San Francisco has always been a site for the convergence of cultures. As Campo Santo Theater prepares to premiere Block by Block, a tribute to the city inspired by the cast and crew members' love for their own neighborhoods, we take a glimpse at some of the special places that make our beloved city such a tapestry—the people, the places, the food, and the history.
Campo Santo, de Young Artist Fellow and award-winning resident theater company of Intersection for the Arts premieres Block by Block: The Pura Principle, its newest theatrical work, in the de Young's Koret Auditorium on November 17, 18, and 19. The performance is based on recent short stories and original writings by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Díaz.
Block by Block brings back to the stage Díaz’s wild and beautiful voice. Sean San José, theater director for Campo Santo, has adapted Diaz’s writings to life in our city, bringing a multimedia San Francisco block party to the de Young.
Audiences will be taken on a journey through San Francisco, block by block. Actors, dancers, and musicians interpret six neighborhoods–downtown, the Fillmore, the Excelsior, Hunters Point, the Mission, and the Castro–in vignettes reflecting the unique rituals found in each of these culturally rich neighborhoods. Experience DJ battles with Felonious; dance-offs with Nicole Klaymoon and the Embodiment Project; the murals of the Mission with projected visuals created by acclaimed artists Favianna Rodriguez, Evan Bissell, and Ricardo Richey; the urban life and writings of Junot Díaz with the Campo Santo Street Team and DJ Wonway; and Susie Lund, who transports you with Subway Strutting to Carnaval.
Watch a preview here.
How did we arrive at this place? We spoke with director Sean San José to take a deeper look at the inspiration and creative process behind Block by Block.
Both the de Young and the San Francisco Symphony have been fixtures on the San Francisco arts and culture scene for over a century, the de Young originating from the 1894 Midwinter Fair and the Symphony celebrating an auspicious 100th anniversary this year. Our two institutions have a history of collaboration and cooperation, the most notable of which is the loan of the Fine Arts Museums’ priceless 18th-century Guarnerius violin—a bequest of famed musician Jascha Heifetz—to the symphony, where it is played by concertmaster Alexander Barantschik during performances at Davies Symphony Hall and the Legion of Honor’s Florence Gould Theater.
November artist-in-residence John Wehrle has been creating really big art since 1975. He specializes in site-specific public artworks, and his projects include mural-size paintings for interior and exterior walls as well as elaborate architectural installations that integrate text, painting, ceramic tile, and relief sculpture. Wehrle is working in the Kimball Education Gallery through November 25.
As we simultaneously prepare for Halloween and the opening weekend of Masters of Venice: Renaissance Painters of Passion and Power from the Kunsthisorisches Museum, Vienna (which opens tomorrow, October 29), what better topic to kick off the festivities than a post about the sumptuous tradition of masquerade?
One of the many goals of the Artist-in-Residence program at the de Young Museum is to explore connections between the artists and the surrounding park environment. These connections enrich our museum visitors' experience through the guest artists' explorations and interpretations. Visiting artists from around the globe offer a unique experience to learn about natural materials found right here in Golden Gate Park.
Māori artist Glenda Hape uses flax to weave and create contemporary art. There are more than 7,500 exotic plant species surrounding the de Young in Golden Gate Park, including several types of ornamental flax. The species of flax Glenda needed to continue her weaving projects in the Kimball Gallery is called Phormium tenax, also known as New Zealand flax (or harakeke in the Māori language). Last week, Glenda explained how difficult it is to harvest the materials she uses in her artistic practice, but with the assistance of Andy Stone, gardner and park supervisor for the San Francisco Recreation and Parks, Glenda's harvesting trip around Stowe Lake was bountiful and she found just the right flax (harakeke).
The Artist-in-Residence program resumes this month in the Kimball Education Gallery with Glenda Joyce Hape, a Māori artist from New Zealand. Glenda is a weaver who combines traditional and contemporary techniques and materials to create Māori kakahu, or cloaks. We recently sat down with Glenda to discuss her background, practice, and inspiration.
The academic tradition of learning to draw by imitating the works of established masters has been alive for centuries. Professor Rick Rodrigues has been bringing this rich tradition the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco since 1995, when he initiated a partnership between the City College of San Francisco and the Museums. Professor Rodrigues's drawing classes cover a variety of skills and techniques, ranging from basic life-drawing using models and tone-drawing to more obscure old-master techniques, such as silverpoint drawing or staining with tea or coffee. His much-beloved classes are a deeply fulfilling experience, giving young artists the opportunity to learn from art history's old masters directly in the museum setting.
Visitors are always welcome to sketch in the Museums' permanent collection galleries. Sketching in special exhibition galleries is by permission only and subject to lender and gallery restrictions. Please see our museum policies for more information.
Education intern Megan Friel recently sat down with Professor Rodrigues, who is still passionately committed to the academic tradition of museum drawing after 16 years of teaching, to discuss his experiences directing the program.
Guest blogger Danica Gomes is an intern in the Public Programs Department.
The art table has become a fixture of Friday Nights at the de Young. Every Friday kids, adults, regulars, and newcomers all crowd around paper-covered tables to take part in the evening’s hands-on art project. The projects are created and led by one of three museum artists, Suzanne Couture, Christian Davies, or Lisa Hubbard, and are always reflective of and inspired by special exhibitions. This summer, drawing on Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris, the art table has adapted Picasso’s definitive modes of expression and represented themes into activities designed for the general public.