Monday, September 28, 2009

Two New Works Completed

Last weekend, I put the final touches on two paintings below:

Crow - Oil on Canvas, 24" x 18"

House of Hope - Oil on Canvas, 24" x 30"

Friday, September 25, 2009

Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Fisher

There is a piece of great news for the art community in San Francisco. Doris and Donald Fisher's large collection (1,100 pieces) of contemporary art will go to San Francisco Modern Art Museum (SFMOMA), instead of the contentious site at Presidio.

SFMOMA will become a leading art institute with the incredible addition, rising above provincial stature. According to San Francisco Chronicle, "a partnership agreement between the Fishers and the museum would bring under SFMOMA's roof key works by artists such as Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly, Richard Serra, Roy Lichtenstein, Alexander Calder, Ellsworth Kelly, Willem de Kooning, Richard Diebenkorn and Chuck Close. Market prices for such works make them unobtainable by museums except by donation."

Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Fisher for your generosity. Congratulations, SFMOMA and art lovers in and near San Francisco. The downtown location of SFMOMA will grant this Fisher collection much easier access to people than the remote Presidio.

I will mark my calendar for the opening of the new wing at SFMOMA and hopefully you will too.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Transcendent Night at San Francisco Opera

Last night, I attended the performance of Verdi's Il Trovatore at San Francisco Opera. It was a transcendent night inside the War Memorial Opera House, along with an audience of about 25,000 who watched the simulcast of the performance at AT&T Baseball Park.

The glorious music of Verdi needed no introduction, and the new production by David McVicar was as good as one could wish for, despite a couple questionable choices made by him or by the revival director Walter Sutcliffe. The production was influenced by the paintings of Francesco de Goya and the nocturnal images had perverse beauty just like those of the master.

The singing was glorious for the most part. I enjoyed the male singers very much, from the bass Burak Bilgili, who set the tone of the event as the captain Ferrando, to the magnificent Dmitri Hvorostovsky as the jealous Count di Luna, who competed with his unknown brother Manrico, the troubadour, sung by Marco Berti. Hvorostovsky was a known quantity and his dark and honeyed tone was deeply satisfying. Berti's singing was strong and virile, though one wished for more poetry than he provided. However, his timbre was beautiful and I was reminded a few times of the late Luciano Pavarotti. No small praise.

The women were even better. Both the soprano and mezzo-soprano were making their local stage debuts in this production. I have heard both good and, occasionally, mixed reviews of soprano Sondra Radvanovsky, who played the love interest Leonora in this production. Her scintillating, quick vibrato surprised me and disturbed me in an intoxicating way. More and more, I was drawn in by the incredible expressiveness of the voice and felt like there was some strange chemical reaction to her beautiful singing taking place in my body. Her silvery bell-like sound and the well-supported pianissimo were heavenly. Her voice worked like a magical elixir. It will drug you. Brava!

I had been waiting to hear Mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe, who sang the sad, confused, loving, and vengeful gypsy woman Azucena, for many years. I couldn't wait to be knocked over by her much lauded force-of-nature kind of voice. I also knew that she was a great artist and anticipated hearing more than simply strength. However, I was very surprised that what I heard did not resemble the 'miracle' I'd been led to expect.

In the first two acts, Blythe's phrasing seemed choppy, and her voice thinned out somewhat in the higher register, and sounded less than fully supported as well. Only the low notes clearly demonstrated the greatness I was expecting to hear. People did cheer her singing heartily, which baffled me. Since I'm no voice expert, I can only state that her singing in the first two acts failed to move me, and I was disappointed. After the intermission, her voice seemed be emanating from another throat - her high register was much more full, and well integrated with the lower ones. Despite the fact that her very top notes still sounded thin, her singing was close to the great fame that proceeded her. I wondered if she hadn't warmed up early enough, or it was an off-night fluke. However, others said that she repeated the magical performance given on the much praised opening night, so I guess that I'm in the minority.

