Spontaneity is its own reward

Sitting in my office this morning, doing the crossword before Gail and I got ready to go play bridge, and the phone rang.  It was Jan Gunn.  Her mother is in town, and they invited us to join them on a trip to the Legion of Honor in the city to see the Anders Zorn exhibit and have lunch.

Quickly jettisoning our bridge plans, we put on grown up clothes and went to Orinda to pick them up.

Jan’s mother is some kind of force of nature. She’s 96 years old, plays tennis twice a week, travels internationally every year, has a steel trap mind for finance and is pretty good looking, too.

Hope I look this good in 34 years.

Hope I look this good in 34 years.

As a young woman, she was selected by the Elgin  Watch Company to represent her college, Ohio State, at the 1939 Worlds Fair in New York, where she was picked up by the John Robert Powers agency to be a model, eventually landing on the cover of Look, Colliers and other magazines of the day.

Tanny (because her baby sisters couldn’t pronounce Frances, and it stuck) lives in Columbus Ohio, where Jack Nicklaus still supports his old school and John Glenn comes jogging past her house.  She’s more likely to come out here to visit when the snow falls, but that’s only reasonable.

The courtyard of the Palace of the Legion of Honor

The courtyard of the Palace of the Legion of Honor.  I think the glass skylight is an homage to I.M. Pei and the Louvre.

The Legion is another legacy of Alma Spreckles–she bullied the city into giving up the 18th hole of Lincoln Park golf course because it was the perfect site for her museum.

We were there to see the current exhibit, the art of Anders Zorn, a great Swedish painter of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

A self portrait on the left

A self portrait on the left


Zorn was mostly a portrait artist, who worked in watercolor and oil and etching.  His talent is huge, as some of the portraits approach photorealism in their veracity.

You can see the impact of the impressionist movement on his work, but I don’t think you could really lump him into that movement.


An oarsman on the Bosphorus.

An oarsman on the Bosphorus.


There is one area of the exhibit devoted to “bathers”, nudes in a stream he painted near his home in Sweden.  They are technically superb, but I couldn’t stop wondering to what extent they were socially acceptable pornography in a much more sexually conservative time.

Just before you enter the Zorn exhibit, there is a room full of Matisse paintings on loanovao couk from the Museum of Modern Art, which is currently being expanded.  I was especially taken by the brightness of the colors: even though the paintings are over 100 years old, the colors are a rich and bright as if they had been painted yesterday.

On the main floor, there is an interesting sight.  They are completely renovating a room, and have created a workshop with glass walls so you can watch the artistic conservation/renovation process right there.  Definitely something you won’t get the opportunity to see very often, and fascinating to observe.

Then we went to lunch, but that the topic of another post.  This post is a reminder to keep an open mind and be free to drop your plans in a second and go on an adventure with friends, you’ll be glad you did.





One thought on “Spontaneity is its own reward

  1. Delightful! I’m sure Mother will be pleased as well and she will read it as soon as she is coiffed for a Santa Rosa lunch with my brother and a hand off of her for an overnight with him in Sebastopol. Jan

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