Painters Exploring Italy - Extended 2 weeks

Beryl Landau and Anthony Holdsworth

September 14 to October 27, 2017

Opening Reception, Thurs. Sept. 14, 6:30 - 8:30 PM

Video Presentation: Sept. 28, 6:30 PM

Istituto Italiano di Cultura

601 Van Ness Avenue

Opera Plaza, SF

Gallery Hours M-F 10 AM - 5 PM

 

 View from the Trastevere, Landau                                                                               The Fish Market, Catania, Holdsworth

View from the Trastevere, Landau                                                                               The Fish Market, Catania, Holdsworth

Background on this exhibition:

My arrival in Italy in the late Sixties utterly changed my life. I reached Florence penniless having hitchhiked from Paris. By chance, I was offered a job helping clean up the churches after the catastrophic flood of Nov 1966. I soon became Head of Outdoor Restoration for the Uffizi. Thus I was able to live for a year and half in a tiny rooftop apartment just a stone's throw from the Palazzo Vecchio at a time when the historic center was still a thriving Italian city. Almost below my 'attico', on Via dei Rustici,  was a tiny butcher shop. The butcher would compose extemporaneous verse to accompany each purchase. Also close by was a trattoria frequented by Florentine transvestites. 

The traditional quality of Florentine life was a revelation to me. I could walk fifteen minutes into the hills beyond the city walls and stand in fields where the 'contadini' were ploughing with oxen. Or I could wander the narrow streets of the Oltrarno where craftsmen still practiced trades initiated in the Renaissance. One of my favorite places to hang out and sketch was the Mercato Centrale which, in those days had a large outdoor market filled with wheeled carts with bright awnings. 

ItalyBlogDrawings.jpg

What made the most lasting impression on me, as an artist, was the intimate connection between the art on the walls of the churches and the daily life of Florentines. 

Returning to Italy with Beryl Landau !984 - 2014

 Beryl above Taormina                                                      Approaching Stromboli                                       Painting the Fish Market, Catania

Beryl above Taormina                                                      Approaching Stromboli                                       Painting the Fish Market, Catania

I returned to Italy, for the first time, in the mid eighties with Beryl Landau. We enjoyed traveling and painting in the 'Bel Paese' so much that we continued to visit every other year. This exhibition features a small selection of the work we created over these three decades.

                               The Amalfi Coast, Landau                                                                             Piazza Kalsa, Palermo. Holdsworth

                              The Amalfi Coast, Landau                                                                             Piazza Kalsa, Palermo. Holdsworth

                          Roman outlook, Landau                                                        Cinque Terre out my Window, Holdsworth

                         Roman outlook, Landau                                                        Cinque Terre out my Window, Holdsworth

Video Screening, Thursday, September 28, 6:30 PM

The Istituto would like you to sign up for this event on their Website  

The 38 minute video that we will screen at the Istituto is a visual diary of our last two month painting excursion. Though mostly focused on our travels from Catania, Sicily via the Aeolian Islands, Naples and Rome to Emilia-Romagna, it also makes passing reference to the huge changes that I have witnessed in Italy since the mid Sixties.  It features guitar and mandolin music by Hugo Wainzinger and Al Fabrizio.

After the screening we will answer questions about our travels and our paintings. Join us!

 Anthony painting above Naples.                                                                      Leaving Catania.                    Beryl above Castellammare                                                                             

Anthony painting above Naples.                                                                      Leaving Catania.                    Beryl above Castellammare               

                                                            

Mission Lake an urban legend

I witness a constant drama when I paint in the Mission District. There is a cast of thousands all of whom have riveting stories about themselves and about the locations where I'm painting. They are wonderful stories - though I sometimes doubt if some of them are true. But stories, true or untrue, tell us a lot about the neighborhood.

 Mission Lake # 1 - This work will be part of my exhibition at  Luna Rienne Gallery  July 8 - Aug 7

Mission Lake # 1 - This work will be part of my exhibition at Luna Rienne Gallery July 8 - Aug 7

When a fire ripped through the enormous, three story corner building at 22nd and Mission Streets on January 28th, 2015 it had a huge impact on the community. The building was home to a number of businesses including the New Mission Market as well as sixty-two tenants, one of whom died in the conflagration. Coinciding closely with the release of locally filmed " The Other Barrio"  a " neo-noir " which dealt with the issues of gentrification and landlord sponsored arson, the Mission was rife with anger and speculation. 