New music director Nicola Luisotti led the orchestra with great care, but I didn't like all his tempo choices. When urgency was called for, his pacing resembled a stroll on the beach on a balmy night. By striving to create lyric beauty, he often let singers create the tension by singing alone, challenged by the leisurely pacing and insufficient support. If Donald Runnicles were conducting, the tension would have been truly explosive.

Even so, it was a glorious night, and one can still catch a performance in the coming days: September 22, 25, October 1, 4, 6 (October 1, 6 performances have alternative cast for Azucena and October 4, 6 performances for Count di Luna).

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Amazing exhibit at Kala Art Gallery, Berkeley

"Untitled, 2009" Yasuaki Onishi

Yesterday, I visited the 2008 Kala Fellowship Exhibition at Kala Art Institute and Gallery at 2990 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley. The gallery is located in a grand classical style building and the exhibit was truly amazing. Many of the works on display were very inspiring; however, I was mostly taken by two black glue installation pieces by Yasuaki Onishi.

"Untitled, 2009" Yasuaki Onishi

"Untitled, 2009" Yasuaki Onishi

"Untitled, 2009" Yasuaki Onishi

According to the official website of Kala Art Gallery, "Kala Fellowships are awarded annually to eight innovative artists working in printmaking, photography, book arts, installation, video and digital media. Fellowship artists are selected from a competitive field of applicants from the United States, South America, Europe, Africa, Australia and Asia. Recipient artists receive a financial award and up to six-months residency at Kala’s studio facility followed by an exhibition of their new work. The Kala Gallery is proud to present the second of our two-part exhibition series, Residency Projects, featuring work by our 2008-2009 Fellowship artists. The artists were selected by the Kala Directors in association with juror René de Guzman, Senior Curator at the Oakland Museum.

"Residency Projects I presented new works created at Kala by Fellows Pawel Kruk, Samantha Lautman, Chris Turbuck and Lindsey White. Residency Projects II opens on August 27 with new works by Kala Fellows Nichole Maury, Yasuaki Onishi and Ali Richards."

The Communication Manager and Art Registrar Mayumi Hamanaka explained to me that those impressive installations were done with glue guns shooting hot glue on plastic sheets. The result was mystically intriguing, and meditatively inviting. The scale of those installations were impressively huge and one could only admire at the artist's ambition and the well coordinated planning and execution. Ms. Hamanaka graciously permitted me to take pictures to share with more people. Be enticed and amazed.

Yasuaki Onishi:

"Untitled, 2009" Yasuaki Onishi

"Untitled, 2009" Yasuaki Onishi

I also liked a woodblock pieced "Blue Ghost Chair" by Sharon Heitzenroder:

The show will continue until October 3, so if you have time, do make a trip over there. The gallery hours are: Tues.-Fri. 12:00-5:30pm, Sat. 12:00-4:30pm.

Katja Leibath at Hang Art Gallery, San Francisco

My colleague at UC Berkeley, Katja Leibenath has been accepted by Hang Art Gallery in San Francisco.

According to Frommer's website, Hang Art Gallery, located in the prime Sutter Street gallery district, is an "amazingly affordable gallery for attractive pieces by yet-to-be-discovered Bay Area artists. The staff is friendly and helpful, and the gallery is designed to cater to new and seasoned collectors who appreciate original art at down-to-earth prices."

On Hang Art Gallery's bio page, Katja is described as "upon moving to San Francisco from Duesseldorf, Germany, Katja Leibenath began compiling a detailed photographic diary of her surroundings; her paintings are often based on these studies. As reflections of her daily life and regional explorations, they are responses to her new environment and create a sense of place while allowing her to investigate the edges of this new-found civilization.

"While exploring and photographing the environs, Leibenath noticed that the essence of California ― the abundance of its spectacular sights ― was easily lost under a haze of familiarity. In response, her paintings look for the noteworthy in the everyday, and beauty in the seemingly mundane; she is in love with every aspect of this region.

"Leibenath has been painting in San Francisco since 2006. Her work as been showcased at venues throughout the Bay Area including SomArts Gallery, Artist X-Change Gallery, RSSB at UC Berkeley, The Lab, and Liquid Spaces."

