Left Four cupcakes by Wayne Thiebaud -- Right Still Life by Giorgio Morandi
in Bologna, Italy has a joint exhibit of two artistic heroes -- Northern California artist Wayne Thiebaud and Giorgio Morandi. Both studied simple still life objects for a lifetime. Although different at first glance, once examined you can see many similarities in their approach.
According to the SF Chronicle article by art critic Kenneth Baker, Thiebaud was a fan of Morandi and owned several of his paintings. This exhibit closes in October and is scheduled to travel and come to the Bay Area. I will be looking for it!
Hidden away on a side street in Bologna, the museum is located in an old apartment building and was Morandi's former home. Other residents still live in the gated courtyard building.
Spot the small sign and ring the doorbell to gain entrance. Go up a narrow set of stairs and transition from the historical Bologna streets and buildings to a museum bright, modern, and a study in minimalist Italian architecture -- a wonderful transformation. I encourage you to visit if you can.
Paragon Book Gallery - Chicago
Paragon Book Gallery
at 1507 South Michigan Avenue just south of downtown Chicago is a paradise for Asian Art lovers. Hidden in a non-descript building with no storefront windows, you need to be buzzed into the store. Once inside it's like a warehouse filled with books on Asian Art and related topics. Slightly musty with the smell of old books, the ceiling is at least 14 feet high and the space is filled with rows of bookshelves filled with new and used books. Under various owners, the original 1942 store opened in Shanghai before moving to Manhattan in 1948 and finally landing in Chicago in 1991.
Symbolism in Korean Ink Brush Painting
Hard to find books can be found here and their on-line catalog is astounding. Each book coming into the store seems to be photographed and cataloged. You can search their catalog by country and then refine it by category.
I spent an entire afternoon there drooling over books of every kind. If Asian Art interests you, then check out their web site and sign up for their email notifications of sales and new publications. Paragon Book Gallery has the most comprehensive source of Asian Art books I have ever seen.
Wood Shingles and Steel Frame
This residential building around the corner on Baker Street between Pine and California was built about 25 years ago. Garage doors usually demand a relatively wide opening that needs to be supported by an overhead beam. Here the architect solved two problems using a steel frame. It supports the garage door opening and also provides lateral stability to the building to resist earthquakes.
Most designers would conceal the steel frame within or behind the exterior wall to maintain the "rustic shingled" look. Here the architect decided to show it all to good effect. Almost decorative, It's a nice contrast to the wood shingles.
Bitter Melon with Fish at B&M Restaurant
"Oh no not fu gua (bitter melon), do I have to eat it?" That's what I groaned as a kid. My parents grew vegetables in the back yard and when it was bitter melon season, we saw it on the dinner table. This gourd contains quinine which gives it the bitter taste. Kids start eating just the meat cooked with the melon until they get used to the bitter taste. Then at some unknown future time and place, they realize they like it.
B & M Mei Sing is a downtown restaurant on 2nd Street between Market and Mission - open only for lunch. Originally located across the street in a small storefront, it has since moved across the street into a larger 2 story space. They have devised a unique system of getting your food to you fast. They take two numbered chips and give one to you to place at the table. The other chip goes onto a countertop marked with squares. Each square represents a dish to be prepared. A person on the other side of the counter looks at the chip and calls out the menu item to the cooks.
When the food is ready, there are runners taking the food and chip looking for you. When they are on a roll, your food can be ready by the time you pick up your silverware and tea and find a seat. B&M seems to be a favorite of office workers and postal carriers - a really good sign. The place is well maintained and fast. A not to be missed experience!
Folsom Street Padlock
Nice colors and textures.
Handrail at the Slow Club - San Francisco
Could it be that the Slow Club
has been around for 20 years? The industrial chic look that exploded on the scene during first dot-com bonanza was spear-headed by restaurants such as the Slow Club at 2501 Mariposa. Bare concrete, steel, and wood, seasoned the space with a studied tough no fuss attitude.
It was noisy, crowded and the food prepared in the exposed kitchen was good. The bar at the back of the restaurant is connected to the main dining room by a ramp with these hand rails. Handcrafted angular steel brackets hold up the wood handrail. Notice where the bracket attaches to the wood handrail. If you are truly gripping the handrail, your hand will hit the handrail. This is the same problem with the handrail at the Bakar Fitness Center
in San Francisco. Contrast this with the curved handrail brackets at the Brera Museum
and at the Tivoli Garden's villa d'Este
shown in an earlier blog. Those Italians designers were really thinking!
Twenty years later, the Slow Club looks the same and still contemporary -- others have caught up. Now it's less crowded, but the food is still consistently good. I'm always there for lunch, never for dinner.