Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Things I Learned in San Francisco When I Wasn't Eating

At SFMOA: that Mark Bradford's early works on and with paper, and Agnes Martin's famous grid paintings are formally quite similar--and equally sublime in terms of their effect on the viewer.

At the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts: that Depeche Mode must have the most obsessively devoted (and culturally diverse) fan base of any synth-pop band from the 1980s; that football fans in Brazil take their sport very seriously; and that there were (and are) at least two audiences for the Arab Spring (live and mediated), neither of which is necessarily very emancipated.

At the DeYoung Museum: that Jean-Paul Gaulthier (who dressed Depeche Mode in several of their videos) designed his first corset and bustier ensemble not for Madonna, but for his childhood teddy bear--and that troubling the boundaries between animal and human is as important to him in terms of his overall aesthetic as overturning conventional notions of masculine and feminine.

At the Berkeley Rep: that high concept and low tech can combine beautifully to tell a story in words, song, and movement on stage; that no one does romantic tragedy better (or blacker) than the Russians; and that Mischa Baryshnikov really does have an extraordinarily charismatic performative presence, turning the simple act of shaving into something to make anyone swoon.

At the War Memorial Opera House: that Marius Petipa's Don Quixote, and not George Balanchine's, is the version that has entered into most contemporary ballet companies' repertoires, including San Francisco's, and that its story and choreography owe much to the traditions of commedia.

In Union Square: that Anna Halprin is still living (at 91), and still leading her massive group planetary dances, this one to close out the latest incarnation of the Bay Area Dance Week (which just happened to coincide with our trip).

In the San Francisco Chronicle: that Judy Davis, in town to receive a special award for her career in movies from the San Francisco Film Festival, held out for the longest time against David Lean's desire for her to wear mascara during the shooting of A Passage to India, only acceding when he told her that Terrence Howard had in Brief Encounter.


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