Understanding Modern Art

Words can not accurately describe my experience exploring four floors showcasing hundreds of modern artistic masterpieces. These studied pieces from my art history books seemed strangely familiar, almost surreal. The expressionism and artistic techniques brought to light by the physical scale of the two and three dimensional artworks - the details that a printed image is not capable of displaying.

The range of pieces that were presented at the SFMOMA during my visit were works most notably by Mondrian, Picasso, Matisse, Klee, Lichtenstein, Magritte, Gaudi and Calder.

What exactly is Modern Art?

By official definition Modern Art refers to "artistic works produced during the period extending roughly from the 1860s to the 1970s, and denotes the style and philosophy of the art produced during that era. The term is usually associated with art in which the traditions of the past have been thrown aside in a spirit of experimentation. Modern artists experimented with new ways of seeing and with fresh ideas about the nature of materials and functions of art. A tendency toward abstraction is characteristic of much modern art."

It's all about the search for personal expression for the artist and viewer. That's the beauty of Modern Art. Throughout the last century there have been some amazing art movements breaking the ground for artists today.  These include Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Romanticism, Expressionism, Fauvism, Cubism, Dada, Surrealism, Art Deco, Social Realism, Pop Art, and Minimalism.

Art That Speaks

Personally the Modern Art styles that I appreciate include Impressionism, Fauvism, Surrealism, and Pop Art.

What I like about Impressionism is the fascination between light and color and the varying individual brush strokes that from a far look like a shimmering effect of light. As you move closer to the detail the brush strokes look like a jumble of color daubs.

I was able to view Henri Matisse's The Woman with the Hat (1905). This painting was a crucial development for artists to push the bounds of color, no longer confined to replicating the "real" colors of the natural world. Fauvism is the term for Matisse's style - great enthusiasm and passion with pure, highly contrasting colors.

I have always loved the Surrealist style of merging dreams with reality. Artists of the Surrealist movement painted unnerving and illogical scenes with photographic precision, created strange creatures from collections of everyday objects, or developed techniques of painting which would allow the unconscious to express itself. I had the opportunity to view Rene Magritte's Les Valeurs personnelles (Personal Values) (1952). The painting displays six objects placed inside a bedroom including a comb, matchstick, wallpaper sky, armoire with mirror, wine glass, and soap. Combined together each item becomes a statement about our personal space and thoughts (comb = what is acceptable to society) (matchstick = the erotic) (wallpaper sky = imagination and dreams) (armoire = our internal thoughts + fears) (wine glass = female / untraditional) (soap = living with society's expectations)

My favorite Pop Artist is Roy Lichtenstein. His signature style borrowed from mass culture — particularly comic books and advertising — bringing the look and feel of commercial printing to fine art. I was able to view his Mirror series. Mirror I (1977) and Mirror #2 (1970) presented a more abstract style with Mirror I being a painted bronze statue in the primary colors and Mirror #2, an a abstract interpretation of a mirror. The signature technique of Ben day dots revealed.

It is undeniable that Modern Art is an exercise in expression and abstraction. Reflecting and understanding the details of the Modern Art masterworks is guaranteed to teach and inspire. It makes me want to get back into my painting!


Home = Simplicity

The more we get absorbed into our work and day to day details, the more it seems life can overwhelm the best of us. We are always "on" with less opportunities to disconnect and rest our minds. Maybe this is just me... Recently, after a several year hiatus, I have been reminded how exciting it is behind the camera lens. Drawings, graphics, or type are temporarily put on hold. The pure beauty is displayed in the lens. The color, the texture, the memory, the location, and light become the focus. The pressure of deadlines and demands of the client do not exist here. It is just me and the image to be captured.

I have a new appreciation of my real home, where I was raised on the farm just north of the Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park on the Alberta side. I did not realize that I would miss the fresh air, the view from my parents' window in the living room, grandpa's old house, and the fact that you can see all of the stars at night. In fact, my goal as a teenager was to move off of the farm as soon as I was done high school. We lived a simple life without internet, without VCR, and only 2 channels on a black and white television. My parents supported my creative outlets with piano lessons and my artistic hobbies of painting and drawing. Years later in my design career and life, after traveling across the world, I am drawn back to home more than ever. It is a breath of fresh air.

I have been visiting home more frequently and capturing different images there. My favorite place is the top of the Cypress Hills. There is a feeling of peace standing on the highest level of the forest of trees looking down over the prairies. The air is pure and fresh and I take it all in. It is just me and the land. Home is my new simplicity.


