San Anselmo: Wayne Levin At Smith Anderson North

Wayne Levin, Body Surfers, 1983
Wayne Levin, Body Surfers, 1983

When I descend beneath the surface, I feel like I am Alice passing through the looking glass into a totally different world. Or am I Cocteau’s Orpheus passing through the mirror into the underworld? When I descend beneath the surface I am in a world with different rules, different truths.

Thus Levin describes his experience photographing off the coast of his adopted home of Hawai’i. The world he finds is both astonishingly graceful, a place where figures emerge soundlessly out of the murk, and strangely disorienting, subject to violent wave activity that appears like storm clouds above his shadowy divers. These coastal areas are also liminal zones where human and sea life collide and everything is equalized in the shared experience of weightlessness.

While celebrating the vast power of the Pacific, Levin’s images also point to the fragility of a supremely sophisticated and interconnected ecosystem in which humans are increasingly important players. The latest additions to this expansive body of work are images of coral reef bleaching due to warming waters off the Big Island–a haunting and omnipresent counterpoint to the grace and energy of his dolphins, divers and geometric schools of Akule.

Wayne Levin has been photographing the land and oceans since the early 1970s.

Exhibition Dates: February 20 – April 9, 2016
Closing reception & gallery talk with Wayne Levin: Saturday April 2nd, 6-9pm

Smith Andersen North
20 Greenfield Avenue
San Anselmo, CA 94960

The Berkeley Art Museum And Pacific Film Archive’s New Home

In Berkeley, one of the most anticipated events of the new year is the opening of the new Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive building.

Let me say upfront that I loved that old, brutal, concrete building that used to house the museum. But going forward, the new building will present a beautifully designed museum, at a more perfect location downtown, juxtaposed between the Berkeley Arts District and the main entrance to the UC Berkeley campus, and just one block from BART.

That said, the focus of this opening is the new building that was designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro – everything about the architecture is a dance between oppositions and things coming together: The old and the new – combining the Art Deco style of the former UC Berkeley printing plant and the “supple body of the new structure, draped between the original 1930s orthogonal buildings and snagged on their sharp corners” – quoting architect Charles Renfro – which creates a dramatic public spine that connects the historic structure with the new theater. The performance space uses the wood from the trees that were cut to make way for the theater to create the seating and steps. White walls with deep red recessed areas. A maze of galleries. The bringing together of both visual art through the Berkeley Art Museum and film through the Pacific Film Archive. A celebration of art as well as a place of study.

The layout of the building is a maze – it is a space to get lost in. The front of the building is full of light with large windows lining the front of the museum. The first thing you see when entering is the performance space and the Art Wall, that will display temporary murals changing every six months, created by artists from around the world. The flexible galleries weave in and out creating space for contemplation of the exhibited works.

Of course every museum has a cafe and Babette, named after Babette’s Feast, has made the move from the old to the new museum. On my visit, the friendly husband and wife proprietors Paul Hooker and Joan Ellis were still working on fine tuning the inner sanctum of the cafe. Babette serves a rustic menu that emphasizes fresh and locally sourced produce and meats for lunch and dinner, and lovely morning pastries and coffees. It will be open 9am to 9pm Wednesdays through Sundays and you don’t need to pay admission to the museum to go there. Swig’s Lounge will occupy the very front of the cafe from 3pm – 9pm on the same days and will offer beer, wine, and small plate items for people visiting the galleries or coming in to see a film.

One of my favorite features of the building is the community facing outdoor screen. It’s a thirty foot wide, high definition outdoor LED screen that faces Addison Street that will display digitized films and videos from the museum’s collection and commissioned works of art along with feature length films.

The opening exhibition, The Architecture of Life, will feature over 250 artworks by international artists. The exhibition is on view from January 31 to May 29, 2016.

The Pacific Film Archive will screen Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal as its first film in the beautiful Barbro Osher Theater on February 3, 2016. The Pacific Film Archive hosts programs 52 weeks a year and honors the art of cinema.

Opening Day to the public is all day onSunday, January 31, 2016 from 11am to 11pm and is free to the public.

Berkeley Art Museum And Pacific Film Archive :: BAMPFA
2155 Center Street
Berkeley, California 94720

Hours: 11am to 9pm Wednesday to Sunday

Photo Of The Day: Red Stairway

Red Stairway at the new Berkeley Museum of Art and Pacific Film Archive
Red Stairway at the new Berkeley Museum of Art and Pacific Film Archive

The new Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive is opening this weekend and this morning I got to take a look around the new building. More about that later.

I couldn’t resist the redness of this composition, red being one of my favorite colors.

Photo Of The Day: Blue Gate

Blue Gate
Blue gate on 24th St. in The Mission, San Francisco, California

Every year at the end of August I spend a week housesitting for friends near the corner of 24th Street and Harrison in The Mission District of San Francisco. I’ve been doing this for about twelve years and every year I have a new interest in the neighborhood. Sometimes it’s a week of taco hunting. Other times it’s a week of exploring new hipster cafes and restaurants. One year it was all about ice cream.

This year the hunt was for color.

The Mission District, besides being very gritty, is a riot of color – from the murals, to the food, to the every day items like the gates that protect the residents and merchants from thievery and crime. It’s a reflection of the colorful immigrants that make up most of the neighborhood.

As I walked around the neighborhood this year, I made a discovery – it’s changing. The neighborhood is changing. While hipsters and cool cats and artists and musicians were always part of the character of this place, it has never been so obvious that the hipsters are working on taking over. Valencia Street is almost unrecognizable as the funky place it once was, when it was full of lesbians and book shops and thrift and vintage stores. But the fight for turf is not yet won and the neighborhood is not giving in. The neighborhood has gone full steam ahead by fighting gentrification with COLOR. Many of the older murals in the neighborhood are getting a makeover and many new murals have been added, while some of the ousted shops around Valencia Street, like Adobe Books, have moved down to lower 24th.

This blue gate just symbolized all of that for me. I don’t know why.

As I edit my images from the last week, I will post one from time to time. Moving into fall, with the color of The Mission.

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My images from The Mission will be up and available in my Alamy account over the next week.