Easter

With an treasure hunt, then re-hiding all the eggs, and finally egg dying.

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Adventure Aquarium

Back to the Adventure Aquarium!

Yes, those are matching octopus hoodies and tshirts.

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Natural History Museum

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Finally took the 5-year-old into New York. So naturally we visited the Natural History Museum. He loved it. As much as I have a tendency to snark at the static dioramas, it’s obvious that kids like these as much as they enjoy going to real zoos. We also wandered a little through Central Park and even the train ride was a fun adventure.

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Alcatraz

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While we went to Alcatraz to see Ai Weiwei, exploring the rest of the island was also fun. It’s been decades since I last visited and while the island itself hasn’t changed much beyond becoming mostly more accessible,* I have. It’s interesting and informative to take basically the same tour I took as a gradeschooler only now as a much-more-educated adult.

*Way more buildings and wings are now open to the public.

Much of the audio tour sounded familiar though I didn’t remember any of the race emphasis. Same goes with the cellblock in general actually. When I was a kid, all I cared about was the prison and the prisoners. All the other stuff like how they dealt with race issues and the whole concept of state incarceration didn’t interest me. Now though it’s the information about the history of the prison, and incarceration in the US, and the idea of supermaxes which catches my attention. And this is all before getting into the Ai Weiwei thought experiments.

There’s not a lot of information about the history of incarceration there though. Just a few small rooms. Which is also about as much space as they give to the Indian occupation—the other thing I didn’t care at all about as a kid but which I’m much more interested in now. I wish there were more emphasis on this part.* Though it is nice to be able to see photos of how Alcatraz is still used for all-nations gatherings.

*It’s nice that the National Park Service website has more information.

Anyway, it was a beautiful day, flowers were blooming, birds were nesting, and I took way too many photos.

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Wedding!

No I’m not a wedding photographer. But the main reason I was in California was for this wedding. So I brought my camera and had some fun with my friends.

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California Trip

Photos from a weeklong trip to California. My visits to see Postdate, Trevor Paglen, Ai Weiwei, Pier 24, and the Anderson Collection were part of this trip.

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The Anderson Collection

Anderson Collection

During my trip to the Bay Area I was also able to visit the new Anderson Collection at Stanford. I’ve been watching the building go up for a while* and I’ve been looking forward to an expanded modern art selection at the Cantor Center. I’m very glad I went. I’m…not sure I need to go again.

*You can see where they broke ground in the background here.

The new Anderson building is wonderful. Open, airy, and well-lit with plenty of space for each piece to breathe, it’s a great place to look at art. The art isn’t bad either. The collection is a great primer on the modern art canon and does especially well emphasizing local, Bay Area movements* which often don’t get as much focus locally as they should.

*Specifically: California Light and SpaceBay Area FigurationBay Area Abstraction, and Funk.

At the same time, it’s a primer. It will clearly be a fantastic teaching resource for introducing students to art. It just doesn’t feel like there’s anything more going on than an introduction. I’m not seeing things in a new way. I don’t get the sense that this collection will mix or interact with other pieces in the Cantor. Nor does it look like there’s a lot of potential for changing the way the existing pieces are displayed.

I think that what I’m reacting to is the absence of curatorial voice. I’ve seen more than enough personal collection shows* to realize now that a collection of art that a rich person liked—or was instructed to purchase—isn’t enough to hold my interest without additional information about who the collector is or how the collection is in conversation with art in general. Just giving me a collection without comment or context isn’t enough unless the idea is for me to look through and see the few pieces that really stand out to me.

*Previously on this blog: the Logan Collection, the Emily Fisher Landau Collection, and Shared Vision.

What I did really like though was Leo Holub’s Artist Portrait Project. The Andersons commissioned Holub to take portraits of the artists* whose work they owned. Besides being nice black and white portraits, the resulting series personalizes the collection by acknowledging that the art is about the artist as much as the piece on the wall.** I’m not sure why seeing an image of the human responsible for making a product matters so much. But it does.

*These portraits also make it very easy to do the quick headcounting/confirmation of the number of white men present versus anyone else.

**I regret not looking to see if Holub included a self-portrait in the series.