching is some of the best in Toronto

Sunday, November 15, 2009


No Sunday would be complete without a visit to our favourite used bookstore in Toronto: Balfour Books in Little Italy. 601 College Street

They have great window displays. Oh, there's an Aaron Siskind. Trevor likes Siskind. Louis told us that people are buying books out of the window as Christmas presents.

Their front racks are stocked with thrillers and other reliable fast reads.

Above they always put the latest hardcovers.

I bought Andreas Gursky's latest collection of architecture photos. It's a lap-sized catalogue of his last German show with essays about each of the 15 featured works. Here Altdorfer's "Battle of Alexander at Issus (1529) is being compared to one of Gursky's photos of a Madonna concert.

Knock, knock

Bill and I were kicking back with wine and beer and chips after our day-trip to Alcatraz. He was channel surfing. I was reading Janet Malcolm on Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. A rap came to the door, then more raps: Knock! Knock! Knock! Knock! Knock! Knock! Knock!

Heavy. Loud. Authoritative. Not to be ignored.

I opened the door to two handsome, enormous San Francisco police officers, looking even more bulky in their bullet-proof vests. One held out a copy of our room key. Had we lost this? Had our room been broken into?

I got our actual key out of it's place in the drawer by the bed and showed it to them. We were fine. The officer thanked us and told us that they probably wouldn't have to speak to us again and asked where we were from. Canada. He had nothing to say to that. He wished us a pleasant evening and I closed the door.

Bill and I wondered what had brought them up to our room on such a flimsy pretext. Surely they had cleared up any possible problem with the desk staff. They must have insisted on coming up themselves. We amused ourselves with fantasies of how they just wanted to have a look at us and wondering whether we should have invited them in.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Our Neighbourhood

Our neighbourhood in San Francisco was around our hotel, the Baldwin Hotel, located just below the Dragon Gates on Grant Avenue. In our area it would be much easier to buy an Armani suit than a bottle of beer. Pictured below is the rouge/blanc winebar across the street attached to the Hotel Triton, a smart boutique hotel.

Below is one of our favourite buildings on Grant Avenue at Sutter.

The Baldwin Hotel at 321 Grant Ave, San Francisco. Nice, friendly place and at very good rates considering the neighbourhood.

Pretty blondes beside the King Triton Fountain at Hotel Triton at Bush St and Grant Avenue.