Filmmaker's Paradise In The City With The Golden Gate Bridge 3

The conclusion of my San Francisco Movie Tour experience. Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park is a rectangular park spanning 3 miles wide by 1 mile tall and is 20% larger than Central Park in New York. It is the 12th largest park in the USA.
The starship in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) is said to land in the park, but the scene was actually filmed at Will Rogers State Historic Park near Los Angeles.
A scene from The Pursuit of Happyness (2006) with Will Smith was shot in the Children's Park. The Conservatory of Flowers and the California Academy of Sciences are world renowned attractions within Golden Gate Park. Heart and Souls (1993) with Robert Downey, Jr. was filmed on location at The Conservatory of Flowers.


The Presidio of San Francisco was originally a military park and is characterized by many wooded areas, hills, and scenic vistas overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, has recently buil a new facility called the Letterman Digital Arts Center (LDAC), which is now the headquarters of Industrial Light and Magic and LucasArts. The Presidio (1988), starring Mark Harmon, Sean Connery, and Meg Ryan is set in and around the military base of the Presidio.

Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge is considered one of the modern Wonders of the World. The most notable film appearance includes Star Trek IV: A Voyage Home (1986). In the Star Trek universe, Starfleet Headquarters and Starfleet Academy are located in San Francisco's Presidio, with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Into the future everyone travels the bridge by bicycling and walking covered by an obscuring weatherproof glass arch cover. The Klingon bird-of-prey used by the crew of the Starship Enterprise flies under the Golden Gate Bridge on its way to crashing into the Bay. Later, in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the Golden Gate Bridge is destroyed during the Dominion War in an attack by the Breen on San Francisco. Other memorable appearances include : Dirty Harry (1971) "Scorpio" hijacks a school bus full of children and forces the driver to head North across the bridge. Herbie Rides Again (1974) Herbies drives up the side of Golden Gate Bridge. In Superman (1978), Superman saves a school bus about to fall from the bridge. In The Hulk, the Hulk jumps off the bridge to save a fighter jet.

Palace of Fine Arts

The dome of the Palace of Fine Arts just outside the Exploratorium and the adjacent lagoon have often been used as backdrops. The architecture features a Beaux Arts style with its arch formed by rows of Corinthian columns. In The Rock (1996) - FBI agent Stanley Goodspeed (Nicolas Cage) goes to confront John Mason (Sean Connery) during daylight, who is speaking with his estranged daughter (Claire Forlani) in the dome.

Pacific Heights

The end of our tour ended going through Pacific Heights which is where the elite of San Francisco live. We drove past Danielle Steele's multi million dollar and her 22 cars. We saw where Robin Williams children's private school was. And to end everything off we landed in front of Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)'s house which looks exactly like it does in the famous Robin Williams movie. The exact address 2640 Steiner Street is mentioned in the actual movie and has since become a major attraction. The original owners of the house decided to sell it because of the constant strain of tourists.

All in all the movie tour was rewarding because now I can say "I walked the same stairs as Clint Eastwood" or "I climbed the top of Fort Point under the Golden Gate Bridge." It was definitely worth it! For more information about San Francisco Movie Tours visit www.sanfranciscomovietours.com.


Filmmaker's Paradise in The City With The Golden Gate Bridge 2

In my second part of Filmmaker's Paradise in The City With The Golden Gate Bridge I will cover more highlights of the San Francisco Movie Tour me and my best friend were able enjoy. Be sure to read Part 1 here.

Market Street

Market Street, also known as Main Street, cuts through San Francisco on the diagonal. The flatiron building where the Interview with a Vampire (1994) takes place is at the four way intersection of Market Street, 6th Street, Taylor Street, and Golden Gate Avenue. Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt star in the movie where a vampire tells his epic life story: love, betrayal, loneliness, and hunger.

Civic Center

During the tour we had an one hour stop at City Hall. The architectural details appeared Italian Renaissance and Baroque in style. Walking up the grand stairway in City Hall felt strangely familiar. Perhaps it has to do with the number of movies it has appeared in, not realizing it. Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry (1971), Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), James Bond : A View to Kill (1985) with Roger Moore, Tucker: The Main and His Dream with Jeff Bridges, High Crimes (2002) with Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman, Milk (2008) where Sean Penn played Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California, who was assassinated in the building.

Alamo Square

DeeJay, Stephanie, and Michelle, Uncle Joey and Jesse. Most famously showcased in the opening sequence of Full House, the gang has their famous picnic in Alamo Square Park with the row of painted Victorian houses (aka Painted Ladies) in the background. There are also a number of movies incorporating shots of the Painted Ladies in Alamo Square. They include Junior (1994) with Danny Devito and Arnold Schwarzenegger (what were the filmmakers thinking?), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), and So I Married an Axe Murderer (1993) with Mike Myers himself.