 The abandoned building experienced two more fires before it was bulldozed early in 2016 leaving an adjacent, fire scarred building standing forlornly above a gaping hole. This scene was, I observed to my painter friend John Paul Marcelo, an excellent illustration of the gentrification that was ravaging the Mission District. He promptly painted a small canvas that beautifully conveyed this sentiment.

 Oil painting by John Paul Marcelo

Oil painting by John Paul Marcelo

Though always in the back of my mind, it took me much longer to get around to painting the scene.  I noticed, In the intervening months, the imposing black iron fence that rose around the abandoned site, but I hadn't stopped to gaze through it. When I did I was amazed. The gaping hole had become a calm reflecting pool surrounded by clumps of flowers. And large scale graffiti had blossomed on the side of the forlorn building above the pond.

Immediately I started painting, people were asking me if I'd heard the frogs.

 "Frogs!" I exclaimed " In the middle of the Mission?" 

"Yes, you can hear them at night." a young man responded.

 His friend indicated an official sign posted further down the black fence titled "The Mission Memorial Frog Sanctuary".  I was in a hurry to return to my painting so I scanned the notice until I reached the key paragraph "After 235 years, the hibernating Mission Frogs finally emerged from the foundation of the fallen framework, producing a profound presence in the present pasture and pond."

I was astonished. That evening I pondered the possibility that frogs could hibernate for 235 years. The next evening my wife, Beryl Landau, and I walked to the Alamo Drafthouse Movie Theater to pick up a DVD. On our way back we stopped at the pond. We heard no frogs, but we took a closer look at the sign. It's purple prose as well as the dedication, 'Donated to the community by the Haus of GWERT', was a giveaway that this was an elaborate prank. Going online I found cell phone recordings of the "Frogs"  except to me they sounded like one solitary bullfrog.

So, some joker introduced a bull frog into a muddy hole and another put up a sign and now the whole neighborhood was buzzing about the renewal of nature at "Mission Lake". Of course, since I was painting this "miracle" I got swept up in the story . My painting and I were popping up on social media.

Chewy Marzolo. owner of Escape from New York Pizza, posted the photo to the left.

 Did the rapid growth of this urban legend alarm the property owner? Did he fear a mass movement to dedicate Mission Lake as a public park?

Whatever the reason, the Mission Memorial Frog Sanctuary sign disappeared from the fence, and I arrived, one day towards the end of my second painting, to discover the the "Lake" dry.  A woman informed me that it hadn't evaporated as I initially supposed. It had been pumped dry. A worker in a red shirt was busily painting over the graffiti on the house. Of the "miracle", only the flowers remained. Flowers that I realized, early on, where not wildflowers.

 "You're right about that." a tall man observed who turned out to be Chewy Marzolo, proprietor of Escape from New York Pizza.

 " The cat is out of the bag, so I can confess. I scattered seeds from the roof when it was wet and rainy. I think that it really improved the site."

 Mission Lake # 2  This painting will be part of my exhibition at  Luna Rienne Gallery  July 8 - Aug 7

Mission Lake # 2  This painting will be part of my exhibition at Luna Rienne Gallery July 8 - Aug 7

The Rise of Fascism In America

In 2003 I was painting at 8th and Jefferson in West Oakland when our forces invaded Iraq. As I followed the reports of our illegal aggression and the wholesale slaughter of innocent civilians, I found myself imagining Oakland invaded by Abrams Tanks firing, willy-nilly at all perceived threats. Below is a detail from my painting titled "Regime Change Comes to Oakland"

At the time, this painting was intended as a metaphor, a way of arousing empathy for the unfortunate people of Iraq, but it began to acquire a surreal prescience during Occupy when I witnessed the Alameda County Sheriff riding around the streets of Oakland in an armored vehicle identical to the ones being used in Iraq.

I recalled my brother in law, Saul Landau, observing some years ago that Democracy and Empire were incompatible. I witnessed Homeland Security directing the use of overwhelming force and agent provocateurs against peaceful protesters. It was clear to me that we were sliding towards Fascism.

