Another day full of art
Off with the Oakland Museum Art Guild for a day trip. We enjoy these days with the Guild, visiting artists in their studios, collectors in their homes, gallery and museum exhibits not always open to the public. We often travel with experts from the museum to give context and background. I should be getting credit towards an MFA for these excursions.
We started by visiting the studio of Fletcher Benton, a noted sculptor of large outdoor installations. He has a magnificent operation in San Francisco spread over 4 Victorian 25 x 100 lots he purchased for $100,000 35 years ago.
One of Fletcher’s smaller works.
Fletcher has a considerable collection of very old, very detailed model aircraft from the second World War. A friend of his created the models, and Fletcher has mounted them on panels he created. One entire wall is full of them.
Upstairs he has an incredible 2 bedroom apartment, fully furnished and ready to use. He planned to move in there with his wife, but her health does not permit it. The style is pure Bauhaus, and the decoration is marvelous.
The kitchen is perfectly clean lined and functional, with just this antique cutting block to soften the clinical look of the white cabinetry.
Outside, there is a rooftop deck, with a barbecue pit and greenhouse. We fell in love with this apartment instantly and could move in tomorrow.
The people we travel with are a big part of the enjoyment of these trips. Our friend Ray was along, as always, looking particularly dapper:
Leaving Benton’s studio, we went to a building at 1809 Bryant which was once a mayonnaise factory and now houses artists studios. First, we visited the studio of Catherine Mackey, who paints on posters torn from the walls of European buildings, where they often build up 5 or 10 deep.
Next we visited the studio of Michelle Jader, who paints on frosted acrylic, then stacks 3 to 10 of them to give depth and motion to her art. This piece is coming to live at our house:
Next up was lunch. We went to the Delancy Street Grill, a business operated by the recovering addicts of the Delancy Street Foundation. That explains why the waiter wasn’t permitted to bring us wine–we had to go to the bar and get it ourselves.
I had to have a friend go to the bar for Gail because it was impossible to get out of my seat. We were just crammed into a room far too small for our number. Once seated, there you were going to sit until the meal was over. The waitstaff were unable to serve or clear adequately. It was loud and uncomfortable.
The food was good, though. I had the excellent pesto pasta. Gail had a chicken sandwich she liked somewhat less.
The last stop of the day was the Benioff Children’s Hospital, part of the UCSF complex in Mission Bay. They have made art an integral part of their design, and we were there to explore it.
The hospital has tried to make the art inclusive of the world, the patients and the staff. Artists were brought in before construction and allowed to pick areas they wanted to design site-specific work for. Patients and staff were included in projects to create new art, to express themselves about the meaning and purpose of the facility.
Some art is here on long-term loan (which probably means forever) from local museums, such as this collection of drawings from SFMOMA created by children in the Chirodzo Art Center in Zimbabwe in 1950 (when it was still Rhodesia)
The entry from the bus stop/muni entrance has this huge mosaic to welcome people:
This wall is composed of hundreds of small canvasses created by patients and staff:
I thought that one panel in particular was emblematic of the entire art project, and the point of the hospital in general.
The art project at UCSF Benioff Childrens is magnificent, and we were lucky because they don’t generally offer tours.