Monday, October 31, 2011

Silently Illiterate

Mexican artist Mariana Castillo Deball is showing new work at Wien Lukatsch, Berlin. Various writers label her art in various ways. It sounds as if her formats and approaches keep changing and evolving – and this makes certain critics nervous. Yet it seems like more young artists are at present unwilling to restrict themselves to the sort of single-purpose signature look that can be marketed as a personal brand – a game that virtually all the 20th century abstractionists felt they had to play.

The Berlin installation, up until November 4th, is called–

We are silently illiterate

Sunday, October 30, 2011


I watched Julian Schnabel's 2007 film The Diving Bell and the Butterfly shot in French with an all-French cast. Just on general principles I was leery initially of the Oprah-like story-line — "overcoming horrible adversity" — but eventually talked myself into watching this one anyway out of admiration for Schnabel's earlier movies, Basquiat and Before Night Falls.

Well (not to launch into a tedious summary) it was beautifully made and with great restraint, great respect. I was quite won over, and not least by the star — Mathieu Amalric, an actor I had never seen before.

All through the movie I was vaguely distracted by the familiarity of his face, but not till the credits at the end could I figure out why. Then I saw that a photograph in the film showing the main character as a child was actually a photograph of Roman Polanski as a child. When I later read something about Amalric's biography, it turned out that his mother's family came from the same village in Poland as the family of Roman Polanski (below). Several of Polanski's regular collaborators worked on Schnabel's film as well.

Somehow the convoluted Polanski connection — confirmed by the physical resemblance — caught my interest. All this past year I have only been watching French movies, I don't know why that is. But it will amuse me to make a little project now out of seeing more of the films acted in or directed by Mathieu Amalric.

Pig Puppet

Mabel Watson Payne came to call with her father and her mother at her grandmother's house in the East Bay on Saturday afternoon. There was another old family toy to inherit, this time a pig puppet that recently went through a successful rehabilitation in the washing machine. In the two pictures at bottom Mabel was keeping her right arm bent because she was wearing her grandmother's gold bangle and did not intend to let it fall off.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Exploring Yerba Buena

On Friday afternoon Mabel Watson Payne and I had a date to meet her mother downtown in San Francisco to do a little shopping. We had some extra time to chase around in nearby Yerba Buena Gardens with her father first, before he needed to leave us. And since it was a perfect day of autumn sunshine, everybody's spirits spontaneously rose to the level of the weather.

Dramatic Water

Mabel Watson Payne expressed a wish to be taken up close to the roaring splashing fountains in Yerba Buena Gardens and I fearlessly obliged. Her father was on the other side of the park and took these long-zoom photos unbeknownst to us at the time.

Later on, after I regained the camera, it was my turn to take similar pictures of the two of them. While also attempting to catch something of the late-afternoon, late-October San Francisco sunlight momentarily gilding every outdoor surface.

My granddaughter is justly famous for her love of water, but I had not recently seen her face to face with the pounding force of the artificial waterfall. She was fascinated, but not frightened.