Haight Ashbury

The 1960s Hippie movement and the Summer of Love all began in Haight Ashbury. Bob Marley, Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin all lived a short distance from the famous spot. Psychedelic colored Victorian houses and murals can be seen in this neighborhood. Metro (1997) with Eddie Murphy and Burglar (1987) with Whoopi Goldberg feature the area as the shady part in town.
Stay tuned next week for the conclusion of Filmmaker's Paradise in The City With The Golden Gate Bridge. And yes there will be Star Trek and Golden Gate Bridge!


Filmmaker's Paradise in The City With The Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco is a beautiful city with a rich architectural and artistic history. I love the merge of modern urbanism and European charm. After touring the City with the Golden Gate Bridge it is evident why it is a filmmaker's paradise.

On our first full day in San Francisco me and my best friend Kristy enjoyed touring the city in San Francisco Movie Tours style. Viewing clips of famous films driving by where it all (or where it appeared to have) took place was engaging enough to make 3.5 hours breeze by. The famous movie landmarks and areas of San Francisco was a creative way to get oriented in the 7x7 mile city. The pace was fast and if you blinked there was the potential to miss a detail.

Here are the most notable movie locations of the guided tour.

Fisherman's Wharf

In order to be a movie city you have to have at least one spy movie. Of course this can only mean James Bond. A View to a Kill (1985) starring Roger Moore had one of the scenes filmed on location at Fisherman's Wharf.

North Beach

I remember seeing The Bachelor (1999) with Chris O'Donnell in theaters. Yes it is a total chick flick. When casting for the bride mob extras there were not enough women who auditioned. Instead local San Franciscan men were scouted to dress up like women.

Financial District

Perhaps one of the most powerful movie scenes taken place is from Fearless (1993) where Jeff Bridges' character stood atop of the rooftop at 400 Montgomery Street with the famous San Francisco financial buildings in the background his scream echoing.

Nob Hill

The Hitchcock classic film Vertigo (1958) features footage from many locations in San Francisco with its steep hills, views, and bridges. Gavin and Madeleine's apartment building is The Brocklebank Apartments at 1000 Mason Street across the street from the Fairmont Hotel. Hitchcock usually stayed at the Fairmont when he visited and where many of the cast and crew stayed during filming.

Union Square

In the Disney movie George of the Jungle (1997) Heiress Ursula Stanhope returns to San Francisco after being rescued by George in the African jungle. In attempt to urbanize George Ursula takes him on a shopping spree at the Neiman Marcus in San Francisco's Union Square.
Tune back later this week for Part 2 of Filmmaker's Paradise in The City With The Golden Gate Bridge.


Musée Mécanique : A Magical Trip Back In Time

In the midst of the tourist crowded area of Pier 45 in San Francisco, there lies a hidden gem that makes the visit so worthwhile. As you enter the doors of Musée Mécanique you are transported back in time to the days of old fashioned arcade games, strength testing machines, animated figures and scenes, self playing musical instruments, moving pictures, and more. The admission is free for access to the world's largest private collection of over 200 antique coin operated mechanical toys and games.

Musée Mécanique is the perfect attraction for the young and the young at heart. The museum offers a fascinating range of operational coin-operated games dating back to the 1800's all the way up to the 1980's. Even after a hectic day of touring the entire city of San Francisco (San Francisco Movie Tour - more about that later) I was mesmerized by the whimsical details of the vintage machines and inspired by the styles of eras gone by.

To see more of my photos from Musée Mécanique and from San Francisco please stay tuned for my photo book project coming shortly.  

*Scroll down to see my first ever DSLR video experiment. Forgive the blurriness, the weird quality, and music ending cut off. I still think the amateur video motion is kind of cool. Yes? No?

Look Past the Famous Fisherman's Wharf Sign. Musée Mécanique is Right Behind.

Laffing Sal Greets You At The Entrance of Musée Mécanique

Early Moving Picture Machine - The Oldest Machine In The Museum

My Friend Kristy Playing Six Shooter

Mexican Marionettes Designed To Come To Life
Baseball World Series Game 1937 Game

Sing Along Pinball - One of the Pinball Machines at Musée Mécanique

Automatic Nelson -Wiggen Piano Co. Circa 1920

Kiss-O-Meter Measure The Thrill of Your Kisses

Toothpick Fantasy Ferris Wheel Created by San Quentin Prisoners

Old Time Peep Show Viewer - Risqué For The Time

For complete information about the story of Musée Mécanique visit www.museemechanique.org or www.museemecaniquesf.com.


Design Quote Poster #3

"Imagination is the air of the mind" ~ Philip James Bailey


  © 2010 Design by Stephanie Janke - sjjdesign.com

Back to TOP