What was fairly obvious to activists in 2011 has become crystal clear to millions of Americans with the accession of Trump. The fact that this sociopath did not win the popular vote and probably stole the swing states with the help of Republican operatives, only makes matters worse, because it throws into doubt the continued viability of our political system.

 This image may be be downloaded and printed as a 13.5" X 15.75"" poster or as 7.5" X 8.5" print .  Download poster  .             Download print  .

This image may be be downloaded and printed as a 13.5" X 15.75"" poster or as 7.5" X 8.5" print . Download poster.         Download print.

A General Strike

Donald Trump has already demonstrated his utter contempt for our democratic institutions. He has begun by attacking the most vulnerable among us - immigrants. It is clear that without organized opposition he will go on to cripple the judiciary, assail the fourth estate and dismantle essential social programs that the majority of Americans need to survive.

No effective opposition can be mounted from within the government alone. After all, the Republicans control all branches of government, and, so far,  are gleefully advancing his agenda.

Demonstrations, and e-mails alone will not halt the consolidation of power by Trump and his cabal. We must demonstrate our greater power unequivocally by shutting down the economic engine of this nation. A General Strike, perhaps a series of them, will send a clear message to Trump and will also weaken support for him within the Republican Party. It is the most effective tool the people have. We need to use it soon!

 Occupy the Port of Oakland, 2011( My good friend John Paul Marcelo is painting the same event on the far left. To view a video of many of the Occupy paintings that we painted along with Jessica Joy Jirsa, scroll down to "Anarcho-Syndicalism. Camille Pissaro and the Occupy Movement" )

Occupy the Port of Oakland, 2011( My good friend John Paul Marcelo is painting the same event on the far left. To view a video of many of the Occupy paintings that we painted along with Jessica Joy Jirsa, scroll down to "Anarcho-Syndicalism. Camille Pissaro and the Occupy Movement" )

Large Acrylic Prints and Other News

Large Archival Prints of the Kaiser Permanente Series

My solo exhibition at the SFMOMA Artists' Gallery in Fort Mason is over. The eight "Kaiser Permanente Series" paintings remain at the gallery, where they may be purchased or rented.

I am offering large, exceptionally high quality, acrylic prints on canvas of these paintings. This is possible due to the digital scans that Ben Blackwell created for the murals of these paintings that are now placed in the new Kaiser Permanente Medical Facility in Mission Bay, San Francisco.

 The Bay Bridge, oil on wood, 20" X 40" one of eight views of San Francisco in the Kaiser Permanente Series.

The Bay Bridge, oil on wood, 20" X 40" one of eight views of San Francisco in the Kaiser Permanente Series.

View all the paintings in my online Gallery under "Kaiser Permanente Series"

Prints are signed, numbered and limited to editions of forty.
They are available in two sizes:
Original Size: 20" high for $ 1400
and Large:  36" high for $ 1900.
Width varies depending on the proportions of the original painting.
For example the Bay Bridge painting (above) would be either 20" X 40" or 36" X 72"

 

Last Sunday, Studio Exhibitions: 1-6 PM Oct 30, Nov 27...

. My studio is open the Last Sunday of every month from 1 pm until 6 pm or by special appointment. You will also see my current studio exhibition and may explore the inventory in the mezzanine. Expect beverages , including cappuccinos, and conversation. Visit Studio.

The Mission District Series

 Who Would Jesus Bomb? # 2, 20" X 56", oil/wood panel, 2016

Who Would Jesus Bomb? # 2, 20" X 56", oil/wood panel, 2016


I am continuing my Mission District Series with more emphasis on the people of the Mission. I continue to be appalled by the way our society permits unfettered speculation to trump community. The cultural heart of our city is being eviscerated.


 The Oregon Coast

 Views from Cascade Head, Oregon,  pen and ink from my sketchbook

Views from Cascade Head, Oregon,  pen and ink from my sketchbook


Our son, Mario, took Beryl Landau and I on a trip to the Oregon Coast last year. I have posted two sketches from our trip. It's a spectacular landscape and I'm considering returning to do some oil paintings.

