Zhan Wang’s stainless steel sculpture of San Francisco was an impressive installation, even though it was hard to visually sort a sea of shiny stainless steel and in a few places it felt like the artist ran out of steam and just started throwing in extra tea kettles.

What I like most about it is how accessible it is. Even if a viewer is not interested in the sociopolitical theme, they can still appreciate it visually and admire the ingenuity behind it. Everyone I saw enter the room spent at least 10 minutes looking at it, and some even talked to each other about it. Art that inspires people to become engaged and discuss it with strangers is the best kind.

I also love that once it’s dismantled, the pieces can be reused for another sculpture or be used as originally intended.

Glass Raindrops

The de Young and the Asian Art Museum are arguably the best art museums in San Francisco, although the bar is not as high here as I would like.

The installation shown above is by Kiki Smith, and it was commissioned specifically for this space at the de Young. I didn’t see it overhead when I was below in the room (maybe I was distracted by the upside-down dog planter bed by Chihuly). Rather, I found it by accident when I was in another gallery and became curious about an overlook at the end of the hall. There is a second hanging sculpture that is a part of this one, but the glass teardrops felt very separate to me and I only saw them as a whole in the shadows on the wall. At the time I thought it is not a good sign about a collection when the best thing in it is shadows. However, after some research I learned the artist fully intended the shadow play, so perhaps it’s simply the best piece in the room. It takes a little bit of work to find the second-floor viewing balcony, but it’s worth it to see this piece.


I can’t wait to see this sculpture in person! The city of San Francisco, replicated in stainless cookware. What’s not to love? I especially love the interpretation of docks and piers. From the Asian Art Museum site:

“For his exhibition at the Asian Art Museum, Wang has selected rocks from the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, alluding to the nineteenth-century Chinese immigrant experience of mining gold during the California gold rush. Both the actual rocks and their stainless steel versions will be exhibited. The artist will also create a topographic San Francisco cityscape–one of his ‘urban landscape’ series– using steel rocks, mirrored surfaces, silverware, and stainless steel pots and pans.”

I Heart Tastespotting

Tastespotting compiles the best in food blogging from all over the world, making it the ultimate in food porn and a very amusing way to waste a bunch of time. Whether you’re looking for ideas about what to cook or just want to admire others’ creativity and talent, this is the place.

In the “OMG That’s Brilliant” category today, we have a pretzel diamond ring, by Roni Baram of the industrial design department at H.I.T, Israel on the left. Top right we have sugar people, waiting to be knocked into to their watery (or coffee-y, rather) graves from Natasha at Nova Clutch.

And the “Food Worth Drooling Over” category is being represented by the Beef Wellington on the lower right, courtesy of Mike’s Table. My nitpick here is it should be made with brioche, not puff pastry, but who am I kidding? It looks fantastic and I’m jealous. The best story of my childhood is how I requested my parents make me Beef Wellington for my birthday…when I was 4.

Cathedral of Christ the Light

The Cathedral of Christ the Light is being constructed in Oakland overlooking Lake Merritt. I can’t wait to see the final result, especially to find out how much of the exposed structure will remain visible from the exterior.

Considering the amount of concrete and steel in use, this structure is remarkably graceful. I find most old churches depressing and most modern ones charmless. This one, however, is incredibly beautiful and uplifting.

For the architecture lovers out there, the cathedral was designed by the venerable Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill.

Urban Decay

What is it about decay that’s so interesting on film?

Just returned from the Windy City — and windy it was! On this trip I went on the architecture river cruise and I spent most of my time trying to capture the undersides of rusting bridges as we sailed underneath them. The accidental compositions are incredible, and the rust adds an interesting touch. They’re being painted right now, so I’m glad I had an opportunity to capture them this way.

When I was in college I had to drive across farmland in Indiana and Ohio on my way to Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving. As I passed countless decrepit, abandoned barns I thought it would make an amazing B/W series to capture the crossed lines of broken boards and the sunlight as it filters through the holes and gaps.

The End of Summer

I’m going to miss summer vegetables! I don’t even like peppers, but this display was so gorgeous I was tempted to become a convert. One of the best things about living in California is the availability of amazing produce almost all year round. Cooking (and eating) is a joy here. I’d always considered myself a foodie, but I had no idea what I was missing until I experienced direct-from-the-source produce and artisan breads and cheeses.

A couple years back my parents moved to the edge of the Bay Area, where the exurbs meet (and demolish) farm land. Driving to see them is a bit of a drive, but I am always rewarded for my efforts by some of the best produce I’ve ever had. (And my family is from Ohio, so that’s saying something!) I can get great food at my local, non-chain stores and much even comes from the same farms, but a tomato is always best when it’s mere hours from the vine. My mom has the best of everything down to a science — corn and blackberries at one farm stand, squash or nectarines at another. These peppers are from one of our all-around favorites, the Smith farm. Sadly, they close in November so no more for the season.

Child’s Play

A good friend works for Galileo, a group that runs the most amazing summer camps. These kids get to create medieval castles, copy modern masters, build bridges that can survive a shake table, and learn how to survive on a desert island, among other things. All I got to do at camp was make a leather keychain!

I dropped in on a camp session and made my very own paper bag puppet (right) with the kids. It looks remarkably like a Muppet! What was supposed to be a v-neck dress instead looks like the lower edge of the classic hinging Muppet mouth.

Speaking of Muppets, Avenue Q is right around the corner! Having already seen it in NY, I couldn’t be more excited about a repeat viewing.

Human Gargoyles

As anyone who has traveled with me knows, I am fascinated by creatures on buildings — or, in this case, humans on buildings! Dotted all around this green terra cotta façade are male figures that could be either friend or foe. Are they benevolently guarding the building, like sentries, or are they menacing, like gargoyles? His expression is calm, but to me the devilish beard and the chopping-block pose look like a warning to other would-be criminals.

I went in search of answers about the original design intent, but my Google-fu has let me down. I was only able to find the basics: Is it’s now called Pacific Place, but was built in 1907 as the Pacific Union Building, the largest reinforced concrete office tower in the world. It was extensively rebuilt in the late 90s by Tipping Mar.

If you’re ever at Powell and Market in San Francisco and can see past the distracting Old Navy marquee, check them out.

Headless Monks

Also at the Denver Art Museum, I ran across this installation of meditating Buddhas topped with various doll heads. Heads include Ken, Howdy Doody, Wolverine, and Doc, of Seven Dwarves fame. For some reason, I thought the creepy rubbery foam bodies were even more strange than the suspended doll heads. (Headless, Michael Joo)

In the same exhibit, there was an mesmerizing interpretation of Adoration of the Magi (Epiphany 1, Gottfried Helnwein). The baby is an infant Hitler, surrounded by reverent SS officers and on the lap of a beautiful, Aryan Virgin. Something that particularly interested to me was how clearly conveyed the setting and players are, without it actually being that obvious. (I tried to snap a photo, not knowing photography was not allowed for this exhibit, and a security guard sprinted across the room to stop me. However, the painting is easily found online and it’s worth a look.)