Congratulations, Katja, and thank you for loaning us your hauntingly beautiful Hopperesque "Morrison Library" painting.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Melancholy / 憂鬱 on the Media

Someone called my attention to ArtSlant's listing of 3 June - 27 June show at City Art Gallery, San Francisco, where this painting was the featured artwork. It was a pleasant surprise, just as when I was told that it was the featured artwork on San Francisco Chronicle's art listing section "96 Hours" on 4 June 2009.

Melancholy / 憂鬱 / Melancholie

In case the ArtSlant's website changes, one can visit the cached page at: Apparently, ArtSlant also created a profile page for me and readers can see it at:

Labor Continues - Reworking on Painting "Progression"

On March 28, 2009, I believe that I'd finished painting "Progression". Yet, I wasn't totally satisfied with the effort. The overall painting was in good direction but something was missing, it seemed to me. The left and right sections on the March version were in conflict, style wise. Left side was very clearly defined and the right was less so, therefore there was a disjoint effect uncalled for. The overall color tone was a little too clinically clean as well and there was a sense of detachment which was somewhat off putting. Over the Labor Day weekend, I managed to make the two sections in more consistent style in regarding of contour definitions and the adjustment of the overall color tone, seemed to me, deepens the dark sense of the work and draws the audience in.

I was both too easy on myself and was too afraid to overdo the painting. But, being more self-critical turned an all right work to a good one.

Finished on September 7, 2009

As of March 28, 2009

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Artists's Wonderful Tool -

I just finished migrating my portfolio module created by JAlbum to that hosted on is a great tool for artists to market their works - the Flickr generated photostream or the sets can be stand-alone website for artists to promote, or can be part of a more complete and traditional website (e.g.

The is intuitive and easy to upload, update, maintain and backup, though backup can be a little tricky. currently doesn't directly support any backup tool but one can find third party software to back up not only photos (in sets), also the Titles, Descriptions and Tags (keywords) embedded, therefore, you won't lose your hours of works. You can also transport those images with descriptions (Meta data) to different locations (web site hosts). If one wishes, one can enter all these data (i.e. via Photoshop) to the jpg files before they upload the files to Flickr. I have tested a few above mentioned software and for batch back up, I use the FlickrEdit (Java version) best. If one has professional account, the original sized images would be downloaded versus medium sized files. One can download it from FlickrEdit can batch upload as well, but I haven't tried it. I found uploading from directly would work just fine. Mac users can also directly upload tagged files from iPhoto directly, after one download a plug-in FFXporter. also provide an uploading Flickr Uploadr. According to it's site, "the new Flickr Uploadr has been built from scratch to work on Windows and Mac OSX. Before you upload you can add titles, tags and descriptions, add stuff to sets and reorder things directly in the Uploadr. This is an open source project, too, so you can download it and have a look at how it works."

The overall collection is called photostream and next level is collections and sets. I skipped collections and utilized sets directly.

From my sets, one can drill down to see, say, my Figure sets:
Portrait Set:
Landscape Set:

You can also view the works as slideshows, e.g. my Apocalypse Series set as slideshow: is fully searchable. For example, one can fine my work done in 2006 or 2009:

One can find my published work:
or Published and Juried Exhibition - Competition (utilizing advanced search feature)

Artists can join many groups which will enable the artists to reach broader audience.

For professional accounts ($24.99/year at this moment), one can monitor the stats of one's collections, and adjust marketing plans accordingly.

It is convenient and fun. I'm glad that I made the switch.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Wonderful Opening at Artist-Xchange Gallery - 4 September 2009

The artist's reception for the September exhibit at Artist-Xchange Gallery in San Francisco was great fun - lively music with DJ, nice wine and cheese and cookies, delicious coffee, interesting guests and many beautiful, intense, or whimsical works on display.

I was honored to have my works included and I really appreciate the opportunity to share with broader audience in the beautiful gallery and I do think my paintings look good there. It was wonderful to see many friends who attended the reception. Thank you for your support!