 Nicaragua


Thirty-one years after Beryl Landau and I organized the Artists' Tour of Nicaragua '84, during the heady Sandinista period, we returned for an eight day visit.


The Nicaraguan landscape was as breathtakingly beautiful as I remembered it. The city of Granada on Lake Nicaragua was dazzling. It had shed the tired, threadbare look that it had during the long years of revolution and subsequent struggle to defend the revolution against the US backed Contras. 

 Rooftops of the city of Granada                           Above the beach of Pochomil, Pacific coast

Rooftops of the city of Granada                           Above the beach of Pochomil, Pacific coast

But while it was clear that hotels and small enterprises were beginning to prosper, the heartbreaking poverty that afflicts the majority of Nicaraguans seemed as bad as ever. In place of that heady mix of euphoria and hope that animated so many Nicaraguans during the first Sandinista period the general population seemed stressed.


In Managua where I had painted, and walked late at night, without fear of crime in 84’ and 85’, my son was warned not to go out for fear of desperate young men who sniff glue and rob at knife point.

Nicaragua in the 70's and 80's

For a brief video account of my two painting trips in the 80’s take a look at the video that I made with Michael Johnson titled “From Oakland to Nicaragua" in my video section of this website. You have to scroll to the very bottom of the videos to find it!

Nina Serrano, who helped organize our Artist's Tour of Nicaragua '84, has published a novel about this period. A detail of one of my paintings "The Festival of Diriamba" is on the cover (below). Her book is available at at: http://nicaraguaway.com/

 

 

 

 

FROM SICILY TO EMILIA-ROMAGNA: A TWO MONTH PAINTING TRIP

An old Italian once told me "We are German in the North and Arab in the south" This is only a slight exaggeration as we observed traveling from Sicily to northern Italy over a two month period.

  Stromboli erupting, as seen from Ginostra on Stromboli in the Aeolian Islands

 Stromboli erupting, as seen from Ginostra on Stromboli in the Aeolian Islands

The  south, with its Baroque Spanish architecture and the terra-cotta rooftops scattered in a volcanic landscape, could almost be Mexico. Except that Mexico doesn't have Greek temples. Nor people who, more than two thousand years after they were vanquished by the Romans, still consider themselves Greek.           

     Garlic Merchants, Catania, Sicily                                                      From our terrace in the Spanish Quarter, Naples

    Garlic Merchants, Catania, Sicily                                                      From our terrace in the Spanish Quarter, Naples

Lugo amid the fertile plain that surrounds the river Po in the northern province of Emilia-Romagna exudes a sense of well being and orderliness more characteristic of northern Europe. Many here are practicing Catholics who also insist that they are Communists. Neighbors often share their cars. 

 The main square of Lugo in Emilia-Romagna

The main square of Lugo in Emilia-Romagna

Florentine youth, eager to be on the the cutting edge, have embraced American culture with gusto. On this visit much of the graffiti was in English. One noteworthy message asked: "If this is tourist season, why can't we hunt them?"

  Piazza Santo Spirito, Florence, Italy

 Piazza Santo Spirito, Florence, Italy

I was scandalized to find hamburgers on the lunch menu at 'Pops', a popular youth hangout in Piazza Santo Spirito, until I tasted their truffle hamburger which was exquisite.  Italy has a history of absorbing from cultures around it and converting them into something uniquely Italian. 

 Our painting group's base twenty minutes from Florence:  Querce Seconda, Romola, Tuscany

Our painting group's base twenty minutes from Florence: Querce Seconda, Romola, Tuscany

Watch the video of our two month painting trip in English or Italian:

I encourage you to experience the full variety of cultures we encountered by viewing the video of our journey. It is designed to inform and entertain you, so set aside forty minutes. Pour yourself a glass of wine and click the title to enjoy  From Sicily to Emilia-Romagna: through Artists' eyes 

Questa è la versione Italiana:  Dalla Sicilia all'Emilia-Romagna: attraverso gli occhi degli artisti

The music of Hugo Wainzinger and Al Fabrizio is a marvelous addition to this video. If you like their adaptations for guitar and mandolin, you may find more of their music  - and buy their CDs at: www.heartstringsmusic.com